7th August 1999 - Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters visit Stonehenge

800px-Furthur_01On 7th August 1999, Ken Kesey’s ‘Wheres Merlin?’ tour reached Stonehenge[1].

The New York Times called Kesey ‘the Pied Piper of the psychedelic era’. He was probably most famous as the author of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’.

The tour had the function of:

freeing novelist Kesey from the isolation of writing to engage in interactive theatre with his extended family and anyone else who happens along for the ride. It seems to work too, at the very least coaxing a smile from everyone who sees it.

Festooned with swirls of paint, murals of superheroes, characters from the Wizard of Oz and the Sistine Chapel, a leopard, various birds, fishes and psilocybin mushrooms, it glitters with fake diamonds, mirrors and psychedelic mosaics. A functioning museum piece, an instant magnet for the curious, it is full of charm, wonder, aged Pranksters and their offspring[2].

The night before the visit to Stonehenge:

Kesey carries on drinking and talking in the Castle Inn Pub[3], spending most of the evening with Arthur Pendragon, a self- proclaimed "wizened king" dressed in Druid robes[4].

The Pranksters’ diarist wrote this of the visit to Stonehenge:

Arriving at Stonehenge, a collective gasp eminated from the passengers at the sight of this magnificent set of stones. We should have realized the video documentary of Arthur Clarke we watched on the flight over was another clue recalling the opening of 2001 with the monolith on the moon. We investigated the rocks comprising the Inner Circle, mysterious and silent, veiled in past meaning of unknown use. The marching hordes of tourists all were walking around the circle in the opposite direction from the true magical direction, clockwise, and maybe all that attention is unwinding a little of the Magic[5].

Image Credit

Jmabel [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Footnotes

[1] tHrouGh The Looking Glass - Where’s Merlin Tour 1999 Itinerary

[2] Grateful Dead/1999/Gavin Martin/Independent, The/Kesey Rides Again/07/02/2014 17:10:43/http://www.rocksbackpages.com/Library/Article/kesey-rides-again

[3] The Castle Inn or ‘Old Castle Inn’ pub is now the Harvester

[4] Grateful Dead/1999/Gavin Martin/Independent, The/Kesey Rides Again/07/02/2014 17:10:43/http://www.rocksbackpages.com/Library/Article/kesey-rides-again

[5] Where’s Merlin?Where’s Merlin? on the ‘wayback machine’(Internet archive)

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