I am the king of burning daylight, holdin’ my own I’ve been doin’ alright, leaving well enough alone My Daddy told me I was lazy, my momma said, I love you too
I kind of like just, doin’ nothing It’s something that I do I kind of like just, doin’ nothing It’s something that I do
I read the sports page, make some coffee, turn the TV on I feed the gold fish, fix a sandwich, ignore the telephone My baby tells me, you’re so lazy, my baby say we love you too
I kind of like just, doin’ nothing It’s something that I do (He kind of likes just doin’ nothing) It’s something that I do
I got a cabin and a campfire, stars up in the sky (“sky” echoes) I got a ummm, good hearted woman, I think I’m getting by I tell my baby, I am the ?barritz?, my baby says you move me too
I kind of like just, doin’ nothing It’s something that I do (He kind of likes just doin’ nothing) It’s something that I do
I love a clear day, an open highway, a lonesome fiddle tune I love a party, with friends and family, napping in the afternoon I might be lazy, I ain’t crazy, I love my baby, she loves me too
I kind of like (he kind of likes just), just doin’ nothing It’s something that I do I kind of like (he kind of likes just), just doin’ nothing It’s something that I do (He kind of likes just doin’ nothing) It’s something that I do (He kind of likes just doin’ nothing) It’s something that I do Alright
We remember the award-winning writer Barry Lopez, who wrote evocatively about nature, and in turn shed light on truths about the human experience. He died Christmas day at the age of 75. Lopez lived among the Arctic’s Inuit people for five years, and raised a wolf pup for his book about the relationship between wolves and men.
By Jen Rose SmithJan. 7, 2021 at 12:02 p.m. MSTAdd to list
The palm-fringed beachfront and breezy cabanas at MycoMeditations are the stuff of glossy travel brochures, but the barefoot vacationers roaming the Jamaican retreat center this winter are seeking a different kind of trip entirely.
They’re here for facilitated sessions using psychedelic psilocybin mushrooms. One of a handful of established psilocybin retreat centers in the world, MycoMeditations was founded in 2015, and in the years since has seen surging interest in the reputed mental health benefits of psychedelics. Often, it’s from people surprised to find themselves seeking help from a mysterious fungus at all.
“In my life I had never done any psychedelic,” said Jessica Young, a 41-year-old executive from Atlanta, who flew to Jamaica for a MycoMeditations retreat in November 2019. “It’s pretty out of character for me.”
Like many Americans unfamiliar with crystal magic or jam band music, Young knew little about psychedelics before reading the best-selling 2018 book “How to Change Your Mind,” by journalist Michael Pollan.
In it, Pollan surveys recent research into psychedelics, which show promise for maladies from treatment-resistant depression to end-of-life distress. Such professorial passages alternate with Pollan’s eyebrow-raising personal experiences with psychedelics including psilocybin, LSD and the crystallized venom of a Sonoran Desert toad.
Young had just turned 40 when she read the book, and she was intrigued by the promise of personal growth that psilocybin seemed to offer. But despite the relative mainstreaming of psychedelics in recent years, psilocybin mushrooms are ranked alongside heroin as a Schedule 1 drug in the United States. To try them legally — an important stipulation for Young — she would have to look abroad.
“Psilocybin is not illegal here, and it’s one of the few places in the world where you can actually use these substances,” said Justin Townsend, MycoMeditations’ CEO and head facilitator. (The Netherlands, where a legal loophole allows for the sale of psilocybin sclerotia, or “truffles,” is another major destination.)
But over recent months, decriminalization efforts have opened a chink in the United States’ forbidding drug laws. In November, D.C. voters approved a ballot initiative to decriminalize the use of psilocybin mushrooms, while Oregonians approved the legal use of psilocybin in therapeutic settings. If restrictions continue to loosen, could stateside psychedelic getaways be America’s next big wellness- travel trend?
Demand is there. Each month, the inbox of researcher Robin Carhart-Harris fills with requests, sometimes pleas, to join clinical trials at the Centre for Psychedelic Research that he heads at Imperial College London.
When it comes to the healing power of psychedelics, “demand vastly exceeds supply,” Carhart-Harris said. “They’re suffering, and they’re desperate, and other treatments maybe aren’t working.” When it launched in 2019, the center became the world’s first formal site focusing exclusively on psychedelic research; later that same year, Johns Hopkins opened the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research.
