Dear Dirty America


San Francisco Acid Trip

March 05
17:00 2012

Los Angeles
Credit: William Rafti
(article originally posted at Neuman’s blog, Rants and More)
“Man, Republicans fuckin’ hate this place. I mean HATE it.”
David was speaking to me and I responded but I was consumed by the melty splendor of the scene. High on acid, San Francisco’s Delores Park is in all directions a sight to behold. Every manner of self-identifying hippie, freak, or other social “fringe” element–who in Frisco, it seemed, had conglomerated to form some strong unspoken majority–could be seen filling the park. We descended the path down the hill and into the fray, this after I’d had some trouble in deciding whether to short-cut across train tracks which it seemed to me may have been electrified (they were very clearly not, as soon evidenced to me by a pair of girls sitting on the track, smoking bowls and laughing).
While Tyson and David scanned the area for the people we’d come to meet, I couldn’t register the urgency in finding any one group among so many, and so many interesting ones (to look at, anyway) at that. Shortly after David made an off-hand comment about the word “slacker,” and how he couldn’t help but think it in this place, I observed some men and women slack-lining between palms, the coincidence striking me as extremely hilarious.
“Have NO FEAR, the weed man is here,” a voice boomed out from behind. I turned to see a large, Rasta-looking man toting a cooler filled with marijuana, both edible and smokable I imagined. A sticker on the outside of his makeshift weed-cart read “Happiness is a Warm Brownie,” and taunted me further with a smiley face. Having no need to alter my consciousness further, though, I let the man pass.
Continuing the search of the seemingly huge public space for the group, I followed my friends until we eventually came upon them.
“How did twenty minutes turn into two hours?”
One of the men we’d come to meet asked this question of Tyson, who was hosting David and I for our weekend in San Francisco. Before I bothered to listen to the response, my attention had turned to a pair of majestic-as-hell kites being flown by some manner of hippies (I use the term hippy with overwhelmingly positive connotation) below. Never, even in my childhood, did the sight of a colorful kite sailing on brisk, cool gusts entrance me this way. Suddenly I seemed to understand the appeal. Behind the kites, I began to notice the clouds moving extremely quickly, fractalizing into shapes and patterns very clearly unlike what the standard, non-LSD fueled cloud is capable of. (It should be noted, I suppose, that this was only my second time tripping on acid and my first time having the opportunity to experience it outdoors, the other having occurred in Minnesota in winter.) This was mesmerizing.
I felt a sudden, pressing need to be off my feet. Once seated, it was as if the immense pressure of managing my own carriage had been lifted. But this wasn’t enough, and I soon found myself lying on my back directly upon the ground as if I’d been drawn there, and checking out those sweet-ass clouds again. I verbalized my relief to Tyson and made note of the fact that I was now in the most natural feeling position, and that if I remained there long enough I’d naturally become a part of that place by decomposing into the soil. This was extremely if oddly calming.
A frisbee flew into my field of vision quite near my face and, though not alarming, it did prompt me to sit up and survey once again my surroundings. Swaying, melty trees, floating frisbees, every manner of ball, energetic dogs, unicycles, and more than anything a lot of people made up a very stimulating scene for me to take in that afternoon.
The word eclectic falls laughably short of describing the human landscape I was beholding. While there were identifiable segments scattered among the larger masses, on the whole this was as varied (in terms of age, sexual orientation, and race, at least, if not necessarily political/social leaning) a group of human beings as one is likely to come across.
In noting this fact, something else made itself very clear to me: A lot of these people were exceedingly normal. Yes, there were your homeless folks and your “burnouts,” your traditional hippies aged and young, and the kids who were very clearly fitting certain scenes, but a lot of the people looked like me, and probably like you and the people you hang out with. And we were linked by at least one thing, or so I felt I observed at the time. None of us seemed to give a shit what anyone else, at least outside our immediate friends, was doing. I mean this in a very good way.
Credit: Cary Bass
There seemed an overarching understanding that everyone could do whatever they wanted as long as it wasn’t fucking up anyone else’s day. For this reason, people smoked bowls and joints and bongs freely, people walked around announcing their for-sale supplies of weed, mushrooms, and other substances, and nobody seemed to hassle the kid walking around in his blue bunny-like costume, still dressed-up and X-ed up from last night’s rave. Two female SFPD officers walked through the scene calmly and I had an epiphanous realization that they were there to keep people safe without hassling them. I can’t imagine a safer feeling public place to trip balls.
As strongly and as importantly as anything, I also came to see how this place represented something that fundamentally shattered the ill-bred notion that drugs somehow seem to spark or necessitate violence, or that they could be an inherently negative force. It took a shit on the idea that a normal man or woman can’t go out and melt their face off with some LSD or mushrooms (or whatever else they might like, really) on Saturday and come back and be a productive member of their work team–or society in general–on Monday, if that’s what they choose. The reality was vastly different than what many of us were, and what many are still, taught to believe as children. To me, it solidified my longstanding belief that this type of open mindedness can prevail on a larger scale.
I don’t put San Francisco on any sort of pedestal. I know that, like all major cities and indeed most places in general, some things about it suck. (Parking being one: Eat shit SF if you think you’re getting that $55 for the ticket). But I absolutely do admire it for being probably the most progressive part of the U.S., at least in terms of large-scale acceptance of sexual and drug freedoms. I can only hope this type of higher thinking will eventually pervade the entirety of the national landscape, but until then I’m happy to know personally of at least one park where a guy can relax among a crowd of like-minded folks and watch some serious shit happen in the clouds.

Jeff Neuman is a freelance writer living in LA. Despite his current status as a wage-slave, Jeff is strongly committed to eventually earning the entirety of his income through his writing. He has covered myriad topics as a freelancer and in his personal writing, some of which can be found on his blog, Rants and More, at You can reach Jeff Neuman at:

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