Adequacy front page
Stories Diaries Polls Users

Home About Topics Rejects Abortions
This is an archive site only. It is no longer maintained. You can not post comments. You can not make an account. Your email will not be read. Please read this page if you have questions.
Best 60's Icon
Richard Nixon 10%
J. Edgar Hoover 7%
Howard Hughes 3%
Frank Sinatra 0%
Angie Dickinson 7%
Jane Fonda 10%
Sirhan Sirhan 0%
Pol Pot 14%
Nikita Khrushchev 17%
Some worthless hippy 28%

Votes: 28

 Ken Kesey will go no furthur

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Nov 11, 2001
On Saturday, November 10th, author and Merry Prankster Ken Kesey died of complications from liver cancer. Kesey's contributions to literature were matched only by his influence on the counterculture movements of the 1960's. It would be too easy to blame the generational excesses of the hippies on Kesey and his Merry Pranksters. With his passing we must now look deeper into the life of this man and use this new vantage point to truly understand how he affected the world.

More stories about Liberal Myths
Hump Day News Wrap-Up #1: Where is Chandra Levy?
The Malaise of the Middle Classes.
Beating Children Saves Lives
Understanding Ayn Rand through the music of Rush
Global Warming: A Proactive Solution (Part 1 of 2)
The Myth of "Facts"
The sky: a revisionist examination
The Mythical Man-Meat
Pornography: How the Liberals won America
Full Frontal Rudity
The Dark Side of Cancer
I Believe in Negroes

More stories by

Misogyny: Why hurt when you can hate?
Understanding Ayn Rand through the music of Rush
The rise of pseudo-connoisseurship and beer
America is still the greatest
Adequacy sheds light at our darkest hour
Thomas Kinkade brings art back to the people
This week's top-selling music releases
Book Review: A pair of holiday novels
Why marijuana is the worst drug
Caffeinated Mints: A Comparative Review
Anakin Loses a Hand
Debunking the Holocaust Hoax
During the summer of 1969 it became apparent to every sane person that the hippy movement was an unmitigated disaster. Born out of an admirable desire to change the world for the better, by the time Woodstock came about it had denigrated into nothing more than a bunch of filthy, white college students wasting their parent's money by ingesting drugs, taking off their clothing and rolling around in the mud. The root cause of this failing can be directly traced back to one particular bus trip taken by Ken Kesey and his friends in 1964.

They called themselves the "Merry Pranksters", and they traveled across this country with a lot of LSD and little desire to take themselves very seriously at all. Pranksters indeed, to them it was all a joke. Despite the gravity of what was going on around them, they chose to have fun. The Kennedy assassination, race riots and Vietnam were no deterrent to Kesey and his gang of happy-go-lucky drifters, and this reprehensible attitude was the ultimate downfall of the hippy movement.

Time and again history has shown us that the worst thing one can do in life is to stop taking it seriously. These latter-day Neros are the worst sort of plague on humanity, hiding behind their jaded exteriors and prematurely claimed wisdom. Theirs is a condescending attitude born not of perception, but of shortcomings. They would rather point and laugh than offer their fellow man a helping hand or a few words of encouragement, because deep down they know they are lesser creatures than those who operate with righteous purpose, and they wish to destroy the holy fire that burns in men of noble calling. These are people who offer earnest-sounding insight to the lost only to gain their poorly placed trust, then use that trust against them, cackling when the mark realizes they've bought into nothing more than a charade.

How Ken Kesey and those in his orbit became such societal vultures, and what became of them afterwards, was examined in a book written by Tom Wolfe titled The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Unfortunately, the lackluster writing of Mr. Wolfe results in a book that absolutely fails to engage the reader on anything but the most superficial level. Wolfe has two main problems with his writing. First, he is the consummate outsider looking in, never able to tell his subjects' stories effectively because he is never able to connect with them. His second problem is that he desperately tries to hide his disconnection by injecting his writing with lingo copped from the people he studies. It works about as well as a parent trying to connect with their teen through the use of overheard high school vernacular.

But somehow a blue silk blazer and a big tie with clowns on it and...a... pair of shiny lowcut black shoes don't set them all to doing the Varsity Rag in the head world in San Francisco. Lois picks off the marshmallows one by one; Cool Breeze ascends into the innards of his gnome's hat; Black Maria, a Scorpio herself, rummages through the Zodiac; Stewart Brand winds it through the streets; pailettes explode - and this is nothing special, just the usual, the usual in the head world of San Francisco, just a little routine messing up the minds of the citizenry en route, nothing more than psych food for the beautiful people, while giving some guy from New York a lift to the Warehouse to wait for the Chief, Ken Kesey, who is getting out of jail.
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
This sort of nonsense doesn't make me feel like I'm a part of the 1960's San Francisco counterculture, it just makes me think that Tom Wolfe is a great big ol' dork. The whole book goes on like this, and it is very painful because by page 6 you realize that Wolfe is totally unqualified to write about these people. He has no fucking clue as to what's going on, and one can easily imagine his impeccably white-suited self standing amidst a sea of grubby hippies, taking notes like a sophomore psychology student interviewing a homicidal schizophrenic and trying to act like it's all routine. "Yes, yes, and these 'schrooms' you are taking, they are not like the ones people buy in the supermarket? ... I see. Tell me more about 'the herb'"

Tom Wolfe didn't stop displaying his ignorance with this book, though. In 1975 he published The Painted Word, a critique of modern art from the always thrilling view point of someone who doesn't understand it. He then followed up that tour de force with From Bauhaus to Our House, an equally uninformed look at modern architecture. That's pretty much all he does. He takes subject matter that he doesn't understand and then attacks it in a way that is about as revealing and provoking as political commentary from a taxi driver.

You want to feel all warm and fuzzy inside about hating those people who made a lot of money in the 80's? Tom Wolfe wrote The Bonfire of the Vanities just for you. You want a superficial treatment of real estate development in the early 90's? Give A Man in Full a read. Don't worry about being asked to stretch your little noggin around any complex character motivations. Tom Wolfe only provides you with easily digestible cardboard cutouts, conveniently packaged for rapid disapproval. In Wolfe's novels the world is exactly how you think it is, and he always offers comfortable reassurance for us little people.

If there's one thing we can learn from Kesey's death, if there's one thing history can teach us, it's that Tom Wolfe is a fucking menace. He was bad enough when writing nonfiction, but he really crossed over the line when he started publishing novels. If anybody deserves to die of liver cancer, it's him.


Don't know about Tom Wolfe... (1.00 / 1) (#5)
by tkatchev on Sun Nov 11th, 2001 at 05:21:30 AM PST
But Kesey was a one-shot author, a wash-out.

It happens frequently -- somebody who goes through life, then suddenly he snaps, and out comes a brilliant work of art. After producing the work of art, however, the man burns out very quickly, leaving some sort of wasted shell. Kesey is one such case; rather than using the written word as a tool, to communicate some sort wisdom, to enlighten the readers about the human condition, he had a sudden, irrational flash of inspiration. The result is a brilliant work of art, but Kesey ends up battered, living the rest of his life in the shadow of his own book. The problem is that writing the book was an involuntary act, a sort of sudden "coming out"; he ended up living the rest of his life trying to measure up to the image of himself he accidentally created. Quite sad, really.

(Sorry for the rant...)

Peace and much love...

Be that as it may... (none / 0) (#6)
by noah Oneye on Sun Nov 11th, 2001 at 10:19:47 AM PST
I'd much rather read a brilliant work of art or irrational flash of inspiration than someone merely using the written word as a tool. And I totally agree about Kesey, like so many one-hit wonders, living the remainder of his life in the shadow of his book. And that is sad.

I gotta take issue, though, with saying that it was a book he "accidentally created" by "involuntary act". Whatever else he may or may not have done, he wrote an excellent book, and this doesn't happen by accident.

"...and in your free time you can make me sandwiches..."

