Mycelium Wassonii

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Mycelium Wassonii

Valentina & Gordon Wasson had a major influence on western mushroom culture. The Russian-born mycophile married the then mycophobic Gordon Wasson, a theme which quickly spun into a mutual passion for all things fungal. This important and delightful story was put into an illustrated book by the talented Brian Blomerth under the title Mycelium Wassonii.

Today on the show, we discuss the story as well as the congenial details that made this wonderful book happen. Enjoy some behind the scenes information about Brian and his life as an artist, some golden nuggets hidden within the book, unlikely factoids and delightful details.

Topics Covered:

  • Valentina's influence on Gordon and ultimately catalyzing their trek to Mexico that shaped our culture today
  • Brian's work flow as an illustrator and the finer things considered in his work
  • How Brian conducted research for an underrepresented story
  • Hidden gems to look for in Mycelium Wassonii

Show Notes:

    • Brian's website: https://www.brianblomerth.com/
    • Mushrooms, Russia, and History: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/8683958-mushrooms-russia-and-history
    • Blood Spore: https://harpers.org/archive/2013/07/blood-spore/
    • Bicycle Day: https://www.printedmatter.org/catalog/53650/

 

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TRANSCRIPT
Transcribed by https://otter.ai **Subject to error
Alex 0:00
You're listening to the mushroom revival podcast.

Lera 0:03
Welcome back friends today we are welcoming the lovely and talented Brian bloomers who created the mycelium Watson AI book, one of two incredible books that he's written about in theologians and we're just hanging out with Brian. We're talking about the process of making this book, how he conducted this very intricate and complicated research on Valentino Watson and Gordon Wasson, the two people who had such an influential role in bringing mushroom culture mushroom foraging psilocybin to the Western world,

Alex 0:38
including their explorations in Mexico meeting the famous Maria Sabina and other Cornyn dedos. Conan data's in in Walla de Jimenez in Wahaca, Mexico, and how the CIA was involved in this crazy story of bringing philosophy cubensis, or magic mushroom culture to United States and the whole crazy story that that is, and this artist and author just put it in this beautifully illustrated kind of comic book that is so easy to read and so digestible, just the most beautiful illustrations and quick read but so jam packed with information both visually and intellectually was such an honor to read and bring him on the show. But before

Lera 1:32
we dive into this wonderful conversation, the review of the week and this one comes from our colon, colon, semi colon, comma, great cast awesome guests and info great products. I've been listening to these two since close to the beginning. They have solid guests who have a ton of myco info from cultivation, foraging and health benefits. I've jammed their tinctures and I'm excited for new capsules and powders, you can really tell both Alex and Leah are extremely passionate about fungi and spreading the knowledge and love they have acquired through the endless hours of study and work. Thanks for everything much appreciated. l colon colon semi colon, comma. Thank you for the review means so much to us. We really do have lots of hours under our belts of collecting information and trying to give it to you guys in a concise, digestible, applicable way. And we could not be more thankful than having the feedback, you know.

Alex 2:31
Yeah, I also really appreciate these really creative user names. I don't think we've ever gotten like a normal quote unquote, normal name of a review. It's always these crazy. l colon colon semicolon, comma strings of characters and letters

Lera 2:50
and impish your mind on Apple podcasts. It's just gibberish.

Alex 2:53
Yeah, yeah. No, I love it. And you know, we we pick one review week, if you want to get featured, write a review. And we'll pick our favorite one, whether it's five star or one star, or three star, whatever it is, we'll we'll read it aloud and share it with our community. If you want to support us, if you like the show, we don't have a Patreon. We don't take any third party advertisements. We have our own business where we geek out about mushrooms and make functional mushroom products for people to support their health. And so check out our site mushroom revival.com. And we have tinctures, we have capsules. We have these delicious powders, we have gummies coming soon. And depending on when you're listening to this, we might have some more products in there. And we also have a ton of blogs on there. And you can see all of our you know, notes from our podcast, all the links to learn more. And if you're listening to this, you get a special discount code. Pod treat is the coupon code that you want to use. And it's a complete surprise. We won't even tell you how much you're going to save. We change it all the time actually. So it could change from the minute we're recording this to when you're listening to this and now we bring you Brian bloomers.

Lera 4:30
Welcome to the mushroom revival podcast. Thank you for spending a Monday morning with us and for creating this book this wonderful book.

Brian 4:38
Thank you I'm glad you like it.

Alex 4:40
I kind of fun fact about me is that I am more of a right brained individual. So I really appreciate this book. It's always been hard for me to sit down and read a traditional book ever since I was a kid and I used to do terrible in my English classes because they would require Are these books and I would always try to find that the like comic book version of these famous books, like Macbeth or whatever that they would require. So I really appreciated the style of just having pictures and just like this artistic way to express his story, which I think is really cool. And I think there's a lot of people who think the way I do and process information more visually instead of, you know, via text, so this, this was really helpful for me to kind of help visualize the story and have it in a really cool art format, which I really love your style.

