Tag Archives: LSD

Almanac – May 31

1837 – Joseph Grimaldi died.  English actor, comedian and dancer, who became the most popular English entertainer of the Regency era.

In the early 1800s, he expanded the role of Clown in the harlequinade that formed part of British pantomimes, notably at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the Sadler’s Wells and Covent Garden theatres, and  became so dominant on the London comic stage that harlequinade Clowns became known as “Joey”, and both the nickname and Grimaldi’s whiteface make-up design were, and still are, used by other types of clowns. He also originated catchphrases such as “Here we are again!”, which continues to feature in modern pantomimes.
In his last years, Grimaldi lived in relative obscurity and became a depressed, impoverished alcoholic, dying at home in Islington in 1837, aged 59.

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1872 – W. Heath Robinson born.  English cartoonist and illustrator, best known for drawings of eccentric machines.

In the UK, the term “Heath Robinson” has entered the language as a description of any unnecessarily complex and implausible contraption, although it  is perhaps more often used in relation to temporary fixes using ingenuity and whatever is to hand, often string and tape, or unlikely cannibalisations.

Its popularity is undoubtedly linked to Second World War Britain’s shortages and the need to “make do and mend“.

 

 

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1996 – Timothy Leary died. American psychologist and writer, known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs.

During a time when drugs such as LSD and psilocybin were legal, Leary conducted experiments at Harvard University under the Harvard Psilocybin Project, resulting in the Concord Prison Experiment and the Marsh Chapel Experiment.

Both studies produced useful data, but Leary and his associate Richard Alpert were fired from the university nonetheless because of the public controversy surrounding their research.

Leary believed LSD showed therapeutic potential for use in psychiatry. He popularized catchphrases that promoted his philosophy such as “turn on, tune in, drop out” (a phrase given to Leary by Marshall McLuhan); “set and setting“; and “think for yourself and question authority“.

He also wrote and spoke frequently about transhumanist concepts involving space migration, intelligence increase and life extension (SMI²LE), and developed the eight-circuit model of consciousness in his book Exo-Psychology (1977).

During the 1960s and 1970s, he was arrested often enough to see the inside of 29 different prisons worldwide. President Richard Nixon once described Leary as “the most dangerous man in America“.
His death was videotaped for posterity at his request, capturing his final words. During his final moments, he said, “Why not?” to his son Zachary. He uttered the phrase repeatedly, in different intonations, and died soon after. His last word, according to Zach, was “beautiful.”
Seven grams of Leary’s ashes were arranged  to be buried in space aboard a rocket carrying the remains of 24 others including Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek), Gerard O’Neill (space physicist), and Krafft Ehricke (rocket scientist). A Pegasus rocket containing their remains was launched on April 21, 1997, and remained in orbit for six years until it burned up in the atmosphere.

 

 

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Almanac – January 11

1928 – Thomas Hardy died. English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist, in the tradition of George Eliot, he was also influenced both in his novels and poetry by Romanticism, especially by William Wordsworth. Charles Dickens is another important influence, and, like Dickens, he was also highly critical of much in Victorian society, though Hardy focused more on a declining rural society.

While Hardy wrote poetry throughout his life, and regarded himself primarily as a poet, his first collection was not published until 1898. Initially therefore he gained fame as the author of such novels as Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895).

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1906 – Albert Hofmann born.  Swiss scientist known best for being the first person to synthesize, ingest, and learn of the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

Hofmann was also the first to isolate, synthesize, and name the principal psychedelic mushroom compounds, psilocybin and psilocin. He authored more than 100 scientific articles and a number of books, including LSD: My Problem Child.

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2007 – Robert Anton Wilson died. American author and polymath who became at various times a novelist, philosopher, psychologist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, civil libertarian and self-described agnostic mystic.

Wilson described his work as an “attempt to break down conditioned associations, to look at the world in a new way, with many models recognized as models or maps, and no one model elevated to the truth”. His goal being “to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone but agnosticism about everything.”

Among Wilson’s 35 books, and many other works, perhaps his best-known volumes remain the cult classic series The Illuminatus! Trilogy (1975), co-authored with Robert Shea. Advertised as “a fairy tale for paranoids,” the three books–The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, and Leviathan, soon offered as a single volume—philosophically and humorously examined, among many other themes, occult and magical symbolism and history, the counterculture of the 1960s, secret societies, data concerning author H.P. Lovecraft and author and occultist Aleister Crowley, and American paranoia about conspiracies and conspiracy theories.

