Magic Mushrooms
And Other Highs

From Toad Slime to Ecstasy
Paul Krassner,

This Paul Krassner is a scandal --- always has been one, always will be one. And now, imagine his publishing, for his eleventh volume, a dope book in which over seventy-seven different people --- only half of whom are using pseudonyms --- tell of their experiences with mushrooms, DMT, opium, ketamine, peyote, mescaline, toad slime, and other doubtful mind-bombs.

300 pages of pure illegality, with Ken Kesey, Stephen Gaskin, Terence McKenna, John Lennon, John Lilly, Ram Dass, Robert Anton Wilson, and, presumably (he's listed on the back cover) William S. Burroughs. We have some doubts about this last unless Burroughs is hiding under the names "Lisa Law," "R. U. Sirius," "B. Load," "I. P. Freely," and "Paul Krassner" because we could find him nowhere in this volume.

In any event, it's a veritable honor roll of flagrant violators of the combined controlled substance acts of the United States --- druggie misfits, shameless miscreants, lay-abouts who revel in telling the world about their misdeeds.

Of all the writers, the one that we like the best is Krassner himself, who appears here in ten different essays. I would also suggest we give him the seven pointed fig-cluster because he shows a naked heroism for the sheer variety of brain-space missiles he is willing to injest... I mean ingest ... including one called ayahuasca that took him all the way to the jungles of Ecuador so he could see "Looney Tunes characters dancing inside my brain."

In the section "Ketamine," Krassner takes a journey with John Lilly, the guy who talked to dolphins. He tells us that Lilly "had worked with dolphins so long that he began to look like one." It reminds me of that old peyote sing-along mantra we used to do back in the sixties, when this stuff was still legal, the six of us lying on our backs, watching the ceiling bopping around in rhythm to the "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." We made up our own words, however: "No one knows what the nose knows," we'd sing, "No one knows though I nose you knows." It was all very madcap.

But it isn't all peaches-and-cream there in Lilly-land. For those of us nowadays unwilling to go crazy, even temporarily --- what with the stories told by Todd McCormick and David Jay Brown --- if John Lilly himself descends from ketamine heaven and offers us a shot, we'll be telling him that we've been suddenly called away to an uprising in Uganda.

David J. Brown, was in graduate school, studying behavioral nonsense ... I mean behavioral neuroscience. Five minutes after injecting ketamine, he reports

    I suddenly realized that my doctoral advisors were really extraterrestrial scientists who had been videotaping me in the lab while I wasn't aware of it. In fact, they had actually left the bottle of ketamine for me to take ... I also realized that they weren't really interested in the neural mechanics of rabbit brain; rather, they were experimenting on me. I was the real subject. I found myself naked, in a cage, with cold-probes stuck in my head.

For those into more exotic astral fare, there is always the Bufo-Alvaris toad of the southwest desert. One student tells us that he squeezes his two pet toads --- named Otto and Maude --- on the juice glands, somewhere in the upper regions of their slimy little bodies. No licking encouraged since it's probably poisonous.

He puts Otto & Maude's exudate in a jar and smokes it at his leisure. It's called "toading," and it doesn't sound all that engaging. I suspect that if we went off to the desert together, many of us would rather be off-roading than off-toading.

    Within a minute [he reports] I was on the ground, thrashing around. I had no control of my coordination, and a total loss of motor control. I couldn't speak or anything.

He concludes with this doubtful tribute to the bufos and his own ability to thrash body and mind: "It was great."

Ralph Metzner tried toad-juice and calls it

    a feeling of being inside a nuclear explosion, being fragmented into countless tiny shards. I felt as though I was being turned inside out, like my innards were extruding through my mouth.

We are also told here that PETA is dead-set against toad-licking. Brian Briggs tells us that they "hope to slow the resurgent popularity of licking toads for their hallucinogenic properties" because "toad licking is often traumatic, harmful, and sometimes fatal --- for the toads." Briggs claims that PETA has started offering LSD as an alternative, "in little toady stickers." After this, we suspect Briggs' nose is also extending itself, just like John Lilly's and that little wooden puppet from Italy who, by-the-bye, used to appear in my peyote visions to lecture me on existentialism. I attribute it to the fact that the puppet creator's last name is not unlike my first.

