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Coda In February 1979, virtually all the important figures in the first wave of American psychedelic research gathered for a reunion in Los Angeles at the home of Oscar Janiger. Someone made a videotape of the event, and though the quality is poor, most of the conversation is audible. Here in Janiger’s living room we see Humphry Osmond, Sidney Cohen, Myron Stolaroff, Willis Harman, Timothy Leary, and, sitting on the couch next to him, looking distinctly uncomfortable, Captain Al Hubbard. He’s seventy-seven (or eight), and he’s traveled from Casa Grande, Arizona, where he lives in a trailer park. He’s wearing his paramilitary getup, though I can’t tell if he’s carrying a sidearm.

The old men reminisce, a bit stiffly at first. Some hard feelings hang in the air. But Leary, still charming, is remarkably generous, working to put everyone at ease. Their best days are behind them; the great project to which they devoted their lives lay in ruins. But something important was accomplished, they all believe—else they wouldn’t be here at this reunion. Sidney Cohen, dressed in a jacket and tie, asks the question on everyone’s mind—“What does it all mean?”—and then ventures an answer: “It stirred people up. It cracked their frame of reference by the thousands—millions perhaps. And anything that does that is pretty good I think.”

It’s Leary, of all people, who asks the group, “Does anyone here feel that mistakes were made?”

Osmond, the unfailingly polite Englishman, his teeth now in full revolt, declines to use the word “mistake.” “What I would say is . . . you could have seen other ways of doing it.” Someone I don’t recognize cracks, “There was a mistake made: nobody gave it to Nixon!”

It’s Myron Stolaroff who finally confronts the elephant in the room, turning to Leary to say, “We were a little disturbed at some of the things you were doing that [were] making it more difficult to carry on legitimate research.” Leary reminds him that as he told them then, he had a different role to play: “Let us be the far-out explorers. The farther out we go, the more ground it gives the people at Spring Grove to denounce us.” And so appear responsible.

“And I just wish, I hope we all understand that we’ve all been playing parts that have been assigned to us, and there’s no good-guy/bad-guy, or credit or blame, whatever . . .”

“Well, I think we need people like Tim and Al,” Sidney Cohen offers, genially accepting Leary’s framing. “They’re absolutely necessary to get out, way out, too far out in fact—in order to move the ship . . . [turn] things around.” Then, turning to Osmond: “And we need people like you, to be reflective about it and to study it. And little by little, a slight movement is made in the totality. So, you know, I can’t think of how it could have worked out otherwise.”

Al Hubbard listens intently to all this but has little to add; he fiddles with a hardback book in his lap. At one point, he pipes up to suggest the work should go on, drug laws be damned: We should “just keep on doing it. Wake people up! Let them see for themselves what they are. I think old Carter could stand a good dose!” Carter’s defense secretary, Harold Brown, and CIA director, Stansfield Turner, too. But Hubbard’s not at all sure he wants to be on this couch with Timothy Leary and is less willing than the others to let bygones be bygones, or Leary off the hook, no matter how solicitous he is of the Captain.

“Oh, Al! I owe everything to you,” Leary offers at one point, beaming his most excellent smile at Hubbard. “The galactic center sent you down just at the right moment.”

Hubbard doesn’t crack a smile. And then, a few minutes later:

“You sure as heck contributed your part.”

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