Saturday, August 28, 2010


From time to time the missus brings up one of my last acid trips in conversation. We'll be having dinner somewhere, and I'll hear her say, "He was conducting the clouds," and I know the story.

For the record, I haven't done illegal psychedelics for well over a decade. But also for the record, I'm glad I did them. Literally saved my life at one point, provided me with valuable mental skills, and provided enrichment in any number of ways. I am a saner, abler, happier person for my psychedelic experiences.

But there was a sort of a drawback, in addition to the obvious risks. There was a sort of reality bleed-through. Sometimes hallucinations were shared. And sometimes I saw things that should have been hallucinations. I'll start with an example that's pretty easy to regard skeptically before moving on to the odd stuff. Nothing UFO-ey or anything, just the kind of synchronicity that gives you the weebs.

It was an important trip for me, the one where I actually got to mess with the wiring in my visual cortex. (This is a guess, but a reasonably educated one.) I've never been a frequent user of psychedelics, preferring extremely infrequent experiences that are conducted in a ritualistic fashion. This time the dose was eight hits of what I thought was about five hundred microgram blotter acid, which would have made the four thousand mikes that was the standard dose in the sixties. Funny how pot kept getting stronger and acid kept getting weaker...


One of my tricks for recognizing the point at which things were really kicking in was to periodically study patterns or textures. Blue jeans, book covers, wood grain, that sort of thing. When they would begin to move or throb or extrude into three-dimensional shapes that formed golden living hieroglyphs whose flashing angled pantomimes revealed that my concept of existence was an inherently flawed and limited experience of a mathematical set whose metamathematics were complex beyond my capacity to process, then I knew I was coming on.

In this case, I was looking at a nasty old Persian rug. And all of the little facets and paisleys and flowers sort of unlocked, split into separate shapes that floated in the air. I was able to rearrange them in patterns, use them to form pointillist images while maintaining the clarity and specificity of each of the hundreds of individual shapes.

I looked around and saw that everything in the world was visually constructed from flat planes of tone. And I could take each of those planes and pull it away from its point of origin, rotate it to see it from every different angle, and then use it as an element in the construction of an image. The world had shattered, and I could build things with the pieces.

I was messing with the clouds when the missus came upstairs. And I showed her what I was doing. "Watch me make a dragon. Now the sea and there's a ship on it." I even took some requests.

She saw what I was doing. From her perspective, I was literally shaping the clouds. I believe that I was having an intense revelatory experience and she picked up on it through her mirror neurons or some other physical mechanism. Y'all go ahead and make your own interpretation. I can't stop you.

After that trip, I was a better artist. This isn't a subjective call; it was very soon after this that I did a number of pencil drawings that have been mistaken for photographs by both artists and photographers, and that intense visual sensitivity was a long-term skill gained directly from the acid. But as I said, the edges of perceived reality blurred.

That was a weirdy. More frequently, that blurring took the form of seeing real things that should have been hallucinations. On my first acid trip, I was walking in the woods at night and the sound of crickets suddenly seemed to me to be the sound of giant spiders rubbing their jaws together. With the nightmare rider's instincts that have served me well through many a vision, I thought, "Well, of course they're giant spiders. Friendly giant spiders."

And I look down into a patch of moonlight and sure enough, there was a giant spider. Not dog-sized, but it had a leg span nearly as wide as the palm of my hand. So I bent down and let it crawl on my hand and we just hung for a while, me and my new giant spider buddy. Who knew acid hallucinations were so vivid?

Well, they aren't. Turns out there were tarantulas around there. Same thing turned out to be true of the glowing worms -- I even asked my biology teacher about those, and it turns out that hardly anyone gets a chance to see them. For some reason, when I dose, reality fucks with me in a way that seems intentional. Which is why I'm cautious and conscious about this stuff. When reality seems intentional, you're crazy!

At the same time, when your life includes glowing worms and giant spiders it's hard not to start feeling like you've drifted into B-movie reality...

