King Crimson’s incendiary debut turns 50 this year, so some of the Hard Times’ most dedicated and ruthlessly mocked progressive rock fans got together to experience “In the Court of the Crimson King” the way it was intended: while warping our brains into the hereafter on mushrooms.
We met our “guys” behind Walgreen’s. They were younger than expected, like, maybe 13? No big deal, I assured the others; I smoked salvia for the first time when I was 13. The mushrooms were fuckin’ gigantic, definitely legit brain boomers. We handed over the $500 we’d been budgeted for the story, then they sped away, laughing, on their Lime scooters. We figured it was because they were happy for us, knowing that body-melting unification with the soul of the universe would soon be ours.
Back at John’s place, we divided the shrooms, started up the record player, and gave each other that knowing look that says, “One of us is going to shit ourselves and it won’t be me!”
King Crimson jumps right the fuck in on “21st Century Schizoid Man” with a screaming wall of saxophone and guitars. Good thing we’d just eaten mushrooms or this would’ve been mildly aggravating. Any minute now, we’d realize love is everything and death is horrifying but it’s also your mother.
By the time we got to “Epitaph,” the group was getting antsy about when the mushrooms would kick in, but we figured the long wait was a guarantee we’d be absolutely gone-zo when it did happen. So, best to let this song play through before we turned to mush; otherwise, all this talk of sunlight gleaming on “instruments of death” would be a big mood killer for sure.
We argued about who was sober enough to flip the record, but it was becoming clear those kids had tricked us with normal mushrooms. We moved the needle past all 12 minutes of “Moonchild” and went straight to “The Court of the Crimson King,” praying that some latent toxin in what I now realize were portobellos would awaken and send our minds spinning to images of the black queen’s funeral march and whatever the fuck a prism ship is.
But no. All six of us sat around sober, contemplating what had been one of our favorite albums, but which now seemed a simultaneously dull and obnoxious cacophony of meaningless sounds. Just great. Now I wonder if the other editors will even return my emails when I pitch snorting DMT and listening to Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!