*




Prologue: Caged










(February 19, 1969)
-

Caged.

I was caged.

Then, I was driven.

Driven to Cherokee.

A hazy memory of riding caged in the back of a police car.



Two shadows in the front seat, the county sheriff and a female escort.

Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” buzzing from a tinny transistor radio.

Outside, the Iowa landscape bleak:



Cloudy and cold, condensation and frost riming the windows, piles of dirty snow dotting the countryside.

I, cargo.

Destination: Cherokee’s other place, the outline on the hill.

Shifting, crossing my legs…

Please, can we stop?

Hot and steamy inside.



Shivering, my teeth rattling.

Please…I have to go!

Hear something, George?

Naw, nothin’ important.


Laughter.

Cargo has no voice.

Madness has no voice.

Listen, crazy girl…

Two voices: We have come to take you away, ha, ha…

“I’m crazy, crazy…”

Fragments, crazy-quilt impressions, acid flashbacks…

I, crazy?



* * * * *

From I, Driven: a memoir of involuntary commitment ("Prologue")


© 2008-2010, by Jennifer Semple Siegel

Excerpt may not be used or copied without author’s permission.

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Additional excerpts, out takes, and new essays


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Most Recent Post


*

Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Text--LSD: Effects, Flashbacks, and "Fractal Patterning"

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Thursday, October 24, 1968

Congress passed Public Law 90-639, also known as the Staggers-Dodd Bill, increasing penalties for the illicit manufacture and distribution of three classes of drugs to a fine up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment up to five years. Manufacturing and distributing illicit stimulants, depressants, and/or hallucinogens was now a felony, under this new law (DrugLibrary.com).

Before this 1968 legislation, under the Drug Abuse Control Amendments (DACA) of 1965, manufacture and sale were regarded as misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail or $1,000 fine, or both; however, before this law, no penalty was imposed for the personal use of LSD, for use by members of the household, or for administration to animals belonging to the household. The manner in which the drug was acquired did not affect the legality of its possession, except in California (DrugLibrary.org), where on October 6, 1966, personal use of LSD had been criminalized (Levity.com).

The popular media had continued to portray horrors allegedly associated with “acid” and “bad trips,” pressuring President Johnson to press for strengthening ineffectual drug laws. When the 90th Congress convened early in 1968, the White House warned that this newest category of drugs “threaten(s) our nation’s health, vitality, and self-respect,” and declared that law enforcement efforts were hampered because penalties for LSD transactions were too low. So Congress responded by enacting Public Law 90-639 (rhodium.ws).


I arrived on the drug scene late in the game; I had missed the loopy 1967 Summer of Love (I was only 16 then) and the early "Magic Bus" days when drug possession was a misdemeanor.

*

But I made up for lost time: in early December 1968, I moved into 2001 Ivar Street, Apartment #12, with Stoney, a hardcore drug user and dealer.

He had borrowed a truck from a friend, and we transported my meager belongings, mostly clothes and records, into the apartment complex filled with hippies, drug dealers, and prostitutes.

Stoney’s drug use escalated; he would often drop several tabs of acid at once, and he started shooting up heroin. I was quite frightened when he picked up three speed freaks from the street and invited them to the apartment, where they stayed for about a week.

Stoney continued using hard drugs. For the next few weeks, we all partied hard, but I was beginning to have misgivings about all the drugs; I was scared for Stoney, that he was going to OD and die, leaving me alone in an apartment filled with grass, LSD, Bennies, and heroin (which I refused to use).

Also, he invited more unsavory users to crash at the apartment; these new creeps were beyond hippiedom and into hardcore drugs.

These were men who would kill for their dope.

I began experiencing some strange trips--if not exactly bad ones--the flashbacks scary and unpredictable. The loss of control frightened me; the idea that once an acid trip was over, it was over, proved to be false.

In fact, for five years after my last trip, I would experience flashbacks, which eventually lessened into glimpses of "fractal patterning" of ordinary objects (more on this later).

Even without knowing about the specific dangers of taking LSD, I decided, on my own, to stop using. I had good reason: lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), discovered in 1938, is one the most powerful mood-changing hallucinogens. The drug is manufactured from lysergic acid, found on the ergot fungus, which grows on grains. As of 2003, LSD samples gathered from the street range from 20-80 micrograms per dose, but the 1960's-1970's dosage ranged from 100-200 micrograms. Quality control, always problematic with illicit drugs, was particularly iffy in the late 1960's; dropping acid just once involved risking a psychotic break or overdose. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), LSD is unpredictable:
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2001: A Space Odyssey with Pink Floyd--"One of These Days"



fredy3
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[Effects] depend on the amount taken; the user’s personality, mood, and expectations; and the surroundings in which the drug is used. Usually, the user feels the first effects of the drug 30 to 90 minutes after taking it. The physical effects include dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and tremors.

Sensations and feelings change much more dramatically than the physical signs. The user may feel several different emotions at once or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. If taken in a large enough dose, the drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations. The user’s sense of time and self changes. Sensations may seem to “cross over,” giving the user the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds. These changes can be frightening and can cause panic.

Users refer to their experience with LSD as a “trip” and to acute adverse reactions as a “bad trip.” These experiences are long–typically they begin to clear after about 12 hours.

Some LSD users experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings, fear of losing control, fear of insanity and death, and despair while using LSD. Some fatal accidents have occurred during states of LSD intoxication.

Many LSD users experience flashbacks, recurrence of certain aspects of a person’s experience, without the user having taken the drug again. A flashback occurs suddenly, often without warning, and may occur within a few days or more than a year after LSD use. Flashbacks usually occur in people who use hallucinogens chronically or have an underlying personality problem; however, otherwise healthy people who use LSD occasionally may also have flashbacks. Bad trips and flashbacks are only part of the risks of LSD use. LSD users may manifest relatively long-lasting psychoses, such as schizophrenia or severe depression. It is difficult to determine the extent and mechanism of the LSD involvement in these illnesses.
Although I had never experienced a truly “bad trip,” I had felt, during my trips, flashes of paranoia.


I had heard about the anecdotal accounts of users jumping out of windows because “God told them to” and getting into accidents because of impaired state.

Also, there were rumors of possible chromosome damage to the reproductive system, resulting in birth defects. According to Healthatoz.com, LSD has been “associated with arm and leg abnormalities and central nervous system problems in infants.”

However, these findings are inconclusive because other factors can contribute to birth defects, such as other illicit drugs, poor nutrition, and lack of prenatal care, often associated with chronic drug abusers (Healthatoz.com).

