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Further (also known as "Furthur") was a 1939 International Harvester school bus purchased by author Ken Kesey in 1964 for $1,500 from Andre Hobson in Atherton, California. The bus was prepped inside and out for a psychedelic excursion across the country with Kesey and his Merry Pranksters on board. The bus was named by artist Roy Sebern, who painted the word “Furthur” (with two U's) on the destination placard as a kind of one-word poem and inspiration to keep going whenever the bus broke down.
Beat legend Neal Cassady was the driver of the famous bus on its original trip to New York for the publication of Kesey's new book, Sometimes a Great Notion. The trip was filmed by the Merry Pranksters, and this footage was used for the 2011 documentary film Magic Trip. Other Further trips included an anti-Vietnam war rally in 1966 and Woodstock in 1969 (without Kesey). More can be read about the adventures of the Merry Pranksters on Further in Tom Wolfe's book The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, for which a movie directed by Gus Van Sant is in development.
The Smithsonian Institution sought to acquire the bus but Ken would not give it to them.
Ken Kesey parked the bus in a swamp on his farm in 1989 when he acquired a new bus, a 1947 International Harvester also named Furthur/Further.
Both buses currently reside at Kesey's farm inOregon.
The two top photos are of the second bus, painted by Kesey and the Pranksters in 1990.
The name of both of Ken Kesey's buses is Furthur and/or Further, they both used both names. The original bus had "Furthur" written in the destination sign for a brief period, and Tom Wolfe called the bus Furthur in his book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. The first Further died shortly after a trip to Woodstock. The second Harvester bus was created in the late 1980s. The second bus is labeled Further on the front and Furthur on the back, it is not called Further 2), and is not a meant as a replica. Ken looked at it as if these were the same bus. Like the Starship Enterprise, it didn't matter how many ships were wrecked - only that the crew kept on traveling through space.
The "Great Smithsonian Prank" was a prank on the media. The local TV station came to the farm where Kesey and friends were painting the new bus and later aired "Ken Kesey has restored the original Further and is taking it to the Smithsonian." The next morning, a variety of national media were asking to "come along on the trip to the Smithsonian." The media rode along on Further for about a week thinking it was the original bus and that it was going to be donated to the museum.
In 1993, Kesey drove the second bus to California to speak at a private party hosted by Apple Computer. The producers who had invited him apparently had no knowledge of his history or politics, and once he started making drug references they removed him from the stage. They then wouldn't let him get the bus out of the parking lot, forcing him to hang around the event until it ended.
The activities of the Merry Pranksters and the success of Wolfe's book led to a number of psychedelic busses appearing in popular media over the next few years, including in the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour and the Partridge Family TV show. In the 2007 film Across the Universe, a fictionalized version of the bus appears, this one a Chevrolet bearing the name "Beyond" in place of "Further". The bus also figures obliquely as a "technicolor motor home" in the Steely Dan song Kid Charlemagne, which is actually about another LSD proponent, Owsley Stanley, who was never associated with the bus or the Merry Pranksters. The G4 original television show Code Monkeys also references the bus, in the first episode of the second season where a character voiced by Tommy Chong tells the legend of Chester Hopperpot, a psychedelic pioneer who toured the country in a magical hippie bus called "Farther".
- The Ultimate Trip: "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" Heads to the Big Screen, Rolling Stone
- Ken Kesey’s original magic bus being restored. MSNBC (2006-01-20). Retrieved on 2012-07-15.
- Barnard, Jeff (9 January 2006). "Kesey's bus on magic road to resurrection (Associated Press)". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
- Ed McClanahan and the Merry Prankster Bus Reunion Tour, Interview with Ed McClanahan. September 22, 1994
- Further On! True Facts About The Smithsonian Caper. Zane Kesey.
- Apple Drops LSD Pioneer Into Party, Has Bummer, San-Jose Mercury News
- Ken Kesey, The further inquiry. Viking, 1990. ISBN 0-670-83174-3
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