Dock Ellis, Timothy Leary, LSD and America’s Favorite Pastime

This image was created by Monarch-Corona Printing Company in 2010. The company brilliantly copies the design of original cards, then adds new information on the back. The Dock Ellis card is available directly from them. They did another series called the Legacy Series with Tim pictured, also available.

By Lisa Rein and Michael Horowitz

Patrick Hruby has written an extensive piece for ESPN Outside the Lines on the epic Dock Ellis no-hit baseball game, which he pitched while under the effects of LSD on June 12, 1970, a feat which has been called “the greatest achievement in the history of sports” (Lysergic World, a 1993 publication commemorating the 50th anniversary of the discovery of LSD.)

Any lingering controversy over whether the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher was telling the truth is largely dispelled in this article.  His colorful description of the experience of pitching a major league game while high on acid rings true.

“I didn’t see the hitters.  All I could tell was if they were on the right side or the left side of the plate…. There were times when the ball was hit back to me and I jumped because I thought the ball was coming fast but it was coming slow… I caught the ball coming back from the catcher with two hands because it was a big old ball and I thought it was small… It was easier to pitch with the LSD, because I was so used to medicating myself. That’s the way I was dealing with the fear of failure–the fear of losing and the fear of winning.”

Hruby’s piece deals in part with the authenticity of Ellis’ claim that he was on LSD during what he called his “no-no,” which most people concede at this point,  and secondly, whether there is any truth to Ellis’ claim that he got the acid from Timothy Leary himself.

Dock Ellis in the dugout after pitching his no-hitter. Photo from the book: Dock Ellis: In the Country of Baseball, by Donald Hall with Dock Ellis, 1976.

One of Hruby’s sources said Ellis told him that Leary had been “interested in researching the effect of LSD on professional athletes. The professor had approached the pitcher: Would Ellis take a tab of LSD, play, and then report on the experience?”

Although it sounds like an experiment Tim would have loved to conduct,  given his fascination with LSD, baseball, and experiential science, the fact is he was in prison during the 1970 baseball season, nor did he ever mention it to Michael, although they discussed Dock’s feat on several occasions.  Dock might have been told the LSD originated with Tim,  as the man and the drug were virtually synonymous back then, but there’s no evidence they ever met in person.

From the ESPN piece:

Timothy Leary carried Dock Ellis' 1971 Topps baseball card, a gift from his archivist, Michael Horowitz, in his wallet.

“Leary’s personal archivist, Michael Horowitz, said that the Leary-Ellis connection is highly unlikely — but that when Horowitz first heard about the no-hitter, he bought two copies of the pitcher’s 1971 Topps baseball card and gave one to Leary.

“Tim proudly carried it in his wallet, and showed it to any fans of sports and psychedelics he ran into,” Horowitz said.

Tim was a huge baseball fan from his childhood. He played shortstop on his high school baseball team. Although he grew up in Massachusetts, he chose the Brooklyn Dodgers over the Boston Rex Sox and continued following his team when he settled to LA in 1977 after he was freed from prison.

He had a close friendship with the recently retired Dodger catcher Johnny Roseboro, who brought him to the Dodger clubhouse on a few occasions, where Tim picked up autographed baseballs for his stepson, Zach, and his goddaughter, actress Winona Ryder.

Michael Horowitz, contemplating a signed baseball commemorating the LSD no-hitter, under the gaze of Timothy Leary and Dock Ellis. Photo by Cindy Horowitz.

Michael notes that, in Tim’s autobiography, Flashbacks, he describes how he once played a pick-up baseball game while on acid, in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, in the summer of 1962. He and his fellow Harvard researchers, and some of their graduate students, had gone there to establish a temporary “psychedelic summer camp,”  where they could study LSD in a more natural setting away from the confines of Harvard.
The gringos from Harvard agreed to play a local Mexican team.   All the gringos were stoned on LSD taken the night before. Leary describes the game in Flashbacks, detailing what the experience of playing baseball on LSD was like:
“The acid distorted our perception of time.  Everything moved slowly. When the ball left the pitcher’s hand, it seemed to float toward the plate, allowing plenty of time to count the stitches, examine the Wilson label, speculate about the history of competitive sports since the Greek Olympics, and feel the muscles contract reflexively to hit the ball.  It’s the busy worrying mind, after all, that keeps us from performing with animal grace…”
And  even from throwing a no-hitter…

Here’s a 2-minute “performance” of the no-hitter by Robin Williams, who was good friends with Tim.  They used to surf the net on Tim’s computer in the early days of the Internet.

Here’s a link to an awesome animation by James Blagden, with live recordings of Dock Ellis himself describing the event.

Jennifer Ulrich Interviews Michael Horowitz Re: The Archival Catastrophe of 1975 and the Birth of ARCANA

Michael Horowitz, Dr. Timothy Leary’s Archivist, 1970 to the present

Jennifer Ulrich, over at the New York Public Library (where Dr. Leary’s archives now live), has a new post about “The Archival Catastrophe of 1975,” when the Feds took possession of the archives and put Michael Horowitz, Tim’s archivist since 1970, on the stand in front of a Grand Jury.

