Once upon a time, KPIX Television Broadcast Operations Manager Eliot Curtis agreed — but I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we get underway, let’s set the musical accompaniment.
Now then, let’s begin.
Once upon a time, KPIX Television Broadcast Operations Manager Eliot Curtis agreed to repair an ancient analog synthesizer known as the Buchla Model 100, which had been sitting in a college classroom closet for God knows how long. So was a little present from the 1960s.
At one point, the device was likely augmented with additional modules, including a red-colored module on the top row. During his repair work, Curtis opened the module and saw something stuck under a knob.
“There was like a residue … a crust or a crystalline residue on it,” said Curtis.
He sprayed a cleaning solvent on it and started to push the dissolving crystal with his finger as he attempted to dislodge the residue and clean the area.
About 45 minutes later, Curtis began to feel a little strange. He described it as a weird, tingling sensation. He discovered this was the feeling of the beginnings of an LSD experience or trip.
The following should surprise nobody.
In 1966, some Buchla modules ended up on an old school bus purchased by LSD advocate Ken Kesey and his followers known as the Merry Pranksters.
During the last of Kesey’s acid tests — LSD-fueled parties — at Winterland on Halloween in 1966, electronic sounds, possibly from the Buchla, appeared to interrupt an interview of Kesey.
Buchla used LSD and was friends with Owsley Stanley, the genius behind the Grateful Dead’s sound system.
No one knows how the LSD got there, or why.
Was the red module used to stash the drug? Did an accidental spill result in the drug seeping through to the circuitry or was it a source for chemically-induced and mind-altering inspiration?
No one knows. Even so, Ciani said what happened to Curtis is astonishing.
“It’s a bit like time travel,” said Ciani. “If you could go back that would be the way to go there. That is, to share the drugs that everybody took at that time.”
Somewhere, Owsley Stanley III is laughing his ass off.
Image by Joe Wilson/1843 Magazine