I was aware of possible chromosome damage to any future children. In mid-April (1969), just before my release from the mental institution, I wrote to Jeff,

I don’t believe that bullshit about acid wrecking chromosomes, and even if it were true, neither of us have dropped enough acid to make any great physical changes.
If these factors were not enough to make me stop using LSD, a life-changing event on New Year’s Eve, 1968, would inform the way I saw the world and also set me on a path of sobriety, in terms of drug use. Faced with two choices that fateful night, I had no way of knowing which was the right choice.

Several years would pass before I could appreciate the metaphysical qualities of choosing one split-second act over another and how each would have taken me in diametrically opposed directions, perhaps, in one instance, permanent injury or even death. Although I have fictionalized this event in my short story collection, I have decided to include the true account in the memoir.

Even after that New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, I still loved Stoney and wanted to work at our relationship. He was my first serious boyfriend, my first consensual sexual relationship.

Then Stoney pulled himself together and announced that he was going to New York to sell 500 tabs of acid at a huge profit.

I was devastated.

At that time, LSD was fairly cheap on the west coast, but expensive in the east.

He sewed the 500 tabs into the lining of his coat, and kissed her goodbye. “I’ll see you in two weeks.”

I never saw him again.

In a chain of fast-moving events, I left Hollywood; returned to Sioux City, Iowa (at my grandfather's urging); and ended up in the Cherokee Mental Health Hospital in Iowa.

Even after I decided to quit, my relationship with LSD (acid) was complicated: I both loved and hated it and vacillated between wanting to use again and being repelled by the very idea (my last trip had been in late December 1968).

I understood that street acid was a risky and dicey proposition and that I needed to avoid its further use, but I was intrigued with the possibility of using it under a controlled situation or even creating a "drugless-induced" acid experience. In late February 1969, while I was in Cherokee, I wrote the following:

Acid, under the right conditions and dosage, might be an outasite experience, with an expert, like Timothy Leary, watching over you and monitoring your trip so that you don’t take a wrong turn. But no more street acid–ever. I like everything about the hippie life except the drugs; maybe there’s a way to create a commune without drugs, just the beauty of love and nature. Or maybe there’s a way to recreate the psychedelic experience with music, colorful posters, black lights, and Strobes. Maybe Jeff [Brown, my new boyfriend and future husband] and I can set up a “psychedelic room” in our apartment.
Yet in March 1969, I wrote,

The flashbacks are getting worse; I don’t dig them any more--I feel so helpless when they just pop up. It’s like having a nosy aunt coming to visit, and she’s the last person in the world you want to stop by unannounced. A friend here knows someone who can give me some Thorazine, to help bring me down, but I don’t want to mess with any kind of drug, legal or illegal--especially illegal. Too scary. If I got caught with an non-prescribed drug, I would never get out of here--they might as well throw me into the rubber room with Carrie [another Cherokee patient]. I used to think acid offered some insights and opportunities for self-discovery, but I think that’s just a myth, at least when you use street acid. Maybe in controlled circumstances, a shrink close by and the right setting, but, even then, it’s risky.
I also had a natural aversion to psychiatric drugs; my research reveals that I had reason to be wary, for mental institutions were still places were problematic people were warehoused and routinely drugged. In 1954, the drug Thorazine, a drug mentioned by my street friends and other Cherokee patients, was embraced by mental hospitals all over the world because of its profound tranquilizing effects (Psychiatric Drugs: Thorazine).

Other drugs prescribed then included antidepressants, such as iproniazid (an MAOI developed in 1956), imipramine (a tricylcic anti-depressant), valproic acid and carbamazepine (both mood stablizers), and ibogaine (for withdrawal symptoms). Lithium, of course, was an old standby (Psychiatric Drug).

Dr. Mariano Favis, my psychiatrist, agreed, at my request, not to prescribe any drugs; perhaps he had already come to that conclusion himself, given that I had been designated as a “screening center patient” (which I did not know at the time).

My hospital records suggest a fairly normal 18-year-old girl with some self-image problems and anger issues, but not someone who would benefit from the psychiatric drugs of the day.

A few days later, I complained that my flashbacks were getting worse:

They're driving me nuts. Last night, I just gave up and went to bed early. Felt better this morning. I asked Dr. Favis about the possibility of taking Thorazine, just to “eliminate the LSD from my body.”

“You don’t need it–you’re handling the flashbacks very well,” he said. “Besides, you’re the one who wanted to avoid all drugs.”

He’s right, of course; we made a deal that I would do this without psychiatric drugs.
In a late March 1969 letter, Jeff encouraged me to continue finding my bliss without acid:

...Acid destroys everything and holds the mind supreme. You destroyed acid--so you must want something tangible to cling to. Obviously, you do not want to live for your mind alone--something must be held higher or equal to your mind.

Dope gives you a world that is yours to command. You, and no one else, can share it. If you would want to enter the world of others, you must give, also, of your own private world. Yet you must keep some of it to yourself.
In early April 1969, I wrote:

...Acid does not make you smarter than you already are--it just fucks you up--and, as for insights? I don’t know. Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey seem to think acid can enhance your view on the world, but I don’t think they were talking about street acid.


Earlier I mentioned "Fractal Patterning," which is a way of viewing ordinary objects and surfaces as geometrics. LSD seems to enhance this ability to see geometric patterns in ordinary objects. For example, for about five years after dropping my last tab of acid, I could look into a bowl of sugar and see shimmering snowflake and other geometric patterns.



For the first year or so, I would often see colorful paisleys and amoebas floating by. When I gave birth to my son 18 months after my last trip, the anesthesia caused me to hallucinate a bright yellow wash of color with huge purple floating dots.

Even now, almost four decades later, if I concentrate hard, I can still conjure up a pattern in certain surfaces (snow and sugar mostly).

This suggests that LSD use can result in permanent neural changes (although I'm not a scientist and have done no formal experiments). I hesitate to call it "neural damage" because I'm not in any way impaired (though some past LSD users may have been).

Also, I have experienced synesthesia (letter/number and color pairing) my entire life, so I may be prone to seeing patterns anyway. Or I may have been naturally attracted to hallucinogens because of wanting to enhance the synesthesia experience. I can't say for sure because I don't remember not being a synesthete.

I'm always curious if other past LSD users have experienced continuing flashbacks and/or "fractal patterning."

Feel free to post a comment.

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Copyright 2008, Jennifer Semple Siegel.

Text may not be reposted or republished without permission from author.


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*

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

News Clip--October 10, 1968: The Catonsville Nine Found Guilty of Burning 10,000 Selective Service Files

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The Rev. Philip Berrigan pouring blood on draft records at Selective Service headquarters to protest the "pitiful waste of American and Vietnamese blood" in Southeast Asia. (AP/Wide World Photos.)
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All nine members of The Catonsville Nine, a group of Catholic activists against the Vietnam War, were found guilty today of storming a Baltimore (Maryland) suburb Selective Service Office and burning over 10,000 files.