Magic Mushrooms, in keeping with its namesake, gets stranger and stranger as you get along into it. Krassner has stuffed all sorts of weird trip-making do-dads in here towards the end, including "Mustard Gas," "Cough Medicine," "Mace," "Rug Cleaner," "Dramamine," "Kanemanol," "Comet," and "Flagyl" --- the latter being a medicine for vaginal infections. Rodenta d'Amore claims she smoked it. Pretty soon they'll be telling us that they smoke mouse turds. And alas, dear reader, it's true.

Krassner and his daughter found a pair of rodents living in his stash, nibbling themselves into high hilarity, muttering "O wow?" in mouse-talk. Being entranced by his pot, they were easy to catch; he would deliver them to the cats in the park next door, "who in turn would get zonked out from having eaten the stoned mouse." He sent the droppings to Pharm-Chem, a drug testing outfit. They wrote back that "there was an unknown additive in [the] marijuana."

    I would collect their turds until I had enough to roll a dynamite joint. I had discovered a new and cheap way of getting high: smoking mouse turds.

Those of us who admire, nay, are in love with Krassner certainly admire his friends, too --- but I have to tell you: the essays by him are much the best layer in this pousse-café, even better than the writing master whose dopey dedication to a "Friendly Mr. Toilet" can be found on page 124.

--- L. W. Milam

This book
can be ordered from
the author direct:
9829 San Simeon Dr.
Desert Hot Springs CA


Go to a reading from this book

The Dust
Of Empire

The Race for Mastery in
The Asian Heartland

Karl E. Meyer
(Public Affairs)
If you are like me, you probably can't tell Kyrgyzstan from Uzbekistan, and either from Turkmenistan --- or, hell, even Tajikistan. We know these countries are over there somewhere, and we know (vaguely) they are important because they separate Russia from India, and the Bosporus (or is it the Caspian?) from the Mediterranean. Outside of that, we're lost.

Evidently, others think these countries are far more important than you or I do, and it's a strange hunger that has brought the United States to where it feels it must continue the invasions from seven hundred years ago. Ten Holy Crusades were launched into the Middle East from Northern Europe. The motto sewn into their battle flags was not unlike our own. It was "God Wills It."

Our long-ago knights with their crosses and armor were the original Fundamentalists on the march, the ur-Pat Robertsons. They had right and might and the divine on their side. The blood-letting they loosed at Jerusalem in 1099 A. D. and Constantinople in 1202 A. D. can still, even today, make one wonder at the motives of representatives of the Christian god. These Holy Wars have not been forgotten --- never will be forgotten --- by the descendents of their victims who still live in the area.

The present day Knights of the Round Table work slightly differently. Instead of armor they use bullet-proof vests. Instead of chain-mail they use e-mail. Instead of lances they use Lancet Missiles. Instead of descending on the Holy Lands on horseback, they send an army in helicopters and tanks against the heathens who occupy the Middle East, as well as the "Asian Heartland."

Coupled with this 21st Century Crusade against the Infidels is a New Colonialism, an eerie echo of the raj. The difference is that now they have been invaded not for cotton and flax and tea but for a long-term market for consumer goods and --- even more importantly --- because of a not-yet-divulged knowledge that the oil reserves in these areas are two to three times the published figures.

That the region is besotted with oil beyond our wildest dreams makes these desert countries all the more desirable. Especially if we can get direct control of the mineral rights and the means of production instead of having to go through all those troublesome middle men ... like those who run Saudi Arabia.

§     §     §

So there's oil and buffer states and the general muddle in the eleven countries that make up this book, each one with its own strangenesses. There's Turkmenistan, which, according to Meyer, is a closed society, one as strange as Enver Hohxa's Albania from the Cold War years. The president for life is Sparamurad Niyazov (Turkembashi) who gave, on national television, a three-hour speech on "spiritual conduct," which he favored so much he had it repeated in full "every Monday. For six months." A Rush Limbaugh or Dr. Laura for the whole of Turkmenistan.

