Recently, I read the article “Taking The Magic Out of Magic Mushrooms” (NYT 7/16/22) by Dr. Dana G. Smith a health and science writer and a former psychology researcher.Seems there has been clinical trials at NYU whereby large doses of psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in “magic mushrooms”, have been administered to patients dealing with anxiety and depression, especially those following a cancer diagnosis. The article describes in graphic detail what one patient experienced during his “trip”. That study found that psychedelic drugs like psilocybin are remarkably good at alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety — even in many people who do not respond to currently prescribed medications.Hmmm…the article took me back to another time.

TICKETS TORN IN HALF: FEBRUARY 20, 1971:BLACK SABBATH/J.GEILS BAND/SIR LORD BALTIMORE:Three nights before I was out on a date viewing THE FACES, a snowy, cold night, overall a great show and date. Tonight I returned to FILLMORE EAST, orchestra seats toward the back of the hall, left side, to see a show with an acquaintance of mine, not necessarily a friend, but a nice guy nonetheless who had an extra ticket.  He called early afternoon asking if I wanted to go with him. Never one to say “No” away we went in my car. Taking my car was probably not the smartest move I’ve ever made but, hey, smart moves at 19 years of age isn’t the gold standard.This was a late show, scheduled for 11:30PM and since psychedelics were involved timing is of the essence. One could say in hindsight that taking psilocybin at a BLACK SABBATH show( my first and only) was probably my second mistake of the evening.

   The first act was SIR LORD BALTIMORE, a trio out of Brooklyn who had a drummer who was also their lead vocalist. Rumor has it that Bill Graham, after seeing this band perform that weekend decided that he had had enough. These guys were the pits, dreadful droning, a pathetic excuse for music.

  The J. GEILS BAND out of Boston was next, this their debut at FILLMORE EAST. I had wanted to see this band after hearing their record played many times by Bobby “Wizard” Wayne, the DJ on WCBS-FM. Most nights he played their stuff as often as he could. Strange occurrence seeing them tonight as lively as they were. The drummer had a few extra arms, the guitar player had greased back hair that shined brightly, and the singer moved like a gazelle. The harmonica player was huge, with hair exploding out of his head, almost touching the ceiling. The music was incredible, the visuals imagined, mere pleasant hallucinations. 

   Whew, while Geils was good, I still to this day did not know what to make of BLACK SABBATH except to say I was scared shitless the moment the lights dimmed. The music was unique, grinding, slow in pace, and very, very loud. The four piece ensemble was off to the right of the stage, seemed to be huddled together in close proximity. The rest of the stage looked empty to me. Then, the sound exploded from a wall of amplifiers. “N.I.B”, a song about Satan falling in love?, “War Pigs”, “Black Sabbath”, then the I AM IRON MAN intro to “Iron Man”…help me, what did I get myself in to?. I need to go home. I closed my eyes hoping it would end but alas, it did not. A few more tunes, a long guitar solo( he’s left handed) and the obligatory drum solo, whew…I was sweating profusely in February. Then, “Paranoid”, the place is going nuts, I’m shivering in my seat…”More, More”, the crowd is calling them back, me thinking,“Oh Lord, please make it stop, I’ll never do it again”… “Fairies Wear Boots”, Oh no, the singer is looking directly at me, pointing at me, taunting me, “Son, son, you’ve gone too far ‘Cause smokin’ and trippin’ is all that you do”. Finally, mercifully it ended.My partner for the evening loved it.

   Fortunately, I met a (sober) friend who needed a ride home so I tossed him my keys. My car was parked on a street by Astor Place, near “The Cube”. Some folks were having fun spinning it, sorta like my brain. After arriving home with the sunrise I went to bed but not immediately to sleep as the music was still ringing in my ears. 

   The next morning, more like early afternoon I was awaken by my mother’s voice calling up to my room informing me that a young lady, waiting in her car, wanted to speak with me. I thought, “What hell awaits me now?”…

to be continued…