The Acid Test Chronicles - Page 27 - Acid Test Graduation - Oct. 31, 1966
An Original Acid Test Diploma. (Lee's last name was mis-spelled by accident) - This Diploma was featured in the Book, "On the Bus" by Paul Perry on page 180. Diplomas are by far the hardest Acid Test collectable to acquire, since there are very few remaining, and each one is a part of that person, who received it. It's a very personal item. They were either lost in time, or held onto very, VERY closely.
LSD-25 had just been outlawed on Oct. 6, 1966. The hipsters knew this was going to happen ahead of time and held a Graduation ceremony to celebrate the past and what was great at one time. Well, this of course, turned out to be a rather sad occasion for everyone. The vibe was down, as one can see from the Acid Test Graduation video footage that exists.
Kesey "Pranked" the media beforehand when interviewed, claiming the Graduation was a graduating from the acid experience. When asked if there would be acid on hand, Kesey replied, "Why don't you show up and find out?".
"Staying high took on new dimensions after Oct. 6, 1966, the day LSD became illegal in California. On that day, the Oracle sponsored a free outdoor concert in the Panhandle called the Love Pageant Rally. The Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Wildflower performed for nearly a thousand hippies who were celebrating the expansion of consciousness that LSD brought about. The Dead played their new song, "Alice D. Millionaire," a thinly veiled reference to their benefactor, Owsley Stanley. (The day before, the Los Angeles Times had run a story headlined "The LSD Millionaire," detaling how Stanley Owsley had risen to be the King of Acid.)
The San Francisco Chronicle had reported Kesey's appearance at the San Francisco State Acid Test and his announcement that he was planning an "LSD graduation ceremony" for Halloween night. On Oct. 20, Kesey, who had been playing cat-and-mouse with the police, was arrested, and he told the media that "taking acid is not the thing that's happening anymore" -- but that he still planned to put on his Acid Test Graduation. When asked what was going to replace acid, he replied: "Leary's supposed to be coming out, and he's supposed to know pieces of it. And Jerry Garcia with his music knows pieces of it." When Kesey got out on bail, members of the Haight community became suspicious of his motives and wondered whether he had been co-opted by the authorities. Despite the controversy, the graduation went ahead as scheduled, with perhaps two hundred people in attendance, along with newspaper reporters and television crews. The Dead had another engagement, so Kesey enlisted the Anonymous Artists of America, a group that featured Garcia's estranged wife, Sarah. The graduation had an actual commencement, and diplomas were handed out to Acid Test veterans by Neal Cassady, who made brief comments about each recipient. Kesey made an address that surprised the authorities, who were expecting a denunciation of drugs: "It [is] time to move on; this doesn't mean to stop taking acid, but to do something besides get stoned and go to rock 'n' roll dances." -- Captain Trips - Sandy Troy - Page 99-100
"The Acid Test Graduation is scheduled for Winterland on Monday, Oct. 31, Halloween. The next night the California Democratic Party is holding a big ralley in Winterland for Governor Brown, who is running against Ronald Reagan. Kesey and the Pranksters hold their blast on Halloween. Right? Far from being an "acid graduation," it will be an Acid Test of unbelievable proportions. Electric Kool-Aid will rain in the air like a typhoon, swizzle up every vein, 6000 heads smased out of their nuts, ricocheting off the walls like electric golf balls...The sky falls. But that's not all. They won't stop there! these maniacs...The Pranksters will smear all the doors, railings, walls, chairs, the heating system, the water fountains, with DMSO...laced with LSD...Dig?...DMSO is close to being an alchemical ideal, the universal solvent. Put a drop of DMSO on your fingertip and thirty seconds later you can taste it in your mouth. It goes right through your skin and through your system that fast. DMSO with LSD...What a vision! The following night the entire Democratic Party of California will get turned on, zonked out of their apples. Eight thousandemphysemateous fatbacked Senators, Assemblymen, National Committeemen, National Committeewomen, Congressmen, the Governor himself, wailing like banshees, flopping around and gurgling and spitting and frying like a pile of insane pancakes, whereupon the Deaf Policeman decend on the whole psychedelic movement with knouts flailing...
