21 September 2009

09 September 2009

Wogan Walks/Ursa Psychedelica

18 Shahrviar - Year 1388

The morning impresario of Radio 2, Sir Terry Wogan, is hanging up his mic soon. Radio 2 has reported that Chris Evans will be taking his morning-show spot. Evans does annoy me a bit - I dunno, maybe he tries too hard to be "zany". I will kinda miss hearing Wogan waffle on about TV shows and performing those horrible skits with the rest of his crew. In honour of 'Sir Terry', here's a vid of the excellent Peter Serafinowicz parodying Wogan and portraying him as a mellow stoner. If only...

I've started reading The Brotherhood Of Eternal Love, by Stewart Tendler. The Brotherhood were a cabal of psychedelics dealers whose idealistic (if somewhat naive) goal was to turn on as many critters as possible. In their view, the more folks who had been 'experienced', the more peaceful the planet would become. The book seems pretty good to me so far--it's quite a task to try and weave all of the various threads of the story together.

One of the main protagonists in the first half of the book is none other than the chief 'Acid Chemist' himself, Augustus Owsley Stanley III. Owsley's name was synonymous with good-quality LSD in the late 60s. He made a lot of money cooking up batches of psychedelics, of which a lot was spent supporting The Grateful Dead and other projects throughout California. Stanley's nickname was (is) "The Bear" and his acid-operation was called Bear Research Group. He made many recordings of The Dead, amongst other S.F. psych bands. Some were even released as legitimate albums, the most famous being Bear's Choice. I especially like the 'three-eyed bear' graphic on the back cover of the LP (er..at least that's what it looks like to me). I hadn't heard anything about ol' Owsley lately and I thought maybe he wasn't on the planet anymore. I did a search and yep, he's still around. He's even got his own website, where he sells his art pieces. The site's pretty low-tech, but he explains why on the face page. Apparently, he moved to Australia in the early 80s and pretty much stayed there. He does make occasional visits to the U.S., as shown in this 2007 article.

He's survived throat cancer and most of his 60s contemporaries...Leary, Kesey, Garcia..the list goes on. He even survived most of his 'enemies', too..Nixon, Reagan..maybe even ol' Neal Purcell, the Laguna Beach cop who busted Leary in 1968, which led to Tim's conviction and prison sentence. At 74, "Bear" is alive and fairly well and still convinced that psychedelics can benefit the human species. More power to him, I say.

Now back to the book...

02 September 2009

September un-Furls

13 Elul - Year 5769

"Summer was gone and the heat died down...and Autumn reached for her golden
" --Nick Drake

The ninth month of Gregorian calendar year 2009 has arrived. Another British summertime has passed. Ah well, it was a bit nicer than last year. We had a good camping trip in Dorset and a decent Cropredy. We had less rain this summer, or maybe it just seemed that way.

Pixie and I spent the August Bank Holiday taking walks, looking after Smudge, a silver Siberian cat who belongs to a co-worker. He was staying with us for the past couple of weeks, while she and her family were on holiday. We also visited Slimbridge, a wetlands preserve featuring many species of waterfoul and even an indoor display of amphibians. The entrance fee seems a bit pricey, but the place is quite large, so you do get your money's worth. The park is set up by areas of the world and you walk down the path and observe the birds. Photos are allowed and some of the birds are tame enough to approach the path.

I never realised how many different species of duck exist, having only seen mallards. I attempted to hand-feed some geese--I succeeded with one and was bitten by another..ah well. There are three types of flamingo at the park and they are the major attraction. It's interesting to know that their colouring derives from the food they eat, not from any natural pigmentation. That nice man Stephen Fry said so on QI and that's good enough for me.

Pixie's parents held a barbeque at their place on Bank Holiday Monday. At first it seemed like it would be an indoor affair, as dark clouds were overhead most of the day. The sun finally managed to burn through in the late afternoon, so we all basked for awhile, full of good food and lager (well, I was full of lager anyway). The neices are all growing so fast - soon they'll be taller than I am. Two of them decided it would be fun to round up the caterpillars who're munching on the brussels sprout plants. They loaded up five or six plastic cups full of the critters. Their intention of keeping the caterpillars at their house was kiboshed, so Pixie and I led an expedition to a nearby field to let the crawlies go.

We had both booked Tuesday off, for an extra long weekend. We didn't do much, other than clean the house (and vacuum up all the cat fur). I did buy an original stereo pressing of The Fab's Sgt Pepper LP off of eBay. It weren't cheap, but it does have The Fool's groovy red-and-white inner sleeve (which was short-listed for the album cover at one point) and the "Pepper" cut-outs. I seriously am turning into a bit of a vinyl snob. I'm looking for original pressings or specific labels (Island's pink "i" label, "Deramic Sound System", Vertigo "swirl", etc.) and for the record to be in fairly good condition. I did make an exception for a copy of Van Der Graaf Generator's The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other. The record isn't in great shape - but the label is the original Charisma pink scroll design, so I can live with it.

Speaking of the Fabs, the re-issues are due out next week! I've pre-ordered Revolver, "Sgt. Pepper.." & Abbey Road - my three faves. I'll order The White Album and Rubber Soul next--then get the rest eventually. I've avoided the box sets - though I might splash out for the mono set at some point.

Here we go....easing into Autumn.