Artist : Ken Kesey
Publisher : Counter Culture Chronicles
Year : 2018
C-60 cassette plus laser printed insert
Recorded during One World Poetry, Amsterdam 10 October 1981
The cassette comes with a laser printed J-card, an insert, and an envelope with an introduction by Jaap van der Bent
Limited edition of 80
Postage & packing not included
American novelist Ken Kesey (1935-2001) thought of himself as a link between the Beat Generation and the hippies of the 1960s. “I was too young to be a beatnik”, he once said, “and too old to be a hippie”. Kesey, a champion wrestler in high school and college, was born in Colorado on a dairy farm and grew up in Oregon, where he graduated from high school and university. After having taken literary classes with James B. Hall, Kesey published his first short story in 1958 and that same year was awarded a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship, which he used to follow creative writing classes at Stanford University. His subsequent first novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, partly based on his experiences in the CIA’s MKULTRA project during which he was subjected to LSD and other drugs, was an instant success after its publication in 1962. The proceeds from the book enabled him to buy places on the West Coast, where Kesey and The Merry Pranksters organised so-called Acid Tests: legendary LSD-fuelled parties generally considered to have been germ cells of the 1960s psychedelic movement. Taking inspiration from Jack kerouac’s ‘On the Road’, Kesey, The Merry Pranksters and Beat protagonist Neal Cassady drove cross-country to New York in 1964 tripping on LSD, speed and cannabis. But after having been imprisoned for five months for possession of marijuana in 1966, Kesey put a stop to his wild days and returned to Oregon to live a secluded family life until his death in 2001.
Counter Culture Chronicles has now released a conversation that Jaap van der Bent had with Ken Kesey during the 1981 One World Poetry Festival in Amsterdam. Backstage of The Milky Way, the central venue of the festival, Van der Bent interviews Kesey for NRC-Handelsblad in the presence of Simon Vinkenoog, journalist Paul de Bruin, and several hangers-on. The lively, somewhat unfocused and intoxicated conversation, flits from Kesey’s recent journey to China, Jack Kerouac and Tom Wolfe, the movie ‘Grease’ to the etymology of words like ‘fascism’ and ‘rape’. But despite his stature as Prince of Psychedelia at the festival and the many stories he has to tell about the 1960s, Kesey’s main concerns in the interview appear to be his trip to China, his family life and the future of his children. An All-American bobcat, who has lost most of his wild hairs, spins dreams and yarns in the lap of friends and admirers.