Leary at the Human Be-In
Video: Dr. Timothy Leary at the Human Be-In, Jan. 1967
Dr. Timothy Leary pioneered the use of LSD in the 1960s, escaped prison in the 1970s, wrote inspired essays on mind expansion and evolution while dabbling in software in the 1980s, and became a multimedia star in the 1990s, and even since passing on (on May 31, 1996 at 1:00 p.m.), he continues to be in the forefront of whatever counterculture you have in mind.
Timothy Leary’s dead. / No, n-n-no! He’s outside, looking in!
— The Moody Blues, “Legend of a Mind” (Ray Thomas)
Hope I die before I get old.
— The Who, “My Generation” (Pete Townshend)
Eat drink and be merry / For tomorrow we die…
— The Dave Matthews Band, “Tripping Billies” (D. Matthews)
Come together, right now, over me.
— The Beatles, “Come Together” (Lennon/McCartney)
You can be anyone this time around.
— Timothy Leary
Timothy Leary: true hero, world shaker, psychedelic ranger, cosmic rogue, lovable Irish drunk, charlatan, whatever you think of him… When it came time for him to die, he did not do any of the absurd things he and his friends said he might do, such as having his head frozen, or committing suicide “live” on the Web; antics that now seem carefully crafted to make us all amused by his passing. He introduced us to a new way of looking at death, perhaps in a way that the human race never has before. And the best summation of this new way of looking at death is by John Perry Barlow, friend, EFF founder, Grateful Dead lyricist, and fellow traveler in the void, in an email to his friends:
“… he died, without pretending that he was ‘really going to get well any day now,’ without permitting himself to become a ghoulish and futile medical experiment, without contributing to the stupefying mass denial that causes almost 80% of America’s health care dollars to be blown on the last six months of life… He died unashamed and having, as usual, a great time.”
I met Tim several times — he surprised me by showing up at a high-tech conference in San Diego (with Ben and Jerry of ice cream fame), and drank the entire honor bar in my hotel room in Beverly Hills during another conference (in which I showed him the above video).
My favorite anecdote about Tim is when I visited his place in Beverly Hills in 1995. I arrived at about 11 p.m., the starting time for a rumored party, and I was the first to show up. I found a note on the unlocked front door that read, “Come in. Tim is taking a nap. Party at 11.”
Excerpt of “White Rabbit” (Grace Slick). By the Jefferson Airplane, from the album Surrealistic Pillow, Irving Music (BMI). Under license from BMG Music and Rondor Music Publishing, Inc. (BMI).