Christ! what a stew...Now the heads don't know whether Kesey is selling them out or shoving a big Roman candle up their universal arse. They're fascinated. They come around the Warehouse and peep into the gloom. Their eyes shine at the doorway with a hepatic fever. They come into the Warehouse, they stare at the bus, they stare at Kesey, Mountain Girl, Cassady, Babbs...A whole platoon of them comes in, beads rattling, teetering around the gouchos, staring at the bus and going "Wowwwww! Wowwwwww! and smiling at each other, like, it's so grooooovy, and suddenly all the Pranksters fall silent. "Cops," says Mountain Girl in total disgust. "How do you know?" "Look at their shoes." They have on lace-up boots like telephone linesman." "You could never git heads to wear heavy shoes like that," she says. Only a momentary downer, however. The fact is, the Pranksters are sailing. They've got the whole town into their Movie by now, cops and all. Kesey is all over TV, radio, and newspapers. he's a celebrity, the perfect celebrity, the Good-Bad guy, reeking all the secret Zea-lot delights of sin but promising to do good. They were all over town on the bus, befuddling the communal brain...Even into Fillmore, the big Negro section, with loudspeakers playing rock 'n' roll and American flags flying and big sign on the bus reading.
moving through the getto in a blur of Day-Glo swirls. the spades in Fillmore didn't know what the hell to make of that. Were these white freaks serious, only they got the term wrong? Or was it a shuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck--by the time they figured it out, the bus was long gone, wailing off somewhere else. Then the big sign
ACID TEST GRADUATION
went up on the bus and the bus went wheeling through Haight-Ashbury and downtown San Francisco and North Beach and Berkeley advertising the world's biggest convocation of all the heads, Pranksters flapped from every portal. George Walker up on top of the drums, Page on the Electric guitar. Mountain Girl hanging out the back of the bus exploding sunballs and screaming at the nonpulsed multitudes on the subject of the race for governor and Kesey's various busts
"Kesey for governor!"
"A man of convictions!"
"He stands on his record!"
"The idiot's choice!"
"A joint in every stash!"
"No hope without dope!"
They were immune again. The whole freaking town was into the movie. And after...-- Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test -- Tom Wolfe - Pages 381-83
"NEVERTHEFREAKINGLESS! THE NEXT NIGHT, HALLOWEEN, the magic long awaited hour...I can hardly believe it, the Pranksters have transformed the place. You have to hand it to them, they must have worked like Turks. It's still a pestilence among buildings, you understand, this Warehouse, but there's verve in the air. Rat splendor. The most splendid thing is a huge orange-and-white parachute, an enormous thing, just the silk, not the strings and all, hooked to the ceiling at the apex, and billowed out to the far corners of the ceiling like some majestic canopy out of Louise XV lawn revel in the Orangerie at Versailles. It glistens! Grand luxe! The very same parachute, it turns out, that Astronauts use on reentry for the splashdown...Hmmmmmm...Yes...Quite a sight! The Pranksters have turned into the Flag People again, in their American Flag coveralls. Mountain Girl sits at the Sixth Street side in Flag coveralls checking guests against the invitation list which is posted up on the door in Paul Foster God Rotor script. Mountain Girl opens the Can't Bust 'Em coveralls and suckles Sunshine as the few, the faithful...the many!...come flapping by...Their faces are painted in Art Nouveau swirls, their napolean hats are painted, masks painted, hair dyed weird, embroidered Chinese pajamas, dresses made out of American flags, Flash Gordon diaphnous polyethylene, suypermarket saran wrap, India-print coverlets shawls Cossack coats sleeveless fur coats pipping frogging Bourbon hash emboidery serapes sarongs aris headbands bows buttons vests frock coats clerical magisterial scholar's robes stripes strips flaps thongs Hookah boots harem boots Mexicali boots Durango boots elf boots Knight boots Mod boots Day-Glo Wellingtons