‘Albert Hofmann (11 January 1906 – 29 April 2008) was a Swiss scientist who was the first person to synthesize, ingest, and learn of the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), a drug that came to be synonymous with the 50s and 60s beatnik and hippy generations in The USA and worldwide. LSD was legal in the beginning including in The USA until it became illegal in California on October 6, 1966, and other states and countries soon followed.
‘While it was legal LSD was distributed mostly in liquid form and as pills, capsules, or sometimes dropped onto sugar cubes. It was available for purchase from Sandoz laboratories in Switzerland, where Hofmann worked and many medical applications were under research.
Albert Hofmann holding a Timothy Leary Blotter Art Sheet
‘After the US government made LSD illegal people continued to use LSD, but it was manufactured and distributed through underground illegal channels. A popular way of distributing LSD was called “blotter”. It involved saturating absorbent blotting paper with liquid LSD. Later the papers were perforated along the lines of a grid so that doses could be torn apart easily, and small symbolic pictures were added to the paper to provide clues as to the origin of the LSD that paper contained. Not surprisingly, considering the substance it was used to distribute, the symbolic pictures gradually became creative and amazing designs, later gaining independent existence any many designs have never been used to actually distribute LSD.
‘The guy who originally gave space to blotter art and identified it as an art form was Mark McCloud, a San Francisco based artist and former art professor. His collection – part of which you can find on his website, Blotter Barn – started in the 70s and today he has over 400 framed prints and tens of thousands (!!!) of unframed sheets, constituting the largest collection of blotter art in the world.
Original Perforating machine
‘In the early days blotter art could only be obtained with LSD already on it. McCloud bought these sheets, matted and framed them, and hung them like fine art. It was initially quite difficult for McCloud to collect the undipped (and hence legal) sheets of art, so he’d have to venture out into the underground and ask dealers if they could get him the same image on an undipped sheet, but over time he won people’s trust and managed to get hold of undipped sheets. Later on he also began to produce his own images and his collection has shifted to a completely legal blotter art archive.
‘That did not prevent him from experiencing troubles with law enforcements agencies and he was prosecuted in 2003. After a two-week-long trial in federal court in Kansas City, Mo., McCloud was acquitted by a local jury of felony charges of conspiracy to distribute LSD. A guilty verdict could have carried a penalty of life in prison. Federal drug authorities spent millions in their effort to nail McCloud, 47, conducting phone taps, monitoring his mail and conducting surveillance from neighboring apartments before the SWAT-style raid by an FBI-DEA task force in early 2000. Police seized his collection of almost 400 framed LSD blotters, which range from a print of Peter Rabbit from the early 1970s to a recent example from Europe showing two lesbian aliens. Authorities also seized 33,000 sheets of McCloud’s own blotter art printed on rag paper. None of the material had any traces of the drug.
Mark McCloud in the late ’60s
‘During the trial, assistant U.S. attorney Mike Oliver argued that McCloud used his role as an artist to distribute LSD through the country. McCloud’s attorney, Doron Weinberg of San Francisco, contended that McCloud wasn’t responsible for the use of his prints by others as a vehicle for illegal drugs. The case was tried in Kansas City because blotter paper linked to McCloud and impregnated with LSD was seized in a 1999 raid there. Among McCloud’s defense witnesses were New York art critic Carlo McCormick, who told the court that McCloud’s work is part of an American folk-art tradition. McCloud’s blotter art has been exhibited at Psychedelic Solution in New York and at the San Francisco Art Institute.
‘Another person that took blotter art to a new dimension was Thomas Lyttle, who after a meeting with Mark McCloud, started my his own collection of undipped blotter art. After collecting for a while, he started to approach people central to psychedelic culture, such as Albert Hofmann, Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey and many others, and asked them to sign limited edition, hand-numbered blotter art prints. These then were matted and framed per museum display specs, and sold. This was the beginning of what has been termed “vanity” blotter art. That is, blotter art which has been produced solely for art’s sake as a collectible, and which was never intended to be dipped with any drugs. Some autographed vanity blotter art has been advertised for sale for thousands of Dollars.’ — trancentral.tv
Timothy Leary & Mark McCloud, 1994
from SFAQ & VICE
So Mark, you collect tabs of acid as artwork. Why?
Mark McCloud: This happened because I have an interest from my childhood in small, well-made things. When I was growing up in Argentina they put out these little books and the one I remember most clearly was called “Weaponry of the Second World War.” You would buy a stick of gum and inside would be all these little images to collect. We tried filling the books with them to entertain ourselves.
