If you ever want to go back & read (most) of my spines you can do so here
will i fall as leaves do?
This is the first piece in my new project with Casey. Follow it, we’ll put up a new one every day.
Damn - a lot has changed since the first post I made four months ago. There are people who might say I’m up-and-coming these days. Thanks Twitter & thanks to you kids reading here too, though I’m pretty sure most of you found me through twit. I am going to post more long form pieces here soon; the next will be a lengthy essay on @brendlewhat ‘s book Radio Fragments.
I shot this:
September 26, 2012
Cake Shop, NYC
“All I Do is Post on the Internet and Sleep” by Steve Roggenbuck (LIVE)
I didn’t think anything enduringly good would come from me dropping acid. I didn’t think anything particularly bad would either, but the good things I had heard were far outweighed by the propaganda from school and television, which waggled annoying pedantic fingers whenever I thought about it. After all, wasn’t acid the stuff that made sitcom camera shots all wavy? Didn’t it make that one guy on Dragnet think he was a chair? “Shit,” I reasoned, “that can’t be good for you”. But I wanted to try it for myself.
Acid, aka LSD, or more properly d-lysergic acid diethylamide, is one of the most powerful psychedelic drugs that exist, and consequently one of the many possible gateways to an ecstatic state. Like many of its relatives in the tryptamine family, it can and will cause seriously altered mind-states, powerful and sometimes unwanted feelings, and varying degrees of visual hallucination. For some, like myself, it plateaus to a position that seems like, and may be, singular clarity of mind, a sense that you can finally see things as they really are. There’s no way to overstate the urgency of that occurrence in the moment, and no real way to express it, but I aim to try:
My acquaintance with psychedelics began with careful research, primarily through Erowid, in my junior year of high school. After reading every piece of information that I could get my hands on, I decided to try LSD, since it, as they described, “is the standard against which all other psychedelics are compared.” When the opportunity arose, I planned to take my acid with a buddy while yet another acted as a sitter, or vigilant sober caretaker, for the two of us. Even if some life-threateningly bad situation did arise, he, in theory, would be able to quell it. Unfortunately, I got nervous whenever I looked at the curiously vivid colors on the little square of paper that had gotten passed off to me in the boys’ bathroom at the high school. But at sitter E’s house, at what I dubbed Trip-Time 0:00(roughly 1 pm) friend D and I looked at each other meaningfully, put our tabs under our tongues, and waited. A minute later we swallowed, and I expected some really crazy shit to start happening. I had a little Oliver Stone’s The Doors-fantasy of hardcore bass pumping and wall-melting, and I waited longingly for it. But it didn’t happen.
“Do you feel any different?”
“Nah, I feel pretty good.”
E giggled, that choking on his own laughter giggle that he’d been doing since I met him in the first grade. He hasn’t changed much, except for the girlfriends, and that’s where we’re going next, it seems.
Time: 0:20 we’re sitting around a table on a fat girl’s porch, an aboveground pool some feet away and untouched. I start to feel a little bit out of it, a little detached and distracted like I just woke up after sleeping way too long. I withdraw into myself a little, lose the words across the table. Threshold effects hit rapidly, from T: 20 to T: 40, and it seems like I’m on the verge of something amazing, like I used to feel on Christmas Eve when I was a little kid. A cheerfulness pervades me, the June air blows just for me and nobody else- E, his girlfriend, Fats, D- none of them seem to see the change.
The change? The wind chimes above the table start to notice, chime chime- in the wind(chime) chime- I see that last one, an effect I read about called synaesthesia, seeing sounds-hearing colors. Whoa, maybe I’m really starting to feel something. Yea! I’m really starting to feel something; it’s a creeping up on you (me!) excited feeling that defies all logic deified. Deified? I can’t be.
“Hey guys…um. Hey. I. Need to, uh. I need to get going. We should- you know, we should if it’s… D, hey, we have… Maybe. Let’s go!”
Everybody looks at me like they have a thousand eyes and I have only one soul to see into. There’s quiet except for the wind chimes. Then I’m happy-chimes!
E makes a smart decision and we’re in his car in seconds, could it be seconds laughter, laughter, and then we’re moving and all of a sudden I feel like I’m sober.
“Wow, that was kind of crazy back there, wasn’t it?”
“Yea. I guess. Are you alright?”
