---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2001 15:26:54 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Ken Kesey Remembered, Right Down To The Bone
Ken Kesey Remembered, Right Down To The Bone.
Pubdate: Thu, 15 Nov 2001
Source: Eugene Weekly (OR)
Copyright: 2001 Eugene Weekly
Referenced: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n000/a224.html and
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?345 (Hallucinogens)
Ken Kesey Remembered, Right Down To The Bone.
An issue of The New York Times Book Review, dated Nov.11 but printed long
before it was known Ken Kesey was seriously ill, carries a full-page ad by
Bauman Rare Books of New York City: "Ken Kesey. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's
Nest. 1962. First edition. 'Boldly inscribed by Kesey.' $7,800." It is the
fourth-highest priced of 32 books listed. Topping the list is a first
edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin for $12,500. A first edition of Treasure
Island, $9,000. The Ancient Mariner, a copy owned by Ernest Shackleton, is
offered for $8,500. Not bad company.
News of Kesey's death has garnered nearly as much newspaper space in New
York City as it has in Eugene. A 2,000-word obit with photo ran in the NYT
Sunday edition Nov. 11, followed by a NYT editorial Nov. 13. His life was
noteworthy to not only our little Oregon community, but to generations of
truth-seekers on both sides of the Atlantic.
OK, he may be looking down at us from Cloud 9 laughing at such accolades,
but hey, we need heroes. Kesey will do just fine until someone else comes
along and ratchets open our consciousness with playful irreverence.
Local media have tended to pussyfoot around Kesey's LSD use, mentioning it
in passing as though it were only a youthful indiscretion. After all, we
spend billions today battling the drug trade and incarcerating users. The
NYT obit is more complete and more honest, describing Kesey's writing under
the influence of hallucinogenic drugs, and his annual Easter Sunday LSD hike
up Mount Pisgah near his home. "The past few years that's been about the
only time I've taken acid and even then not much. Just enough to make the
leaves dapple," the obit says, quoting an April interview in The Times Union
of Albany, N.Y.
In an EW cover story Oct. 5, 2000, Kesey said, "We try to uphold the
psychedelic movement. We have not backed off."
How important were drugs to opening up and stimulating Kesey's powers of
observation and his poetic writing? We don't know, but we do know that the
psychedelic movement is about more than just drugs. It's about stepping out
of conventional thinking and perceiving. It's about tossing out the limits
our society has placed on what is normal. Kesey was an inspired writer and
charismatic character long before he volunteered for drug experiments at
Menlo Park Veterans Hospital and began his psychedelic journey. Millions of
people have taken LSD, but only Kesey has blessed us with characters like
Randle McMurphy, Chief Broom, Nurse Ratched, the Stamper family and Little
Tricker the Squirrel.
Kesey lived an artistic and intellectual life that changed the world a bit,
and for the better. We can't ask more of any man or woman. His literary
works will remain with us as reference points as we try to wrap our minds
around his life -- and our own gifted lives. He lived among us, and we're
grateful he took us along on his curious and unforgettable path.
His close friend and fellow Prankster Ken Babbs has this to say about him on
the family web site, http://www.intrepidtrips.com:
"A great good friend and great husband and father and granddad, he will be
sorely missed, but if there is one thing he would want us to do, it would be
to carry on his life's work. Namely, to treat others with kindness and if
anyone does you dirt forgive that person right away. This goes beyond the
art, the writing, the performances, even the bus. Right down to the bone."
Pubdate: Sun, 18 Nov 2001
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
Copyright: 2001 Richmond Newspapers Inc
Author: Mark Holmberg
PRANKSTER IN CHIEF LEAVES A LEGACY OF HEROIC ANTI-HEROES IN HIS WAKE
"Writer Ken Kesey dies at 66."
The headline rocked me last Saturday night when the page proofs for
Sunday's paper came off the newsroom's printer.
Not that I remember meeting him. But there's a tenuous physical link, along
with a lasting spiritual one.
In the early '60s, when I was just old enough to pay attention, my Marine
Corps father bought a house in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., down the street
from a fellow Marine, Ken Babbs.
Babbs, a fearless helicopter pilot in Vietnam, was something of a renegade.
His house frequently hosted members of the Merry Pranksters, the legendary
troupe of psychedelic explorers.
Kesey, a Prankster and lifelong friend of Babbs, visited regularly.
But the only thing that registered with me back then was the time my older
brother went camping with the Pranksters (mom was not happy) and the black
cat, Lucifer, we inherited after they moved.
Years later, when I was a drifter in high school, I fell in love with
Kesey's "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" during a creative-writing class.
The novel's rollicking, take-no-stuff, live-for-the-minute,
fight-the-machine hero, Randle Patrick McMurphy, tromped right into the
heart of this rebellious, hormone-deranged teen and stayed there.
McMurphy was soon joined by "never-give-an-inch" Henry and Hank Stamper
from "Sometimes a Great Notion," probably my all-time favorite novel and
movie. (More recently, and after a 28-year delay, Kesey produced another
classic independent man, the laconic Ike Sallas of "Sailor's Song.")
Kesey's rugged, unfiltered, work-booted, 100-proof characters "were styled
after a representation of what we felt the American man should be," Babbs
said when we talked by phone Thursday.
These heroic anti-heroes went with me when I roamed through my teens and
early 20s, hitchhiking around the country, getting in and out of scrapes,
searching for adventure and savoring the insight and antics of real-life
McMurphys and Stampers.
From time to time I'd don the mantle myself, telling fellow bricklayers or
pool shooters, "You may want to move back. When I go to exerting myself, I
use up all the oxygen and you may suffocate."
Even after I "settled down" and became a writer myself, the fascination
with those living on the edge - and those who fall off - never waned, as
you may have noticed.
Kesey's blunt yet flavorful prose was about escaping the cradle-to-grave
treadmill laid out by "the industrial-military complex," as Babbs called
it, and the price exacted on those who refuse to follow the
"That's why they lock up people who smoke pot," Babbs said from his and
Kesey's Oregon office, where a post-funeral party was going on. "When you
smoke pot, you question authority."
Was Kesey a big pot-smoker? I asked.
"Well," Babbs answered with a burst of laughter, "he weighed 220 pounds."
Kesey's work was also filled with dark humor and a certain maniacal energy.
Antics were celebrated, softening and deepening his Quixote-like characters
as they battled on.
And so it was as he lay dying in his hospital bed. One minute, Kesey would
talk earnestly about how "we're at a real crossroads in America," Babbs
said. "Are we going to be another Roman Empire and take over the world, or
are we going to turn our wealth to helping other countries less fortunate,
educating their children?"
The next minute, Kesey would raise hell because his false front teeth (the
originals were knocked out years ago) had fallen out.
"So I glued them back in," Babbs said.
A day or two later, the teeth were gone again.
Kesey explained that they had come out while he was eating, and some
orderly - perhaps one similar to those on Nurse Ratched's ward - apparently
whisked them away with his food tray.
"I haven't seen those teeth since," Kesey told Babbs.
He was buried without them.
But Ken Kesey left us with plenty to chew on.
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