Quotes from Horowitz’ interview:

“At the last minute — a few days before my appearance — I composed and printed up a fact sheet, announcing the formation of ARCANA (Archival Reality Committee Advocating the Neutrality of Archivists). I was to be the only member of this virtual organization I had founded.

I did my best to stonewall their fishing expedition in the grand jury room. It got pretty tense and I knew I faced contempt charges and jail if I wasn’t perceived to cooperate. There were twenty-three questions posed to me by the U.S. prosecutor: I answered the seven that were harmless, and for the others I refused to answer on the grounds that my status as an archivist made me immune to questioning, for the same reason that the lawyer, spouse, and priest, pastor or rabbi is exempt from testifying against a defendant.

This was a conclusion I came to and that I thoroughly believed — and believe to this day. Archivists are the preservers of history and play a neutral role. The prosecutor had no idea how to answer that; I was vilified for not cooperating, but then dismissed from the grand jury without being found in contempt. Afterwards my lawyer told me that I had established a legal “precedent” with my grounds for not testifying: other archivists, should they be called to testify under similar circumstances, could use this in their defense.

The statute of limitations on his prison escape passed without the federal grand jury indicting anyone in connection with the escape. Leary was himself freed about a year later, and his archives returned to him shortly afterwards. Thus my “archival” defense ultimately averted an archival catastrophe in the making.

No archivist to my knowledge has used the ARCANA precedent set that day, but it’s still in the records if anyone needs to. And best of all, the Leary Archives are today safely housed in the New York Public Library.”

Never Before Published Transcript of a Conversation Between John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Timothy Leary and Rosemary Leary – at the Montreal Bed-In, May 1969

Copyright 2012 Dr. Timothy Leary’s Futique Trust

Michael Horowitz, Tim’s longtime archivist and contributing editor to this website, has brought us this transcript from a tape recording of a conversation between Timothy and Rosemary Leary and John Lennon and Yoko Ono, which he found buried in his personal archives.

Photo by Stephen Sammons. Rosemary Leary, Timothy Leary, Yoko Ono and John Lennon, reading the local paper about their "Bed-In."

From Michael: “Back in 1984, Tim gave me this as a present to celebrate the completion of his bibliography. I’d completely forgotten I had it. In an archival lapse, I had put it in an unmarked envelope in a box of miscellaneous papers.”

Below is a scan of the cover page for the manuscript of an anthology Tim was considering putting together for publication around 1978 with the title, “Heroes of the Sixties: Meetings with Remarkable WoMen.”

Title-page of "Heroes of the Sixties: Meetings with Remarkable WoMen" typescript, with Tim's inscription.

A draft of “Part II: The Agents” from the table of contents is below. This transcript was intended to be added to a previously published piece, “Thank God for the Beatles” (The Beatles Book, 1968), “an essay about the Beatles as evolutionary agents sent by God, endowed with mysterious power to create a new human species” (Leary Bibliography, B18). The article and transcript was to be Chapter 16 under a new title, “The Beatles As Unconscious Evolutionary Agents (with Conversation with John-Yoko).” The anthology, a collection of previously published magazine articles and book excerpts, with a few new chapters, was never published.

Michael continues: “After researching the publications in which it most likely would have appeared (the underground press and Rolling Stone) in the late spring and summer of 1969, and in the bibliography and the archives housed at the New York Public Library, I determined that the transcript of this ‘conversation’ has probably never been published.”

Another piece of evidence is a handwritten note on the permissions list when the project was in a very early stage: “Hitherto Unpublished.”

Table of Contents for “Heroes of the Sixties: Meetings with Remarkable WoMen.” - An unpublished manuscript by Timothy Leary.

Michael’s guess is that Tim was given a copy of the tape at the time it was made, or later, and had it transcribed by one of his assistants, whose penciled editorial notes appear on the first two pages, and on the contents and permissions sheets. Michael remembers Tim invited him to assist on the project, “ but he (Tim) was too involved in the Future History Series, where some of these chapters ended up in one form or another, and abandoned ‘Heroes of the Sixties: Meetings with Remarkable WoMen.'”

Montreal Bed-In and what was going on in the lives of the four of them when they held the conversation in John and Yoko’s Suite of Rooms 1738-1744 in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel

The conversation took place in the middle of John and Yoko’s week-long Bed-In, on May 29th, 1969. That makes Lisa 6 months old at the time, and it’s a year before Michael met Tim face-to-face for the first time, visiting him in prison, and became his archivist. Chronologically, it was two weeks after the People’s Park Uprising in Berkeley and less than three months before the Woodstock Music Festival. The Vietnam War was raging. The Black Panther Party was being attacked by the FBI. Less than a month later, the Weather Underground formed, calling for armed revolution to stop the war. Hippies were being busted for pot and acid. The Chicago 8 were under indictment for inciting a riot at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Aug. 1968.

