Monday, December 7, 2009
I tend to view leaders in two categories, wolves in sheep’s clothing or sheep in wolves clothing. Just when my view is certain I take another look in the mirror and I see a fuzzy reflection, then I’m no longer sure what I see.
Are the images I see through the haze the same leader that invoked positive emotions that reached the very essence of my being, just last week? Do I see my image blended in the mix because the feelings really came from me and I attributed them to him?
When I get anxious, I convince my self the state of affairs inherited by the reflection were the worst set of circumstances in our history, and this pacifies me for a while. Yet, underneath it all, I have an unsettled feeling. I then tell myself that this feeling stems from being at an early stage of the game, a complex game, which is only fair to score at the finish line.
I hope and pray that during the game the reflection will become clearer, stronger, remain there and not vanish into that huge pile of broken dreams.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Television producers have created a similar situation with what I call Hollywood’s Wall Street, a collection of so-called reality TV shows. These shows appeal to and reduce us to primitive instincts, while making record profits for unconscionable producers. They are so inexpensive to produce compared to an episodic series or sitcom. No sets, no actors to pay, no stars huge salaries and other demands to meet, which in Wall Street speak are nice derivatives. Run out of material? Never! Not as long as we keep watching.
To watch someone subjecting themselves to embarrassing levels of humiliation is quite a price for them to pay for a few minutes of fame, while lowering our collective level of intelligence, not to mention our youth being fed a super size diet of this utter garbage.
In ancient Rome they kept the masses in line with games at the local coliseum and amphitheaters. To illustrate the exaggerated state of these shows a few years back I was going to do a cooking show that never aired because as I was told at the time, get this, “NO! It’s about food and we no longer produce cooking shows that are about cooking or food.” I remember telling a good friend about this and said “if I pitched a show about two chefs that cooked naked in front of a live audience and with cleavers kept slicing off each other’s body parts until only one was left standing, then proceeded to cook the loser and serve him to the audience, they would of bought the show.” My friend was having a drink with someone in the business, he laughed and repeated my analogy; the other party did not laugh but sadly was contemplating the potential show’s content to the shock of my friend.
In 1987 there was a film that stared Arnold Schwarzenegger called “The Running Man.” Set in a post apocalyptic world, the government frames Arnold for a bloody massacre. He's given the option of staying in jail for life or participating in a "gladiator"-type game show that usually leads to death and enormous cheers from the spectators. He opts for the show, teaming with other contestants to survive the game and overthrow the corrupt system.
Today, there is a new show called “V” about what we assume are friendly aliens who have taken over our planet under the guise of helping mankind. A powerful resistance forms to encourage others not to succumb. Maybe we should combine both of these and overthrow a corrupt system with our resistance by not tuning in to Hollywood’s Wall Street.
Monday, October 26, 2009
It was a time of vibes where you met the person inside the body you spoke to. A realization occurred in the course of an exchange when two people touched the spot of understanding in each other, it was like a bell rang, and thus the phrase “I hear you,” was born.
Picture a time on a parallel universe where people become so overly communicated that they can’t even speak to one another. Picture masses walking around with their ears closed in by plugs playing loud music to block out all the natural sounds of the world that create our characters. Picture these people holding a gadget in their hands that one can use to connect to the internet so they are not out of touch for even one relaxing moment.
Imagine people who for generations were raised by nannies forgoing all practical forms of communications as they grew up. Reductions in the communication process have now brought this new species to conversing by texting with these hand held gadgets that by the way are also telephones. It has become much more non-committal to text rather than speak. Is it any wonder that this new species is a weak group?
Perhaps this will evolve full circle and the next phase will be communicating with vibes only. That would be a positive step, but would this new species after so many reducing years know how to read vibes?
Picture all of this, naw, never mine, save your precious imagination for something more possible.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
When I was a teenager I worked for the Bobby Kennedy campaign as a coordinator of the college youth vote. I can say that I have not been excited about anyone else since 1968, until I saw your Iowa speech as the tears rolled down my cheeks. You were given this prize because the Nobel committee also believes their projections on you will result in the change you yelled about from the rooftops of the world. I know you wish to also change the tone of politicians but domestically that may not be possible, so please if you can’t get the other side to agree, mow them down. They live every moment looking to chop you apart and discredit you in anyway they can up to and including their silence on the outrageous lunatic fringe comments about you. They literally are praying for your failure. If they needed to cross the water and you parted the sea for them they would accuse you of messing up the environment. If you single handedly found a cure for cancer they would call you a murderer and say that you had this cure as you watched people die.
