The Definitive Guide To Doing Psychedelics In NYC
By: Rebecca Rush
Psychs and the City
“The best place in NYC to go on psychedelics is South Beach, says Kat Toledo, former New Yorker, current comedian and South Beach resident. “Upstate is also nice.”
While it may seem counterintuitive, taking psychedelics in New York City is a wonderful opportunity to be the freak you wish to see in the world. At best, it’s an opportunity to experience inner peace and self-love, despite what is going on outside of the inner self. If you can do that here, you can do it anywhere.
At worst, well, you’re just another lunatic on the L train. With a few extreme urban legend type exceptions, a “bad” trip (mostly used to describe the phenomenon of being uncomfortable for one FUCKING second in a state of increased sensitivity) is nothing some Seamless, chill, and an extra therapy session can’t handle. And we know you have a therapist, you live here.
You may be contemplating tripping for your very first time outside of that weird drunken college mushroom experience, and that may be how you’ve found this guide. Welcome. Everything is going to be fine. If you smoke pot, you’ve already experienced mild psychoactive effects. That’s even more resonant if you have ever eaten an edible. Try shrooms first. They’re a bit like the Indica of psychedelics. Everyone loves them unless they need to get stuff done. It’s more of a mellow, body high that intensifies your feelings of connection to the universe, others, and “everything is one and yes.” If you love Sativa and Adderall, you’re going to want to try acid shortly thereafter.
MDA & MDMA are easy, to do, but don’t do them around the girl you’ve had a crush on for years unless you want to meet shame canyon. And finally, if you are considering doing DMT, CALL ME. I will happily walk you through it.
Which brings me to this: if you’re afraid of what’s inside of your mind, if you’re currently walking through an abusive childhood you’re been denying in therapy, or if you have lived in New York for less than a year, JUST DON’T DO IT MAN. It’s like dating in early sobriety: just not a good idea and you should probably start with a plant and see if you can keep that alive. Instead, call a service, get a few edibles, hell, smoke a blunt too, order a pizza, put on Waking Life and call it a day. You’re too emotionally unstable right now. We both know you need to focus on loving YOU for a while before you bring anything else in. Once you’re ready, you too can enjoy the beauty of playing phone a friend with your higher self.
Speaking of the bad, let’s get that out of the way. I spoke with over a dozen tie dye wearing (not really, gross) Dr. Bronner’s using psychedelic loving New Yorkers about everything psychedelic and the City, and a list of places emerged that were echoed by nearly all. Here’s where you DO NOT want to go on any psychedelic: for the purpose of this article let’s call that LSD, Magic Mushrooms, MDA, MDMA, or DMT. Before I go on here’s a tip: A good place to do DMT publicly in New York is: NOWHERE. IT ONLY LASTS FOR 20 MINUTES. SO SIT IN YOUR ROOM AND WATCH OUT FOR THE ELVES. And conversely, a good place to microdose is everywhere. It makes everything better and a little bit brighter, just like weed used to before you smoked the best form of it every day for twenty years.
The most intense negative psychedelic experience I’ve ever had was the only time I took LSD in NYC that was not well planned. It was winter in my first three months of living here. I didn’t have a couch yet, but I had some tabs and a shitty plan I thought was great. I would go to the new Whitney, then wander the high line, and then go to a Witch store for crystals. After hours of running around Manhattan alternately freezing and sweating, the line for the Whitney down the cold, drizzly street, the Highline packed with damp families, the witch store smaller and hotter than a Village Bikram yoga studio, my scarf trailing along the street, my coat open, and somehow ending up about a block from my job once an hour, I had the sudden inspiration to “go back to Brooklyn where it’s safe.”
Don’t do that. And don’t do any of these either:
1. Central Park: It seems like a good idea, but this is a game full of paradoxes, much like life. Central Park is full of the three things you want to avoid while tripping: families, authority figures, and drunks. It’s also quite large and easy to get lost in. Overwhelm is the enemy of tripping and of life. There are many other, smaller, more all-woken-up friendly parks for you to hack your sack in which we will cover later.
2. Underground Trains: Part of the beauty of tripping in New York is the ease of getting around without having to trust your high school buddy Kyle and his mom’s station wagon. However, underground trains drew mixed reviews that heavily leaned toward “don’t do it girl.” I would add that the slower nighttime and weekend schedule combined with the added traffic/tourists of those times makes this warning heightened at those times. Also, avoid rush hour, unless you’re a masochist, in which case, what are you waiting for? You don’t need to read this. You should be smoking DMT in Central Park RIGHT NOW.
