JOHN WILCOCK: The History of East Coast Academic Acid


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Traditionally, the end of year (New Year’s, especially) is a time when many on the planet indulge in LSD. To commemorate this good-minded season, here’s a compact history of East Coast academic acid, including John’s experience dosing at Millbrook with Tim Leary, Charles Mingus, others. Happy Holidays.


This reminds me, I own this rare copy of The History of the Psychedelic Movement cartoon and coloring book published in 1967 by Timothy Leary and Art Kleps.

I’ve been meaning (for 8 years now, oops) to get it scanned and online. Ideally I would like to provide the ability for anyone to virtually color the cartoons, similar to other coloring book apps. Maybe a sponsor can help with this.


good to see this comic returning to BoingBoing.

It sounds wonderfully hedonistic, but context is everything. I read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test as a teen, and the whole point of the famous bus journey it chronicled was for the West-coast heads to finally meet up with the East-coast heads at Millbrook. The difference being that Kesey and his West-coast heads were very much of a DIY mentality and a whole lifestyle. I mean, there was no “getting permission” from institutions and governments; Kesey just bought a bunch of land with his book money and they did acid every day, painted everything day-glo, wired speakers through the forest, and had the Hell’s Angels over for orgies.

So, when they finally pulled the “Further” bus into Millbrook and dug the scene there, Kesey were shocked by how square it was. It’s been over 20 years since I read it, but I don’t think I’ve forgotten the exact wording used by Wolfe: “So this was Millbrook: one big piece of uptight constipation.”

Personally, I’m a bit jealous that they had Mingus over for their acid party, though.


I wholeheartedly recommend the book, which gathers together the first 3 years all in one delicious place. Today’s strip will, I guess, be the opening of Book 2. Can’t wait!


Yeah…not everyone was impressed.

This country is a shambles. I don’t know when I’ve seen anything so nasty. Staying in Leary’s house. Enough food to feed a regiment left out to spoil in the huge kitchen by Leary’s over-fed, undisciplined children. Unused TV sets, cameras, typewriters, toys, books, magazines, furniture, stacked to the ceiling. A nightmare of stupid surfeit. The place is sick sick sick. And disgusting. Like a good European I am stashing away all the $ I can lay hands to with one thought in mind. Walk don’t run to the nearest exit.

~William S. Burroughs, in a letter to Brion Gysin, late August/early September 1961

Then again, Kesey had his own brand of macho psychedelic warrior bullshit going on, so I guess it’s fitting that the Wolfean metaphor is fecal.


Love his artwork.


Can’t imagine the scene was too pretty when Burroughs shot his wife either.


Jeeeez. Shoot one wife in the face, and ya never hear the end of it.


Y’all have been holding out on me. Lack of LSD must be why NYE seems meaningless to me. :laughing:


NYE seems like a hellish setting to do acid, unless you’re out camping in the woods. Can you imagine tripping in a post-Giuliani Times Square? I’d end up in Bellevue indefinitely.


Would love to receive this book for any upcoming gift-giving opportunities. Might have to make it my Christmas present to me. Have loved all the strips so far, and the people and events I did not know fully I have studied more as a result of this excellent history.

Before this strip makes it to print I feel compelled to point out a typo in the panel on the Mexican beach - “…heir to the the Mellon fortune…”


Doesn’t mean he was wrong about everything else…


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