Wednesday, May 24, 2006

can you pass the acid test?

as part of COM 495, one student, cameron, tracked down zane kesey, the son of ken kesey - author of one flew over the cuckoo's nest and ringleader of the merry pranksters (whose escapades are best recounted in tom wolfe's sixties counterculture classic, the electric kool-aid acid test). whether on their dayglo-painted bus (driven by - who else? - neal cassady from jack keroac's fifties counterculture classic on the road), partying with the hell's angels, or hosting acid tests (house band = a young group of smiling longhairs who would become the grateful dead), kesey and the pranksters recorded everything. they were like the first reality tv show: they recorded their trips, their trips on the bus, their trips with the cops.

i knew these recordings existed but i had no idea where to find them. so, through the web, cameron finds zane who has been editing the tapes and sells them as DVDs at twenty bucks a pop.

yesterday, cameron and i watched one of the DVDs, called Can You Pass the Acid Test?. although it could use a bit more editing, the footage is formidable. a young (21? 22?) jerry garcia leading his bandmates (including pigpen!) through torrential waves of sound and improvisation. a dancing neal cassady! light shows that even now would be pretty mind-blowing. really interesting stuff. a perfect companion piece for anyone teaching, learning about, or interested in 1960s counterculture.


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