Among the reunions that took place during the Bicycle Day festivities in San Francisco this week was one particularly special gathering. At a panel discussion just before the world premiere of the film “Psychedelic Revolution: The Secret History of the LSD Trade,” a group of spry and elegant pioneers who appear in the film took the stage to share a few thoughts about LSD and its enduring impact. Our Lucid News Q&A with Rhoney Stanley, laboratory assistant for the clandestine chemist Owsley Stanley and one of the film’s executive producers, tells the origin story about this cinematic journey.
“The Secret History of the LSD Trade movie will tell the truth, but will not reveal the details,” said Tsvi Deer who has been a Haight Ashbury resident since 1966.
Another story about resilience, love, kindness, and the unstoppable grace of divinely inspired fun was on stage in front of us. There they were; the courageous people who helped create, distribute and evangelize the millions of doses of LSD that fundamentally changed the world more than fifty years ago.
Michael and Carol Randall of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, Merry Prankster Carolyn (Mountain Girl) Garcia, LSD blotter collector Mark McCloud, “the oldest 19-year old in the Haight Ashbury” Tsvi Deer, Eugene (Dr. Hip) Schoenfeld, Rhoney Stanley, and drug war prisoners Tim Tyler and Seth Ferranti who directed the film. Garcia’s daughter Sunshine Kesey moderated and John Beresford, Jr. and Gillian Beresford, the children of the late Dr. John Beresford, who founded the Committee on Unjust Sentencing, paid tribute to their father who supported people imprisoned for psychedelics.
A Gift and a Mission. The film documents the suffering caused by the war on drugs, but also makes clear that these luminaries believe that they served a larger purpose and that the mission of peace and love is far from over. “This revelation of the psychedelic states is a tremendous gift,” said Mountain Girl. Describing LSD as a “force that made cheese out of the milk of humanity,” she describes how her community has been shaped by the capacity for LSD to generate “empathy, connections, a new type of intelligent dance and a new way of thinking and talking.” “There were consequences and prices I think,” said Carol Randall reflecting on years of living underground with those who made Orange Sunshine and other LSD available. “But that was exactly where we were supposed to be and we were doing exactly what we were supposed to do. We were like puppets following the great Tao, because that’s what it was all about, to bring this great love to everybody. Wake up. Wake up.”
As scientists begin to study the impact of psychedelics on older people, the revolutionaries on stage had some advanced observations about the benefits of a psychedelic life well-lived. “I am 88 soon and still upright and I certainly believe in the value and usefulness of LSD, both therapeutic and other ways that people use it,” said Schoenfeld.
“We still do it today,” said Michael Randall gazing out over the audience with a gentle smile and a twinkle in his eye.
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Photo by Allison Rees.