Brian 5:45
Thank you. I mean, yeah, it's sort of an under, under utilized aspect of me, you know, comics are like cartooning is to take like, a story that you feel is important and make it as simple as possible and convey the information as like simply as possible. Like, that's sort of the goal with this book. And the book I did before is just to do these in a way that's easier to access and, you know, be more like, pick up a ball for the casual, you know, the casual reader, or whatever. And I just had never seen anyone, like, focus on Tina and Gordon or Albert Hoffman in this way. So that, you know,

Lera 6:23
if he can't be

Unknown Speaker 6:25
sorry, I just did a yacht in the middle. He can't be he can't be you than who you know. So I mean, I've never seen it. And I wanted to see it. And so it happened. I did it. I made it happen.

Lera 6:38
Yeah, for sure if this that element to, like the myco culture of the West has always been a piece of a bigger story, but never a true focal point. And that's, that's why I love this book. One of the many reasons why I loved this book was because for the first time you really highlighted Tina, and Watson's and Gordon and especially Tina, like I feel like of all the characters, that's the one person that gets overlooked the most. And she's kind of the star of this book, which was

Unknown Speaker 7:07
Tina's definitely the star. I mean, yeah, I thought that was really I mean, what kind of struck me too, I don't know if you guys know, but I did a book on Albert Hofmann before bicycle day. What struck what struck me about their real like, Albert Hoffman story is just how big of a part his wife and Anita play it in it as well, like, not with the chemistry aspect of it, but just as like, a sheer source of personal support. Like not to I'm spoiling the book, but basically, like Albert Hoffman has a panic attack on LSD. And his wife has to come back to like, rescue him from this panic attack. And I just thought that was very, it's interesting how there is this, like, I don't really know exactly how to describe it. It's like, a relationship between people that also like relates to these like, you know, big like, early, like, pioneers, I guess you would say, or, I don't know, I still haven't figured out the exactly right word for that. But just the relationships behind and how that relates to the substance, you know, or relates to the topic at hand.

Lera 8:10
Yeah, I can't imagine what the state of mushroom culture would be like, if it wasn't for this story. You know, these people to have done a lot of the pioneering work or just you know, establishing normalcy in some sense to the Western world. So that leads me to the question about the title. I'm assuming you did some clever Latinization have the last names wassan was Sani there's more than one, but maybe talk about that.

Unknown Speaker 8:41
Well, yes. I didn't do any clever, clever. Latinization. Basically, there is a type of mushroom that was supposed to be called psilocybin. Watson. I was so nice

Lera 8:52
to see that. So that was my other hypothesis.

Unknown Speaker 8:55
This is yeah, this is the first time I'm saying this out loud. Oh, um,

Alex 9:00
that happens a lot. You you always read it, or write it and then the day that you have to actually say it out loud. You're like, how am I? What was it saying in my head?

Unknown Speaker 9:11
Right. Yeah. 100%. So the for the title, you know, obviously mycelium writing I've always liked that title. I always thought that was a beautiful title. And I also like how it sounds like mycelium. When I did bicycle day era with dot coms reviewed it as cute and silly. So I thought that was that was nice and pretty funny. But to go back to the mushroom thing. So basically, Roger heme who I talked about in the back matter, he's the head of Law Institute, no natural in Paris, and he was a major like mycologist and a real like, guiding force behind this couple. Like he really helped this cup out a lot. And he went to Mexico with them on a second trip. They see the story. It's in reality, there's tons of trips to Mexico involving like a mate a huge cast of characters, but for my purposes You know, you got to condense. It's all about simplicity and like, you know the major elements, but either way, he tried to name this mushroom, my size, size. So what I just said before was that I still be fascinated with Sony. And instead it was called psilocybin moolah cure, which is also completely butchering. But it was this other team that The Watsons met up with Rolf singer and Gaston Guzman, they were also going around Mexico, like researching hallucinogenic mushrooms at the same time, and they beat them to like the taxonomical punch, you know, to say it as it is. So I just thought it would be nice. And also one more point. It's a the Watson AI with the two eyes. I mean, I kind of felt like that worked great for a second book, but also to reference a couple again, because it really took two parts of a hole to make this happen.

Alex 10:57
Right, and this is your second book and the first one about LSD. I'm just curious, how did you get into fungi or mycology or kind of highlighting these influential figures in hallucinogenic fungal substances?

