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Is You In, Or Is You Isn't

from the renegade files of Scotto

Editorial from The Resonance Project #5 (spring 2000)

I remember the day I met Special Agent James Kent, publisher of Trip, as clearly as I remember the day I took my first bath in liquid LSD. The experiences were remarkably similar, both leaving me emotionally and psychically exhausted, with strange bruises all over my body, and an unexplainable bleeding from directly behind my ears. In both cases I had been searching for something incredible, something to lift my mundane, pathetic life out of its existential gutter and give it meaning – or if not meaning, then at least better visuals. I had only a pile of old Psychedelic Illuminations magazines, and pristine copies of the first few issues of Trip, to guide me in my quest. Somewhere, within the city of Seattle, the man James Kent and his insane band of rogue psychedelicists, the staff of Trip, were assembling new issues, and so, on a fateful day some many months ago, I set out to offer my humble services to their noble enterprise.

"Scotto, please," my close friend Crank Boy pleaded with me, as I explained the day's business to him, "spending even minutes in James Kent's presence will undoubtedly drive you to the very brink of madness, if not beyond!" He munched nervously on a Chex mix of colored tablets and pills, his hands twitching as he continued. "Perhaps 'James Kent' is actually an underground conspiracy designed to ensnare the unwary. Perhaps the identity of 'Kent' is actually one tendril of a writhing cthonic beast that devours all who draw near!"

"Crank Boy," said I with an arrogant smirk, "you need to lay off the cough syrup."

Hours later, I found myself in the reception area at Trip's Seattle headquarters. The receptionist, a beautiful androgyne named Glamour Esque, pleasantly informed me that Mr. Kent would be with me in a few moments, and in the meantime, would I care for a refreshing mint? Mistake #1: at Trip, "refreshing mint" is code for "devastating psychic time bomb," and within minutes I was flat on my back, writhing in some strange combination of agony and ecstasy. Glamour Esque took notes in a small book, and within minutes my reaction had been incorporated into a vast database of information, cross-referenced and annotated as appropriate.

"Ah, yes," a compelling voice in the doorway said, "I see you've already encountered the latest advances in placebo technology. Good, good. Now get up off the floor – that slime down there is precious, and I can't have you walking out of here with it all over your clothes."

It was Kent all right. As a blistering barrage of multi-colored swirls and fractal insanity filled the air, I could still make out his impressive visage in the doorway of his office: tall, menacing despite his quaint green cardigan sweater, a ferocious look of wild glee in his eyes behind those schoolmarm specs. I struggled to follow him into his office, a dark wreck of a room, with arcane reference materials and ancient tomes of eldritch wisdom scattered recklessly about the place. Several glowing computer screens offered windows into the seamy underside of the Internet. A battered grand piano sat next to the desk, and there were beady little eyes staring at me from inside the antique instrument.

"Elves," Kent muttered. "I've tried everything to get rid of them, but they keep finding their way back into this dimension. Now then, Mr... Scotto... what can I do for you?"

"Well—" I began, stammering with fear.

"ENOUGH!" Kent shouted, sweeping the contents of his desk off onto the floor with a majestic swoop of his overly long arm. "Maybe you don't understand what's at stake, Mr. Scotto, so let me be plain. It's the year 2000, and it's no longer possible to 'turn on, tune in, and drop out.' Even if you wanted to drop out, they've got hundreds of ways to track you and all your personal information. The kids these days have no idea how much their civil liberties are being eroded, and most of them can't be bothered to pay attention. They're too busy sucking down corporate-sponsored pabulum from the mass media, and pretending that popping a tablet of street MDMA is some kind of rebellion. ARE YOU FOLLOWING ME?"

I didn't dare shake my head no.

He sat down heavily at his desk and continued, his eyes glowing red. "You have to fight for change on all fronts: scientific, political, cultural, and spiritual. We need intelligent voices, creative voices, passionate voices, to advance the state of the movement. There are thousands upon thousands of sympathetic listeners in this world, I'm sure of it, but we've lived so long with the spectre of risk and punishment that we have yet to fully catalyze that network. There is much work left to be done. The question is: Is you in, baby, or is you isn't?"

I joined the staff that day and never looked back.

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