And this kind of thing happened over and over, right from the very beginning. On my second mushroom trip, me and my buddy Mac were on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, brains wreathed in a fungal embrace. This was back in the late seventies, so what you will spot as obvious was a mystery to us.

See, all of a sudden I saw a glowing red dot on Mac's shirt. "Dude, check it out."

He looked down, and it was there. We both saw it.

Then it moved.

It was on one side of his shirt, then the other, then on the sidewalk. So I looked across the street and there was a hippiebeard pointing a long beige box at us. It was a laser he'd built. No commercially available lasers back then, kiddies! At least not for non-geeks! What were the odds of us running across that the one time we were tripping?

We were still talking about it when we got back to the car. Shut the doors, turn on the headlights -- there's someone in front of us.

They look... weird. It's hard to describe this in a way that won't make you hate me when you find out what was going on, so I'm not even going to try. I'm afraid that if I'm going to tell you this in a way that lets you understand my experience, you're just going to have to hate me.

The person in front of us just doesn't look quite human. There's a touch of the goblin to them, a hint of the homunculus. And the fact that they're dressed in some kind of odd, colorful ritualistic outfit doesn't make me feel any more comfortable. Did you ever see the movie The Warriors, and there was that creepy bunch of violent Olde-Fashioned baseball mimes? This person was wearing one of those kinds of outfits.

Especially when another one of them lurches into sight. There are more, behind us, in front of us, all around us, hundreds of them. And their heads are too big or too small, they list to one side. Faces glisten with sweat and slobber -- yes, oh, god, some of them are slobbering, and they're all wearing the same outfit. Are they a cult? An army? Were they all released from the same underground lab?

One of them bounces off the car and our eyes meet and he grins triumphantly -- and I realize that they are all grinning, laughing. I can feel the mass of the crowd throb with unholy joy. Their kind has triumphed; the day of men has passed. The goblin waves and sneers, then staggers off, and after a time the crowd thins and passes and finally we are safe and alone on the night street. After Mac recovers, we drive home, frightened for our future.

Of course it turned out to be the Special Olympics. Do you think it's possible for reality to giggle at a person?

Friday, August 27, 2010


I've put off blogging on this for a couple of weeks because I knew it would be a total cheat not to put up a picture, and I couldn't find the cable to connect my camera to my computer. Well, I found it yesterday. Actually, I found two of them in the first place I looked a couple of weeks ago. You know how that goes.

Say hi to Laszlo, the newest citizen of our little island of misfit toys. I posted a while back about how we had to have Amanda, our Australian shepherd, put to sleep a while back. The missus responded by running to a shelter, and then running right back, weeping. It was a sad thing. She decided that she wasn't ready for a new dog yet.

But our old dog, Roxie the Jack Russel/Rat terrier, has been getting more and more neurotic. Her neediness finally snapped the missus's resistance, and so the search was on.

The missus had been speaking of borzois and French bulldogs and other such atrocities of animal husbandry, while I plaintively kept bleating, "Just find a dog we like, get a nice stray mutt who needs a home..."

Thankfully, my preferred option came up first. Karen got wind of a rescue dog from a friend who works with them, and arranged a meeting. The dog was a spaniel, a stray with a cherry-eye.

So we drove out to Concorde to let Roxie meet him. The thing to keep in mind is that the term 'bitch' did not appear out of thin air for no good reason. Roxie is, unfortunately, a little bitch. New dog tried to make friends with her and got a faceful of teeth. But after a while they settled down, and it was clear that this was gonna be as good as it got so far as Roxie went.

I had my doubts. First off, the guy was such a little sad sack. Totally miserable, wouldn't meet my gaze, wouldn't approach me -- in fact, he shied off when I called to him. I'm an animal person, to the point where it gets a little weird at times. Ask the missus about my King cobra pal, for instance. So to have a potential pet just cringe at my presence did not please. My inclination was to take him in because he clearly needed a home and some affection, but if he didn't like me, what was the point?

