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Home Free Home: A History of Two Open-Door California Communes

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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25

Chapter 5
Slim's First Acid Trip, Nevada, Hepatitis

(Interview by Near, taped in March, 1967)

NEAR: "Slim had his first psychedelic trip here about two weeks ago, and it was quite an experience. Can you tell us about it, Slim?"

SLIM: "It was really a beautiful trip. I died and went to heaven, but before I went to heaven I had to go through a tube which was like a seashell with spirals. In this tube I saw different colors and heard different people talking to me. There were these pictures, and each picture represented a different stage in life. I had to go through these different stages, and then finally I came to the end of the tube. There were two openings, a good opening and a bad opening. Then a voice said, 'Is your heart good?' And I yelled out, 'Yes! My heart's good!'

Then I saw in one of the openings the Disciples coming toward me, and they said, 'Come, brother, you're in heaven now.' They pulled me out of the tube. After that I remember dogs. There were all these dogs growling, and I became a dog. I was groveling in the dirt like a pig. That's when my trip ended. And there was this thing about the chickens. I don't know what it represented, but it had some kind of meaning. When I first dropped the acid, I could feel vibrations, and everything began moving like a flicker picture. I felt sort of paranoid because I felt I was alone and in a corner and everybody was ready to pounce on me. I left the Lower House and was going to the Upper House when the trip hit me. It was like I lay down and died. I heard beautiful music, sort of like a choir of angels singing. It was a beautiful trip, but physically I really hurt myself. I rolled in the dirt and fell in the ditch and went under a car and kicked in the tires. I really scarred up my feet and hands and my chest and back. It's going away now. All I can say is if anyone takes a trip, be sure that you're in the right place to do it and don't take an overdose and have friends to watch you and keep you from hurting yourself. Then you'll have a really good trip."

NEAR: "When I spoke to you as you were coming out of the trip, you mentioned something about an evolutionary journey. Do you remember anything about that? "

SLIM: "The journey was going through this tube. There were pictures. Each person is a light, one color of light. So many people together become a picture. My light was part of Jesus at The Last Supper. I became that. As I was going up the hill with Rick and Ed close beside me, they reminded me of - well, there was something that happened here in my past, maybe two hundred years ago, and I'm going to try to find out what draws me to this area."

NEAR: "How much acid did you take?"

SLIM: "About six tabs."

NEAR: "Watching Slim on that day, it was what anyone would call a classic freak-out. I've never seem such a display of energy in my life! He was putting out incredible energy, writhing on the ground shouting, 'It's the chickens! It's the chickens! It's Jesus! It's Jesus!' and chewing up rocks and dirt. You could hear his teeth breaking and see blood running out of his mouth! It took four people to hold him down. Perhaps the heavenly choir he saw was a group of Morning Star people sitting around him while he was groveling in the dirt. They were singing softly and chanting 'Hare Krishna,' sending him good vibrations. Probably it was very fortunate that Slim took his trip here at Morning Star. Had doctors and an ambulance come, it would have been a sure disaster. As it was, we just took it and gave off good, calm vibrations. Slim came out of it very beautifully. His eyes shine a lot brighter now."

STEVE: "Slim was eating dirt, and he had clumps of sod on his head. Superman and Crazy Allen were lying on him screaming in his ear 'It's alright! Have a good day!' or something like that. Whatever the hell they were saying, it was totally erroneous and Slim kept on screaming about the chickens."

RICK: "One day I looked up Nevada at Morning Star. He was hungry, so I said, 'Let's go down to Occidental and get a hamburger.' So we went down, and he caused all kinds of shit down there. He saw these redneck guys sitting in a pick-up truck with a rifle in the back window, and he tore his shirt open and stuck his face in the window.

"'Go ahead! Shoot! Shoot! Go ahead, you sons of bitches!' he yelled.

An' I'm sayin' 'Oh my God, all I did was...' Well, the cops followed us all the way back to the ranch. We pulled off the back driveway an' we're sittin' there drinkin' beer and bullshittin', right? An' here comes the heat, see? An' the heat says, 'You know you're drinking illegally. You're on the road and you're drinking in a car.' It was absolutely a put-down. They were in the wrong, but I didn't want a hassle with 'em, so I figgered, you know, 'Fuck it, man, you're right, okay!'

"'Now we could run you in,' the cop said. 'But all we want to know is can we search your car and your person?'

