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HOW DID ABORTION RIGHTS COME TO THIS?  — Carol Hanisch charts how the right to an abortion began to erode shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision; Uber vs. the Cabbies: Ben Terrall reports on the threats posed by private car services; Remembering August 1914: Binoy Kampmark on the enduring legacy of World War I; Medical Marijuana: a Personal Odyssey: Doug Valentine goes in search of medicinal pot and a good vaporizer; Nostalgia for Socialism: Lee Ballinger surveys the longing in eastern Europe for the material guarantees of socialism. PLUS: Paul Krassner on his Six Dumbest Decisions; Kristin Kolb on the Cancer Ward; Jeffrey St. Clair on the Making of the First Un-War; Chris Floyd on the Children of Lies and Mike Whitney on why the war on ISIS is really a war on Syria.
"Call Me Bear"

My Encounter With Augustus Owsley Stanley

by PAUL KRASSNER

In 1967, there was a concert in Pittsburgh, with the Grateful Dead, the Velvet Underground, the Fugs and me, playing the part of a stand-up satirist.

There were two shows, both completely sold out, and this was the first time anybody had realized how many hippies actually lived in Pittsburgh.

Backstage between shows, a man sidled up to me. "Call me ‘Bear,’" he said.

"Okay, you’re ‘Bear.’"

"Don’t you recognize me?"

"You look familiar, but–"

"I’m Owsley."

"Of course – Owsley acid!"

Fun fact: His nickname, "Bear," was originally inspired by his prematurely hairy chest.

Now he presented me with a tab of Monterey Purple LSD. Not wishing to carry around an illegal drug in my pocket, I swallowed it instead.

Soon I found myself in the front lobby, talking with Jerry Garcia. As people from the audience wandered past us, he whimsically stuck out his hand, palm up.

"Got any spare change?"

Somebody passing by gave him a dime, and Garcia said thanks.

"He didn’t recognize you," I said.

"See, we all look alike."

In the course of our conversation, I used the word "evil" to describe someone.

"There are no evil people," Garcia said, just as the LSD was settling into my psyche. "There are only victims."

"What does that mean? If a rapist is a victim, you should have compassion when you kick ‘im in the balls?"

I did the second show while the Dead were setting up behind me. Then they began to play, softly, and as they built up their riff, I faded out and left the stage.

Later, some local folks brought me to a restaurant which, they told me, catered to a Mafia clientele. They pointed out a woman sitting at a table. The legend was that her fingers had once been chopped off, and she’d go to a theater, walk straight up to the ticket-taker, hold up her hand and say, "I have my stubs."

With my long brown curly hair underneath my Mexican cowboy hat, I didn’t quite fit in. The manager came over and asked me to kindly remove my hat. I was still tripping. I hardly ate any of my spaghetti after I noticed how it was wiggling on my plate.

I glanced around at the various Mafia figures sitting at their tables, wondering if they had killed anybody. Then I remembered what Jerry Garcia had said about evil. So these guys might be executioners, but they were also victims.

The spaghetti was still wiggling on my plate, but then I realized it wasn’t really spaghetti, it was actually worms in tomato sauce. The other people at my table were all pretending not to notice.

It was, after all, the Summer of Love.

"Thanks for enhancing it, ‘Bear.’"

Excerpted from the expanded edition of PAUL KRASSNER’s autobiography, Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture, available only at paulkrassner.com and as a Kindle e-book.

PAUL KRASSNER is the editor of The Realist. His books include: Pot Stories for the Soul, One Hand Jerking and Murder at the Conspiracy Convention. He can be reached through his website: http://paulkrassner.com/