Flagellation boots beads medallions amulets totems polished bones pigeons skulls bat skeletons frog thoraxes dog femurs lemur tinia kneecap of a coyote...A hell of a circus, in short, a whole carnival banner, a panopticon. Hell's Angels pulling in, in their colors, the death's head jackets, full dress, beards combed and trimmed, Terry the Tramp, Pete the Drag Racer, Ralph of Oakland, plus their girls...miniskirts and rasberry stockings...Chocolate George...Chaos! Shitfire! Chocolate George doesn't see his name on the list and his girl keeps saying, "What's the matter, George, can't we get in?" until Mountain Girl gives a bullshit laugh and waves them in. A kid about ten pops out of the door onto Sixth Street and yells, "Who's smoking grass around here?" -- in the most demanding voice you ever heard...aggressive little devil. There's even a nursery set up inside the door and they keep making the Hermit stay the hell out of there. Kesey is off to one side in the Flag People coverall, looking around, not saying much listening to the big Angel from Oakland who has on a polka-dot shirt and a polka-dot tie under his Angel's jacket--"I wore a shirt and tie, Ken, on account of it's Halloween"--rock 'n' roll playing over the loudspeakers, which are all over the place, on the sides, on the ceiling, right up in the summit of the parachute canopy even...microphones, cameras, TV cameras...Yes...The Few and the Faithful!--all the same, the word of the hoopla in the scabid old Warehouse is around town like a chic piece of information. Irresistible, of course...The TV stations have cameramen there, four radio stations with microphones and tape machines. Herbert Gold the novelist with an aftershave smile on. Ingrid Bergman's daughter, Pia Lindstrom...Oh. sweet adrenal edge! This is where it's at! what--could this be....the new wave? ...Where? in comes the Women's Wear Daily correspondent in San Francisco, Albert Morch, a brassy little character wiht a rolleiflex around his neck...Caterine Milinaire of Vogue with a miniature camera in a chain-mail evening purse, standing amid Angels, heads, and the Probation Generation like a Bulfinch princess...Larry Dietz the magazine writer from Los Angeles...And me...Kesey looking around and saying nothing and ....wondering...Hmmmmm...The Few and the Faithful and the whole hulking world. It's a regular beano, all right. But Mother! These costumes aren't for a Halloween party but for the liberation of dead souls...churchly vestiture, in truth...
Are we blind? ...Oblation...Consecration...Communion...Well...The Anonymous Artists of America climbing up onto the stage...They're like freaking faeries out of A Midsummer Night's Dream, dueling shirts and long gowns of phosphorescent pastels like the world never saw before, Day-Glo death masks beaming out in front of the instruments. The music suddenly submerges the room from a million speakers...a soprano tornado of it...all electric, plus the Buchla electronic music machine screaming like a logical lunatic...
Out in the middle, under the great parachute canopy and the spotlights, sailing across the mungery carpet...Doris Delay of the Pranksters in Flag people coveralls and Terry the Tramp of Hell's Angel's in an Ozark razorback stovepipe hat dark glasses Angels Beard, a huge brown-and-black striped sweater like a racoon, the Angels' sleeveless jacket and the death's head, blue jeans, motorcycle boots...Christ, here's a coming-out party for you, Doris Delay and Terry the Tramp...stomping and flailing about in a regular hoedown...but formal in a wacky way. They dance for about a minute and then the others rush out, a storm of them, couples in acid-head fancy dress, dancing to the rock 'n' roll, only they're dancing clean out of their gourds, they leap, they flail their arms up in the air, they throw their heads back, they gyrate and levitate...they're in a state...they're ecstatic...Gary Goldhill looks on from the side. he has on a huge lake-red Chinese pajama top with a gold dragon embroidered on it. He's spooked about the Warehouse...Musty!...Insane!...Friends or spirits? Well---Earth can be heaven & hell and he takes on the plunge...and reaches into his pants pocket and swallows a potion...
