The quaint village of Millbrook, nestled in the geographic middle of Dutchess County, is no stranger to celebrities. Located within a 90-minute drive from New York City, it also boasts a population of less than 1,500 neighborly residents. Actor Matthew Modine and music artist Daryl Hall – both local residents – can often be seen visiting the local farm market, and do so with an apparent confidence they won’t be approached. As is life in the quiet village of Millbrook.
But, it wasn’t so placid in 1964 when Timothy Leary established residency at one of the local estates. The Dietrich Estate, its gatehouse can be viewed by those traveling NYS Route 44A, briefly served as headquarters to promote his “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” philosophy. What happened at the estate is recorded in Tom Wolfe’s 1968 novel Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which recounts the cross-country trip Wolfe took along with Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, aboard the technocolored bus named Further .
Now, Kesey’s family is planning on furthering the patriarch’s legacy.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kesey’s cross-country journey, a Kickstarter venture is underway to bring the iconic bus back to life and tour the country again.
As of today, May 23rd, the initial goal of $27,500 has been surpassed. Part of the money is being used to refurbish the original 1947 bus, which will also serve as a “rolling recording studio with live FM broadcasting,” as stated on the family’s fund raising page. The rest, well, it looks as if they will be doing their best to recapture the “magic” from the ’60s. Their intentions are printed on Kickstarter, in bold face.
We expect a huge turnout in 2014 as we, with your financial help, show up in full Prankster style in various cities, parties, and the vibrant festival scene.
To which towns, cities, parties and festivals we will be able to bring the Bus and the Pranksters is entirely contingent on your generosity. The trip could be a few short weeks, or a few months, covering countless miles and many parties: it all depends on your contributions.
The more we raise over our target, the longer Furthur and the the Pranksters will be able to be on the road and recording the fun at every stop!
– Furthur Bus 50th Anniversary “Trip”
Zane Kesey and Derek Stevens
Unlike 1964, this 8,500-mile tour promises a multi-media experience that will include video streaming, Internet updates, along with the aforementioned audio recording. Pranksters will be hired as “extras” to star in the videos throughout the journey.
The original cross-country trek did involve filming, but the intent of releasing the footage as a feature film never came to fruition. Nonetheless, the bus trip, and the events surrounding it, became the stuff of legend. The Who released “Magic Bus” in the summer of 1968, in reference to Kesey’s bus. The Grateful Dead did the same in 1971 with their release of “The Other One”.
As magical and whimsical the eyes of the “Baby-Boom Generation” may view Kesey’s journey, it’s not shared by all. Decades after Kesey and Leary finally left Millbook in 1970, residents still talk about the past as if speaking of their own misguided, adolescent children.
The psychedelic parties at the Dietrich Estate came to an end, thanks in large part to then-Dutchess County Assistant District Attorney G. Gordon Liddy.
Before his involvement with the Watergate burglaries, Liddy made a name for himself for his unrelenting pursuit of Leary. He initiated numerous busts on the estate, leading to arrests for narcotics, public nudity, and lewd and lascivious behavior.
It is assumed with great confidence that Kesey will not be approached by the residents of Millbrook to be added as a stop on the latest tour.