Michael points out: “The enormous personal and political pressures on the four of them are evident here. Despite (or perhaps because of) their global fame, both couples had a difficult time getting through Canadian customs. Both had been busted for marijuana possession the previous year – John and Yoko in London, and Tim and Rosemary in Laguna Beach. A few months after the Bed-In, John would leave the Beatles and move with Yoko to the U.S., where they were closely monitored by the FBI and threatened with deportation. Ten months later, Tim would be in prison; Rosemary would be putting on benefits to raise money for his appeal.”

The Bed-In – An Archetypal “Occupation”

Michael: “The ‘60s was a decade of occupations. Perhaps the strangest and most original was the Bed-In that took place in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, in 1969, 43 years ago, this Spring. John Lennon and Yoko Ono occupied a bed for seven days and nights in a “Bed-In For Peace” as a symbolic protest to end the war in Vietnam, which culminated in the writing and recording of the antiwar anthem, ‘Give Peace a Chance.’

“Prior to the Bed-In, in the early sixties, leading up to the passage of the Civil Rights Act, there were Sit-Ins in the South, occupying “white only” lunch counters; Be-Ins, beginning with the one in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park (1967), and Teach-Ins on college campuses. The Yippies led occupations at the NY Stock Exchange (1967) and the grounds of the Pentagon (1967), and later, Smoke-Ins in Washington DC and elsewhere. A half million antiwar protestors occupied the mall in front of the Washington Monument, six months after the Bed-In. The 1990s witnessed Digital Be-Ins, and wars in the Middle East brought Die-Ins. These were some of the precursors of the Occupy Movement that began in Zuccotti Park last September.”

Thanks to the fame of the couple and the novel concept of their activism, the event got media coverage well beyond the small number of participants involved.

The film Bed Peace was made available for free on YouTube in August 2011 by Yoko Ono, as part of her website “Imagine Peace.” Tim and Rosemary’s participation is also documented in  another video on YouTube (also courtesy of Yoko’s Imagine Peace website), where they are seen singing on the recording of “Give Peace A Chance.”

John Lennon wrote another song that week, the earliest version of “Come Together,” for Leary’s campaign for Governor of California against Ronald Reagan. It was the prospect of Tim debating Reagan on television that, as much as anything, led to his imprisonment for a miniscule amount of marijuana. With the campaign aborted, John decided to rework the song for the Beatles’ Abbey Road.

This conversation, published here for the first time, is a time capsule from an era that has powerful and poignant correspondences to our own.

Conversation between John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Rosemary Leary and Timothy Leary, Hotel Queen Elizabeth, Montreal, Canada, May 29, 1969

TIMOTHY: Living in a teepee is great. It’s pretty basic. It’s the first artificial habitat, after all.

ROSEMARY: It’s the sexiest building ever invented.

TIMOTHY: It’s like being in a sailboat, because you have to know exactly where the wind is. You raise the fluttering banners, and just look up through the smoke-flap and you can see how the wind blows. If you don’t have the flaps the right way, the wind will blow the smoke down. We always have to be aware of the wind.

JOHN: Yeah, Yoko had this plan for us two. To blindfold ourselves for two weeks, y’know, and just work it out. We might do that when we get to the new house and find out about it.

ROSEMARY: Yes, it’d be a fantastic way to learn about it.

TIMOTHY: Also, of course, we live with rattlesnakes. That’s groovy because it requires absolute consciousness. You just can’t go thumping through the brush, thinking of what you’re going to do tomorrow. You have to realize that you’re intruding on their territory. We don’t want to hurt you. We don’t want to stumble in and step on you. So your consciousness has got to be focused. And of course it’s always helpful to have dogs. We learn a great deal from animals.

JOHN: How long have you been there, in the teepee? I mean, before you sussed the wind and everything, and you know, got your senses back?

ROSEMARY: We had to put the teepee up three times before it was right. It’s like you can touch it, and it resounds like a drone, and then it’s perfect, the canvas. It’s a wind instrument that plays like a drone.

TIMOTHY: You would really love the teepee, because it’s a work of art which involves all the senses. You start with white canvas. Then you get the pine. Each man has to strip the bark so you get the wood smooth, smooth. You have to line the poles carefully. There are fifteen of these poles, and if you do it wrong you end up with too big a hole. It’s sculpture. Then once you’ve got it built, it’s a light show, because the moon shines through the smoke hole and you can see the stars.

ROSEMARY: If you placed it properly to the east, the sun rises right over the opening, so at one point during the day the sun is full blast down into the teepee.

YOKO: Is it very wide?

ROSEMARY: It’s a little narrower than the width of this hotel room.

TIMOTHY: And at night you have a fire. All right. We’re sitting around, with the fire here in the center. That means your shadow is thrown on the screen behind you, big, and I’m gesticulating like this and you catch my shadow. And the silhouettes flicker. The fire’s dancing. So, if you are outside, you can tell a mile away what’s going on. Then you get the wind coming. It creaks a little. The door, by the way, is shaped like the yoni and you have to bend your head down as you come in, in honor of it.