Already a few enraptured grins breaking out in the crowd...Rapt wet-lipped bliss...They glisten, their eyes are wide open like plastic nodules. The telepathic kid is so high, grinning so wet and glistening, he looks like one great psychic orgasm getting ready to unfold exfoliate into...a calla lily...and a blond kid with a white Nehru coat on and a big silver pendant hanging down over his chest kneeling before the rock 'n' roll band with his hands brought up like in prayer and a grin of such pure acid bliss on his face that his teeth sizzle...a pot full of boiling pearls...The Pranksters, Babbs and Gretch and Page and others, take to the bandstand, all electrified, and they start beaming out the most weird loud Chinese science-fiction music and cranking up the Buchla electronic music machine until it maneuvers itself into the most incalculable psychic sonic corner, the last turn in a soldered circuit maze, and let's out a pure topologically measured scream. Ultima-time, with heavy-duty wiring, the works. Kesey stands off to one side still, in the shadows, at...Control Central, only now he has the Flag People coveralls off and is bare chested, wearing only white leotards, a white satin cape tied at the neck, and a red, white, and blue sash running diagonally across his chest. It's Captain America! The Flash! Captain Marvel! the superhero, in a word...
At the height of the frenzy suddenly the lights go out, the sound goes out, all replaced by a single spotlight hitting the center of the floor. Kesey's brother Chuck is up in the rafters working the lights. . You can hear Babb's and Hassler's voices over microphones in the dark, rapping back and forth in a shuck manner: "Do you think they'd clear out of the center of we asked them, Hassler?"..."Sure, they're gonna clear out the center faster than you can say clear out the center"...But everyone just mills around, caught in the blackout. Babbs says: "If they don't clear out the center, then they're a bunch of assholes"...Well, let's try the direct approach! They clear out of the ellipse where the spot beams down, and Kesey comes in out of the darkness. He's taken the cape and the sash off, however. Too freaking much, I guess. He's just wearing the white ballet tights and his wrestler's build. A pair of jockey shorts show faintly under the leotards--just the right touch...here in the Rat Shack...He has a hand microphone up to his mouth...Kesey in the leotards with the pool of light in front of him and the heads all packed in around the loop of light in the darkness...It's good and theatrical...in a weird weird way...some of the heads get the point immediately. Without a sound, they start tossing things into the pool of light, sugar cubes, capsules, cigarette papers, a couple of joints, beads, amulets, headbands, all the charms and totems of psychedelphia into the pool of light. It's...an alter...Kesey starts talking over the microphone in the upcountry drawl...
"When we were down in Mexico, we learned a lot about waves. We spent six months down there learning about waves. Even in the dark you can learn about waves..."
Its a wrench, that voice, what is it? up to now---a party, a frenzy. All of the sudden it's on a whole other level...of some sort...we can't figure it out. The TV crews are trying to edge up close and jockey for position. is this where he tells the kids to turn off LSD? ...Which is what--we came for...waves?
"I believe that man is changing...in a radical basic way...The waves are building, and every time they build, they're stronger. Our concept of reality is changing. It's been happening here in San Francisco...I believe there's a whole new generation of kids. They walk different. ...I can hear it in the music...It used to go...life---death, life---death...but now it's ....death---life...death---life..."
The TV crewmen are trying to hand their microphones to heads near Kesey. They want them to hold them near him to pick up the words better. They implore the heads, they half order them in stage whispers. The heads are disgusted. They just stare at them. Kesey shoots a few whammies their way...These bastards and their...positioning... they only want to use you for a little while...They're punctures in the dirigible, flatulent murmers in the heart, they're---the TV crew are pissed, too. Snotty dope-head kids! ...Coverage is a pain in the ass here in Edge City. Can't do with it, can't do without it---the grand hassle in the making---
"...For a year we've been in the Garden of Eden. Acid opened the door to it. It was the Garden of Eden and Innocence and all. Acid opens that door and you enter and you stay a while..."
At which precise point---mysteries of the synch! yes--four policeman great dark-blue figures come walking in through the door on the Sixth Street side. The word starts firing around the crowd in the dark: Cops! Cops!...One last monster raid to finish off the debacle! There is a hell of a scurrying in the darkness, bodies hitting the walls of the garage, like gigantic fancy-dress rats looking for holes...Get the hell out of here!...It's the Probation Generation, of course, all the kids who are out on probation under firm admonition not to associate with known dope users...they're practically digging through the concrete floor...The four policemen keep walking in at a slow gait, looking this way and that. Cassady is on a microphone way behind Kesey now, up on the stage, in fact, beginning to rap about the cops coming in: "Four custom-tailored constables, you understand, looking for pearlheads among the swineherds..."