I mean... (none / 0) (#7)
by tkatchev on Sun Nov 11th, 2001 at 12:27:44 PM PST
I mean, accidental as in "not rationally controlled". For most writers, the English language is simply a tool, a way of gettting their idea across. Sudden inspiration, however, is neither rational nor controlled.

Be as it may, I'm not trying to belittle Kesey's work.

Peace and much love...

You're welcome (5.00 / 1) (#8)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Nov 11th, 2001 at 02:54:20 PM PST
Kesey will be sorely missed. His Merry Pranksters were a truly a shining example of open-minded, loving people living their lives the way they chose, free from society's constraints.

You kids today don't realize how much you have the '60's and people like Kesey to thank for your lifestyles. The internet? 'Net culture was spearheaded back in the 1970s by a bunch of old hippies. Raves? Just a computerized version of music festivals like Woodsotck. All this nu-metal and grunge music tday is just a minor modification of the works of '60s musical pioneers like Hendrix and Cream. Creed is just the Doors with some quasi-Christian lyrics mixed in! Hip-hop too, is just a descendant of Black spoken word pioneers like the Last Poets and Gil-Scott Heron (the revolution will not be televised!).

And don't get me started about how the "permissive" lifestyles of today would never have been possible if us hippies hadn't been out shaking things up in the '60's. The miniskirt is a classic example of '60's fashion. The anti-golbalization protests of today are enacted directly in the spirit of the 1960s. The designer drugs like "X", that are so popular today descend directly from the pioneering efforts of men like Kesey and Tim Leary to "open the doors of perception".

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say the 1960's were the most important decade of the post war era. The efforts of people like Kesey to make the world a freer, more understanding place are still paying off today. So next time you see some old hippie bopping along down the street, flash him/her a peace sign and say thanks. Maybe (s)he'll share a joint with you!

thank heavens (5.00 / 1) (#9)
by nathan on Mon Nov 12th, 2001 at 05:20:00 AM PST
that other right-minded individuals realize the pervasiveness of hippie rot in today's culture. Miniskirts, drugs, the whole works - it's the culture of a generation that has never known anything other than complete self-absorption. There's no civic virtue, genuine education, or reverence for political legitimacy among the hippies. Instead, their beliefs are the ultimate in bourgeois pseudo-reform.

Notice how fast the hippie generation is to crack the whip whenever anyone says no to them - be it foreigners, their parents, or their children. The many exceptions, for which I am very grateful, only prove the rule for the vast majority of these cold-hearted creeps.

Let's hope the coming generation learns from the mistakes of the ones before it.

Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

Wow... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by hauntedattics on Tue Nov 13th, 2001 at 09:28:24 AM PST
I always had 'issues' with Baby Boomers (as a generation, not as individuals) but could never articulate why without being called a whiny Gen-Xer. And gee, I wonder where calling Gen-Xers whiny came from in the first place...has any other generation demanded to such a degree that they be the standard by which all else is judged and compared? Sickening.

