I finish my afternoon reading with “The Half-Skinned Steer” by Annie Proulx and I want to walk with Cowboy before the wind comes up but I decide on the flicker of the moment to re-read the very short story “Bullet in the Brain” by Tobias Wolff and I thumb on the TV to see what Anderson Cooper does with Trump calling into Fox & Friends for a half-hour rant earlier in the day.
I have been having pleasant flashes about avoiding news and sticking to my quiet efforts at a literary life in the mountain foothills above the Middle Rio Grande. I give up a search of my bookshelves for “Bullet in the Brain” and Cowboy lands in my lap with a toy just as I find the Wolff story on the internet, thanks to The New Yorker. I finish the story just as AC360 leads with Trump.
The Fox & Friends clip is hilarious — or scary — because the Ken and Barbie crew can’t get the president of the United States to shut up. AC360 then breaks in — for real — with live coverage from Korea because Kim Jong-un and Presidentare right now shaking hands and Kim Jong-un becomes the first North Korean leader to cross the DMZ and set foot in South Korea — a standoff that has persisted since at least 1950, the year after I was born. Far out. I am watching it on TV. It also occurs to me that the 34-year-old Kim Jong-un is maybe scooping Trump on the peacemaking front. In other news, Bill Cosby is convicted of sexual assault.
I get up to walk around and my one and only acid trip trickles into my mind from March 31, 1968, just over 50 years ago — a night that the anti-war movement seemed to triumph and LBJ blew our minds by admitting there was “division in the American house” and announcing he would not run for a second term.
My painter friend and acid-trip guide Jim and I watch LBJ on the TV in his rented room somewhere in Marin County. This doesn’t end the war or the draft, but we celebrate the night’s developments by dropping my first-ever LSD and hitchhiking across the Golden Gate to the city and then back, sparks still flying, to wander over Mt. Tam. The acid hits just as we enter what is now known as the Robin Williams Tunnel above Sausalito.
Once was enough with the LSD silliness, and all other mind-altering substances are history, too. No more TV tonight either or I’ll I be dreaming of Fox news mannequins lined up on couch listening to a whacked-out president. I take my days and nights straight now. I think of friends who served in Vietnam; war resisters and the anti-war movement; my brother and friends who served in Korea. I think of turning points in time, sitting in the dark, tripping on the wind.