March 14, 2011

"Think I'll just DROP OUT/I'll go to Frisco/Buy a wig & sleep/On Owsley's floor."

"... I'm completely stoned/I'm hippy & I'm trippy/I'm a gypsy on my own...."

That Mothers of Invention lyric springs to mind because... Owsley died!
The renegade grandson of a former governor of Kentucky, [Owsley “Bear”] Stanley helped lay the foundation for the psychedelic era by producing more than a million doses of LSD at his labs in San Francisco’s Bay Area....

“I wound up doing time for something I should have been rewarded for... What I did was a community service, the way I look at it. I was punished for political reasons. Absolutely meaningless. Was I a criminal? No. I was a good member of society. Only my society and the one making the laws are different.”
I was a good member of society. Only my society and the one making the laws are different. Ah... that's so... deep.

42 comments:

Mogget said...

Speaking of people with a limited grasp on societal norms, do we know the identity of the woman who made the two death threats? My money is on a K-12 teacher.

mesquito said...

My favorite part was learning that he moved to Australia in the 1980s after being convinced that the northern hemisphere would soon be covered by ice.

mesquito said...

"Oh my hair's getting good in the back."

-mesquito's other favorite part

Chris B said...

ha! What an over-achiever. Some people get fed up with their state or town and move. Some even get pissed at their country and swim across rivers to another one. This guy left the hemisphere! Like I said, over-achiever.

http://baseballpoliticsandfreedom.blogspot.com

Revenant said...

I my friends and family weren't here I'd have moved to Australia years ago.

I'm a Shaaaaark said...

He can say it was political all he wants. Fact is, he broke the law. All the energy expended to break the law, might have been better spent changing the law. But no, that actually takes guts, work, and responsibility. It's easier to just break the law and claim some kind of victim status.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Buncha face-painting day-glo freaks.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

So how come you didn't use the last picture of the previous post for this post instead?

Bruce Hayden said...

I am old enough that his acid was considered the best available at the time, and young enough that what was sold as his acid, maybe wasn't (by then, during Nixon's first term, "acid" was most often cut with a bit of speed).

I will state that this is all based on hearsay, and I would never admit to having done illegal drugs, but there is reason to believe that his stuff was really that good.

Quayle said...

Every town must have a place where phony hippies meet. Psychedelic dungeons popping up on every street.

(Or at the Wisconsin capital building.)

Trooper York said...

More hippie stuff.

Seriously?

PETER V. BELLA said...

Only my society and the one making the laws are different. Ah... that's so... deep.

Sounds like the protesters and fleebaggers of Wisconsin.

PETER V. BELLA said...

Madison will become the new Frisco and epicenter for the "Movement".

If you're going to Madison Wisconsin, be sure to wear a flower in your hair...

J said...

Zappa was sort of ...criticizing the Haight-Ashbury scene, including Owsley and El ess dee.


Steely Dan's “Kid Charlemagne” another number based on Owsley


is there gas in the car??? is there gas in the carr? ah think the people down the hall know who we are

Michael said...

RIP Owsley. I exchanged emails with him a year or so ago. He makes these Grateful Dead belt buckles and other hippy artsy fartsy stuff and I wanted the belt buckle. It was like a thousand bucks. No way is this investment banking boy going to pay a grand to a meat eating hippie holed up in Aussie land. Nice exchange of emails, however. RIP Owsley.

Will Cate said...

Sort of? I'd say he was poking unveiled contempt at the hippie scene...

richard mcenroe said...

Owlsey's dead. Crap. Soon I'll have no excuse for how my blog looks. Even the Purple doesn't keep forever, not even if you freeze it.

Revenant said...

All the energy expended to break the law, might have been better spent changing the law.

Probably not. Few people understand economics well enough to understand why the war on drugs is a horrible idea.

PaulV said...

Henry Ford of LSD and an UVA Engineering School drop out.

chickelit said...

So sad to hear that he died in a car crash.

I hope somebody researches and writes a decent biography or makes a biopic. Sounds like there's a good story there.
I'm gonna go buy me one of his "Steal Your Face logos in honor of his passing.

R.I.P Owsley

MeTooThenMail said...

