For our Second Life series, we work with writers and publishers to present selected essays, magazines, ephemera, and other previously published material that is out of print or hard to find, giving it a second life online. Artist Brody Condon selected three out-of-print magazines with cover art that reflected the changing aesthetics of the psychedelic movement, from the whimsical to the futuristic to the academic.
Omni was around the house in the 80’s. The magazine header was often obscured by coke paraphernalia or the odd Soldier of Fortune issue picked up at the mini-mart; the only place to buy beer within 30 miles there in the Midwestern countryside. My mother’s boyfriend at the time, indirectly influenced by issues of the 1960’s Psychedelic Review during a previous life as the author of the drug section for the New Morning Collective (a small activist zine and commune in Columbia, MO in the early 70’s), failed to convince me, at age 12, that I should emulate the third world child soldiers with AK-47’s featured in Soldier of Fortune. His militant nihilism was overrun by the optimism of Omni’s pop-sci cover illustrations of laser string art, flashing cyborg LCD goggles, and promises of virtual reality gone wild.
Much later I ran across the Entheogen Review. It seemed that the psychedelic community had rebranded itself (after all, the History Channel documentaries in the 1990s claimed that the Human Potential Movement led to hedonism and murder). Gordon Wasson’s early 20th century ethnomycology had become Terence McKenna’s ethnobotany, and the covers of Entheogen Review now mimicked academic journals. Without my knowledge the psychedelic community had returned to its scientific roots, and the focus shifted away from the loose psychology and religious studies of the Psychedelic Review. The DIY chemists and botanists turned out to be the heroes in the end.