MP3 and Transcription of Denis Berry on Air America’s “Doin Time with Ron Kuby”

Denis Berry, Futique Trust Trustee, was interviewed on Air America

Denis Berry, Futique Trust Trustee

Denis Berry was on Air America’s Doin Time with Ron Kuby.

Here’s an MP3:  Ron Kuby Interviews Denis Berry – March 4, 2009

This program was aired on March 4, 2009.

Complete Transcription

Ron Kuby: We bring you this flashback because the archives of Dr. Timothy Leary are being digitized and placed on the net for all to find, and to search, and to discover all kinds of things we didn’t know about Timothy Leary.

And joining us is Denis Berry, the Trustee for the Estate of Dr. Timothy Leary. Thank you for being with us today.

Denis: Hi, Ron. Thanks for inviting me.

Ron: For those of us who were too young or too stoned to remember,

Denis: I don’t think you could be too stoned to remember Dr. Leary.

Ron: just giving a shout out! Tell us very briefly, who he was, and why he matters.

Denis: Well, Dr. Leary was a prominent Psychologist in the 50s. In fact, he had written a definitive textbook on psychology, and was then invited to be a Harvard professor in the Psychology Department. Then, while teaching at Harvard, he went on a trip to Mexico in 1960, and his good friend Frank Barron introduced him to magical mushrooms.

Ron: Yeah, psilocybin mushrooms.

Denis: Psilocybin mushrooms. That’s right. And, ya know, he had been feeling like therapy, treating people theraputically, he was frustrated with the results, and this experience with psilocybin totally changed his life. So he immediately thought about how he could use it in his work and research, as far as the substance helping to decondition and recondition or reimprint people’s brains.

Ron: So that was pretty cool. How did he go from psilocybin mushrooms to LSD?

Denis: Well they used psilocybin for a couple of years, at Harvard, while they were doing their studies. And then, in 1962, someone came from England and introduced Tim to LSD, and, he thought it was more powerful. (<em>Note: That person from England was Michael Hollingshead, Flashbacks, page 116.</em>)

It also was easier to get, and so, that was kind of how they made that switch to LSD. It was also legal at the time, by the way.

Ron: Sandoz I think it was. And then Dr. Ousley in California started manufacturing it in various colors shapes and forms. So then Dr. Leary, he follows this amazing arc, and becomes a counter-culture hero. “Tune in. Turn on. Drop out.” Was his phrase.

Denis: Yes. That was his phrase.

Ron: Hundreds of thousands of Americans, including, unfortunately, Art Linkletter’s daughter, who had a particularly bad trip – crashed through a window to her death.

Denis: But we don’t know if that was due to Acid or maybe… some other problem.

Ron: Art Linkletter. It could have been.

Denis: Yes.

Ron: And then he ends up getting arrested and in prison. And what happens then?

Denis: Well, after he was in prison, he actually took a test that he had written for the prison system, here in California, which said whether or not you would go to minimum or maximum security. And of course, having written the test, he took it so that he would be put in a minimum security prison, and he was able to escape.

With the help of the Weather Underground working with the Black Panther party.

Denis: Absolutely. With their help, and then they went to Algeria, where the Black Panthers were, and stayed with them for a little while before going to Switzerland.

Ron: Now, tell me the sad part of this story. At least, many Americans consider it the sad part. When he returned, and was imprisoned, he actually began to collaborate with the FBI and named a bunch of names of the people who helped him escape, although I don’t think that any prosecutions resulted from it.

Denis: As far as I know, no prosecutions resulted from it. No. Well, it is sad, but I have to say that if I were facing 20 years in prison, I might cooperate a little bit. Ya know, who knows what we would do in that situation.

Ron: Yeah. Well he made it very clear in the FBI 302 when he said “look, I’m cooperating because it’s the fastest way to get out of prison. At least he didn’t, sort of, tip toe around it. (Laughter) “I’m cooperating because I’ve discovered that America is the greatest country in the world.” or something like that.

So tell me about the archive. What is it?

Denis: Well, Tim, as a scientist, was a record keeper. And basically, in essence, what he did, I mean he started way before he was at Harvard, but what he did was basically he was the record keeper for the psychedelic movement.

Ron: A hard thing to do since, I couldn’t find my way me half the time. He was keeping records. Cool!

Denis: He was keeping records. In fact his archivist, Michael Horowitz, told me that somehow, when he fled to Europe after his escape and ended up in Switzerland, he actually had Michael come over and pick up 8 boxes of archives in Switzerland, so we don’t know how he did that.

But yeah, I think he also felt like what they were doing was really important, and should be documented, and so he was actually the documentarian for the psychedelic movement. He has letters in the archives. We have letters from everyone, from Aldous Huxley, Allan Watts, Albert Hoffman. Really, historically, this really tells you what happened. It’s not a he said/she said kinda thing. You can actually read their correspondence to one another. You know, funny, funny letters from Abbie Hoffman when he was in prison. He and Tim corresponding when they were both in prison. It’s an incredible collection. It’s Tim’s archives that has all kind of his life history, but for sure it’s the real history of the psychedelic movement.

Ron: If we want to access this archive, what’s the website? Or “what’s the we number” to use? – to use Joe Biden terminology.

Denis: is our website.

We’re actually just in the process of starting to digitize his papers. We have all of the videos digitized, some of the photographs are done. We have the books that will soon be accessible, and we’re housing them on, which is Brewster Kahle’s Internet Archive.

Ron: All right, Denis Berry, if I am able to remember this after the end of the show, I will check out the website. Which again is…

Denis: It’s really simple:

Ron: Well thank you so much for being with us today and spending some time reliving those wonderful years of the past. We took all those drugs. We had a great time, and they’re all gone and you kids don’t get any of them, anymore.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *