John E. Slater ran American Export Lines, an international luxury cruiseliner and shipping company.
Later, he joined the board of American Airlines, pushing to offer international consumer travel. This played an early role in the upending of Pan Am’s monopoly—consequently making John a personal enemy of Pan Am’s CEO Juan Trippe (later portrayed by Alec Baldwin in Scorsese’s 2004 film The Aviator).
John’s son, Philip Slater, grew up to be a Harvard alumnus and professor, sociology department head at Brandeis, bestselling author, playwright, actor & seasoned psychonaut.
To pay for his Harvard tuition, Phil signed up for a medical study that put him on LSD for a week. This study (as he later found out) was a part of MK Ultra—a covert CIA brainwashing research program. Needless to say, it didn’t have the desired effects. Phil became a thoughtfully routine taker of LSD, an uncommon but unsurprising turn for a renowned 1960s academic, despite the fact that he didn’t really like his colleague Timothy Leary.
His books on culture-at-large have been critically acclaimed New York Times best-sellers, but Phil had a family life as well. His first wife, Gwen, worked the night shift at the Gaebler Children’s Center for severely mentally ill children and adolescents. Phil and Gwen had three children—their youngest daughter Stephanie delivered Simon in 1989. Stephanie grew up in Waltham, MA in what was referred to as the Asylum Triangle—surrounded by institutions such as this.
Phil later remarried and sired another New York Times best-selling Slater—Dashka.