ROSEMARY: The only thing that comes through the yoni is the sun and the stars and the moon; actually only people go through the lower exit and entrance.

TIMOTHY: It’s a sexy place.

YOKO: All those nasty magazines in London, they all call me Yoni.

JOHN: Yeah. Yoni Ono.

YOKO: John Lingam and Yoni Ono.

TIMOTHY: We sent a message to you, through Miles, that said that next time you come to the United States, if you wanted to get away for a few days, there’s a place…

JOHN: We never got the message from Miles. [Footnote: Barry Miles, UK countercultural activist, helped launched Indica Bookshop and International Times.] We miss a lot. Yeah, we’ve got it now. And if we come…

TIMOTHY: It would have to be done in a way that no one would know you’re there. Once you just get into the valley, it’s another world. Of course, we’ve been doing nothing but studying consciousness for the last seven or eight years, and at Millbrook, we had this large estate. You probably heard about it–this big 64-room house. It became like a mecca for scientists and barefoot pilgrims.

“We’ve been doing nothing but studying consciousness for the last seven or eight years.”–Tim

YOKO: I’ve heard of Millbrook. I mean, it’s famous.

TIMOTHY: Yes, and police informers and television people. But then we saw how geography was important. The land north of the house was uninhabited. As you got there, you got farther away from the people, and the games, and the television, and the police. What we’ve been trying to do is create heaven on earth, right? And we did have it going, for a while–in the forest groves where there were just holy people. Just people going around silently eating brown rice or caviar, and when you went there, you would never think of talking terrestrial. You never would say, “Well, the sheriff’s at the gate.”

JOHN: We were going to have no talking either, for a week.

TIMOTHY: Well, this was a place where you only would go if you just wanted to. It was set up somewhat like, you know, the Tolkien thing, with trees and shrines. There was another place where we lived, which we called Level Two, which was in a teepee, and people would come up there, and we would play, and laugh. And then you get down to the big house, and that was where you could feel the social pressures starting. And once you left the gate, then you were back in the primitive 20th century. As soon as you walked out the gate, if you didn’t have your identification, then they’d bust you. So it was all neuro–geography. The place you went to determined your level of consciousness. As you went from one zone to another, you knew you were just coming down or going up.

JOHN: That’s great.

TIMOTHY: Now we’ve got that going again out in the desert.

ROSEMARY: We’re living with a more intelligent group of people this time.

YOKO: What did you do with the place, Millbrook? Is it still going?

TIMOTHY: We were supposed to go there this week. Matter of fact, we may go there tomorrow night. It’s still there. But it’s the old story. In the past, societies fought over territory. They thought, “We’ll hold this space, or we’ll force you out.” It’s an old mammalian tradition. As you pointed out about Reagan, what we’re doing in the United States is transcending this notion of the good-guy cowboy. That’s Governor Reagan: he’s gonna shoot down hippies, shoot down blacks and college students. So we gave up Millbrook, because there’s no point in fighting over the land, and making it a thing of territorial pride. If they want it so much that they’re going to keep an armed guard there all the time, they can have it. We’ll be back. [Footnote: Reagan ordered the California National Guard to shoot at protesting students during the People’s Park uprising in Berkeley two weeks earlier; it was G. Gordon Liddy, later one of the Watergate burglars, who drove Tim and his extended family from Millbrook.]

JOHN: Yeah, that’s where we’re shouting at the kids at Berkeley: “forget the park, move on.” They’re all saying. “Where?” Y’know, I’m saying, “Canada. Anywhere.” There’s plenty of space.

TIMOTHY: There is.

ROSEMARY: Yes, if you fly over this country in an airplane you’ll just be amazed at the amount of space there is.

JOHN: Pioneers. Pioneers are very important today, because people won’t go where somebody hasn’t already gone. Yeah! That’s what we’re saying: what did your forefathers do? How did they make it?

YOKO: And it’s a healthy thing to do, isn’t it?

TIMOTHY: What do the kids say when they talk to you? [Footnote: All day John and Yoko have been talking to every radio station they can reach, and to anyone calling in to one of these radio stations wanting to talk to them.]

JOHN: About peace, or about anything in general? On the phone? Well, if they’re not saying, “Welcome to Canada,” they’re saying, “What can we do?” y’know?

ROSEMARY: That’s good.

JOHN: They’re saying, what can we actually do, and then I say, we say, “well we can’t tell you what to do?” y’know, we can only sort of say, “there’s other things to do.”

TIMOTHY: You’re in charge. You don’t have to ask.

JOHN: Yeah, think about it. But they’re getting it, y’know, I mean they must be. Our voices must be going out solid about every quarter of an hour. And if it isn’t singing, it’s talking, and we’re just repeating the same bit, y’know, and there’s very little “Me eyes are brown and Paul’s…y’know? I mean I do that for the ones that need it. Most of it’s just, “let’s get it together,” and it must be going out now like a mantra. We’re trying to set up a mantra, a peace mantra, and get it in their heads. It’s gonna work.