Well, about twenty minutes later, the woman responsible for Laszlo and I were deep in conversation, when out of the blue she says, "Boy, he really likes you."

I looked down, and saw that he was sitting next to me, a-a-a-l-l-l-most touching me, body curved so as to approach me as closely as possible without getting my notice, just staring up at me with this expression like I was... Well, you know. Dog stuff. Eyes met, he collapsed at my feet with his paws in the air, the belly was scratched and the deal was sealed.

Well, his sad-sack demeanor has proven a sham. He's still oddly shy around me -- won't approach me from the front, won't come when I call him directly -- but he won't stay away from me if he has any say in the matter. He's actually got a boisterous, slightly sly and humorous personality. A positive attitude, which is something we need in this household.

Roxie, of course, is having a difficult period of adjustment.

Taking to one's bed is Victorian behavior, but Roxie has an unfortunately Victorian mindset. "Miss Roxie regrets she's unable to lunch today."

It's getting better, inch by inch, and it's just a matter of time before they're friends. Laszlo is showing remarkable social smarts in this matter, and he's determined to be a pal. Roxie is being absolutely miserable, though.

We were taking care of a Prince Charles spaniel named Coco recently, and when Coco and Laszlo were in full frenzied frolic mode, Roxie crouched under the comforter and whined loudly in sheer envy the entire time. Oh, that there should be such joy in the world apart from herself! I keep telling her that the problem is with her attitude, but with that attitude it wouldn't make any difference even if she could understand me.

Although I must confess that my feelings toward the little brute have warmed considerably lately. During my recent bouts of miserable sickness, she made a conscious and somewhat show-offy (I should never have shown her His Master's Voice) point of staying steadfastly by my side. I'd make a brief return from the netherworlds and look up and she'd be looking all noble and disgustingly pleased with herself.

Hey, you know what? If an animal volunteers to guard my body while my soul does its business in the spirit world, I will not be ungrateful. If I had to pick a fetch, I would have chosen something cooler than a neurotic Jack Russel, but coolness is not my lot in this vale of beers. If my familiar barks at the neighbors and urinates submissively, well. That's how it goes.

I just wish she'd stop growling at Laszlo, though. Just have to give her time.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

In Her Defense

This is a nice, pretty, soothing image, isn't it? I bet it doesn't make you want to kill me even a little bit. Even if you're my wife.

All right, I don't want anyone to think that what I posted last time should be taken as any kind of criticism of my sweetie. Whatever she does is fine with me, even if it isn't. But it is, and I don't care and it pisses me off anyway, and sometimes I know a tiny little bit about love.

And just to prove it, here's a murder defense.

I think the missus might need it. If you follow me on Facebook (and what kind of fool wouldn't?), you've probably noticed a thread in which she very strongly implies -- comes dangerously close to stating flat-out -- that the only reasons she hasn't killed me are that I make her laugh, and I cook for her.

I believe there is a third factor at work, but that's not important. What is important is that if the missus wises up and croaks me, somebody needs to make sure that her attorney finds out about this blog, and about this post in particular.

Okay, Mr./Ms. Attny. Make sure the jury knows that as of this date, the missus and I have had the following conversation, with minor variations, somewhere between seven and ten times. Please clarify that this sort of snottery is particularly loathsome when it comes from a loutish meatloaf the size and shape of an upended sofa who is watching Walking With Dinosaurs for the one-hundred and fifty millionth time:

The missus is on her way out the door.

The Oaf: Off to your not-a-cult?
The Missus: It's not a cult.
The Oaf: I understand. That's why I specified.
The Missus: Fuck you.

It is very important to note that written transcripts fail to give the full weight of this exchange. Regard it as an iceberg -- the visible portion is what is said, but the bulk of its offensiveness lies in the manner in which the word 'understand' is spoken.