During the trial, which started on October 5,
Philip Berrigan testified that his moral opposition to the Vietnam War led him to participate in the Catonsville incident:

"We have been accused of arrogance, but what of the fantastic arrogance of our leaders? What of their crimes against the people, the poor and the powerless? Still, no court will try them, no jail will receive them. They live in righteousness. They will die in honor. For them we have one message, for those in whose manicured hands the power of the land lies. We say to them: lead us. Lead us in justice and there will be no need to break the law."

After less than two hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of guilty against the nine defendants. Philip Berrigan and another defendant were sentenced to 3½ years in prison, Daniel Berrigan and two other defendants were sentenced to three years in prison, and the remaining four defendants received two-year sentences.

U.S. v. Berrigan: 1968 - Philip And Daniel Berrigan Stand Trial
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The Catonsville Nine: Homemade Napalm and Fire



On May 17, 1968, nine people walked into a Selective Service Office, took hundreds of draft files from a cabinet, took them outside, doused them with homemade napalm and burned them in the name of peace.

jakem0545
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The Catonsville Nine (Photos and Profiles):
Philip Berrigan
Daniel Berrigan
David Darst
John Hogan
Tom Lewis
Marjorie Melville
Thomas Melville
George Mische
Mary Moylan
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News Clip--October 9, 1968: John Lennon's Birthday

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Beatle John Lennon turns 28 today.

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"All You Need is Love"

brmonica

In this recording session of "All You Need is Love," John Lennon, lead singer, is accompanied by a full orchestra, in front of a small audience.

Don't blink, though; otherwise, you'll miss a glimpse of a young (and already famous) Mick Jagger grooving.


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News Clip--October 8, 1968: Paramount Pictures Releases Romeo and Juliet

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Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet is released today by Paramount Pictures. A drama/romance, this film stars Leonard Whiting, Olivia Hussey, John McEnery, Milo O'Shea, Robert Stephens, and Michael York. More

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Romeo and Juliet Movie Trailer



madameblue
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News Clip--October 7, 1968: New Movie Rating System

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Motion Picture Association of America adopts film rating system, ranging from “G” to “X.” More
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A Tribute to Jack Valenti, creator of the Motion Picture Association of America's Rating System



scanlonia
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News Clip--October 6, 1968: First Anniversary of a Mock Funeral Noted and Homosexual Minister Holds First Worship Service

*
A year ago today, Haight-Ashbury hippies threw a funeral to mark the end of hippies.
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"San Francisco" (Scott McKenzie)



trevnasty

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On October 6, 1967 dozens of mourners gathered in the panhandle of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco to mark the death of Hippie, an imaginary character killed off by overexposure and rampant commercialism. A broadside distributed at the event stated, "H/Ashbury was portioned to us by Media-Police and the tourists came to the Zoo to see the captive animals and we growled fiercely behind the bars we accepted and now we are no longer hippies and never were." More

and

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Call Me Troy Movie Trailer



Tragoidia

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Rev. Troy Perry held the first worship service today of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC), a congregation made up of homosexuals. Twelve worshipers gathered in his home in Huntington Park, California, at 1:30 p.m. A confrontation last summer between the L.A.P.D. and some men at The Patch, a homosexual dance bar in Wilmington, across the river from Long Beach and south of Los Angeles, prompted Rev. Perry to start his ministry.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Excerpt--New Year's Eve, 1968: "Fire"

*


Fire

I am the god of hell fire, and I bring you

Fire, I’ll take you to burn

Fire, I’ll take you to learn

I’ll see you burn...

–The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

(Hollywood, California)

The window opens to the freeway. As the sun slips behind a hill, I lean forward and breathe in. The air, still unseasonably warm, foreshadows a chill, the specter of the diminishing year only hours away.

2001 Ivar Street, our space odyssey.

A drab, stucco apartment building next to the freeway, end of the line for a few acid heads, speed freaks, heroin addicts, prostitutes, and crazies with guns. At first, living here was kind of fun, but now I’m tired of dealing with these marginal people.

I’m scared. I’m afraid of getting killed by Rudy, an old freak with no front teeth; he lives downstairs and always packs an iron in his bell bottoms. I’m afraid Tessa, that spade chick a few doors from Rudy, will end up stabbed or shot to death. I’ve never seen so many mean-looking dudes going in and out of the apartment next to hers. Tessa’s so strait-laced, and those creeps bug the hell out of her, pounding on her door, baiting her. Maybe I shouldn’t care what happens to her, but I do. I’m not that stoned.

Death is too final, too real.

I’m so tired; I drop five bennies, just to get pumped up for the New Year.

Ever since he dropped yesterday, Stoney’s been acting weird. Thirteen tabs of STP. I thought he was going die; he slipped into unconsciousness, face twitching like an epileptic’s, head puffed out like a balloon. I was afraid to call the ambulance, there was so much dope in the place–still is–so I watched until he opened his eyes. I can’t put my finger on it, but he hasn’t been the same since. He keeps talking weird shit, like spreading his wings and flying out our second-story window.

He scares me.

*

There’s going be a big blowout at the Mission Hotel tonight. Free dope. You name it, someone’ll have it. As we leave for the party, Stoney’s face is still puffy, his eyes dull. Like, maybe his brain was sucked out of his head–like a yolk from its shell. We haven’t made love in days, and at first, we made love all the time. My first time, three weeks ago; imagine, an 18-year-old virgin. At first, I thought Stoney loved me, he wanted me all the time. Then he started shooting Horse and dropping tons of acid and whatever else he could get his hands on. It doesn’t matter what he drinks, smokes, drops, snorts, or shoots, just so he’s on another plane. Now just another broken down freak, gone out of control. He zips up his jeans.

We’re through.

“What’s going to become of us?” I ask.

He looks up at me, his eyes half closed, mouth hanging open, drool running down the corners. “Huh?”

I want to throw up.

Maybe I’ll meet some friends at the party–too bad Jeff’s not here, but maybe Eleanor or Mel will be there. I could use a good friend now, a shoulder to cry on.

I can’t depend on Stoney anymore.

*

We hitch a ride to the Mission Hotel. A straight couple from San Jose picks us up. The wife tries luring me away from Stoney, promising me a hot meal and warm bed, salvation. Sure. Like I really want to spend New Year’s Eve with Perry Como and his old lady. She assumes I’m 14; if I keep my mouth shut, maybe she’ll give me some bread.

Just before we hop out of the car, the woman does slip me a twenty.

“Get yourself some help,” she whispers.

I stash the money into my pocket and calculate how much weed it’ll buy.

(The Mission Hotel, Los Angeles)

The Mission’s a joint, but it’s happening tonight. Every room’s filled with at least four people. The two-dollar rooms are five bucks ‘cause of New Year’s, but we know just about every freak here. I’ll find a place to party and crash.