Underground trains can induce claustrophobia and a loss of a sense of control, which can become extremely important while on psychedelics. There may also be the dreaded psycho you can’t get away from, and people too new to NYC that they don’t know that it’s rude to attempt to establish eye contact on the train. Trains that have large above ground sections include the 7 and the M, which will come into play when we cover the two perfect psychedelic experiences I have planned out just for you.
3. West Village Bars. Drunk people, young people, people blowing lines in the filthy bathrooms while fifty other people wait and pee their pants a little. Graffiti dirt piss. Not exactly the stuff of contemplating the meaning of what goes on beneath the surface of things.
4. The Financial District: Yeah yeah, yeah, money isn’t real, it’s just a sacred energy exchange man, but capitalism is fucking gross and we all know it.
5. NYU Area, Washington Square Park: If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to be behind an NYU student at the ATM who leaves their receipt behind then you already know what a case of the bad mad sads being in that area can give you sober. I don’t know what the kids are doing these days on their Daddy’s dimes and I really don’t want to
6. Williamsburg Bridge: Walking across one of the many bridges from the boroughs to Manhattan on a balmy New York pre-dawn is one of the nicest things to do in the city. On psychedelics, it is simultaneously stimulating, relaxing, and awe-inspiring to see all of the pretty lights, to know that you are a tiny part of it all. That you belong somewhere, finally. And then out of seemingly nowhere a train comes rumbling by you and your stomach jumps through your eyeballs. Just don’t do it, girl. Stay on the bridges that don’t have a train running across them.
7. Uber Pool. If you have ever taken Uber pool during brunch time in Williamsburg or Murray Hill, you don’t need me to tell you. YOU KNOW. For everyone else, there’s Sydnee Washington’s (@JustSydNyc), and there’s also the Twitter hashtag #UberPoolConfessions.
Where you DO want to go:
I’ve curated a wonderful daytime tripping adventure AND a wonderful nighttime tripping adventure and detailed them below. Before you get into that, here’s a list of cool places to go in NYC on psychedelics.
1. Lot 45, Bushwick: I went here on mushrooms on my birthday. It was the nicest way to ever end a day that started with a bedbug scare. Huge open space, great DJ’s, art all over the buildings within and without, plus you can walk there from your apartment.
2. Tompkins Square Park, Lower East Side: This park still has the gritty old New York feel of the LES, and the heroin addicts spilling over from St Mark’s will give you good cover. It is their only contribution to society and who are you to take that from them?
3. MoMa: * *if * you can control yourself and aren’t the kind of person who has the urge to throw herself off of balconies when she sees them, this is a great place to go on a weekday and stare into Monet’s gardens until you go blind.
4.) Pixel Forest at the New Museum: Artist Pipilotti Rist has created a serene and beautiful light and video installation where images of plants and flowers are a kaleidoscoped along with naked bodies and sometimes big pillows and even actual beds are provided for viewing!
5.) Gay Pride Parade: Can you believe you haven’t thought of it? THE COLORS!
6.) Times Square: ONLY between 2:00 – 5:00 am. Make like Evan Jones and smoke a joint and contemplate the electric energy being generated just for you.
7.) Anal: Mushrooms make me extremely relaxed and all my chakras open up. ALL of them.
9.) Your friend’s rooftop: seriously, get you some.
10.) Williamsburg: Something about psychedelics renders even the most self-righteous “I need a safe space and audiences to provide it for them” Mr. Peanut looking d bag into the weird and harmless character from a Wes Anderson movie that they always wanted to be.
11.) The Big Apple Circus. It wouldn’t be a proper guide to NYC without acknowledging the classic “place we used to love going to that went out of business seemingly overnight.” A nonprofit one ring circus behind Lincoln Center, The Big Apple Circus is closing it’s doors this year due to a lack of funding after a 35-year run.
Known as a gentle circus, ponies, and dogs who lived full-time on one of the owner’s upstate farms were used instead of tigers and elephants. Weekday tickets were only $10, and the room was usually full of elementary school kids, their chaperones, and the closest thing I know to an expert on tripping in NYC, comedian Evan Jones. The circus has been a favorite day trip of Evan’s for years. He even shared with us this video of him dressed as a princess, dancing in the middle of the ring. He may or may not be the only one tripping.
After talking to dozens of people, and having hundreds of psychedelic experiences throughout my life JUST FOR THIS ARTICLE, I have created the perfect day trip and night trip itinerary for you, voyages that Evan Jones (Night Man) and Jack Rodamar (Day Man) have personally experienced and recommend above all:
When Jack Rodamar, dog walker, comedian, and five year NYC resident decided to do mushrooms with some buddies, he knew some planning was required. Tripping in NYC is unlike any other place. The best part, he says, is “you know you aren’t going to be the only one doing something weird.”
Having lived in New York his entire adult life, Jack insists that there’s no reason to be scared – the whole city is already your home. Well, maybe except Madison Ave.