Then there's Kazakhstan, which stretches from the Caspian Sea to China. It has 36,000,000 people and is 5th in energy resources. In this regard, Meyer relates Ryszard Kapuscinski's wonderful discourse on oil:

    Oil kindles extraordinary emotions and hopes, since oil is above all a great temptation of ease, wealth, strength, fortune, power. It is a filthy, foul-smelling liquid that squirts obligingly up into the air and falls back to the earth as a rustling shower of money. To discover and possess the sources of oil is to feel as if, after wandering underground, you have stumbled on a royal treasure. Not only do you become rich, but you are also visited by the mystical conviction that some higher power has looked upon you with the eye of grace.

Then there is Uzbekistan which suffered from a classically misguided Communist plan to turn it into "the land of cotton" by siphoning off for irrigation the whole of the Aral Sea, once the "world's fourth largest body of water," creating "a chain of disasters, [where] fish stocks dwindled, killing a once vibrant commerce, salt-laden storms turned the immediate area into a dustbowl, toxic to plants and humans..."

§     §     §

What Meyer has done here is to concentrate, in one volume, the bizarre and complex history of a huge and complex area --- made the past and present not only palatable, but highly readable --- giving a sense of wonder at this diverse and tragic region. He makes this Asian heartland come to life for us, not only by solid writing --- but strange and wonderful facts. For example,

  • That during Catherine the Great's reign, "Nearly all of Voltaire's sixty-odd works were rendered into Russian, along with prompt translations of Diderot's mighty Encyclopedia."
  • That Stalin won his spurs in his youth in organizing the oil workers of Baku. "He knew the geography of inner Asia like the back of his left hand, and he well understood the strategic importance of oil ... hence the crises over Iran that heralded the Cold War."
  • That it was the Caucasus hero, Imam Shamil, the "Lion of Daghestan," who successfully battled the Russians from 1820 to 1859: "Flames darted from his eyes and flowers fell from his lips:" I do not venture to compare myself to great sovereigns. I am Shamil --- an ordinary Avar. But my bad roads, my forests and mountains, make me stronger than many monarchs. I should anoint my trees with oil, and mix my mud with fragrant honey, and garland my rocks with laurel and bay, so much do they aid me in my battle for Caucasian freedom.
  • That two political scientists went through the facts of 161 post-WWII conflicts, and found that empirical evidence does not support conventional wisdom about "ancient hatreds" or "clashes of civilization," as fuel for these conflicts. Indeed, poverty and distribution of population seemed more closely associated with civil turmoil. More unexpectedly, so was mountainous terrain. Thus the war between the Hatfields and the McCoys might have been a direct result of not what an ancestor did, but where they lived. As Meyer says, "What is interpreted as a recrudescence of 'ancient hatreds' may therefore owe more to altitude." Not attitude --- altitude.
At times Meyer's prose takes fire, such as his view of the disasters brought to the area by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's idiot National Security advisor, or the wonderful saga of Grigory Potempkin, Catherine the Great's architect of "The New Russia," or the tale of the partition that gave birth to Pakistan,

    whose rise arguably constitutes the most grievous failure of Britain's colonial unraveling ... This has contributed to three wars and a nuclear confrontation with India, chiefly arising from an unresolved dispute over Kashmir, as well as the cesarean birth of Bangladesh in 1971.

--- L. J. Wolfenden

Hitler Came for

The Nazi War
Against Religion

Leo Stein
Martin Niemöller was a powerful man in Weimar Germany. He was pastor of the church at Dahlem, head of the United Protestant Churches of Germany. He had been a Kapitaenleutnaut in the German navy during WWI, and was decorated for his heroism.

But he had a streak of contrariness in his nature, a will of iron. After the election of Hitler, Niemöller began to preach against the new super-patriotism that equated all who criticized the regime as traitors. He denounced the subversion of the court system and the incorporation of his church --- the Lutheran Church --- as agents of agents of the state, known as the "Evangelical National Socialists."

Niemöller was warned repeatedly that, despite his high standing, he faced imprisonment if he didn't shut up. Because of his fame, he was able to meet several times with Hitler. In one of their last meetings, Hitler is said to have told him,

    I cannot tolerate decadence of any kind, even in the form of religion. My aim is to make Germany the only power in the world. I must therefore, eliminate any kind of sickness, and I consider the sentimental feeling for Christianity as a kind of mental sickness.