Stoney’s on his own.

On the first floor, we stop off in a room; heroin addicts shoot up. As Stoney ties off a rubber strap around his arm, makes a fist, and taps for a vein, I leave. He’ll be out for the rest of the night. I go from room to room, taking a toke here and a toke there, keeping my eyes open for familiar faces.

On the second floor, I find Mel, Eleanor, and Julius Caesar, an old freak decked out in a Roman soldier costume appropriated from 20th Century Fox.

We sit on the bed, rapping. I admit I’m sick and tired of all the dope and heroin addicts crashing at the pad; I just want to go home, maybe even back to Iowa…

*

We’re still rapping as smoke fills the room–I start coughing and gagging.

The damn place is on fire!

“Let’s get out of here!” I scream at Mel, Eleanor, and Caesar as they disappear into the smoke.“Where are you? Help me, I’ve gotta get out!”

Just a chorus of screams.

Somewhere, I find my last bit of strength; I jump off the bed and run blindly around the room. But I can’t see anything now; the room is dense with stinging smoke.

I’ve got to get out!

I stick my head out the window and take a deep breath. The clammy air feels good, but fires spread fast, like that Chicago fire that killed 99 school kids when I was seven. Firefighters found the little kids, dead and stiff in their desks, still holding pencils above charred pieces of paper; will they find my charred body in this room, stretched out on this grungy bed?

I don’t want to die! Will I have to jump?

The concrete slab below looks far away. How many bones will I break? Could I even die?

People scream and cry as they grope their way through the hallway. I start out the window, but halfway out, something clicks–maybe that guardian angel I’ve forgotten–

I’ll take my chances in the hall. As I grope for the door, I trip over Caesar. I kick him. “Get the hell up!”

He groans and raises himself up, so I figure he’ll be okay, and why should I care anyway?

My so-called friends left me here to die.

In the hall, blinded by smoke, I drag my fingertips along the wall as I navigate toward the stairs; I can’t get air into my lungs. Stumbling down the stairs, I hold my breath. The walls don’t feel hot.

Where are the flames?

Suddenly, I’m outside; I can’t get enough of the cold L.A. air into my lungs, and my chest heaves back and forth. My lungs, hurting like hell, fill with air; I hack and cough, and everyone’s coughing up their guts. On the street, Stoney is passed out, flat on his back, and–

Oh-my-God-he’s-dead!

–But he moans. Caesar, Eleanor, and Mel stand over him, cajoling him to get up–how did he get out, drugged up like that?

“You made it,” Eleanor says–as if my escape were of minor consequence.

Cops, hundreds of them in gas masks, rush into the Mission Hotel, their guns drawn.

“What the fuck?”

The Preacher Man, who, an hour ago, was shooting up heroin with Stoney, says, “Tear gas, Jennifer. A goddam police raid. Can you imagine such stupid shit?”

I’m relieved no one’s burned up, but then I’m goddam pissed off because of the window. I would’ve jumped out the goddam window, the goddam fucking window....

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Excerpt Copyright 2008, Jennifer Semple Siegel

Text may not be republished or reposted without author's permission.


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Memoir Madness: driven to involuntary commitment (Summary)

*

Christmas Eve, 1968: Apollo 8 orbits the moon. Apollo’s astronauts broadcast a Christmas message to earth, a passage from Genesis.

Eighteen-year-old Jennifer L. Semple embarks on a different kind of odyssey: tripping on LSD with her boyfriend Stoney, the teenager begins her remarkable journey at The Crystal Ship, a head shop near Hollywood, California, and ends with her fleeing Iowa, after her conditional release from the Cherokee Mental Health Institute in Cherokee, Iowa.

“I was driven to Cherokee,” the author says, referring to a northwest Iowa regionalism synonymous with being committed to a mental institution.

Her real-life story begins on the steamy streets of Hollywood, where heads, hippies, drug dealers, freaks, strippers, groupies, college students, Jesus Freaks, counterculture gurus, drag queens, rock stars and wannabe rocksters, svengalis, and con artists converge during one of the most volatile periods in our history.

The story continues with Jennifer’s involuntary commitment to Cherokee, where she is introduced to a world of archaic psychiatric treatments, doctors, psychologists, social workers, and hospital staff.

Jeff Brown, January 1969
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She corresponds with Jeff Brown, a new boyfriend, and also interacts with other patients: Wolfie, a psychopath who preys on other patients; Penny, a 17-year-old unwed mother; Carrie, a teen cutter with strange obsessions about rats; Joyce, a young married mother enthralled with “10 ways of suicide”; and D.J., a 42-year-old mentally challenged man and 25 year resident of Cherokee, among others.


Finally, released from the institution, she flees Iowa, escaping to York, Pennsylvania, where Jeff awaits her.

As the teenager narrates her story, 53-year-old Jennifer, seeking another kind of release, returns to Cherokee, this time voluntarily and as a visitor.

_____________________________________________________

Text is copyright 2008, Jennifer Semple Siegel

Text may not be reposted or republished without author's permission.
_____________________________________________________


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*

Monday, July 21, 2008

Excerpt--October 5, 1968: "Wallich's Music City and Eleanor's Radio"

*

WGDY Top Ten

1. Hey Jude/Revolution, Beatles (1)

2. Harper Valley P.T.A., Jeannie C. Riley (2)

3. Fire, Crazy World of Arthur Brown (5)

4. Midnight Confessions, Grass Roots (9)

5. I've Got to Get a Message to You, Bee Gees (6)

6. Time Has Come Today, Chambers Bros. (13)

7. Indian Reservation, Don Fardon (7)

8. Girl Watcher, O’Kaysions (11)

9. Little Green Apples, O.C. Smith (8)

10. On the Road Again, Canned Heat (4)

*

It was after eight, a crisp evening, and Rick was still missing.

Damn him . A total jerk.

I kicked at the ground, scuffing my shoes on the pavement. If he weren’t so cute...

“Hey, Eleanor, would you turn up your radio?” From my left, a male voice, not too deep, with a funny accent I’ve never heard before. I turned; a strange dude sat next to me, tapping his right foot, left foot on the wall, knee tucked under his chin. A homemade cardboard badge, with “Rent-a-Cop” written in Magic Marker, safety-pinned on his hat. He wore a plaid shirt, denim jacket, and bellbottoms, the outfit worn and ragged, the pants baggy. Long light brown hair, thin and a bit scraggly. Horned-rimmed glasses, thick lenses–probably almost blind without them.

Not too spectacular–not even a good pickup line.

“I’m not Eleanor. She’s my roommate. I’m Jennifer.”

“Oh. Sorry. But could you still turn up your radio?”

