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feed your head

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    The last line in Grace Slick's 1969 song, "White Rabbit," is "feed your head". A few lines before that, she sang " and you've just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving on".

    To be honest, I don't think about mushrooms much, but they actually popped up (no pun intended) twice this morning:

    (1) The History Channel reported that on this day in 1957, Jack Kerouac's novel "On the Road" got a rave review in the New York Times. "On the Road” is an autobiographical novel about a series of cross-country automobile trips that Kerouac made between 1947 and 1950, both by himself and with his friend Neal Cassady. Rumor has it they consumed a few "magic mushrooms" on their trips.Though Jack Kerouac wrote more than 25 books, “On the Road” was his most noteworthy success. He died in 1967 of liver damage caused by alcoholism. He was 47 years old.

    In 1964, Ken Kesey and the legendary Neal Cassady (mentioned above) were two of the "Merry Pranksters" who traveled in a 1939 International Harvester school bus named Furthur in a drug-infused cross country trip from California to New York. The bus eventually made several other trips - and its last trip was to Woodstock in 1969. Kesey had a generous supply of the then-legal psychedelic drug LSD, and they reportedly also took 500 Benzedrine pills (speed), and a shoebox full of already-rolled marijuana joints.

    They were stopped several times by police and highway patrol, but explained they were filmmakers. In 1964 drug use hadn't yet gotten enough media attention for the authorities to be suspicious.

    (2) The New York Times this morning published a story about a research center that Johns Hopkins just opened. Its purpose is to study psychedelic mushrooms. The center is the first of its kind in the country, established with $17 million in commitments from wealthy private donors and a foundation. Imperial College London launched what is thought to be the world’s first such center in April, with some $3.5 million from private sources.

    In May of 2019, the city of Denver decriminalized the possession of mushrooms containing the psychedelic psilocybin, also known as “magic mushrooms.” They are still illegal under state and federal laws, and it is still illegal to distribute them, but it is no longer a crime to eat them, which gives another meaning to John Denver's song, "Rocky Mountain High".

    It may surprise you to know that psychedelic drugs are ALREADY being used to reduce anxiety for terminally ill patients. After all, how much harm can psychedelic mushrooms do to a person who is going to die in the near future?

    When LSD was still legal in the 1960's, one of the most active proponents of psychedelic drugs (including magic mushrooms) was Harvard professor Timothy Leary. During the 1960's and 1970's, he was arrested often enough to see the inside of 36 prisons worldwide. President Richard Nixon once described Leary as "the most dangerous man in America" (Today, that honor goes to Donald Trump).

    (California made LSD illegal in October of 1966, and it was named a Schedule 1 drug in 1968.)

    Leary died on May 31, 1996. His death was videotaped for posterity at his request, by Denis Berry and Joey Cavella, capturing his final words. Seven grams of Leary's ashes were arranged by his friend at Celestis to be buried in space aboard a rocket carrying the remains of 23 others, including Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek), Gerard O'Neill (space physicist), and Krafft Ehricke (rocket scientist). A Pegasus rocket containing their remains was launched on April 21, 1997, and remained in orbit for six years until it burned up in the atmosphere

    Now THAT'S far out, man.