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The Merry Prankster known as Wavy Gravy embodied the psychic liberty associated with the Acid Tests. Ken Kesey had an interesting idea about outer space: it's all in your head. An early volunteer turned poster boy for LSD experimentation, Kesey came up with a plan to introduce the willing to the joys of tripping, the Acid Test, and held the first party near his home in La Honda. Early Tests were night-time wilderness events with Day-Glo painted trees, loud music, the Merry Pranksters and random ingestion of unidentified substances. The party moved to public venues and finally to dance concert halls like the Fillmore West where enlightenment, experimentation and the emergency room were close friends. Kesey's magic bus carried enough raw materials and revelers to make an Acid Test worthwhile and was a familiar psychedelic sight at these gateway events.
Thousands of people flocked to the corner of Haight and Ashbury during the Summer of Love, but few saw the unfolding phenomenon as clearly as Gene Anthony did. From his apartment one block up the hill, he witnessed the extraordinary pilgrimage of young people from across the country as they trooped to San Francisco in search of answers, approval and love, and he captured the compelling vignettes through his telling lens. Anthony's photographic talent, subjects and well-deserved acclaim extend far beyond the psychedelic period, but his ability to capture a mood on a face or the essence of an era from a simple street sign was recognized and refined during that time. His photographs have, in turn, become the myriad faces of the Summer of Love.