Apple's Bad Trip
Date: Thu, 20 May 93 02:55:45 PDT
Subject: Apple's Bad Trip
From: Alex Reith <email@example.com>
From: Mark Gendron
From San Jose Mercury News 5-17-93 Front Page--
APPLE DROPS LSD PIONEER INTO PARTY, HAS BUMMER
By Rory J. O'Connor
"They thought we were all loaded and dangerous"--Ken Kesey
Invite author Ken Kesey to take the stage at a 1960s "groove fest" party,
and you might well expect the former leader of the Merry Pranksters to
wind up mentioning LSD along the way.
But it apparently surprised the producers of jsut such a party at the San
Jose Convention Center Thursday night: They unceremoniously threw Kesey
and his friends, including former pranksters, off the stage, saying the
outfit paying the tab couldn't abide its stage being used for "promoting
That might be expected at an American Legion fete. But what surprised
Kesey was that this party was produced and paid for by Apple Computer
Inc., the Cupertino Company that built a counter-culture reputation for
its computers in the 1970s and 1980s as strong as Kesey's Pranksters did
for their causes in the 60s.
"It came as a total surprise to us. We were absolutely straight,"
Kesey said from his Oregon home Sunday. "But they thought we were all
loaded and dangerous."
Apple hired Kesey, author of "One flews over the Cuckoo's Nest" and
"Sometimes a great notion" to be part of the entertainment for the theme
party, one of several the company held for 3,500 independant programmers
and Apple employees as part of its Worldwide Developers Conference last
Kesey, who was headed to San Jose anyway to meet with a film producer,
drove to the party from his Oregon farm in a replica of "FURTHUR", the
bus the Merry Pranksters drove from Kesey's home in La Honda around the
country while experimenting with LSD in the mid-60s. Kesey the Pranksters
and the bus trip were immortalized in Tom Wolfe's best selling book "The
Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test."
Kesey parked the bus in the courtyard of the convention center. Then
while a band Kesey described as "dressed up like Paul Revere and the
Raiders, wearing lots of paisley and day-glo" took a break, he began
"telling his warrior stories" from the 60s, a local friend of Kesey's
" I was trying to relate what was happening with computers and
microtechnology and virtual reality to what was going on in the 60s,
which was to use new programs instead of the same old programs," Kesey
said. " I said we weren't there to join in the 'Laugh-in.' I said we were
going to crash this program."
But about 20 minutes into his monologue, Kesey suggested to the audience
that the federal government should have dealt with the Branch Davidian
standoff in Waco, Texas, by spraying the compund with LSD instead of
bullets. That's when a woman helping to produce the show rushed onstage
and told Kesey he was through because of the drug reference.
"Frankly, the producers weren't even born back then," said Kesey's
friend, who didn't want her name used. " They didn't have a clue what to
expect. They had no idea who they were dealing with."
Kesey and his entourage then got back on their bus and started to
leave---only to have the producers insist he couldn't drive it away while
the party was going on. They called extra security guards, including one
armed with a gun, Kesey said. But Kesey eventually got the bus out, and
headed back to Oregon.
A reporter's call to Apple for comment Friday initially was answered by a
secretary who asked how to spell Kesey's name---and then asked who Kesey
Eventually, an Apple spokeswoman returned the call and acknowledged that
Kesey had attended the party at Apple's invitation. But she declined to
discuss the what happened, saying the event was "a private party."
Kesey said he was just as happy the producers pulled the plug on him,
noting that there were no spotlights and it was hard for the audience to
hear him. "The whole thing was ill-programmed to start with," kesey said.
"They didn't want live people. It came as a surprise to them."
© 1993 Peter Langston