The most recognized phase in the psychedelic revolution began in the United States during the hippie era of the ’60s in hubs like San Francisco and the Village in New York City. After a lull and a lot of sharp edges in the 80s, the 90s grunge scene brought another surge of bohemian vibes into pop culture, darker than the hippies of yore but still with a focus on mind expansion.
Despite these eras that popularized psychedelic culture, U.S. mainstream only recently started coming around to psychedelic medicines. The cities of Denver, Colorado and Oakland, California, for example, have decriminalized the possession of psilocybin, or magic mushrooms, and this was just the first wave of psychedelics reform. Today, campaigns pushing psychedelic therapies are collecting signatures across the country for the 2020 election and beyond.
Now, the status quo is finally looking at the root of this culture and many Americans find themselves more curious about psychedelic experiences than ever — luckily, the recent Netflix documentary Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics is an educational and fun-filled answer.
Have a Good Trip is a social & cultural documentary featuring some of America’s most endearing celebrities including Carrie Fisher, Sting, Deepak Chopra, Anthony Bourdain, and many more. Cycle through first-hand accounts of their experiences taking LSD, psilocybin, peyote, DMT, and more, threaded together with silly interludes from Nick Offerman as a scientist and Adam Scott as an 80s-style after school special host. Each celeb story is accompanied by a cartoon depiction of the event or a reenactment starring beloved comedians. The new documentary from the streaming channel is a first-hand adventure through the various tropes and realities that commonly appear while tripping.
From Sting’s adventure delivering a breech calf on his English farm while tripping on Peyote to Carrie Fisher’s delightful accounts of living a life dedicated to acid, the stories shared are profound, silly, fun, and captivating. Hear actor and comedian Rob Cordry, a self-professed psychonaut, explain how he became one with the universe as he watched himself in the mirror and Louis Black describe the rollercoaster that was forgetting and then ultimately finding your own name. These losses of self and ego are a molecular take on the common tabloid magazine maneuver that, “the stars are just like us!” The documentary shows us that if a person eats LSD, it will seemingly work to destroy their ego whether they’re Princess Leia or a young budtender in San Francisco.
While silly stories like Nick Kroll becoming one with some 40 pounds of seaweed bring levity to the documentary, it is stories like that of Kathleen Hanna from iconic punk bands Bikini Kill and Le Tigre that really show the simple lessons we can extract from psychotropic experiences. As she stood at a stoplight waiting for the walk signal, Hanna realized that if no one was coming, if nobody could see, she didn’t really need to wait for two lights to reach the diagonal sidewalk. In fact, she could just skip that second step and walk directly across the intersection to her destination. This small trip within that adventure with acid showed her a new way to live her life, and this is the ethereally educating part of LSD that gets lost among stories of visual hallucinations. Within each fun and exciting trip is a cascade of lessons if you take the time, once you sober up, to stop and look at them.
Have a Good Trip seems to work to educate a future generation as they delve into psychedelic experiences while also showing staunch opponents of these studies the possible benefits of loosening the prohibition on these chemicals. In one key interview, Dr. Charles Grob, professor of Psychiatry & Behavior Sciences and Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Harbor–UCLA Medical Center, explains what is happening in the brain when we experience ego-loss and the inevitable ‘bad trip;’ he pleas for further research into PTSD, anxiety, depression, and end of life therapy using psychotropic treatments.
This documentary is worth watching whether you’re a regular psychonaut or just opening up to the idea that psychotropic medicine has value. The star-studded interviews are entertaining and the real take on phenomenal experiences is a well-constructed look directly into the possibilities of psychedelics. And, for those who are nostalgic, there is a wonderful final visit with Carrie Fisher in her self-proclaimed ‘acid house.’
Have a Good Trip is a delightful romp, especially for this semi-retired Golden Gate park day tripper.
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