Unknown Speaker 11:17
Well, actually, this is this is pretty funny. So I had a short list. I kind of wanted to do another book like the Albert Hofmann book, and was looking into various characters and other things. And Dennis McKenna wrote the foreword for the first book. And we exchanged like a very quick email, because I was like, Dennis, I'm giving you a drawing, I don't care. I mailed him a drawing, and we exchanged a quick email and he said, The Watsons would be a great subject for a second book. And I mean, you know, you guys are familiar with the mechanic brothers. Right? Yeah. I mean, when the mechanic brothers call when Dennis calls, you know, like, you don't ignore what Dennis has to say to you. Very, it's a huge treat of my life, but I got the email with him. So I mean, he suggested Watson's Watson's it was which, the more and more I read from them, the more and more I liked them. So that was nice. I mean, it's always good to with a book like this, it's always good to really love the characters. And they made it pretty easy.

Lera 12:14
Absolutely. And I'm assuming most of our listeners have maybe not heard of this book yet, which was the point of this podcast to bring that into light. Because I think it's such a wonderful piece of literature for people who are interested in this culture. Could you give us like a quick SparkNotes version of the story and just maybe, like, you know, the pitch and like, what, what, what's the point of telling the story?

Unknown Speaker 12:39
Okay, so basically, this story starts off like all great love stories do with a tiff on a honeymoon, or like a rift between two people. Tina and Gordon took their honeymoon upstate in the Catskills, and Tina encountered some mushrooms and started picking them to cook dinner. This is not the SparkNotes this is just the now I'm laying out a scene here. So Tina started picking up some mushrooms like foraging, and Gordon was disgusted. He could not believe it. He was really grumpy. And Tina was hurt by that and was a little upset that he didn't she didn't, he didn't trust her to be able to pick these and he didn't believe her that they be good sound. They're both like they're having a little bit of a raft both go to bed grumpy. And then Gordon wakes up is hungry and guilty. The combination of hunger and the old strikes him, he eats the mushrooms, and they're delicious, which like, this is such a completely innocuous and ridiculous tale. But this tale starts off like a passionate, completely passionate hobby between these two, where it started off as a cookbook and then it just expanded, expanded, expanded. And their big theory was that some cultures are microphones, like they can't expand except mushrooms into my wife. They fear them they think they're disgusting. In some cultures are micro files, and they're big, like his their big like pitch is that Russia is a culture of myco files. All of that leads to them going to Mexico and finding out that they're still like a secret tradition of psilocybin usage among the Mazza text there. Well, and then a couple post honeymoon for fun engages international letter writing campaign ethnographic research from their Manhattan apartment in the New York Public Library. And that leads them to To summer vacation in Mexico to discover that they're still using psilocybin mushrooms in a secret ceremony with the Mazza tax in Mexico.

Lera 14:33
Quite quite an intricate story that you were able to fit into a book. And what I love about it is, as we've said before, you know, 95% of this information is conveyed visually. And just as an artist, can you talk about your process making this did you draw each character individually per scene? I mean, do you use Illustrator? How are you? How are you creating so many many illustrations, how long did this take you? I mean, there's so much to admire about the artwork itself. And I kind of want to hear more about that.

Unknown Speaker 15:09
So not as long as you would think. I mean, really, they're drawn like on 14 by 17, Bristol board. And I draw directly in ink. And the research process is a bit crazier. I mean, the drawing process I kind of got but the research phase like I really tried to go through and I read every book and find everything I can find about these people. And anything that's interesting to me and make a note of it. Like even in preparing for this, I looked over my notes, and I saw another thing that was like, damn, I would have been great to draw, but I screwed up and forgot that. So yeah, I mean, the drawing part. It's just real drawing 14 by 17. I color digitally because it's easier for color separation and whatnot. And also, I like flat colors. I mean, not all the colors are digital in this. There's a lot of watercolors that I scanned, which to go back to see since this is kind of like a, like a sequel in some ways, but not really to bicycle day and bicycle day, we used neon pantones for a lot of like the tripping sequences because Neon is a color that is chemically created. Like it doesn't really exist in nature. So that that relates to LSD and for this book, I thought, well, what relates to mushrooms well, like all like but most of like the classic botanical drawings you see are all watercolors. So of course watercolor is relates to this, you know, and I said like He did such incredible watercolors that I just kind of needed to honor his watercolors by throwing watercolors in this, but I'm not a very good watercolor is that was funny, but I really try.

Alex 16:47
Did you did you leave any breadcrumbs are kind of hidden nuggets that that are, you know, left for people to discover.

Unknown Speaker 16:58
While there is an Easter egg on the back of the book. There is Yeah, yeah. So of course, I mean, that's an that's a nod to Tina. But of course there is an absolute ton. I mean, I think mushroom people will will, you know, find a bunch people that have read any one of Gordon and Tina's books will find a bunch. I mean, just brass notes has a lot of comments. You know, like it's like three or four comments that tried to add some like Terence McKenna, like kind of stuff into there, too. And you know, just, there's, I tried to pack it out with little, like, forger kind of things. I mean, like we were talking about before, like, you know, most people ignore the fold, I put a bunch of mushrooms in the fold here. Yeah. So that, uh, you know, like a foraging thing, they would just be there but slightly hidden, you know, a little obscured, like they would be in nature, like you just are walking around the woods. And then you look over and there's one and then you turn your head and it's gone. That sort of thing, flip the page, and it's over.