Promising findings about psychedelics include treatments for trauma, anorexia, treatment- resistant depression, addiction and more. Many of those who contact Carhart-Harris in hopes of joining a clinical study are suffering from these. “Often it’s really sad,” he said. “A few a day is typical, and we can’t do anything.”
Retreats step into the void between the swelling interest in psychedelic therapy and the tightly controlled trials carried out at the new research centers. And those retreats run a remarkable gamut. Some employ the language, tone and sleekly modern aesthetic of upscale clinics; others are crunchy, off-grid hippie getaways with training lineages rooted in shamanism.
Carhart-Harris’s research has convinced him that psychedelics can facilitate profound transformations, and he’s optimistic about their use beyond the lab. When compared with other drugs — or even alcohol — psilocybin is remarkably safe. It’s not addictive, and toxicity is very low.
In 2018, Carhart-Harris and a team of other researchers published survey results focused on psychedelic experiences “in the wild” — people who got their own stash of drugs and launched into orbit without supervision from a PhD. Overall, respondents did well. “That aggregate data is tending toward improvement,” Carhart-Harris said. “Any negative changes in mental health outcomes are very much the anomaly.”
In addition to offering legal alternatives to an at-home trip, retreats provide support, with the possibility of post-trip counseling to help with “integration,” a meaning-making process many believe is essential. But Carhart-Harris also sees pitfalls in the drugs’ very promise. “It’s easy to see how powerful they are,” he said. “It’s unusual to find drugs, or any intervention, that could change people as reliably. That power requires some responsibility and careful thought around harnessing it safely.”
Writer Michelle Janikian, author of the 2019 book “Your Psilocybin Mushroom Companion,” has volunteered at and participated in magic-mushroom retreats, and echoed Carhart-Harris’s caution. “Folks need to research their retreat leaders,” she said. “Do your homework first to make sure it’s a safe and integral place.”
But Janikian, like many in the world of psychedelics, welcomes the nascent push to legalize and decriminalize psilocybin in the United States. “I’m very excited to see how it continues to go — I think the recent passage in Oregon is going to have kind of a ripple effect.”
And many in the investor class see a bright future for magic mushrooms. In September, U.S. News & World Report speculated that psilocybin could beat out cannabis as a hot investment, citing a market analysis estimating the psilocybin market may grow to $100 billion.
Retreats could be part of that growth. Within days of the Oregon vote to legalize psilocybin use in therapeutic settings, Oregon-based Silo Wellness — which cultivates psychedelic mushrooms in Jamaica — announced an Oregon wellness retreat using the drug ketamine. For five socially distanced days in January, a small group will explore waterfalls, go white-water rafting, meditate and undergo three sessions of ketamine-assisted therapy led by naturopath Matthew Hicks.
Silo Wellness founder Mike Arnold described the ketamine sessions as the first legal psychedelic retreat to take place in the United States. (There’s a long-running underground of unsanctioned psychedelic retreats across the country.) Next, he’s planning psilocybin retreats in Jamaica and hopes that soon they’ll be taking place closer to home. Arnold, who would like to see the state become a psychedelic retreat destination, is staking his company on psilocybin’s potential to expand both markets and minds.
What will that mean for Americans? For Young, who traveled to Jamaica in 2019, the experience was transformative.
While she worried she would find a bunch of partying bros, her 2019 retreat was anything but. Instead, she was part of an 11-person cohort that included six women, more than one grandmother, medical and mental health professionals, scientists and a construction worker.
“Everyone was there with the intention to do some serious work,” Young said. So was she: Over three psilocybin sessions, Young said she grew in ways that years of therapy hadn’t achieved. In November 2020, she returned for a second retreat.
“I came out of that with this very deep knowing that this life force that’s all around us — what I would call love, essentially — is abundant, is ever present,” Young said. “I know that sounds like it comes from a pack of tarot cards. But for me, it’s profound.”
When I first came to India, I asked one of the most erudite politicians in the Indian government a question I had been scared to pose to anyone else but that seemed fundamental to understanding the region: Why does India have so many people? Geographically, it’s a third smaller than the United States but its population is nearly five times larger. The politician, who had had a long successful career in the United States as a business executive and seemed happy to explain just about anything to a new correspondent, stood up from his desk and walked over to a large wall map. He tapped a certain region, shaded brown and white.
“The answer,” he told me, “is the Himalaya.”