“It’s Eleanor’s radio,” I said, turning it up as loud as it would go.

“Hey Jude,” my favorite Beatles song, wafted out of the speaker.



Paul McCartney sings like an angel, and I don’t care if the lyrics are about shooting heroin, as some people seem to think.

“That’s why I thought you were Eleanor. I recognized the radio.” A kind smile, showing perfectly white teeth, but one front tooth slightly overlapping the other. He looked older, about 25. “So you’re Jennifer. I should have looked at the chick, not the radio.”

“That’s okay.”

“No, not okay. Sorry about the mistaken identity. Call me ‘Virgil,’ but my real name is ‘Jeff.’” Maybe not so strange and definitely not a pervert. On the street, one never knows.

“Well, then. I’d better call you Virgil, because my family and friends back home call me ‘Jeff’ all the time. It’s been my nickname forever.”

He laughed. “So how does a girl get a boy’s nickname?”

“My cousin couldn’t say ‘Jennifer’; he called me ‘Jeffer,’ which got shortened to ‘Jeff.’ So I got stuck with it. How’d you get your nickname?”

“I made it up. I needed a street name, and I’m a Virgo. Seemed logical.”

“I didn’t think you looked like a Virgil.”

“Well, you don’t look like a Jeff, either.”

We both cracked up, laughing at the silliness of it all.

Usually, I feel so awkward when meeting new people, but I felt totally comfortable around this guy.

Rick never showed up, but it didn’t matter; I had a groovy time rapping with Jeff; he was funny and smart. He’s from East Berlin, Pennsylvania, in L.A. only about a month, hitchhiking cross country because he wanted to see the world. Now he was homesick.

His birthday was a few weeks before mine. At first, I didn’t believe he was my age, but he showed me his driver’s license; he seemed so much older, but in a good way, not at all like Establishment. He lived on Hudson Street, where he rented a room from some chick who agreed to give him cheap rent in return for some babysitting. His favorite Beatle album: Sgt. Pepper, but The Magical Mystery Tour followed a close second.

Maybe I’d see him again.

We exchanged phone numbers.

____________________________________


*

News Clip--October 4, 1968: Hewlett-Packard Advertises a Desktop Computer

*

Today’s issue of Science advertises a new type of computer:

“The new Hewlett-Packard 9100A personal computer is ready, willing, and able...to relieve you of waiting to get on the big computer.” The $4,900 device, designed to sit on a desk top, weighs 40 pounds and is equipped with magnetic cards. This machine does scientific calculations.

From Wikipedia:

The Hewlett-Packard 9100A is an early computer/calculator, first appearing in 1968. HP called it a desktop calculator because, as Bill Hewlett said, "If we had called it a computer, it would have been rejected by our customers' computer gurus because it didn't look like an IBM. We therefore decided to call it a calculator, and all such nonsense disappeared." An engineering triumph at the time, the logic circuit was produced without any integrated circuits, the assembly of the CPU having been entirely executed in discrete components. With CRT readout, magnetic card storage, and printer, the price was around $5000.


The 9100A was the first scientific calculator by the modern definition (i.e. trig, log/ln, and exponential functions), and was the beginning of Hewlett-Packard's long history of using reverse Polish notation entry on their calculators.

Wikipedia GNU Free Documentation License

*

*

News Clip--October 3, 1968: U.S. Performs Nuclear Test on Nevada Test Site; The Beatles Record "Savoy Truffle"

*

See Brainy History

and


_________________________________________________________

Footage of Ivy Mike, the First H-Bomb Test



jpnovak

_________________________________________________________



But on a lighter note:


The Beatles record "Savoy Truffle" (2:55), for The White Album.

Recorded: October 3, 1968, at Trident Studios, London, England with overdubs added October 5, 11, and 14, 1968.

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"Savoy Truffle" Video



______________________________________________________________


John Lennon - lead guitar

Paul McCartney - bass guitar

George Harrison - double-tracked lead vocal, lead guitar, organ

Ringo Starr - drums, tambourine

Session musicians - two baritone saxophones, four tenor saxophones

*

*

October 2, 1968: Mexico City Police Fire on Protesting Students, 300-500 Killed

*
True voice of the revolution



Mexico City, October 2, 1968; video by Atticus1975
________________________________________________________

While the media spotlight shone on Europe and the US, hundreds of protesters were massacred on the streets of Mexico. Why is it still the forgotten story of '68?

The great spectacle of 1968, and capitalism's closest shave, came in Paris. The victory, in the end, belonged to Prague. The severity of 1968 in Rome and Berlin begat years of armed insurrection, while in Chicago, flower power grew up and got serious about war in Vietnam. But the bloodbath of 1968, the detonation of a revolutionary battle that rages still, came in a place that many accounts of that year reduce, inexplicably, to a footnote: Mexico.

--------------------More , More , and More

*



*

October 1, 1968: Night of the Living Dead Premieres in Pittsburgh

*

Night of the Living Dead (1968), directed by George Romero, is an independent black-and-white horror film. Early titles were: Monster Flick (draft script) and Night of Anubis and Night of the Flesh Eaters (production). Ben (Duane Jones) and Barbra (Judith O'Dea) are the protagonists of a story about the mysterious reanimation of the recently dead, and their efforts, along with five other people, to survive the night while trapped in a rural Pennsylvania farmhouse.

George Romero produced the film on a $114,000 budget, and after a decade of cinematic re-releases, it grossed some $12 million domestically and $30 million internationally. On its release in 1968, Night of the Living Dead was strongly criticized for its explicit content. In 1999, the Library of Congress registered it to the National Film Registry as a film deemed "historically, culturally or aesthetically important."

Night of the Living Dead had a great impact upon the culture of the Vietnam-era United States, because it is laden with critiques of late-1960s U.S. society; an historian described it as "subversive on many levels". Although it is not the first zombie film, Night of the Living Dead is progenitor of the contemporary "zombie apocalypse" sub-genre of horror film, and it influenced the modern pop-culture zombie archetype. Night of the Living Dead (1968), is the first of five Dead films directed by George Romero, and twice has been remade, as Night of the Living Dead (1990 film), directed by Tom Savini, and as Night of the Living Dead 3D (2006).

(From Wikipedia: GNU Free Documentation License)

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Night of the Living Dead Movie Trailer



ciflimman
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October 1968: Notice in the October Issue of Voice of the Women’s Liberation Movement


NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Tentative plans have been made to hold a national conference of radical women and women’s liberation groups this Fall, near Xmas. This would commemorate the 120th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention which began the first women’s movement in addition to giving us a chance to get together. For more information, write Laya Firestone and Marilyn Webb, c/o The Institute for Policy Studies.