The cops are here?" says Kesey. He sounds startled.
"The constabulary cops..."
They come in waves, too, says Kesey, "they're a pattern that repeats"...Yah!...
By now the cops have just stopped on the edge of the crown in the darkness, just looking around.
"There's cops and there's policemen." says Kesey. "The cop says, 'Don't do that. That's forbidden and that's all there is to that.' The policeman says, "You can do that, but if you go too far, your going to hurt yourself.' The policeman is the double line in the middle of the road . I'm talking about inside of us."
A spot suddenly comes on, hitting Cassady in a little cone of light. "It's like Ken once said." says Cassady. "If you ignore a cop for twenty years, then he's not there anymore..."
"Haw!--Haw!--Haw!--Hell's Angels in the corner--the four cops just survey the camp meeting, then start turning around to leave. Cassady keeps on rapping:
"Yes! Violence, you understand...There's not going to be any violence here. if we want some violence we have some fellows here that can furnish it..."
"Haw!--Haw!--Yah!--Yaggggh!--A good cop is a dead cop!"
"A good cop is a dead cop!
But the cops just walk out, rocking at the same slow gait, brushing through a clump of Hell's Angels like they weren't there. Thc cops are gone, but they punctured the atmosphere again. Kesey tries to build it up, in the same soft tones, but it's tough going. He plunges in with the vision, the vision of Beyond Acid, how he saw the lines of light across the Bay in Manzanillo, the line of grass...
"...and I'd smoked some grass, some Acapulco Gold! Oh shit we're esoteric heads and we know the creamiest of all the marijuana. But it's a freaking puncture. Kesey plunges through the whole vision: the line of acid, the circle demanding completion, the little lights across the bay...it's metaphorical, allegorical, brains are getting messed up left and right...The rock 'n' roll, the frenzy, the TV cameras, the darkness, the cops, and now...this...it keeps richocheting from level to level. Shit! what is Kesey ...doing...Finally the line with the hook on it---completing the circle without going all the way. He's telling them the whole thing, but--what is...
"We've been going through that door and staying a while and then going back out through the same door. But until we start going that far...and then going beyond...we're not going to get anywhere, we're not going to experience anything new..."
They're uncomfortable, they're stuffing their shirts in and pulling them out, too many rips in the balloon, the brains messed up..the the freaking TV jackals stabbing microphones around like tape-recording the hanging of lenny bruce--
"Let's find out where we are. Let's move it around. let's dance on it."
The lights come back on, the music starts back up, the color is back, everything starts spinning like a top again. Goldhill is zonked by now. The music flows through is neural ganglia like a flood of relief...Love! Bless, bless! bright lights! The Hell's Angels are stomping around again, everybody dancing. But that doesn't last long. Kesey is out in the middle of the crowd. People close in around him. The music stops. Kesey looks slightly glazed over but plunging on, like he is determined to seize the whole debacle by the shoulders and shake it into place. He has a chunk of ice. He kisses it, he puts a chunk in his mouth, he breaks off a chunk and gives it to Cassady. Cassady kisses a chunk and then rubs it all over his bare chest. An ice thing...The TV cameramen and radio reporters are trying to edge in. They're buffered back. Everything is pitching and rolling. Kesey and Cassady are sitting on the floor communing over the ice. Pranksters and some other heads are getting into a circle on the floor with Kesey and Cassady...the lotus position....Gary Goldhill sits down with them. He's ready. The kid with the sizzling teeth sits down among them, zonked...the lotus position...His back is arched back stiff in the Nehru coat. He's rapt. The pot of pearls boils and boils. They all join hands and close their eyes--a communal circle...They close their eyes tighter and tighter, waiting for...the energy. It's coming! A high-pitched keening noise rises up from the circle...Do you hear it!...It's weird...Half the people looking on are non-plused, they're embrassed. What is this a Halloween party or a seance and the Holy Rollers? Christ...Albert Morch of Women's Wear Daily says to Caterine Milinaire" Say! when I met you last night--I didn't know you were the Duke of Bedford's daughter!"...Got religion! The Angels are restless. They're standing around the edge of the circle. "Hey! Start the music!"...In the circle, Kesey, Cassady, and the rest---they're starting to rap back and forth. The kid with the boiling teeth hears the voice. His eyes are still tight shut. He grins and glistens. "A dead towhee," he says, "a rumbles road and a dead towhee." His voice is on the edge of delirium and tears...or else any moment he is going to break into an insane cackling laugh..."A dead towhee and a rumbled road and lying in the dust, a mistake...a mistake, but it's not important...Making a mistake is not important...it's the context in which the mistake is made...A rumbled road and a dead towhee and four gasoline stations, white and sterile, refueling tailfins in mid-air for fat men in sunglasses who do not see the rumpled road and the dead towhee..."