"We're Only In It For the Money," "Hot Rats," and "Live at Fillmore East" were three of the most (if not the most)listened to albums of my youth.

Frank Zappa was an extraordinary guitarist, brilliant innovator of musical recording, and a complex and often superb composer.

That he was a misanthrope and held contempt for just about everything and everyone kind of ruined it for me after I grew up.

Still, "I will sleep, I will, I will go to a house, that's what I'll do I'll go to a house" is so perfect.

Ann Althouse said...

"Zappa was sort of ...criticizing the Haight-Ashbury scene, including Owsley and El ess dee."

You think?!

Oligonicella said...

Will Cate --

"Sort of? I'd say he was poking unveiled contempt at the hippie scene..."

I'd say not so much the scene itself as the hypocrisy therein, like he did with everything. He obviously didn't have problems with the freak culture per se, only some of the people in it.

Note: Zappa didn't use.

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J said...

Actually Miss A your...occasional honesty about "countercultural" issues deserves some respect, even if one doesn't always agree.. Did Miss A.....ever partake of various recreational substances? Perhaps we need to re-link to the pic of the lovely Miss A, art student in NY, under what was it the Yippies or something .....

Ambrose said...

Bruce Hayden - it was second best. Before Nixon, before the drug war, DC, with no home rule, had no LSD regulation. I scored genuine Sandoz from an attache at the Swiss embassy.

Van Halen said...

While the sixties leftovers celebrate this hippie criminal, did you ever wonder how many people who took one or more of his million hits of acid are now dead or broken from it? Do we hear about that from the sixties crowd?

William said...

Way back when, hippie was the contemptuous diminutive of hip. It referrred to the B&T crowd who wore bell bottoms. The people who were really authentic and hip lived among the lettered avenues on 6h St. They didn't wear bell bottoms until such time as they did, and they wished for a dismissive term to distinguish their true beatitude from those other poseurs. Zappa, I think, was expressing the distaste of the primeval hip towards those kids who were horning in on his act......Owsley sounds like the kind of guy who marched to his own drummer. A lot of good ideas have come out of left field. Not his, though.....I think the people most likely to seek salvation in drugs are the unbalanced and depressed. This is also the demographic most likely to be harmed by drugs. I agree with Van Halen's post just above. The portals of perception were for many a trap door.

Revenant said...

did you ever wonder how many people who took one or more of his million hits of acid are now dead or broken from it?

I wonder that exactly as often as I wonder, while picking up martini fixings at the supermarket, how many people are dead or broken because of alcohol abuse.

Which is to say, never.

The Crack Emcee said...

I don't know, right now a few tabs of acid are looking pretty good.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

@Oligonicella

"Note: Zappa didn't use."

Lowell George (RIP and former lead man extraordinaire of Little Feat) found this out, first hand.

He was a former member of the Mothers w/Zappa, and was 'fired' from the band for writing a song about marijuana. George often recounted this fact in between songs while performing with Little Feat.

In this case, I would commend Zappa for cutting George loose, allowing him to team up with Paul Barrere and Billy Payne to form one of the best bands America still enjoys.

Don't Bogart that credit.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03WHLS3tXCE

Issob Morocco said...

Ah Window Pane, Joe Cool, Goofy, Yellow Sunshine and Blue Star.

There is something on my tongue and it is starting to stain....

Neither he nor Timmy O'Leary really knew what they had. They got lost because they wanted us to see their alternative world only through their guidance.

Long Live The Individual!

Issob Morocco said...

He blew his mind out in a car.....

Robert said...

Brown shoes don't make it......

Or Frank's OW, OW, OW on the live version of Cash's "Burning Ring of Fire"

man....what memories.....now up to the attic to find those LPs....wonder if the turntable still works?

TMink said...

One of my friends in grad school had done some legit Owsley. Big does 400 mg and good trip he said.

I have a Hendrix album where at the start of his solo Jimi asks "Oh Owsley, can you hear me now?"

Trey

TMink said...

Me too, Metoo.

Except for I could forgive him his snarkiness.

Trey

Quaestor said...