He explained that the world’s highest mountain range, home to Mount Everest and countless myths and counter-myths, had created such an immense river network that it left behind staggeringly rich soil across a vast swath of Asia. It’s no accident, he said, that on either side of these mountains lie the world’s two most populous nations, India and China. If you include Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, all of which also greatly depend on rivers sourced in the Himalaya, we’re talking about nearly half of humankind tied to these mountains.
The range, part of an even vaster highland region stretching more than 2,000 miles from Kyrgyzstan in the west to Myanmar in the east, has shaped Asia more than any geographical feature has shaped any other continent. The forces that drove religion, trade, learning and human interactions flowed across these mountains and their foothills for thousands of years. Even today, some of the rawest flash points in Asia, which can send armies rushing to the border and fighter jets roaring through the sky, lie high up in the Himalaya. The pros never put an “s” at the end of the word; it’s just Himalaya, which in Sanskrit means “abode of snow.”
In “Himalaya: A Human History,” the journalist Ed Douglas untangles the history of the mountains starting from when they were formed, about 50 million years ago, to the Everest climbing craze today. His book is the fruit of an enormous amount of research that focuses on the conquest of the mountains and the interconnected kingdoms and states that vied for control. His observations are sharp, and in many passages, his writing glows.
“As you leave the scruffy frontier town of Saga,” Douglas writes, “Tibet dries up like a husk. Traveling the same latitudes as Algeria, you pass sand dunes within sight of white summits. The light at dawn is sumptuous, turning the lower hills the color of honey and caramel, but it’s hard to imagine anything living in such austerity. Then you spot wild asses, khyang in Tibetan, cropping the meager white grass struggling out of the stony ground. The air is thin at 15,000 feet; everything feels closer, yet the vast scale of the landscape reduces you. It’s easy to see why a philosophy stressing the illusory nature of an individual consciousness, as Buddhism does, might prosper here. ”CLIMATE FWD:: Our latest insights about climate change, with answers to your questions and tips on how to help.Sign Up
What’s so interesting, Douglas says, is that the Himalaya have always “performed two contrasting roles: as a place of spiritual retreat and separation from the world, but also a meeting ground where radically different cultures met and traded on a long-established network of high mountain trails.” Countless legends have been born in this clime, and a big part of Douglas’s mission is sifting out the reality from the myth. For instance, long before James Hilton patented the concept of Shangri-La in his 1933 novel, “Lost Horizon,” Tibetans had been talking of something similar, a utopian realm known as Shambhala. Funnily enough, some Tibetan scholars said Shambhala was in Europe.
Even though our image of Tibet is of a closed-off, sealed-up place, that’s erroneous: It had been a cosmopolitan trading hub and cultural powerhouse for hundreds of years. In the 1600s, an Armenian merchant started poking around, looking for musk, an incredibly lucrative perfume ingredient that came from glandular secretions of Tibetan musk deer. The British followed soon after, as part of the East India Company, and by 1856 they had measured the tallest mountain on the landscape. It was named after a British surveyor, George Everest, pronounced “Eve-rest.” Around the same time, the East India Company, never known for its altruism, sent tea thieves to China posing as hapless merchants. They sneaked out thousands of tea plants to grow on the other side of the Himalaya. Thus began India’s gargantuan tea industry.
The Himalaya today are as full of intrigue and contested as they have ever been. Just this past June, the deadliest violence in decades between China and India, both nuclear armed, broke out along a barren stretch of their Himalayan border, which has never been formally marked. Dozens of soldiers were killed, many pushed down rocky gorges. It’s virtually impossible to draw a line through these peaks, and the nations have competing versions of where the boundary lies. Both are determined not to give up an inch.
Douglas, an experienced mountaineer who has spent years in and out of Nepal, covering a Maoist insurgency and writing more than a half-dozen other mountain books, clearly has an affection for this part of the world. But this book in itself is a bit of a mountain to climb, nearly 600 densely packed pages — its own Everest. At times, the story disappears, like a road tapering off, into a jungle of facts. Douglas is a madman for facts. You want to know the name of the most famous person born in the same town as the Italian scholar Giuseppe Tucci? Or how snowfall on the Tibetan plateau affects Canadian winters? Or which part of yak fur is best for making tent ropes? Have no fear. Douglas has got it.