How old were you when you arrived in California?
Well, I was raised in Buenos Aires until I was 12 and then sent to a boarding school in Claremont. Two weeks after I got here, Frank Zappa’s Freak Out came out, just to place the time [meaning it was 1966]. So I became an American eighth grader reading The Doors of Perception and doing pot, then mescaline when that came on.
And how old were you when you discovered acid?
I was 13. It was in Santa Barbara at a very nice hotel on the beach. Me and a friend had our own cabin and we ordered some cubes from the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, which was Owsley [Stanley’s] outlet. The experience was very full-bodied even though I was nervous, and I just liked acid for its humility and educational effects. I was blind, but then I could see.
When did you start collecting it?
Oh, that was when the first imagery came out. See, when acid first came out it was just drops on paper. This was in 1968, and it was the first commercially available acid. It came out of New York City, and it was done by this great underground chemist called Ghost-may he rest in peace-and they were called five-by-twenties. They were five drops by 20 on a little card that was the same size as autochrome film, and it came out wrapped in Kodak packaging.
And when did the first illustrated tabs appear?
In the 70s. There’s a whole vignette of imagery that appears throughout that era, and it’s usually on sheets of paper the same size as an LP so they could ship it dressed as a record. The first sheets would have a single image that would be divided up into the tabs, usually in a single color. They quickly became individual pictures, though, with great detail.
And how did you come to start framing them?
Well that’s another question about my rebirth. See, I was a very difficult 17-year-old. Hendrix had just died, so I took 300 mikes of orangesSunshine, and basically the fabric I existed on changed. I vibrated myself out of this world and into a different thing, and that’s when I really started collecting. At first I was keeping them in the freezer, which was a problem because I kept eating them, but then the Albert Hofmann acid came out, and then I thought, Fuck, I’m framing this. That’s when I realized, Hey, if I try to swallow this I’ll choke on the frame.
So how did a guy with a freezer full of acid become an acid historian?
Well I was on the board of the San Francisco Art Institute, and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Love I proposed that we do a show on the San Francisco acid guys. So we set up a big art show, and I exhibited the whole collection. And 1987 was still loose enough to have a huge acid party with everyone afterwards.
Your so-called mentors …
Fewer and fewer are alive. Sky dying and then Arthur Lee. All I’ve got left is Vale and Roky.
Very funny. You mean Sky Saxon? I thought you were his patron.
I was his patron and hugest fan, for sure.
I thought you let him live at your house.
Yes, of course. Just such a great artist, incredible person. But also the type of artist who wouldn’t really see himself as an artist, but truly is an exceptional artist and an outstanding person. I still go see Roky . . . huge fan still.
Roky Erickson. And Arthur Lee you were a fan of.
Just tremendous, tremendous fan of Arthur’s, and so sad to see him die the way he did, but I always was interested in what Arthur was writing and performing. The psychedelics have truly caused a renaissance, something we won’t be able to measure properly until we’re much farther away from it.
I’m trying to think of other artists that were associated with that, like Peter Max.
Yeah, and Isaac Abrams is still with us, and Peter is still alive, who put the vision on the Slurpee cup. That’s what Peter did—he put the psychedelic vision on the 7-11 cup. He’s the guy that brought it down to the street level.
So you collected this art; you didn’t make it.
No—François Truffaut and the other art critic who worked for Cahiers du Cinéma for André Bazin: Godard, yeah, and they were both art critics who after a few years, he said to them, “You know, the good art critics make movies.” And he forced them to make movies. And so then that’s what happened to me: after collecting avidly for fifteen years, I decided to learn more by making some. And then one thing led to another.
And you got some notoriety, fame, whatever the word is, and that brought the attention of the flics [French slang for policemen].
But no, the first blotter show at the Art Institute was also attended by the FBI. They showed up and they said, “Can we photograph this?” And I said, “Sure, this is for you guys, more so than anyone else,” I told them. Because they were the last whores who came to the party!
Yeah, the acid party; they’re still trying to arrest us. So I told them, when they showed up in ‘87 at the Art Institute, I said, “Yeah, of course you can photograph it. You’re the guys that don’t understand it yet.” And really, that’s what’s going on. The fliic is tormented by his own demented fears.
Yeah, I suppose so.
That’s why they’re so against it, they think—yeah, and it’s still not over yet. It’s incredible to me: the persistence of erroneous information.
They didn’t understand art; you had to educate the jury and everybody on art.
It’s not an easy one. My poor attorney, you know? My poor, poor attorney.
