Just discovered this gem of a documentary film by Alex Gibney and Allison Ellwood has been issued to select theaters. It is about the LSD road trip that Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters took across the United States on the newly built Furthur Bus,. The “maiden voyage” of Furthur driven by Neal Cassady himself from California to the 1964 Worlds Fair in New York City. I was 12 years old in 1964 and attended the Words Fair in New York (in Queens) with my family.
The film is titled, Magic Trip. The 16mm color film has been preserved by the Kesey family in the hopes that the right documentary director(s) could piece it together for a next generation audience.
Lots of memories spring forth when I think of Kesey, The Merry Pranksters, Neal Cassady, and The Grateful Dead (The Warlocks in 1964).
I was also 12 when I read the mass paperback One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. I read it in my hospital bed consumed by the story and themes Kesey created. Where I read it made it all the more surreal.
I later read Thomas Wolfe‘s The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test which recreates the experiences of Kesey and The Merry Pranksters in a dazzling retelling. This is the first documented understanding I built about what life in the Merry Pranskter camp was like. I yearn to re-read this book with anticipated insightful revelation(s) that the film Magic Trip is certain to unveil.
I never have ingested LSD, but thanks to Kesey, Thomas Wolfe, Stanley Owsley and The Grateful Dead I can state that I am experienced by association with what I have read, seen and listened to over the years.
I especially like that Magic Trip is a vehicle for The Beats, Kesey, Cassady, Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg who are all featured in this film. Timothy Leary is also in this film. It was an age of discovery that included experimental freedoms that set the stage for the flower and love generation to follow three years later.
- Kesey’s Kool Trip (tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com)