The narrative is most exciting when it’s focused on mountain climbers. These guys, more than the anthropologists, the spies, the nation builders, the spiritual seekers or the cunning lamas who populate these pages, seem to exude true wisdom. Maybe it’s a self-selecting group: Only if you have such wisdom and presence of mind can you scale walls of ice, reach the roof of the world where the oxygen level is about one-third that at sea level, lose fingers and toes to frostbite and come back alive.
Douglas draws the climbers like astronauts, specimens of brawn and brain, and the alpine competitions between nations, especially in the interregnum between the world wars, feel almost like a preview of the Cold War space race. Nationalistic governments ferociously backed their teams in the name of science and bragging rights, working their diplomatic contacts just to get permission to climb the world’s tallest peaks in Nepal, India and Tibet, and then lavishly celebrated their wins. During one German-Austrian expedition, climbers fueled themselves with Panzerschokolade, “tank chocolate,” an amphetamine used by German tank crews in World War II.
The climbers clearly revere the mountains, and you can sense how alive they felt in that landscape where they were nothing but a string of dark, slow-moving specks crossing the brilliant white snow.
“There are few treasures of more lasting worth than the experience of a way of life that is in itself wholly satisfying,” wrote Eric Shipton, one of the most respected mountaineers of the 1930s. “Such, after all, are the only possessions of which no fate, no cosmic catastrophe can deprive us; nothing can alter the fact if for one moment in eternity we have really lived.”
Jeffrey Gettleman is The Times’s South Asia bureau chief, based in New Delhi. He is the winner of a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting and the author of the memoir “Love, Africa.”
Neil Sheehan, the Vietnam War correspondent and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who obtained the Pentagon Papers for The New York Times, leading the government for the first time in American history to get a judge to block publication of an article on grounds of national security, died on Thursday at his home in Washington. He was 84.
Susan Sheehan, his wife, said the cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease.
Mr. Sheehan, who covered the war from 1962 to 1966 for United Press International and The Times, was also the author of “A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam,” which won a National Book Award and a Pulitzer in 1989. Reviewing it in the Times, Ronald Steel wrote, “If there is one book that captures the Vietnam War in the sheer Homeric scale of its passion and folly, this book is it.”
Intense and driven, Mr. Sheehan arrived in Vietnam at age 25, a believer in the American mission. He left, four years later, disillusioned and anguished. He later spent what he described as a grim and monastic 16 years on “A Bright Shining Lie,” in the hope that the book would move Americans finally to come to grips with the war.
“I simply cannot help worrying that, in the process of waging this war, we are corrupting ourselves,” he wrote in The New York Times Magazine in 1966. “I wonder, when I look at the bombed-out peasant hamlets, the orphans begging and stealing on the streets of Saigon and the women and children with napalm burns lying on the hospital cots, whether the United States or any nation has the right to inflict this suffering and degradation on another people for its own ends.”
Mr. Sheehan’s readiness to entertain the notion that Americans might have committed war crimes prompted Daniel Ellsberg, a former Defense Department analyst who had turned against the war, to leak the Pentagon Papers, a secret government history of American decision-making on Vietnam, to him in 1971. The papers revealed that successive administrations had expanded U.S. involvement in the war and intensified attacks on North Vietnam while obscuring their doubts about the likelihood of success.Now It Can Be Told: How Neil Sheehan Got the Pentagon PapersJan. 7, 2021
At 7,000 pages, the leak was the largest disclosure of classified documents in American history up to that point. After the third day of The Times’s coverage, the Nixon administration got a temporary injunction blocking further publication. The Supreme Court’s ruling 17 days later allowing publication to resume has been seen as a statement that prior restraint on freedom of the press is rarely justified. The Times won a Pulitzer, for public service, for its coverage by Mr. Sheehan and others.
In the days after the temporary injunction against the Times, The Washington Post and several other newspapers began publishing their own articles on the Pentagon Papers — only to be blocked themselves until the Supreme Court upheld the right of The Times and The Post to publish.
Opinion: Remembering Journalist And Friend Neil Sheehan
Now It Can Be Told: How Neil Sheehan Got the Pentagon Papers
When I first got to know Neil Sheehan, he was going through trying times. We were war correspondents of different generations and I was in awe of the intrepid reporter of the Vietnam conflict, first for United Press International, then The New York Times. He was the first to get his hands on the leak of official documents that became known as the Pentagon Papers, which revealed how U.S. government officials had lied to the American people about the Vietnam War.
