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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy

By June of 1968, Robert Kennedy had become a beacon of light to many hippies, many Doves, who thought that he had the power to not only win the democratic nomination but also that he would win the election itself in November and, most importantly, that he would end the war in Vietnam as soon as possible. I am sure many of them also knew that with him in office they would most likely never again have to fear the men in shiny shoes, the constant threat of trumped up charges and outrageous sentences over minor offences, or any of the other things that plagued them all under the Johnson administration. So with him running they had hope...hope that he would win and that he would make right all that had gone so terribly wrong with the country since the death of his brother. Imagine, then, the crushed dreams and broken hearts that spread from sea to sea when he was unexpectedly shot dead after making his speech when he won the California primary on June 5th, 1968. Well, shot dead isn't exactly accurate as he was still technically alive when they took him to the hospital that night but...we all know how that ended. It was a devastation to many and it shaped the events that came in the following months because if that moment had never happened, if Bobby had not been slain, the madness in Chicago two months later would have never come to be. Who knows how different everything might have turned out...but he was slain and Liz was there to see it all:
   'The night before the primaries Jack talked Chris into bringing him down. He had with him two press passes and no explanation for where they came from. I didn’t care. I was too excited about the next day to wonder how he managed to make it all possible.       In addition to the press passes that guaranteed our entrance into the private quarters of Robert Kennedy, Jack also brought me a new dress to wear for the event. He showed me this as I drank coffee and willed my hangover away. I had to get ready, I had to go and vote, I had too much to do… “What do you think?”
    I looked up with aching eyes and saw a beautiful handmade dress of light cotton and corduroy. The bodice was fitted while the rest of it flowed past my feet. It was made of the prettiest colors of purple, blue, and pink that I had ever seen. “Where did this come from?” I questioned in shock.
    “I got it from the store. There’s this new chick that’s been making shit and selling it to us… she’s a speeder…anyway, it came in a couple of days ago and I thought of you. Try it on.”
    I did and it fit like a glove. I couldn’t remember a time when I felt more beautiful. If it hadn’t been for that dress I might not have gotten ready that day at all but it inspired me to get up and get a shower. By the time I had finished my makeup and my hair was lying clean and straight against my back all thoughts of a hangover were gone. I was ready to meet the man that I was sure would be the next president of the United States of America. But first there was my patriotic duty to perform. The television had already shown pictures of the packed voting places all over Los Angeles County and the day was unbearably hot but I hadn’t gone through all of my bitching and registering to vote as soon as I turned twenty one to miss out. So I went with Jack by my side and I stood for hours in line with only the thoughts of the evening before me keeping me sane.
     Robert Kennedy arrived at the Ambassador Hotel a little after seven that evening. I came in an hour later. I was tired until we arrived and just seeing the massive structure revitalized me. I made Jack wait with me while I reapplied melting makeup and brushed out my hair. I had to look good for a moment like this...right? Almost as soon as we were inside of the building we were checked by a man who looked at our presses badges, asked our names, and laid out the rules. “Because you have these,” He held our passes up for us to see. “You are free to go to the fifth floor and meet with Senator Kennedy. However, he is very busy, as you might expect, so if you wish you may set a time with him for an interview and then go to the ballroom for music and refreshments. Any questions?” Jack and I shook our heads silently. “Alright then. If you will just follow that guy right there, he’ll show you to the Senator’s suite.”
    Silently we followed the man that he had pointed to on an elevator and up to the fifth floor. The guy seemed tired and not in the mood for conversation and that was just fine with me. Suddenly my nerves were on edge and I felt as though I would throw up. Upon walking into Bobby’s suite this feeling intensified. I had never seen so many people crammed into such a tiny room! At first I couldn’t even see the senator. When at last the sea of people did part I saw this as my chance. I mentally willed away the sickness and I pressed forward, not even stopping to see if Jack was behind me, until I stood right in front of a man that I had been admiring for some time. My first sight of him took my breath. He was not a good looking man as far as I was concerned but he seemed to have some sort of magnetism that just drew you in. It took me a minute before I realized he had spoken to me. “Excuse me?” I asked shyly.
    He smiled and I realized that in that smile there was the power to make you believe whatever he wanted to tell you. It nearly frightened me. “I said how can I help you, miss?”
     “Oh…I…ummm…” Thrusting my press pass at him I fought to gain my wits. Taking a breath I began again. “My name is Liz Sanders and I am the main writer of an underground paper called The Full Circle. I suppose I want what most people in this room are looking for. Some of your time and a little of your thoughts on this particular primary.”
    “First, let me ask you something. Did you vote?”
   I was slightly shocked at the question. “Of course I did. After all the talking I’ve done to my readers about electing you it would be hypocritical of me not to vote.”
     He laughed heartily. “Well, alright then. Ask me what you want to know.”
   I had prepared a typical list of questions but they were soon tossed out the window and in its place was a conversation that flowed easily between us. I remember thinking that I was grateful for my tape recorder. Without it I could have never remembered all that was said between us. He was in an amazing mood. At some point during our conversation he learned that he had won the primaries in South Dakota and this produced pride in him, especially when he learned that it was the American Indian vote that secured that win for him. After that he went around talking but he would come back to me ever so often and say a few words. All of this I captured to go through later and make into our cover story for July. In addition to this I brought my camera and I was snapping pictures with all of the rest. I got some that I knew would be amazing for the paper and some that I planned to keep for myself in a scrapbook that I wanted to make when it was all over.
    At ten thirty that night enough of the votes had come in for CBS to declare Robert F. Kennedy the winner of the Democratic Primary in California. On the tape is captured the sounds of victory, mine included, that I recorded at that moment. It all felt like an impossible dream that I should be there watching the reaction of Bobby Kennedy to his big win in California. It was absolutely mind blowing. When he hugged me as he was hugging everyone else and invited me to the post-primary party that he had invited most of the room to, I couldn’t process what was happening as reality. It was too much to take in. After the victory sank in he grew quiet, lighting up a cigar. Then he began to pound his fist into his hand while he swore that he would follow Hubert Humphrey’s ass all across the country if he had to. This is real, I thought then, and so is he. He is not a god or an angel, he is flesh and blood. He has flaws and he is not invincible. That thought unsettled me so that I felt that I had to leave the room.
    Before I walked out he called to me. “Hey, I mean it about the party. I’ve got people telling me I’ve got to go down to the ballroom. I’ll be down there in a bit and when I’m done…Oh hell…just follow us out I guess.”
    I smiled because I could do nothing else. My mind was reeling from everything that I had just witnessed. In three hours I had been a part of something that was beyond anything else I ever dreamed I would do. I had been a part of history and I actually knew it as I was living it. Unless you’ve had something like that happen, you could never comprehend the feeling. Jack and I went to the ballroom because we were hyped up beyond anything a drug could do and we wanted to dance until it was time to go. Of course we were going to the party. How could we not show up? The ballroom was stuffy and packed with people who had been sitting there for hours. The lights were not as bright as I would’ve imagined. There were camera crews everywhere. All of this I ignored. I wanted champagne suddenly and I had it, along with a Lucky Strike, before Jack and I hit the dance floor. Cheesy cocktail music was playing but that didn’t matter either. Glass after glass of champagne we consumed and dance after dance we shared until about an hour had passed and it was announced that Bobby was coming in.
     Because we were already standing and there was no where to sit, I got as close to the stage as I could and I turned on the tape recorder to capture whatever he might say. He looked calm and composed as he took the stage with Ethel and others at his side. There were young kids in a conga line shouting, “Sock it to ‘em, Bobby!” and that made us all laugh, along with those who were singing a goofy tune about him. He started off by thanking people and we all chuckled when he thanked his dog before his wife. He went on to repeat his promise to us all about helping the hungry in America. He thanked his friends in the “black community” and he mentioned Cesar Chavez and a woman named Dolores Huerto before saying, “We have certain obligations and responsibilities to our fellow citizens which we’ve talked about during the course of this campaign and I promise to fulfill them when I am president.”  His smile was broad as he concluded with, “So my thanks to all of you and on to Chicago and let’s win there!” When he flashed the V and his wife grabbed him I teared up. I still couldn’t believe that I was there with such an extraordinary man.
    Everyone erupted into shouts of, “We want Bobby!” while Jack led me toward the group that was now following Kennedy out of the ballroom. I had no idea where we were going but it soon became apparent that we were headed towards the kitchen. I had just stepped inside the doorway when I saw the gun and I heard the shots.  I froze, unable to move, recalling in my mind’s eye the days of footage from his brother’s assassination that had been brought into every living room in America. No, I thought, not Bobby. My feet moved without my consent and I was in that huge hotel kitchen closer to the body of Bobby Kennedy. He was still breathing but there was so much blood….so much blood…and I wanted to be sick but I couldn’t because I did not know how to walk away at that moment. I wanted to see what would happen next. The gunman was wrestled to the ground, his gun was taken away, and still Bobby lay there. I saw that he was trying to talk and Ethel was at his side and people were pouring in and there was so much blood….
    God only knows how long I would have stood there if Jack had not pulled me away and led me out. I played it over and over in my head, the dark man, the little gun, Bobby shaking hands with someone and then he was on the floor with the blood….I don’t remember getting into the car. I know that I had never seen Jack drive before but he drove that night and I made no effort to stop him. I was cold all over. I could feel myself shaking as I watched that horrible scene play again and again. “I just watched Bobby die…I just watched him die…he’s dead, Jack!” Now the hysterics came and I was shouting at my friend. “He’s fucking dead and we just saw it happen!”
    “Calm down, honey. Did you see that gun? It’s nothing but a little revolver. He could make it out of this. He could pull through.” Jack was trying to assure me. In the distance I heard sirens wailing. Yes, I knew where they were going and I did not believe anything coming from my best friend’s mouth.
    “He’s dead, Jack! He’s fucking dead!” That was when the tears came. Sobs racked my body and this time Jack said nothing. He simply drove toward my house in an effort to put distance between us and what had just happened.
    Because I was such a wreck, Jack carried me into the house. I was still sobbing, still seeing the image again and again of a man being shot before my eyes. A thought suddenly occurred to me and I whispered in a hoarse tone, “Where’s my tape recorder?”
“It’s still in the car.” Jack answered.
   “But we got it?” I looked up at him. If he had told me it was gone that would have been my undoing. Suddenly those last happy hours (for I was sure that he already gone) that I had captured were all I cared about in the world."

