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albert hoffman

Albert Hoffman died yesterday at the age — holy shit! — of 102.

Hoffman is called the Father of LSD on account of he was the father of LSD. He was a chemist working at Sandoz Labs in Switzerland in the thirties when he discovered lysergic acid diethylamide-25, a compound derived from wheat rust. He was looking for a PMS cure (I forget where I read that; maybe the pixies told me). The stuff is so powerful, he got a ginormous dose just from handling it that day. His description of riding his bicycle home afterward is guaranteed flashback fodder.

He remained a proponent of the stuff all his life and dropped acid himself for decades. A hunnert and two. As a friend of mine once remarked, “this stuff doesn’t kill you. It only makes you wish it would.” She was looking rather paisley at the time.

Plant rusts — ergots — are fungi that occasionally affect crops and, when eaten, cause a range of effects from hallucination to extreme blood constriction (Ew. Wikipedia calls it ‘dry gangrene’). Some historians have blamed the nuttiness of Medieval Europe on ergotism, AKA St. Anthony’s Fire.

Dry gangrene. There was one medieval lady who was riding a mule to pilgrimage, rubbed against a tree and her leg fell off. She picked it up, tucked it under her arm, got back on the mule and went on her way. That really doesn’t advance this post, but I read it a long time ago and wanted to share. Like, how the hell did she hop back on the mule with one leg? And why take it with her? (Don’t be a litterbug — take your spontaneously amputated limbs when you go!) Boo. The pixies never answer the important questions.

Oh! You want a good, creepy read? I highly recommend The Day of St Anthony’s Fire. True story. A sack of wheat contaminated with rust was delivered to the little village of Pont St Esprit, France in 1951. The frogs love them some bread. By nightfall, half the village was yapping mad.

Actually, I recommend the first half of the book. The second half of the book is a boring drone about the decades the survivors spent trying to wring some reparations out of the government. The frogs love them some bureaucracy.

Wait, what was I talking about? Stupid pixies.

April 30, 2008 — 5:38 am
Comments: 54