Here ya go…
Introduction and Disclaimer, November 1993.
What follows are some strange stories dealing with a strange, many faceted topic that resists definition. Most would term this topic the psychedelic experience. Unlike so many other books and numerous articles written on the subject by esteemed and highly articulate investigators, this work will make no effort to achieve even a minimum of scholarly interpretation.
Instead, the author hopes to present a bodacious range of insights and anecdotes, true life stories, collected from dozens of "ordinary" individuals. In Fever Dreams, expect to find the unvarnished and entertaining recount of sometimes humorous, often harrowing, life-changing, and primarily inscrutable experiences told by those everyday people who lived them. These stories are of the kind that we who seek meaning in experience love to tell and love to hear, even as understanding seems to inevitably escape us- like the the works of a mad Master Painter that disappear into the Moment just passed, mere shadows in the Moment of Now.
Just as the subject itself resists definition, the stories told resist categorization. For some subjects, their tales presage lasting, life-affirming change. Others forebode disaster. Others herald a moment as fleeting, incendiary and impossible to fully grasp as the passing of a shooting star. Still, with some tip of the hat toward editorial organization, they have been loosely grouped under the subjects noted in the table of contents.
Finally, a word on the method of collecting the material in this book. Some stories were gleaned in taped, personal interviews. A couple resulted from anonymous response to advertisements and leaflets. Most gratifying were the number of submissions through the emerging medium of personal computer telecommunications; humanity’s most recently developed psychoactive technology. And, I'll 'fess up, a few of the adventures, prevarications, fabrications and outright hallucinations, are my own. Whatever the source, they are experiences that have left an unforgettable mark on all of those that have lived them. These are real-life fables that should bring some joy, some measure of awe, or at least fascination in the retelling.
Riding the Wave & Phenomenal Oscillations.
The Rueful Saga of Mario & Squatch: October 1976, Recounted Memorial Day, 1991.
Let me first put a frame around this one. It's an unusually warm night at the end of May; feels more like August. Me, Marco, Dana, Sal and his younger brother, Gil, are sitting around at about one in the morning. Even with the air on, it's still eighty degrees in Marco’s apartment.
He’d earlier scored something very special, something from the hand of the Master Chemist, Bear, himself. We’d dropped an hour ago, Marco excepted. He no longer partook. Anyhow, where ever these little purple barrels came from, they worked. As we journeyed into the Hour of the Tiger, the conversation turned, as it almost always does, to tales of altered exploits and comedy at the edge of chaos. I popped a cassette into the machine, and here's what was captured.
"M: ...and, see, the Grateful Dead had not been on the east coast for over a year. They booked three nights at the Music Hall in Boston. Now, the Dead were back and every one wanted to see them real bad, and to see them real, real right!
AS: There was that little Chicano guy, you remember, that Mexican kid outside the hall. I walked up him and said, ‘Hey, man, you got?’. He said, ‘Yeah, I got’. We were used to getting some pretty lousy stuff right then, because... well, because... because the Bear had been locked up. That's why we weren't getting anything good. We were getting really stupid shit. It was a totally normal thing to be gobbling down five, six, ten hits of weak blotter (peels of crazed laughter in the background).
M: Yeah, it was totally ridiculous. So this guy goes, ‘This shit is real good’. I said, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ Mucho- all my feathers were out. He says, ‘Hey, man, a buck a pop.’
So, I said, ‘does it really work?’ He points over to this guy all sprawled out on the hood of a car, gagga, zonked. He says, ‘That guy, he took two.’ Well, I still don't get it, totally don't get it. I ask him for five hits. (more wicked laughter)
Anyhow, I then I get five more for each of my friends. Five, ten, twenty, five more, five more. ‘Oh, better give me some more’, you know. You get it? This kid's like, ‘Hey, man, you sure? Hey, hey, hey, this here's alright!’ I remember hookin' down the six or seventh one just as we were walking into the lobby. We weren't even in the show yet, and we were totally skied! We'd started taking two or three at a time, and within an hour... Yeah within an hour, we were going into this place, baroque angels and crystal chandeliers and beautiful red carpets. The Dead had returned and there were beautiful girls carrying bouquets of red flowers and throwing the roses on the floor and we walked in there and we were way, way gone before this thing ever even started! Really gone.
AS: I think they opened with ‘Lazy Lightning’ into ‘Supplication’, that Kingfish jam. I'm already higher than I'd ever been and still climbing. At this point, I thought, I mean I knew, absolutely believed, that the Dead were singing the song backwards. Oh, shit! I'm thinking, ‘My, how clever, they learned to sing backwards’, not knowin’ that I was the only one hearin’ it that way. Damn, by half-time, I was so high that I had totally lost the ability to speak or understand human language. My consciousness was totally pre-verbal. Human voices, their sound, simply froze in mid-air, shattered and fell to the floor like shards of broken ice, tinkling away in echoes. It was a little scary.
M: The whole thing was completely hallucinogenic. I spent most of the first set just staring at the hair of the guy two rows in front of me. (the laughter has now become completely evil) It's his hair man, it shimmered and stuff and...
AS: He disappeared, right?