Excerpts from the days that followed leading up to Bobby's death:
"“Do you think the government was in on this? The Kennedy's were never chummy with Johnson and with Bobby going the way he was, Humphrey was all but fucked for the nomination. Against McCarthy he still has a chance. Do you think it was coincidence that the same night he took California and South Dakota he was shot dead by some crazy fuck in the hotel kitchen?”
     I had never been one for conspiracy theories but I knew a set up when I saw one and to me there was no mistaking this as a simple act of another madman’s bullet. “You should stop hanging out with Jack so much. You are beginning to think like him.”
“You can really tell me that there seems to be nothing odd about what happened last night? Are you serious! Bobby was gaining steam. By August he would have had it and any fool could see as much…”
    “If Humphrey does win this than we’re fucked. There is no way that anyone is going to vote him into office. Everyone is so sick of what is going on and he’s as much a part of Johnson as his right arm! Do you think that Johnson doesn’t see that? He had to know enough to reject the nomination.”
    I smirked at him. “You mean, when his party was putting him on his fucking pedestal and dying to reelect him? No, he doesn’t know that and neither do I. All I know is that last night I met a man who is amazing, a man who could have taken us on to the next chapter in our history, who would have pulled us out of that fucking jungle, and today he’s lying on a hospital bed waiting to die. I know that we are under an administration that has agents following anyone who says a word against it and we have a president who will do anything to keep up a useless war because he wants to go down in history as bigger and better than the man that died so he could have that seat in the Oval Office. In light of what I do know I think it is safe to say that my theory is not that hard to imagine.”"
"Bobby held on until the following day and when he finally passed it was surrounded by ghosts and grief at the Good Samaritan Hospital right there in Los Angeles. I had cried so much that when I heard the news I had no tears left to weep. I knew it was coming. As soon as he was shot I knew he wouldn’t make it. I just chased a nerve pill with some whiskey and I let the depression come."
Pretty heavy shit indeed...but...it was a pretty heavy time. Sorrow and fury were the prominent emotions of 1968 for America as a nation and for many who called her home.
The official version of what occurred the night Bobby was shot taken from http://homepages.tcp.co.uk/~dlewis/crime.htm:
The Crime