Lera 17:57
Yeah, I really appreciate the thoughtfulness that you put in there with picking the colors and like choosing neon as a color in your bicycle day. Because it's something you have to synthesize just like LSD. These things are so cool to me. And I'm, like very appreciative for you as an artist to like, really think about that and add those details. So, to trail off of that question, I noticed that there's a lot of mushrooms in this book that have speech bubbles and some unique orthography that I've never seen before. Could you talk about this a little bit.

Unknown Speaker 18:32
So it's sort of a mix of this Minoan language called Linear A. And it's also like some of the glyphs are a nod to this book. Codex sarafine STS, if you guys ever seen this? No, it's like, it's a 70s book that's designed to be like the Voynich manuscript, you know, where it's like a whole fake language. It's an Italian architect that made it it's a great book really crazy. But my like, big like, my big like allusion for this mushroom language is that it's a mix between two Terence McKenna quotes, and then one describes mushrooms as like cosmic Borscht Belt comedians. And the other quote is about how the part of the mushroom is visible is the one that's prone to sex thrills, and sunbathing. So, long story short, these mushrooms, there's some knock knock jokes. They simply humor like later in the book. They say some nicer things, but it's like it's translatable. But is it worth it to translate? That's a big that's a big question for this. And one tidbit I will give people is one of the mushrooms does say gesundheit at one point. And that's super cruel, because if you put like a different language inside a fake language for people to translate that's like completely insane think it is one of these mushrooms you engage in tomfoolery because that's that's the mccannon narrative. And I kind of like that, you know, a little nod Damn.

Lera 19:58
Yeah, no kidding. I love it. also had a question. On the very not the very back but the page before there's another sort of Easter egg and it says, Leave this book outside data dot a mushroom micro from the spot and then there's a little.of ink. Is there something else going on here? Did you use sport ink? They're like, what's up?

Unknown Speaker 20:20
Well, the key word here is Mike.

Lera 20:24
I figured I just Yeah, word.

Unknown Speaker 20:26
I mean, with the bicycle de Puck, the last page is like the spot, you know. And there's a little spot. And I figured that somebody could do that with that book and sends it to somebody. So I really liked that gag and want to continue this gag. And thought that that would be that's that's the way I thought to continue that gag. But at the same time, could somebody I mean, I'm asking this is where I'm asking like some real mushroom people. Could somebody spray spores on that spot? And like send it to somebody, man, would they survive that or now?

Lera 21:00
I think it depends on the species. But yeah, I mean, spores are hardy though. The last the trick would be to get them to like, happily germinate. I feel like you'd need some pretty good conditions, and you might compromise the integrity of the rest of the book to make Yeah, well. Who was it the group of sauce be cubensis off the Holy Bible? Oh, there's on a blank. Yeah, there's the first one to do it was.

Alex 21:29
I don't know. Oh, just seen it all around the internet. There's Alice in Wonderland. There's a time I've seen so many mushrooms growing up books. I mean, yeah, I I could see lots of mushrooms going off this book for sure.

Unknown Speaker 21:42
Damn, that's funny. I've never seen this before. That sounds great. Honestly, very curious to look that up when we're done with this.

Lera 21:50
Yeah, someone's got to grow mushrooms off this book. I would hope I would I love it. Like it's, it's, that's one of its destinies, for sure. You know, we might have to be those people.

Unknown Speaker 22:01
That sounds great. I would love to see it. I mean, yeah, originally, I had more ideas for you have to do when you do a book, you have to do the front and back cover earlier than then you're done with the book. I mean, these books that are like done, like live like, every day, I tried to get a page done kind of deal. But originally, there was going to be more like more things involving scissors because the Watsons and several like or other early foragers used like scissors to like delicately cut them out, you know, like a very nice, very tiny little pair of scissors. Yeah. So there's gonna be more allusions to cutting up and I was thinking about people turning this book into malt and then using it as mushrooms but it was a you know, this, you least for me, I just have tons and tons of ideas and you just have to condense condense, condense and cut out? Yeah, things

Alex 22:50
was, was there? Obviously, there's a lot that you wanted to add in here, but you didn't. Was there anything that you're like really kicking yourself that you didn't add in?

Unknown Speaker 23:01
Absolutely a ton. But I mean, you know, the same time this book has got to be shorter for it to be easier to handle like, you know, 5000 page book like this, that wouldn't really be doing anyone any favors, right? You know, why sort of, you know, it's got to be short, and it's got to be specific and to the point, but here's one thing that I actually really kicked myself about cutting because it just didn't make sense. And it like didn't fit but I got to do it recently for a different publication. And that you guys know who John Henry Faber is.

