Talking About LSD on Thanksgiving


The Core Belief

Thanksgiving of 1990, I came home from New York to find the house full of people, at least 35, all talking and playing cards.  It seemed like an almost wholesome experience, Norman Rockwellian, if Rockwell had grown up at the Hazel Park Raceway and knew how to hustle Clubyash. Children ran all over the place, a minimum of two turkeys were on the table to feed the massive hordes of family and friends, all served after the assembled watched the Lions lose yet another football game. 

After the meal, I found myself sitting at the head of the table next to Jerry Stein, one of my father’s oldest friends in Detroit and Uncle Jerry to my brothers and I.  The Old Man was quite fond of Jerry, even as he belittled his old hippie politics and lifestyle.  After all, he had shown Dad what a dresser was.  Aronchick, however, was always proud that he attended all three of Uncle Jerry’s weddings including the Jewish/Buddhist affair held in the Detroit Institute of Arts on Woodward Avenue.

Stein, like the rest of the Old Man’s intimate’s, walked a line that many would consider criminal at worst and shady at best.  Although Jerry worked for Ford, he had some sort of odd mail order pill business that was run out of Windsor, Ontario, on the Canadian side of the Detroit Metro Area.  Although frowned upon by the local and federal authorities, I had heard rumors of some sort of arrest; Jerry Stein remained one of the few of my father’s friends who were allowed in the house.  When I asked Mom about that odd pill business she replied “whatever Jerry Stein did in Windsor is legal now.”  Mother was nearly indignant in her answer so I let the matter drop.

“So Alex, how do you like the Village,” Jerry asked me, as he monologued on about the few months he lived on East Tenth Street in the mid 60’s living with the other hippies the in the then ethnic slum.  I shrugged and gave a noncommittal answer about having a good time.  Whenever I was asked about my New York University antics and my parents were around I kept my mouth shut.  The less they knew about my trying to out do Lou Reed the better, I thought.

“Do they still sell LSD in the East Village,” he asked loudly. 

“Yes,” I replied.  First of all, they were selling every drug known to mankind on the East Village streets.  Secondly, my mother and Uncle Mike were sitting across from us and were engaged in some odd conversation about where my Great Aunt Wilma was.  Wilma had called to say she was coming from some turkey but never turned up.

“Have you ever taken LSD,” Jerry asked me.

“Um…” I didn’t want to answer, not with the seating proximity of my maternal uncle and mother.  I would never live it down and in all probability would be decapitated by a dull butter knife wielded by either Mike, who was in AA, or Mother, who was the head of Mother’s Against Drugs in the Bloomfield/Birmingham area. 

“So, have you dropped acid Alex,” Jerry demanded louder this time.

This time Uncle Mike and Mom overheard his question.  “So, Alex, do have you ever taken LSD,” Mother asked.


“Answer your Mother, Alexander,” my uncle commanded.

This left me in an odd quandary.  What was I supposed to say: if I said no, they would know I was lying.  If I said yes, I would never hear the end of it and would be subject to random searches of my pupils with a penlight by Mother, my Uncle, my grandfather and the Old Man.  “Yes, I have.  Several times,” I said. 

If Uncle Mike and Mom were shocked, they didn’t show it.  Maybe I had underestimated them.  After all, I had been in New York for nearly four years, maybe they thought I had, as it is so crudely phrased, ‘experimented’ with drugs.

“What did you think?  Did you discover something about the world, the universe or yourself,” Uncle Jerry wanted to know.

Jerry and I had used completely different drugs with same name years apart.  He was probably getting pure stuff that Owsley, the famous chemist in Haight-Ashbury, had made or taught various people all over the country to engineer.  It was the same mind expanding formula that sent CIA operatives over to the psychosis side in the late ‘50’s and that Timothy Leary peddled a decade later as a way to get closer to the divine.  The stuff I was getting at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut on the corner of East 7th Street and Avenue A had enough strychnine in it make you paranoid by looking at the tab.  “To tell you the truth Uncle Jerry, whenever I’ve dropped acid, I’ve discovered the universal truth in five hours, forgot it in the sixth and in the seventh, I was hungry,” I told him.

Mother laughed, as did Mike, and they went back to worrying about the whereabouts of my Great Aunt Wilma. 

“That’s the problem with you kids today, all you get is the mass produced chemical shit,” Jerry reflected.  I nodded and breathed a sigh of relief.  My acid truth was apparently a good stand up routine.

And thus, I was very thankful.




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