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Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World Hardcover – March 16, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Drug dealers with delusions of grandeur populate this colorful but overwrought history of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a 1960s-era narcotics ring–cum–hippie church. Influenced by psychedelic prophet Timothy Leary—who called the group's leader, former high school bully John Griggs, the holiest man in America—the California-based Brotherhood styled its cheap, extra-strength Orange Sunshine brand of LSD as a pathway to God. Journalist Schou (Kill the Messenger) takes the spiritual purpose of these psychedelic warriors, along with their solemn acid-dropping sacraments and utopian pipe dreams, rather too seriously. (He likewise inflates their sporadic ventures scoring Mexican marijuana and Afghan hashish into a global smuggling empire.) His narrative quickly devolves into a haphazard picaresque of drug deals, drug busts, overdoses, surfing, rock concerts (Jimi Hendrix does a cameo), orgies, and people living in teepees. Schou sometimes forgets that reading about other people's acid trips—The whole sky took on huge forms of dancing Buddhas and the energy got really bright—is a drag. Still, the mixture of lively freakery and stoned pomposity gives his portrait of countercultural excess an authentic period feel. (Mar.)
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The Brotherhood of Eternal Love was a group of 1960s hippie visionaries with a plan. Imagine an America in which LSD is a common source of inspiration and insight for the whole populace, and the pronouncements of Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, and other academic space cowboys are prized philosophical touchstones. Such, more or less, was the group’s goal as producer-distributors of the famous Orange Sunshine LSD that was a part of campus all over America in the late ’60s. At its organizational peak, the Brotherhood funded the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers to successfully break Leary out of prison. Schou interviewed remaining Brotherhood members (who, unlike acid-gobbling pop musicians, seem to have largely retained their memories), gleaning impressive amounts of detail for his discussions of the ins and outs of the era’s drug trade and the moving of vast quantities of marijuana and hashish along with the LSD. Loaded with little-known historical mots, this is an excellent chronicle of a piece of history unlikely to be repeated. --Mike Tribby
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The author never went into the chemistry of orange sunshine which was prduced by BEL member Nick Sands after Owsley was gone. It was purportedly not LSD itself, but a close polymer, ALD-52, and quite as active. It took LSD and ornge sunshine many times. Th sunshine was different. Acid can be unsettling and pushy coming on, but not ALD, which was smoother. ALD also produced stronger visuals. .Some batches were very strong. I liked sunshine better, myself.
Many of the "brothers" are silent today. They are laying low, out of sight and hopefully out of the attention of the agencies who pursued us for so many years.
For many years, late into the seventies, I was stopped and searched by Customs agents whenever I was returning from an international trip. It had the effect of making one desire to be invisible. I don't personally know or remember, "Thumper." He apparently became a protege of John Gale after I left. But much of what he details sounds accurate. The theme I most appreciate about this particular story about the Brotherhood is that (at least in the sixties) we did not exist to make money (although money is nice) but were greatly fueled by a desire to change a world which seemed to be heading for violent chaos or at the very least, a mindless- cookie cutter society. We had become transformed by the taking of LSD and mellowed by the smoking of pot and hashish. This book describes the feeling of those times.
Some of these events are so unbelievable as to scarcely be imagined and unlikely to ever occur again in any locale, like the 1970 "Christmas Happening" in Laguna Canyon, which attempted to outdo Woodstock by getting all 25,000 participants (150,000 were expected) high on acid after thousands of hits Orange Sunshine were dumped over the crowd by plane. The festival, with hordes of naked people, many freely having sex and many more extremely hungry due to nonexistent planning for food, was brutally broken up and cleared out a day later by the police. Then there was the very far-out smuggling operation employing a sailboat boat packed with high-grade marijuana that successfully made the journey from Mexico to Hawaii through high seas and storms - by a crew with little-to-no maritime experience and no navigation equipment except the stars
For all the wildness and insane schemes, this was an unprecedented era in modern times unlikely ever to be to repeated, when economic prosperity, an increasingly educated population, and the irrepressible American brand of creativity and individualism came together and flared for a few years before too many red lines were crossed and the Establishment came down hard. We have taken quite a detour since (Nixon, Reagan, the Bushes) but things may be picking up again with the groundswell of national support for marijuana legalization. The sixties is not over yet.
Nicholas Schou did a lot of digging and has succeeded in weaving a richly detailed yet economically told account. The major lacuna, to my mind, is with so much focus on the histrionics and spectacles, and the author's suppressing of his own point of view in the interest of journalistic objectivity, we seldom get into the actual heads of the main actors (John Griggs, Eddie Padilla, Johnny Gale, Timothy Leary, etc.). LSD was the prime mover of this history, yet one almost suspects Schou himself has never ingested any (I can't believe he hasn't), what with the utter absence of any sustained descriptions of the LSD experience that would help clarify for the uninitiated reader what animated these crazy people to live fascinating lives on the edge (here we miss our genius drug muse Terence McKenna, e.g. True Hallucinations: Being an Account of the Author's Extraordinary Adventures in the Devil's Paradise).