more scam health products institute rip-off
a more positive follow-up on the vitamin caper

all along the watchtower (galactica spoilers)

I am not what you would call a spiritual person. Whatever "spiritual" experiences I've had in my life are for the most part directly related to the use of psychedelic drugs. I do not disregard those experiences because they were drug-aided, nor do I think they are any less "real" than other experiences in my life. At the time, I probably attributed things to the spiritual life ... now I'm inclined to give the credit to chemistry.

Whatever the cause, certain things have stuck with me over the years. I can remember once when I was on acid, and I was at the dinner table with my brothers and sisters, eating a sandwich of some kind. Being wasted, my "sandwich" consisted of bread and meat ... I didn't really care if I ate it, I just wanted to look semi-normal if my parents walked in. At one point, someone passed the French's mustard across the table in front of my eyes. My eyes, and my nose, I should say, because it was the smell of the mustard that grabbed my attention, in a very interesting way: when I smelled the mustard, I could taste it on my sandwich, even though it wasn't in my mouth.

I still recall this hallucination, because I think it says something about how our brain processes the input from our senses. Sometimes there's a little glitch, and you can taste what you smell.

There's also that feeling of oneness with the universe, which is perhaps the number one reason why psychedelics remain my favorite drug of all time, even though I haven't taken any for more than 25 years. That yummy snow-like feeling that grows in your heart when you are tripping ... I love it.

What does this have to do with Battlestar Galactica, I can hear you saying. (Not literally ... like I say, it's been a long time since I took acid.) Well, there's one thing that happened one time on one acid trip that isn't as easily dismissed as "just chemistry." I mean, that's what it was, but it felt special at the time, and remnants of that specialness are with me to this day. I was sitting on the beach, communing with the waves as it were. I had a song playing in my head ... it was more a loop, although we didn't really know about loops in those days. It didn't really have words ... when I try to recapture the moment, it goes something like "ga lung gara lung." Whatever ... I was really getting into this song in my head, and suddenly, the song merged with that "oneness" feeling and I felt completely connected to the waves ... connected via that little song loop. The waves would break, and in my head I'd hear ga lung gara lung, and they were the same, and I was the same, and I am he as you are he etc.

That was in 1970 or 1971. I've never forgotten it, and I've never quit hoping that one day, my little song would spring forth in my head one more time. It never does, of course ... that was a solitary moment, in all likelihood.

The moment, or rather, the series of moments that gradually led to the odd discovery that "All Along the Watchtower" played a key role in Battlestar Galactica is one of my favorite parts of the entire series. The way the human/cylons kept hearing a song ... the way the song was inscrutable, to them and to us ... the path that led them to come closer to familiarity with the song ... all of this was reflected in the audience's concurrent attempt to figure the song out. Since BSG is, or appears to be, an alternate universe, it didn't occur to me that I'd actually know the song ... they don't have the same songs as we do, or so we thought. When I finally recognized the Dylan tune at the same time the song brought the human/cylons together ... it was, for lack of a better description, a "ga lung gara lung" moment. I felt a oneness with the fictional world on my television screen, and I felt full of lovely emotion.

Time passed, and "All Along the Watchtower" became one of those BSG oddities that fell by the wayside. Until tonight. Starbuck finds herself playing a song that she "learned" from her father and from a three-year-old child (this is sci-fi, not everything has a clear explanation!). She's pecking away on the piano, it doesn't really sound familiar at first, because it's been long enough that we've mostly forgotten about "Watchtower," but then some chords resonate, and human/cylon Saul Tigh hears the chords and his one eye starts acting up a storm, and he starts to recognize the song at the same time that we in the audience start to recognize the song, and damn if it isn't another ga lung gara lung moment.

I can't imagine a more subjective, idiosyncratic response to the use of "All Along the Watchtower" in Battlestar Galactica. I am making no claims for understanding the "truth" behind the song in the series. But twice, now, I've been transported back to a place to which I never thought I'd return.



Hmmm...beyond BSG (the half season I haven't seen yet), your description of the psychedelic experience is extremely vivid and enticing. I never did 'em back in the day, and nothing anyone said or anything I read (Carlos Casteneda? Please...) intrigued me enough to try 'em. It was a fundamentally economic decision: did I want to spend my meager bucks on this new LP or that movie or this concert, or buy recreational drugs? Always a well, duh decision. Besides, I couldn't play music for shit while high, and given that I was already a mediocre player, in those days that was a real deterrent to chemical alterations.

Now I feel like I missed something.


One night I was blasted on arguably the largest dose of LSD I ever took (arguably since the stuff doesn't exactly come with an info label). The band that I was to join some time down the road was playing a show, and I was bugging them, saying "let me play bass on one song, I really feel it" (I mean really feel it ... the sound of the bass was coming up through my feet). Finally, my friend on stage handed me his bass. It melted in my hands. "See," he said, laughing, "you can't even hold it, much less play it!"

I had my Castaneda moments ... I mean, my first true ambition was to be a hippie, I had a lot of moments that people who know me now would find amusing. What is nice about psychedelics is that you can treat them like windows to religious experience, as I did in my hippie wannabe days, but they also make a lot of sense if you remove the spiritual claptrap and just play around with the shifting chemical realities. A guitar melting in your hands isn't really melting, nor does it "mean" anything ... but the experience of the melting, and the subsequent memory of that moment, reminds you that our perception of reality can be variable. The Castaneda types, and myself at one time, would argue that reality itself was variable, but that's not necessary, and I no longer believe it to be true. I think it's pretty cool and amazing that I could taste the mustard when I smelled it. Our brains are pretty cool and amazing, is what I'm trying to say.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)