Saturday, November 06, 2010

Timothy Leary Laughed

I may have written about this before, but a post on Facebook made me think of it.

I saw Mr Leary speak twice in Austin, once in the Spring of 1977, at the UT Ballroom, and a couple of years later, at the Armadillo World Headquarters. He was assuredly one of the best speakers I have EVER seen! Full of energy and committed to his subject. He discussed space travel. At the time, there was a lot of talk about the L-5 Society and space colonization. I remember him talking about the people who listen for radio signals, and saying, "To hell with sitting around waiting for them to contact us! I want to go find them!"

He was on a book tour, and I bought a copy of "The Intelligence Agents" at Grok Books on The Drag (remember Grok Books, Austinites?), where he was sitting outside in the back yard (yes, Dearly Beloved, the bookstore had a back yard) with his gorgeous wife, signing them. There was a line, and I had Chandra in a backpack. As the line snaked around there was a time when I was fairly close to him, but still far back in the line. Somebody handed him a copy of a book by Robert Anton Wilson. It was one of the "Illuminatus" series, and it was dedicated to Timothy Leary. I had read it. Tim held it up and told the crowd what a good book it was, and that everyone should read it.

I, being possessed of more mouth than brain, even then, piped up, "Yeah. He's the only person I've read who has anything good to say about you!"

The collective gasp from those before and behind me in line was drowned out by gales of laughter from Mr Leary.

Charlie Vaughn* was standing behind me in the line, with his ever-present camera. He missed the shot of Timothy Leary's laugh, and was miffed at me for not warning him that I was going to say something. How could I, when I didn't even know, myself, what I was going to say? Or that I was going to say anything, for that matter.

Sorry, Charlie.

I really, really enjoyed making Timothy Leary laugh.

*Charlie hated being called that. His name is Charles Phillip Vaughn (if memory serves me correctly).


  1. You've got the BEST stories, Ronni!

  2. Meeting Timothy Leary, however briefly, was excellent!