This is the official version of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, as put forward by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the LA District Attourney's office (LADA).
On 5th June 1968, 12.15am, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was making his way from the ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, to give a press conference, after winning the California Primary. The prearranged route went through a food service pantry. While making his way through this area, a Palastinian Arab, Sirhan Sirhan, stepped forward and fired a .22 revolver at the Senator. Although Sirhan was quickly subdued, Kennedy and five others were wounded, although only Kennedy was fatally wounded. Sirhan was arrested at the scene, charged and convicted of first degree murder. He was to have been executed, but the U.S. Supreme Court voided the constitutionality of the death sentence before the sentence could be carried out. Sirhan has been incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison, California, since then. Under Californian law, he should have been automatically scheduled for release in 1984, but this was not the case.
Other sections of the above linked website:
The Complications


The problem with this scenario is that the physical evidence and eyewitness reports would seem to show that Sirhan was incapable of inflicting the wounds attributed to him.The autopsy carried out by Coroner Thomas Noguchi showed that Senator Kennedy had been shot three times. One shot entered the head behind the right ear, a second shot near the right armpit and a third roughly one and a half inches below the second. All shots entered the body at a sharply upward angle, moving slightly right to left. These shots are incompatible with eyewitness reports of the shooting. Sirhan had no access to the Senator's rear, and Kennedy never turned more than sideways to Sirhan. In addition, Sirhan fired with his arm parallel to the floor, i.e. straight ahead. Maitre d' Karl Uecker, who had been leading Kennedy forward by the right hand at the time the shooting started, grappled Sirhan after his second shot and pushed the gun away. All these points, as well as the fact that the gun was one and a half to six feet from Kennedy, prove that Sirhan could not have inflicted the fatal wounds to the Senator.
Sirhan's .22 revolver contained eight bullets and he had no chance to reload. This caused a problem for the official version of the assassination as all bullets had been accounted for, except for one which was lost in the ceiling space. Reports indicated that a wooden door jamb contained two bullets. This frame and as many as five or six ceiling tiles were removed from the crime scene for tests. Photographs of the crime scene show at least this many tiles missing and more besides. Los Angeles Police Department criminologist DeWayne Wolfer was quoted as saying "it's unbelievable how many holes there are in the kitchen ceiling." This suggests that LAPD found more bullets (or traces of bullets) than could be accounted for by Sirhan's eight shot revolver, at least seven and probably more.
As well as the problems noted above, there are the reports of suspicious people in the area at the time of the assassination. The first policeman on the scene, Sergeant Paul Schraga, was approached by a couple who told him that they had encountered a young man and woman fleeing the Ambassador Hotel shouting "We shot him! We shot him." When asked who they had shot, the young woman joyously replied, "Senator Kennedy." Schraga sent out an All Points Bulletin on the two suspects. This was the start of the "Polka-dot Dress Girl" controversy. In one of the most intuitive pieces of police deduction since the JFK assassination, LAPD declared that Sirhan was the sole assassin within minutes of the crime. Schraga was asked to cancel his APB, and when he refused, it was canceled by his superiors.
The couple's story was explained by the LAPD as a case of mishearing, stating that the young woman must have said "They shot him!" However, a young woman sitting on a staircase outside the Ambassador Hotel, Sandra Serrano, corroborated the couple's story.
Two witnesses in the pantry also saw armed men, aside from Sirhan and security guard Thane Eugene Cesar. Lisa Urso noticed a blond haired man in a grey suit putting a gun into a holster. A second, unnamed, witness saw a tall, dark-haired man, wearing a black suit, fire two shots and run out of the pantry.
The Cover-up


In 1968 it was not a federal offence to murder a presidential candidate. The case, therefore, came under LAPD juristriction. The investigation was based on the wish of Police Chief Ed Davis that it would not be "another Dallas." Whether this meant an intense, professional investigation or a tighter cover-up is debatable.As the case was the responsibility of the LAPD, there was no pressure to release their findings, the "Summary Report". Researchers into the RFK Assassination finally forced the Report and the LAPD's files to be released, in 1988. Compare this to 1964 for the Warren Commission Report (the year after JFK's assassination) and it becomes obvious why the official version of the assassination has been unchallenged, despite the obvious complications.
After the release of the files, it became clear to what extent the cover-up had been carried out. Evidence which contradicted the official version was destroyed. The more extreme acts of destruction included:
  • 2,400 photographs burned because they were "duplicates." In fact, there were no lists precise enough to show that all the photos destroyed were indeed duplicates.
  • Ceiling tiles and the door frame from the pantry destroyed, because, according to then Assistant Chief Daryl Gates, they wouldn't fit into card files.
In addition, LAPD records showed that they had recorded 3,470 interviews during the course of the investigation. Only 301 interviews were released. Examination by researchers showed that for 51 key "conspiracy" witnesses, there were no interviews.The LAPD were not alone in conducting this cover-up. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office was also involved. The scope of this involvement was seen in the files released to researchers in 1985, due mainly to the inclusion of a box of tapes, videos and documents sent from the LADA branch at Van Nuys. This box contained evidence which went against the official version. The most graphic examples were the video reconstructions from 1968 and 1977, which prove that Sirhan could not have inflicted the wounds on Senator Kennedy. However, by using selected stills from the reconstructions, the official version was supported.
The coverup of the RFK assassination has been maintained because the facts are simply not known. Whereas the Warren Commission report was released the year following the JFK assassination, LAPD's "Summary Report" was not released until 1986. The files were released two years later. Both of these achievements were made despite strong LAPD/LADA resistance, for obvious reasons.
The RFK assassination was not investigated in by the House Select Commitee on Assassinations because of the seemingly open and shut nature of the case. Now that the facts are known, perhaps it is time that the RFK assassination was investigated. While the JFK assassination has reached the point where the answer is "Oswald might have done it or he might not have", there is no possible way that Sirhan could have inflicted the wounds on Senator Kennedy. All that is required is the official investigation.
In addition to these sections there are also interviews, pictures, etc. from that night. I don't recommend the site, however, if you aren't interested in the...ummm...alternative view of what occurred in that pantry. Because this site is dedicated to the belief that there was far more to Robert Kennedy's assassination than what everyone was led to believe.
                Part One of Kennedy's Speech at the Ambassador Hotel:
Part 2:

