It all started in the late spring of 1970 when I received a phone call from a fellow dope fiend.
He said I needed to come over to Doctor Dean’s pad as he had some Pretty Cool Pot. Being that this was during the ever-evolving very fun period of drug experimentation, he needed say no more, I was there!
Once I arrived I went to the back room where I came upon a half dozen known zombies and was immediately offered a toke of a joint that was being passed around. I took a long slow drag of the strangely-tasting herb and inhaled deeply and before I finished passing the joint I was beginning to feel its effects.
I was slowly melding with the piano bench I was sitting on as it began to move up the side of the room’s wall. By the time the joint came back around to me I was half way up the side of the wall! This was too cool! I took another hit and a peaceful feeling of pure ambivalence overtook me, someone could have come over to me and asked for my wallet and I would have happily obliged, but I was in full control – other than being part of a wooden bench that was attached halfway up the side of the wall.
After some mutual giggling with the other zombies, I somehow detached myself when Doctor Dean told me he was going to Hawaii in a few days and wanted to know if I wanted to purchase some of his PCP stash, I said yes and thus began the beginning of a very memorable psychedelic spring and summer.
I must clarify, this was not your superhuman maniac PCP popularized now, no, this was the original “good stuff” – the “Rocket Fuel” strain came later and that was it for me. This early strain was a very fun, goofy, spacey, tactile-intensive, sensory-distorting, time-warping, laughter-causing hallucinogenic mind-bender.
I was pretty much living out of my suitcase after saving up from a government subsidized art department job that I quit after a year and a half. I got the job at 19 after a very short stint in junior college after high school graduation in February 1969.
Mike, a good friend of mine, was conveniently house-sitting while his parents were away for the summer so I crashed at his not-too-far-from-the-beach house and we celebrated our Lords of the Manor dominion by lacing a joint with my new stash of PCP.
Since his house was also situated not far from the Los Angeles International Airport, we could hear the jet airliners fire up their engines in preparation for takeoff; this sound was the equivalent to “Vacuum Cleaners in the Sky” and with a Mantovani style Grand Canyon Suite album playing on the stereo, (a strange favorite at the time), we were both transported to a very weird, but cool environment indeed.
We were having so much fun that we wanted to share this high with all of our close friends and decided to throw a party that coming weekend.
But first we had an exciting concert to attend on Wednesday; Ten Years After and Grand Funk Railroad at the Fabulous Forum! On our way we stopped by a friend’s and got him and his friend so dusted on PCP that they couldn’t get out of their chairs. We left them reaching out to us for help – they were in no danger and recount fondly to this day on their bizarre experiences once we left.
We had great seats for the concert and decided to drop some Double Dome Acid on top of the waning PCP. We went with the usual group of rock fiends and were witness to a true Battle of the Bands, really! Read all about it: Ten Years After / Grand Funk Railroad concert at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, CA
That weekend back at the Manor, the more devout and eager drug fiends had begun to arrive early to partake in the evenings’ festivities.
By this time I was starting to have a Tarzan swing from tree-to-tree connection of PCP weirdness as I never really had come down since my first introduction at Doctor Dean’s. Not to worry, all good things come to an end and I knew that it was just a matter of time before I’d eventually come down and be back to the real world.
As the house filled with partiers who were slowly, or rather quickly, experiencing the fun-filled bizarreness that this drug provided, I was in a back room with my then girlfriend and my friend whose parent’s house now felt as if it were levitating about 5 feet off the ground.
For some reason we were all wearing hats, for real, and as we passed around a PCP laced joint, a new level of truly bizarre things began to happen.
Just like with Alice my three friends were beginning to grow and I mean that my girlfriend went right through the roof like in Jack in the Beanstalk and all I could see was her “tree-trunk” bare leg! Before I could comprehend what was happening they all began to shrink back down, thankfully, until they continued shrinking and disappeared into the shag rug carpet!
The next thing I knew another buddy of ours was at the door and said we’d better come see this. We all got up as if nothing happened and proceeded down the hall. The front door foyer opened to a hallway that went to the room we were in and with the kitchen at the other end, a living room area was straight in from the front door and past the hallway. As we peered into the living room from the hallway we could see a small group of people doing different things. One guy was teaching his dog (a girl) tricks (she thought she was a dog) and others were spacing out when down from the kitchen hallway came a guy who thought he was a plane and started flying in circles around us. I continued to the kitchen and when I leaned my arm against the wall the wall sunk in like foam. I could press into the wall and leave a hand-print and then it would recede back flat.