TIMOTHY: It’s Pierre Trudeau that got us in Canada. Because, about a year and a half, two years ago, there was a big university thing in Toronto [Footnote: Perception ’67, a conference/ cultural event featuring, in addition to the two named by Leary, Humphry Osmond, Richard Alpert, Ralph Metzner, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, Ed Sanders, and Ali Akbar Khan], and they invited people to speak about drugs. Paul Krassner came, McLuhan was there, and I was supposed to come up to give a talk, but the government wouldn’t let me in. So I sent a tape, and they confiscated it.

Then I went to the International Bridge in Detroit and handed it across, and the Americans busted me ’cause I wasn’t supposed to leave the country. That was two years ago, before Trudeau was premier. This time they checked with higher-ups. They kept us waiting about an hour. They were very polite. They were getting instructions from– wherever they get their instructions.

JOHN: They kept us about two hours, searched through everything. Yeah, well, we wanted to get to Trudeau, we’re really headed for Nixon.

“We wanted to get to Trudeau, we’re really headed for Nixon.” — John

TIMOTHY: I am too.

JOHN: We’re just telling them that we want to give them two acorns—a piece of sculpture that we entered in an exhibition. So we wanted to get that to Nixon and tell him all we want you to do is make a positive move, y’know. And then they’d either have to accept it or deny it publicly, and then we’d ask, “Why, why, don’t you give us that time schedule?”

TIMOTHY: How are things in Europe?

JOHN: They’re okay there, you know, it’s relaxed and everybody’s…they’re all smoking their cigars and drinking coffee, y’know, and you go to Paris and Amsterdam, and they’re all just rolling along.

YOKO: And they don’t dislike you for smoking.

JOHN: No, it’s not the same. They get down about it, but there’s none of that…

YOKO: Not hatred.

ROSEMARY: I’m always surprised when I read of any of you being busted in England, because…

JOHN: Oh, it’s again a bit paranoid in England now. It’s getting a bit heavy. ‘Cause there’s a lot of Americans coming in, y’know, sort of refugees, and it’s not even that so much. There’s just more people around, and they’re busting the pop stars. Like they got Mick Jagger and Marianne yesterday. [Footnote: Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull were busted for possession of marijuana at their London home on May 28, 1969.] There’s one guy doing it all, one little Sergeant Pilgrim.

“They’re busting the pop stars. Like they got Mick Jagger and Marianne yesterday.” — John

ROSEMARY: Pilgrim?

JOHN: Yes, I think he’s on a pilgrimage, collecting scalps.

ROSEMARY: Your Pilgrim and our Purcell. [Footnote: Neil Purcell of the Laguna Beach police dept. followed the Learys around for months before pulling them over and busting Tim for two marijuana roaches in the backseat ashtray of their car, on Dec. 26, 1968, which are the very charges that sent him to prison in March 1970.]

JOHN: And he’s going around nailing us all; and they’re beginning to hound the underground papers now. They never gave ’em any bother before. So it’s getting a bit like that. But it’s nowhere near stateside size yet, and by the time it gets like that in England, the States will have cooled off.

TIMOTHY: It’s not a yin/yang thing. The energy in the United States is accelerating, and you can go on the negative trip and point to all the bad things happening. But the reason these power trips are happening is because the freedom thing is so strong. I give lectures at colleges, and even down south, and up in Minnesota, in religious, very backwater places where you expected…. The kids are just waiting for any voice of honesty and humor.

ROSEMARY: It’s changed. It really has. Even a year ago…

JOHN: Yeah, when we were down there, in the States, it was terrifying. [Footnote: Lennon is referring to the last Beatles U.S. tour, in August 1966.] That’s when they were getting me for saying we’re bigger than Christ. Somebody was letting off balloons, and we all looked around to see which of us had got shot.

TIMOTHY: But the kids there are the same as they are anywhere. Because this thing we’re involved in, it does transcend all the old dichotomies of left/right or conservative.

JOHN: They’re even playing the “Christ you know it ain’t easy” record. [Footnote: “The Ballad of John and Yoko”] down south on some stations. I didn’t think it’d get past the line, y’know, didn’t think they’d play it there at all. I asked them, Jacksonville, Florida or what, “Hi! Y’playing the record?” “Yeah, we’re playing it. Why did you say that?” “Well,” I said. “Uh. Heh…” [Laughter]

TIMOTHY: John, about the use of the mass media . . . the kids must be taught how to use the media. People used to say to me–I would give a rap and someone would get up and say, “Well, what’s this about a religion? Did the Buddha use drugs? Did the Buddha go on television? I’d say, “Ahh—he would’ve. He would’ve….”

“John, about the use of the mass media… The kids must be taught to use the media.”– Tim

JOHN: I was on a TV show with David Frost and Yehudi Menuhin, some cultural violinist y’know, they were really attacking me. They had a whole audience and everything. It was after we got back from Amsterdam…and Yehudi Menuhin came out, he’s always doing these Hindu numbers. All that pious bit, and his school for violinists, and all that. And Yehudi Menuhi said, “Well, don’t you think it’s necessary to kill some people some times?” That’s what he said on TV, that’s the first thing he’s ever said. And I said, “Did Christ say that? Are you a Christian?” “Yeah,” I said, and did “Christ say anything about killing people?” And he said, “Did Christ say anything about television? Or guitars?”

