Something wicked this way comes

• Editor’s note: What follows was intended to be a rambling kickoff to a Counter-Inaugural Podcast at Radio Free Dogpatch, but my sidekick Hal Walter developed a bad case of previous commitments, so I’m laying it on you old-school instead. Tomorrow it will be radio silence from yours truly here and on Twitter. But there will be an open-mic post suitable for commentary, so feel free to chime in with your thoughts on what this particular changing of the guard means for you, and for the rest of us. Finally, a tip of the carny’s boater to Ray Bradbury for the headline. It’s a pity — or is it? — that he didn’t live to see Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show come to life.

We're all bozos on this bus. Some of us more than others.

We’re all bozos on this bus. Some of us more than others.

IT’S BEEN A STRUGGLE, TRYING TO FIND WORDS to describe how I feel about what’s going to be happening on Friday — and afterward — in Washington, D.C.

I’ve watched this changing of the guard since before I was eligible to vote, and it rarely goes well for progressives.

In 1969, when Richard Nixon was preparing to take an oath of office he had already violated by undermining the Paris peace talks, the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam staged a three-day counter-inaugural that proved quite the bash, both literally and figuratively.

Yippies Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman brought a revolutionary-theater sideshow to the circus, proposing to inaugurate their own president, a 145-pound hog named Pigasus, with predictable results. The Left immediately set about eating itself alive — Splitters! — rocks, bottles, horseshit and punches were thrown, cops and protesters alike took a beating, 119 people got a tour of the hoosegow, and as is traditional in such matters, both sides claimed victory.

Nixon, of course, claimed the White House. Twice. You may recall how that turned out.

I found it all fascinating, from a safe distance, and when I became eligible to vote in time for the 1972 elections, I tried to register as a member of the Youth International Party, the proper name for the improper Yippies. Never happen, said the county clerk in Bibleburg, and I had to settle for signing up as an “independent.” But Hunter S. Thompson was actually in attendance at the ’69 inaugural, and he didn’t exactly come away with a smile on his lips and a song in his heart.

Recounting the experience for The Boston Globe in February 1969, Thompson wrote: “My first idea was to load up on LSD and cover the Inauguration that way, but the possibilities were ominous: a scene that bad could only be compounded to the realm of mega-horrors by something as powerful as acid.”

As Thompson watched the deal go down during what he called “a king-hell bummer” and “that wretched weekend,” he saw “a new meanness on both sides … and no more humor.”

“Suddenly I felt cold, and vaguely defeated,” he wrote. “More than eight years ago, in San Francisco, I had stayed up all night to watch the election returns … and when Nixon went down I felt like a winner.

“Now, on this Monday night in 1969, President Nixon was being honored with no less than six Inaugural Balls. I brooded on this for a while, then decided I would go over to the Hilton, later on, and punch somebody. Almost anybody would do … but hopefully I could find a police chief from Nashville or some other mean geek. In the meantime, there was nothing to do but go back to the hotel and watch the news on TV … maybe something funny, like film clips of the bastinado.”

• • •

Neither Hunter S. Thompson nor Dick Nixon are with us this time around, but another pair of Sixties relics you may have thought were likewise long gone — LSD and psilocybin — are making something of a comeback as potential treatments for whatever bad scene may be unfolding on the backside of your forehead (or in front of it).

In December, The New York Times reported on a couple of studies that showed “clinically significant reductions” in both anxiety and depression in cancer patients who took synthetic psilocybin.

The studies, which the Times called “the largest and most meticulous among a handful of trials to explore the possible therapeutic benefit of psilocybin,” found the beneficial effects persisted for months.

One patient, who had just completed treatment for stage-3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, described what he called “an epiphany.”

“I’m not anxious about cancer anymore,” he said. “I’m not anxious about dying.”

Another, whose treatment for acute myeloid leukemia left him with graft-versus-host disease, said the experience left him with “a greater sense of peace with what might come.”

“I’m very grateful, beyond words, for this trial,” he added.

And on January 14, The Atlantic ran a Q&A with Ayelet Waldman, whose new book “A Really Good Day” describes her microdosing with LSD to self-correct what she described as “a pretty significant depression.”

She had tried the traditional remedies served up by the medical-industrial complex — antidepressants, ADHD drugs, SSRIs, you name it — but a couple drops of diluted and highly illegal L-S-Dizzy is what did the trick for her.

Said Waldman: “I felt happier or at least not as profoundly depressed almost immediately the very first day I took it.”

Funniest thing, hey? About 10 years after the good Doctor Thompson was mulling over that Nixon inaugural, a friend and I offered an acid-soaked homage to his fear-and-loathing tour of Las Vegas. But we didn’t have his stamina, and when a jai-alai match at the old MGM Grand started to look like a “Star Wars” shootout we got the fuck out of there at a very high speed indeed, driving all the way back to Alamosa — the Brain Damage Express, via Kaibab and Page, the Four Corners and the terrifying Wolf Creek Pass, with the usual horrible weather and without the enhancements that were still a few years down the road.

But we sure as shit weren’t depressed. We were simply seeing a whole lot of things we’d rather not have and thought a case of beer, a long night’s drive and a plate of his mom’s enchiladas might mellow us out.