This week you were given two gifts, one was a non profit health care provider denying coverage to a healthy 4 month old child because in their view the infant was over weight, and the big one was Monday’s report from the insurance companies that no matter what bill is passed they will raise rates to over 100%. They dissed you sir as you were trying to keep them at the table with apparent cooperation. Just as Senator Grassley dissed you as you were giving speeches singing his praises, as a republican who is working hard for a decent bill. He too was giving speeches saying he was against everything that he helped put in the bill and that you were out to kill grandma. Enough! It seems everyone has a seat at the negotiating table except the people. The American people are for a public option by nearly 70% including the blue dog states. Now you have your cover for passionate support on a public option. It’s unseemly to me that what the people want can’t happen because a handful of servants of the people are standing in it’s way in order to earn their checks from insurance companies. This sir is not change.
There is also the irony of being a war president and getting a peace prize. We spent 8 years in Afghanistan and we don’t want to spend 10 more there, so please earn your prize and don’t get us into another quagmire in a war that cannot be won by traditional means, as was the case in Viet Nam. We trust your judgment and your intelligent powers of discretion to come up with a creative solution.
Please sir fulfill all our projections and be the man that the whole world knows that you are and give us a meaningful healthcare bill that works for the people, with a now obviously badly needed public option. The Max Mucus bill as it stands makes me sick. Although there are good points in it the main purpose seems to be to placate all the special interests involved so they will support the bill. This is supposed to be a process to get the people what they need, not what various interests want.
One of the best lines that I ever heard came from John Lennon “Life is what’s happening to you as you are busy making other plans.” Now is your moment, seize it, stand tall and make us hear the sounds of your bell once again, by putting together the right pieces.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
There was an afternoon TV talk show at the time called THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW. He took a real chance and invited John Lennon and Yoko Ono to co-host the show for an entire week. They could invite anyone they wished to be quests. They had Jerry Rubin, Chuck Berry, some guy with something called an alpha-wave machine—you get the picture. With my hero John Lennon and offbeat guests, there was no chance I could miss this. So, a sign was posted on the shop door: “Due to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s appearance on The Mike Douglas Show every afternoon this week, Rag Theater will close at 2pm Monday through Friday. Regular hours will resume next week. Thank you.” These were not just times of dreams but also freedoms. The freedom of not conforming but adjusting everything in your life to suit you and the relaxed lifestyle, up to and including business interests.
As much as I was enjoying work and my newfound tranquility, a reward that meditation brought, this was not a stress-free time. There was much unrest in the always political and radical haven of Berkeley. And I jumped in with both feet. I got involved in protests. The hot button issue of the day was, of course, the war in Vietnam. We also protested for the rights of women, blacks, gays, and all Americans.
I attended every anti-war rally I could. I even lent a hand in organizing some of them. It was on this front that my inner struggle resurfaced. My Spiritual Compass believed in peaceful demonstrations and in setting the proper tone for all the world to see. On the other hand, the Inner Bad Boy’s slogan was “Peace Now or I’ll Hit You With This Baseball Bat!”
Over the years, it has baffled many as to how, during those turbulent times, so many supposedly stoned individuals could become so passionate and organized. We may have been stoned some of the time, even a lot of the time, but we were never apathetic. In fact, activism was part of the theater; it went hand in hand with the social changes we were striving for.
Some of the rallies were peaceful and quite beautiful. Many were held in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park with musicians like Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, the incomparable Joan Baez, and many more, leading the chants and making great music. Others were comprised of local protest singers, poets, and humorous clowns like Wavy Gravy, and Berkeley’s own, X Swami X, who brought the message home through the use of words and humor.
However, there was an ever-growing mistrust of government, particularly the Nixon White House, that reached a fever pitch, especially on college campuses across America, that inevitably boiled over into clashes between protestors and authorities. One of the most intense and drawn out of these played out in Berkeley.
People’s Park was born by default on a piece of land, just under 3 acres, along Telegraph Avenue. The University of California had purchased the parcel from homeowners and others using its power of eminent domain, displacing the residents. In 1968, the existing buildings were bulldozed, but due to lack of funds, the empty field was left unused, becoming debris-strewn. With the following rainy season, it quickly turned into a muddy eyesore. Finally, in April of 1969, area merchants, citizens, and students, organized and began a beautification program, planting trees and shrubs, transforming it into a neighborhood park.
People from all races and economic backgrounds joined together, supplying materials, gardening, and contributing food for what became a free kitchen, creating an isle of peace for one and all. That is, until the University raised the money to carry out its expansion plans. After much civic discourse between UC and the townsfolk who had gone to the effort and expense of creating it, including a student vote that came down in favor of keeping the park, the University’s Chancellor promised to hold off on plans until an accord could be reached.
However, then-Governor Ronald Reagan, who took office on a popular get tough on protesters campaign, framed the situation as a leftist challenge to the University’s property rights. The contentious rhetoric escalated. So did tempers.
“It’s nothing but a safe haven for commie sympathizers,” the governor stated. “If there has to be a bloodbath, then let's get it over with.”
In the early morning hours of May 15, 1969, Reagan ordered hundreds of police officers to clear the area around the park. Much of what was planted was destroyed and a wire fence was installed to keep people out.
