The Hawk, Instant Zen, Sugar, Acid, The Chief, Big D, Blue Acid. See also: Acid Head, Flashback, Niacinamide, Guide, Flip-out, Horrors … Blow your mind.1
LSD. Lysergic acid diethylmide. Who knows what that is? Not me.2 That’s the beauty of it. We don’t know what’s in it, where it comes from, or even the chemical reaction it’s creating in our bodies. No idea who made it. Or how much to take, really. The amount of time it’s been sitting in our friend’s kitchen cabinet next to the fridge? Unclear.3 Somehow that doesn’t bother us. In an era when we can find out the farm where our chicken dinner came from4 and buying local is somehow moral,5 one shudders to think that illegal drugs may be the next big thing to be co-opted and hand-crafted, likely in small batches, with a marketing strategy no less. Packaged, in craft paper … Instagramed (#nofilter). Organic.6
I digress. I’ve done acid many times, but I’ve only had the real-deal 1970s-feel, take-a-trip, blow-your-mind stuff twice. The first was in 2008 at a house in East LA before everyone liked living there. Tom Klepper sent several shots squirting from an eyedropper straight down my throat; I declined the in-the-eye method. From there, a lot of shit happened that I can’t confirm was real or not, but I do remember lying on a grassy hill behind the house underneath tangerine trees the next morning watching the sun rise in a warm wind and feeling like Richard Ramirez was going to cruise past at any moment. I was so wired waiting for him. We went to buy champagne at 11 in the morning and the liquor store was packed. I asked the cashier if everyone else was on drugs, too. He told me it was Super Bowl Sunday, New York vs. New England. Big deal.
The second time was the kind of trip that when you finally come back, four days later, you look around at the world for a good five seconds and say to yourself, out loud, on the exhale, “Whoa.”7
That blow-your-mind kind of high can only happen with a bit of abandonment, when we’re willing to lose control. Think of it this way: We’re going to be okay not knowing where our kale was grown. We’re going to be okay letting go of the moral high ground. We’re going to be okay taking LSD. Our kids are too. We’re all going to be just fine, the center will hold.8
1 “A Handbook of Drug Terms” (Pacific: New York, 2017). Originally published by the State of New York in 1972.
2 I was never a stoner, but growing up in the Pacific Northwest 1990s marijuana culture was my birthright. Heroin was for the bad kids, and people from Seattle. Meth was on the periphery, quickly to consume more friends than I could imagine. I didn’t touch anything until college, out of state, when I gobbled up everything in reach. Did I know what LSD really was in my adolescence… nah. According to Merriam-Webster: a semisynthetic illicit organic compound C20H25N3O derived from ergot that induces extreme sensory distortions, altered perceptions of reality, and intense emotional states, that may also produce delusions or paranoia, and that may sometimes cause panic reactions in response to the effects experienced—called also lysergic acid diethylamide.
3 The first and only random roommate that I’ve lived with in New York was named Jonathan Graves. He was a music prodigy from Pittsburgh, who had been adopted. I mention the adoption because his birth surname was Polish and we ended up living in a great apartment in a Polish neighborhood. I suspect he used his birth name to get the lease. He loved shrooms and the band Animal Collective, and had his own band, which is better than Animal Collective. He always had fancy chocolates with shrooms in them. They were amazing. I had them once, he ate them all the time. He moved out five years ago into a renovated apartment in Long Island City with his girlfriend that got destroyed two months later by Hurricane Sandy. My boyfriend moved in. Jonathan left some shrooms in the fridge and some chocolates in the freezer. I think the shrooms are still there.
4 I just googled “portlandia chicken sketch.” It’s called “Is This Chicken Local.” Portlandia would not still be on Netflix if they had not written this sketch. It’s a pretty accurate depiction of the cultural climate of my home city.
5 See: White privilege.
6 If it’s on a styrofoam tray wrapped in cellophane does it even matter?
7 Whispered in LAX on my way back to New York sitting in the weird glass smoking area. Being inside these weird see-through boxes feels like a mix between a zoo pen and a classy Swiss jail cell. I kinda dig smoking areas in airports, but prefered places like Athens in the early aughts where the smoking area was a table and no chairs in the middle of Arrivals.
8 All you need is love. If you take away anything from this text it should be that The Beatles loved LSD, it’s likely the only reason they stayed relevant once the Stones made it. The drug is responsible for their best album, “Revolver.” Listen to that shit on acid. I wish I had some right now, but I’m too old, so I’m listening to the Pixies really fucking loud and writing this. Thanks for reading.
About the artist:
Eliana Marinari is an artist living and working in Geneva, Switzerland. Her work has been exhibited and is held in private collections in Switzerland, Italy, UK and the US. Marinari’s series, “Recognition Memory,” mimics the discomfort of distorted or inaccessible memories through a series of ink and pastel drawings, glazed over with layers of aerosol acrylic paint. The body of work explores the visual quality of memory and the ephemeral nature of images. “Memory has the ability to create a visual representation of an image in our mind, to store it and to recall it.”