It doesn’t matter who said it because we’re driving again now, and of course I’m all right, and as the wicked warp of wayward sights go past the windows indeed they warp, but it’s fine because I feel like I’m on the edge of forever and I could fall off but I won’t. I can’t. It becomes clear that we’re going to be going for quite a ride, a ride that stretches on and past infinity but really brings us only as far as T: 2:30- but the miraculous is as evident to everybody as the non-miraculous, E behind the wheel and driving as wonderful beautiful as the fact that we’re all out here, driving into the sunlight itself with the cigars. The big cigars, the big big cigars and we’re smiling and passing the blunt, because what is a blunt more than just a cigar with weed in it, as if we’re all of a sudden transported back into the age of robber-barons and we’re moving faster -are we going too f…- of course we’re not because like Carraway to Gatsby it’s the enjoyment of the sight of it all, the feeling, the you get the weed and we’ll all smoke the Ls, the moment of interconnection, we’re all connected me and D and E, and M-R whether he’s there or not and M-S, our fathers before us and the fathers before them, families stretched out farther than time, houses innumerable across worlds destroyed, faces each and all alike, faces peering outward into the future, faces all here and with us, each individual a sestina’s repetition, each repetition a word, every word itself is a problem, but none of us have had any problems, not yet, not to speak of, but they’re all more than spoken of, each word said when it’s said if its said encapsulates the entirety of it, of all of it, of all that came before it from the speaker, the word-maker, the maker of the makers- the celebration, the rapture, the fucking sum total of it all is now but how could I tell myself all this tomorrow, the heartbreak, the tragedy, the stadium?
“Why are we? At the stadium?”
The answer though is lost to the annals of time, and in the time it takes me to get out of the car I move but it’s more than just I am moving, every time I think I’m walking I’m moving the ground like the Modest Mouse song, the song could be playing but I don’t think it’s playing and at the stadium starting to move I feel the most wondrous physical effects of anything at all that could be known about. The infinite expanse of the knowable presents itself in the lightness of my limbs as I walk on behind D and E, my vision no longer truly reflects the old but the true world, my heart shoots out of the parking lot pavement as incandescent bottle rockets of sound that are dually seen and heard, the time is good but as they go I fall behind, as I walk I see that the police are here. The police! The worst of the worst, the fate of my father, my father’s father in their ranks, the opposite of what just happened, the inverse, they are the destroyers of everything and the protectors of nothing, all uniformed blue and white opposites, what could they want? What do they know? How could they know? They’ll know nothing! I’ll walk- I’ll walk away and it’s the opposite of what they’d expect and as the opposite of me how could they stop it?
I dash, dance, detour away and out of the parking lot universe of colors before me, into the geometric patterns that splay for my eyes but also invite them in and I walk on quickly forward but I wonder do they notice but they can’t, they don’t know I was even there since the energy in my legs makes me walk not unlike a flamingo, and flamingos of course are the colors of the things they eat, and I haven’t eaten in quite some time so those colors are nonexistent invisible I’m invisible to them, and as I walk down the street and away I think that I need those colors back, I must eat and drink so the store is the natural destination, as natural to me as the Everglades to the flamingo but as I go I see a roofer say Oh wow I see the words too, they’re blue and tangible sounds that aren’t making roofs, but this guy is putting roof down anyway, how could he?
And there’s the store and I enter with all the trepidation that I had before this all started, before I knew what was what and I had seen the new wonder, but now isn’t before so why should I be worried and I grab the handle it feels so cold stone but it’s metal the colors of stone and metal intermingle before my eyes and the handle doesn’t go anywhere so I pull it, slow slow so the lightness in my veins doesn’t leave and the store cold washes me clean feels so amazing like I’ve been sweating and my heart breaks fucking open as I lay my eyes on the tender inside of the store, the soft warm heart of it, and as I cross the threshold I know it’s become T: 3:00 maybe even beyond it oh my god I’m peaking and this is it this is it something’s different oh my god;
I’m in the eye of the storm.
Suddenly, and with greatest possible acuity, I can see everything as it really is. This store is the depository of all knowledge, condensed like canned milk, each item being sold the key to a different facet of the human experience. I walk and sway in the breeze, the air conditioner breeze I look up and marvel at, but the goal of course is the soda, oh the soda. How interesting these lines of bottled beverages have become, how uncorrupted their knowledge of what things are really like. I realize how unexpected this clarity is, yet not unheralded. William Blake said, in The Marriage of Heaven And Hell, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.” From which Aldous Huxley got his title and beginning for The Doors of Perception, the perennial essay about his experience with mescaline. The doors, as Huxley sees them, are the static mental constructs we’ve each built up that color our view of the world. How differently I view these drinks, for instance, when their functional identity is erased. The possibility of drinking from them excluded, these objects take on brilliantly different meanings. I grab one, but realize what I’m really doing:
I’m just buying a fucking soda. How banal, how lame. Even what I’d done before was, while at the same time celebratory and amazing because of all that had come before, just smoking weed in a car. And it was all just for me. That’s all I can really show for this life- the pleasures of the moment. Fuck. What happens when there’s no weed left? What happens when it all gets boring? What happens when I don’t matter? Will my legacy even find a place in a store like this stupid cola? God, I can do better than this thing.
