This is one of Todd Webb’s photographs.
It was taken in the Chataham Square station area, an old tenement neighborhood in New York City in 1946 after the end of World War 2. The cemetery is one of numerous local, and often ethnic, cemeteries that were “relocated” with the passage of time as the world they came from changed and was paved over and rebuilt.
One of the reasons we lose touch with the past is that it disappears. Those last few relatives of the local families who brought flowers or visited were the last remnants of that world. When they then passed, they were buried elsewhere as there was no room. Such was much of early city life removed, and those whose history vanished with it would never have believed that their very burial plots and the graveyards that contained them would be destroyed.
It’s been 74 years since Albert Hoffman first ingested LSD. I also ingested LSD as well as psilocybin well over 200 times back in the ’60s and early ’70s. According to all the straight people around me at the time, this was going to ruin my mind. However, 20 years later I returned to college and got an honors degree from Harvard, something few, if any, of them could achieve. So much for straight people’s opinions.
One lesson to be learned here is that most people are full of bullshit and do not know what they are talking about.
Another lesson is the inherent gap between heightened consciousness and the lack of consciousness currently demonstrated by this country falling into chaos, war, and heroin usage. Old hippies, whether trust-fund hippies or poor as dirt hippies like me, are not the ones sticking needles into our arms, or calling for more bombings and deaths.
Note: LSD is a powerful experience. Due to this power, it is strongly advised to take care of ‘set and setting.’ This means eliminating unwanted interruptions during your ‘trip,’ which can disorient you from pleasant experiences to unpleasant experiences. Simple measures such as shutting off your cellphone and putting yourself in a relaxed, informal situation are usually sufficient.
The substance of mind-opening is that you discover your perceptual apparatus is merely one point on a spectrum of perceptions. As visual hallucinations come and go with a life of their own, while your mind remains aware and amazed, and familiar music generates new emotive responses, the awareness sinks in that the chemicals in our bodies are responsible for a lot of what we call ‘reality,’ and by altering that chemical balance we alter what we perceive as reality. And within this ‘greater reality’ is found a greater respect for human, animal, and plant life. This is reflected historically by the sudden growth of the environmental movement, woman’s lib, and civil rights awareness in the late ’60s, concurrent with psychedelic use and energized by that segment of society. Straight America scoffed at all this, lumping it into the phrase ‘hippy-dippy.’ And straight America got what it wanted. Today, the environment is in ruins, women are still making less money for the same work as men, and civil rights is now a historical term, with the government’s ability to spy on you eclipsing any notions of privacy or equality at all.
All this sadly reminds me of lyrics from an old Genesis song, “Firth of Fifth,”:
And so with gods and men
The sheep remain inside their pen
Though many times they’ve seen the way to leave
Now go look up “undinal” since it’s one of the words in this song.
78 here … went out after lunch and sat in the sun for a while .. got a lot of ‘good to see you’ and such .. haven’t seen people in over a year … as an old guy, they wonder if I’ve passed .. small town Vermont life .. I love it
This seems to be the end of the line for the ’60s peace movement, as those of us who were the impetus of that movement, like lights blinking out, begin to fade away.
It is difficult for many of us to view the world today and not have a sense of frustration, if not outright failure. America has become a war country, practicing eternal war, and worse than even that, we wage war on civilians, families, children, and we even bomb hospitals.
Such is the current manifestation of ‘The American Dream.’
And since, like the wise ancients before us, our most meaningful insights were shared in song, here is “End of the Line” by the Traveling Wilburys: