NEW YORK. It’s been a half century since the Age of Aquarius began, but most observers agree that the potent brew of psychedelic drugs, casual sex and anti-war politics that were mixed together during the “Summer of Love” in 1967 changed America forever.
Two of NBC’s on-air personalities are suffering the after-shocks of that era personally after a tribute to the golden anniversary of the psychedelic era went tragically awry Friday on “Today.” The cause of the trauma? Some bad LSD–lysergic acid diethylamide, the hallucinogenic drug that fueled the art, music and visionary thinking of the 60′s–ingested by Willie Geist and Hoda Kotb.
Today, sometimes referred to as “The Today Show,” is a news and talk show that includes unscripted demonstrations by chefs, and it was this type of feature that the show’s producers had in mind when they invited a sixty-six year-old former hippie who goes by the name “Universe” to serve as “tour guide” for an LSD “trip” for the show’s on-air personalities. “We checked the guy out and he seemed legit,” said NBC executive Thomas Henderson. “He wore sandals and showed us a copy of the Grateful Dead’s ‘Anthem of the Sun,’ an album so bad you have to be stoned to listen to it.”
“Universe” gave a tablet of LSD to each co-anchor, and after a few minutes of polite chatter, Geist began to grow alarmed at the crush of tourists who press up against the windows at the Rockefeller Center studio where the show is taped. “What do those people want,” he is heard saying with alarm. “Where is Keokuk, Iowa?”
The drug overtakes Kotb a few minutes later. “I feel different,” she says tentatively as “Universe” urges her to elaborate. “I feel as if I have found the keys to the doors of heaven,” she replied in a dreamy tone, “and I can see the face of God–who is our next guest,” before a technician cut to a commercial for Poli-Grip, the denture adhesive.
LSD is illegal, although it was used by the U.S. government in a series of experiments on unsuspecting housewives during the 1950′s to simulate the effects of a possible Soviet takeover of America using mind-control drugs, according to Department of Defense archivist Leonard Holmes. “It was one part genuine defense preparedness,” Holmes notes, “and one part ‘Let’s see what would happen to June Cleaver if she got totally stoned out of her gourd.’”
LSD is often confused with the Mormon Church, whose official name is the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, sometimes referred to by the abbreviation “LDS.” Individuals who ingest LSD before joining the LDS often suffer psychotic reactions at church-sponsored ham-and-bean suppers.
NBC filled the remaining ten minutes of air time with highlights from past shows, including a performance by the largest collection of xylophone players ever assembled in one spot, and a champion baton-twirling squad from Muncie, Indiana.