Part 3:
                                





                                  



The Summer of Hate-1968

While I do plan to write individual posts for the events that occurred between June and August, 1968, I wanted to also do a post explaining the term 'Summer of Hate' and how it came to be. 1968 was a year of tumultuous chaos from start to end. But from April until August there were two very famous assassinations, multiple protests that ended in arrests and violence, and all of it came to a head at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August. In the posts that follow, through the next couple of weeks, you and I, my beloved blogger people, will go through Liz's take on these events. With some things, like Robert Kennedy's assassination, I will be able to give the full excerpt from Castles pertaining to it while in other cases I will only be able to give pieces or I will have to chop it up a bit to give it to you. But in one form or another, you'll see what our favorite crazy hippie had to say about it all. In the meantime....
Here is a first hand account of the real kind taken from http://www.the1968exhibit.org/reflections/summer-hate

THE 1968 EXHIBIT: The Summer of Hate

            It was mid-June and I had just come back to Cleveland after my first year of teaching in another part of the state when Marty, one of my closest friends, called to tell me he was getting married at the end of the summer, right before Labor Day. All of our high school friends -- who had begun to scatter since graduation five years earlier -- would be there. Marty knew I was considering taking a job with the Cleveland schools and felt that the events of the summer would make us close again, like the old days, and convince me to stay in town. But it was 1968 and absolutely nothing would be going according to plan.

            That was over 40 years ago and, no, it doesn't seem like just yesterday - it feels more like a hundred years and a dozen Martys and several mes and two or three Americas ago. Over the years we have seen numerous film clips of the events that traumatized this country during that sad, surreal year. Overlooked, however, are the millions of tiny, personal insurrections between friends and family members that ultimately left so many of us shell-shocked and adrift as Americaitself appeared to be coming apart at the seams. 

            In January the North Vietnamese launched the TET offensive, a shocking, co-ordinated attack on American troops that stunned the nation, shaking it once and for all out of its complacency as to how smoothly the war was going and planting the first devastating seed of doubt as to our military invincibility. The next month, fueled by the ground swell of concern over TET and running on a peace platform, Eugene McCarthy finished a strong second to incumbent Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire Primary, setting the stage a few weeks later for another, more charismatic anti-war candidate, Bobby Kennedy to challenge LBJ.

            On the last day of March, Johnson - by this time literally a prisoner inside the White House, unable to go anywhere because of the omnipresence of virulent demonstrators - announced to the nation he would not run for president. Five days later Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis and the black sections of many major American cities erupted in flames. At the end of April students at Columbia took over the dean's office and shut down the university as an ever-growing youth culture gathered momentum in its sweet psychedelic challenge to the status quo. And just one week before I came home Bobby Kennedy was assassinated and the nation watched -  frozen - as the train carrying his body slowly traversed America, now a land with dried blood on its tracks

            All of these seismic events had occurred since the last time I had seen Marty at a New Year's Eve party at our favorite hangout, the neighborhood bar/bowling alley.  So we hadn't even talked about any of them. In fact we hadn't really talked about anything political since our hero and fellow Catholic JFK had been assassinated. It was just sports and music and girls.

            But in the summer of '68, there was no getting away from the events of the day, even in the formerly friendly confines of our beloved bowling alley, where the normally cranky but rarely angry group of regulars - mostly middle-aged Irishmen, Italians and Eastern Europeans - were getting mighty restless at what they were seeing on the TV above the bar. Marty and I used to laugh at these older guys or grow uncomfortably quiet when they occasionally got semi-worked up over "the niggers." Now, however, they had another target of scorn - the long-haired Vietnam demonstrators and anyone, even people like Dr. Benjamin Spock and the priests and clergymen arrested that summer - who supported the protesters. And though neither Marty or I had to worry about being drafted (he had bad eyes and I had a teaching deferment) we found ourselves on opposite sides of the issue. In fact I was the only one in the place defending the anti-war element and I was taking a similar beating there to the one I was taking at home while arguing about Vietnam with my parents. The comfortable terrain of my childhood homestead was starting to fill up, almost overnight, with emotional land mines.

            When the ghettos exploded that July it started to get really ugly at the bowling alley. After I saw Marty, who was unaware that I had walked in, leading the regulars in cheers as blacks were being handcuffed on the screen, I began making myself pretty scarce around that now rather hostile establishment, stopping by briefly in early August to inform Marty I had decided to return to my old teaching job near Toledo. He just shrugged and took a swig of his Black Label.

