The Cubensis Test

by Ken Babbs (Prankster, Intrepid Traveler, and Captain of the Skypilot Club)

Performed live with Cubensis at 14 Below, Santa Monica, December 18, 2005

"That was one of the best get-togethers I've ever had. You guys were terrific to work with."


finders creepers, losers peepers

story of the lowlife life

we used to eat crawdads

by the bucketful

out of Lost Creek

just when you think

you're on easy street

there's Jehovah Witnesses

at the door

stamping their feet on the floor

not much rhythm

but you've gotta dance with 'em

I told them

you don't pray that

God is on your side

you pray that

you are on God's side

or as Kesey's dad told us

"Don't unscrew the unscrutable"

I met Kesey at the

Stanford Grad school

writing class in 1958

and we buddied up

right away and what

started as a friendship

grew forty three years

of transmoritification

all the way from invention

and back again.

how sweet the sound

from a sweet potato pie

I've been listless a while

listing to the left

leaning to the right

playing the potato

a tune outta sight

I yam what I yam

I guess that's all right

I gargle with mouthwash

I gurgle with songs

the cow eats the grass

the bull's balls clang

like hollowed out brass

and I blow smoke...outta my ass!

Page Browning hung around

the coffee shop in Palo Alto

and he brought Garcia and the guys

over to Perry Lane to meet Kesey.

This was when Garcia

lived at the Chateau.

Kesey called them

"a bunch of hairy musicians"

sometimes the vision,

the sign, comes in the funniest,

most unexpected things

like a leaf falling from the tree

into my open gaping mouth

sucked down my throat

gagging and coughing

doing the hind lick manure

ah what a flash

or as Garcia said,

that's it for the other one.

my mom let me watch

Johnny Carson sometimes

if I brushed my teeth

and if I didn't

it was Lawrence Welk

without a candy bar or muffin

ah the food cycle

cousin to the food pyramid

and as the world turns

and the choppers hover

food descends

into upturned mouths

open in mute pleas

please, Jesus

you're calling me to wade

but I don't know wade

where he's at

or what he's doing

the "acid test" was a thinly-veiled excuse

to show samples of the movie

the pranksters had filmed on their bus trip.

Certain unknowns placed a garbage can

full of Kool Aid in the middle of the floor

and people helped themselves to the brew.

The Merry Band of Pranksters was actually a band

playing a form of non-verbal communication.

They set up at one end of the hall.

At the other end the Grateful Dead

played rock and bluegrass

and psychedelic wanderings.

Sometimes both bands played together.

Now, instead of Kool-Aid

we're drinking Tang

and showing lots of fang

like Howlin' Wolf sang

Doodlin' a Wang Dang

all dee doo-dah day

and wasn't it Ray

who asked, "What'd I say?"

and the Dead who answered

no mercy in this land

with skulls buried in the sand

The first acid test was at the Spread

in Santa Cruz . . . etc etc

The Dead was the engine

that drove the ship

It's still the function of the music

you don't just get off on the music

you let the music drive you

as you do the work

cloudy mumblings and utterings

rainbow spiraled imaginings

and wistful dreams

"spitfurther", they wrote

on a bus of some note

no meaning to denote

jus' reciting by rote

that's all they can tote


the bus was further and later on

when someone repainted the sign

it was furthur and then later

when someone repainted it again

it was furher once more so take your pick.

oh my how the past does cut and paste us

fervently and relentlessly

as we plow onward heeding

Bob Dylan's plea, don't look back

and aren't we glad we don't live

in the so called bible belt

and exist on Georgia crackers

but a good belt can certainly cool our woes

providing it is a belt of the good stuff

and not a good whack with the strap

across the back

some things change,

some things stay the same

master the changes

and slay the things

I'm gonna take charge

one of these days

and paint a master peace

Could this be the revolution?

Could music stir the grassroots?

Could this be a repeat?

yes, things will be different

when I play my rhapsody

Ever hear of Neal Cassady?

the Beat Generation legend

Best friends with Jack Kerouac

On the Road was Jack's book

and Cassady was the character

named Dean Moriarity,

the man who bridged time

between the Beats, the Pranksters

and the Psychedelic Revolutionaries

The drug agents weren't impressed

They called him Johnny Potseed

and he did two years

for two joints

and when he got out

he drove to

Kesey's house on

Perry Lane across the street

from the Stanford golf course

talking all the time

and never repeating himself once,

he slammed to a stop

the rear end went out

of his jeep station wagon

and he spent all weekend

repairing it while the

neighborhood croquet game

went on around him

and he enlightened them

with mystifying quips

we're fourth dimensional beings

inhabiting a three dimensional body

living in a two dimensional world

black and white, good and evil

with a touch of grey

Here's the way Kesey tells it:

when Cassady first comes driving in

you hear him before you see him,

jabbering over the exhausted vehicle

and the scratchy old radio

playing Love Potion No. 9.

