The Acid Test Graduation, Monday, 31st October, 1966. Halloween.
The Graduation was originally supposed to take place at the Winterland with the Grateful Dead on stage, Bill Graham on the door, and the new psychedelic masses in attendance, but it didn’t turn out like that. Even by this time, well before the media discovered (invented?) the Summer of Love in 1967, the whiff of commercialism and conservatism had begun to creep into the scene, leaving the pioneer Pranksters out on the fringe (where they had always been, really). Kesey’s talk of “going beyond acid” was also not well received by those who were just getting into it.
In the event, the Graduation was a smaller, more intimate affair, held in a warehouse decorated with wall hangings and reverberating with the usual Prankster sensory craziness. It was also an odd, strange affair, not much like the party most of the invited guests had been expecting and certainly nothing like the freaky orgy that the TV cameras or the cops in attendance had hoped to find.
Wolfe doesn’t mention that Kesey was having a bad trip for most of the night, but this was one of the main reasons why events took such a strange turn. Kesey’s rambling attempts to make sense of the evening and the moment were incomprensible to almost everyone except the Pranksters themselves and the crowd eventually thinned out until only the Pranksters and a few other faithfuls remained…… Meanwhile, across town at the Winterland, the new scene continued to grow.
Hey this just in… a band called the Anonymous Artists of America played at the Acid Test Graduation and I always wondered what became of them…..Well, an anonymous member wrote and told me. To find out what he/she said, follow the link to the left …..
Wolfe attended the Graduation and his description of the events is typically lively, evocative and colorful, but is it how you remember things? Were you there? Did you graduate and get an Acid Test Diploma to hang on your wall? Did you go beyond Acid? Graduates should click here to relive their experiences, or on a link to the left to view the ramblings of others.
Gene Anthony has kindly given permission to display some of his fabulous photos of Kesey and the Pranksters, including two from the Acid Test Graduation. Many thanks Gene.