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home | Acid Test Chronicles | The Acid Test Chronicles - Page 13 - . . .
 

This is a One-of-A-Kind haind-painted handbill for Muir Beach Acid Test on Dec. 11, 1965. The book, "Art of Rock" featured one of these handbills, however, it was leftover, and not colored in until years later by Sunshine Kesey. The one shown here was hand-painted at the time of the event, and gifted to Billy Kreutzmann who kept it preserved for all these years. It was framed and kept in great condition, fortunately. Printed on thick paper, these items were given as gifts to band members, one would assume. It would be difficult to imagine the Pranksters painting these like this, then handing them out to advertise. The paints are pastels and metallic. The style is very similar to the hand-colored poster shown on the first pages, and known to be colored in by the Merry Pranksters. <br><br>This item turned up when a friendly couple who were trusted with caring for Bill's home were rewarded with the contents of his storage facility after he moved to Hawaii. The item ended up on E-Bay and was removed as fast as it appeared. A truly unique and historic item!
This is a One-of-A-Kind haind-painted handbill for Muir Beach Acid Test on Dec. 11, 1965. The book, "Art of Rock" featured one of these handbills, however, it was leftover, and not colored in until years later by Sunshine Kesey. The one shown here was hand-painted at the time of the event, and gifted to Billy Kreutzmann who kept it preserved for all these years. It was framed and kept in great condition, fortunately. Printed on thick paper, these items were given as gifts to band members, one would assume. It would be difficult to imagine the Pranksters painting these like this, then handing them out to advertise. The paints are pastels and metallic. The style is very similar to the hand-colored poster shown on the first pages, and known to be colored in by the Merry Pranksters.

This item turned up when a friendly couple who were trusted with caring for Bill's home were rewarded with the contents of his storage facility after he moved to Hawaii. The item ended up on E-Bay and was removed as fast as it appeared. A truly unique and historic item!


The Acid Test Chronicles - Page 13 - The Warlocks / Grateful Dead - 3rd Acid Test - Muir Beach Dec. 11, 1965

   Muir Beach was the 3rd Acid Test. This event was marked in memory by Owsley's initiation to the Acid Tests.

   "In December '65, I really heard the Grateful Dead for the first time. It was at the Fillmore [Dec. 10/Mime Troupe Benefit] the night before the Muir Beach Acid Test [Dec. 11]. I was standing in the hall and they were playing and they scared me to death. Jerry's guitar terrified me. I had never before heard that much power. That much thought. That much emotion. I thought to myself, "These guys could be bigger than the Beatles." - Owsley Stanley - Dark Star - Robert Greenfield - Page 74 


   Denise Kaufman: "When we did the Muir Beach Acid Test, Wavy Gravy became part of the scene. To me the two beings that kind of had the most direct access to some other area of consciousness were Wavy and Neal." -- On the Bus - Paul Perry - Page 149

   
   Wavy Gravy: "We would take acid every Monday because that was out day off. I was up to about 750 micrograms. I would go zooming around the Bay Area checking out this or that. It was then that I got into the Muir Beach scene and met Kesey." -- On the Bus - Paul Perry - Page 151

   Here are a few quotes from Blair Jackson's book . 
   Page 91, upper-middle; more on the Muir Beach Acid Test: 
   Also on hand that night was Hugh Romney (now known as the counterculture clown Wavy Gravy), who was working in San Francisco as a member of the hip Bay Area comedy troupe called The Committee. Romney had come out of the Greenwich Village nightclub world and had a finely developed theatrical streak himself. He'd attended acting school at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse and in the evenings he would read his poetry and improvise stories about his life at beatnik coffeehouses. Lenny Bruce caught Romney's act one night and was so impressed that he became his manager and subsequently sent him around the country opening for jazz players like John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. He briefly shared a room with Bob Dylan above the Gaslight cafe in Greenwich Village and he developed a peculiar way-off-Broadway show that featured him, the bizarre ukulele-strumming singer Tiny Tim, and the blind, robed New York street singer Moon Dog. Eventually Romney moved to the West Coast to help Lenny Bruce with his unending legal battles (over the alleged obscenity of his stand-up act), and then he found his way into The Committee, who were sort of post-Beat satirists on the fringes of the San Francisco drug culture. As "Al Dente," a name he took off the cooking instructions on a pasta wrapper, Romney became a major supplier of psychedelics in North Beach, which put him inexorably on the path to the Acid Tests. At Muir Beach he struck up friendships with the Dead and the Pranksters that have lasted to the present. 

