In the late 1950's,
a promising young graduate from the University of Oregon was
accepted into a Stanford writing fellowship along with other
future novelists. While there, a friend suggested earning
extra cash by participating in some experiments involving chemicals
at the psych department of the college. Being an athlete, Ken
was the perfect guinea pig for testing these chemicals, which
included psilocybin, mescaline and LSD. Needless to say, Kesey
was very affected by these mind-altering drugs. During a part-time
orderly job at the psychiatric ward of the local VA hospital,
while still feeling the effects of these chemicals, he began
to have hallucinations. He envisioned an Indian sweeping the
floors; it was just what had been missing for his current writing
project. His new novel needed a narrator to keep the story in
third person and "Chief Broom" became the vital ingredient
for his new novel, "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest."
Ken began throwing parties on
campus at the little bohemian comunity he lived in called Perry
Lane. Soon these parties became well known for their wild nature
and certain chemicals that were mysteriously finding their way
into the punch. Before long these parties were attracting
too much attention, and Ken, with the money from his new novel,
bought a cottage in the mountains by a small town called La Honda.
He moved to this new home with his wife, Faye, and his three
children. Eventually the parties started up again in this mountain
hideaway with his friends, who had become known as the "Merry
Pranksters". In the summer of 1964, Ken bought a 1939 International
Harvester school bus to drive him and the Pranksters to New York
to see the World's Fair. They painted the bus with brooms, mops,
spray, splash and feet. Eventually the bus was fully psychedelic
and equipped with sound systems, platforms on top and, added
to the rear, turrets to climb up and down from the top platform,
a windshield on top to break the wind and a generator on the
back to power their equipment. The word "Further" was
painted on the destination shield to show thier confidence in
the old bus. They recruited Neal Cassady (from Jack Kerouac's On The Road) to be the driver of "Further".
Ken decided that this bus trip was going to be worthy of a movie,
so they bought some 16mm film equipment and striped outfits for
the crew to wear.
The bus trip to New York and back was a big success with a lot
of drama archived on film. Back at La Honda the crew continued
their parties, showing clips of the trip to the chemically induced
audience. Soon they realized that the "party" was too
big for the house. They began to put together "happenings"
at local halls, with sound effects hooked up to microphones,
light shows, film, costumes, strobes, and any other weirdness
the could find. A local struggling band known as the "Warlocks"
joined in with their Psychedelic-Blues; later they changed their
name to the Grateful Dead. The Pranksters put up posters around
town telling of these "Acid Tests," but the time and
location were kept secret until the last moment. These Acid Tests
would be a bombardment of sight and sound that were enhanced
by a big garbage can full of "Electric Kool-Aid."
Eventually the govenment decided to make LSD illegal and Ken
and the Pranksters fled to Mexico. After coming back to the U.S.
to do one last performance, known as the "Acid Test Graduation,"
Ken and a few others were busted on a marijuana charge. Upon
release from jail, Ken moved to a farm in Pleasant Hill, Oregon,
"settled down," and raised his family there.