The sixties Acid Anthem.

Then, later, at the wheel of further

driving the freeway, he's slipping

into a wonderful frill of words--

"Strict!" he says. "It's strict! Strict,

uh, as they say in 'Arsenic and Old Lace'--

it's strict-nine...strict-uh-nine...nine...

Look! Sign! ....says it's nine miles

to exit nine... nine... number nine..."

Then he begins singing

in that low vaudevillian voice

he used when he wanted

to make a profound pronouncement

but didn't want anybody to get real serious

or hung up or brought down--

"And we mixed up a little bottle of--

Love Potion No. 9 doop de doodle doodle dee...."

Now, I know that isn't exactly gospel.

Of course not. It's just... Cassady

behind the wheel, driving and jerking,

spewing words on the world....

Don't break the cool.

is number one rule

don't bug the fuzz is next

stash comes after don't carry

and dee list goes on and on

but dee swagger come and go

and dee lurch is on dee wane

never piss off the parking god

even on your home turf


I was in NROTC

and that's how I got

my commission

in the Marine Corps

I didn't want to be aboard a ship

and ended up doing time on

the USS Princeton, a flat top

full of helicopters and marines

my local barber once gave me

a real bad haircut

he called, "the princeton",

and unfortunately for me,

it was his 50th year of cutting hair

and the photographer

from the local paper was there

and that's how my mug

ended up on the front page

"how embaraskin' " said Popeye the sailor man

and of course the haircut was a flat top

so flat you could land a helicopter on it

my dog has two great big balls

and did you know the word for avocado

means "testicle," because it looks like one?

but you know what they say

about a one-balled president

there ain't no dog in there at all

I've been listless a while

listing to the left

leaning to the right

playing the potato

a tune outta sight

I yam what I yam

I guess that's all right

I gargle with mouthwash

I gurgle with songs

the cow eats the grass

the bull's balls clang

like hollowed out brass

and I blow smoke

outta my ass

ancestral memories

and brain damaged cells

are taking their toll

from living life on a roll

see that my grave is kept clean

so my story can be seen

through a glass bottom box

when I sleeps with the fishes

make sure I get all my wishes

and don't have to wash

those dirty damn dishes

that gut-sinking feeling

hits me so strong

my liver is reeling

but that's what I get

for smoking my sox

a real no-high

and that is the pox

I can't eat bagels and lox

Instead I'll hide them all in a box

I do not like

them Sam what I Am

I do not like

those eggs and that ham

what I likes is me spinach, not yam

and that is why I yam what I yam.


the Joint chief of staff

wants to know

how's the elbow?

where's the backbone?

who's got the glue?

why's the war?

it makes me so sore

it's all blood and gore

we want a peacetime lore

and let our vets snore

without cannon's roar

saith the soothsayers galore

loadin up the old agent orange sprayers

with lsd might do the trick

or, as Kesey said,

"it couldn't be any worse."

ah, my stories don't have the gore

for I was there early in the war

so I make everything up

just like a maid and the bed

"now don't puncture my balloon," she said

the bus is a state of mind

and while further has gathered moss

and become more beautiful than ever

the day came when the moss

was scraped off

and now it's shorn

a rolling stone gathers none

it is said but have you checked

the north side of the tree

where skypilots roll

out their space ship

to go places and spaces

without ever leaving

the planet earth?

love it or leave it

exploit it or trash it

then we'll re-hash it

Cassady said, I can't imagine

going anywhere

without a destination

Kesey told him, your destination

is already made and Cassady said

I'm feeling better, doctor.