   Florence Nathan's counterculture credentials weren't quite as impressive as Owsley's or Romney's, but she nonetheless became a fixture in the Dead's scene beginning at the Muir Beach Acid Test. Born in Paris to French parents, she and her family emigrated to San Francisco when she was 5. She says she had a "pretty sheltered, very strict upbringing with a lot of rules," even after she went to S.F. State on a drama scholarship at 16. After her scholarship ended, she was forced to drop out of school and she took a job working for a detective agency, of all things, and then doing land surveys. At the same time, though, her brief life in the local theater world led her to The Committee, and then to Tom Donahue, who was working at KYA and running Autumn Records. "He saw that I was in a job that was really, really boring and he offered me a job in his record company, so I went to work for him, and that was my transition into the rock 'n' roll scene. While working with Donahue, she helped him with backstage logistics for some of the big Top 40 concerts he put on at the Cow Palace, and she says, "It was a pretty exciting scene. For me it was an extension of the theater. It was show business. I was never star struck; I was stage-struck. I loved the behind-the-scenes stuff."
   Through Donahue, Florence became friends with the elusive, reclusive L.A. record producer Phil Spector, and Spector in turn introduced her to Lenny Bruce, which brings us to why she showed up at Muir Beach that night: "It indirectly had to do with Lenny Bruce," she says. "We'd had an encounter and then a friendship for a little while, and I was at a party somewhere in San Francisco that Lenny was supposed to be at, but he wasn't there, and someone said, 'Oh, he went to this Acid Test out at Muir Beach.' So I got in my car and drove over the mountain. When I got there it was just ending and I didn't know what an Acid Test was. I had never taken acid at that point. I think I was high on pot. I walked in and ... I think it's been written about the Muir Beach Acid Test how Owsley dragged a chair across the floor endlessly making this horrible noise. Well, I actually walked in and witnessed that — that was the first thing I saw! Here is this strange guy, pushing this chair around, making this horrendous noise and talking to himself. I was thinking 'What the hell is going on here?' Parts of it looked like the end of a gig — people were putting stuff away, getting things ready to put in Bill's station wagon.
   That was the night I met Phil. He was high on acid, I wasn't. We connected that night and we ended up going together and living together for five years." The next time Phil and Florence got together she took acid, too, and that was also her first exposure to the music of the Grateful Dead. It would be several years before she took on the name by which she is known today, Rosie McGee. 

   M.G. on the Muir Beach Acid Test: "The delay machine was also one of the most important things there, because there was this short lag on your voice; it was just long enough to be really uncomfortable, and it would really fuck you up. It was exactly the length of time it would take you to form a thought, so just as your next thought was formed, you heard your voice speaking the previous thought. It was really hard to make progress through that. I had a strobe light that my brother Donald, who had hung with the Pranksters a bit, had borrowed from SRI [Stanford Research Institute], and that was really great — it had a huge calibrated dial and was worth thousands of dollars." 


      "One of the highlights of the Muir Beach Acid Test was...dare I, shall I breath his name? Owsley pushing a chair along a wooden floor, this old wooden chair, running it along the floor making this noise, the most horrible screeching and scraping. It went on for hours. I'm not exaggerating, it just drove everybody completely up the wall. That was an incredible exhibition of making yourself...uncomfortable...making other people uncomfortable. He was scraping the chair and listening to the noise and lovin' it. I guess that's what was happening. - Mountain Girl on Muir Beach - Grateful Dead Family Album - Page 30