A weekday is a great time to enjoy the attractions of the city’s endless options without the crowds. John Rosenberger and his friends set out to Astoria, which allowed them to begin their journey on an above ground train, the 7. Astoria as a neighborhood is trip friendly on it’s own, it’s safe and clean and full of trees and storybook row houses, and just the right frequency of electric energy. They headed for the Museum of the Moving Image, the #1 place to trip in NYC during the day according to this article. The collections of toys and costumes will inspire wonder for hours, but the real fun is in the gallery of old video and arcade games, where you can sit and play Super Mario Brothers until the sun goes down. From there, start walking.
Jack & co walked over the Brooklyn Bridge then south along the water as the sun set on his trip day. Attracted by a “weird glowing square” they found the Elevated Acre, a park on top of a parking garage in the Financial district, which will have calmed down by evening, covered in flowers and that weird glowing square. You can see the Statue of Liberty from there, contemplate how screwed America is and how much worse it would be if you were born anywhere else.
From there you take an Uber back to BedStuy or Bushwick, order a green juice and a quinoa kale salad and a peanut butter banana smoothie on Seamless, smoke a bowl and fall asleep watching something wonderful. You’re worth it.
The Night Man
Drop acid as the sun is setting and take the 7 to Long Island City. From there you will head to Gantry Plaza State Park up many stairs toward a red swirly Pepsi sign that gained landmark status in late 2016. It’s often devoid of crowds and you can see art that is meant to be viewed from the opposite side of the river in Manhattan, so it’s all delightfully janky up close.
It’s also a different view of Manhattan than what most of us are used to coming from Brooklyn. From there here’s a crazy idea – go to my very favorite place to have psychs in the city, The Creek & The Cave in Long Island City. A comedy club and restaurant with a true community feel, the Creek has pinball, a friendly staff, comedy upstairs and down, concept and classic, and a lovely patio strung with lights and dotted with flowers.
The walls are covered with thousands of photos of NYC comics taken by Mindy Tucker, who has been documenting our scene with a unique eye for capturing the true essence of a person with a single photo.
And there will be at least ten people with photos on the wall there at any given time. There will be an impromptu party to write Christmas cards to wounded soldiers. There will be a Thanksgiving and a Christmas dinner for orphan comedians; emotional, financial, and otherwise.
If the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with meeting someone at the airport who just brought back mushrooms from Asheville, NC you may be lucky enough to go there on the night of The Only One Tripping, a psychedelic-themed comedy show that is sporadically produced at the Creek by Evan Jones. You are lucky enough to see more than one writer from this site in these photos from the last show, which was a time and date that no-one can remember. The show has special effects & mixed media presentations as well as a lineup of comics that may or may not be on acid, Molly, or mushrooms. Also, you probably need some water and a Mexican soda.
After you have laughed beyond the point your face hurts and you have pulled out the blunt I forgot to tell you to roll earlier, it’s time to stroll, my friend. Walk the Pulaski bridge into Greenpoint, momentarily wonder if you’re actually in Poland and ponder how living in NYC is like living in ALL the countries in the world AT THE SAME TIME but also like NOWHERE ELSE and just, like breathe. There are so many lights on the water and it’s so beautiful and the wind is in your face and you still sometimes can’t believe you live here, you did this, you’re part of it. You’re home.
Wander Williamsburg. Find even the most annoying hipster adorable. See a boy walk down the street with his beard full of secrets. Tell him that you know his secret. It’s that his dad pays his rent. Laugh alone until you realize your LSD jokes are only funny to you. Laugh harder when you find you don’t care. Foam at the gash for an $8 artisanal soda. Stop by Oasis Falafel outside the Bedford Stop. It’s open until 2:30 am. A falafel sandwich is $4. From there, run down to the L. If it’s pulling that, “the next Rockaway Parkway-bound L train is in 19 minutes”, walk right back out and order an Uber. No pool.
The end of your journey should be all about relaxing after the stimulation of the journey. You’re going to be so happy you bought that Bushwick starter pack of string lights. There’s definitely always a playlist on Spotify that is come down music in disguise, especially in the pre-dawn hours. Take a shower in a bathroom with low lighting and candles, and a plant maybe. (You should always have these things, by the way.) New York is very stressful. And that’s why they call it a trip. Because psychedelic – a word which comes from latin and means mind expanding – journies can teach you so much about yourself. We don’t always have three weeks to go to Costa Rica. But sometimes we have 36 hours to drop and then recover from LSD. It is a fabulous way to staycation. You may realize you never needed to go on a yoga retreat in India – you had a yoga mat and an internet connection the whole time.
Eat, pray, drug.
Be careful, Brooklyn.