“Did the Buddha use drugs? Did the Buddha go on television? I’d say, ‘Ahh—he would’ve. He would’ve…'”– Tim

TIMOTHY: Marijuana…

JOHN: Yeah. I couldn’t believe it. I really couldn’t believe that.

TIMOTHY: The trick is, though, not to be pulled off into the bullring thing. You’ve got to keep right on the essence, and if you do that…

JOHN: Yeah, I got a bit lost actually, but I got such a fright. I didn’t expect such…so much from ’em. It was just a sort of David Frost show with a couple of people on, and we’d just got there, and the hatred was amazing. I was really frightened. But Yoko was cool, so when one of us loses it, the other can cover.

Latest NYPL Post on Processing the Leary Papers: Annotations and Fact Clarification

Photo by Jennifer Ulrich, NYPL

Jennifer Ulrich is the archivist in charge of processing the Timothy Leary Papers at the New York Public Library, their new home. She’s been blogging about the entire process, and providing a few peeks inside at a few goodies while she’s at it.

Jennifer’s latest post provides documentation directly from the archives that will correct misinformation and enhance the information we already have. She discusses how Tim liked to annotate documents in his archives, and sign them, just as he was dedicated to revising and updating his books whenever a new edition was in the works.

Jennifer’s second post explains in more detail what the project involves, and what kinds of archival resources will be accessible online when it is completed.

Her first post gave us an introduction to the current goals of the project, and some interesting history about Tim’s Starseed period, which began when he was in Folsom prison in 1973, to serve out the rest of his sentence, plus five years for the escape.

Terra II, referenced on page 63 of Tim’s Annotated Bibliography, is “a manual for space colonization” (and secondarily, a prison escape fantasy connected to the approach of Comet Kohoutek), written in Folsom Prison by Leary and co-prisoner Wayne Benner, with illustrations done by another prisoner, Harold Olson.

From the bibliography:

“The subject of the work is the evolution/migration from Terra I (Planet Earth) to Terra II (an orbiting space colony between Earth and the Moon)…Like the monographs Neurologic and Starseed, the proceeds of the sale of Terra II were intended to help pay expenses of costly legal appeals by Leary to win his freedom from prison.”

Such legal appeals did not work, and Leary wasn’t released until he was pardoned by then and now California Governor Jerry Brown, on April 21, 1976.

In Leary’s own words:

“Terra II…defined migration from the planet as the goal of our species. To me this was the ultimate escape plot.”

In some copies of the book there was inserted as a promotional bookmark, “Ticket to Ride,” designed by Michael Horowitz and Disney artist Dana Reemes who appropriated R. Crumb’s drawing of Tim from El Perfecto Comics (1973).

These were given away to the audience at the “Wake-Up for Timothy Leary,” an event held in Berkeley in 1975 to bring attention to the fact that Leary was being held deep in the federal prison system for many months without anyone having access to him.

At age 53 he was serving a 10-15 year sentence in California and threatened with a 75-year federal sentence, after being labelled the”Hippie Godfather” for his connection to the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. (More details about this in a futher post.)

Timothy Leary Makes a Surprise Visit to Liberty Plaza

Dr. Timothy Leary and Anonymous at New York City's Liberty Plaza, Day 13

Michael Horowitz, Tim’s longtime friend and archivist, claims he overheard the following imaginary conversation:

Tim: I like your mask. I had one like that I wore at the Swiss Mardi Gras back in 1972, when Nixon’s agents were chasing me across four continents.

Anonymous: We Are Anonymous.

Leary: I should have been more anonymous, but it wasn’t in my DNA.

Anonymous: We Are Everywhere.

Leary: There are probably almost as many cops in riot gear and plainclothes FBI agents with cameras as people actually protesting here. But you know what? A hundred million people are watching this on their computers and iPhones, or are seeing it on Al Jazeera TV and other progressive websites.

Anonymous: We are not slaves. We are not beaten. We will not lay down and take this any more.

Leary: This is the best possible image the U.S. can put out to the rest of the country and the world right now.

Anonymous: This is what democracy looks like. We Are the 99%.

Leary: Especially to the young people in the Middle East — or anywhere people are rising up to try to get some control over their own futures. Greece, Spain, Toronto, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Madison!

Anonymous: We Are Global.

Leary: Twitter is the most important invention since movable type. Everyone has a global voice. Remember McLuhan?

Anonymous: The medium is the message.

Leary: This is the Twitter revolution. Tweets are to the 21st century what the Gutenberg Bible was to the 15th.

Anonymous: We do have the power. We do have a voice. We are legion.

Leary: They are broadcasting to the world via hand-held digital cameras, smart phones and live streaming video, while the obsolete mainstream media ignores them. Calls them hippies! How about that!

Anonymous: They will hear us, but we have to speak loud.

