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August 22, 2014 / thackersam

August 22 – The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe

Electric Kool-AidI must have been about 13 or so, when I found a copy of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test amongst my father’s Playboy magazines. He kept them in the guest room of his divorced-father- with-kids apartment in New Jersey that was meant for me and/or my brother when we came to visit. I was always bored and desperate for something to do, even though I realize that this collection was either left in the room out of sheer thoughtlessness for me or a need or a hope to influence my brother. He did make the trip more often than I did. So I got to sleep in a room with a couple of good sized stacks of Playboys and a dirty book or two. I read them all.

Really Dad – trying to make sure your teenage son goes straight is one thing, but do you know how that screws up your pre-adolescent daughter?

Can you imagine growing up with Little Annie Fannie as a role model? I mean really! {Well this is turning into quite the venting session. I can hear my cousin saying “Gotta get over those father issues, Cuz.” And this helped. Once again, people who actually read my blog, I thank you for allowing me this moment.}

But I did find The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and it didn’t unscrew me, in the least, but it turned me on to a great storyteller and a fascinating story with real people unlike any other characters I’d ever read about. And of course, the scene that I know was the reason for this particular book to be in my very conservative yet playboy wannabe (or wasabe) father’s collection of smut is engrained in my memory. It had to do with the Hell’s Angels. I’m just surprised the passage wasn’t underlined.

This book inspired my fascination with the long-dead lothario actor Errol Flynn. This book painted pictures that allowed me to enter another world as only Tom Wolfe can do. This book introduced me to Ken Kesey, making it easier for me to write my English paper when we covered One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in high school. I would learn of the Grateful Dead. I remember the description of the “Errol Flynn sleeves” someone on the bus wore, and the scene for which my father added this book to his smut collection. But most of all, I remember the sight of Mountain Girl driving up on the back of someone’s motorcycle and the description of the brown ring at the crown of her head as the roots grew from the top of her bleached locks (I’ve not read the book in a very long time so I may be fuzzy as to her position on the bike). What I also recall of the book, and I don’t know if this was after that first reading as a pre-adolescent, or the subsequent reading whenever that was 10 or 20 years later, is that I don’t think I liked anybody in the book when I was done. Except Mountain Girl, who in the story was Kesey’s girlfriend but would later marry Jerry Garcia. And I liked the writer character. Not knowing diddly about Tom Wolfe, and I think few did at that time, I probably imagined his character as kind and nonjudgmental. Kind of cool and a master storyteller. I know I didn’t like Kesey, nor the Hell’s Angels. But I got to participate in the magic that Tom Wolfe wove. And sometime after reading the book the first time, I was able to graduate from Little Annie Fannie to Gretta Groupie. Was Gretta Groupie in the same comic book as The Doo-dah Man?

See what happens when you give me a Grateful Dead album to exercise to?

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