"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Orange Sunshine vs. Harvard Psychedelic Club

Two great books dealing with the psychedelic history of Los Angeles... One leads to the other. Why not have them both?

Don Lattin's The Harvard Psychedelic Club tells the history of the men most responsible for ushering in the drugged-out 60s; which, incidentally led to yoga studios, the environmental movement, organic foods, Don Wilson's AA, etc. Lattin illustrates how Los Angeles was critical in this process, with Gerald Heard and Aldous Huxley laying the foundations in California. Their early experimentation influenced Huston Smith, who was an influence on Timothy Leary. Lattin also writes about Leary's other colleagues at Harvard: Andrew Weil and Ram Dass.

Orange Sunshine is a book written by Nicholas Schou, a staff writer at OC Weekly. It tells the story of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a band of surfers in Laguna Beach who became the world's biggest acid and hashish smugglers and dealers in the 1960s. When Sandoz Labs acid was increasingly hard to come by, the Brotherhood synthesized "Orange Sunshine," the most potent acid of the time. Apparently they dropped thousands of hits of this LSD from an airplane onto a crowd of 25,000 in a three-day Laguna Beach celebration. The occasion? An apocalyptic birthday party for Jesus Christ. They also wanted to buy a tropical island and install Timothy Leary as the high priest of a new spiritual Utopian society.

These two books are both independently great in their own way. Together they form a more complete picture of psychedelic culture from its genesis, through the 60s and to the end of Leary and Co.'s lives. Why not get them both?

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