Alex 23:33
Know, his name. Sounds familiar though.

Unknown Speaker 23:36
He's a French like entomologist from like the 1800s. And the Watson's like, first book, the book I really based a lot of this on mushrooms, Russian history volume went into. So the illustrations in that book are all taken from this from this entomologist, who like studied bugs his whole life, but as a hobby, he painted much like watercolored mushrooms for himself. And this quote I really love is from the prefect face. Valentina wrote it and I have a condensed version of it right here for you guys. So the whole world knows John Henry Fabray 1823 to 1915. As an observer of insects, distinguished writer and a person of a rare spiritual quality. Only a few know that he devoted many hours of his life to painting mushrooms and watercolor. He painted mushrooms in their natural size and colors, save for one that was too big first paper that he could never identify. No publishers, I can guarantee the colors will be right. So he chose to leave them on the shelf. He predicted that his drawings would go from attic to attic to become dirty and stained and for rats to know until some little grandnephew came along and cut them into paper hats. And that's from Valentino Lawson on this guy. And I mean, I just love that as like somebody who's like, created a book like people that draw know that uh, your drawings probably in the trash at some point. You hope that he does. But you know, that's a possibility, a major possibility high likelihood. So I really love that and that I couldn't figure out how to fit in, because it's just an aside. I mean, but I ended up drawing it for fun. So that's good. I mean, like, last time, Albert Hoffman, in the Albert Hofmann book, he met his wife in need at a costume party. And that didn't fit into the book at all. But I got to make it for a poster. So you tried to like, you try to get rid of some of these crimes, if you can these crimes against your research, by making them making them right in the end.

Alex 25:34
Yeah. And you said that one book was crucial for your research, was there any other books or people you interviewed, or documentaries, whatever, that that really kind of painted this narrative.

Unknown Speaker 25:48
So actually, this is really good, because I really want to acknowledge this guy, Thomas J. Reed linger. And he wrote a book called The sacred mushroom seeker tribute star, Gordon Wasson. And basically, this is a biography. It's all it's like a lot of his friends, a lot of his colleagues, and other people like relating stories and talking about his life. And this really was like, the big book that like, you know, there's so many things like as an illustrator, like, I need a photo of inside of their house, I want to get the inside of their house, right? That doesn't exist in this book, but there's a picture hanging in their house that I got to include, because there's a photo of it in this book, you know, like, those are the kinds of details I really live for, and really try to focus on and this book, really, his books really got him. So I would encourage anybody who's interested to check this book out, because it's quite a great one. Because here's the other problem with I don't know, if we, we didn't go in on this, right. My research was like, kind of stimulate or stumped, or something. My research got really screwed over by COVID this this time. I mean, because there is an Archives collection for Watson in Harvard, but COVID That wasn't going oh, no, yeah. And all their books are like, he made an effort to make his books, like very beautiful for special collections, and like academics to have. And there's some theories under why but like, he was very Gordon and Tina were both like very particular and how these books were printed. So the books are like in super limited edition, like extremely expensive. So thankfully, airway calm, like, had like some PDFs and some other archive sites had some PDFs, but I mean, it was a little stressful in the beginning because I was just like, How the hell am I going to get to this library and get this book?

Lera 27:34
Yeah, you can't not research through those right like that's, that's the gold. But shout out to Eric. They're such a wonderful resource.

Unknown Speaker 27:44
They really are. I cannot believe that they were that all all the books I needed, except for one where they're all scanned and hidden away in various corners of the website. Like if you just google search the name slightly differently. Eventually, they popped up one I found like, almost at the end of the research and could not believe it. I was like, this has been hiding from me this whole time. But there was just hanging out.

Alex 28:10
You know, it's really funny when I was first getting into mushrooms and first hearing this story of Gordon Wasson and you know, Maria, Sabina and all that stuff I heard a couple people say are Gordon Wasson and there was the first time I heard it, and I didn't see it written anywhere. I guess I didn't remember it. And they thought they were saying our guardian Wasson and I was like, Okay, this a little intense or like, I was like, Okay, I guess he's part of the family or whatever. And I just kept hearing people say it and I was like, our goal, Gordon Wasson. Okay. Like, I, you know, like, kind of part of the community like I that's what I thought people were saying, and it took me so long to read it of of our dog, Gordon Wasson, and, yeah, I just thought I'd tell that story. I heard him say it again. And it just gave me a flashback of the early days of

Unknown Speaker 29:08
now these kinds of Link language high jinks are obviously right up my alley like this is a huge part of this book is language high jinks. So I'm glad. I'm glad that there's a personal relationship to that.

