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Image from The Family Acid: California

Traveling California with The Family Acid

Over the last half century, the west coast of America has been a counter-cultural heartland, hosting important moments in the psychedelic revolution, fostering new waves of music and movie-making, and being the home of some of the most important moments in the birth of the modern tech-world (back when that was counter-cultural).

The Family Acid: California is a new book that gives readers a glimpse into what it would have been like to experience the journey of West Coast counterculture since the early 1970s, through the eyes of someone who did:

For more than 50 years, Roger Steffens has traveled the electric arteries of the counterculture embracing mind-expanding experiences, deep social connection, and unadulterated fun at every turn. And he’s captured it all on film. After serving in Vietnam during the final 26 months of the ‘60s, where he won a Bronze Star for founding a refugee campaign that raised over 100 tons of food and clothing, he spent a year lecturing against the war before settling in Marrakech. Finally returning Stateside in 1972, he immersed himself in the vibrant bohemias of Berkeley, Los Angeles, and beyond, touring his highly-acclaimed one-man show, “Poetry for People Who Hate Poetry.” A psychedelic polymath, Steffens worked as an actor, poet, editor, archivist, lecturer, author, NPR radio DJ and interviewer and, yes, photographer. Driven by his own insatiable curiosity and passion, he was on a perpetual quest for the eccentric, the outlandish, the transcendent. Just as often, it found him, smiling, a camera in one hand and a joint in the other.

Roger Steffens is an intrepid explorer of the fringe but he’s also a family man. He met his wife Mary under a lunar eclipse in a pygmy forest in Mendocino, California while on LSD. Soon after, they conjured up a daughter, Kate, and son, Devon. Family vacations took the foursome up and down the West Coast, from the gritty glam of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip to reggae festivals in Humboldt, fiery protests in Berkeley to the ancient redwoods of Big Sur and the wilds of Death Valley. Along the way, they’d rendezvous with likeminded freaks, artists, musicians, and writers, from Bob Marley and Timothy Leary to actor John Ritter and war photographer Tim Page, the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s character in Apocalypse Now.

They’d take in the wonders of nature — hallucinatory sunsets, expansive mountain vistas, the dreamlike haze engulfing foggy mountain roads. And, of course, the adults would occasionally lose their minds in psychoactive celebrations of creativity, freedom, and hope. Set and setting were everything.

This book is a collection of snapshots taken between 1968 and 2015 during Roger, Mary, Kate, and Devon’s freewheeling adventures across the visionary state they call home. Think of it as a family album belonging to a very unconventional family.

The book is being published by the team of Tim Daly and Boing Boing’s David Pescovitz (whose Ozma Records previously released a sumptuous collector’s edition of the Voyage Golden Record).

Scheduled for an August release, The Family Acid: California will be a “lavish clothbound hardcover book with a tipped-on cover photo and silver foil stamping”, and contains “hundreds of full-color images, most never seen before, with detailed captions and an original essay by Roger Steffens”. Complementing the book is a limited-edition Family Acid photo print on perforated LSD blotter paper (undipped), 6.25” x 10”, and signed on the verso by Roger Steffens (the blotter print is available with the book at a special package price or separately).

You can pre-order the book now at the Ozma Records website for delivery in August this year.

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