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Posts Tagged ‘Merry Pranksters

(Screen) shot through the heart…


… a tumblr cataloguing online messages that evoke feelings of despair (and, often and unintentionally joy!). It may also be a poetry of the New Aesthetic.

More stupefying screen shots at Screen Shots of Despair.


As we reach for the Zoloft, we might pause to recall that it was on this date in 1964 that Ken Kesey and 13 friends (AKA, “the Merry Pranksters”) left Kesey’s ranch in La Honda, CA, headed east to celebrate the publication of Sometimes a Great Notion and to visit the World’s Fair in New York City.  The troupe was aboard a 1939 International Harvester school bus, “Further,” purchased by Kesey earlier that year for $1,500.  (The bus was named by artist Roy Sebern, who painted the word “Further” on the destination placard as a kind of one-word poem… and as inspiration to keep going whenever the bus broke down.)

The initial “pilot” was Jack Kerouac’s buddy, Neal Cassady– who was, novelist Robert Stone (who met the bus in New York) observed, “the world’s greatest driver, who could roll a joint while backing a 1937 Packard onto the lip of the Grand Canyon.”

Further made several trips over the years; it gave up the ghost after a run to Woodstock, and was replace by “Further II.”  Pranksters, who came and went over the years, included Cassady, Kesey’s best friend Ken Babbs, Stewart Brand, Del Close, Paul Foster, Carolyn Garcia (AKA “Mountain Girl”), the Grateful Dead, Wavy Gravy, and Paul Krassner; “fellow travelers” included Stone and Kesey’s buddy Larry McMurtry; and “chroniclers,” Tom Wolfe (The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test), Hunter S. Thompson (Hell’s Angels), Allen Ginsberg, and of course Kesey himself (Demon Box).

See also The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America

You are either on the bus or you’re not on the bus.- Ken Kesey


Written by LW

June 17, 2012 at 1:01 am

Knowing the Distance: More Fun With Numbers…

The Fibonacci sequence describes the golden ratio (or golden spiral), an ideal form found in the more beautiful corners of nature, and much beloved by designers everywhere.

The Fibonacci numbers are the sum of the previous two numbers in the sequence, starting with 0 and 1:  0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144…

A Fibonacci spiral created by drawing circular arcs connecting the opposite corners of squares in a Fibonacci tiling; this one uses squares of sizes 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and 34. (source)

It turns out that the Fibonacci sequence also neatly matches the relationship between kilometers and miles. Three miles is five kilometers, five miles is eight kilometers, eight miles is 13 kilometers.  It’s not perfect: eight miles is actually 12.875 kilometers– but it’s close enough in a pinch.

If one needs to convert a number that’s not in the Fibonacci sequence, one can simply break out the Fibonacci numbers, convert, and add the answers.  For instance, 100 can be broken down into 89 + 8 + 3, all Fibonacci numbers. The next numbers are 144, 13, and 5, which add up to 162. 100 miles is actually equal to 160.934 kilometers.  But again, close enough.

photo: Matt Hampel

[TotH to MNN]

Special bonus arithmetic amusement:  the quadratic equation, explained (as though) by Dr. Seuss.

As we marvel at math, we might wish a Happy Birthday to a master of “numbers” of a different sort; author and prankster Ken Kesey was born on this date in 1935.  While at Stanford in 1959 (studying writing with Wallace Stegner), Kesey was a paid volunteer in CIA-funded LSD trials (Project MKULTRA), an experience that informed his novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and that inspired him to form the “Merry Pranksters” and embark on the cross-country school bus trip memorialized in Tom Wolfe’s “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.”

“Leave no turn unstoned.”


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