in the catskills where rip van winkle slept for forty odd years and ichabod crane saw the headless horseman even stranger events than that took place in castalia where eighty giant oak trees lined both sides of the long driveway leading to the gatehouse. above the crystal clear lake the mansion with two towers and sixty bedrooms housed a hundred guests.
by neil selkirk
Dr. timothy leary was the philosopher king of this sprawling domain of carriage houses, guest house where Dr. richard alpert and his family stayed. there were also meditation house and a watchtower where every twenty four hours somebody with the authority of the talisman hung round his neck and with lsd running in his veins and sparkling in his brains was vigilant to altered states of consciousness; someone was always tripping at millbrook; that was the idea.
leary occupied a suite of rooms; parlor, bedroom and laboratory where he concocted the 'sacrament' for everyone. periodically leary with a troop of followers would sally forth to give the light and sound extravaganza which became the trademark of the leary campaign
to invite all to "tune in, turn on, drop out".
s. worked most of the day on wood gathering and splitting for fireplace.
work at millbrook was voluntary and if you chose to, you could just pray all day and attend yoga class and readings. Or you could trip the light fantastic with the freaks…. but s. was just as happy splitting wood as taking postures to harness the quiet energy of the body. he wasn't really interested in hindu theory or leary theory. he had no wish to release the kundalini power coiled at the base of his spine. And he had already explored the effects of drugs and his mind.
he liked to sweat and talk and laugh with the men and feel strong in a body deliciously exhausted by the end of the day.
s. was, as always and everywhere, the self appointed fire man; the sole tender of the blazing hearth. Now and then he headed into the the deep woods of 3,000 acres with a knapsack, his sketchpad and pencils, a snack and a jug of water and climbed to the bald summit of the hill. he loved the crisp fall days when the sun could still warm you.
s. was in a mood to allow himself to be loved. bali hovered over him like a hen over chicks. on the floor resting alongside the tropical fish tank, s. knew how a woman feels when they are loved; acceptance for the moment at least. S. was just somewhat embarrassed to be wooed by an indian dancer. To be kissed as he lay there, vulnerable, and in front of everybody.
bali ram. a former boy dancer in the court of the King of Nepal, Bali was a true child of the east. from early childhood was trained ….. storytelling dancer. bali reminded s. of sabu. the same golden skinned indian form. you could agree that it was classical.
leary invited bill haines, sarasvati and bali ram to his private rooms. bali dragged s. along under protest. “no, come. you’re with me.”
in the parlor all four of the visitors were sitting on one of the beds there.
leary came out of the back room with a silver serving tray with four doses in tall aperitif glasses. leary and the others took the dose without hesitation and s. just sat there. he was not identified with the acid. S. was a transparent presence, only considering being left out, he was free just to be there…. watchful but unexpectant.
timothy got up, went into the back bedroom (his lab) and came back with one more dose for s.. leary bowed slightly and offered the rose tinted gold rimmed chalice with both hands… sort of a namaste.
later bali was effusive “i felt so close to you at that moment, almost that you were me, and i was so proud of your cool detachment. i love you so much. do you love me?” “yes, bali, of course i do.”
that night a whole troop of time bandits tripping went out together into the cold night breathing cold vapor clouds, taking in the surreal starry sky, very happy. bill haines announced “look at this miracle… the whole universe, and it’s a free show.” as if he had ordered the galaxies to appear himself.
everything was geared for special impressions. the communal ‘fish room’,with wall to wall Persian carpets. there were coffee tables littered with beautiful art books. Next to the tropical aquarium, eight feet long on the floor was a giant blue glass urn filled to the brim with rubies and emerald stones (glass stage replica jewels and semi-precious stones). S. spent some time playing with them on the oriental carpet.
ginsburg was there at that time and arm in arm with the canadian journalist who had, only earlier that morning chased him around and around the house screaming, “you poisoned me, i’ll kill you, you sonofabitch!” apparently, allen had slipped a dose into the poor man’s coffee. but now he was as happy as a kitten in a dairy.