The Counter Culture Comes From Santa Cruz

December 07, 2015

2015 is the year of Golden Anniversaries for the psychedelic movement. Earlier this summer The Red Dog Saloon threw a party to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the venue and The Charlatans came back together to play the room just as they had on opening night fifty years earlier. And, of course, The Grateful Dead created their much ballyhooed Fare Thee Well shows in Chicago during which the Core Four surviving members of the The Dead got back together on stage with some guest musicians and played what they claimed would be their Farewell Concerts, a claim, for the record, that they'd never made before.

Red Dog Saloon

As we enter December, the Merry Pranksters reconvened in Santa Cruz to be honored by First District Supervisor John Leopold and threw two modest events in which the town recognized the contributions of the Pranksters to culture in general and Santa Cruz in particular and commemorated the "Fiftieth Anniversary of the First Acid Test."

Owsley Kesey Signed Acid Test

Thursday, December 3rd, Prankster Lee Quarnstrom did a book reading from his memoir When I Was A Dynamiter to a packed to standing room only crowd at Book Shop Santa Cruz. The front row of the reading was reserved for the Golden Age Pranksters, including Ken Babbs, Mountain Girl, George Walker, Roy Seburn, Mary Microgram and Julius Karpen. Lee told numerous entertaining tales, mostly pertaining to his years with Kesey but occasionally venturing into his years of working for Larry Flynt and Hustler and once to describe his actual work with explosives (career work that led to the title reference to being a Dynamiter). His delivery was casual and congenial but with a solid sense of comic timing. Among the many enjoyable moments in the evening was a pause that came after he told a story that included Mountain Girl in which he turned to her, mid-sentence, and said "You were there, right?" (She concurred.) 

The following day, to honor the Fiftieth Anniversary of the First Acid Test, George Walker and Mountain Girl and Ken Babbs all took the stage and told tales of the events leading up to the First Acid Test. George Walker bestowed Neal Cassady's Hammer to Cassady's daughter and son, and talked of Neal, taking his shirt off for the occasion. Mountain Girl was concise but very sweet and upbeat. Babbs delivered a riveting talk and implored the crowd to ignore the facts of the matter and grow the myth, so that it could one day rival Homer's Oddyssey. 

John Leopold told the gathered crowd that he had gotten the local municipal transit to authorize the creation of a bus stop that would honor the contributions of the Merry Pranksters, The Acid Tests, Neal Cassady and The Hip Pocket Bookstore. One side of the bus stop read "The Counter Culture Comes To Santa Cruz" and on the other side it read "The Counter Culture Comes From Santa Cruz."

Counter Culture Comes From Santa Cruz With The Furthur Bus and Merry Pranksters


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