   
      "That was a strange night. The poor band couldn't get anything going. I know Pigpen got dosed and he was very unhappy about it. The lighting was bad in there and the band would go up and play for about 5 minutes and then they'd sit down; That was all they could do. "C'mon guys. Why aren't you playing?" ... 'I don't know. Why do we have to play?'  It was pretty funny. So then the Pranksters would play, and that was perfectly dreadful. It sounded like a bad version of Sun-Ra---Screetchy, but still kinda fun and upbeat; dissonant, goof-off kind of music. There were lots of silly costumes and colored smoke and bubbles and whatever I could come up with. I did a lot of light show stuff--- I ran various slide projectors and film loops, mainly Prankster footage---the bus going down the road, and so on." - Mountain Girl


      "The third Acid Test was scheduled for Stinson Beach, 15 miles north of San Francisco. Stinson Beach was already a gathering place for local heads. You could live all winter in little beach cottages there for next to nothing. There was a nice solid brick recreation hall on the beach, all very nice---but at the last minute that whole deal fell through and they shifted to Muir Beach, a few miles south. The handbills were already out, all over the head sections of San Francisco, Can YOU Pass the Acid Test?, advertising Cassady & Anne Murphey Vaudeville, and celebrities who might be there, which included anyone who happened to be in town, or might make it to town, the Fugs, Ginsberg, Roland Kirk. There were always some nice chiffon subjunctives and the future conditionals in the Prankster handbill rhetoric, but who was to deny who might be drawn into the movie....
   Anyway, at the last minute, they headed for Muir Beach instead. The fact that many people wouldn't know about the change and would go to Stinson Beach and merely freeze in the darkness and never find the right place---somehow that didn't even seem distressing. It was part of some strange analogical order of the universe. Norman Hartweg hooked down his LSD---it was in the acid gas capsules that night---and thought of Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff wouldn't announce a meeting until thr last minute. We're gonna get together tonight. The people that got there, got there; and there was message in that alone. Which was, of course: you're either on the bus or off the bus.
   Those who were either on the bus, even if they weren't Pranksters, like Marshall Efron, the round Mercury of Hip California, or the Hell's Angels....all found it. The cops, however, did not. They were apparently thrown off by the Stinson Beach handbills.
   Muir Beach has a big log-cabin-style lodge for dances, banquets, and the like. The lodge was stilted up out in a waste of frigid marsh grass. A big empty nighttime beach in winter. Some little log tourist cabins with blue doors on either side, all empty. The lodge had three big rooms and was about 100 feet long, all logs and rafters and exposed beams, a tight ship of dark wood and Roughing It. The Grateful Dead piled in with their equipment and the Pranksters with theirs, which now included a Hammond electric organ for Gretch and a great strobe light.
   ...."To people standing under the mighty strobe, everything seemed to fragment. Ecstatic dancers---their hands flew off their arms frozen in the air---their glistening faces came apart---a gleaming ellipse of teeth here, a pair of buffered highlit cheekbones there---all flacking and fragmenting into images as in an old flicker movie---a man in slices!---All of history pinned up on a butterfly board;  the experience, of course. The strobe, the projectors, the mikes, the tapes, the amplifiers, the variable lag Ampex---it was all set up in a coiling gleaming clump in the Lincoln Log lodge, the communal clump, Babbs working over the dials, talking into the microphones to test them. Heads beginning to pour in. Marshall Efron, and Norman, Norman already fairly zonked....Then in comes Kesey, through the main door---
   Everyone watches. His face is set, his head cocked slightly. He is going to do something; everyone watches, because this seems terribly important. Drawn in right away by the charismatic vacuum cleaner, they are. Kesey heads for the control center, saying nothing to anyone, reaches into the galaxy of dials, makes...a single minute adjustment...yes! one toggle switch, double-pole, single-throw, double-break, in the allegory of control...
   Babbs is there, bombed, but setting up the intricate glistening coils of the tapes and projectors and the rest of it. Each of the Pranksters, bombed, has some fairly exacting task to do, Norman is staring at the dials---and he can't even see the numbers, he is so bombed, the numbers are wriggling off like huge luminous parasites under a microscope---but---function under acid. Babbs says, "One reason we're doing this is to learn how to function on acid." Of course! Prepare for the Day---when multitudes, millions, civilizations are on acid, seeking satori, it is coming, the wave is spreading.
