Electric Kool Aid Acid Test Revisited
Over the past year, my renewed interest in The Grateful Dead has inspired me to learn more about the band's history, the band members, and the surrounding culture. A month or so ago, I was looking for a new book to start, and took a look back at our bookshelf, where I encountered The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe.
I read this book originally while a student at The Univ. of Maryland in the early 90's, the height of my 'Deadheadness'. The most interesting thing about re-reading this book was the difference in my perspective then compared to now. Back then, in my early 20's I was a bit more free of mind and spirit. I had an adventurous soul and had very little to tie me down or hold me back. Going to Dead shows back then also gave me a sense first hand of what the days of the Acid Tests were like. In other words, I could relate.
Reading this book now, at the age of 34, with a wife, two kids, a job, a mortgage, a car payment, etc., I naturally had a very different point-of-view reading this. Earlier in the year, I read On The Road for the first time, and thought to myself, 'how could people actually live like this?' The Kool Aid Acid Test the second time around made me wonder the same thing. It may not be all me though, it may be the today's sanitized, pre-packaged culture that makes it much harder for me to relate.
Today, 12 years removed from being 'on the bus', I'm a very different person in a very different world. The beatnik and hippie cultures of the 50's and 60's seem like centuries ago. Both were before my time, but at least I was fortunate enough to get a taste of it in the late 80's-early 90's. Reading these great books brings that spirit back to me once again, an escape to a different time, a different place. I'm starting Garcia: An American Life by Blair Jackson now. I've heard great things about it and will share my thoughts when I'm done (may be a while, I'm not the fastest reader). Yet another escape to another time...