Goldman sits rapt...Energy waves emanating from everywhere...Like...black spirits!...Kesey and Cassady---what are they trying to do with his mind...Got me, trapped me into the Big Wait---for what? an idea? a revelation? love? a feeling? break-through---into what? or a
They're putting him on! Sucking him in! But--the idea we're waiting for--he can feel it, physically, it's surging through...He looks down deep inside to describe it.
Mass demonic hallucination it is! He looks around...All pitches and rolls.
A CIRCUS OR HELL
The tortured and the damned are all around him, the dead-for-good souls. He gets up radiating Chinese firecrackers from his dragon pajamas and heads for the Sixth Street door but...the Dead and the Damned! Faces!
Hell's Angels are packed into the corridor leading to the door" ...ready for
He turns back into the crowd, sinks into a time warp...Like his life is an endless tape loop...Black spirits keep bubbling up out of the most ancient pits of licorice detergent
That! Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare hare and as he chants he becomes...Krishna!...Christ!...God...And he pops out of the time warp into a silver haze of...The Universal Mind...
"We almost had it," says Kesey, opening his eyes for the first time. "We would have had it. There's too much noise..." But it's like the cloud has passed.
People are milling around, starting to leave. They're befuddled and embarrassed. What the hell kind of party...The Angels are beginning to leave, the TV crews, Herbert Gold has had enough...Albert Morch...It's getting toward three o' clock...People stare at the stage, but there's no sign of music. Is it over? Are you on the bus? ...in the pudding?
Kesey plunges on. The lights go out again. The wrench is total now. It's a whole other...thing...Kesey moves to the other side of the floor and sits down. The spot hits him. The Pranksters start gathering from all over the garage: Mountain Girl, The Hermit, Babbs, Gretch, Doris Delay, Page, the Hassler, Cassady, Black Maria, Zonker, Gut, George Walker, Ramrod, Stewart Brand, Lois Jennings, all heading toward Kesey. Hassler has a hand mike and starts saying in the darl:
"Everybody who's with us, everybody who's with us in this thing, move in close. If you're not part of this thing, if you're not with us, then it's time to leave. You can move in close and get into this thing or you can leave, because...that's what time it is..."
Shitfire! that's it---those who were a little spooked by the turn the night is taking are now totally spooked. People heading for the Sixth Street door, flapping and burbling. The Pranksters, meantime, draw in close to Kesey, stepping by people, over people, then settling down, nestling in a circle around Kesey. Other's pulling in, through the darkness, toward the cone of light lighting up Kesey's head and back. Kesey looks distraught. he looks up into the light. He has a hand mike. He makes a gesture as if to say, Let them through--
"I know these people," he says. "I've been with these people!"
The whole Allegory...A tableau of the plains of...The Prankster outer circle. Then a few of the old Perry Lane crowd. Then various heads who are deep into the pudding, like Goldhill and the Kid with the Boiling Teeth, then rings and rings, the grades of faith...plus a few clumps up against the wall, of people with no faith at all, just too stroked out or curious to leave. Finally Cassady stepping over the hunkered-down, lotused, sitting bodies, heading toward the inner circle...Kesey looks up at him, then he seems to grow dizzy and sink...His head rolls...
"Goodbye, Neal!" he says. He looks like he might pass out. Cassady pulls closer. Kesey hunches over the microphone.
