Reviews

Sucking in a Taste of An America You Will Never Experience: The Exceptional Times of Roger Steffen’s ‘The Family Acid’

By Brad Feuerhelm on February 23, 2015

 

Within Steffen’s book, we are not confronted with the problems of America, but rather the problem of what America could have been. A chance operation to see love, commitment, individuality and that sum of its parts made whole even if for but a very short time

By Brad Feuerhelm, ASX, February 2015

Mystic America. America tossed out from the bowels of Vietnam and an America at odds with the sickened shepherd who was supposed to light its way home. A failure that almost caught up, gnashing its teeth against its origins and its prophecy to complete a non-specific promise to its children. Do you remember buffalo nickels, America? Do you remember buffalo? There is nostalgia for a freedom that existed in the land of the free, if only on an ephemeral level. There are inherent problems of division in a land with too much space and too little of an idea of what to do with it. An alienated alien nation comprised more of its parts than the sum of its total.

Roger Steffens “The Family Acid” contemplates the idea that we came close once to building the home of God’s own. There was a liberated sense of freedom and our fathers had a moment to worship the sun, their women and to find within that fractured dream a resolve to be implicit in a new, uncompromised, and individual birth of a new nation. There was a potential to grow into that non-specific promise. It was a chance to carry water to quench the mouths of the poor, the nation bereft in a post-war post-war post-war economy. Instead the sanctity of its borders being never recovered, reeling from several alarming atrocities committed in foreign lands, to foreign people and to its own. Saturnalia. An ever-present goat lord casting the shadows of death across the backs of indentured servitude in the citadel of unholy light.

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from The Family Acid @ Roger Steffens and Family

I reach for the lorazepam, the grandeur of the unfulfilled promise scraping that soft dura mater from the basin of my skull, re-formatting my circuitry and I sit huffing down exhaust directly from the pipe of the war machine. Life continues to counter its children from the land of the free and the land of another unmarked grave.

 Within Steffen’s book, we are not confronted with the problems of America, but rather the problem of what America could have been. It is a chance operation to see love, commitment, individuality and that sum of its parts made whole, if for but a very short time. Steffen’s archive of psychedelic invocations, free love associations, and counter-death counter-culture operations make sense from afar, but then I feel the overwhelming dread creep into the back of my skull asking myself “what the fuck happened, Dear America”. The wheezy patterned psychedelia, the flower children, the trips across a vast nation subsumed for tract housing, shopping malls, and a delirious contention that capital is God. We seemed to have lost our way very quickly. Steffen’s tome for me is not a rumination of exciting and eager times, but rather an epitaph on an era I will never see while I gasp in a sucking sound at what life could have been peripheral to the impractical infanticide of Mother America. Its success resides in a past gone by and evaporated. I reach for the lorazepam, the grandeur of the unfulfilled promise scraping that soft dura mater from the basin of my skull, re-formatting my circuitry and I sit huffing down exhaust directly from the pipe of the war machine. Life continues to counter its children from the land of the free and the land of another unmarked grave.

The Family Acid is a hike into the heart of an unintentional darkness and its nostalgia is a crippling necessity, which reminds us that to be a master of one’s own destiny, one need not unpack the fear that the high priests of our current society shit shovel at us on a daily basis. There was a different template for life and it was not manufactured so long ago. Thanks be to the Mr. Steffens and his progeny for reminding us that there was once an option.

The Family Acid
Roger Steffens
SUN Editions

(All rights reserved. Text @ Brad Feuerhelm. Images @ Roger Steffens and Family.)