America's Psychedelic Majority: How LSD Changed Culture Forever

From the Grateful Dead to Miley Cyrus, Jesse Jarnow explores psychedelic drugs' pop culture influences in book

Jesse Jarnow mentions Miley Cyrus' relationship to drug culture in his fascinating new book, 'Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America.' Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Jesse Jarnow's fascinating new book, Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America, explores what he calls "a vast and learned psychonautical diaspora"
– the social and physical world shaped by drugs
like LSD, DMT, peyote, MDMA and mushrooms. At the center of the story is the freewheeling economy that grew up around the Grateful Dead and quickly trickled down to the "hip capitalism" of Phish, Dave Matthews and jamfests across the country.

Jarnow describes how echoes of head culture have touched various corners of America's past and present, from New York's graffiti scene to frat boys to the founders of Google. Jarnow, who published a book about Yo La Tengo in 2012, touches on pop-culture offshoots from Freaks and Geeks to Miley Cyrus, while perspectively probing "the apolitical morass of head politics." He notes that although acid use is down as a high school ritual, it's thriving as a high-end recreation 
– "a rarefied space," he writes with some ambiguity, "for rarefied people."