M: Yeah, he could disappear! Like, he could dance and disappear and reappear, like...
AS: He'd gyrate and shake in that boneless Grateful Dead dance and split into two and four, eight and ten and then, poof, he was gone! A second later, he was back and...
M: This is scientifically verifiable. We both saw it! No joke.
Yeah, that was pretty far out, but you know, Squatch, he went off to the men's room. Now, he'd done as much as everyone else. After having done this, half a dozen strong hits, in this state...
AS: He bumped into this guy in the men's room who had a wafer of something, Squatch recalled it as orange sunshine. Fuckin' Squatch, offered a hit, goes up to the guy and proceeds to bend over, Squatch’s a big, big fella, totally high...
M: And he bites off half of the wafer, right?
AS: Yup! Like maybe twenty hits. That must have put him at, I don't know, some ungodly amount of micrograms... shit, maybe four or five thousand.
M: Maybe more. Maybe as much LSD as any human has ever consumed!
G: And he didn't die?
AS: Naw. It's funny, but they've never established a toxic dose for mammals. It doesn't seem to screw anything up metabolically, at least at the doses that they've tested. There is one weird story about an elephant that died on Acid.1 I don't know why they were giving Acid to an elephant, but it wound up dead. It must have drunk a gallon of the stuff. Weird, and, what a waste.
M: Whatever! Squatch, this guy, he took over twenty hits. I don't think he's ever come down. He's still tripping. Today, he's teaching school in Hawaii, a very noble and wonderful thing, but strange to consider, givin' his experience. Yeah, I think it's safe to say, Squatch never went the prescribed route.
AS: Anyhow, by the middle of the second set, we are all in the thick of it. I'd lost my ability to converse and subsequently seen my earthly vessel, my body, melt into a starry void. I was momentarily free of the shackles of flesh; flown this veil of tears. Or, so I believed. Could’a been, but what happened was I was absolutely peaking at this point, n' I happened t’look down at my left hand. Oh-oh! My finger- tips are missing! ‘Sorry, did you see my fingers? Seem to have misplaced them.’
Of course, I couldn't actually speak, so I didn't say anything to alarm anybody. But, above the top knuckle my fingers were sheared clean off! There, there was no gore, nothing inside, just black. Just black. I held up my hand closer to my eyes. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, and then it got even weirder. The skin started to melt back from the finger tips. I was disappearing and nothing was left in my place, but inside my skin I could see this blackness. As I stared at my arm, it had gone all the way up to my shoulder by now and was quickly moving into my chest... as I was watching this, speechless, I began to see beautiful, twinkling stars all inside of me!
My recollection is that this black, star-filled emptiness began to fill my entire field of vision. It was like I'd zoomed-in but could still look away and see the rest of the world, this wild concert with the Grateful Dead and all the people, but as I glanced back at myself I was stars.
Somehow, I remembered that I'd taken lots of a powerful chemical and that it'd eventually wear off.’ I’m not forever banished from the realm of human forms.’ Then, all of the sudden, my human form reconstituted; Shazam! And, Jeezuz Christ, looking up on stage, I saw at this big purple cloud and some guitar necks and Garcia's sun-glasses sticking out while this alien music with Martian lyrics bounced off the walls of my skull. By the end of the set, the cloud blew off, showing six flourescent skeletons playing the music. Once again, I didn't have a clue that I was the only one seeing this shit.
I thought that it was some trick with the light show! It was only much later, when I was telling somebody about it, our friend Geoff, that I found out the truth.
M: But two of us, Mario and Squatch were even further gone. Mario was off on this trip where he thinks he's in Hell. Then, he thinks he's in Heaven. He's running all over the place, almost getting too wierd, even for the Deadheads. We lost him for most of the first set, only to get him back a while later. I tried to stick close to him. Shit, I made him sit down next to me and wouldn't let him even get a drink of water without supervision.
AS: Squatch, though, he's totally weird. He's not in any space where humans relate. Space! He's making these vocalizations: "Eeep, Orp, Time, Space, Infinity!". He's lieing on the floor of the lobby, cradled in Ozone's arms after the show, completely zoned. Oh, boy, I'd just gotten straight enough, not really straight at all, but straight enough to talk and walk and I thought things were coming together in some way. No way!
M: Now, Mario, I figure that he's alright, he's ok, cuz he can stand up! This guy, Squatch, he's not okay, cuz he's totally deep-fried in his own grease. So, I'm keyed into Squatch, now, cuz he's like...
D: Totally lost?
M: Yeah, like totally lost. Then, this whole thing happens, we need to get Squatch into the car and I just turn around and, oh shit, now I've lost Mario again. There's no time to deal with that, though, cuz Squatch, who'd been catatonic on the sidewalk, we're outside the hall now, is suddenly mobile.
AS: He'd been hanging his head in the gutter, flat on his back, eeping and orping and fondling a fire-hydrant's nozzles like a pair of breasts. All of the sudden...