Alex 29:20
Yeah, definitely. So this is book two. Do you have plans for for Book Three on the horizon anymore? Mushroom stories that that you're itching to tell? Have you have you talked to Dennis McKenna on on what

Unknown Speaker 29:40
No, I haven't asked Dennis again. Um, so I do have an idea for four of these books. And they all basically like focus on drug that's been criminalized but has potential for you know, therapeutic research purposes. Yes. So I have an idea for the third but I I haven't done like the research, like super hard yet. And like, I have to dive in a bit before I commit just on the off chance. But there's a, you know, there's in my head, I have the next few bucks, like figured out, but I just, you know, I gotta like, I gotta really put my toe in before. Yeah, for sure it. But it's wild because like I said with book one and Book Two, it's crazy. Three and Four do also feature couples. So pretty wild, pretty wild. This is a trend enough for four bucks. Like, that's something that really makes me think at least, I don't know if that's for everybody, but it's quite wild.

Alex 30:41
There is a really cool story that you know, and I'll plant the seed if it if it if it inspires you for maybe book five or six or something like that. And then great, but there's this story. I don't know if you've heard of it. signing me up for more. Yeah, no, it's it's, it's like this kind of conspiracy mystery story that doesn't have a conclusion. Right? And it's, and please fill in because I'm, I'm losing my memory here, but it's the the person who made the I don't know if you've heard of the penis envy mushrooms?

Unknown Speaker 31:20
Um, no, but let's go.

Alex 31:23
Let's there there are these super potent psilocybin mushrooms. And they're supposedly, you know, twice as potent as a as a normal Salafi cubensis. And, and this guy developed this strain and he was murdered. And it's this whole kind of conspiracy around his murder. And, you know, on how maybe it was the government that murdered him, or, you know, all these different crazy conspiracy stories. And that's just that very, very SparkNotes version, but it's really good. I think they did a vice episode on it, or

Lera 32:04
I don't know about that. But you're referring to Steven Pollack, who was like he was a doctor in San Antonio. And like, he would prescribe people medication on needed, so he could rope in more money to fuel his research in the mycology field. And he developed penis envy, that strain of slosberg cubensis that was his focus. And he had this big dream to like, make a Super Mushroom lab. And I mean, he did some crazy things like there was a hurricane Opal came through and there's big storm and he went out and throw a bunch of his mushrooms and spores around to try and get like his genetics just like all over the country. And yeah, there's Hamilton Morris wrote a great article on it called Bloodsport, I'll put it in the show notes and I'll send it to you after but it's it's a pretty cool like murders sci fi mystery type thing and yeah

Unknown Speaker 33:05
Hmm I don't know. You know, this brings me to like another like point about the Washington's is that I don't know up I guess my friend Alex isn't really like that big of a reader but not like in a bad way. I just did it because books are very, very long. These books very long. They're very intense. But I think mushrooms Russia in history is super fun. And like all the bits are bite sized. So it might be like, I can still see you getting into it. If you've never written it read it before. But related to this penis envy thing. I have this quote that I cropped for my notes specifically for this because I thought it was funny. It's from chapter five, mucus, mushrooms and love. And it might seem that by now, we had exhausted the erotic imagery of the fungal world, wherein fire mucus, noses, candles and mushrooms dance together in a throbbing surrealist Fandango. And that's what I should have drawn. I am kicking myself for not drawing this I'm only bringing this up now cuz I'm just like, how the hell did I miss this? It was in my notes, but continuing the whole obscene performance conducted inside the uterine envelope of the primeval gamba, but not so we have yet to speak truffles Look at that. We're not even we haven't even gotten to truffles yet and they before this they're talking about this mushroom, which in Persian translates to phallus erectus of the Jackass you're gonna have to put an explicit explicit tag on this um, for that but it's just like it's super fun. The book goes through and like basically it just like it just relates all these different cultures like they'll be like, Oh, these people thought that mushrooms came from lightning. Also in Spain in this one section. They also thought mushrooms came from lightning and it just go in like these like amazing like, like tangents and crazy like ways it's like very quick and just conveys The information like super beautifully. It's such a great book, highly recommend it. It's so funny that it's like not more of a well known book because it's hilarious. It's crazy. And it's so many fun tidbits. It's wild. Yeah, you're

Lera 35:15
selling maybe, and I've heard of this book, but I assumed it was like ultra scientific, but it sounds more like literature. So yeah, I'll I'll put that in the show notes as well, because I think I've seen a few places online where you can get it and maybe even download the PDF. I might even actually have it in our Google Drive. But yeah, thanks.

