My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman

Acid again

Heavy trips, egomaniacs get schooled, new tracks by Underworld & LSD and reflections on Exposé Noir.

Michael Pollan, “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence (Penguin Group)

The first time I ever had a mystical psychedelic experience was as a teenager in my basement bedroom. I had been told not to take it alone. But as an only child, if I wanted to take acid on a Tuesday night, there was no one else to do it with. So down the hatch it went.

The first thing I remember is being in bed, feeling very comfortable. But before I knew it, I became aware that my body had disintegrated. I couldn’t feel anything. It wasn’t an analgesic sensation either; I had physically ceased to be. Somehow, this wasn’t scary either. It was more simply curious. I just thought, “That’s weird, I don’t have a body anymore.” Suddenly, I had left my room entirely, and found myself in some sort of blank, dark space. It was as if I was floating through the cosmos, flying above a series of what looked to be shiny silver orbs, which I supposed at the time (if I could have consciously supposed anything) were celestial bodies, like planets or stars. One by one, I glided over these gorgeous glistening pearls.

Then, I seemed to come to what felt like an end — the end of the solar system, the end of the universe. I wondered what would happen next, but just as I was wondering, I floated down and back and started travelling underneath these gargantuan and wondrous worlds. Wow! Space and time folded in on themselves, I thought. There is no end, I thought. The universe is donut-shaped, I thought. I’d never read anything about physics, or relativity, or the chaos theory. I’d been a solidly average science student. But somehow, I’d been shown (by whom?) a little sliver of all there is to see.

The next day at school, I related my experience from the night before to a friend called Marc. Marc was much older — a college student who looked like the quintessential headbanger. He wore his black hair long, down past the middle of his back, and a black leather biker jacket with white tassels on the sleeves. There was a little bit of Otto from The Simpsons in his vibe. I told Marc about the acid, and the out-of-body experience, and the universal revelations that I felt I’d had, and he smiled at me and said, “Oh yeah, one of those trips, man!”

Exposé Noir, May 24, 2019, Studio Notre-Dame Warehouse

A lot of technical devices have to work right to make a rave seem seamless. There are the smoke machines and strobe lights, of course, but the music — which is almost all electronically produced — is funnelled and forced through a series of black boxes, circuits and wires, and pushed at high sound pressure levels out from sympathetic speaker systems that look like they could blow at any moment.

On this particular Friday, I had this thought as I watched Danji Buck-Moore (aka Anabasine) set up for his midnight DJ set. The turntables weren’t plugged in, so he was scrambling to arrange all the equipment on deck before the previous act’s track ended. As if Murphy himself were there, enforcing his own law, the patch cables weren’t long enough to reach the mixer. So, just in the nick of time, they were turned sideways. And then, without missing a beat, a bunch of old-school jungle happened.

Film projectionists know this feeling. It’s like performing a reel change. We call it 20 minutes of boredom, followed by eight seconds of panic. But if you do your job properly, nobody notices a thing. It’s a miracle, really, that anything happens.

Underworld, “Soniamode (Aditya Game Version)”, Drift Songs (Smith Hyde Productions)

Of all the 1990s techno acts still at it today, none is classier than Underworld. They have discovered that eternal creative spring, and bless us often with a cup of its life-affirming elixir. Relax and watch them work.

David Letterman, “My Next Guest Needs no Introduction” with Kanye West, May 31, 2019 (Netflix)

If anyone knows how to handle a difficult, megalomaniacal guest, it’s David Letterman. On the Oct. 1, 1986 episode of Letterman’s old NBC Late Night program, there is a remote segment in which Dave shows a tourist couple from Louisville around New York’s mean streets. They visit the Empire State Building, pick out postcards and take a goofy group snapshot in an instant photo booth. They then venture up to Trump Tower, making a surprise visit into the offices of the Donald, who at that time was a regular Letterman guest.

Dave delighted in torturing Trump: he would call Donald “the world’s most famous slumlord”; he would badger Trump about how much cash he could produce at the drop of a hat. Trump’s hair, Trump’s ties — anything and everything odd about him became a Letterman punchline. On this particular occasion, as Dave and the Louisville couple headed out the door, Letterman needled the notoriously OCD Donald, pointing to the floor, saying: “There’s a spot over here, Don, on the carpet.”

LSD, “Process 7”, Second Process (LSD)

Let the children lose it,
Let the children use it,
Let all the children boogie.