Counterculture: Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters
Ken Kesey was a graduate student at Stanford University when he participated in a MKUltra drug-testing program at the Menlo Park Veterans Hospital in 1959. He then began his own experimentation with psychedelic drugs, breaking through conformist thought and trying to reconfigure American society. Kesey used his experiences in the CIA experiment to write his influential and successful novel, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest“ (1962). The book gained Kesey the notoriety and income he needed to draw together his motley band, the Merry Pranksters, who through their antics and travels set the stage for the Psychedelic Era that was to follow.
In 1965 and 1966 Kesey held a series of parties that centered around the use of the psychedelic drug LSD, which was popularly known as acid. The catchphrase for advertising the parties was “Can You Pass the Acid Test?”. Kesey constantly pushed the limits with his own experimentations and eventually moved the Acid Tests into public places such as the Longshoreman's Hall, Muir Beach, or musical events at Bill Graham's Fillmore West.