You said that one of your attorneys demonstrated to the jury that a lot of money had been made, and that impressed people: “Oh, it must be art if it makes money.”
Yeah, they had followed $24,000 into the house. There’s no illegality of receiving money in the mail, and someone had sent me $24,000 cash. They taped it into a magazine and mailed it here. So the DA had opened the packet before it got to me, and they recorded the money, and then sent it in. They couldn’t keep it because it was legal. When they got here the next morning they wanted to know where the $24,000 was. Of course, it wasn’t here; I had already given it to Timmy’s leg operation—from Uncle Scrooge. You know, Uncle Scrooge is mean to the workers and one of them is a father who has a little paraplegic boy and he’s trying to save enough money to get Timmy’s leg operated on. So the money always goes to Timmy’s leg operation, I say! Like when people worry about the future, I always say, “Can we save Weena from the Morlock menu?” Because in The Time Machine Weena is served up to the Morlocks as dinner—Dante’s fascination of the future. That’s her name, the Eloi girl that the Time Machine driver falls in love with.
How do you spell that?
W-e-e-n-a. They only have one name in the future. Like a great artist. When an artist signs his work with one name, like “Rene”—I think: he must be a great artist to go by one name! But a lot of people here, you know—we’re dead guys. We’re what’s happening now so we must already be over.
So how many shows of blotter acid art were you involved in?
As many as possible.
So the powers that be budgeted a surveillance of you from two apartments for a year and a half. Then they swooped in for the kill after they thought they had enough evidence.
They didn’t understand that the C&H sugar cube guy had had the same problem for years before me! And at my first trial I was wondering where the C&H guy was, because it was a chicken-and-egg kind of defense I had. My defense was, “Hey, I raise eggs, okay, some of them grow up to be bad chickens, you know? But I’m just dealing eggs!” And it was really that: I just made the paper. And I didn’t use Albert Speer’s slave labor in making the paper. No LSD zombies were used in making the paper! And so then my argument was that: “Hey listen, I’m just the art, you know, art is not LSD, LSD is added later to the art!” And so that’s what the good jury of Kansas City, Missouri understood. If they were trying to prove I did the acid they hadn’t done that. That wasn’t enough of a defense to really satisfy my attorney, but that’s all I gave him. You have to give your attorney your defense. I told him it’s really a chicken-and-egg problem.
From: ´MarkMcClure (Sat Jun 10 18:39:11 2006)
Probably the best known blotter of all time. Allegedly dosed with Sandoz. Originally issued circa 1977. The ultimate psychedelic artifact.
From: Manager (Tue Feb 15 03:53:24 2005)
A four-way hit that was originally issued circa 1977. These pre-perfed beauties may be the first sigil on blotter. Magical!
From: Clown (Thu Jul 14 22:02:40 2005)
this photographic print depicts 1000 hits that were originally issued circa 2008.
From: Bunny (Tue Aug 12 15:56:33 2006)
This print depicts 44 hits that were originally issued circa 1976. One of the very first full color print, perfed pieces. This issue was cutting edge in its time.
From: pimpdaz (Tue Oct 26 15:56:33 2004)
remember these very well, loved the stripey paper. we used to get these on a regular basis, the talk was they were supposedly double dipped etc. good trips though
From: gabbachris666 (Wed Nov 2 14:49:35 2005)
These were great in their day but they started to get weaker and more scummy. I remember hearing the double dip thing as well. They were lush though. The colours you saw were unique among acids I have taken. I wish the people would make some more.
From: sunnyaura (Thu Dec 1 16:35:05 2005)
Yeah , wish the chemist would treat us all again but sadly if he is as wise financially as chemically s/he will be long gone. i kept these for ages, wouldn’t sell one even for £25.One of the cleanest nicest trips ever..
From: stc (Sat Jun 18 05:22:53 2005)
i have take one of this and i had blaste my mind for many many hours!!!
From: pano (Thu Jul 28 11:44:49 2005)
They are very strong. about 500 mig!!! isn’t it???
good stuff but not very clean.
They are as strong as Fat Freedy or Tomato soup.
i had a full picture (25 blotters) in 2000
From: ´pauchislooo (Sat Jun 10 18:39:11 2006)
my best trip was one of this one, and the things i saw that day change my life completely, everyone should try them some time, uwuwuuwuwu i guarantee a lot of fun and smiles and trip for al least 12 hours.
From: monk (Fri Jul 21 22:35:39 2006)
well, i´m gonna try one of this tonight, lets see what happens!
