Documentary Director Ken Burns Discusses His Use of Psychedelic Drugs

Most people probably assume that documentary director Ken Burns is a straight-laced guy. After all, you wouldn't expect someone who spends his days filming National Parks or chronicling the lives of The Roosevelts to spend his off-hours partying like an 80s hair metal band. But there was a time when Burns let his wild side run amok, and he even dabbled with psychedelics like mescaline.

"Oh, I've had some wonderful times," he recalled in a recent interview with Pitchfork. "I remember once on mescaline. I had got off work, and we were heading to a park. I got there around noon, and [after the mescaline kicked in] I said, 'Man, I told my dad I'd be back there by 8. I gotta go home.' And they said, 'Man, it's 12:35.'"

But he doesn't partake in psychedelics anymore. "I'm done," Burns said with chagrin.

Burns also offered a passionate defense of flag burning and discussed his upcoming documentary project, which tells the history of country music. Check out the full interview above.

Banner Image: University of Mount Union/Flickr


When former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder of Botham Jean on October 3, 2019, the public reaction was a combination of relief and exasperation. The case starkly reflects the flaws in the current landscape of American criminal justice: Guyger, who is white, killed Jean, a 26-year-old black man, while he was relaxing after work in his living room. Guyger invoked Texas’ "Stand Your Ground" law, claiming she was justifiably scared for her life when she wandered into his unlocked home after work, mistaking it for hers in the same apartment complex.

Can we see some ID please?

You must be 19 years of age or older to enter.