            A few weeks later I got a call from Marty asking me to come up to the bowling alley that night. His wedding party, having finished its rehearsal, would be there along with a bunch of our old friends. It was to be a pre-nuptial celebration. Unfortunately, it was also the night of the Massacre on Michigan Avenue at the Chicago Democratic National Convention, during which the systematic brutalization of about 12,000 mostly youthful, white, middle-class demonstrators was carried out -- live and on prime time television -- by approximately 30,000 Chicago police, army troops, National Guardsmen and federal agents.  Arguably, this was the precise moment when America split in two.

            What was seen on the big black and white over the bar for the next 15 minutes forced every glad, sad, sorry and still somewhat innocent one of us, to choose -- as if an invisible gun were pointed at our heads -- which side we were on. When the smoke cleared on the screen and the shock began to wear off the assembled viewers it was Marty vs. me in a mocking, taunting one-half-inch-from-a fist fight shouting match that ended up with me being asked to leave the bowling alley and stay the hell away from the upcoming wedding.

            I was happy to oblige both requests, thereby becoming one of those millions of friends and family members who had watched the prime-time blood bath together, then woke up the next morning and went their separate ways--some, like me, dreaming of an impossible future; most, like Marty, longing for an irretrievable past.

            But all, having passed through some kind of terrible, magic door that night of electric hate, would look back to the America on the other side of it and see - with either bitter disillusionment or nostalgic yearning - a country that seemed like a fairy tale land.


Reflection by: Larry Durstin
Larry is from Lakewood
And if you would like more information, the above site is actually dedicated to those crazy months. Feel free to go and look around.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The 'Shroom Trip to End all 'Shroom Trips *Probably Chalk Full of Spoilers*

I probably should not be posting this for a variety of reasons but I am going to break the up the monotony of the constant facts and true events with a somewhat amusing scene from the book where Liz trips on 'shrooms for the first time. Now, as I have told you all before, except for pot and booze I have never touched any of the substances I wrote about in this book so when it came time for Liz to do 'shrooms, I had to call up friends with far more experience than I had. This was before I lived on the internet and I wanted personal experiences, not surgeon's general warnings concerning the dangers of drugs. Of course drugs are dangerous...that is why I choose not to do them. However, Liz was a liberated woman in the '60's and she was immersed in a counter-culture that did not give a shit about the dangers of drugs. She did not give a damned...unless it came to heroin. That was one line she would not cross. But psychedelics? Psychedelics she liked quite a bit and because this is a fictional book and Liz is a fictional person and the time period all of this occurred in is long gone (unfortunately) she is able to enjoy them. 


I have been accused once of glorifying drug use. To that I say only...read the book. That's bullshit. Were there times when Liz had fun with the drugs she used? Of course. Why? Certainly not because I am glorifying it but because how many people have you ever encountered that did drugs and hated them every time? That isn't realistic and it would be foolish to try to portray a hit of acid or a few 'shrooms in a book from the point of view of a hippie in the '60's as being horrible...it just would. If she constantly had bad trips, she wouldn't take it, right? It was apart of her life, apart of her culture, and if you intend to act as though that isn't the way it was, you have no business writing a novel like this. So, with all of that in mind, here was the amusing tale of Liz's first experience with some high grade 'shrooms the evening after her final day of class, May of 1968:

