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Altered States

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Luck Disguised As Ordinary Life

On the way back to the hotel, Martina whispered in a conspiratorial tone that her friend Carlos Castaneda was coming to join us for tea. “Don’t tell anyone. It’s just for us. He’s a bit finicky about who he hangs out with.”

By Nina Wise February 1996
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The True, Original First World

We have got it backward in our conventional worldview. The world of indigenous peoples, like the Lacandones, is the real First World, because it has been here the longest; it was here first. The so-called First World of the industrialized North is first only in capital accumulation and military force.

By Ralph Metzner December 1995

So Familiar And Yet So Strange

First, there was the customer ahead of Simon in line disputing the price of a jumbo jar of sliced jalapeños. Then the senior who was low on cash and tried to pay on a credit card, invalidated three times.

By Len Messineo Jr. December 1995

Orson And Me

And now I know that He wants me to try to write a book again and that this time I’ll succeed.

By William Penrod July 1995


It was bear shit, suddenly familiar and evocative. A pile lay steaming on the doorstep of a boarded-up hotel. I felt hot iron in my legs and pretended to fumble for something in my pocket as I crouched in the doorway and inhaled deeply.

By Janine Claire Blaeloch June 1995
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Their Turn

To the melancholy wailing of a Turkish flute, the dervishes enter the stage dressed in long black coats and tall woolen hats. It’s a dramatic moment even if you haven’t done your homework.

By Sy Safransky January 1995


After fourteen years of yard-walking a life sentence, Broadus Creek wore the mask of a traveler, implacably intent upon his route but thoroughly fortified against destination.

By Joseph Bathanti May 1994

If We’re Lucky

“Prophet?”No one had called me that in a while. Before I turned around, before I looked for his face in the mirror behind the bar, I knew, I felt who it was.

By Donald N. S. Unger October 1993
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Witness Tree: Memoir Of A Ritual

It is a terrible thing when a brave person becomes afraid of you. It wakes you up. You see that, in Hemingway’s great phrase, you have “gone beyond where you can go.” It is unlikely you can save yourself, and unlikely that any one person — lover, therapist, friend — can save you.

By Michael Ventura February 1992
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Seduction Of Consciousness

We don’t have a “drug” problem. We have never had a “drug” problem. We will not have a “virtual reality” problem. Past, present, and future, we have a consciousness problem — today compounded by the fact that it happens to be occurring in a Neanderthal political landscape.

By Travis Charbeneau November 1991