M: All of the sudden, he's on his feet and running at maximum tilt and straight at a cop! Holy shit! We got a two hundred pound-plus, six foot-four, bigfoot drenched in LSD and on the stampede. There's a cop walkin' down the street. Squatch is two feet in front of him and he lands his hands on the cop's shoulders and leap-frogs over the sonuvabitch! The cop didn't know w'happened.
AS: Squatch continues to hurl himself down the street and turns the corner at full throttle...
M: Where upon he evidently decides to lie down again and resume his, his, what ever that was...
AS: Eep, orp, time, space, infinity...
M: And the cop takes one look at this shit; he's ready to kill as he turns and runs after him, but when he finds him, well, this, this is just too weird. The cop turns around and walks away. Squatch is on the pavement, gorping and blorping and this little Dead-head gal, dressed in black, dropping roses on his chest and, and...
AS: She's saying, ‘In the name of the Father, the Sun, and the Holy Rollers’... I don't know. Something like that.
M: Well, Ozone has now pulled up in his dad's car, a big old Old’s. In the process, he managed to smash up the front, hitting a trash can, and the back, hitting a street sign, and damn near ran over poor Squatch...
AS: Stiff as a board, we pick Squatch up and dump him in the back seat. I sit on his chest, making damn sure that he doesn't go anywhere this time, and we rocket off to safe haven, trailing pieces of side-trim and busted tail-lights behind. I'm not sure how Ozone managed to explain smashing up his Dad's car. It was a mess. The kind of thing that's only funny in retrospect- like maybe two minutes later when you make your get-away.
M: Yeah, so, now I've got to go find Mario and people are still comin' on out'ta the concert and I don't see him. I look up and down the street, holy shit, I can't find him anywhere. Jane comes around...
G: Jane was there?
M: Oh, yeah. It was her first show! It was Mario's first, no, second show. Anton's first. First show for Ozone and Squatch, too. Anyhow, we couldn't find our brother anywhere. Now, we lived in Valleyshire, up in New York state, right, and Jane lived in Boston. So we went back to her place. And, ann...nnd we had no word of Mario, no sign of him.
G: Mario lived in Valleyshire, too?
M: Yeah, he lived with me and Anton. And he was lost, no sign of him. He vanished, he vaporized, y'know? Evaporated! Gone!
M: We lost him! Who knows. I mean, here's a guy who had been giving away his wallet, his jewelery.
AS: Shit, he tried to give away his clothes; angels don't need clothes. A bunch of Deadheads, thank God, had the inspiration to just take 'em, thank him, pass 'em on to the next, until they went around the circle and came back to him. Mario, being a good angel, he thanked them for this gift and took back the clothes.
M: The thing with Squatch, though, it was done, he was in the car. Babbling incoherently, but in the car. I looked around, and, sonuvabitch, I'd lost Mario!We got back to Jane's and I called the police. I thought maybe he'd been picked up; maybe, just possibly. I mean, I was afraid that worse could happen. Well, they tell me, after putting me on hold for a while: ‘No, sir, we have quite a few...’
G: You're tripping this whole time?
M: Oh, yeah, but compared to these two guys, I'm fuckin' straight. Anyhow, the cops tell me that ‘we've got quite a few individuals here, but none of them are Mr. Sebastiani.’ At this point, I was kind'a hopin' that they’d him in the can. At least we'd know where to find him. So, next afternoon, no sleep, we gotta head back. The band,the Jack a’Ro’es, they had a gig that night up in Corinth. Mario's the lead singer. And, we'd lost the band's singer.
AS: I'd spent the whole morning waiting to see if he’d come back to the theater. No way. Must'a met a dozen people looking for lost friends, folks that floated away in the course of this amazing night.
M: So we go back to Valleyshire, totally wrung out. We change our clothes and get ready to go on up to Corinth, to a joint called K.O.'s. At this point we had no idea what else to do. I mean, we just had no idea! Zero, zip; runnin' on autopilot.
AS: And Mario had no money, nothing?
M: No! He'd given it all away.
AS: Then this thunder-storm came! As we arrived back at the apartment, it really started to come down. We already felt awful, and awful tired. Then the sky, the weather started to close in. Ka-boom! Thunder and lighting and sheets of rain and the the whole thing seemed to reflect what was happening inside our heads.
It was terrible. We'd lost our friend and it seemed like there was nothing that we could do. Somehow, we just kept on marching toward that gig. What a mess! Totally shredded. Then came the knock on the door!
M: It's Mario: he'd slept in the park, no, on some median strip underneath a statue or something. He'd literally lost his shirt. He was soaking wet. He was so broke he couldn't even panhandle a glass of water! So he'd hitchhiked, shirtless, sleepless, all the way up north.
It was unbelievable, but there he was. He'd even given away his keys, so he had to knock on the door to his own apartment. But, we hooked up with him there and bolted to KO's, where Mario somehow fronted the band...
G: So how was Squatch?
AS: Jeez... I dunno. He was pretty strange to start off with. After twenty hits, he was just a bit... uh, stranger?
M: Like we said, he might've never come down. Naw, he's okay, today. But,I guess, if there's a lesson in this, it's that the Grateful Dead should never stay away too long. Weird shit happens when they don't come around for a while. I dunno, it seems..." (cassette runs out)