'By the end of the madness we had made a fortune, much more than usual for a typical debut album profit. We sold both the first and second set of albums that Chris had ordered and we had seriously cut into the business of the other shops around the area that sold music. We had decided to save that problem for later. In addition to a crazy amount of fives and ones we also received a little pile of drugs that Owsley and others were passing out. Among that pile was a psychedelic that I had not yet tried. At first I picked the baggie up in confusion. “Why the hell would someone leave a bag of mushrooms on the counter?” I questioned.
     Brian and Jack looked at one another and then looked at me with matching grins at my naivety. Brian came over to me and put his arm around me, taking the baggie out of my hand. “Elizabeth, dear, what you hold in your hand is not the typical mushroom. Oh no, not at all. These are magic mushrooms. I’m sure you’ve heard people talk about ‘shrooms?” I nodded because indeed I had. “This is what they were talking about. The fuckers will make you trip for hours. It’s a different trip than acid, easier to handle. The only drawback is that most people puke their fucking guts up…”
   “But after you puke the high is…fucking real high, ya know?” Jack offered with a smile. “I say we get a pizza and throw some of those little fuckers right on it and trip tonight. What say you, Mr. Professor?”
     Brian looked down at me with a strange expression that faded as quickly as it had come. “I say that sounds like a fine idea. We better grab jackets if we’re walking to the pizza place. This part of California remembers what spring is like.”
      We ended up driving to the nearest pizza place (a little hole in the wall place that was owned by a little man with a fake Italian accent) because we were on a mission. I kept hearing from both Jack and Brian that because I had good trips on acid I would have an amazing trip on mushrooms but they wouldn’t elaborate. I wanted to know just what I would see and if it would be different than acid I wanted to know how. The couple of hits I had taken off of the joint at the shop had certainly mellowed me out but I was always apprehensive, just a little, about taking new shit. Still, I couldn’t get much out of the two of them except that I was going to love it.
    As we drove back with the smell of a large pizza filling up my car, Jack announced, “The primaries here are the fourth of next month and Kennedy is going to be in L.A. for the counting of the ballets.”
     “I heard something about that. One of the students was talking about it. Something about him spending the evening at a hotel in town and how there are tickets and passes and shit to get into the little party that will be held there.” Brian offered.
    “You heard right. Lizzy, I know how you feel about this guy and the coverage would be great for the paper. I talked to some people I know on your end of the state and I managed to get two passes for the night. I don’t care who you take with you. I tried to get more but it was fucking impossible. But I got enough because you’re going. Nothing has officially been set up yet but I am working on getting you a one on one interview after the votes are counted. You’re good at what you do. If I can’t seal the deal I’m sure you’ll think of something. If you can get it you will. If you can’t than I’ll know it’s because it was fucking impossible.”
     I was absolutely speechless! Jack was in the backseat with the pizza on his lap so I turned around and navigated until I was able to hug him. “Thank you. I’ll make it worth your while.”
     “You’re good about that. You’re smashing the damned food though. Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to horse around in a moving friggin’ vehicle?”
      As promised, Jack had the new Rolling Stones album waiting for me on the coffee table and as soon as we got in the door I wanted to put it on. “Man, it’s not the kind of music I feel like trippin’ with tonight.” He protested as he helped Brian put mushrooms evenly over the pizza. “Besides, you heard most of it downstairs.”
    “Then what do you want to trip to?” I questioned.
    “Man, put that Doors album on.” He replied, as if it was obvious.
   “Which one?” I asked.
   “We are not tripping to The Doors, Jack. That fucking music is the last shit in the world anyone should trip to. If it is possible to have a bad experience on mushrooms, that would do it.”
     “Well, then what do you want to hear, Mr. Professor Party Pooper?” Jack asked as he investigated their collective work with a critical eye.
      Brian got up and went to the records. Within moments Jefferson Airplane’s tune ‘She has Funny Cars’ was coming from the speakers announcing that he wanted to hear Surrealistic Pillow. There were no disagreements. Jack got us all glasses of water, “So it won’t burn as bad when you throw up” he explained. I accepted it along with three slices of saucy, trippy goodness. Even with the pizza, the mushrooms tasted like shit. There was no denying that fact. I was not a mushroom eater in the first place but these were unbelievably foul. I decided that it was probably the taste alone that caused its victims to wretch but I said nothing. I ate my dinner like an obedient child and waited for something to happen. Twenty minutes passed without incident and then it began, the churning of my stomach, the feeling that I had made a horrible mistake and I was about to pay dearly for it. I moved so fast that I can barely recall rushing to the bathroom. I remember the strange feeling of everything coming up and I remember Jack and Brian talking behind me and then…and then….
     “Did you hear that?” I whispered, the dry heaving ending at last.
       “What, baby?”
      “Trees…leaves blowing….and people talking…What the hell are they saying?” I asked, not thinking that perhaps my friends were not in my trip.
    Jack picked up on my train of thought immediately, either to humor me or because he had come to visit me in this new place. “They are talking about us, man.” And then he started to laugh and the idea of these people in the trees talking about us seemed suddenly hilarious so I followed suite.
    I wanted to walk and the living room now seemed like a magical place with the sounds of music and trees and people….I had never done a drug that actually made me really hallucinate beyond seeing colors but this was a totally different ball game. I was in a park where once the living room had been. The furniture had grown to the height of trees and the carpet, once ugly and old, was now sweet grass. “So where are the people?” I asked because they seemed to be hiding from me.
    “We’ve got to go out to find them.” Brian suggested.
   Looking back on it, it was a horrible idea and it was amazing that we even made it out the shop door but we did and that was when the real adventure began. In every lamp post, in every slab of concrete, in everything there was a life hiding within and I could see it now as I never could before. One lamp post had a face unlike any I had ever seen, a sweet old face almost like a mother’s, and she told me that I had to follow the sidewalk uphill and turn left. She was telling me to go to the park. “Which park?” I asked.
   “The one with all the people.” She replied and I remembered the be-in and I knew she meant Golden Gate Park.
     “I always end up there. Why do I always end up there?” I asked.
    “Because you belong there.”
    I thanked her then, my question answered and my purpose served. I decided to do what she said and I was amazed to find that Brian and Jack were gone. Probably had a different path to follow, I thought to myself as I followed the sidewalk uphill. I walked a little while before I realized that there were little creatures with me, cute little guys. When I asked where they were going (there were four of them, all small but diverse in every other way) the purple one told me they were coming with me. I accepted this. They were not big talkers, these creatures; or rather they liked to talk only among themselves. I accepted this as well. It was fun to listen to them but I couldn’t understand a damned thing they were saying. The houses, the shops, the traffic of the city were all gone. Ever so often one of the creatures would tell me to stop and I would and when the creature told me to go again I did. That might have been what saved my ass from being ran over that night. But I was so deliriously happy just walking toward the park with my new companions.
    When we arrived at the park it was wild! There were trees everywhere. Any sign that once humanity had touched the place were erased. I saw a clearing in the trees and I heard laughter on the other side so I followed it and I came out in a meadow where people were gathered. Music was playing in the air from an unknown source and everyone was dancing and singing. I knew the song but I couldn’t remember the words. I could, however, dance with them. They accepted me, this nameless group, and they embraced me as one of their own. We were having a wonderful time. Suddenly a girl started to sing a song from my childhood. “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream,” She sang, “Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.” Here she stopped and looked at me laughingly, “Do you get it, Lizzy? Do you get it? That’s it! Life is but a dream!”
    I laughed at this but it made sense, perfect sense. Dreams, dreaming, sleep, sleeping…. I woke up with a start. I was lying in the grass where I must have gone to sleep. There were two police officers standing over me talking about public intoxication and jail…my meadow was gone, my friends were gone, and this place was not Golden Gate Park. “Where the hell am I?” I asked.'
'Shroom Trip Stories from Youtube (yes, they really DO have it all on youtube):


And a bad trip story because, well, bad trips happen too, man!

A completely non-biased description of Mushrooms: Take from http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Psychedelic_mushroom:
Psilocybin mushrooms (magic mushroomsteónanácatlteotlaquilnanácatlxochinanácatl) are fungi that contain the psychoactive compounds psilocybin and psilocin. There are multiple colloquial terms for psilocybin mushrooms, the most common being magic mushrooms or shrooms.

Biological genera containing psilocybin mushrooms include AgrocybeConocybeCopelandiaGalerinaGerronema,GymnopilusHypholomaInocybeMycenaPanaeolusPluteusPsilocybe and Weraroa. There are approximately 190 species of psilocybin mushrooms and most of them fall in the genus Psilocybe.