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Gloria Steinem, 1968 Interview



CBCtv
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Monday, July 7, 2008

Excerpt (Chapter 2): Thirteen Tabs

*
-
(December 1968)

Stoney didn’t come home last night. I worry that he’s been busted, so I hunt all over Hollywood and Santa Monica for him. I even check with the fuzz down at L.A. County.

I find him hanging out at The Crystal Ship, flirting with his ex old lady Syndi, she hanging all over him. She’s a skinny chick with short red hair, in a pixie style popular about three years ago, all doe-eyed, and looks about 15. But there’s nothing innocent about her; she’s fucked half of Hollywood, and I wouldn’t put it past her to have another go-round with my old man.

"You better not be screwing that bitch!" I yell.

I shove Syndi away from Stoney.

Stoney pushes me away. "So what if I am?"

We get into a huge argument, right in the shop, and stay at it until he shoves me smack into the wall. I lose my balance; Stoney grabs me, steadying me to my feet.

"Fuck you!" I push him away. "You’re an asshole!" I stomp out of the shop.

I storm back to the pad and sulk–trying to think up things to make his life miserable. I could kill that bastard.

An hour later, he drags himself through the door and apologizes, says he ate some strange mescaline that made him sick; he passed out at the shop and couldn’t move. Says he didn’t fuck Syndi: "No way. Took me months to get rid of her," he says. "Why would I want to reopen up that can of worms?"

I believe him. I still want to sock him, though I’m glad to see him safe. But then he ruins our good karma.

After the bad mescaline, you’d think he’d be a bit reluctant to use any more dope, right? Wrong. He pours those 500 tabs onto the table, counts out 13.

"I wonder what would happen," he says, holding them out in the palm of his hand, "If I dropped every last stinking one of these?"

"I wouldn’t try it," I say. "Probably kill you."

"I’d have one helluva super trip."

"Maybe your last trip."

"The ultimate trip!" Then he pops them into his mouth.

"No!" I try prying open his mouth, but it’s too late–he’s already swallowed the tabs.

He grabs a Coke from the refrigerator and guzzles it. "I’m on my way to the best trip of my life!"

"Oh, shit!" What am I going to do? Call an ambulance? I can’t call an ambulance; there’s too much dope in this place–after the doctors pumped his stomach, we’d each get about 50 years...

Stoney laughs. "Jesus, Jennifer, you’re such a drag."

God damn. If he’s willing to risk his life for the ultimate trip, then who am I to stop him? I’ll stay here, pop some bennies, keep watch on him all night, and if he gets to a critical stage, I’ll get Rudy from downstairs to help me out; he’ll know what to do without ringing in the heat.

Stoney slips into some strange trance-like state; he doesn’t move, but his eyes and muscles twitch like crazy, and his carotid artery looks like it might pop out of his neck. Yet when I put my ear to his chest, his heartbeat sounds regular, though I don’t know exactly what constitutes a normal rhythm. Though his face is puffy and little redder than usual, he doesn’t seem to be dying. He’s even smiling–something cool’s happening in there, so who am I to ruin a perfectly good trip?

Okay, so Stoney blows some circuits; he’s done that already–what’s a few more?

While I watch him, the mail arrives–a letter from Jeff. Cool letters, a bit over my head. But he’s groovy and sensitive–I doubt if he would drop 13 tabs of acid.

God, just look at Stoney–that shit’s got to be eating up his brain cells. Strange. I love him, but I don’t always like him. We don’t do regular things together. Yeah, we drop acid and, sometimes, make love, but he leaves me alone a lot–does his own thing–and, at times, he can be hateful and mean. Then he does stupid crap like dropping 13 tabs. I wish he were more like Jeff, not do so much dope, but some of the time, he’s very sweet and gentle.

Then there’s Jeff...When he was still here, we did a lot of fun stuff together–we laughed and carried on like two kids, ran around the strip.

Haven’t I known him forever?

No, only since October.

_______________________________________________

Chapters 3-7 not posted. Pick up with Chapter 8: Rudy.)

© 2008, by Jennifer Semple Siegel

Excerpts may not be used or copied without author’s permission


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Excerpt (Chapter 2): Decision Time

*

-
(December 1968)

Stoney and I look at a VW van. I found my old savings passbook from Sioux City: cool! I still have $136.14 left. We need two or three hundred yet. If we don’t get the van, then maybe I’ll use the money to visit Big Brother in Pennsylvania.

I love Stoney, but I’m sick of being stoned all the time. If I’m not wired, I’m in a daze, always tired and feeling shitty. And the dope is getting scary; last week, we smoked some grass cured in embalming fluid. I passed out.

No more dropping acid three and four times a week. On Christmas Eve, I almost flipped out on that blue shit; ever since, I’ve been having flashbacks. Having a good time for 12 hours or so is one thing, but freaking out when I haven’t dropped anything is totally scary. It’s freaky when you’re at work and start tripping for no reason.

I’m glad I quit that stupid job–I hate that bank and those stuffy people; I don’t give a fuck about who gets a loan for a Toyota or Ford.

After we look at the van, Stoney drops me off at the apartment and leaves to score some mescaline for New Year’s, says he’ll be back in an hour or so.

John Steinbeck died about a week or so ago, and I just found out. I liked The Grapes of Wrath, even though I had to read it for high school.

__________________________________________________

-
© 2008, by Jennifer Semple Siegel

Excerpts may not be used or copied without author’s permission


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Excerpt (Chapter 2): Funny Little Naked Clowns

*

-
December 1968
-
147:00:42. On December 27, Apollo 8 splashes down in the Pacific Ocean. The U.S.S. Yorktown is on scene for the rescue: the astronauts on board by 12:20 p.m. (EST), the Apollo capsule by 1:20 p.m. (EST).
-
(Hollywood, California)
-
Stoney’s back. He shows me 500 tabs of STP bought from his San Francisco source. I’ve never seen so much acid at one time.

We drop some Blue Cheer–yeah, I am going to put down for good–just one more trip...

Stoney undresses; we try making love, but it just isn’t happening. On the way home, he visited some dealer friends and shot up heroin. God, I hate that stuff. How can anyone enjoy shooting up a drug that makes you stupid? Heroin addicts just lie around, drooling and slurring their words–no fun at all, human door stops, always passed out.

Once the acid kicks in, I no longer care about screwing Stoney–I’m off on my own trip, a bummer...enter the King of Schlock...Slip, slip, slip into Bobby Goldsboro hell, a world of clowns:
-
See the funny little clown
See him laughing as you walk by,
Everybody thinks he’s happy
Cause you never see a tear in his eye.
No one knows he’s crying,
No one knows he’s dying on the inside...