Leary: This is the wake-up call.

Anonymous: This is our chance America.

Leary: Turn On, Tune In, Take Over.

Anonymous: Expect us.

From Timothy Leary’s Chaos and Cyber Culture (1994), original version published 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall:

It has finally happened: the inevitable and long-awaited climax of the youth revolutions. The next uncontrollable 15 years (1995-2010) will accelerate this dizzying explosion of mind power. The fragmentary remnants of the old centralized social systems of the feudal and industrial civilizations are crumbling down. The 21st century will witness a new global culture, peopled by new breeds who honor human individuality, human complexity, and human potential.

They will be the creative implementers of the new technologies for communicating at light speed. Change-oriented, innovative individuals who are adept in communicating via the new cyber systems.

Follow Occupy Wall Street at:

Here’s a theme for Occupy Wall Street/Anonymous, “Re-occupy/Expect Us” –  by Lisa Rein.

Special Thanks to Carolyn Ferris for her Graphics Magic!

Occupy Wall Street Photo - Courtesy of Anonops.Blogspot.Com

Rex Morgan Clippings from 1966

From the archives of Michael Horowitz.

Michael sez:

“1966 was the year LSD was banned, Millbrook was raided, and Tim was sentenced to 30 years for the Laredo border bust. Here is evidence that even the comics were on his case.

These two strips are all I have of the story that went on at least a couple of weeks. If anyone can unearth the rest of the strips from approximately the first two weeks of Dec., 1966 please get in touch so we can post the entire story and find out whether Rex Morgan busts Arrodine, if Jack grows to enjoy his flashbacks, and whether he and Veronica drop out of college and go to San Francisco.”

Mr. Arrodine is the Leary-like villain in this very popular mid-1960s comic strip that was syndicated all across the country. “Rex Morgan, M.D.” is still in syndication after 60 years.

Interestingly, it was a psychiatrist who came up with the character of Dr. Rex Morgan, a fictional doctor who solves cases of foul play involving medical issues, including drug abuse.

Sporting a Mephistophelean goatee and cravat (a look more that of Alan Watts than Tim Leary), Arrodine is presented as a brilliant and cultured man who has gone downhill from too many LSD trips. He claims that without psychedelics we are living in the Dark Ages and speculates that even our greatest phllosophers could have benefited from using LSD. Does that sound like someone we knew?

In the first strip below, two college students have come to seek advice from Arrodine, a noted authority on LSD. Veronica’s boyfriend Jack is undergoing flashbacks from a bad acid trip. Arrodine doesn’t see this as a problem: “I so wish it would happen to me!” (Note: the words “All I do is shave and comb my hair!” are not part of the original strip.)

Click on the picture to see a larger version of this comic strip.

In this next strip, they are in Arrodine’s study, with books lining the wall and an adjoining hothouse, suggestive of a future growroom. The comic strip writer might have had the Millbrook Estate in mind when he chose the setting.

Arrodine is holding an orchid which he describes in Learyean language, and is also reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s description of flowers experienced under the effects of mescaline in The Doors of Perception.

Arrodine’s statement about the “limited wisdom of the ages” is exactly the kind of verbal grenade Tim would casually toss to shake up his listeners and show them how to think for themselves.

Click on the picture to see a larger version of this comic strip.

From the archives of Michael Horowitz.

Timothy Leary Speaking Engagement Ad – 1969 Village Voice

Clipping from the Village Voice, December 1969 - The Electric Circus Presents: Dr. Timothy Leary

The Electric Circus (formerly the Dom) was THE venue of the hip heads of the Lower East Side during the mid to late 1960s.

Lots of  60’s rock bands played there. Andy Warhol staged his Exploding Plastic Inevitable there. The Velvet Underground was, for a time, the house band.

Tim headlined three nights there in December 1969.

The joint rolling imagery of this ad tied in with Tim being sent to prison four months later for possession of two marijuana roaches. He was given ten years for that, but escaped inside of six months.

From the archives of Michael Horowitz.

1970’s News Clipping of Rosemary’s “Conspire-In Blowout”

Jerry Rubin (left), Rosemary Leary (top), Abbie Hoffman (right)

Michael Horowitz thought we might enjoy a few tidbits from his own personal archives…

This picture on the left was published on March 25, 1970. We’re not sure what the publication was.

From Michael:

Rosemary did a benefit for Tim after his bail was taken away in an Orange County courtroom. Tim was jailed, and soon to be sent to California State Prison.

The benefit, called a “Conspire-In Blowout,” took place in Manhattan, with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin protesting the “silencing” of Tim.

The Chicago Seven Conspiracy Trial had just ended a month earlier, with Abbie and Jerry free on bail while appealing their sentence of five years for “inciting a riot,” whereas Tim’s bail had been revoked, and he was facing ten years.

Rosemary herself was on probation at the time, for possession of a couple of hits of acid.”

From the archives of Michael Horowitz.