You don't wanna put yer mouth on it

is what hemingway tole his boys

double barrelled earnest advice

the kind to be followed

but I guess when

it comes to clothes

it's all in the genes

no, the gore hadn't got to the war

but the possiblitlies

were there and the craziness

is everywhere

sometimes the load gets heavy

other times it is a feather

blowing in the happy wind

what the guru knew

was when to stir the goo

and that's what kept him

out of the loop-dee-loo

look, here we are

laughing and giggling

and peeing all over ouselves in glee

it's where the beautiful people live

it's where the gorgeous people party

it's where the industrious people work

it's where the green people garden

now give it all you got me hearty

or, as Cassady said,

no one was ever happy, angry


more simple times

makes things easy

for more simple peoples

old geezer type folk always fail

as far as reason goes

they make too damn much sense

Pigs, that's the solution

they root out the roots

Even a blind hog

will get an acorn in the barnyard

once in a while

and if an acorn won't do

go for the truffles

non sense is better

than no sense at all

some things change,

some things stay the same

master the changes

and slay the things

I'm gonna take charge

one of these days

and paint a master peace

Could this be the revolution

Could music stir the grassroots

Could this be a repeat

yes, things will be different

when I play my rhapsody

who is J.B.?

He is Kesey, the Chief,

the head of the pranksters

and why Cassady called him J.B.

is beyond me although

it had something to do

with making movies

he said he was so ugly

that when he was born

the doctor slapped his mother

Of course this story sounds familiar

I must have hundreds of them

he was everywhere!

and still is, irrepresible

some gleef from the doofus family

we roam every night

adventures outtasight

in a deal like that,

it's about as good as it can get

At the Vietnam Day peace rally

Cassady offered Wrigley's chewing gum

to both the provacateur FBI guys

and the enraged protestors

flummoxing them so much

he defused the entire

head on collision.

Kesey told everyone

the FBI guys were

wearing blue push pins

in their lapels and

the CIA guys were

wearing red push pins

in their lapels and

all over the place

you could see guys

pulling push pins

outta their lapels

and throwing them

on the ground

"Walked away

from another one, Chief,"

Cassady said.

"We're all brothers and sisters, right?"

Franny Fling said, and Paul Foster,

the stutterer replied, "I-I-I-I'm

n-n-n-nobody's s-s-s-s-sister."

a nice fresh attribute

leads to pow pow fist of fun

right in the old kisser

it is tongue in cheek

and tongue sticking out, both.

we has caught lots of shit

from everyone, including southerners

but what the hell,

it's all good clean american fun,

and we laffed too hard and drank too much

and smoked too much and had too good a time.

Deliberative defiance will

not only award you with

a Scratch and Lick but

also a Shake and Bake

and a Swirl and Twirl

around the parking lot

with a scantily clad carhop

doing the bunnyhop polka

on rolla skates

while Wolfman Jack howls

in unison to a three minute reverb

of Mexican hallelujah choruses

off in the Sierra Madre de Cristo foothills

while dust storms from mescalined

dancers rise to the darkened sky

and lightning rim shots

of their pleased god

echo off the the mountain tops


capn be rappin

fans be clappin

can't declare a loss

for words elude me

while profits soar

a tough one to crack

harder one to lick

peril of death

worms before slime

I talk all over the place

sometimes only to myself

but as cassady once said

that way you can have

an intelligent conversation

The pope don't mope

he's no dope

he's got hope

a skypilot for sure

he loves the merry monarch flavor

sounds like days of yore

with no gore

for we don't eat

the outlanders no more

war is for the weary

now don't be gettin teary

boys in the bar are bleary

shades of timothy leary

she asked me if I knew the

pranksters and I tole her

know them? I named them

loaded and looney

I came charging down the hill

into Kesey's yard at La Honda

and Mike Hagen, forever known

as Mal Function cried out

who goes there?

Tis I, the Intrepid Traveler

come to lead my

Merry Band of Pranksters

across the land and back again

a trip divinely ordained

the obliteration of the entire nation

meant figuratively of course

blow their minds not their futures

no more falsehoods of delusion

mystic crystal revelation

and the mind's true liberation


the groove is under control

and the airhip is hovering

Some guys have all the luck

the rest of us have to

get by on mere talent

Done been turned over,

burned over,

looked over, passed by.

but didn't lose, didn't get the blues

still soarin' high, high as

a skypilot can fly

Skypilot, he's on a path to farawy

skypilot, where it is we cannot say

he'll buzz the inhabitants

and make them wonder too

what the hell's a skypilot

and where's he going to?

they're named after astronauts

they live a rescue pod

they rocket on the internet.

slap happy like someone

stuck in a russian space station

for a gazzilion years.

The President of the skypilots

is amply rewarded for

being a valuable and

powerful tool of the

unsung holders of

the secret key

How is that for a sucker deal?

The best and we won't settle

for anything less

as we grovel into our graves

but as for working

I'm working

till the day I die

with or without

social security or health care

but I'm a grizzled old grunt

still howling

still smokin

Capn be rappin

Capn be clappin

He dint lose

He dint get the blues

He still sorin high

High as a skypilot can fly.