Wilson and Shea derived much of the odder material from letters sent to Playboy magazine while they worked as the editors of the Playboy Forum. The books mixed true information with imaginative fiction to engage the reader in what Wilson called “guerrilla ontology” which he apparently referred to as “Operation Mindfuck” in Illuminatus!

The trilogy also outlined a set of libertarian and anarchist axioms known as Celine’s Laws (named after Hagbard Celine, a character in Illuminatus!), concepts Wilson revisited several times in other writings.

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2010 – Mick Green died. English rock and roll guitarist who played with Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas, and from the 1970s with reformed versions of The Pirates, a band well able to give the young guns of Punk a run for their money.

His ability to play lead and rhythm guitar simultaneously influenced a number of British guitarists to follow, including Pete Townshend and Wilko Johnson.

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Almanac – November 16

1724 – Jack Sheppard executed.  Notorious English robber, burglar and thief of early 18th-century London.  He was arrested and imprisoned five times in 1724 but escaped four times, making him a notorious public figure, and wildly popular with the poorer classes. Ultimately, he was caught, convicted, and hanged at Tyburn, ending his brief criminal career after less than two years.

His slight build had aided his previous prison escapes, but it condemned him to a slow death by strangulation by the hangman’s noose. After hanging for the prescribed 15 minutes, his body was cut down. The crowd pressed forward to stop his body from being removed, fearing dissection; their actions inadvertently prevented Sheppard’s friends from implementing a plan to take his body to a doctor in an attempt to revive him. His badly mauled remains were recovered later and buried in the churchyard of St Martin’s-in-the-Fields that evening.

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1873 – W. C. Handy born. Widely known as the “Father of the Blues”,  Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters.. While he was not the first to publish music in the blues form, he took the blues from a regional music style with a limited audience to one of the dominant national forces in American music.

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1933 – Garnet Mimms born. American singer, influential in soul music and rhythm and blues. He’s responsible for one of my favorite Northern Soul numbers – “Looking For You”

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1938 – LSD  first synthesized by Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland.

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1971 – Edie Sedgwick died. American actress, socialite, fashion model and heiress,  best known for being one of Andy Warhol‘s superstars. Sedgwick became known as “The Girl of the Year” in 1965 after starring in several of his  short films.

Bob Dylan‘s “Just Like a Woman” and “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” from his 1966 album Blonde on Blonde are purportedly about Sedgwick, and  his 1965  single “Like a Rolling Stone” was also reportedly inspired by her.

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Almanac – October 22

1797 – One thousand meters above Paris, André-Jacques Garnerin made the first recorded parachute jump (from a hot air balloon).

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1844 – The Great Anticipation:  Millerites, followers of William Miller, anticipated the end of the world in conjunction with the Second Advent of Christ. The following day became known as the Great Disappointment.

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1844 – Sarah Bernhardt born.  French stage and early film actress, who has been referred to as “the most famous actress the world has ever known”.  Bernhardt earned fame on the stages of France in the 1870s, and was soon in demand in Europe and the Americas, and developed a reputation as a serious dramatic actress.

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1887 –  The New Zealand Herald reported that lightning hit a woodpile as farmer Amos Briggs went to chase away cats fighting on it.
The logs were scattered, the cats killed, his left boot burst and his left trouser leg ripped from top to bottom.
His wife fainted when she saw him: ‘Oh Amos, the Devil’s set his mark on you !’  In the mirror he saw the silhouette of a cat etched on his bald head
It faded overnight and by the next noon had disappeared.

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1920 – Timothy Leary born. American psychologist and writer, known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs. During a time when drugs such as LSD and psilocybin were legal, Leary conducted experiments at Harvard University under the Harvard Psilocybin Project, resulting in the Concord Prison Experiment and the Marsh Chapel Experiment. Both studies produced useful data, but Leary and his associate Richard Alpert were fired from the university.

Leary believed LSD showed therapeutic potential for use in psychiatry. He popularized catchphrases that promoted his philosophy, such as “turn on, tune in, drop out”, “set and setting”, and “think for yourself and question authority”. He also wrote and spoke frequently about transhumanist concepts involving space migration, intelligence increase and life extension (SMI²LE), and he developed the eight-circuit model of consciousness in his book Exo-Psychology (1977).
During the 1960s and 1970s, Leary was arrested regularly and was held captive in 29 different prisons throughout the world. President Richard Nixon once described him as “the most dangerous man in America”.

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1966 – The Supremes become the first all-female music group to attain an American No. 1 selling album (The Supremes A’ Go-Go).

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