I Think, Therefore Who Am I? (Memoir of a Psychedelic Year), by Peter Weissman


Publication Details:

Paperback: 260 pages

Publisher: Xlibris Corporation (June 19, 2006)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1425702937

ISBN-13: 978-1425702939




This memoir realistically conveys, in nitty-gritty detail, but with sardonic humor, the highs and lows of the psychedelic drug scene in New York’s East Village in 1967 and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury during the “Summer of Love.” The wider story is conveyed in discrete, stand-alone chapters, each with its own descriptive title (“Before Almost Everything Changed,” “In the Realm of Mythunderstanding,” “Trew Love,” “You Can’t Call Home Again,” “Fruit Salad for the Head”…), a collage held together by the similar LSD experiences of the characters who constitute an ensemble of “acid heads.” Though different in key and revealing ways, they reflect the youth subculture of the era, trafficking in spiritual and pseudospiritual ideas and misconceptions, anti-establishment politics, existential rumination, sex and sexuality, the grungy details of tenement life and pervasive dreams of transcendence. Through realistic dialogue and careful observation, the author/protagonist portrays himself and his peers—gods and goddesses, swindlers and thieves, loons and gurus, at different times and places—while deliriously high and when, like him, they crash to earth.
Book review (from Amazon):

Utterly engaging and one hell of a lot of fun, I found myself genuinely unable to put this book down. I am a fan of Kerouac, Tom Wolfe (both Tom Wolfes, in fact), and Hunter S., and to me this book contained scattered elements that recalled all those writers, yet Weissman's achievement stands distinctly apart from these others in style, subject, and form. I am a very, very slow reader, so I particularly loved how the story is broken up into manageable chapters, each one feeling complete and self-contained, yet fitting in perfectly with the whole book, scene transitioning to scene as 1967 unravels in a staggering rush. The people are real, compelling characters and the imagery is some of the brightest and most vivid I have ever read. A candle can't flicker and a beautiful girl can't blink in this book but that the reader is there also, seeing it happen. A very impressive book …

E. Campbell, Buenos Aires
Author bio:
The author worked on his memoir for over twenty years, from New York City to Berkeley, where he was a mailman; to Connecticut, where he was a gardener and a reporter on a weekly newspaper; and then back to New York, where he edited a newspaper that was a front for something—he’s still not sure what. He is now a freelance copy editor, working out of his home in Woodstock, New York. In the spring and summer he rides a bike; in the fall he rakes leaves; in the winter he splits wood and makes fires. His wife and daughter, who know him, are accustomed to his reclusive ways.
At some point, as the evening heated up, Richie Klein would burst in on stick figure legs, a speed freak among acid heads, and override the music and the talk with a shouted encomium to his latest mind-blowing discovery.

"Einstein! Relativity! Time is space, man! Time is space!"

He'd meanwhile pace back and forth in a tight line, declaiming in spasms, pivoting on high-heeled boots. Amphetamine-driven, manically, wildly askew, the madman as genius was his voluble excuse for obtrusiveness, his every shouted conviction irrefutable. And then, before anyone could pin him down, Richie would bolt back out, into the night.

Charlie Wu would pop in too, but without flare, on his way home from the nine-to-five job he despised, wearing a cheap, rumpled suit, his tie a loosened noose.

Arnie always greeted him as a special guest, to demonstrate, it seemed, that it was okay with him that Charlie was Chinese. "Wu!" he'd shout across the room. "What're you up to?"

A vision of tired normalcy, the sardonic Wu would stand near the door shaking his head, clearing it of the fumes on a midtown street at rush hour. Snatching the joint held out to him, he'd smoke it like a cigarette, puffing away. But instead of smoothing his worry lines, the grass would set him off.

"The city sucks!" he'd begin, and from there escalate his rant against the world, indicting everyone in the room with his anger: "You lazy fuckers! You lay around, smoking dope, contemplating your navels, blathering about the meaning of reality … You don't know shit about reality! I'll tell you about reality …" And he'd spout the story of his day, a grim tale of a Pavlovian dog responding to an alarm, putting on a uniform, dashing through streets filled with other dogs in order to shoehorn itself into a crowded train so he could get to a desk and sit there hour after hour, doing meaningless paperwork. They let him eat lunch, the bastards, but the food was lousy no matter where you went, processed shit, and after sitting on his ass all day, it congealed in his stomach, which accounted for his chronic constipation. Or else, what with all the coffee he drank to stay awake, he'd have a case of the watery shits.

Once, driving himself to a delirious peak as the daily story built to a crescendo, Wu broke off, turned the radio on full blast and stomped out.

It was the news in full throat. Casualties in Indochina, an explosion in London, a stabbing in the Bronx. The room sat stunned. This was the other world, whose reality depended upon acquiescence. A shared revulsion rippled within the concrete walls of our cloistered shelter. And then someone turned it off, for why would anyone want to know what was happening out there? What was the benefit of it?


  1. My self-published memoir, to my surprise and delight, drew the interest of an Italian publisher that will translate it (with my permission, of course), and market it in Italy next year.

  2. My book has been accepted by an Italian publisher who will translate it and release it in Italy in 2011. My follow-up nonfiction novel, "Digging Deeper," A Memoir of the Seventies, which begins where this book leaves off, will be available on amazon and other Internet outlets in December 2010.


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