   The heads are all sitting around on the floor, about 300 of them. Into the maelstrom! Yes, at Big Nig's in San Jose, a lot of the kids the Pranksters had corralled coming out of the Rolling Stone show did not take LSD that night, although there were enough heads at Big Nig's stoned on various things to create the sympathetic vibration known as the "contact high". But this is different. Practically everybody who has found the place, after the switch from Stinson Beach, is far enough into the thing to know what the "acid" in the Acid Test means. A high percentage took LSD about 4 hours ago, rode out the first rush and are ready...now to groove...The two projectors shine forth with The Movie. The bus and the Pranksters start rolling over the walls of the lodge, Babbs and Kesey rapping on about it, the Bus lumping huge and vibrating and bouncing in great swells of heads and color---Norman, zonked, sitting on the floor, is half frightened, half ecstatic, although something in the back of his mind recognizes this as his Acid Test pattern, to sit back and watch, holding on through the rush, until 3 or 4 A.M, in the magic hours, and then dance---but so much of a rush this time! The Movie and Roy Seburn's light machine pitching the intergalactic red science-fiction seas to all corners in the lodge, oil and water and food coloring pressed between plates of glass and projected in vast size so that the very ooze of cellular Creation seems to ectoplast into the ethers and then the Dead coming in with their immense submarine vibrato vibrating, garanging, from the Aleutian rocks to the baja griffin cliffs of the Gulf of California. The Dead's weird sound! Agony in ecstasis!, submarine somehow, turbid half the time, tremendously loud but like sitting under a waterfall, at the same time full of sort of goul show vibrato sounds as if each string of their electric guitars is half a block long and twanging in a room full of natural gas, not to mention their great Hammond electric organ, which sounds like a movie house Wurlitzer, a diathermy machine, a Citizen's Band radio and an Auto-Grind garbage truck at 4 A.M., all coming over the same frequency...Then suddenly another movie.
   ...."Norman has never seen a movie while under acid before and it deepens, deepens, deepens in perspective, this movie, the most 3-D movie ever made until they are standing right before him, their very neopreme fairy tails and the Pacific is so far in the distance and black out beyond the marshes around the Muir Beach lodge until Babbs and Gretch are now in the room in the flesh in two seperate spots, here before me on the beach and over here in this very room in this very lodge on the beach, Babbs at the microphone and Gretch nearby at the new Hammond organ---such synch! that they should narrate and orchestrate their own lives like this, in variable lag, layer upon layer of variable lags.
   HEEEEEEEEE...into the whirlpool who should appear but Owsley. Owsley, done up in his $600.00 head costume, has emerged from his subterrain of espionage and paranoia to come and see the Prankster experiment for himself, and in the middle of the giddy contagion he takes LSD. They never saw him take it before. He takes the LSD and RRRRRRRRRROIL, the whirlpool picks him up and pins him down into the stroboscope stereoptic panopticon in full variable lag.
   Such creatures.
   Hell's Angel's come reeling in, shrieking Day-Glo, then clumping together on the floor under the black light and then most gentle buddha blissly passing around among themselves various glittering Angel's esoterica, chains, Iron Crosses, knives, buttons, coins, keys, wrenches, spark plugs, grokking over these arcana winking in the Day-Glo. Orange and Silver devil gliding through the dancers grinning his Zea-lot grin in every face, and Kesey crouched amid the gleaming coils at the controls, Kesey looks out upon the stroboscopic whirlpool---the Dancers! flung and flinging! in ecstasis! gyrating! levitating! men in slices! in ping pong balls! in the creamy bare essence and it reaches a Synch he never saw before. heads from all over the acid world out here and all whirling into the pudding. Now let a man see what control is. Kesey mans the strobe and a twist of the mercury lever UP
and they all speed up
Now
the whole whirlpool, so far into it they are. Faster they dance, hands thrown up off their arms like confetti in the strobe flashing, blissful faces falling apart and being exchanged, for I am you and you are me, in Cosmo's Tasmanian deviltry. Turn it
Down
and they slow down---or we turn down---it---cosmo---turns down, still in perfect synch, one brain, one energy, a single flow of intersubjectivity. It is possible this alchemy so dreamed of by all the heads. It is happening before them.
Control" - From Electric Kool Aid Acid Test: 