From: order? (Wed Mar 30 08:41:38 2005)
can someone help get email@example.com
From: snitziel (Mon Jun 26 20:55:15 2006)
very strong had dinner with girl freinds family on it they just thought i was a happy person
From: oz (Mon Sep 5 09:27:50 2005)
these were the worst trips i ever took. felt like adulterated, low quality. on really thin paper. not very strong. i didn’t get very high, but my jaw was still clenching.
From: Jason Emberson (Tue Feb 15 03:53:24 2005)
Simular to the fractles
From: HOLY SHIT! (Sat Dec 3 16:25:43 2005)
Alright so i ate 3 of these a few months ago and DAMN!!! I only got 20 so i didn’t have to many to save. I strongly suggest everyone go out and try a few of these…
From: nick (Sun May 4 15:16:49 2003)
this is a 900 or 1000 sheet, had about 14 of these that partly makes up one Twin moderate 75 mcg year 1990
From: nick (Mon May 5 03:00:19 2003)
thick card paper
From: AstreaL (Sat Jul 23 06:09:14 2005)
This was not so good acid !! It was very light, you should take up to 1 and even then, you ‘dnt be happy … 🙁
From: Jason Emberson (Tue Feb 15 03:56:16 2005)
don’t know. however this most definetly came from the makers of pink elephants and alice through the looking glass.
From: as i.d (Wed Jan 19 13:16:44 2005)
my first one.. belgium 1991..
great to see them again here !!
From: Jason Emberson (Tue Feb 15 03:58:09 2005)
From: Aaron F (Fri Apr 28 10:55:40 2006)
There were loadz of these floatin around a sleepy dorset(u.k)village in early 90’s–blindin visuals, *&^^ing amazing…ppppick up a pppenguin!!
From: Swede (Sat May 6 08:49:50 2006)
Yea, we had some of them in Sweden around 95, and they were good ones, not that good as the Miraculix or Hoffmans that where here the same time, but better then the Buddhas, and alot of others.
From: oz (Mon Sep 5 09:31:28 2005)
these were pretty good. very dependable. medium-strength. i did have one terrible trip on them though, but that was my fault, not the acid’s.
From: Magic Mad Hatter (Thu Jan 19 14:02:11 2006)
Those were my first hits in 1996!! I would say they were around 50 mics. Not that strong, but very clean und nice.
From: Panoramix… (Fri Jan 20 17:50:32 2006)
Had them in 1996 & again in 1998… Not bad… I’d say abt 100 mics…
From: tom noxx (Tue Nov 29 07:54:02 2005)
les meilleurs que j’ai connu avec les dragons verts.Oulalalahh , pousse toi de devant, man, ceux là ils déménagent.
From: Stagueve (Sun Mar 19 23:30:28 2006)
Jsuis d’accord rouge ou vert, une bonne claque en perspective !!! C’était du bon matos ;p
From: Digital Citizen (Wed Jun 21 09:09:21 2006)
From: Canopus-49 (Mon Dec 19 16:07:42 2005)
Reaaaaaalllyyyyy psytrancer!!! Within a board like this we gonna through the interdimensional walls!!!
From: Ringer\’s Friend (Sun Nov 20 05:13:45 2005)
Purple with gold ink. HELL yeah this was some good stuff. Clean, visual, prolly upwards of 150 mics? Saw a lot of it in the early 90s
From: penis dancers (Tue May 16 22:32:28 2006)
yo dude … we are tight like a fat kid in spandex
From: Soma (Sat Feb 12 05:47:24 2005)
Manufactured in Houston, TX between 1991-1993. Actually called Blue Hawaiian, and it also came in green sheets. Lab busted, 3 Vietnamese guys found with 5 million hits. $2 hit, $5 for 3, sheets $90 and books were $650
From: vcw (Wed Mar 15 13:02:31 2006)
ate plenty of these about 100mcg
From: Jason Emberson (Tue Feb 15 04:25:54 2005)
strong strong strong stuff.
From: pano (Thu Jul 28 11:38:12 2005)
this blotters are very strong. Not so clean. i took that in 2000. A friend took 2 blotters in 2 hours at a festival and wanted to pay some beers with marijuana. Then he lost his keys and all his things
From: Panoramix… (Thu Sep 1 09:22:56 2005)
Good stuff from Belgium…
From: oz (Mon Sep 5 09:41:30 2005)
yep, very strong, but good quality, i thought. that was back in 1997-1999. don’t know about since then. the paper was really thick.
From: nick (Sun May 4 15:19:41 2003)
these smilies were popular in 1989 rave culture had a few
From: riX (Thu Jul 14 22:02:40 2005)
Yep, known as “super smilies”.
