Rock and roll is a particular taste for a particular crowd—but the history and shenanigans pulled off by the 60s-70s counterculture can be universally enjoyed. Except, I suppose, by one US president in particular.
Richard Nixon, famous for his “war on drugs” and hawkish warhead, was not exactly favoured by much of this hippie/yippie movement. Many thought he could do with a good dose of empathy. Grace Slick, the lead singer of San Francisco’s Jefferson Airplane, thought he could do for a good dose of LSD. And she almost got the chance to administer it.
In April of 1970, Slick received an invitation from Tricia Nixon (good ol’ Dick’s daughter) to an alumni event at the white house for their mutual alma mater, Finch College. Slick’s band had formed in the hot and sweaty living rooms of Ken Kesey’s Acid Test parties (think Main Bar on a Friday night, but everybody’s tripping on LSD), during an era in which marijuana was a class A drug and acid was still being tested out by the CIA for mind-control. Slick later recounted her plan to a journalist, Phyllis Pollack, in 2009, “I got an invitation in the mail. ‘Grace Wing, we cordially invite you to a tea…Tricia Nixon at the White House.’ And I thought, ‘Oh yeah, I think Tricky Dick needs a little acid.’”
Grace dressed up close friend and famed Yippie, Abbie Hoffman, and set out for the white house with 600 micrograms of LSD dust in her fur coat pocket. She was to sit beside President Nixon, strike up a lighthearted conversation, and then scoop the acid under her fingernail before motioning above the president’s teacup. Before long, Tricky Dick would be laughing at how the nations greatest treasures were melting before his eyes.
Slick’s miniskirt and frizzy haired friend, however, stuck out like a blue hat in a Trump rally, and it took no time at all before security descended upon them. Grace whipped out her invitation for the guards, but alumni events can’t excuse two members of the “security risk” list. The two were sent away in a huff, but couldn’t deny that they technically were a risk…
It wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Dick couldn’t be bothered to show up at his daughter’s alumni event, so even if Slick and Hoffman had skipped on through, they still wouldn’t have succeeded in their plan. But it’s still interesting to imagine, nearly fifty years later, what Nixon may have hallucinated, and the reactions his trippy night would have incurred.
And, the next time you’re drinking a cup of tea next to your local yippie, remember to watch their fingernail.