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We'll Miss You, Sasha!
by Fire and Earth Erowid
Jul 2014
Citation:   Erowid E, Erowid F. "We'll Miss You, Sasha!" Erowid Extracts. Jul 2014;26:16-17.
While finalizing this issue of Erowid Extracts, we received two calls from Team Shulgin letting us know that Alexander Shulgin had died gently at home, with family and close friends around him. Over the next few days, more than two hundred publications--from the mainstream to the underground--covered his death worldwide, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, International Business Times, South China Morning Post, Al Jazeera America, NPR, Rolling Stone, High Times, and Huffington Post.

Over the last 15 years, the Shulgins have been incredibly important to Erowid. Sasha and Ann have been role models and mentors to us since shortly after we first met Sasha at a pre-party for the San Francisco Entheobotany conference in 1996. In 1999, we got to know them better while helping transplant cacti to a hillside at their "Farm".

In subsequent years, we often found ourselves in their delightful company while speaking together at conferences set in locations ranging from New York and San Francisco to Jamaica, Mexico, England, and Costa Rica. Beginning as junior colleagues, we eventually became close to Sasha and Ann, as our friend circles enmeshed and we engaged them to help us understand and document the emerging research chemical markets.

We enjoyed many sunny Sunday afternoons having lunch with Sasha on the Shulgins' patio before Peyton Jacob, Paul Daley, or others arrived for their near-weekly wine-and-chemistry meetings in the lab. For years, Sasha made himself readily available to us for technical assistance via email or phone. We've missed his online presence in recent years since his eyesight and other health issues made communications more difficult.

One of our fondest memories is of a visit to England with Sasha and Ann in June 2005. We were there for a conference in London, but were privileged to celebrate Sasha's 80th birthday at Amanda Feilding's home, Beckley Park, near Oxford. Joined by a rotating set of friends and family, we spent an amazing two-plus days reading, drinking, discussing chemistry, and otherwise lounging with the Shulgins in the topiaried gardens. At 80, Sasha was remarkably sharp as he oversaw our attempts to walk through a chemistry lesson with Amanda.

From the moment we met Sasha, we knew we were in the presence of someone special. He was gracious and engaging with the throngs of young drug geeks who often surrounded him in public (including us when we first met him), and he has long been our role model for how to interact with the occasional group of excited Erowid fans. He listened to each person who approached him, interacted with them individually, smiled, squinted, and entertained the surrounding crowds with bad jokes and dirty puns mixed with chemistry lessons and discussions.

We love you Sasha. Thanks for being our friend. And thank you for the many hours you spent with Ann helping Erowid and the world better understand the risks and benefits of new chemical tools and technologies.