The writer Terence McKenna speculated that hallucinogenic mushrooms may have a history that dates back as far as one million years ago, originating in East Africa. He suggests that early hominids such as Australopithecus africanusAustralopithecus boisei, and the omnivorous Homo habilis expanded their original diets of fruit and small animals to include underground roots, tubers, and corms. McKenna claims that at this particular time, early hominids gathered psilocybin mushrooms off the African grasslands and ate them as part of their diet. He suggests that the psilocybin-containing mushrooms that were thought to have grown on the grasslands at that time were the Panaeolus species andStropharia cubensis, also called Psilocybe cubensis, which is a famous "Magic Mushroom" widely distributed today.

There is some archaeological evidence for their use in ancient times. Several mesolithic rock paintings from Tassili n'Ajjer (aprehistoric North African site identified with the Capsian culture) have been identified by author Giorgio Samorini as possibly depicting the shamanic use of mushrooms, possibly Psilocybe. Hallucinogenic species of Psilocybe have a history of use among the native peoples of Mesoamerica for religious communion, divination, and healing, from pre-Columbian times up to the present day. Mushroom-shaped statuettes found at archaeological sites seem to indicate that ritual use of hallucinogenic mushrooms is quite ancient. Mushroom stones and motifs have been found in Mayan temple ruins in Guatemala, though there is considerable controversy as to whether these objects indicate the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms or whether they had some other significance with the mushroom shape being simply a coincidence. More concretely, a statuette dating from ca. 200 AD and depicting a mushroom strongly resembling Psilocybe mexicana was found in a west Mexican shaft and chamber tomb in the state of Colima.
Hallucinogenic Psilocybe were known to the Aztecs as teonanácatl (literally "divine mushroom" - agglutinative form of teó (god, sacred) and nanácatl (mushroom) in Náhuatl) and were reportedly served at the coronation of the Aztec rulerMoctezuma II in 1502. Aztecs and Mazatecs referred to psilocybin mushrooms as genius mushrooms, divinatory mushrooms, and wondrous mushrooms, when translated into English. Bernardino de Sahagún reported ritualistic use of teonanácatl by the Aztecs, when he traveled to Central America after the expedition of Hernán Cortés.

After the Spanish conquest, Catholic missionaries campaigned against the "pagan idolatry," and as a result the use of hallucinogenic plants and mushrooms like other pre-Christian traditions was quickly suppressed. The Spanish believed the mushroom allowed the Aztecs and others to communicate with "devils". In converting people to Catholicism, the Spanish pushed for a switch from teonanácatl to the Catholic sacrament of the Eucharist. Despite this history, in some remote areas, the use of teonanácatl has remained.

The first mention of hallucinogenic mushrooms in the Western medicinal literature appeared in the London Medical and Physical Journal in 1799: a man had served Psilocybe semilanceata mushrooms that he had picked for breakfast inLondon's Green Park to his family. The doctor who treated them later described how the youngest child "was attacked with fits of immoderate laughter, nor could the threats of his father or mother refrain him."

In 1955, Valentina and R. Gordon Wasson became the first Westerners to actively participate in an indigenous mushroom ceremony. The Wassons did much to publicize their discovery, even publishing an article on their experiences in Life in 1957. In 1956 Roger Heim identified the hallucinogenic mushroom that the Wassons had brought back from Mexico as Psilocybe, and in 1958, Albert Hofmann first identified psilocin and psilocybin as the active compounds in these mushrooms.

Inspired by the Wassons' Life article, Timothy Leary traveled to Mexico to experience hallucinogenic mushrooms firsthand. Upon returning to Harvard in 1960, he and Richard Alpert started the Harvard Psilocybin Project, promoting psychological and religious study of psilocybin and other hallucinogenic drugs. After Leary and Alpert were dismissed by Harvard in 1963, they turned their attention toward promoting the psychedelic experience to the nascenthippie counterculture.

The popularization of entheogens by Wasson, Leary, authors Terence McKenna and Robert Anton Wilson, and others has led to an explosion in the use of hallucinogenic Psilocybe throughout the world. By the early 1970s, a number of psychoactivePsilocybe species were described from temperate North America, Europe, and Asia and were widely collected. Books describing methods of cultivating Psilocybe cubensis in large quantities were also published. The availability of hallucinogenic Psilocybe from wild and cultivated sources has made it among the most widely used of the hallucinogenic drugs.

At present, hallucinogenic mushroom use has been reported among a number of groups spanning from central Mexico to Oaxaca, including groups of Nahua, Mixtecs, Mixe, Mazatecs, Zapotecs, and others.

Effects



Psilocybin mushrooms are non-addictive and rarely abused. They do create short-term increases in tolerance of users, thus making it difficult to abuse them because the more often they are taken within a short period of time, the weaker the resultant effects are. Poisonous (sometimes lethal) wild picked mushrooms can be easily mistaken for psilocybin mushrooms, but true psilocybin mushrooms are non-toxic, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a branch of the Center for Disease Control, rated psilocybin less toxic than aspirin. When psilocybin is ingested, it is broken down to producepsilocin, which is responsible for the hallucinogenic effects.

As with many psychedelic substances, the effects of psychedelic mushrooms are subjective and can vary considerably among individual users. The mind-altering effects of psilocybin-containing mushrooms typically last anywhere from 3 to 8 hours depending on dosage, preparation method, and personal metabolism. However, the effects can seem to last much longer because of psilocybin's ability to alter time perception.

Sensory


Noticeable changes to the audio, visual, and tactile senses may become apparent around an hour after ingestion. These shifts in perception visually include enhancement and contrasting of colors, strange light phenomena (such as auras or "halos" around light sources), increased visual acuity, surfaces that seem to ripple, shimmer, or breathe; complex open and closed eye visuals of form constants or images, objects that warp, morph, or change solid colors; a sense of melting into the environment, and trails behind moving objects. Sounds seem to be heard with increased clarity; music, for example, can often take on a profound sense of cadence and depth. Some users experience synesthesia, wherein they perceive, for example, a visualization of color upon hearing a particular sound.