Unknown Speaker 35:35
I mean, I can definitely I can definitely send you the PDF. I don't know the legality of that. But you know, obviously. But see, this brings up another point that I think is like very important to stress about this couple is this was a hobby for them. And this is like the first like, according to them, they really believed there was like two different types of books on mushrooms. It's either identifying mushrooms for beginners, or serious works by mycologist. On mycology, like they were making a professional book by amateurs on topics that they felt were ignored. Like, this was a true like labor of love. Like Valentina was a pediatrician, Gore Gordon worked at ARC Gordon R Gore's JP Morgan, as a as like a PR guy, and Vice President of Public Relations eventually, but so I mean, this just was what they did for fun. And I cannot stress that enough. I mean, in the beginning, I was like, This couple is out of their damn mind. I mean, it is, I'm sure I'm sure for its goals. Yeah, it's just bad. I mean, some of it in the beginning, I was like, this is like a forum for mushrooms, or for forums or developed like, and then once I got into it, I was just like, This is awesome. This book is insane. It's so great. So great. So it's always good to write a bio on somebody that your fans your fans have, you know, it's not even a bio. It's a very silly condensed version of a bio starring dog people. But you know, you do what you can with the tools you got.

Alex 37:12
I love it. Is the bicycle day. Also the same dog people characters,

Unknown Speaker 37:18
different characters, but yeah, they look like okay.

Alex 37:22
All right. See, this is? Where's the inspiration for that?

Unknown Speaker 37:27
Okay, so this is some comics history stuff that's probably deeper than you ever want to go. But that, you know, Karl Marx is no good Scrooge McDuck. He's the inventor of Scrooge McDuck. Basically, he's known as the good duck artist. He was anonymous for years, because Walt Disney puts his name on these comics. But people in the Disney comic community of like the 40s would always get this as a good duck artist. This guy Carl Barks, and car barks always drew people with these dog faces in the background. Like all the other side characters are these dogs besides the ducks. And so my idea is that these books live in that world. They are like dog people. I mean, all my work is these dog people. Let's get real because I like it. The funny animals genre is. It's a tradition in comics making. It's long been forgotten when that really people bring it up all the time. But I mean, you know, I don't know. I just really love the genre. I think it's psychologically crazy. And it's funny that you read the thing. You forget their dog people and then bam, the right back up. It's still done.

Lera 38:39
Though, totally, I had a very similar experience. When I was reading this. I was like, Oh, these are dog people. And I forgot they were dog people and toward the do the whole thing was dog people. I got to ask Brian why?

Unknown Speaker 38:52
It works. Yeah, imagine.

Lera 38:56
Yeah, you're skilled at conveying emotion and like simple line drawings. I'm always like, very impressed when illustrators can do so much with so little so. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 39:08
that's good. That's good to hear. You know, you try for that. You never know how it's gonna appear feel or seem and when you're new working on these, you have no idea what's gonna happen. I mean, like I said, it's like, live like you just commit yourself to doing it every day. And you have to get a page done every day. And at least one page done every day. So when it's done, you're basically like, that's the first time you're looking over the whole thing at once. And you're just like, What? What did I do

Alex 39:40
in grad? I mean it. It didn't take me long at all to read it. It is. I mean, it's it. Not only does it is it really quick to read, but it's packed with so many just incredible visuals and so many in depth stories. And it's it's an incredible how you can pack that much information in so little time. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 40:08
Yeah, I mean, that's the goal is just quick, simple. You get it all. And then there's enough in there to where you want to go back to it occasionally again, you know, that's all you can really ask for for a book like this. It's just, maybe you open it up again a couple times. Yeah.

Lera 40:25
I've opened it many times. I could see someone taking a long time to read this, but it's not the reading that's taking the time. It's just the kind of visual hunting because there's so much to appreciate.

Unknown Speaker 40:37
Yeah, I mean, I really like one of my favorite feelings is walking around and looking at stuff. And I'm sure that relates to I'm sure might you muster he will understand that for sure. Right. You just walking around you're looking at stuff and really a goal a lot of times with drawings is to do stuff that's like that feels like that to me, you

Alex 40:59
crack the code for mushroom hunting. Yeah. Walking around and looking at stuff.

Unknown Speaker 41:05
Yeah, for sure. For sure. I mean, that's what drawing is to you is you're just you're walking around looking at stuff and then you come home and said, you think about what you looked at. you fantasize about being out and about looking at stuff again, but you know, you're stuck.

Lera 41:21
You know, this reminds me of I saw an Instagram post that Julia Ferrucci made. She's a Chilean mycologist a few months ago where her and Gary Lin golf another legendary mycologist went to I think they went to the MoMA or some other art museum, and they went mushroom hunting at the museum. And you're thinking what the hell like What do you mean? And then you look for signs of like, fungus and other mushroom inspired or you know caused parts in the art so yeah, like they found the mushroom Campbell Soup. It was like we found a mushroom you know, like that was the mushroom hunting and you stumble across a painting and maybe someone had included a little Amanita or something in the in the foreground or or the background but I've been dying to do this like go to a big contemporary museum and mushroom hunt within the art

Unknown Speaker 42:17
that sounds fun. Yeah, that's pretty cool.

