Fifth Estate # 78, May 1-14, 1969

WARNING: Word is out that some tripsters are using the anesthetic cyclopropane (Trimethylene) for their highs. I hope this message reaches you in time.

Cyclopropane is far more dangerous than laughing, gas (nitrous oxide). Arrhythmias of the heart and respiratory failure are not uncommon effects of this gas. In other words, the heart may stop beating or beat so quickly and weakly that blood is not circulated through the body. Or the brain centers which control breathing may be so heavily anesthetized that breathing stops.

photo, Dr. Eugene Schoenfeld speaking at Community Arts Auditorium, May 28, 1969
Dr. Eugene Schoenfeld speaking at Community Arts Auditorium, May 28, 1969 at a benefit for Open City. Photo: Alan Gotkin.

These emergencies can be dealt with in the operating room by trained anesthetists and surgeons. If they happen in your pad your best hope is a groovy reincarnation.

Nausea and vomiting often -follow use of cyclopropane. If a person is zonked out and vomits, he is likely to aspirate the vomit into his lungs, another way to go out in a hurry. Cyclopropane is also explosive and several operating room explosions and fires have resulted from its use.

If you’re still tempted to use cyclopropane for kicks after reading this, it’s plain you’re seeking suicide, not nirvana.

CONSUMER’S REPORT: A delusion is a false belief and there are apparently thousands of deluded heads who believe that the small white capsules or white or orange tablets they drop contain THC (tetra hydrocannabinol). THC, thought to be the active ingredient of marijuana, is still so expensive to produce that it’s economically unfeasible for black market chemists to put it in the street.

Chemist Sashe Shulgin (father of STP) has analyzed six samples of drugs sold as THC. One was benactyzine, a tranquilizer. The rest turned out to be Sernyl or PCP, a sedative used in veterinary medicine.

PCP usually causes a very spaced out trip, similar to a heavy alcohol high. Anyone selling you “THC” at this time doesn’t know his hash from his elbow.

Well, here I am at my desk looking at the steadily growing pile of unanswered letters. My sense of guilt is quite well developed and these hundred or so letters disturb me a good deal. Guess I could spend two solid weeks doing nothing but answering letters. They will be answered, the most urgent ones first, but it’s been a long time since I took off for the woods.

So long that the other day while driving across the San Francisco Bay Bridge, on my way to buy some filing cabinets, I looked at the beautiful bay, sniffed the air and decided to keep driving until I reached Big Sur.

What a great feeling that was. But sixty miles south of San Francisco I remembered a favor promised a friend which shouldn’t have been put off. So I turned back.

Too late to get the filing cabinets so at San Jose I entered the Nimitz Freeway heading for Oakland and Berkeley. Freeways are generally a drag but the Nimitz wins the freeway bummer award.

A friend of mine moved from Oakland to Miami solely because his job required him to drive the Nimitz every day in his TR-3 sportscar. He was terrified.

As I passed Fremont, I saw the giant General Motors assembly plant, surely a put on by someone who saw Chaplin’s MODERN TIMES. It’s grotesqueness has no parallel. To even see that plant is a dehumanizing experience.

A few months ago a huge dope ring was discovered operating among the assemblyline workers of the GM plant. No wonder. Few drug-induced bad trips could rival the horror of working every day in that gray steel mausoleum.

Farther on I saw gliders soaring over the freeway, Fremont—and the General Motors plant. Someday I hope to fly one of those motorless, long-winged delicate birds. They’re towed aloft by small airplanes and then released to seek invisible currents of air, two beads in a glass column the only instrument. Tripping on the gliders made the rest of the drive a lot easier.

Oh, about the letters. Many or most of the questions have been answered in previous columns and are included in Dear Dr. Hippocrates. If you can’t afford the book, go to a bookstore and look up your particular problem in the index.

I guess I can safely announce now whom I supported in last fall’s presidential campaign. Not Pigasus, not Pat Paulsen. Hensley, that’s who. Rev. Kirby Hensley, the Modesto, Calif. minister who was recently busted for ordaining too many ministers.

I figure Hensley was busted either by airlines (ministers ride half fare) or the Selective Service (Hensley’s 17,000 ministers are draft exempt). The crime he’s charged with is ordaining ministers without a license from the State of California and that seems unconstitutional.

Few people know that Hensley ran for president last fall on the Universal Party ticket which, as their campaign literature points out, is “The party which grew out of a flying saucer club.”

One of the planks in the Universal Party platform stipulates that visitors from other planets will not be thrown into jail without due process.

I learned about the Universal Party from its National Chairman, John Hopkins, who also happens to be my landlord, in a sense. Proudly I wore my yellow Universal Party campaign button “Hensley Pres. MacKenna V. Pres.” I even pasted a day-glo Hensley for President bumper sticker on the back of my bus. But I knew Hensley had some enemies even then. Twice the bumper stickers were ripped from my bumper.

Mr. Hopkins’ father, who is also named John, was the Universal Party’s Vice-presidential candidate in 1964. He was interviewed by two women from the Canadian Broadcasting Company sent from Toronto to do a report on the San Francisco underground.

Afterwards, I was showing them around the grounds when we met the elder John Hopkins near his mansion. We talked for about 20 minutes. As we started to leave, Old John gripped my hand vigorously, motioned toward the women, winked and said “I wish I were 50 or 75 years younger.”


Dear Dr. Hippocrates is a collection of letters and answers published by Grove Press. $5 at your favorite bookstore.

Dr. Schoenfeld welcomes your questions. Write to him c/o P.O. Box 9002, Berkeley Calif. 94709.