WARRIORS OF THE AMANITA MUSHROOM
Don't ever eat an Amanita mushroom. Not a piece. Not even a taste.
Sampling just a small amount of this mushroom can have three effects. It can be an intense psychedelic experience, it can kill you, or it can do both. My friend Ralph and I were sitting inside a tepee two friends of ours had out together on some open land outside of Steamboat Springs Colorado. We'd been sleeping in a farmhouse on the edge of town before we went to the tepee to stay there for a few nights.
Friends of mine from New York City, who lived in Steamboat , put this thing together from instructions they followed in the Whole Earth Catalogue, a thick, large paper book that showed people how to use or build all sorts of things. As I remember, it contained instructions for constructing an igloo in the wintertime. When the cold air seeped down from the mountains and the weather dropped snow on Steamboat, they took down the tepee and started building the igloo. As I recall it had several rooms inside of it for sleeping and cooking and hanging out.
A bunch of us pow-wowed in the tepee on a Friday night .I'd been out of the military for about six months before my friend Ralph and I hit the road to drive around the country. We had enough money between us for gas and expenses, but not enough for much else. We parceled it out for things we thought we'd need and tried to hold onto the rest. We may have even had a credit card. Ralph's father might have flipped us the card before we took off. It seems to me we used it a couple of to fill the tank of the BMW he sold to Ralph earlier that summer. We slept in the car at rest stops to save money. .
My former commanding officer had become a good friend and flew to Denver to join us. We picked him up at the airport and drove back to Steamboat. That night, Ralph, the Colonel, and I went to the pow-wow and swallowed mescaline, ate peyote buttons, got sick, smoked hash, and then started hallucinating. Ralph thought we should all eat a piece of the Amanita mushroom he found growing in the forest above Lake Margret. We each sampled some of it, including the Colonel. An hour later Ralph went blind and I felt as if my physical self was back at the farmhouse and I was in the tepee in spirit form lingering in another dimension. The Colonel just laughed and took another bite of the mushroom.
We sat around the huge fire pit inside the tepee. The tepee could accommodate twelve people easily. We tripped all night. Ralph was freaking out, convinced that he'd never see again. Then, just before dawn, his vision returned. To celebrate, we went outside naked to watch the sun come up over the mountains. We stood beside a narrow creek, took a leak, and looked at the puffed up white clouds floating around the rising sun. Then we saw them.
Six or maybe seven Sioux Indian warriors came riding out of the clouds on pinto ponies, all of them wearing war paint and holding lances with colorful feathers attached to them. What was far out is that all three of us saw the same thing. We pointed the warriors out to each other and then the war party vanished as mystically as they had appeared.
I'll never forget it. That was the most unimaginable experience the three of us have ever had. Whatever it was, it appeared as authentic as the clouds drifting through the light of the "morning star".
By the way, don't ever eat an Amanita mushroom. We were lucky. You might not be as fortunate.
DON'T BLAME THE PROFESSIONALS FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF THE AMATEURS
Why is it that teachers are being vilified by crabby right wing malcontents who have nothing better to do than blame them for the lousy performance of students who don't study? Teachers teach. Then it's up to the student to pay attention and do their homework instead of playing video games, screwing around with friends after school, or driving around aimlessly, caps on backwards, hoping to attract beautiful young females.
I'm a perfect example. I found school at all levels to be a total bore. In elementary school I drew pictures of stick people and rocket ships instead of taking notes. A friend of mine drew Gene Simmons face from Kiss on pictures of people in his textbooks. Calvin Coolidge had a Kiss face. So did Einstein and other noteworthy figures in history.
I could read at a sixth grade level when I was in kindergarten but I couldn't add, subtract, multiply, or divide. In high school I had no more interest in dissecting frogs than I did sticking my finger into a wall socket. I didn't do my homework. I'd get scolded by my teachers for being a scofflaw. I stayed home, pretending to be ill, instead of learning how to tell time. I barely graduated from high school with a D average. I had to make up math assignments in order to get my diploma. My essays were written the night before they were due. I remember copying down information directly from the encyclopedia whether it was for geography, history, or an American studies assignment. I never expanded on the information because I never listened in class or read the books. I remember my American studies teacher asking me to wait out in the hall. He came out shortly after that and chewed my ass for being lazy and incompetent.
The only instructor who showed any interest in my slacker's attitude was my swimming coach. He knew I was academically capable of doing the work and encouraged me to study. Eventually I signed up to write for the school pepper. My column was titled “The Inside Out". Meanwhile, my sister worked her ass off, all the way from the first grade to when she graduated with an M.A. from the University of Minnesota. She went to work at the C.I.A. in Virginia. She built her own consulting business and made a fortune. She's leaving all her money to domestic animal rescue groups and activists in Africa working to protect and preserve wild animals. She's traveled everywhere in the world and has racked up bazillions of miles.
Meanwhile, I stumbled around, not knowing what I wanted to do. I ended up in radio by accident, not because I attended a broadcasting or communications school, but because I was in the right place at the right time.
Blaming teachers for a student’s poor performance is just another way of letting the kids and their overly indulgent parents off the hook. . If pupils don't do the work, they don't do well.
It's as simple as that. Oh, and by the way, I still think my sister never really left the C.I. A.
THE NEXT STEP
A lot of people graduate this time of year, whether it's from elementary school, high school, or tech school. Most poke their nose into the job market as soon as they have a diploma in hand.
I don't have to tell you the job market is still a bit dismal, struggling to catch up since the Great Recession which was really a depression but nobody wanted to admit it. Even if the market was wide open and jobs were plentiful, don't jump into the pool immediately.
Up to now, you've spent your life getting educated for all sorts of things, from math to carpentry, styling hair, med school, a B.A. degree, graduate school, a college diploma, or business school.
Don't do it now. Not right away. Take the time off and wander around for a while. Get a job somewhere and save some money. Stay with your parents and for God sakes don't even consider getting married or having children. And even though you think you know what it is you want for a career; whether it's law enforcement or dentistry, wait. Don't jump into the water just yet.
This is the time to travel. You don't need a lot of money. Drive or ride across the country. Wash dishes, flip burgers, or waitress part time as you travel. If you like to ski, check with some of the ski resorts out west. They always need instructors, ski patrol personnel, or people to work the shops or the restaurants. Pick apples in orchards, get a job as a lifeguard in Cali, or just wander around. Gas is expensive so you might want to travel by bus. If you have the financial resources, travel abroad. Make sure to visit Amsterdam, Prague, Rome, Berlin, Madrid, London, and of course Paris. Taking the trains in Europe is a great way to get from one place to another. Throw a pack on your back, get some sturdy footwear, and walk. You can stay in hostels or hotels. Europe has all levels of accommodations.
The reason I say this is that even though you think what is you want to do, take a year off to think about it. Experience the world you'll be living in. You don't have to be on a choo-choo train to more education. You've had enough for now. You need to clear your head and explore the rest planet.
Why wait until you're 60 years old to cruise the Baltic or visit Beijing? Move around the world. Pick up a gig sweeping streets or other manual labor to make a few bucks to keep you going. Now is the time to take the next step. Not to school, but to the rest of your life. Remember. Advanced education will always wait for you. Life won't.