Charles Rammelkamp

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The First LSD Trip in America

First guy to trip on LSD in the USA?
Doctor Robert Hyde, as in “Doctor-Jekyll-and-.”
His partner at Boston Psychopathic Hospital,
Max Rinkel, Army psychiatrist, refugee from Hitler’s Germany,
got the drug from Sandoz Chemicals in Switzerland,
half a dozen years after Albert Hofmann discovered it.

After taking a hundred micrograms himself,
Hyde experimented on hundreds
of unwitting patients at Vermont State Hospital,
including me, Luke Hendricks.

I’d complained about feeling depressed;
my life seemed pointless, going nowhere,
and then wham!,
a hundred and fifty micrograms later
this was real mental illness!
I was paranoid, convinced
the doctors could hear my thoughts,
as I watched them turn into lizards
in lab coats, right before my eyes.

Hyde’s money came from CIA,
Project Artichoke, later called MKULTRA,
which Allen Dulles authorized
after Hofmann told him during the war,
he “became so terrified,
he’d have confessed to anything.”

Dulles’ vision? Mind control:
The Manchurian Candidate.

But in retrospect I got off easy.
I could have been like Whitey Bulger in Atlanta.

Leaving the Building

Those kids who boast Artwork by Gene McCormick
they attended a 1975 Stones concert
where they had that giant inflatable penis,
or they saw the Beatles at Shea or Candlestick –
well, I guess they ain’t kids no more,
and neither am I, right?
But I got them beat.

I was at the show in Minneapolis in 1956,
at the Auditorium, when it was on Second Avenue,
where Al Dvorin started using the phrase,
“Elvis has left the building.”

Dvorin was Elvis’ regular stage announcer.
True, Horace Logan coined the phrase in Shreveport,
but it was after Dvorin said it, it became an idiom –
a punchline, a catchphrase – you know,
‘game over, go home,’ ‘over and done with.’
Part of the language, part of the culture.

I guess the irony is,
Dvorin died in a car accident
coming home from a concert
by an Elvis impersonator, in Palm Springs.
Thrown out of the car, died at the scene.
He was 81, had a long career as a bandleader,
talent agent, trumpet player,
but the first line in his obituary?
Yeah, you guessed it.

Makes you wonder
how you’ll be remembered
once the party’s over,
when you’ve closed the door behind you.


Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems, Me and Sal Paradise, was published last year by FutureCycle Press. Two full-length collections are forthcoming in 2020, Catastroika, from Apprentice House, and Ugler Lee from Kelsay Books.