Letters to the Boston editor, February 5, 2010
Don Lattin may be right that the “most important” experiments of Timothy Leary’s Psilocybin Project took place at 64 Homer Street, in Newton. But when Leary was “gathering together the tribe,” he and his children Jack and Susan lived on Kenwood Avenue, a side street running across from where my family then lived. It was from that house that I received my first dose of LSD on a trip led by a guide using the “Tibetan Book of the Dead.” (Of course, by the time of Leary’s hallucinogenic epiphanies in the ’60s, the CIA had long been on to LSD even here in Boston as part of its MK-ULTRA program, experimenting with aerosolized forms of the drug in the hope of doping, for instance, Fidel Castro.)
Lattin is right about the powerful influence Leary and Richard Alpert have had on evolving views of spirituality, but the casualties he mentions are also undeniable: Susan Leary Martino hanged herself in 1990 at age 42. Leary said he was slow to understand how deeply she had been hurt by what seemed to her so great a public disgrace — their pot bust in ’65 at the Mexican border. Anyone interested in this history may enjoy visiting my 1993 novel Dreaming Back (St. Martin’s Press), excerpted in the Phoenix’s Styles section that year by the late Caroline Knapp.
When I left Boston in 1994 after 18 years, it was a tough decision that I second-guessed for years. But North Carolina grew on me, and now, following the recent tragic election of a Republican’t to not only succeed the late great Ted Kennedy but to undo his lifelong legacy and dream of health-care reform, I am totally over Beantown and Massachusetts.
To repeat what Jay Leno famously asked Hugh Grant: “What in the heck were you thinking?!” I can only liken this perverted vote to the “Banned in Boston” era, or worse, the anti-busing riots of the ’70s. This was not simply independents, of which I am one, voting for a Republican’t; this is further evidence of ignorant and frightened white America cutting off its nose to spite its face. When will white America finally realize that voting for the GOP (Greed Only Party) — unless you are also male, older, and filthy rich — only helps the top one percent of citizens and hurts the 99 percent that is the rest of us, of all colors and creeds?
How dare you vote to deny universal health care for all Americans when you yourselves have such coverage? Scrod is indeed the past tense of screwed. Damn Bay Staters, not Yankees!
Raleigh, North Carolina
, Fidel Castro, Edward M. Kennedy, U.S. Republican Party, More