   "Our next outing, held at Muir Beach, was interesting chiefly because of the appearance of Owsley Stanley. Scion of a great Kentucky family, he'd applied his formidable will and intelligence to science, engineering, and dance. During his first experience with acid, he had found his calling: to be the Johnny Appleseed of LSD. At that time he thought of himself as an alchemist, one who takes base metal and transmutes it into gold. We would later learn, through reading Jung and others, that alchemical terms were often metaphores for spiritual states.
   Oswley had just begun his brief career as the King of Acid, but his product was already considered the Gold Standard. He first showed up on our screens pushing a chair around the floor, in love with the screeching sound of plastic on linoleum, reminding me how I had once felt that the sound of an unlubricated truck transmission was singing to me. I didn't meet him that night; after the Test was over, he crashed his car on the way home up Mt. Tam. As he related it to us later, he'd spun off the road and seen his whole life -- all the incidents of a crowded lifetime in seconds -- as a tape loop. Where the splice is, "That's birth and death", he swore. -- Searching for the Sound - Phil Lesh - Page 67-68

   "Acid Test three was held at Muir Beach, a state park about ten miles north of San Francisco. It was a perfect setting: an empty winter beach, a huge empty log lodge, and no police. They had all gone further north to Stinson Beach, where the Acid Test was originally scheduled to be held.
   About 300 people watched the bus movie, and took in Roy Seburn's light show and music by the Grateful Dead.
   A good time was had by all except Kesey. At dawn he told the other Pranksters that the Acid Tests were over. Too many people, too much weird energy, too many bad vibes. No more, said the Chief.
   But the Acid Tests continued anyway." -- On the Bus -- Paul Perry - Page 115

I theorize that this is the handbill that was used for Stinson Beach, originally, before it was moved. If a Stinson Beach handbill turns up, it will likely be a version similar to this. That is not to say that a Stinson Beach handbill could not turn up that looks different, I am only suggesting that I believe this one was used for Stinson Beach. If you read above, from Electric Kool Aid, Wolfe claims "The handbills were already out, all over the head sections of San Francisco, Can YOU Pass the Acid Test?, advertising Cassady & Anne Murphey Vaudeville, and celebrities who might be there, which included anyone who happened to be in town, or might make it to town, the Fugs, Ginsberg, Roland Kirk". In the closeup pictured below, "Cassady and Anne Murphey Vaudeville" are listed on this piece, but not on any other item known yet.<br><br>This item is known to exist in both typical handbill, tan colored, and in "Sticker" form, for removing the back and pasting up on walls, I suppose. Not many of these survived, in either form, but the sticker is rarer than the handbill. (Designed by Wes Wilson)
   I theorize that this is the handbill that was used for Stinson Beach, originally, before it was moved. If a Stinson Beach handbill turns up, it will likely be a version similar to this. That is not to say that a Stinson Beach handbill could not turn up that looks different, I am only suggesting that I believe this one was used for Stinson Beach. If you read above, from Electric Kool Aid, Wolfe claims "The handbills were already out, all over the head sections of San Francisco, Can YOU Pass the Acid Test?, advertising Cassady & Anne Murphey Vaudeville, and celebrities who might be there, which included anyone who happened to be in town, or might make it to town, the Fugs, Ginsberg, Roland Kirk". In the closeup pictured below, "Cassady and Anne Murphey Vaudeville" are listed on this piece, but not on any other item known yet.

