Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Film

Presumably the people in charge here went to school for whatever it is they are doing, but I'm still in awe of how inappropriate tonight's movie selection seems. After a half hour of D.A.R.Espeak about drugs being bad and serving only to distance one from clear reality, a VHS tape is popped into a small TV and, miraculously, even the horny girl next to me stops talking about jail and her vagina, sets down the clipboard onto which she has been scratching something banal and probably misspelled, and pipes down.

The movie starts. It's about how the brain works and it's from 1986 or something. There's a great Boards of Canada-esque soundtrack complete with authentic warbling effect, since this VHS tape has been watched for two decades by hundreds of losers just like me. Your brain is mysterious and its mechanics are thrilling, but somehow all that is lost here. We're reminded a few minutes through that there will be a test on Wednesday. Okay. I'm trying hard to pay attention, but all I can think about is how the sound effect used to illustrate information being channeled by the temporal lobe to the parietal lobe is activating my verbal tourette tic, and I'm hoping nobody thinks I'm just being jerky and squeaky because I'm high on something.

Even the producers of this video seem to realize how lame it is so it's off to PBS's version of Trainspotting! Fuck some lobes, we are introduced to two native American women toasting psychedelic mushrooms over a flame. The camera lingers as they stuff their face and chew. Fade to a cheesy montage of psychedelic imagery: sepia toned clouds, lightning, a howling wolf morphing into a baby. Except this last one is '86 style morphing, reminding you that Michael Jackson's video for "Black or White" really was like, totally mind blowing at the time. Then, in the sky, a door appears. Our host, John Suzuki (I think?) opens it, and explains that what these ladies are doing is having an experience that only mushrooms and LSD can provide. It totally opens up your subconscious and can be approximated with physical duress but not replicated without the use of these substances. The guy to my right whispers "awesome".

Then we meet a Harvard educated painter who uses LSD to open up his mind to paint his masterpieces. If you grew up in a town that had a Harley's Hippy Hut or whatever, that sold incense and bongs and "Subvert the dominant paradigm" bumper stickers, then you have probably seen this guy's posters rolled up in the bargain bin next to the used Phish cassettes. The voiceover intro places a lot of emphasis on HAR-vard so that this guy has some cred. He interviews at length about the magic of LSD, and you've heard it all before from kids in your high school who your parents felt sorry for, but still wished you wouldn't hang out with. It's a parody of a burnout, talking about windows and doors in your mind, and his poor parents. I mean, Harvard ain't cheap.

And so, I guess the facilitators know what they're doing. And it's refreshing, I guess, that they're like "Hey, this is how it is". Nobody is here to be babied or brainwashed, and I suspect that if most of us were susceptible to that, we wouldn't have started dabbling with self medication in the first place. But man alive if this video doesn't make me want to try LSD again.

It ends, and the girl next to me says "I think I've seen that guy's work before". I imagine her at Rite Aid, stuffing Cover Girl cosmetics into her baby's diaper bag before taking a single bag of Fritos to the checkout counter.

Tripping balls guy asks, "they can't detect mushrooms in your pee, right? Or is that acid?". His eyes are as big as plates, and I give him silent kudos for asking the question I was afraid to ask. Alas, he gets no answer.

We get forms asking us "What did you learn? What would you have liked to see?", and not a minute later I'm the last one in the room. So douchey. I am totally going to get my ass kicked.

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