They are asking people not to lick the poisonous toads at National Parks, and it’s kind of a back to the ’60’s moment for me. Yes, I was there. The original “let’s try toasted banana peel with cardamon and pepper” days of experimentation. It was a time of little knowledge, great experimentation, and opportunity. Certain reprehensible memorials to those days remain in my mind.
I was a traditionalist. I tended to stick with more mundane products for getting high and moving into exploratory states of mental enhancement. But at the Folkie Palace, we believed that all suburban “wannabees” deserved their chance to explore the more idiotic fringes of the psychedelic revolution. So Saturday night was the big night for kiddies in from the ‘burbs to hit Beacon Hill and try to be cool. And more than a few wound up at our place on Grove street seeking the hip, cool and memorable experience that only our wall-to-wall mattress Folkie experience could give.
Our spiritual guide, the Monk, would start the action with a reading from some esoteric religious text. Then the Teahead of the August Moon would read dramatically from Ginsburg’s Howl. Then, finally, I’d play guitar through the Doxology, and we’d pass the hat before the spaghetti and meatballs would be served. We had the whole thing rehearsed and divided into segments for ease of performance because it was just a performance we put on for the kids from the suburbs.
At some point in the evening, some pimple-faced 18-year-old would ask if there was any possibility of scoring some drugs. Dead silence would follow. I’d get up, saunter over to the door, open it, and check the hallway. The Canary would do the same with the windows looking out onto Grove street. In turn, we’d whisper, “all clear.” Then the Teahead would wander to the fridge and bring out a cardboard box with four slices of three-day-old pizza. “Five bucks a piece, don’t eat them here.” “But that’s just pizza with some green mold on it!”
The Teahead did his best; I’m exasperated at your stupidity look. ” Hey kid, you ever hear about the poisonous frogs?”, “yeah?”, “Well, you don’t eat the frog, do you? You lick the frog’s back. Well, you don’t eat the mushrooms on the pizza. You get it?”
Slowly it dawned that the mold was a sort of penicillin for the psyche, and the cash got paid.
As the wannabees walked down the street, the Monk hollered from the window, ” don’t be surprised if you get nauseous; it’s part of the experience.
But they were so busy licking pizza that they paid little attention.