Merry Pranksters  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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The Merry Pranksters are a group of people who originally formed around American novelist Ken Kesey of importance to the history of North American counterculture.

Members

Its members and sometimes lived communally at his homes in California and Oregon. Notable members include Kesey's best friend Ken Babbs and Mountain Girl (born Carolyn Adams but best known as Mrs. Jerry Garcia), Wavy Gravy, Paul Krassner, Stewart Brand, Del Close, Paul Foster and others. Their early escapades were best chronicled by Tom Wolfe in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Ken Kesey once described Wolfe's book as, "99.9% accurate" although he also complained that the celebrity status the book conveyed upon him was in some ways a burden.

Influence on North American counterculture

Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters helped shape the developing character of the 1960s counterculture when they embarked on a cross-country voyage during the summer of 1964 in a psychedelic school bus named "Furthur." Beginning in 1959, Kesey had volunteered as a research subject for medical trials financed by the CIA's MK ULTRA project. These trials tested the effects of LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and other psychedelic drugs. After the medical trials, Kesey continued experimenting on his own, and involved many close friends; collectively they became known as "The Merry Pranksters." The Pranksters visited Harvard LSD proponent Timothy Leary at his Millbrook, New York retreat, and experimentation with LSD and other psychedelic drugs, primarily as a means for internal reflection and personal growth, became a constant during the Prankster trip. The Pranksters created a direct link between the 1950s Beat Generation and the 1960s psychedelic scene; the bus was driven by Beat icon Neal Cassady, Beat poet Allen Ginsberg was onboard for a time, and they dropped in on Cassady's friend, Beat author Jack Kerouac--though Kerouac declined participation in the Prankster scene. After the Pranksters returned to California, they popularized the use of LSD at so-called "Acid Tests," which initially were held at Kesey's home in La Honda, California, and then at many other West Coast venues. Experimentation with LSD and other psychedelic drugs became a major component of 1960s counterculture, influencing philosophy, art, music and styles of dress.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Merry Pranksters" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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