The first time I ever took psychedelic mushrooms was the summer of 1987. I had just graduated high school and change was in the air. I went to my first Grateful Dead concert with Bob Dylan as the headline show. I really wasn’t a Grateful Dead fan or a huge Bob Dylan fan, I liked weed, beer and a great party.
It was a beautiful June day in New Jersey and the concert was at Giants stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, a huge venue which seated about 70000 people. I had been to Giants games and love the tailgate atmosphere, drinking and barbecuing, partying with good friends.
There was about 6 of us driving up in one of our parent’s cars from the Jersey Shore. As soon as we arrived I knew the circus had come to town. I had heard of people taking LSD and mushrooms and I was fascinated and scared at the same time. I had read accounts of life changing experiences and some stories of life ending experiences, that was the scary part. I was a good kid, 18 years old and I had a good head on my shoulders, I knew I was going to be OK and not try and fly of the top of the stadium with imaginary wings.
We started drinking and had some pot, but I was restless, I felt a vibe like I had never felt, a feeling of being on the outside looking in and I wanted to be on the inside looking out or turning my insides out, at least in my head. I was ready for a trip.
After getting a good buzz on, I went on a solo mission to find the Food of the Gods. It didn’t take long, I saw a small group of people around a VW bus. I approached and a few hippies were opening a closing a few large coolers, in one was a huge stash of some of the best marijuana I ever smoked, I bought one of those, in the other, bags of golden brown dried shrooms, I bought one of those. With goods in hand, I returned to the tribe with my treasure.
My friends were ecstatic, the three of us split up a quarter ounce of the beautiful Oregon Gold caps. They tasted like old cardboard, whatever that tastes like, washed it down with beer, smoked a bowl of the great bud and prepared for whatever was next. We through a frisbee around the parking lot, ate some food, listened to music and watched the freaks wander around.
Within a half hour, I was feeling a little nauseous, but nothing bad. I was preoccupied with this crazy subculture I had never experiences. Beautiful women in tie dies, homegrown vendors selling everything from bracelets, t-shirt, burritos, brownies, and many lost kids looking for their friends. I was enamored with some of the girls, with their blond hair and golden skin, I was becoming more intrigued with these Nymphs of the Parking Lot. I was also becoming fascinated with the ordinary. Like Brad Pitt’s character Louis, the freshman vampire in Interview with the Vampire, when he has left his mortal body and sees the world through a new vampire’s eyes, everything took on a beauty that I had never witnessed. Colors became more colorful, complex patterns emerged in ordinary objects, sounds echoed in a new Dolby stereo system in my head. A simple laugh reverberated into many long chuckles. What was so funny? Everything!
It was like watching Star Wars for the first time and leaving the theater with my mouth open, knowing that there was more to life than this world. I was now in a different universe.
The parking lot was getting a little less crowded and people starting moving for the entrance gates. My one friend managed to crumple his ticket into something unrecognizable, I am pretty sure he was eating it. I had a small panic attack that he wouldn’t be able to get in with this shred of paper, but it didn’t mattered at all, the gates were open and they never even checked the tickets! My anxiety was increasing as I left the safety of the parking lot and joined thousands of other concert goers in the stadium. We watched the music, which sounded pretty cool, but what was more amazing was walking around the stadium watching the dancing freaks. Everything seemed to be in synch. I couldn’t believe life had this fantastic under current, a language so new and true, everything made sense. I saw someone dancing in a puddle, the drops shot up in the air and I was amazed at how the water lined up in perfect geometrical patterns just for me.
My new found love for everything in life was enhanced even more by the insane laughter.
Everything was funny, non stop laughing, buckled over with belly laughs. I thought I was going to die because I couldn’t stop laughing, it wouldn’t go away. I don’t remember all of the concert, it was hours long, but seemed to go by in a flash. I rolled joint after joint of the weed I had and it was amazing to see the smoke I blew out of my body. I looked up at the moon, it was red and there was a smaller moon underneath it, this was definitely a Star Wars universe. My friend seemed to see the same hallucinations that I did, which I will never understand, how can multiple people see the same hallucinations.
It was like being in a dream, a great dream. I don’t remember leaving the stadium for the parking lot, but the party continued. I wasn’t hallucinating as much and my buzz was wearing off, but my friends and I couldn’t stop laughing. We were a little exhausted from the journey we had just experienced, but it was the most life changing event I had ever known and I wanted to keep talking about it. As we were dropped off at home by our friend who didn’t take shrooms, I felt that I would never be the same again and that turned out to be true. In all my psychedelic trips after, nothing was a good as that first time. Bob Dylan and the Dead, Summer of ’87.