Of course, that begs the question of how something like this could occur. How could one person step into the same joke so many times? Because the real secret to her lasting love for me is the mysterious third factor I referred to earlier: an extremely poor short-term memory.

That's right. I'm tolerated because, as Lovecraft wrote, the missus is mercifully unable to correlate the contents of her mind. Which is why I'm putting this here. Because if she winds up running me through the Vita Mix and pouring me down the drain, I won't be around to remind her why she did it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Of course it's horrible to make fun of someone's spiritual beliefs, but we've already established that I'm a horrible person. I mean, if you read this blog you have some idea of how awful it must be to live with me. The moodiness, the financial issues, the intoxication, the so-called 'zone of destruction.'

The thing to remember is that the missus can be every bit as frustrating as me. Two wrongs don't make a right, but sometimes they make parity.

Let me give you an example.

The other morning we were discussing the issue of my eyes. This will come up later, probably, but here's the basic deal -- my eyes have gotten hell of worse over the last couple of years, and my deteriorating eyesight has given me a lot of unexpected grief. An idea I had for spectacle technology a number of years back has actually come into production (you'd be amazed at the frequency with which that kind of thing happens), and it's a specific for my condition. They look amazing. So we've been discussing the possibility of my getting a pair of fucking nine-hundred dollar glasses.

So in the midst of the conversation, the missus says, "I know it's woo, but I want you to try this." And she pulls out the laminated diagram shown above. "Now put your nose to Amma's feet."

"No," I said. "I'm just not going to do that. It's not going to happen."

So, y'all heard of Amma? She's the huggin' guru. The good news is that her organization is not yet showing signs of being riddled with corruption, she seems like a decent enough sort so far, and she's responsible for a goodly amount of charity work.

The bad news is that she spreads plague. I suppose it's unfair to say that she spreads plague personally, like she travels with jars of the stuff, but still. If your spouse had something like this on their record, would you just let it go? You would not. Because it is hilarious.

Of course, it's important to maintain perspective. See, when I describe the missus's spirituality to a third party, I call her a serial cultist. Because she is. Here's one of our standard conversations.

The missus is on her way out the door.

The Oaf: Culting it up tonight?
The Missus: It isn't a cult.
The Oaf: Well, enjoy the dogma and charismatic leadership.
The Missus: Fuck you.

Look, Amma is pretty fucking harmless at the moment. But the missus has been involved in shit like The Miracle of Love. (Hey, cultsters! She got out when Kalindi started crapping everything up!) Honestly, I'm willing to bet that she was in the Process and the Family and she just hasn't copped to it yet.

I'm thinking when she made the switch, her decision-making process was kind of like this. "Yeah, Miracle of Love is an internationally recognized menace to decency, but they just aren't spreading plague. There's gotta be somebody spreading plague." Then she googled plague gurus, got the forms, and signed up with Amma. (Do cults have an entrance exam? I'll have to ask the missus.)

So anyway, back to my poor old eyebones. The missus hands me this card and says, "Here, put your nose to Amma's feet."

This is part of an actual graven image intended for purposes of worship, and the stuff all over her feet is probably curds or ghee.

On the other hand, it is a cult, I have no idea what they do, and this really, really, really looks like a gross jiz shot from
"Put your nose to Amma's feet," my ass.

And I said, "No. Not happening. No can do."

"And then look up, and down, and left, and right..."

"It isn't going to happen. This will not pass."

And she glares at me. "You are so narrow-minded."

That nailed a certain dynamic in our house. Because the last idea she had regarding my eyes was that if I put pee and cod liver oil into them the lenses would become more flexible. My refusal to even give this a try was held up as evidence of my essential pessimism. "He wouldn't even try."

So that is the level of discourse. To dismiss the possibility that marination in a hellish vinaigrette of fish-0il and urine might be good for my eyes, to abstain from ophthalmological idolatry, is to be 'narrow-minded.' 'Negativistic.' 'A poopy-head.'

I don't care. I'm still not putting my nose to Amma's feet.