"An' I said, 'What for, officer?' And this other dude - the other cop - he's got a flashlight that's as long as an elephant's prick and it's wrapped with goddam tape, lead wire an' all this shit, an' he's all ready to do a number on somebody, you dig? So I'm going to be very practical 'cause I'm outside my cars and all my implements of destruction are in the car, you see. So I sez, 'Huh-huh, go ahead, man, I'm your buddy, tweet!' So they searched us and didn't find anything and they split, pissed off. We started down the rest of the driveway an' Nevada, he says, 'You know, I swallowed fifty mikes of fuckin' acid!' An' I said, 'Honest to God? Where the hell was it?'

"'As soon as I bent over I got it out of my pocket!' he said.

"Well, I had watched him, man, you know, an' all he did was bend over - he didn't do anything at all, see? So we get a little further down the driveway an' he says, 'Holy CHrist, those two hundred mikes of acid are startin' to hit already!' An' I figgered that, okay, knowing Nevada, the next person he talked to it's going to be a thousand mikes of pure White Lightening Owsley, right? An' bigger than shit, the first person he sees he says, 'I just got done swallowin' a thousand mikes of acid! You understand? YEEEE!! You know how Nevada gets all excited like I do. We're an awful lot alike, I'll tell ya!"

Lou had met Tim Leary at one of the Love-ins earlier in the year, and in mid-July Tim arrived to visit the growing community. Lou gave him a tour, proudly showing off the alternative architecture, sitting in the orchard meadow for a while as Tim rapped to a circle of devoted listeners. At one point he raised one hand to the heavens for emphasis and - Boom! - a peal of thunder echoed across the skies, or was it just a jet breaking the sound barrier?

LOU: "Tim Leary is a great American, and one of the bravest men the world has ever known. I have never come away from his presence without feeling inspired and instructed. He is one of the great teachers of our time, a Gnana Yogi. I would say he has only one tiny defect, and that is that he loves to freak people out. And he does it with so much power and virtuosity that he has scared some people very badly."

The tour ended up at Don and Sandy's, a substantial structure built out of throwaway lumber and handmade shakes from a log Don had found on the ranch. The group sat around talking and smoking dope. Tim and Don exchanged a long gaze, and felt an immediate kinship for each other, both being deeply religious. When Lou complained of being exhausted by current events, Tim advised him not to have a 'savings account' approach to energy (get stoned this week, get tired the next).

"Energy is infinite," he said. When the conversation turned to communes, Tim said, "I could write an encyclopedia... an encyclopedia of errors I've made!"

Morning Star was stacking up its own list of errors, the major one at that time being hepatitis which struck at least half the residents over the next few months. Relatively unknown at the time, its cause, spread and cure were surrounded in mystery, although Ramón believed it had originated from the septic runoff in which the work crews had been digging. The debilitating disease was sweeping through New Age communities in San Francisco and elsewhere, striking all of them without exception.

LOU: "Hepatitis is a spiritual disease because it affects the liver which is the seat of the emotions. I had it and was down for a week, which is a light dose. But I found it an enlightening experience to be flat on my back, sick as hell, doing absolutely nothing."

RAMON: "The scourge also got me. Gina and I had broken up, and she left for Tolstoy Farm with a new lover. I built a sleeping platform below the Lower House where the sun's rays first touched the land. One morning I woke up while it was still dark, got out of bed and threw up. The next morning the same thing happened and I decided to fast. Don and Sandy suggested I take some LSD, so I dropped a tab and went to a small redwood grove in the orchard. Nothing happened except I just felt sicker. On the third day, I began pissing brown and turning yellow. I lay on my platform one afternoon trying to rest while the blare of a radio from the Lower House was etching my brain with Acid Rock. I decided I was a large gorilla and got up, emitting low growls. Pounding on my chest, I climbed the hill and entered the house. When I found the offending artifact, I tore it to shreds with my bare hands, much to the amazement of everyone there. They had never seen me as King Kong before. It was a very satisfying experience, and I returned to my lair and fell peacefully asleep.

"But I knew I couldn't recuperate at the ranch. I was too involved with what was happening there. So I drove with Lou into the city where some old friends took me in."

At the time Ramón left, signs began appearing around the Haight and in the Digger Free Store reading, "Please don't come up to Morning Star!" That same weekend they fed supper to over three hundred people.


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