---
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See the Funny Little Clowns (Bobby Goldsboro)



hell0hkitty
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Stoney’s drug dealing friends show up; everyone’s a clown, I’m in a roomful of clowns, red cheeks and noses, white pancaked faces, all in clown costumes, with ruffles around their necks, hands, and feet. Big curled up shoes and psychedelic wigs the color of rainbows, and they’re all singing "See the Funny Little Clown," some cartwheeling all over the place, others balling up bread bags, setting them on fire, and dropping the sizzling balls to the rug.

Smoke and burning plastic fill the air.

Even the naked clowns still wear their shoes, ruffles, and wigs, even as they make love with other clowns...

I’m just a spectator.

_______________________________________________
-
© 2008, by Jennifer Semple Siegel

Excerpts may not be used or copied without author’s permission

-
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Excerpt (Chapter 2): Weed and Seeds

*
-
(December 1968)
-
Still waiting for Stoney, but it’s early yet. I just got up–I slept 14 hours straight. So tired...I just crashed in the middle of writing a letter to Jeff.

I’m going to cut back the dope–wish Stoney would too. He can be difficult, especially when he’s high. He’s careless with his dope, leaving it all over the apartment. The other day, when I picked up a newspaper, weed and seeds fell all over the floor, and I had to pick it all up by hand. What if the cops come? We’d never flush that shit down fast enough.

God, I’m so worried about him–he’s bringing back a lot of acid, hiding it in his coat lining. I think the heat is onto him–it’s only a matter of time before the cops nail him. We might both end up in jail, and that would really freak my grandparents out.

____________________________________________________

© 2008, by Jennifer Semple Siegel

Excerpts may not be used or copied without author’s permission.

_______________________________________________

Excerpt (Chapter 2): Flying Solo

*

-
December 1968
-
Stoney left 45 minutes ago for San Francisco, to score some acid. We decided it would be best if I stayed behind–save money to buy a van.

It’s so cold in here, no heat, no one to keep me warm. I wish I could have gone with Stoney. He says he’ll be back, at the latest, by tomorrow evening.

I can’t wait. I’m so alone; no one’s around anymore. Pam went back to Arizona for the holidays, and Jeff split weeks ago. Why did Big Brother Jeff just up and leave? Not even a goodbye kiss. I don’t understand why his going back to Pennsylvania was so important. He talked about it, but I never thought he’d actually do it.

Now that Stoney’s away, I’ve been thinking a lot about Jeff. He’s a puzzle. If he were here, I’d find him and invite him over; we’d sit up all night and rap about music, movies, and books. He’s really bright, but sometimes he talks over my head, with all that philosophy stuff. He should go to college, do something important with his life, not bum around like Stoney and me, go to college at USC or UCLA and still be a part-time hippie.

I wrote him a letter, begging him to come back.

What does Pennsylvania have that California doesn’t?

I’ve no wish to go back to Sioux City–I’d rather stay here by myself, in this smelly, dirty dump, a strange pad, bright blue paint, hardly any furniture. Our first day here, I turned on the tap and whoosh! Water, water, everywhere, a missing pipe. What a mess; we’re only going to stay here another month. I didn’t want to move out of the dorm until after Christmas, but Miss Miller said Pam and I had to get out by the first of the year, but we decided to split on December 1; Horton and Miller kept hassling us; they hated Stoney and Jeff and their smoking in the sitting room (la, de, da). And Stoney was forced to move out of The Crystal Ship–Duane paranoid about Stoney’s stash.

We three pooled our money together for this place, though Pam stayed back at the Dorm. Why did she kick in if she’s not going to live here?

Now I’m flat broke, no job; I quit two weeks ago–well, I just stopped going. The bank has probably figured out I’m not coming back.

I bounced a check last week. I had no choice–Percy, a friend, needed help, though he turned out not be such a good friend, but a ripoff artist and bullshitter. He claims he has sex with rich and famous queers for money and needed a loan to get a dose for the clap. Said he got it from Liberace. Gross.

Percy spent the money, my money, on new boots and a cowboy hat. He did buy me breakfast, though.

Far fucking out.
-
_______________________________________________
-
© 2008, by Jennifer Semple Siegel

Excerpts may not be used or copied without author’s permission.


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Excerpt (Chapter 2): Dark Side

*

December 25, 1968


(Tenth revolution around the Moon)

Christmas Day, 89:22:34. On the far side of the Moon and out of radio contact with Houston, Apollo 8's Service Propulsion System (SPS) has been ignited to accelerate it out of lunar orbit.

At 89:34:16, radio contact has been re-established with the crew.

89:34:25. Astronaut Lovell: "Please be informed there is a Santa Claus."

____________________________________________________



Simon and Garfunkel's "Silent Night" on YouTube, by Vidiak

____________________________________________________


(Hollywood)


Far out Blue Moons.

Stoney and I don’t come down until after three–we crash for a few hours. Then, about seven, we go to Cecil’s Stand for cheeseburgers and fries.

Later we exchange presents–he gives me a jade ring and a petrified wood ashtray in psychedelic colors; I give him a blue rock. Both from The Crystal Ship. I’m not sure what he likes.

After we open our presents, we argue about his being too wild when we play. He wrestles too god damned rough sometimes, today getting me into a hammerlock and flipping me on my back. Something snaps–my back hurts like hell.

"You jerk," I say, "You could’ve broken my back."

"Shut up, bitch, stop your squawking."

We exchange more words. Don’t I have the right not to be injured?

We calm down.

"Let’s not wrestle anymore."

Stoney has an unfair advantage.

"That’s cool," he says.

I think he understands; he apologizes, anyway, promising not to be so rough. We’ll see.

The two of us look like hell. I feel like hell.

We go to bed early and make love, and rap about our acid trips.

Weird. I thought we had connected last night, but we didn’t, not really. We were on separate trips.

Stoney only remembers shooting heroin and balling.

For me, it was so much more.

___________________________________________________

© 2008, by Jennifer Semple Siegel

Excerpts may not be used or copied without author’s permission.

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New Text: Autobiography vs. Memoir

*

I would never write my autobiography for public distribution.

For one thing, I'm not a famous person, nor have I accomplished any extraordinary feats or deeds. Noted people and celebrities can get away with writing about the mundane details of their lives because publishers understand that most readers will put up with the ordinary to get at the nuggets. They won't do that for Jennifer Semple Siegel or any other unknown.

Also, I did not grow up in a third-world country, served as a child soldier, or been married to a serial killer.

As a whole, my life has been rather mundane, so I would rather not bore a readership with the minutia of my day-to-day life. Let us not worship at the altar of the ordinary.

However, four and a half months of my life were somewhat extraordinary and occurred at a time when the world around me was changing, while I, too, was changing from child to young adult. I didn't exactly do any extraordinary actions, but an extraordinary event happened to me, and I reacted in a way that forever changed the course of my life.