again (none / 0) (#15)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Nov 15th, 2001 at 04:23:02 PM PST
I'll just say that I'm glad that I had enough self-restraint to prevent myself from spewing so much misinformation when I was as young and as foolish as Nathan. Once again you show nothing but intolerance and ignorance about any lifestyle other than your own. You would benefit greatly by doing a little more listening and a lot less profound lecturing about things you know little about. Have you read any of Kesey's books? Have you read Wolfe's biography of Kesey? There is actually a lot to be learned about personal freedoms, personal rights, and personal responsibilities from these books... not to mention the potential better understanding of the people around you that you may gain by reading these. If you understand these books, you'll have a slightly better understanding of why you're wrong to make these assumptions. Have you ever made an attempt to understand a lifestyle other than the one you're parents taught you? Hell, I'll even go so far to say that you would benefit from a little drug experimentation of your own... it would most likely break you out of your relatively small realm of understanding. In the hippy culture which you claim to know well enough to be able to summarize its meaning a few demeaning sentences, there is a deep desire for a more responsible lifestyle. I mention this because you seem to think its all about self-gratifying over indulgence. Once again, you couldn't be more wrong. Of course every group has their lunatic extremists, but why do you think environmentalism is so popular among the hippy culture? It's driven by the desire to attain a sustainable global society, which is a goal that is being overlooked by many of our world leaders. This is just one example. My point is that you are incorrect by saying that these people have no respect for what you recognize as good values. Can you acknowledge that if every person on this planet lived the average American lifestyle, there would be no hope to be able to feed us all with today's available food technology... that the world would be unbearably polluted, and that none of this would be important till someone found a way to make a hefty profit doing otherwise? There is a respectable desire in hippy culture to research, find solutions, and make changes through political channels to fix these problems. No value for real education? Hippy culture absolutely includes education... you tell me which is more `real'... sitting around earning an MBA so you can make a fortune, or making personal sacrifices while getting a degree in environmentalism or biology... knowing that when you graduate you wont make a fortune, but also knowing you couldn't live with yourself if you didn't try to change the world for the better. Hmm... sounds like civic duty or something doesn't it? Remember I'm the one that told you this a few years from now when you come to realize how ignorant you can be and yet how anxious you seem to be to convince the world of your profound analytical ability. It'll be embarrassing for you... but we all need a little humility to put us in the right place once in a while.

A question (none / 0) (#16)
by zikzak on Thu Nov 15th, 2001 at 04:41:17 PM PST
How do you manage to get any work done when you spend so much time patting yourself on the back?

You should get an account. Kicking tkatchev around is getting old.

thanks for taking for granted (none / 0) (#17)
by nathan on Thu Nov 15th, 2001 at 06:26:48 PM PST
that I'm young, sexually innocent, repressed, and unfamiliar with drugs.

I gave up on Wolfe after Bonfire. Let me give you some reading of my own. Ever hear of Infinte Jest by David Foster Wallace? Bet you didn't expect a zealot to be reading that. For me, that book is the greatest argument for Christianity ever written. The wonder is that it manages the entire thing rationalistically. It's like St. Anselm's deductive proof of the existence of God.

I guess my biggest issue with the hippie generation is how it completely sold its purported values out at the first opportunity. Lots of smart young lads like Clinton showed us their true colours when they got a little older. For them, it was always "me first." Not that that awful hypocrite Bush is any better. Even his own followers know he doesn't believe what he says. They just hope they can use him to advance their own beliefs.

While we're on books, here's one more.

Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

ok (none / 0) (#18)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Nov 15th, 2001 at 06:45:54 PM PST
fair enough. I appologize for the young/inexperienced cracks. I Haven't read the books you mentioned, but will check them out soon.

be prepared (none / 0) (#19)
by nathan on Fri Nov 16th, 2001 at 12:54:50 PM PST
to spend a long time reading Infinte Jest. It's about 1100 pages long, in small print with huge pages, and that includes about 80 pages of footnotes.
Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

Self-congratulatory nonsense (5.00 / 1) (#14)
by T Reginald Gibbons on Wed Nov 14th, 2001 at 05:40:17 PM PST
Most of the social change we gen-Xers benefited from took place in the 70s, and it is only the braying of a few all-but-forgotten nostalgia peddlers that has kept us from recognising this. The 70s brought feminism, where the 60s had provided only "free love", a euphemism for sexual slavery for women.

The hippy movement was nothing more than an excuse to rebel against the only thing teenagers and overgrown teenagers ever rebel against: their parents. Social change didn't happen in the sixties, but stagnation did. The sixties were the decade in which the media lost touch with reality, and started us along the long slide into today's confused and media-warped world. If anything, the hippies contributed to this process.

