'Kesey's Jail Journal' Published 

'Kesey's Jail Journal' Published 
Posted by CN Staff on January 11, 2004 at 07:53:15 PT
By Jeff Barnard, The Associated Press 
Source: Associated Press 
Pleasant Hill, Ore. -- When Ken Kesey was kicked loose after spending the 1967 Summer of Love in jail for a marijuana bust, the guards asked the famous author, psychedelic explorer and prankster if he was going to write a book and include them in it. "I think so," Kesey replied. Thirty-six years later and two years after the author's death, "Kesey's Jail Journal" (Viking, 2003) is out, including two dozen color plates of collages he made from ink drawings entwined with his handwritten reflections laid down in notebooks smuggled out by a buddy who got busted with him. 
Looking for something that went beyond the two novels he had already written, Kesey melded words and drawings in a psychedelic '60s version of an illuminated manuscript that contains echoes of the battle between freedom and authority he described in his most famous book, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." "He was trying to make the whole page move, so it would convey something beyond what the words themselves could say," said his widow, Faye, at the Willamette Valley farm where the family moved after Kesey got out of jail. Perhaps the best stuff never got out of jail, she said. His last two notebooks were confiscated by guards just before his release. "Ken had always hoped the other journals would show up," she said. "It would have made it so much more complete if they had. I have a feeling they are still out there somewhere." In 1967, Kesey was a star of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll freak show going on around San Francisco. It was five years after publication of "Cuckoo's Nest," and three years after his psychedelic bus ride across America, chronicled in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test." Kesey's six-month sentence to the San Mateo County Jail stemmed from a raid on his rural home La Honda in the Coast Range above Palo Alto, Calif., where Kesey and the Merry Pranksters partied with Hells Angels, tried to make sense of the movies they had taken on the bus trip and orchestrated the acid tests that helped turn the world on to LSD.  Doing time Kesey was busted along with Page Browning, and together they did their time. Described by Kesey as "a big ex-Shore Patrol Navy man with arms like hawsers and a face like a barnacle (who) made a very valuable backup in the lockup," Browning kept the journals hidden from guards and smuggled them out in girlie magazines. Kesey and Browning started out in the lockup, but soon qualified for Sheriff's Honor Camp, an experimental program where jailbirds who could be trusted spent their time clearing brush in the redwoods not far from Kesey's home at La Honda and talking about their problems in group therapy sessions. Ed McClanahan, a writing pal of Kesey's from Stanford, visited him on Sundays, and McClanahan's wife gave Kesey the art supplies that he used for the drawings. "He was a terrific graphic artist," said McClanahan, who wrote an introduction for the book. "I remember one time we were wandering around downtown Eugene (Ore.) somewhere. We were both pretty thoroughly loaded. He had some artist friend. We wandered into his studio. Ken picks up a scrap of paper. It was an odd shape. He wrote the word 'space' on that paper. Then he filled the whole paper up with those letters. Everything he touched turned to art." The journal describes learning the ropes of jail life, the complex cast of characters behind bars, and an encounter with a famous sex criminal who wrote poetry. Bright colors, big letters and bold drawings convey volume and emotion. At honor camp, Kesey could walk among the trees and worked in the tailor shop, but still felt the fear created by guards having complete power over his future. "There's this Wayne, old USMC sergeant that never lightens up an ounce on me, yet some way conveys that it is for my betterment and not just grinding his ax (as is the case with most of the deputies) so he spooks me continually but, well, you know," Kesey wrote. Family farm After his release, Kesey moves his family to the Oregon farm where Faye still lives, their son, Jed, is buried, and the original psychedelic bus named Furthur lies a-mouldering in a swamp. There, Kesey cut and pasted the notebooks onto a series of boards that he envisioned as a big color book. Pieces appeared in the magazine Ramparts, but Kesey abandoned the book, deciding the print technology of the day could not do justice to the colors, McClanahan said. The book languished in the archives of the University of Oregon until about 1995, when Kesey revived it with editor David Sanborn, consolidating characters, smoothing out the narrative and adding a poem before his death in 2001 from liver cancer. "He'd just gotten a good start," Faye Kesey said. "It got too complicated there when he was on chemotherapy and stuff." When Kesey gave the pieces to Sanborn the spring before he died, there was enough to make it something Kesey would be happy with, Sanborn said. "It was like pieces of a puzzle," Sanborn said. "Some of it was in order. Some of the pieces weren't in place yet. But you could tell where they went. I filed off a few rough spots. A few pieces were left out. I couldn't figure out where they went. "You know, writing novels was part of the overall way he manifested his creativity, but that was never the original plan," Sanborn said. "Everything he ever did had graphic visual art. His clothing. His rake and ax have painted handles. He was an artist. The floor of his living room is a gigantic mandala. He did that all the time. And he was good." Source: Associated Press Author: Jeff Barnard, The Associated Press Published: Sunday, January 11, 2004 Copyright: 2004 The Associated Press Related Articles & Web Sites:Kesey's Jail Journal Ken Kesey, 66, Dies; Led '60s Bus Ride Ken Kesey, Novelist Dies at 66
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on January 12, 2004 at 11:58:05 PT
Are We On The Bus?
I went into the link in the article and I want to buy and will buy a bus. They are so cool!
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Comment #4 posted by E_Johnson on January 11, 2004 at 12:19:48 PT
Caring works more than cynicism
People really did suffer under Soviet rule. Political prisoners -- they invented them. Read up on it. Learn from it. Because this is your struggle now.
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Comment #3 posted by yippierevolutionary on January 11, 2004 at 10:22:24 PT
Russia is a democracy now
Putin can steal elections just like Bush can!!
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Comment #2 posted by E_Johnson on January 11, 2004 at 09:41:29 PT
Soviet America
"Perhaps the best stuff never got out of jail, she said. His last two notebooks were confiscated by guards just before his release."This is something people used to say to hippies and freaks back then but I'd like to say it to the prison guards, wherever in this world or the other they may be now:WHY DON'T YOU JUST MOVE TO COMMUNIST RUSSIA!!!!!Oops Commmunist Russia is no more, so their souls will be left to wander without a home.
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Comment #1 posted by Truth on January 11, 2004 at 08:17:37 PT
Too bad that Ken's only legal choice of a recreational drug was alcohol, if he had safer, legal alternatives (cannabis) he might still be with us. I know that I for one really miss him, he wasn't the life of the party he was the party.
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