Although this new high was semi-incapacitating, after somewhat getting used to its rubbery distorting influence I found that I had become its master and could operate heavy machinery, like a car. This was really fun as the steering wheel became huge like an old time cartoon steering wheel and the seats seemed to drag on the asphalt as I could barely see the road through my new extremely low-rider position. Cruising took on a real-time “trucking” atmosphere as everything was rubbery and swooshing in a slow motion speed but relative to my actions, so all was cool.
During this time Steve Miller’s righteous “Jackson-Kent Blues” track from his #5 LP became our PCP theme song. It is an epic classic and was so good that you almost forgot it was a protest song about the killing of four students by the United States National Guard during student demonstrations against the Vietnam war at Kent State University in Ohio.
After laying down the hard-rockin’ rant, Miller takes off on a classic hard rock space jam showing his Space Cowboy roots; complete with LSD-laced watery echoes and trailing, surging guitar wrangling and wah-wah wizardry throughout – it quickly became our fave background / foreground music for pretty cool pot shenanigans any day of the week.
The next morning of going into the fourth day of Pretty Cool Pot, a good buddy of mine showed up with his converted-into-a-home step van with the invite to go on a road trip up north. I felt that this would be a good idea to give myself time to come down as I was feeling that the effects were lasting or staying with me longer than I expected. My vision was kinda tunneled and I was still experiencing Rubber World sensations.
The Driver was my best friend around that time and we had rented places together, beach pads and alley joints over the years and had taken several road trips too, so riding for several hours and smokin’ several joints and listening to music and not talking was highly enjoyable.
We pulled into some town outside of Bakersfield to get supplies and gas and outside the mom ‘n’ pop store a dog had chased some poor guy up a tree and he was hanging from a tree while the dog was jumping up and biting at his pants. We just got back on the road.
I was still feeling the effects of the PCP as it was not waning or decreasing which seemed impossible, unless, … I had to face the fact that this time I may have gone too far.
As we pulled into Santa Cruz and got more supplies we also stopped at a totally cool but required for the times, hippie bookstore, with hippie posters and big sofa couches and booming over the speakers was Free’s “All Right Now”, I love that song!
As I browsed the aisles I came across Velikovsky’s “Worlds in Collision” and sat in a big sofa and started reading. Soon I noticed that this was some heavy reading – and at the same time that it must be some long version of “All Right Now” that I had never heard before because it felt like it had been on for the last half hour. The PCP was not letting go. Everything was still distorted in little ways; objects felt over-sized and somewhat spongy, there was a constant ethereal echo – of everything, of every sound; kinda like the swooshing echoey sounds you hear on acid but more subtle, and I still had a little tunnel-vision. These weren’t bad side effects just the slight headache that came with it was.
We eventually made our purchases, I bought the Velikovsky book and we got back on the road.
We lit up another joint as we headed into Big Basin National Forest. The sunlight became less and less as we got deeper and deeper into the forest. Soon we were in this rich natural forest domain with trees that towered and canopied the forest bed like a cathedral.
The Driver pulled over and without saying a word to each other we nuded-up and ran through the lush blue-green forest with the pine needles serving as nature’s carpet under our bare feet – we were natives in a Primeval Forest.
Back then all the different groups we knew would nude-up when the time was right; such as for skinny-dipping, sunbathing, open air concerts, hot springs, lake shore dips and for sure, runs through the Forest Primeval! It was like that back then; we had no inhibitions, really.
After a spiritual “getting back to the Garden” experience among nature we decided to head back for L.A. the next day.
On the way back I told the Driver about my condition and said that I’d resigned myself to this state. He laughed. I got it, the irony of finally going too far, but he continued to chuckle. “What?” I said. “Man, …” he said, “What do you think we been smokin’ all this time!” I thought his pot tasted like PCP essence but attributed it to the lingering taste from the binge. He had purchased some from Dr. Dean also!
On the one hand I was fairly angry; he’d been dosing me since we left L.A.! But on the other hand I was relieved – the cure was to stop the continual smoking of the Pretty Cool Pot. I did and lived to tell the tale.
The ‘60s and the ‘70s were adventurous times that saw Brave Psychedelic Explorers like us push the limits of reality just to see where it would take us.
And we went far … out … and in.