"They're saying, 'Look at him--the promising novelist...once surrounded by thousands...and now only these few'...
But I can---"
--- He drops the thought, however. The whole place is quiet and dark, just one small spotlight on kesey...
"get Faye and the kids." Silence. Then a rustle of Faye coming through the clump of people, leading the little girl, Shannon, and the oldest boy, Zane, and carrying the youngest, Jed. They've all been in the nursery section up by the Sixth Street door. One of them is crying, only is it like a scream. That's all you hear in here, it's eerie...Faye and the kids and Mountain girl and Sunshine and all the Pranksters in a tight circle with Kesey. They all hold hands and close their eyes. Silence. Then the scream again
ARCHTYPICAL! MIND POWER!
Then a voice from one of the clumps of people by the wall, some girl, with a spondee voice like a Ouija medium:
Kesey says nothing. His eyes are shut tight. The high keening sound rises from the circle with the kid's scream weaving through it. Fantastic mind power crackle--Goldhill registers the energy
But the girl on the other side doesn't let up: "See--a-about--the--child--A--Child--is--cry--in--That's--all--that's--hap--pening--A child--is--crying--and--no--one--is--do--ing--any-thing--a-bout--it--"
ALMOST HAVE IT--PRESQUE VU
FEEL IT! THE VIBRATION LEVEL!
Kesey looks up. The spot hits him in the face. The Pranksters release hands. The music starts up. The Anonymous Artists of America play a rock 'n' roll version of Pomp and Circumstance with drum flourishes...
THE ACID TEST GRADUATION
By now the crowd is down to about fifty. The lights come up a little around the stage in front of a microphone. He has on nothing but a pair of khakis hung down over his hips and a mortarboard hat on his head, the kind you graduate in. In one hand he has a whole stack of diplomas. He's wound up like a motorcycle, kicking and twitching and ticking and jerking at the knees, the elbows, the head...He's off on a dazzling run of words. The Anonymous Artists of America keep rolling away behind him. Everytime the little blond girl on the drums gives a good swat, Cassady stiffins, a spasmodic jerk, as if somebody just kicked him in the small of the back. He's rapping away, he's handing out diplomas for the Acid Test Graduation. It's coming off after all...now...when? what the hell time is it? Five o'clock in the morning or...who knows...Kesey is in the dimness sunk into the great easy chair. Some of the...graduates are here, Pranksters mainly. They put on black caps and gowns and come bouncing up to the stage and get a diploma from Cassady...scrolling convoluted things done by Paul Foster and the God Rotor...
Gut the Hells' Angel lets out a whoop and does a little dance and his name is called. Many of the graduates aren't there. The Who Cares Girl...
"The Who Cares Girl," says Cassady. "Now, the Who Cares Girl couldn't be with us this evening, yuou understand, had to check in for choir practice in the oat bin two hundred fine voices tuned to a split hair screaming the name of the cowboy known as Ray, you understand, couldn't be with us either--ahem--lost in a Band-Aid factory swabbing the jake seats with the A-200..."
..and the drums roll and Cassady stiffins and jerks and twitches and the Pranksters hasten forward, Hassler, Babbs, Zonker, The Hermit, Mountain Girl, Gretch, Paul Foster, Black Maria, Page, Walker, Hagan, Doris Delay Roy Seburn, flying up and back in black robes...graduate---into what on the horizon...as the light of dawn breaks through the crack in the garage door behind the bandstand. Those cold goddamn silver silvers...and the light rises in the garage, a cockroach orange dimness, and there is perfect silence, the world stroked out this way and that as in...Lucite...And the heat of the day creeps in, and rising out of the funk, and the musk, and the rat grease smears---now come the cinches, mites, crab lice, fleas, fruit flies, grubs, weevils, all the microbes and larval ooze--and start writhing and crawling and festering and frying and wriggling and sizzling. the straight world breathes in, coughs, gags, spaghetti trapped in every glottis and flapping in panic...
