It was a circus in the parking lot outside Buffalo’s Rich Stadium that afternoon. Not surprising, considering the cosmic intersection of American independence and a sold-out Grateful Dead show, during a tour which marked the peak of the band’s mainstream appeal.
We had driven across the border from Toronto and, as we walked through the sea of dead-heads and their makeshift psychedelic mall, all I could think about was how pissed I was that we hadn’t smuggled any drugs across the border.
I was deep into my LSD stage in those days. Having just finished my second year of college, in which I started skipping weeks of school to drive south and drop into the endlessly circling national Dead tour for 4-5 show stints. There were no better “sets and settings” for psyche-sonic journeys than the world the band were able to create, in whatever stadium or venue.
For people not versed in this epoch of American rock history, it’s hard to relay how little this had to do with the actual (American folk-rock) musical culture the Dead were playing in. This was a higher-order alchemy generated through the mix of post-hippy communalism, next-level cosmic-folk pageantry, and the tryptamine contact-high that enveloped the crowd, all of which manifested in a kind of higher dimensional transport technology.
I had led a small group of friends down to Buffalo on that fateful day. There was a palpably aggressive energy in the air as we joined the 45,000 people filing into the stadium. A group of bikers were fucking with people in front of us, but I was distracted by the sudden appearance of a friend who had driven across from Vermont to make the show. We let him jump into line with us and I immediately asked if he had any acid. “Only two hits,” he offered, “you can split it?” I scanned the faces of my crew and we smiled. I had been averaging 2-3 hits on my own, so this was going to be weak tea. But better than nothing.
I took the sun-emblazoned hits, ripped them into four pieces, distributed them, and delicately placed mine under my tongue.
As soon as the paper hit the sublingual glands, I felt the world shift. My perceptual vision jumped a few feet above my body, and I was now operating it – like an avatar – from a remote distance. I was no stranger to out-of-body experiences, but I should have known something was up because this was a tiny dose and none of my friends felt a thing. So I rolled with it as we got through the gates and took our seats a few levels above the floor at the back of the stadium, waiting for the starting act to finish.
Over the next hour things got progressively intense for me. And only me. All of my senses were heightened and I was experiencing the world through a highly distorted lens. Sounds and visuals were combined into a kind of synesthetic tapestry that took all of my experienced journeying to hold my shit together. When the band finally took the stage and the crowd all rose in exaltation, I couldn’t take it any more. I stood up, told the kids I would be back, and walked down onto the floor.
At some point on that wobbly descent, something new came into my body. And with it, I suddenly dropped into a wholly separate reality: something entangled and parallel. I looked down at my arm and saw them tattooed with symbols and geometries. Ribbons of fabric were tied to my wrists and I could see my legs were covered by some kind of kilt; a merging of high-tech light-encrusted fabric mixed with animal furs. People were jostling and trying to get at me but a ring of men were guiding me through the crowd, holding them back. And the very clear idea that there was danger in the air and that I had a job to do.
Then – just as suddenly – I’d be knocked back out to the ‘actual’ happening. Where I was slowly pulling my way through the masses of people – now all tripping and dancing in a chaotic collective choreography – carried by some unfathomable will toward some unknown destination. Before crashing back to what I can now only describe as the parallel dimension.
At this point things get very hazy. And of course, it has been a long time. But this is the net of it:
The phalanx of bodyguards led me through the crowd – which I now understood was made up of equally manic devotees and adversaries. Flowers and bottles and kisses and spit were being launched at me, but as the vision progressed, I began to feel landed in my body. I felt this wildly unprecedented sense of confidence and purpose. I distinctly remember feeling the air coming in through vastly expanded nostrils. My muscular chest heaved dramatically, and I could make out the outline of what looked like a target painted in red ink over my heart.
When we approached the stage, I began to ascend some kind of a staircase until I was brought to a high vista over the crowd. The tumult I had experienced on the floor was now visible as a kind of rampant energy roiling through them like an electrical cable cut loose from its tower. I was saying things. Using words I had never heard before, in a tone of voice that was beautifully familiar yet totally alien.
And then the crack of a gun. The striking of my chest. The falling to the ground. The embrace of hands. The ferrying of my half-conscious body to some backstage area. The lifting of it to a stretcher, loading it into a waiting ambulance. Paramedics taping sensors to my body, speaking hurriedly. And then, darkness.
The next thing I knew, I was waking up in some strange room. The first thing I noticed was the analog clock on the wall: it was just past 7:00, so I assumed it was the next morning. Then I saw my wrists, shackled by plastic twist ties to a stretcher. A nurse came by and frowned at me: “You done yet?” – “Where am I?”- “At a hospital, you climbed a tower at the concert and had to be pulled down. You’ve been screaming your head off in here for the past hour.” – “I am so sorry, I don’t remember any of that.” – “You were out of your mind, but you seem better now. I’ll get the doctor.”
An hour later I was sitting up eating hospital sandwiches with the nurses. They were instructed to hold me until I did a urine test. But since I was so dehydrated, the doctor was holding me until I agreed to let him put a catheter up my urethra. Suffice it to say, I would have rather spent a night in prison than allow them to do that.
A few hours later my friends showed up after calling all the Buffalo-area hospitals. I was given a psychiatric test and released. On the drive home, they asked me what happened since they had felt nothing from the doses. But I couldn’t explain. At least not then. It has taken me decades – and several subsequent journeys with much stronger medicines, specifically 5MeO-DMT, to grasp what I know understand as the exploitation of a ‘state-change’ to give my rational mind the substance of a context for a breaking of the timespace continuum. One that needs to occur in a setting as close to the experiential surroundings of the environment that the memory is contained within.
All of this to afford me a quantum visioning experience, one that transported me to a future state, and broader self-narrative, that has been at the forefront of my conscious and waking mind for decades, beckoning me.
Seeding in my being a potential future and progressively materializing a cosmic self who “walked in” to my body that day, and who has never left. It was not until I had my next (non-drug induced) break from the matrix that I learned about Desmond Huxley and the confidential interplanetary existence that has been my burden and my blessing.
But that is for another post.