First Trip, made using Midjourney, by Reivin Alexandria

When I was 15, after I survived near death in a fire, I had my first LSD trip, where I digested 13 tabs of medium-grade LSD. The LSD was made in a dirty West Philly home laboratory by a sticky-fingered chemist, handed off to a green-haired stripper named Karen who my brother met while they were both canvassing for GreenPeace.

After a stint as runaways, my brother and I were adopted by Philadelphia’s gritty punk art underground. We moved nightly from location to location. One night was spent cold on the floor of St. Mary's Church (the docent let us borrow blankets; I slept with my head on a bible like a pillow). Then we were taken in by Jon and Nora, a queer man and a straight razor of a wild-hearted artist woman, steam heater hissing in the winter afternoon. They loved to prepare each other baths. Staying with them, I read Hakim Bey's TAZ. "Chaos never died. Primordial uncarved block, sole worshipful monster, inert & spontaneous, more ultraviolet than any mythology." Next, an anarchist collective took pity on us and gave my brother a key to their downtown store (Wooden Shoe Books). Each night, we landed there after closing and slept on the floor. For a moment, we had security.

One night I met Karen (the green-haired GreenPeace stripper) outside the bookstore. And she had acid.

It was my first time on 3 hits, and it started in my hands. The vibration and trembling sense of color only got richer as my emotions built. We entered the bookstore and the heat warmed our faces and melted my trembling. Jon was there with my brother. Karen was also wild with a few hits, and we were just beginning to feel the impact.

Karen, made using Midjourney, by Reivin Alexandria

We were enthusiastic and managed to convince my stoic brother to take some.

“I think I have a cold.” He spoke with a pirate glower, wondering if it was a tonic or a poison.

“You should try it,” I said. With those simple words, a momentum gathered. We converged on an altered state of mind that would ripple through our lives for years to come.

Jon needed no convincing. He was a free man bound only by the limits of his curiosity, which from my youthful perspective, seemed true of all pithy gay men of the Philadelphia art scene. Within 10 minutes of our arrival, Jon and my brother were one hit in, Karen and I were on our 4th, and we were heading into round one.

I was not prepared. A psychic rumble bubbled beneath the surface. Within the first 30 minutes that same surface began to shatter, shake, rattle, and roll. It was nothing like the warm bath of smoking weed. Instead, I tore through rapids, tightened my jaw as I free-fell over the fence of time, trying to divine the dangers that would arise.

I was face-to-face with all of it.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll, made using Midjourney, by Reivin Alexandria

The rolling click of the cheap tape deck. The soundtrack of Fripp and Eno's "No Pussyfooting." A symphony of technological howls. The only other tape in the store was Roger Waters' The Wall, a dark tar of despair and emotional release. My thoughts merged with the shape of the music: long-bending ribbons of sonar weight, a striated net that held me down. I rolled through the waves and heard my brother howl and vomit on the floor.

He was rocking back and forth, mumbling in a rage. The floor wasn’t wet. I had made it up.

I worried I had harmed my brother, and I couldn't face it. I thought about how I was a symptom of the fucked up world. I wandered around the store. I was a symptom that the world was sick. The album covers in their long wooden bins. The books with their low-budget/high-art/underground aesthetic. I could make people sick. I saw the life-affirming violence and hatred of the punk rebellion; like a daisy punching through street cement. I felt the soft moss of hippie frailty as a gift to vulnerability, a trove of hidden treasure and occult powers.

Meanwhile, the punk was beating the hippy. They weren't me, but they were definitely me-ish, and they pounded each other, the punk bringing a mosh pit tornado and the hippy using Taoist aikido. They locked each other in a double choke-hold and pushed until their fists were raised in mutual defeat/victory. Much of my purpose was revealed.


I moved to a different part of the room, and I could see through time. I became a bubble that stretched forward and backward in opposite directions. Movement multiplied, radiating outwards in a sphere. Then I was on the floor, trying to find a word for the moment night meets morning.

It all poured in on me. Violence is indefensible, yet intrinsic to the structure of what exists. I was still looking at the material world, but the instruments I was using had changed; visible to infra, ultra-red, violet.

The instruments I was using to perceive society were also shifting; I was seeing through my programming, and that of my generation.

Hakim Bey suggested a world where violence could be justified. ‘Right’ took up arms against ‘Wrong’ and fired shots.

Karen cut the acid along the lines. Her eyelids shuttered, face altered to the shape of a butterfly, its wings stretching into the room shimmering past the ceiling. I held out my palm.

Karen Trippy, made using Midjourney, by Reivin Alexandria


My sense of space merged with sound. A one-eyed spiral-bodied guardian of this dimension caterwauled through the bookstore wailing over and over. "I'm so cool, I'm so stupid, nothing more, I should quit. Quit, Quit, Quit. "

Fate bled between dimensions, oozing through the heroic viscera of Eno’s “Swastika girls.”

I made a choice that I would stand against violence. Without losing sight of what was at stake.

I asked out loud, "Who do I have to become to embrace this contradiction?"

Jon turned to me and smiled. “There's no middle ground, darling; there is only where you are standing.” The red onesie he wore became the loci, and everything red was drawn to me: the tape deck, the flower’s in the window, Karen’s smeared lipstick.

In the following days, I felt changed. My brother had a hard time returning from the other side. I was his caretaker; he kept asking how he knew this world was real. Finally, after a month of recovery, he found his way back through a character from a novel, Jackrabbit, from Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time.

I also took my name from a book. But that’s a story for another day.

Red Onsie, made using Midjourney, by Reivin Alexandria


Paradox Pollack was raised in the punk spectacle of Philadelphia theatre, traveled to pursue performance in San Francisco, and founded 2 circuses of over 300 performers there. Ringmaster for 10 years he scripted and directed multiple shows for touring, and opened shows for The Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas. In 2005 he entered Hollywood as a creature stuntman in I Am Legend and continues to this day redefining extreme character development for features and television. https://youtu.be/b2VChL7u1O4

A writer of poems and scripts for 30 years, it is only in the last 3 years that his focus has shifted to bringing forth his stories and philosophies to a more developed product.