When we met, Neil was working on a book that centered around John Paul Vann, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who served and died in Vietnam. Neil Sheehan admired Vann for his abrasive honesty, especially set against so many official lies. The book took Neil 16 years to write. Susan Sheehan, the great New Yorker writer and Neil’s wife, described those years to us this week for her family simply as “[h]ell. Just hell.”
Neil told me he just found it hard to write a sentence without thinking, “Is this really good enough? … I can’t make a mistake or get something wrong. I owe it to so many to get everything right. If people can know the truth, they can learn from it.” He thought the folly of Vietnam should become a caution for the future.
The tens of thousands of American service members who died in the conflict were not just names on a wall to Neil Sheehan. He remembered the faces and stories of soldiers and Marines he’d known, killed in a war about which they weren’t told the truth; and hundred folds more Vietnamese men, women, children — whole villages destroyed because of American mistakes, arrogance and official lies.
The book Neil finally completed in 1988 titled A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam won a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. It’s now considered a classic. I hope that designation doesn’t discourage a new generation from reading it today.
Neil Sheehan died Thursday of complications from Parkinson’s at the age of 84 during a week that a U.S. president’s lies to the American people have brought about tragic results.
Susan Sheehan is sure Neil wouldn’t want to be remembered just by books and awards. He cherished his family. He wrote notes to friends not just when they were riding high, but when they were low. I know this personally. His generous spirit came after a tough childhood and a struggle with drinking. All of this grace resonated in his work, but as Susan Sheehan told us, “He didn’t just want to achieve something. Neil wanted to be a good person.” His life and work may remind us — this of all weeks — of the gift we still have in America when good reporters speak eloquently and bring us the truth.
It was a story he had chosen not to tell — until 2015, when he sat for a four-hour interview, promised that this account would not be published while he was alive.
Published Jan. 7, 2021Updated Jan. 8, 2021, 9:29 a.m. ET
There was one story Neil Sheehan chose not to tell. It was the story of how he had obtained the Pentagon Papers, the blockbuster scoop that led to a 1971 showdown between the Nixon administration and the press, and to a Supreme Court ruling that is still seen as a milepost in government-press relations.
From the moment he secured the 7,000 pages of classified government documents on the Vietnam War for The New York Times, until his death on Thursday, Mr. Sheehan, a former Vietnam War correspondent and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, declined nearly every invitation to explain precisely how he had pulled it off.
In 2015, however, at a reporter’s request, he agreed to tell his story on the condition that it not be published while he was alive. Beset by scoliosis and Parkinson’s disease, he recounted, in a four-hour interview at his home in Washington, a tale as suspenseful and cinematic as anyone in Hollywood might concoct.
The Pentagon Papers, arguably the greatest journalistic catch of a generation, were a secret history of United States decision-making on Vietnam, commissioned in 1967 by the secretary of defense. Their release revealed for the first time the extent to which successive White House administrations had intensified American involvement in the war while hiding their own doubts about the chances of success.
Recounting the steps that led to his breaking the story, Mr. Sheehan told of aliases scribbled into the guest registers of Massachusetts motels; copy-shop machines crashing under the burden of an all-night, purloined-document load; photocopied pages stashed in a bus-station locker; bundles belted into a seat on a flight from Boston; and telltale initials incinerated in a diplomat’s barbecue set.
He also revealed that he had defied the explicit instructions of his confidential source, whom others later identified as Daniel Ellsberg, a former Defense Department analyst who had been a contributor to the secret history while working for the Rand Corporation. In 1969, Mr. Ellsberg had illicitly copied the entire report, hoping that making it public would hasten an end to a war he had come passionately to oppose.
Contrary to what is generally believed, Mr. Ellsberg never “gave” the papers to The Times, Mr. Sheehan emphatically said. Mr. Ellsberg told Mr. Sheehan that he could read them but not make copies. So Mr. Sheehan smuggled the papers out of the apartment in Cambridge, Mass., where Mr. Ellsberg had stashed them; then he copied them illicitly, just as Mr. Ellsberg had done, and took them to The Times.
Over the next two months, he strung Mr. Ellsberg along. He told him that his editors were deliberating about how best to present the material, and he professed to have been sidetracked by other assignments. In fact, he was holed up in a hotel room in midtown Manhattan with the documents and a rapidly expanding team of Times editors and reporters working feverishly toward publication.