[sixties-l] Ken Kesey Remembered, Right Down To The Bone (fwd)

From: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu
Date: Wed Nov 21 2001 - 19:20:58 EST

  • Next message: ARON KAY: "Re: [sixties-l] Why Campus Leftists Are A Threat to U.S. National Security (fwd)"

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2001 15:26:54 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Ken Kesey Remembered, Right Down To The Bone

    Ken Kesey Remembered, Right Down To The Bone.

    2 stories

    Pubdate: Thu, 15 Nov 2001
    Source: Eugene Weekly (OR)
    Copyright: 2001 Eugene Weekly
    Contact: editor@eugeneweekly.com
    Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/136
    Website: http://www.eugeneweekly.com/
    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."
    -- TJT

    Pubdate: Sun, 18 Nov 2001
    Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
    Copyright: 2001 Richmond Newspapers Inc
    Contact: letters@timesdispatch.com
    Website: http://www.timesdispatch.com/
    Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/365
    Author: Mark Holmberg


    "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
    work-consume-obey template.

    "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.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Wed Nov 21 2001 - 19:48:23 EST