This item is known to exist in both typical handbill, tan colored, and in "Sticker" form, for removing the back and pasting up on walls, I suppose. Not many of these survived, in either form, but the sticker is rarer than the handbill. (Designed by Wes Wilson)

This handbill has never turned up with A Stinson Beach so far, as a matter of fact, no handbill or poster exists for Stinson Beach so far, but one or two of these are known to include the "Unicorn Theatre" in the box area, which is a location apparently, in San Diego which would indicate this was used for at least one Test in Los Angeles as well, but it could have been and most likely was the handbill used for Stinson Beach, before it was moved to Muir Beach.
   This handbill has never turned up with A Stinson Beach so far, as a matter of fact, no handbill or poster exists for Stinson Beach so far, but one or two of these are known to include the "Unicorn Theatre" in the box area, which is a location apparently, in San Diego which would indicate this was used for at least one Test in Los Angeles as well, but it could have been and most likely was the handbill used for Stinson Beach, before it was moved to Muir Beach.
This is the Standard Handbill, not Day-Glo Sticker. This item has been signed by Ken Kesey, Mountain Girl, Hassler, Mike Hagan, Ken Babbs, and (looks like Hugh Romney).
   This is the Standard Handbill, not Day-Glo Sticker. This item has been signed by Ken Kesey, Mountain Girl, Hassler, Mike Hagan, Ken Babbs, and (looks like Hugh Romney).
At least one collector out there questions whether or not this handbill was actually made and colored in "at the time" of Muir Beach, or prior. While I cannot prove that this handbill was made FOR the Muir Beach Test, since the location was changed at the last minute, I am sure it was Bill Kreutzmann's personal one, goiven to him as a gift. And I am confident it was given to him at the exact time of the Muir Beach test, within days before or after. The reason I believe this is because I DO NOT believe anyone would have sent this to Bill years later, and if you look closely and compare the coloring of the lettering, and around the lettering, you can see similiarities that are far too close to be dismissed easily. Some of the pastel colors are the same. The letters are outlined in both "Can You Pass" and "Acid Test" in both items. Knowing with absolute certainty that the poster was colored in by the Pranksters at the time of the test, between Muir Beach and the Fillmore Test, then comparing the coloring and actual ARTWORK, one can see they were colored in by the exact same people as whoever colored in the poster. There is no way someone that did not have this poster or a very very good pic of it, could have made that handbill after the fact. If you look at the handbill colored in by Sunshine Kesey, you can see none of the letteres are outlined, completely different coloring tools are used, and the ARTWORK is completely different. This is easy to see.
   At least one collector out there questions whether or not this handbill was actually made and colored in "at the time" of Muir Beach, or prior. While I cannot prove that this handbill was made FOR the Muir Beach Test, since the location was changed at the last minute, I am sure it was Bill Kreutzmann's personal one, goiven to him as a gift. And I am confident it was given to him at the exact time of the Muir Beach test, within days before or after. The reason I believe this is because I DO NOT believe anyone would have sent this to Bill years later, and if you look closely and compare the coloring of the lettering, and around the lettering, you can see similiarities that are far too close to be dismissed easily. Some of the pastel colors are the same. The letters are outlined in both "Can You Pass" and "Acid Test" in both items. Knowing with absolute certainty that the poster was colored in by the Pranksters at the time of the test, between Muir Beach and the Fillmore Test, then comparing the coloring and actual ARTWORK, one can see they were colored in by the exact same people as whoever colored in the poster. There is no way someone that did not have this poster or a very very good pic of it, could have made that handbill after the fact. If you look at the handbill colored in by Sunshine Kesey, you can see none of the letteres are outlined, completely different coloring tools are used, and the ARTWORK is completely different. This is easy to see.
This is a REAl Muir Beach handbill like the one shown above. The difference is that it was not colored in until years later by Sunshine Kesey. This Yellow one was saved by Kesey and found years later along with the Miniature Foster Graduation poster stash, approx. (3) of them. There was only (1) Muir Beach handbill though, that Kesey had saved.
   This is a REAl Muir Beach handbill like the one shown above. The difference is that it was not colored in until years later by Sunshine Kesey. This Yellow one was saved by Kesey and found years later along with the Miniature Foster Graduation poster stash, approx. (3) of them. There was only (1) Muir Beach handbill though, that Kesey had saved.