Tag Archives: Merry Prankster

COOL PEOPLE -KEN KESEY and Alison Ellwood Captures The “MAGIC TRIP” Of Ken Kesey


Ken Kesey

American writer, who gained world fame with his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962, filmed 1975). In the 1960s, Kesey became a counterculture hero and a guru of psychedelic drugs with Timothy Leary. Kesey has been called the Pied Piper, who changed the beat generation into the hippie movement.

Ken Kesey was born in La Junta, CO, and brought up in Eugene, OR. Kesey spent his early years hunting, fishing, swimming; he learned to box and wrestle, and he was a star football player. He studied at the University of Oregon, where he acted in college plays. On graduating he won a scholarship to Stanford University. Kesey soon dropped out, joined the counterculture movement, and began experimenting with drugs. In 1956 he married his school s…more

Alison Ellwood Captures The “MAGIC TRIP” Of Ken Kesey

& the Merry Pranksters’

images (15) images (14) images (13) images (12) images (11) images (10) images (9) images (8) download (7)




download (7)Magnolia Pictures Acquires Ken Kesey LSD

Documentary ‘Magic Trip’

By MIKE FLEMING JR | Monday February 14, 2011 @ 7:29am PSTTags: Alex GibneyAllison EllwoodMagnolia Pictures

inShare6COMMENTS (2)

Mike FlemingMagnolia Pictures acquired North American rights to Magic Trip, a look back at the psychedelic 60s cross-country bus tour taken by Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters. The feature documentary was co-directed and co-written by Alex Gibney and Allison Ellwood, and produced under History Films. History Network holds broadcast rights.Deal comes just after Magnolia acquired North American rights to TrustNordisk’s adaptation of the Jo Nesbo novelHeadhunter, directed by Morten Tyldum.

Magnolia will release the film on a VOD platform before a theatrical release, which the distributor used on Gibney’sClient 9: The Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer. Gibney and Ellwood got access to raw footage of 16 mm stock which Kesey and the Pranksters intended to turn into a documentary but never did. They worked with the Film Foundation, History and UCLA Film Archives to restore over 100 hours of footage that went into chronicling a psychedelic 60s movement captured by Tom Wolfe in his book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. A movie adaptation of that book has been in development with Gus Van Sant at the helm and Richard Gladstein producing.


image image image image image image image image image
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ken Babbs (born January 14, 1939) is a famous Merry Prankster who became one of the psychedelic leaders of the 1960s. He along with best friend and Prankster leader, Ken Kesey wrote the book Last Go Round. Babbs is best known for his participation in the Acid Tests and on the bus Further.

Early life[edit source | editbeta]

Ken Babbs was raised in Mentor, Ohio. He attended the Case Institute of Technology (where he briefly studied engineering) for two years on a basketball scholarship before transferring to Miami University, from which he graduated with a degree in English literature in 1958. He then attended the Stanford University graduate creative writing program on a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship from 1958–59; having entered the NROTC program to fund his undergraduate studies, Babbs was commissioned as a second lieutenant in theMarine Corps following the end of his fellowship. He trained as a helicopter pilot and served in one of the first American advisory units inVietnam from 1962-63 prior to his discharge and reunion with Kesey in 1964. Babbs had no understanding of the impact the war had on him until he received his orders to go to Vietnam. His insight soon began to take definition. Babbs later stated that he “had no perceptions of the right or wrong of the situation before I went to Vietnam, but it took about six weeks to realize we were wasting our time there… being humble, respect[ing] local customs, learn[ing] the language and helping does more good than hurting.”[1]

In the fall of 1958, Babbs took a writing class at Stanford with another Wilson Fellow, Ken Kesey. Babbs later described meeting Kesey as “a moment of mirth and sadness, highness and lowliness, interchanging of ideas and musical moments.” They soon became best friends, maintained a correspondence while Babbs was stationed in the Far East with the Marines, and eventually formed the Merry Pranksters.