Emotional

As with other psychedelics such as LSD, the experience, or "trip," is strongly dependent upon set and setting. A negative environment could likely induce a bad trip, whereas a comfortable and familiar environment would allow for a pleasant experience. Many users find it preferable to ingest the mushrooms with friends, people they're familiar with, or people that are also 'tripping', although neither side of this binary is without exception.

Spiritual and well being


In 2006, the United States government funded a randomized and double-blinded study byJohns Hopkins University, which studied the spiritual effects of psilocybin mushrooms. The study involved 36 college-educated adults who had never tried psilocybin nor had a history of drug use and had religious or spiritual interests; the average age of the participants was 46 years. The participants were closely observed for eight-hour intervals in a laboratory while under the influence of psilocybin mushrooms.

One-third of the participants reported that the experience was the single most spiritually significant moment of their lives and more than two-thirds reported it was among the top five most spiritually significant experiences. Two months after the study, 79% of the participants reported increased well-being or satisfaction; friends, relatives, and associates confirmed this. They also reported anxiety and depression symptoms to be decreased or completely gone.

Despite highly controlled conditions to minimize adverse effects, 22% of subjects (8 of 36) had notable experiences of fear, some with paranoia. The authors, however, reported that all these instances were "readily managed with reassurance."

As medicine

There have been calls for medical investigation of the use of synthetic and mushroom-derived psilocybin for the development of improved treatments of various mental conditions, including chronic cluster headaches, following numerous anecdotal reports of benefits. There are also several accounts of psilocybin mushrooms sending both obsessive-compulsive disorders ("OCD") and OCD-related clinical depression (both being widespread and debilitating mental health conditions) into complete remission immediately and for up to months at a time, compared to current medications which often have both limited efficacy and frequent undesirable side-effects. One such study states:

"Developing drugs that are more effective and faster acting for the treatment of OCD is of utmost importance and until recently, little hope was in hand. A new potential avenue of treatment may exist. There are several reported cases concerning the beneficial effects of hallucinogenic drugs (psilocybin and LSD), potent stimulators of 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors, in patients with OCD (Brandrup and Vanggaard, 1977, Rapoport, 1987, Moreno and Delgado, 1997) and related disorders such as body dysmorphic disorder (Hanes, 1996)."


"[I]f it can be established that this class of drug can indeed lead to rapid and substantial reduction in OCD symptoms, then it opens the way for a variety of future studies with new drugs that might possibly have the anti-OCD but not the psychedelic effects. [...] Psilocybin, LSD, and mescaline are extremely potent agonists at 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors and their binding potency to these receptors is correlated with their human potency as hallucinogens (Glennon et al., 1984). The acute improvement in symptoms described in the published case reports (Brandrup and Vanggaard, 1977, Rapoport, 1987, Moreno and Delgado, 1997) suggests that interactions with 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors may be an essential component of anti-OCD drug action. The observations that administration of the non-selective 5-HT antagonistmetergoline or ritanserin exacerbate OCD symptoms further supports this view."

Dosage

Dosage of mushrooms containing psilocybin depends on the potency of the mushroom (the total psilocybin and psilocin content of the mushrooms), which varies significantly both between species and within the same species, but is typically around 0.5-2% of the dried weight of the mushroom. A typical dose of the rather common species, Psilocybe cubensis, is approximately 1 to 2.5 grams, while about 2.5 to 5 grams dried mushroom material is considered a strong dose. Above 5 dried grams is often considered a heavy dose.
The concentration of active psilocybin mushroom compounds varies not only from species to species, but also from mushroom to mushroom inside a given species, subspecies or variety. The same holds true even for different parts of the same mushroom. In the species Psilocybe samuiensis Guzmán, Bandala and Allen, the dried cap of the mushroom contains the most psilocybin at about 0.23%–0.90%. The mycelia contain about 0.24%–0.32%.

Legality

Psilocybin and psilocin are listed as Schedule I drugs under the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Schedule I drugs are deemed to have a high potential for abuse and are not recognized for medical use. However, psilocybin mushrooms are not covered by UN drug treaties.

From a letter, dated Sept 13, 2001, from Herbert Schaepe, Secretary of the UN International Narcotics Control Board, to the Dutch Ministry of Health:
As you are aware, mushrooms containing the above substances are collected and used for their hallucinogenic effects. As a matter of international law, no plants (natural material) containing psilocine and psilocybin are at present controlled under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971. Consequently, preparations made of these plants are not under international control and, therefore, not subject of the articles of the 1971 Convention. It should be noted, however, that criminal cases are decided with reference to domestic law, which may otherwise provide for controls over mushrooms containing psilocine and psilocybin. As the Board can only speak as to the contours of the international drug conventions, I am unable to provide an opinion on the litigation in question.


Psilocybin mushrooms are regulated or prohibited in many countries, often carrying severe legal penalties (for example, the U.S. Psychotropic Substances Act, the UK Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and Drugs Act 2005, and the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act).

The prohibition of psilocybin mushrooms has come under criticism because psilocybin mushrooms are considered soft drugs with a low potential for abuse, very low toxicity, and no risk of addiction.

Magic Mushrooms in their fresh form still remain legal in some countries including Spain, Austria, and Canada. On November 29, 2008, The Netherlands announced it would ban the cultivation and use of psilocybin-containing fungi beginning December 1, 2008. The UK ban on fresh mushrooms (dried ones were illegal as they were considered a psilocybin-containing preparation) introduced in 2005 came under much criticism, but was rushed through at the end of the 2001-2005 Parliament; until then Magic Mushrooms had been sold in the UK.

New Mexico appeals court ruled on June 14, 2005, that growing psilocybin mushrooms for personal consumption could not be considered "manufacturing a controlled substance" under state law. However it still remains illegal under federal law.