Forty years later I can make my own enchiladas but I’m not so sure about the acid. I still have my copy of “The Anarchist Cookbook,” but I was never much at chemistry.

• • •

All trips, both good and bad, come to an end, sooner or later. And in May, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will break down the big top in May for the final time after 146 years.

According to The New York Times, Feld Entertainment, the producer of the circus, cited rising operating costs and falling ticket sales, a condition that worsened after Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey dropped elephants from its show last year.

CEO Kenneth Feld told The Associated Press that moving the show by rail, providing a traveling school for performers’ children and other expenses from a bygone era made carrying on a losing proposition.

“It’s a different model … we can’t see how it works in today’s world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price,” he said.

And let’s not forget that old devil competition. There’s another, bigger circus coming to town, with a permanent base of operations in Washington, D.C., the financial support of the State, and free worldwide access via social media. Plus elephants, too!

The Greatest Show On Earth is now an angry orange clown with a Twitter account. Hur-ry, hur-ry, hur-ry. …

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17 Responses to “Something wicked this way comes”

  1. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Darth Cheeto, the ultimate parasite in chief. If you really want to get scared, watch this, it’s 69 minutes long, then think about Perry being in charge of The Department of Energy.

    With that, I am going news free for the next 24 hours. I will stop in here from time to time to see what people here, a bunch I like listening to, have to say.

  2. Dale Says:

    I’ll just post what Andy Borowitz said in the New Yorker.

    “WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Moving vans arrived at the White House on Wednesday to remove all traces of competence and dignity.

    Working around the clock, movers started clearing out the optimism and progress that had accumulated during the past eight years.

    “Once we’ve packed up that stuff, we’ll start moving out the wisdom and maturity,” one of the movers said. “The guy who’s moving in wants all of that gone.”

    After the movers complete their work, a cleaning crew will come in and scrub the White House of every last speck of compassion.

    The movers are working under a strict deadline, since the White House needs to be totally stripped of decency by nine o’clock on Friday morning, the mover said.

    “The new guy wants the place to be completely empty, ” he said. “He has a lot of crap.”

  3. Chris Coursey Says:

    Ay yi yi. Good one, amigo.



  4. Steve O Says:

    Cannot wait for them to repeal Obamacare. But if they also touch the Affordable Care Act , i’m going to be pissed.

  5. Herb Clevenger Says:

    Wow that was one of your longest posts in many a sun cycle Patrick and a good “trip” down memory lane for me as well. I well remember while stoned to the bone watching a press conference with Tricky Dick and being seriously disturbed by him instead of the rollicking good fun we’d had in the past mocking him. I guess you’d say I saw things as they truly were in my enhanced state and its never been the same since for me. I have not trusted Republicans since that acid trip. Years later and chemical free and then some, I have the same foreboding as I did in 1971 about Trump and his cabaret (it’s not a cabinet) of billionaires.
    Only now I’m older, crabbier, and of sufficient means to make life as miserable as I can for elected Trump supporters. I suggest your readers send some checks or gold bullion to the Sierra Club, ACLU, NRDC,and any/all organizations that have mean- ass lawyers willing to tie up the Trump Gang in courts across the land.
    I don’t care how rich you are, nothing is worse than having a pack of lawyers and protesters on your ass. Takes all the fun out of being a big shot and screwing the 99%.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I did ramble a bit, didn’t I? Ah, those glory days. I started with weed (that infamous gateway drug), moved on to hashish, mescaline, ‘shrooms, LSDizzy, white crosses and nose whiskey. Even horned a little crank before the “Breaking Bad” crowd gave meth a bad name with their half-assed chemistry.

      And Nancy Reagan notwithstanding, my friends and I mostly had a helluva good time and went on to become semi-productive citizens who hardly ever cheat on their taxes.

      Herself and I have tithed to ACLU, SPLC, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a couple NPR affiliates and a bunch of other outfits and heartily endorse your recommendation that others do likewise. Team Trump is out to gut pretty much everything save defense, which means we have to play offense.

  6. Steve O Says:

    Such a good read, despite the depressing subject matter.

    We’re going to need you, and everyone else, fighting the good fight these next four years, if we want to maintain what passes as our sanity.

  7. Steve O Says:

    In other news …

    Over 1,500 pieces of Monty Python memorabilia up for auction!
    Follow one of the links below to see how you can own a piece of Python history…

  8. Hurben Says:

    My deepest sympathy.

    If you decide to flee, my door is always open…

    You could not make this shit up.

  9. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Good morning Hurben! If I decide to come, I will bring a shit load of Barrio Rojo Scottish Ale with me. Maybe they can be talked into opening a brew pub in Wellington.

    • Hurben Says:

      Hi ya Pat,

      Wellington has a shitload of good brew pubs but the weather is crap.

      Auckland is is good & we also have a shitload of good brew pubs & you’d be welcome

  10. Libby Says:

    Memory lane: A button that said “Don’t Blame Me…..I Voted for Pat Paulsen.”
    Thanks for the post today, Patrick, as always!

  11. Dale Says:

    Time to listen to Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”.

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