Back among the acid heads of San Francisco there were two or three days of post mortems after the collapse of the Prankster Winterland fantasy and the strange night in the garage." -- Electric Kool Aid Acid Test - Tom Wolfe - Pages 390-403
When I was 16, I rented a movie for my friends and I one night while we were planning on tripping. I brought back "The World of Acid" made in 1967, which documented the birth of the sixties generation and most especially LSD. It was basically a very seriously well done documentary by a group of film students who filmed all kinds of things that I have never seen anywhere else. I have also never seen or heard of this film anywhere since I STOLE it from the video store by telling them I lost it. I paid for it, in the end $60.00 and I'm sure glad I did!
Well, there is about 5 minutes of footage, maybe a little more, in there, of the Acid Test Graduation, and I have been watching this since I was 16, throughout my whole life now. Well, it turns out that the movie had MISSING footage, basically footage that was lost to Kesey and the crowd when they made the Acid Test movie and Zane Kesey had never seen this before. It has really good footage of Kesey, and Neal Cassady actually passing out Acid Test Diplomas at the Graduation. I mailed this to Zane about 2 years ago. Zane has since released SOME of this footage on Youtube, but there is more! You have to get the film to see it. I may upload the whole thing, when I have time.
In 2008, I visited with Lee Quarnstrom, and acquired his Acid Test diploma, and his personal Acid Test graduation poster (see page on Miniature Paul Foster Poster).
Here, shown for the first time, other than the book, On the Bus, by Paul Perry, is the actual Acid Test diploma. A REAL one. To the best of my knowledge, no other private party has acquired one of these. Many Pranksters I have spoken to have lost theirs, and no longer have them. I do not know of any that exist other than this one, and maybe two or three more that are in the hands of living Pranksters who are not interested in giving them up. They are very personal momentos of one's past. What makes an Acid Test Diploma so rare, is the fact that only the main participants were given Diplomas, so therefore, very few were made and passed out that day. The band received theirs, I know, afterwards, if not right before, and Neal is holding a small stack of them at the test, but none have ever turned up anywhere else, that I know of, so far.
I have heard through the grapevine of acid test collectors, that someone has one supposedly and it has the lettering of "Bindweed press" on it. It is supposedly "blank" and not filled out. I can say with confidence, there is no "Bindweed Press" anywhere on this item. Therefore, I doubt that the "blank" is an original and genuine.
Here is my letter of Provenance for the Graduation Diploma and a Paul Foster Graduation Poster. If you read the latter, you can learn all about the moment the term "acid" was coined and how it came about. The letter talks about the poster that was given to Lee at the Graduation by Paul Foster. It is shown below in the next pic.
Lee Quarnstrom: "I went down to La Honda and did a story that was a combination review/interview. I was taken in by La Honda and by Kesey, and decided to rent a house not far from Kesey's. Eventually, I just quit my job at the San mateo times and got involved full-time in pranking.
The word "charismatic" is overused but Kesey is truly one of the few people i've ever met who can really command attention. He is so charming and seductive and has such flashes of brilliance that you can't help but be overwhelmed by him." -- On The Bus - Paul Perry - Page 124
Lee Quarnstrom: "I was involved in the Acid Tests from the beginning. They were really an extension of some of the things we were doing in La Honda. There was a little amphitheatre up behind the house. Kesey had the whole place wired with loudspeakers and earphones and lights and things. Artsy people called them "Happenings", but they were just a way of extending to other people what we had done in the privacy of our own bus.
For instance, there was "The Power Game." We had this spinner that would be spun around and whoever it pointed to would get all the power foer the next half-hour. They could use it or abuse it. They could say, "We're all gonna clean my car," or they could just walk around and have eveyone follow them. It was a particular high to have twenty people staring into your eyes for a thirty minutes. It was Kesey's way of being psychedelic without drugs." -- On the Bus - Paul Perry - Page 123
This is the exact poster, framed, and slightly faded, that I acquired from Lee Quarnstrom and he remembers taking home from the Acid Test graduation, or right beforehand. They were handed out by Paul Foster as gifts. Very few have survived.
In this Acid Test Graduation photo, (courtesy of Wolfgang's Vault, and used in fair use accordance), one can see a Graduation poster hanging on the wall inside the venue.