How does your expereience

and the prankster outlook

teach you to deal with the

ever increasing crap that

flows from our leaders

I was asked and replied

eating tadpoles by the dozens

does not make for

effective contraceptives

first, we buy sock puppets

then we sock the puppets

the ones we thought untouchables

with them we'll cast our lot

not looking over our shoulders

with fears of pillars of salt

you try to leave yer illusions

behind they keep bringin you

surprises you didn't see coming

putting off the inevitable

works for a while

and then there the inevitable is,

winking and grinning

looking over your shoulder

for to see backwards

is to know

more about time

than you care to remember

when Montiac

was at the wheel

of the Star Chief Pontiac

Detroit was grooving

the people were moving

the sirens were blowing

the firemen were knowing

it can't be much worse

than burning dinner

and the capn rushed into

the kitchen with skillet

and spatula in hand

to put out the fire

quench the flames

and liquify the joke

I coulda been a contendah

I woulda been a pretendah

some day

when I paint

my master keys

everything's gonna be different

black and white

and cried all over

a Johnny Ray tune

a loss of mind

a find of lost time

a time of found mind

the Pranksters definitely are a collective

but it is a collective of the American spirit

that has been passed down

from the founding fathers

through the literature of Melville,

the transcendentalism of Emerson,

the elusiveness of Whitman,

the eyeopening of Faulkner,

and then zooms into the Beat authors

where it takes a wild turn

of spontaneity in tribal dance,

uninhibited jazz, nonsensical word raps

and other unfettered reaching of the spirit

toward new found freedoms

and yes the spirit is still alive

despite the deaths of Ginsberg,

Leary, Garcia and Kesey,

it is still alive; alive in the lone spinner

spinning to the music of the spheres,

alive in the laughter of secretaries

sharing lunch on a park bench,

alive in the swirls of paint

splashed on a canvas by the sea,

alive in the honk of a lone sax

on a deserted city street,

alive in the child clutching

a handful of daisies

... alive... alive...

or, as Kesey said,

the sixties aint over

till the fat lady gets high.


If I remember right

I probably got it wrong

was written on a fortune cookie

sent out to thousands of Chinese

giggling with hands over mouths

and tongues in cheeks

riding to Hoyle in a handbasket

whilst knitting a scarf

with heavy fog that holds

the cold like a frozen blanket

wrapped round your bod

for feathers will fly

as will the fur

although no one

knows how far

just how fast

they'll apply the tar

when fur and meat are out

of order and full of juice

slower than my mind

and faster than my feet

a tad between the cheek

a pole between the legs.

When the clarinet player with

Duke Ellington was asked

how he could play mood indigo

over and over again he replied,

"It's different every time."

A reverie on the immortality

of memory divine and

an epistle on the opportunity

of afterlife, too.

too hip to be true

in Whiskey Creek

the booze is weak

it is all greek

what we speak

inherited by the meek

extolled by the freak

'cept in his lore

where his dates

wanted more

jazz and less opera

for the soaps are a bore

thrown out at third

he never did score

it's too much to munch

and too much to mow

so I'm taking it slow

there's too far to go

may I recommend

spaghetti ferlinghetti

or do you have no thyme

for another bad rhyme?

I'm not going to learn it

on my trombone

but will let it lie there

panting like a dog in heat

with the circus clown

that tickled the ivories

and got stompd by the lady

with the humongous teeth

her chomps are so glossy

they call her Miss Flossie

cuz what keeps them so fine

was drawn twixt the teeth

like a lovely white line

thick as a piece of

industrial strength twine

loosens the tongue,

the throat

and the morals

a laxative for the mind

a relaxative of kind

applied to the dental

extended to the mental

to Dumbo she said

be gentle and waggle

your ears in compliance

but instead he stomped

on the clown in defiance.

"Commute this," said the

death row inmate to the governor

and the governor laughed so hard

he broke his pen and that was how

time reversed course

did I say the wolf howled?

learn it by rote

that hope will float

and you too

will pass the Cubensis test

The appropriate destination

is the skypilot's goal

now where is that map

I got most of the feathers off

but the tar is real stubborn

and I'm thinking

where does your fist go

when you stand up

for more than money

for more than flesh

more than TV

more than motels

more than power

more than cars

and there's still room for love.

What is this doing to me

making me think making me wonder

oh woe oh bliss give me a kiss

or as Kesey said,

the only real currency

is that of the spirit


love light is on . . .