William wrote: Way back when, hippie was the contemptuous diminutive of hip...(blah, blah, blah)

Scratch a hippie, reveal yet another self-righteous social parasite. William's search for the truly hip reminds one of the Old Left's eternal search for the true Marxist... It definitely wasn't Stalin. Was it Lenin? Nah, he set up the Cheka and then copped out with his NEP. Was it Troksky? No! No! It was Rosa Luxemburg! There's your true Marxist, buddy. You say communism fucks ups everything it touches? I say REAL communism has never been tried...(blah, blah, blah)

wv: trerneal -- Take one undistinguished lounge pianist, add a yachtman's cap and raybans, marinated liberally in bubble gun and lime green polyester and you get Trerneal!

Robert Cook said...

"He can say it was political all he wants. Fact is, he broke the law. All the energy expended to break the law, might have been better spent changing the law."

LSD was not illegal to make, distribute or use until 1966, and its legal prohibition was a result of the kind of exaggerated and outright false scare stories about it's alleged dangers as had been seen 30 years previously when marijuana was likewise banned.

One may fairly argue the pros or cons of any mind or mood altering substance and whether this one or that one should be legal or not, but the stories promulgated to influence the prohibition of marijuana and LSD were alike in their far remove from reality. If we really want to prohibit substances on the basis of their dangers to users (and those around them), tobacco and alcohol are far, far more demonstrably damaging and dangerous substances than pot or acid and should be at the top of any list to ban for reasons of safety.

Owsley's claim that he was punished for political reasons was a fair statement.

Quaestor said...

A drug-dealing scofflaw gets nailed and suddenly he's Dietrich Bonhoffer. Why am I not surprised?

J said...

Zappa's satirical ditty however dated sort of raised one legitimate political issue: i.e " who needs the peace corps" or say protesting US govt in 'Nam, or racist cops, when one's stoned and trippin' with Owsley, the Dead, and hippies.

One might have objected to LBJ/Nixon/Kissinger without ...the hippy trip. Bertrand Russell and Chomsky protested and were not Berkeley flower children. Joan Didion another. Conservative-hawks often relied upon the hippies as a straw man of sorts---what? protest Nixon? That's what... hippies do. No need to take those dirtbags seriously.

Didion sort of said something (a bit more developed than FZ's tune) in her collection of essays, the White Album. Hippie, Inc should not be assumed to have been the voice of legitimate progressives (tho, admittedly Jerry Garcia & Co--at least when clickin'-- put their shoulders to the wheeel).

autothreads said...

Zappa's bands were all hired hands. His rule was "if you're wired, you're fired". According to Flo & Eddie that was a rule that his employees routinely broke.

FWIW, Frank was a superb lyrical guitar player and quite possibly the smartest person in the music biz. He didn't suffer fools gladly. He was as critical of the left as he was of the right. He also was a good father and husband. You can't hear his kids talk about him without hearing the love and respect they had for him in their voices.

Drew W said...

As a lifelong, hardcore Zappa fan, I’m delighted to read a conversation about FZ in which I wasn’t even involved. I did think of “Who Needs the Peace Corps?” when I read today that Owsley had died, and I also thought about Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne,” but nobody’s mentioned the first song that entered my mind: “Mexico” by Jefferson Airplane. A lovely, arcing melody sung by its writer -- a double-tracked Grace Slick -- it was released on the 1974 compilation Early Flight, and is ostensibly about the Nixon Administration’s 1969 Operation Intercept, which sought to block Mexican marijuana from entering the country:

Owsley and Charlie, twins of the trade,
Come to the Poet's Room
Talking about the problems of the leaf,
And yes, it'll be back soon

There used to be tons of gold and green
Comin' up here from Mexico
A donde esta la planta, mi amigo, del sol?
[translation: "Where is the plant, my friend, of the sun?"]

But Mexico is under the thumb
Of a man we call Richard
And he's come to call himself king
But he's a small-headed man
And he doesn't know a thing
About how to deal for you

But thanks Uncle Charlie
For your Mexican smoke
You're a legend Owsley
For your righteous dope


Why Owsley Stanley, the LSD manufacturer, is in a song about pot is anybody’s guess. No doubt Grace & Co. were quite able to get their hands on plenty of the plant, with or without friends of the sun. The song goes on to praise the Woodstock Nation and promises to let all the black people out of prison.