Soon enough Niemöller was sent off to prison.

Leo Stein had been a lawyer and a professor of jurisprudence. But there had been complaints about his classes: he was accused of "failing to live up to the commands of the Fuehrer" and "criticisms of the Nazi regime in his lectures on law." He was sent to Moabit, where he met Niemöller. They met again at Sachsenhausen Prison.

Stein escaped to America, and his book was first published in 1942. It was one of the earliest descriptions of life under the Nazis, telling of their murderous works against Jews and those who opposed their regime.

Stein's portrait of the once much-revered pastor being beaten and taunted by the Nazi guards offers a tragic picture of a man who refused to surrender his principles. If at any time during his imprisonment Niemöller had renounced his opposition to Hitler, he would have been freed. He was, indeed, a prisoner of conscience, a genuinely honorable man caught up in a regime of thugs. We praise the publisher, Pelican, for bringing this moving work back into print.

Unfortunately, Stein and Niemöller have been captured in these pages and put back in prison. This occurs on pages 11 - 14, the "Publisher's Note." It begins with a quote from Whittaker Chambers, and then tells us, "A predominant characteristic of Socialism, in its political aspect, has always been antireligiosity." The anonymous writer then goes on to decry decadence in America today, comparing it to events related in the book:

    It describes the war against religion by the National Socialist Party of Germany (Nazis.) The left's war continues today. Similarities of tactics may be recognizable. It is eerily like what was happening in the U. S. with the rise of Margaret Sanger and her eugenics movement. There was birth control and sterilization to decrease the growth of the lesser breeds. Mayhem on a large scale did not begin until the Supreme Court ruling of 1973, which opened the floodgates to abortion. It is again mainly the intellectuals and Sanger's successors who have pushed this agenda. Supporters of this agenda have pushed the attack on family, on the Boy Scouts, on the flag of the country. Some elements have embraced euthanasia.

§     §     §

Hitler utilized the word "Socialist" in the name of his party when it was organized in 1920 because he knew it would win him votes. (Technically, it was the Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei --- The National Socialist German Workers' Party.) But the socialist ideal --- the worker as owner of the means of production --- was never part of his system and the official title was dumped in 1930 when it became simply The Nazi Party.

Once in office, Hitler created a radical --- not socialist --- state. Its early days were funded by rich industrialists and foreign capital --- Henry Ford was an early and enthusiastic supporter. On the lowest levels ex-army dissolutes and street fighters constituted the police, and they used their office to brutalize those who opposed them and, as we all know, murdering not only dissidents but minorities --- Jews, gays, and gypsies.

To compare Margaret Sanger and the U. S. Supreme Court of 1973 to the Nazis requires a bizarre stretch of imagination. It is something that would have delighted my old philosophy teacher, Professor Giles Farnam. He loved Aristotle, insisted on precise (and exact) exercise of logic in all our classroom presentations.

He often brought clippings to class to show us what he called "the high art of fallacious logic." Farnam would have broken down the "Publisher's Note" to demonstrate its logical structure in this fashion :

  • All socialists are anti-religious.
  • All Nazis are anti-religious.
  • Thus, all socialists are Nazis.
Or, even more succinctly:
  • Intellectuals (viz., Margaret Sanger's successors) are anti-religious (and are in favor of abortion, to boot.)
  • Nazis are anti-religious.
  • Therefore Intellectuals, those who nowadays attack "the family," the "Boy Scouts," and "the flag of the country" --- as well as those who are in favor of abortion --- are ________. [You fill in the blank].
Pastor Niemöller was a good man, and an honest one. He immediately saw through the screwy logic that was Hitler's stock in trade, which he was able to witness firsthand in his meetings with the Reichschancellor. Niemöller would not, in a thousand years, wrap himself in the flag of patriotism --- even though he was given every chance to do so.

I suggest that he has been hijacked by those here who pretend to speak with his voice. Alas, the good pastor is in the grave and cannot protect himself against those who want to use him for their own strange ends.

--- Ignacio Schwartz