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Merry Pranksters


Stashed in: Stanford, Drugs!, Beatles!, Pranks!, 1960s

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The Merry Pranksters were a group of people who formed around American author Ken Kesey in 1964 and sometimes lived communally at his homes in California and Oregon. The group promoted the use of psychedelic drugs. Their motto was Never Trust a Prankster.

Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters are noted for the sociological significance of a lengthy road trip they took in the summer of 1964, traveling across the United States in a psychedelic painted school bus enigmatically and variably labeled "Further" or "Furthur." Their early escapades were chronicled by Tom Wolfe in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Wolfe also documents a notorious 1966 trip on Further from Mexico through Houston, stopping to visit Kesey's friend, novelist Larry McMurtry. Kesey was in flight from a drug charge at the time.

Notable members of the group include Kesey's best friend Ken Babbs, Carolyn Garcia, and Neal Cassady. Stewart Brand, Paul Foster, the Grateful Dead, Del Close (then a lighting designer for the Grateful Dead), Wavy Gravy, Paul Krassner, and "Kentucky Fab Five" writers Ed McClanahan and Gurney Norman (who overlapped with Kesey and Babbs as creative writing graduate students at Stanford University) were associated with the group to varying degrees.

I blame Stanford.

Wait, you didn't mention The Who above. Coincidence?

Or was it just the times?

Just the times, and they were a-changin.

50 years later there's nothing nearly so hopeful, optimistic, or revolutionary.

Today we have The Real Housewives' franchise. 

Which is the opposite of hopeful, optimistic, and revolutionary.

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