Acid Tests and Furthur[edit source | editbeta]

What started as a Happening emerged into a global frenzy and inspired people, still today. According to Babbs, a Happening is something that “can’t be planned ..It just happens! It takes place in public or private and involves everyone present. In Phoenix in 1964, we painted ‘A Vot for Barry is a Vot for Fun’ on the side of the bus and waved flags and played stars and stripes forever..this qualified as both a prank and a Happening.” .[1]

The most famous happening of the Pranksters was the nationwide trip on the Furthur. While on a trip to New York, the Pranksters needed an automobile that could hold fourteen people and all of their filming and taping equipment. One of the members saw a “revamped school bus” in San Francisco that was for sale. The Pranksters bought the bus and named it “Furthur”. Babbs was the engineer for the bus. Babbs is mostly credited for the sound systems he created for the Trips Festival. Prior to Babbs’ creation, it was discovered that particular music usually sounded distorted when cranked to high levels because of the cement floor on the San Francisco Longshoreman’s Union Hall (where the Trips Festival was taking place). Babbs being a sound engineer resolved the problem. He made sound amplifiers that, when turned up to high sound levels would not create distorted sounds.

The purpose for this Happening was to link the psychedelic tribes from the west and the east. Many people tend to remember the east tribe because of Timothy Leary and LSD. Many misjudgments have been made on the Pranksters and their promotion of LSD. However, Babbs makes it clear that “just because we used LSD does not mean we were promoting its use. (LSD) is a dangerous drug..[It’s] a way, I guess, of breaking down the conformist ideology.” .[2]

During the legendary Prankster cross country bus trip to the New York World’s fair in 1964, an epic movie was filmed and shown at several “Acid Tests”. The film is called “The Merry Pranksters Search for a Kool Place”. Some have compared the Prankster’s trip to the Acid Tests. Babbs assures that the “Acid Tests came after the bus trip and came about because we were editing the movie of the bus trip and began renting places to show the movie and play our music.” What inspired the Acid Tests was when the Pranksters met theGrateful Dead. Babbs relates to that time as “it was the power that propelled the rocket ship everyone rode to the stars and beyond the whole night the acid test took place.” [IBID]

Looking back at his experiences as a Merry Prankster, Babbs says he wants younger and future generations to carry on “love, peace, and happiness; extended in practicality to the simple act of helping one another out, being kind and generous.” [ibid]

Keeping Kesey’s legacy alive[edit source | editbeta]

Babbs’ current project is promoting Ken Kesey’s book Kesey’s Jail Journal. Babbs recently had a showing at an art gallery in Oregon to display Kesey’s artwork. Babbs said that the art gallery’s main attraction is “the artwork from Kesey’s Jail Journal”. Because of Kesey’s popularity and inspiration, Viking Press brought his jail journal last November. The exhibit consists of all Kesey’s artwork during his lifetime. Babbs hopes that “this exhibit will tour the country and the rest of the world.”[Iibid]

Later years[edit source | editbeta]

Babbs currently lives on his farm in Dexter, Oregon (near Kesey’s house) with his wife Eileen, an English teacher at South Eugene High School. In 1994, he helped Kesey co-write The Last Go Round, about the oldest and largest rodeos in America. Babbs is also founder and leader of the Sky Pilot Club. Many of Babbs’s trips are now available to watch on YouTube. Babbs recently published a novel based on his life in the armed forces during the first years of the Vietnam War, ‘Who Shot the Water Buffalo?’

Quotes[edit source | editbeta]

“At first, a bunch of us were going to go in a station wagon. Then it was getting too big for that.”

“For me and Kesey, too, we were trying to move into a new creative expression which was movie making, and being part of the movie. This was all a tremendous experiment in the arts. We always figured we would be totally successful and make a lot of money out of it.”

“People always were saying, ‘Is this the real bus?’ and he would say, ‘Yes, there’s only one bus, like there’s only one Starship Enterprise.”[3]

“Yeah! Yeah! Right! Right! Right!”

References[edit source | editbeta]

  1. a b Olson, Andrew. “Ken Babbs“. The Fountain Heads. Retrieved on June 2, 2008.
  2. ^ Olson,Andrew. “Ken Babbs“. The Fountain Heads . Retrieved on June 2, 2008.
  3. ^ “Ken Babbs quKen Babbs profile at IMDB