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Strange Parents

Ken Kesey, a local writer and aging tripper started this outdoor festival called the "Oregon Country Fair" some thirty years ago.



Ken Kesey, a local writer and aging tripper started this
outdoor festival called the "Oregon Country Fair" some
thirty years ago. I was raised in an extremely strict
Irish-military household with very stubborn ideas about
the adherence to standards and rules and
such...anyways, my step-dad had family in Eugene and
he used to smoke a little weak shake now and again,
but I'm positive my mom had no idea about the "real"
nature of the Oregon Country fair; I think when we got
there, some guy had a hairy ass sticking out through a
pair of chaps, and my brother was lost in pubescent
wonder at all the free titties hanging out uncovered and
such. Blessedly, my folks cut me loose and I explored
the fair on my own and found the most amazing
bricolage of enlightened and phony people ever to be
gathered in one place at the same time.

Well...that was 1982. My first mushroom experience
was about 8 years later, at the same place. I hitch hiked
to Eugene from Portland, I was 18 at the time and had
been living in a warehouse for the past few months. My
reality tunnel was already sufficiently tweaked from
spending a lot of time alone writing and painting. I
hadn't watched t.v. or read a newspaper in a couple
years by this point, so I was primed.

Some guy from the University who was walking the loop
at the fair was selling these high priced bags that I
couldn't afford, so I split the cost with some other guy
who was walking by. Feeling a little self conscious at
having all these mushrooms in my hand in a densely
populated place "made me" consume them without
much thought or hesitation. I estimate that initial dose
must have been at least 1/8 oz. if not a little more.

Now bear in mind that the Oregon country fair is like a
"woodsy dead show" but somewhat more layered and
complex. I remember passing by these booths and
noticing a variety of other folk in various stages of
bemusement. I found a spot under an oak tree that had
a bunch of straw spread around for people to hang out
on. At this point I was probably already at a level 4, and
was beginning to experience temporal whippor-wills
and eddies in the time-space-consciousness
continuum. This was not quite a level 5, but I was
definitely starting to co-inhabit other folks
thought-space as well as beginning to lose muscular
control. (Something which, oddly enough, hasn't
happened since). Some VERY EARTHY women with
guitars were improvising waves of realization as "this
energy" or consciousness flowed out from the twenty or
so people gathered around this oak tree. They were
very positive, if not a little intent on being the singular
expressive voice of the experience. It was at this point
that I realized that everyone around me was either
"tripping" or participating comfortably along with the rest
of us, a couple of very linear, aggressively self
contained folk got up and left, but it was such a small
part of the experience, no one really noticed.

I guess a relatively short period of time, perhaps an
hour passed, and these very smiley people came up
with a watermelon and asked to use my knife, which
was conspicuously hanging from my belt, and I
suppose it represented my urge to protect myself and
keep my ego intact. I was pleased to see this weapon
become a creative tool, though I was a little suspicious
of the idea of a bunch of amplified friendliness
emenating from folk I had never met. I could sit up and
interact by this point, so I guess the peak passed in
only an hour or so.

I guess that in retrospect, all I have to say is that SOME
rules are good, but be flexible with what happens.
There will be some aspects to a first trip that even a
close friend will not be able to map out or interpret for
you. It turns out that the Country Fair was a reasonably
safe place to have this kind of experience at the time, I
think that having a close friend around may have
actually induced a great deal of self-consciousness
and the temptation to use them as a crutch would have
been too great.

My only advice to an inexperienced tripper would be to
trip in a place that you already feel particularly
comfortable or safe in; then, as you become familiar
with the effects, you can hop on a bicycle or take a boat
out, etc. etc. I have found that a lot of places and
activities are appropriate to tripping once you
understand the effects.

Have fun, and stay calm if things seem to be getting out
of hand. Try to appreciate the loss of ego if it occurs. It
is an unusually stubborn thing that tends to reappear in
even the most vacuous and "far out" of us

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