April 19, 1943 . . . Albert Hofman Rides Home on His Bike

April 19, 2015

On this day, Albert Hofman has humanity’s first intentional LSD experience. Three days previously, he had accidentally ingested some and reported:

“[A]ffected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated[-]like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.”

On the 19th, he swallowed 250 micrograms, which would become considered the classic dose, and began to feel the effects while riding home on his bike.

On his 100th birthday, Hofman, reminiscing, said:

“It gave me an inner joy, an open mindedness, a gratefulness, open eyes and an internal sensitivity for the miracles of creation. […] I think that in human evolution it has never been as necessary to have this substance LSD. It is just a tool to turn us into what we are supposed to be.”

Imagine what the ride might have been like, with no real reference for what was happening to him. A team of animators did: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBOPFWmZCdM



The First Three Bass Notes Hooked Me on Reggae for Life

April 11, 2015

“Lively Up Yourself” – Bob Marley and the Wailers.


Spring At Last . . .

April 11, 2015



The Civil War Ended 150 Years Ago Today, but the Fighting Didn’t

April 10, 2015


William Faulkner famously observed, in “Requiem for a Nun,” that “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

So it is with the legacy of the Civil War and the South, where the stars and bars are still waved proudly.

Read Dr. David Blight’s essay in the Atlantic. Then follow that with Dr. Eric Foner’s NYT essay, Why Reconstruction Matters. You will get a sense of a nation still in many ways divided, and then reflect on what one author described as the “Dixification” of our politics and how profoundly that has affected our lives.

Looking back, I think it could be said that John Wilkes Booth did as much as any one man to change the course of American history, and for the worse.


I Cut My American Lit Class That Night to Watch Hank Aaron

April 8, 2015

April 8th, 1974. In the fourth inning during Atlanta’s home opener against the Dodgers, pitcher Al Downing tried to get a 1-0 fastball by Hank Aaron. No such luck. Aaron launched it into left center and broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record with number 715.


As Aaron closed in Ruth’s record, racist hate mail and death threats began coming in daily. The FBI monitored his mail. One letter read, “Will I sneak a rifle into the upper deck or a .45 in the bleachers? I don’t know yet. But you know you will die unless you retire!” Another promised, “My gun is watching your every black move. This is no joke.”

In Aaron’s hometown of Mobile, Alabama, his parents received harassing phone calls. Kidnapping threats were made against his daughter, a college student in Tennessee. An off-duty Atlanta police officer was assigned as his personal bodyguard. The Atlanta Journal prepared Aaron’s obituary in case it had to be run at short notice.

“It should have been the most enjoyable time in my life,” Aaron wrote in his autobiography, “and instead it was hell.”

Aaron used the hate mail as a motivator. He had begun his career in the Negro Leagues and joined the Braves only seven years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. He wrote in his autobiography that he was driven by “the sense of doing something for my race.” He believed the best way to honor Robinson’s legacy “was to become the all-time home run champion in the history of the game that had kept out black people for more than sixty years.”

Well done, Mr. Aaron.


God Bless You, Maya Angelou

April 4, 2015

Born in St. Louis on this day in 1928.

And still we rise . . .


A Giant was Born 102 Years Ago Today

April 4, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Morganfield. With great respect . . .