Psychedelia and Cynicism in ’60s Counterculture


There once was a group of surfers in Southern California, many of them former teen rebels, who became “enlightened.’’ Specifically, the young men sought to achieve a higher state through the ritual ingestion of psychedelic drugs. Though their impact on the American counterculture of the 1960s and early 1970s would be considerable, this group of self-styled religious visionaries has been largely forgotten.  If they’re remembered for anything, according to Nicholas Schou in his book “Orange Sunshine,’’ it is the newspaper reports that detailed various members’ eventual escapades in the nefarious underworld of the international drug trade. Journalists covering the police raids that broke up their smuggling enterprises typically made wry observation of the group’s name: the Brotherhood of Eternal Love.

The Brotherhood was responsible for naming Orange Sunshine, the potent form of LSD that Schou says was 200 times stronger than the acid then on the market. After shifting much of their operation from Laguna Beach to Hawaii, the surfing Brotherhood also named one of the most infamous strains of marijuana, Maui Wowie.

“Orange Sunshine,’’ billed by the author as “the most surreal saga of the 1960s that has never been told,’’ is packed with such curiosities. There are walk-on appearances by such period luminaries as Michael Hollingshead, the British researcher who introduced much of Swinging London, including the Beatles, to hallucinogens, and Mike Hynson, the surfing pioneer who starred in the film that defined a lifestyle, “The Endless Summer.’’ The Moody Blues show up at the Brotherhood’s ranch. So does a guy named Elf Lord, who brings dog tranquilizers.

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