Lera 42:20
So the the urban forger

Unknown Speaker 42:23
I mean, there's mushrooms all over the city to you know, you might see one on your way there on your way back. My sister keeps sending me photos. My sister is acting like I'm an expert now which I definitely know. Your your Yeah, but you know on in terms of mushroom stuff, like I know nothing really, except for the books that I read on this. And I bought like a very cheap field guide because I could not figure out what mushrooms are in the Catskills without like a book on it. Like it was just so difficult to figure that out online. And I was like, Okay, we're buying a little book. Hopefully this works.

Alex 42:59
You but are you in the Catskills right now?

Unknown Speaker 43:02
No, no, no, I live in Brooklyn.

Alex 43:03
Oh, cool. Cool.

Lera 43:06
That was a really cool thing, though, to read about them hunting in the Catskills and think I've been there. That's yeah, like I've might have walked the same trail is Tina and Gordon.

Unknown Speaker 43:17
You know, I couldn't figure out exactly where they were. So the sign of that I think it's the second page in the book, there's a sign that kind of showcases where they are that's like a completely made up in between, like three places place like where you would never be at, because I couldn't figure it out. You know, I really was trying to find out where they were, but I could not figure that out. Close enough. Yeah, I mean, you know, Catskills beautiful place very nice.

Alex 43:46
Love it. Nice. And and are you taking a break right now? Are you off to the next book?

Unknown Speaker 43:52
No, yeah, basically, the way these books have to work is I have to, I have to do enough gigs to build up a war chest to take off enough time to make these books. I'm back on gigs right now. But I'm thinking about it. And I, you know, whenever you're doing work for other people, even though I really love that you're fantasizing about doing work for yourself, which is crazy, because I should be fantasizing about doing anything else. But I'm not thinking about doing another thing for myself. So it will probably happen next year.

Alex 44:24
Awesome. Awesome. Anything else that we totally missed that you want to share with our audience about this spectacular book?

Unknown Speaker 44:35
Yeah, no, no, I think I think I feel pretty satisfied. Where Where can people get it? People can get it from anthology editions.com I believe or anthology is the name of the bookstore of the book company that put it out there great book company really love them. There's that and wherever fine books are sold, I believe and I don't know what that means. But they tell me that that's real. Oh, no, I think it's out there if you're hunting for it.

Lera 45:07
Yeah, we'll have links for all interested parties. But a great good.

Alex 45:12
Yeah. Especially if you're a mycologist. And you want to put real spores in the back, I think it would be a good gift.

Lera 45:19
Oh, who's who's gonna do it first? Like, you know, I'm thinking I'm gonna do it.

Unknown Speaker 45:24
Well, I gotta get real with you. The bicycle day books been out for two years, and nobody has told me that they've sent it to a friend, like load it up. So I think it's gonna take probably is, if it happens, it's not gonna happen. It's what I'm saying. I see a lot of you unless one of you get on to see them. Yeah, well, I'm gonna be the change. You want to see. You know, I'm

Alex 45:44
gonna send you a package after this. So you might have something special inside.

Unknown Speaker 45:49
Oh, that I like that. Sounds fun. Interesting.

Lera 45:57
Right. Well, Brian, thank you so much for creating this work, and spending some time with us and talking about your art practice. We love having artists on the show. We don't do it enough. So thank you. That's good. I

Unknown Speaker 46:11
like that. Thank you so much.

Lera 46:12
Big thanks to Brian for creating this delectable book on mushrooms and The Watsons and the catalyst to so much of mushroom culture in the Western world. This would be such a fantastic gift for people we really enjoyed reading it and lots of just wonderful illustrations to enjoy and appreciate. So be sure to check the show notes. If you're interested in getting one of your own books or exploring the many other resources that we discussed in this podcast.

Alex 46:49
And challenge for all those mycologists out there. I challenge you to get this book, inoculate it, read it before it finishes, finishes fully immersing itself in mycelium and then give it to someone so it can fruit and then post it take a picture and post it tag us and Brian, and it'll be great. It'll be amazing.

Lera 47:10
And how about this for the person who gets a mushroom to fruit from that ink spot that Brian included? If you can get one fruit just from that spot. We'll give you any free mushroom revival product that you want.

Alex 47:24
Challenges section y'all come on, and no cheating. No cheating. Come on y'all. All right. Hope you have a brilliant rest of your day. We're sending y'all a big Virtual hug wherever you are. And also another challenge just tell people about mushrooms. Y'all. This is a movement. This is a community. We're all in this together. Tell your grandma tell your you know random person on the side of the street some random fun fact that you'd love about mushrooms. As always, much love and may the spores be with you
Alex Dorr

Alex Dorr is the founder and CEO of Mushroom Revival. He launched Mushroom Revival with a mission to revive health with the power of mushrooms.

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