Am*dam ZOO 1985.
From: gabbachris666 (Wed Nov 2 14:38:37 2005)
Yes, They are “super smileys” They were not very strong
p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Cool, thank you. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Ah, I see. My uni was this kind of late-hippie place that was all about fostering free thought and all of that. It was different time, for sure, and it was in California where that sort of approach still exists, but only here and there now. ‘Us’ had the same problem. I haven’t seem ‘Nope’ yet. Ha, good question about gif/meme-related fame. I think I remember reading about people who became celebrities from having had their visages used in very viral memes. I can’t think of any gif performers who got any traction. Love didn’t save me from the heat precisely, but it wasn’t as horrid as it will be today, so maybe love was just saving his energy for these 24 hours, let’s hope. Oh, wow, that magical youtube storage area would be so, so helpful to me in my blog construction! Love making reality a thing and place that we can all agree exists, G. ** Misanthrope, As long as the cake was the greatest part, it qualifies as a birthday. So, good. I’ve seen promos for that series. Sounds sweet. And I just read that it’s Steve Martin’s swan song as an actor, which seems kind of sad. Avoid the weirdo rebound, not that I guess you can do much to avert it. Anti-eek. ** _Black_Acrylic, Great, thanks for checking it out, Ben. Enjoy the spaciousness. Spaciousness is no small thing. And thank you for angling towards the guest-post. Super greatly appreciated, maestro. ** Brian, Hi, Brian. Really good to see you, pal. Totally understood about the absence. I like to think of this as a place where people can come and go as they like and where they can feel just as big a part of the place where they’re eyeballing it as when they’re typing into it. Thank you so much about ‘My Loose Thread’. That’s so kind and nice. That’s one of my favorite novels of mine, and it’s one that seems to often get kind of forgotten about, so yay. Thank you, man. It is a fun couple with ‘The Tunnel’. Ha ha, Luhrmann to Bresson. Gosh, I’m happy I wound up on the latter side of that equation, let’s just say. I read ‘The Tunnel’ when it was published. As I’m sure you know, it was a long, long awaited, legendary tome long before he finished it. Honestly, I don’t think I ended up reading the whole thing. I think it was one of those novels where I read far enough to get the pleasure of what he was doing and to the point where I felt like I figured out what he was doing, and then I think I was ready to read something else. I like that kind of writing, in theory. If it’s brilliantly done. I love reading prose that’s masterful and yet charged with a spirit of adventure. But, again, sometimes I just want to good taste of that kind of writing, and I don’t feel a big inclination to read something of that sort from cover to cover. I like Gass. I think ‘In the Heart of the Heart of the Country’ was his best fiction. I think his writing about writing can be really extraordinary. I don’t know ‘In Order Not to Be Here’. I’ll look it up. Cool, like I said, it’s always a great pleasure to get to talk with you, and I’m always interested to know that you’re doing and thinking, so anytime that feels right on your end, seeing you will be a boon on my end. I hope everything proceeds extremely apace for you and yours. xo. ** Steve Erickson, Wow. Sorry for your panic. Of course, being the amusement park loving dude I am, my imagination immediately went to how fun that ride sounds, ha ha. Big hope that you get the ears thing sorted as straight away as possible. Everyone, Steve Erickson alert: ‘Here’s my Gay City News review of LE TEMPS PERDU. I kinda like the fact that although my review’s intended to be negative, it’s stirred up interest in the film on Facebook.’ A friend of a friend of mine in LA apparently tried lying about his sex life to get the monkeypox vax, but they wanted proof of his sluttiness. I don’t know what proof they wanted. ** RANGUSWAZE, Hi, man! Whoa, nine days, holy shit! Exciting time, and you sound suitably revved and ready for action. Thanks for the sneak peeks! Keep on far more than keeping on! As you are and will be doing no doubt whatsoever. xo. ** Robert, Hi. Oh, cool, I’m happy my way of thinking about that made sense. I’m such a prose-first kind of reader, and if I think of that dense, often stiff, brain maxing out writing as just writing with a non-fictional purpose, it seems to help draw me in, and then of course the contents and points come through too because they and the writing and the writing’s reason for being are inextricable and all of that. Happy Friday. ** Bill, Ha ha. That is a nice poster, yeah. And the film itself follows suit? I’ll put it on my list. Thanks! ** Right. I always quite liked this very old post, and my memory is that wasn’t all that wildly popular the first time I launched it, but I like it, and time has passed and, hey, you never know, so please give it your initial consideration and let the consequences be what they may be. See you tomorrow.