Tom Wolfe, THE ELECTRIC KOOL-AID ACID TEST, Farrar Straus and Giroux, Inc., 1968, Copyright 1968 by Tom Wolfe. excerpts ( JH picked out all passages describing sound or sound equipment ) Typed by Barb Golden, Aug. 17, 1994.
Then a sculptor named Ron Boise, a thin guy from New England with a nasal accent like Titus Moody, only a Titus Moody who spoke the language of Hip: "Man, like, I mean, you know," and so on. Boise brought in a sculpture of a hanged man, so they ran it up a tree limb with a hangman's noose. He also built a great Thunderbird, a great Thor-and-Wotan beaked monster with an amber dome on its back and you could get inside of it. Inside were some mighty wire strings, which you could pull, which they did, and the Thunderbird twanged out across the gorge like the mightiest vibrating bass beast in the history of the world. p.119
The Pranksters had just held an Acid Test at the Fillmore Auditorium, a big ballroom in the middle of one of San Francisco's big Negro slums, the Fillmore district. It was a wild night. Hundreds of heads and bohos from all over the Bay area turned out, zonked to the eyeballs. Paul Krassner was back in town, and he heard the word that was out on ... The Scene. Everybody would be "dropping acid" about 5 or 6 P.M. to get ready for the Acid Test to begin that night at nine o'clock at the Fillmore Auditorium. Krassner arrives and__shit!__he sees:
...a ballroom surrealistically seethng with a couple of thousand bodies stoned out of their everlovin' bruces in crazy costumes and obscene makeup with a raucous rock 'n' roll band and stroboscopic lights and a thunder machine and balloons and heads and streamers and electronic equipment and the back of a guy's coat proclaiming Please don't believe in magic to a girl dancing with 4-inch eyelashes so that even the goddamn Pinkerton Guards were contact high.
Kesey left Municipal Court in San Francisco on January 20 with Mountain Girl and Stewart Brand and onto the whole bus full of Pranksters to roll through San Francisco advertising the Trips Festival. They got out at Union Square, Kesey wore a pair of white Levi's with the backsides emblazoned with HOT on the left side and COLD on the right and TIBET in the middle,__and a pair of sky-blue boots. They all played Ron Boise's Thunder Machine for loon vibrations in Union Square in the fibrillating heart of San Francisco.
Lights and movies sweeping around the hall; five movie projectors going and God knows how many light machines, interferrometrics, the intergalactic science-fiction seas all over the walls, loudspeakers studding the hall all the way around like flaming chandeliers, strobes exploding, black lights with Day-Glo objects under them and Day-Glo paint to play with, street lights at every entrance flashing red and yellow, two bands, the Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company and a troop of weird girls in leotards leaping around the edges blowing dog whistles__and the Pranksters. pp230-31
...and the press, vibrating under Ron Boise's thunder machine. A great rout in progress, you understand. p232
Perry, Charles, the Haight-Ashbury, A History; Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, New York, 1985, Copyright 1984 by Rolling Stone Press. excerpts Typed by Barb. Golden Nov. 22, 1994.
For January 8 they planned a bigger Test than ever before. They had the Fillmore Auditorium, with more electronic equipment than ever, since Owsley Stanley had turned his perfectionist attentions to the sound equipment being used by the Dead. He'd bought cratefuls of amplifiers and speakers and monitors and even an oscilloscope. This time the Pranksters had closed-circuit TV portapaks to add to the instantaneity. Ron Boise brought a lot of Thunder Sculptures for this event, including one shaped like a vulture, another shaped like a seashell that you could crawl into and get lost in, and the Tuned Woman.
The Fillmore was basically a huge dance floor with a balcony running along two walls. The balcony was subdivided into dressing rooms and offices, so the Pranksters were able to wire the place up with microphones and speakers in unexpected places, so you might be downstairs watching somebody make a fool of himself on the closed-circuit TV and suddenly hear something you'd said upstairs a few minutes ago broadcast all over the hall. The floor was littered with electronic boxes and skeins of electrical cable. They had packed in so much electronic equipment the whole hall had a low, dull buzzing sound. p.42
On one of the balconies Stewart Brand found Neil Cassady in an unusual pose, standing still and watching. Not jerking around, not running his mouth, not tossing his biceps-exercise hammer. He was gazing down at the sea-floor riot of blinking electronic equipment, stoned people reeling around blowing whistles, counting their toes, looking for their lost minds in the Thunder Machines. Two electrified guitar bands were playing at cross-purposes; slides and swirls of color were being projected on the walls, as well as sometimes what seemed to be snatches of a Kesey novel in progress, unless this whole event was a Kesey novel in progress. Cassady looked serene and meditative. "It looks," he said placidly, "like the publicity for your Trips Festival is going pretty well." p.43
The Thunder Machines, self-interfaced TV equipment, tape recorders and other electronic toys of the Acid Tests did not survive into the dance halls. Graham and Helms basically continued the form of the original Family Dog dances. As at those dances, the element that inspired people to call them multimedia experiences and to speak of media overload was the light show. p66
A lot of people who might have gone to the Fillmore that night went out to San Francisco State College instead, where Stewart Brand was putting on something called variously the Awareness Festival or Whatever It Is. It showed itself to be a sort of rerun of the Trips Festival without central events: all Side Trips, in effect. Brand was everywhere, running around in an orange jumpsuit and hard hat: out on the lawn tossing around a giant balloon painted like a world globe representing the Whole Earth, for instance.
The Congress of Wonders performed their John Lennon readings in one gallery, the Dead and a band called the Universal Parking Lot played in another where there was an exhibit of electronic art from the Museum of Modern Art. Bill Hamm did a light show in the women's gym; in the men's gym there was a novelty called a Sensory Awareness Seminar, conducted by a member of the psychiatric research group in Big Sur calling itself the Esalen Foundation. Ron Boise had assembled probably the largest public display ever of his Thunder Machines. Meanwhile, at the flea market outside, conga drummers played nonstop for fifteen hours. p94
Chaos, Gaia, Eros: A Chaos Pioneer Uncovers The Three Great Streams Of History by Ralph Abraham (c) 1994 by R. Abraham HarperSanFrancisco typed by jh may 3 1995
In 1968 I moved from Princeton University to the University of California at Santa Cruz, which was then the apex of the counterculture. The Sons of Eternity played to capacity crowds of crazed hippies at the Barn, in front of fluorescent murals by Uzek (Joe) Lysowski. The musicians lived in trees in the Santa Cruz mountains, and their instruments were welded steel sculptures made by Ron Boise. I lived in a twenty-four-room Victorian mansion at 724 California Street, where one of the musicians came to visit me. His name was Zoo.