Dr. Ralph Metzner Comments A Bit On All the Recent Press

Ralph Metzner and Timothy Leary - Harvard Days (1960-61)

Here’s Ralph’s post on his own blog about the last few weeks of press on the archives.
Ralph was a graduate student at Harvard, working on his Ph.D in Clinical Psychology, which he received.  He took graduate classes with Leary and Alpert, was introduced to psilocybin mushrooms, and became a research assistant on the Harvard Psilocybin Project started by Tim and Richard.   While continuing to study for his Ph.D, he became a central figure in the research project, participating in all the experimental work, first with psilocybin and mescaline, and later with LSD and DMT.

He co-authored the key research papers, was the editor of “Psychedelic Review” (the first journal devoted to psychedelic drugs) through much of its run, and co-authored the seminal text of the era, “The Psychedelic Experience,” based Upon the “Tibetan Book of the Dead.”

After getting his Ph.D from Harvard, Ralph moved to the Millbrook Estate and continued to be a central figure in the Psychedelic Movement, well into the ’60s, performing in the psychedelic celebrations, and co-starring with Tim and Rosemary in the feature film, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.”  He also published one of the earliest anthologies of people’s psychedelic experiences, “The Ecstatic Adventure” (1968).

Ralph and Ram Dass recently published a book on these seminal years, “The Birth of the Psychedelic Culture.” We worked with Ralph placing many photos from the archives in the book, which also has a nice introduction by John Perry Barlow.

Of particular interest in this post by Ralph, is his comment to David
Presti’s blog post
published on June 23, 2011:

“Thanks for this sensitively nuanced appraisal of my former colleague and dear friend Tim Leary. Your statement that “the role of Timothy Leary in the early days of contemporary psychedelic research and his impact on society during the second half of the 20th century are far from having been fully explored” is right on target.

I think in retrospect his pioneering contributions will be recognized and appreciated, while his flamboyant and provocative style of self-presentation will be forgotten. More books about him are coming out all the time – the most recent being Peter Conners’ White Hand Society – The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg.

He was the funniest man I’ve ever known. When asked about Nixon’s judgement of him as “the most dangerous man in America” he said “It’s true – I’ve got America surrounded.”

The Economist Weighs In: “Research into hallucinogenic drugs begins to shake off decades of taboo”

Nice to see that, for the most part, the Economist gets it!

This piece keeps an open mind about the potential benefits of this research finally being published and made publicly available.

Acid tests: Research into hallucinogenic drugs begins to shake off decades of taboo

Excerpted from the article:

“These papers will be interesting not only culturally, but also scientifically, as they reflect what happened between the early medical promise of hallucinogens and their subsequent blacklisting by authorities around the world…”

“Which was a pity because, like many other drugs the authorities have taken against as a result of their recreational uses, hallucinogens have medical applications as well. But time heals all wounds and now, cautiously, study of the medical use of hallucinogens is returning.”

“Psilocybin has shown promise in treating forms of OCD that are resistant to other therapies, in relieving cluster headaches (a common form of chronic headache) and in alleviating the anxiety experienced by terminally ill cancer patients. The first clinical study of LSD in over 35 years, also on terminally ill patients, is expected to finish this summer. Peter Gasser, the Swiss doctor leading the experiment, says that a combination of LSD and psychotherapy reduced anxiety levels of all 12 participants in the study, though the statistical significance of the data has yet to be analyzed.”

It’s hard to believe that the paragraph above, and the one below, came from the same article (although the piece resumes its optimistic tone at the very end).

From the article:

“It may, of course, be that LSD has no clinical uses. Even when no stigma attaches to the drugs involved, most clinical trials end in failure. But it is worth seeing whether LSD might fulfill its early promise. And if the publication of Leary’s archive speeds that process up by exorcising a ghost that still haunts LSD research, then the New York Public Library will have done the world a service.”

Dr. Timothy Leary (1920-1996)

As these research papers are gradually made available to the public, it will become clear that the majority of them did not end in failure.

Early research pointed to the use of various psychedelics, in a supportive* environment, with trained professionals, was effective in assisting in the successful treatment of alcoholism, depression in terminally-ill people, pain relief in cancer patients, for breaking the mind-set of imprisoned repeat offenders, for producing authentic religious experiences, and for unblocking creativity.

The concept of “guides,” an idea that came from the Huxleys (Aldous and Laura), was a central part of Leary’s experimental design.   At least one member of the Leary team would remain undosed, and the member tripping with the subject would take a smaller dose.  But usually the researchers relied solely on their own prior experiences to be effective guides.

*Editor’s Note: We say a “supportive” environment rather than a “controlled” environment (sterile clinic rooms, no other trippers, no music or amenities,  doctors hovering over with note pads) because Leary and his team quickly learned that these sort of environments were part of the reason for the bad trips. Also, few of those docs (in the “controlled” environment studies) had ever taken LSD or Psilocybin themselves. Or had only taken one trip, at a very low dosage, in order to keep scientific detachment. In contrast, Dr. Leary and his colleagues quickly realized this was one area where the doctor had to experiment with the drug themselves in order to truly understand what the subject was experiencing.