1969? (5.00 / 3) (#11)
by Mendax Veritas on Mon Nov 12th, 2001 at 10:37:40 AM PST
During the summer of 1969 it became apparent to every sane person that the hippy movement was an unmitigated disaster.
I must take issue with this ignorant and unhistorical assertion. That the hippy movement was a disaster became quite clear to anyone with even the faintest scintilla of a clue no later than the summer of 1967. The transformation of San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district from a pleasantly eccentric neighborhood to almost a war zone, with drug-addicted teenage runaways sleeping in the parks and a corresponding rise in burglaries, muggings, and police raids, had begun gradually after Life magazine's exposé of the counter-culture in 1964, and was quite complete by the "Summer of Love".

Actually "Electric Kool Aid..." was a da (none / 0) (#12)
by Anonymous Reader on Mon Nov 12th, 2001 at 01:50:00 PM PST
although I didn't come to that realization until
I read it while on acid.

try it, you'll like it!

Kesey (none / 0) (#20)
by Anonymous Reader on Wed Nov 21st, 2001 at 11:28:15 AM PST
This from Ken Babbs <>

"A great good friend and great
husband and father and grand dad, he will be sorely missed but
if there is one thing he would want us to do it would be to carry
on his life's work. Namely to treat others with kindness and
if anyone does you dirt forgive that person right away. This
goes beyond the art, the writing, the performances, even the
bus. Right down to the bone.
-- Ken Babbs

And this from me;

The patron saint of pranksters
Like my mom once said, great souls go on to be greater.
Ken became someone I admired when I first read his books during the 60's in LA. I had just moved there from Ohio. There were people to talk with about history, religion, philosophy, music et al and the world was unfolding around us.
We had tried the local mexican dirt weed in the high school parking lot and were talking to the low riders and guys from arizona about mescaline and magic mushrooms. Not much info available at the time that we were aware of, but we were curious about the way the mind works and were interested in every religion and philosophy.        We were surrounded by so many intense new directions to go in.We had great literature (Tolkien, the Freep ( the LA Free Press), Marvel comic books, All the classics, all the new books that were being published, available in the library and at a hundred bookstores, and Ken Kesey.
   The first way ken touched my life was in the shape of a cubed chunk of sugar. Paul Byers one of the neighbourhood kids, ( we had a unconventional but cool hood and a lot of us were in our teens) had his moms packard to get around in and had gone to the first LA acid test. When he got back (A seperate adventure of some note) he was bearing tales and treasure maps and the Quest began!
   And what a strange journey it was and is. Further!
   The next time I ran into Ken was when the University of Oregon was going to put on a reading of demon box and the technical director of the theatre Dave Shaw, A real wizard of productions asked me to help with the show and do the lighting. I was really shy around ken at first but made freinds quickly with Art Maddox, that wonderful, piratical piano player, and he introduced me to Ken, ..........And, well, we took off from there. I was honored to be a part of it and it is one of my favorite projects to remember.       
   What I really treasure though were the conversations we had when we were up in the fly rigging or setting the light pipes. Ken always had an unusual or funny way of looking at things that brought them into perspective, that put them in your hand again in a size you could handle.
   We shared a belly laugh. What's better than that?
   He was my freind, I'll Miss him here, but I can hear him laughing so I don 't think he's completely out of touch. He's been inspiring me for years and thats not going to change. He sets a good example in his incredibly interesting way. He is a great teacher, a real bodhisatva, someone who will teach my grandkids and me in the future and countless generations as well. If the only important thing is living in great style I'd say ken went out with aces.
   If you ever need a good bus mechanic let me know.
   love you all,
   Jim Sofra
   Box 100 Queen Charlotte City
   BC Canada 604 864 9649

PS to you. Lighten up! I don't think you understand a lot of what happened then or now. It certainly was'nt what I saw or thought. Good luck! And remember in the final analysis we are all in this together.


All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments are owned by the Poster. The Rest ® 2001, 2002, 2003 The name, logo, symbol, and taglines "News for Grown-Ups", "Most Controversial Site on the Internet", "Linux Zealot", and "He just loves Open Source Software", and the RGB color value: D7D7D7 are trademarks of No part of this site may be republished or reproduced in whatever form without prior written permission by and, if and when applicable, prior written permission by the contributing author(s), artist(s), or user(s). Any inquiries are directed to