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Tom Wolfe, THE ELECTRIC KOOL-AID ACID TEST, Farrar Straus and Giroux, Inc., 1968, Copyright 1968 by Tom Wolfe. excerpts ( JH picked out all passages describing experimental sound activity or sound equipment ) Typed by Barb Golden, Aug. 17, 1994. 1011w

Then a sculptor named Ron Boise, a thin guy from New England with a nasal accent like Titus Moody, only a Titus Moody who spoke the language of Hip: "Man, like, I mean, you know," and so on. Boise brought in a sculpture of a hanged man, so they ran it up a tree limb with a hangman's noose. He also built a great Thunderbird, a great Thor-and-Wotan beaked monster with an amber dome on its back and you could get inside of it. Inside were some mighty wire strings, which you could pull, which they did, and the Thunderbird twanged out across the gorge like the mightiest vibrating bass beast in the history of the world. p.119

Kesey by now had not only the bus but the very woods wired for sound. There were wires running up the hillside into the redwoods and microphones up there that could pick up random sounds. Up in the redwoods atop the cliff on the other side of the highway from the house were huge speakers, theater horns, that could flood the entire gorge with sound. Roland Kirk and his half dozen horns funking away in the old sphenoid saxophone cavities of the redwoods.

Dusk! Huge stripes of Day-Glo green and orange ran up the soaring redwoods and gleamed out at dusk as if Nature had said at last, Aw freak it, and had freaked out. Up the gully back of the house, up past Hermit's Cave, were Day-Glo face masks and boxes, and machines and things that glowed, winked, hummed, whistled, bellowed, and microphones that could pick up animals, hermits, anything, and broadcast them from the treetops, like the crazy gibbering rhesus noises from the old Jungle Jim radio shows. Dusk! At dusk a man could put on something like a World War I aviator's helmet, only painted in screaming Day-Glo, and with his face painted in Day-Glo constellations, the bear, the goat, a great walking Day-Glo hero in the dusky rusky forests, and he could orate in the deep of the forest, up the hill only in spectral tones, like the Shadow, any old message, something like:

"This is control tower, this is control tower, clear Runway One, the cougar microbes approach, bleeding antique lint from every pore and begging for high octane, beware, be aware, all ye who sleep in barracks on the main strip, the lumps in your mattress are carnivore spores, venereal butterflies sent by the Combine to mothproof your brain, a pro-kit in every light socket__Plug up the light sockets! The cougar microbes are marching in like army ants ... happy to know that someone, somebody, might answer from the house, or some place, over another microphone, booming over the La Honda hills: May day, May day, collapse the poles at every joint, hide inside your folding rules, calibrate your brains for the head count ... And Bob Dylan raunched and rheumed away in the sphenoids or some damned place__

By nightfall the Pranksters are in the house and a few joints are circulating, saliva-liva-liva-liva-liva, and the whole thing is getting deeper into the moment, as it were, and people are working on tapes, tapes being played back, stopped, rewound, played again, a click on the plastic lever, stopped again ... and a little speed making the rounds__such a lordly surge under the redwoods!__tablets of Benzedrine and Dexedrine, mainly, and you take off for a burst of work and rapping into the night ...

experiments of all sorts favored here, like putting contact microphones against the bare belly and listening to the enzymes gurgling. Most Prankster bellies go gurgle-galumph-blub and so on, but Cassady's goes ping!-dingaping!-ting__as if he were wired at 78 rpm and everyone else is at 33 rpm, which seems about right.

And then they play a tape against a television show. That is, they turn on the picture on the TV, the Ed Sullivan Show , say, but they turn off the sound and play a tape of, say, Babbs and somebody rapping off each other's words. The picture of the Ed Sullivan Show and the words on the tape suddenly force your mind to reach for connections between two vastly different orders of experience. On the TV screen, Ed Sullivan is holding Ella Fitzgerald's hands with his hands sopped over her hands as if her hands were the first robins of spring, and his lips are moving, probably saying, "Ella, that was wonderful! Really wonderful! Ladies and gentlemen, another hand for a great, great lady!" But the voice that comes out is saying to Ella Fitzgerald__in perfect synch__

"The lumps in your mattress are carnivore spores, venereal butterflies sent by the Combine to mothproof your brain, a pro-kit in every light socket__Ladies and gentlemen, Plug up the light sockets! Plug up the light sockets! The cougar microbes are marching in..."

Perfect! The true message!__

__although this kind of weird synchronization usually struck outsiders as mere coincidence or just whimsical, meaningless in any case. They couldn't understand why the Pranksters grooved on it so. The inevitable confusion of the unattuned__like most of the Pranksters' unique practices, it derived from the LSD experience and was incomprehensible without it. Under LSD, if it really went right, Ego and Non-Ego started to merge. Countless things that seemed separate started to merge, too: a sound became ... a color! blue...colors became smells, walls began to breathe like the underside of a leaf, with one's own breath. A curtain became a column of concrete and yet it began rippling, this incredible concrete mass rippling in harmonic waves like the Puget Sound bridge before the crash and you can feel it, the entire harmonics of the universe from the most massive to the smallest and most personal__presque vu!__all flowing together in this very moment... pp124-5


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