Thus, my 415-page memoir focuses primarily on a finite period of time with some apropos flashbacks and flash forwards.

So, then, what is the difference between "autobiography" and "memoir"?

On Pub Rants, Agent Kristin differentiates between memoir and autobiography:
A memoir is a story (with a story arc not unlike what occurs in a novel) told through a prism of one particular life experience and it usually focuses on a finite period of time and not the person’s life as a whole. A memoir has crafted scenes that build on one another to reach a pivotal moment.

An autobiography has remembrances of important events throughout the author’s life and how it unfolded from that person’s unique, inside perspective. They can be separate from each other and don’t need to build to a climatic moment.
These comparison/contrast lists expand on Agent Kristin's definition:

Autobiography
  • True first person account (“I”).


  • Covers the details of the writer’s own life, from birth to the present.


  • Usually written by noted people: actors, singers, writers, politicians, artists.


  • Focuses on the autobiographer's life to this point: the events leading up to the autobiographer's professional life, defining moments, roadblocks, and accomplishments.


  • Concentrates more on facts and verifiable data (personal papers, official records, journals, letters, diaries, interviews, and newspaper and magazine articles), though personal remembrances are also important.


  • An autobiography is likely to include an extensive index.


  • Fact-checking of details is likely to be quite rigorous.
Memoir
  • True first person account (“I”).


  • Incorporates fictional story-telling techniques and offering some kind of "resolution."


  • Covers only an aspect or event of the writer’s own life and is based mostly on recollections.


  • Memoirs are written by both noted and ordinary people.


  • Usually, the aspect or event itself moves the narrative, not the person.


  • The memoirist's viewpoint can be subjective; thus, family, friends, and acquaintances may view the same event differently.


  • The memorist concentrates more on personal remembrances, though facts and verifiable data (personal papers, official records, journals, letters, diaries, interviews, and newspaper and magazine articles) are also often used as sources.


  • A memoir normally does not require an index.


  • Publishers tend to trust the memoirist's voice; fact-checking of details is likely to be minimal, although after recent "faux memoirs" (ala James Frey and Margaret Selzer), this may be soon changing.
Writing a memoir can be a satisfying and cathartic experience; it can also be acutely painful to dredge up old memories.

For me, one unexpected surprise: during the eight months (2004-2005) I wrote the first draft of I, Driven: memoir of a teen's involuntary commitment, I tended to "revert" back to being 18 years old, and, sometimes, I found it difficult to shift back to the present.

I now know, however, that was part of the process of writing a memoir.

Perhaps those who write their autobiographies also experience this phenomenon as they cruise down memory lane.
______________________________________________

"Autobiography vs. Memoir" is copyright 2008, Jennifer Semple Siegel.

This text may not be republished or reposted without permission.


______________________________________________

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Excerpt (Chapter 1): Blue Moons

*

From Apollo 8: December 24, 1968
Photo courtesy of NASA (Blue tint added by webmaster)

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A Scene from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, "The Trip"



scene19
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-

Christmas Eve, 1968
-
(2001 Ivar Street, Hollywood, California)

Blue Moons.

Black dots from the linoleum rise up and float, planets bursting into blue, red, yellow, green, purple, orange.

Birthing galaxies...


Does God feel the same awe?

A blazing light: I am the creator of these galaxies, responsible for billions–

My fault should they go bad...My fault.

Oh-my-god. I am God.


I must destroy life, before it spreads viruses.

A butterfly net appears. My mission: capture these galaxies, trap them in a cosmic jar, smother them before they destroy their Creator.

They will destroy, just as we have our God.

Is God dead?

Define "dead."

Is God Death itself?

To believe is to die.

Is Death God?

Why not?

Who is God?

How.

When is God?

Past.

Does He possess a butterfly net?

Kaleidoscope light???

What color is God?

The essence of light.


What is essence?

The color of God.

What is God?

Why night?

Black, slick water, first smell, like old rubber boots, first smell, primal scent, tangy licorice love drizzling my body.

Luscious rum balls.

Velvet sugar, past boil, butter lust, savored again and again and again.

Is God dead?

To believe is to die.

Is God Death itself?

How.

Is Death God?

The color of God.

Who is God?

Why not night?

When is God?

If not now, never.

Does He need a butterfly net?

The color of essence.

What color is God?

Dead.

What is essence?


Kaleidoscope sky???

What is God?

The Man.

The Man.

The Man.

What is that?

A siren.

Stoney?

The room wavers–nothing has substance.

How can nothing have substance? Can something have nothing? What is nothing, anyway? If it has a name, then it has to be something; nothing would not have a name, if it were truly nothing. Are there empty spaces in something, nothing places to hide? My head spins–a million nothing places, black licorice dots swirling around and around.

Two sirens.

Stoney? Stoney? Oh, Stoney...


No one exists but me.

I know that now.

I am truly alone.

All you people are clowns, and clowns are not real; therefore, you were not, are not, and never will be.

Stoney...

Why are you smiling?

Yellow haze flows when you whisper, Winesap apples when you sing "White Rabbit," orange flames when you shout.


"Fuck you!" Orange and blue flames blast from your lips, tickling my thighs.

Blink. Blue butterflies flutter from your eyes, flicker, land on my triangle–pure geometry.

Yes, fuck me.

You ram a needle into your pulse–amber liquid whooshes through arteries to your heart to veins, from heart, back through your circulatory system, every branch, down to the smallest capillary, racing through your body, up stream to your brain, down river to your fingertips, flowing down to your toes, looping around and around...

You light up, a star burst covering the sky with flashes: red, gold, white, green, purple, blue, silver...then fading, whirling diamond chips, crackling and descending, descending, descending, disappearing behind ocean waves.

Your eyes, paisley.

Your heart, a rainbow.

Your body: granite, a quake.

An Odyssey.

You come. A single red rose blooms.


I catch petals as they drop, wine red and smooth, cold as polished stone.

Stoney.

Oh, Stoney.

Warm as barberry oil.

Your solidity: a trick…

You cannot be.

Three sirens. The police!

No, just me in you.

Yes.

Stoney fizzles, soft as a mother’s breast.

*


The room zigzags, we congealing to the floor.

I move, even as my legs melt into the dead dots.

The room has turned to sea.

I have grown gills.

I am back in a mother’s womb, only she is not the mother I knew–this Mother is all wise–

Blue Moon Mother.


Blue Moon hurtles me through the galaxy...

We zip through one million galaxies, head filling with sights, sounds, aromas, music, tastes, textures known only to a God.

She is the galaxy.

She is my God–

I am Her Daughter.

I am the Child of God.


* * * * *


© 2008, by Jennifer Semple Siegel

Excerpt may not be used or copied without author’s permission.
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