Timothy Leary, a former Harvard professor, would say that, right now, I am not only freed from my mental constructs, but from myself entirely. In The Psychedelic Experience, he puts forth the argument, in a similar vein to Huxley, that you’re stuck playing the game of you, and only a powerful experience, like a drug trip, can sever you from that game reality.
I think I just got severed, head from shoulders, self from body.
But from that, the horrible illusions of mediocrity, I feel that there must come true redemption. I can still change it all, I can walk right back to the cooler, cold air wobbles or not, and put the soda back. I can change. I will change. The colors bleed. The store is the nexus of realities, knowledge, common storehouse of so much more than is readily apparent. If it can have such duality, why can’t I? I’ll take it all in, take it in stride, take myself to the limits of what is possible. Where Leary messed up, I can succeed-
“To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift, “ said Huxley, and I mean to make it so. I’ve been able to see how pointless I am, I can succeed where Leary failed. I could even go to Harvard and do it in the same place! Yeah! I can do anything in the world right now, I can understand the yellow-mustard-next-to-the-tin-foil problems of this store and myself and the world, and I’ll fix them. Why not? It’s so simple. I’ll succeed!
The drink is bought! Somehow I bust out into the open air by T: 3:30, and like a rocket roller-coaster everything is happening in reverse but going forward, forward forward propelling me on. What sense I had in the store is momentarily lost, lost in the swell of thoughts that never stop but only continue, holding me hostage with scattershot bullets of idea and memory, ideas about every tree on the street every hair on my face every one that I know. Casey!
My love, my reality anchor and my truly sweet one, she who upon arriving home I talk on the phone about every bit of the transformation and the wonder of it all with, all the while flamingo walking for hours and conversely laying down, flamingo walking more and more and more, through time T: 5:00 and into the decline, and like those first people on the planet, I want desperately for her to understand that the stars in the sky are actually constellations, pictures of something more, a manner of speaking. It’s a truly speaking matter this, talking forever and onward, and I take notes notes so I can’t forget it all in the morning, because all this is life changing. How can I go back to seeing everything like I had seen it? Waking up every day tired and without the essential clarity that knowing every thing in its singular beautiful form can create. Can create! I can!
As I come down and off it, after T: 8:00, my thoughts slow down to a normal pace, but the feelings of brightness and urgency remain. I want very much not to lose the feeling, and it seems to me that if I go to sleep, it’ll all be over, my glorious adventure at an end. There’s so much life to live before me, and so much I need to do in order to ensure I get the most out of it. It’s more than that, it’s everything I can do to make sure everybody can get the most out of it, that everybody is able to see the patterns in the stars, not just me. It’s not just me! And it swirls the stars swirl they all swirl as I fall asleep…
 By ecstatic, I mean rapturous, spiritual, and ultimately ineffable-a state goes far beyond what is possible in the day-to-day.
 Not that I was foolish enough to get drugs from an unknown source. I did know the guy, despite the maladroit hand off, and his return from Bonnaroo, an annual musical festival held in Manchester, TN, with an entire sheet was a really big deal. A sheet, by the by, is a relatively large piece of blotter paper separated into roughly a hundred sections, or hits. Each hit is the usual dose amount, roughly 50 to 200 micrograms, or just enough to get high. It retails between $300 and $700, depending on source, quality, and normal market forces.
 A psychedelic phenethylamine.
 Leary was responsible for the disastrous “Turn on, Tune in, Drop out” movement of the 1960s that caused acid to get banned outright in the US. From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turn_on%2C_tune_in%2C_drop_out) - “Leary explained: “’Turn on’ meant activating your neural and genetic equipment. ‘Tune In’ meant interacting harmoniously with the world around you. ‘Drop out’ meant a voluntary detachment from involuntary commitments like school, the military, and corporate employment.” Yeah, as if isolating people is a good idea. Or making a movement all about you, for that matter.
@leyawn’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Beach Dad,” presented at Cool Date, July 10 at Cake Shop
video by Vince Eckert
i shot this