Within hours, a few thousand citizens and students gathered nearby for a rally, which turned into a march through the streets toward the park, with protesters chanting “We want the park!” As the now unruly crowd approached, they were met with police tear gas and nightsticks. Protesters threw rocks and bottles, and tried tearing down the fence. Their numbers grew to 3000. When backup police teams arrived, all in all, nearly 800, they went in swinging. Sheriff’s deputies, later called “Blue Meanies,” fired shotguns loaded with large buckshot, injuring hundreds. During one skirmish, they fired at a small group watching from a nearby rooftop, killing one student, and permanently blinding a carpenter. Neither had been there to protest.
Governor Reagan declared a state of emergency, sending in 2700 National Guard troops. The streets were barricaded with barbed wire, and helicopters sprayed tear gas on any group that began to assemble. On May 30, a citizens group was granted a city permit to assemble, and nearly a third the population of Berkeley marched past the park, protesting the occupation of the city, as well as the death and injury caused by authorities.
The National Guard occupied Berkeley for weeks. The government’s mission to take back the park succeeded, and the land remained fenced off. In May of 1971, on the first anniversary of the riot, there was another demonstration, but to no avail, the park remained fenced in and off-limits.
In 1972, in response to the Nixon Administration’s escalation of the Vietnam War and the mining of Haiphong harbor, I participated in the organizing of a public protest. Flyers went up all over Berkeley, and word spread (all the way to the governor’s mansion in Sacramento). As thousands gathered in the streets, Reagan lost no time in sending in the National Guard again, equipped with tear gas and accompanied by police in full riot gear. This time, we were determined to voice our protest in a non-violent, “Gandhi-like,” way. We believed that peace could only be achieved through peaceful means.
“Let’s not stoop to their level and become like them,” one of the organizers announced to the crowd through a bullhorn. “The world will be more sympathetic to our cause if we remain calm.”
Arm in arm, we marched through the streets to the park, which had now become a greater symbol of protest over our government’s foreign policy in Vietnam. As much as we tried to keep things peaceful, the hostility between the National Guard, the cops, and the protesters, pent up from the previous riots and the constant sight of the wasted, unused park, busted wide open. Fires broke out, heads were cracked, and I personally will never forget the effects of the tear gas. The worst of the violence broke out as we tried to take down the fence, but we managed to tear it down.
Afterward, the city of Berkeley and the university worked out a lease agreement that allowed the park to be used by the community and, for a time, to be administered by a citizen’s council. Over subsequent years, the park has remained a point of contention. The university has tried to reclaim the land several times for various uses, but each time has met with community resistance and solidarity.
Today, the park, though still university-owned, is open to locals, with a community garden, a free food kitchen, a basketball court, and other offerings.
After things settled down, I began to immerse myself more deeply in my spiritual studies of the Path. I meditated twice daily. I attended Satang (union with the truth) twice a week, where initiates would meditate, then hear a taped reading or message from Master. Afterward, I would usually light up a cigarette. One day, as I did, our group leader explained that intoxicants slowed progress. I decided to quit. I put out my cigarette, threw away the pack, and didn’t touch another for almost 4 years. I read Masters books and listened to his talks and became more and more absorbed in the Path. When it was announced that Master was about to visit the U.S., with a stop in the Bay Area, we all eagerly awaited. Meeting him in the physical and being in his presence for a couple of weeks was like being at the source of all bliss. I felt spiritually and psychically charged (I would joke that “Master Charge” was the only credit I had at that time). I knew I needed more, that this course of study, this way of life, was so right for me, so I decided to follow Master to India, where he had his international center, and where many other initiates were living and studying.
My Berkeley period was a time of discovery. Discovering a new way of life, the Berkeley way, and discovering the Path, gave me a fresh outlook and made me more whole. If this wasn’t HOME, I was now a little bit closer.
This is an excerpt from my book "I Just Happened To Be There," which my agent is about to shop, look for Part 2 soon. Go to Aug 09 on this blog to see "What's In My Book" for more of the books contents.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
RAG THEATER - BERKELEY
Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, in 1971, was one of the most uniquely progressive streets in one of the most uniquely progressive cities in the world. At one end stood Sather Gate—the entrance to UC Berkeley, a beautiful campus with streams, creeks, and eucalyptus trees—at the other end, the city of Oakland. But it was all that lay between that made it special. The times held great promise. Everything was possible, with or without money, and this was the place that seemed to embody it all.
I met with the leader of the meditation group that Master had led me to, and was staying in his Berkeley home. Meeting him and his family was the equivalent of meeting long lost relatives. More parts were coming together, strengthening the whole.
Mindful of the stipulations of my probation officer back east that I find employment within two weeks, I pounded the pavement of Telegraph Avenue, determined to find a job on my first full day there.
All along Telegraph were a variety of stores and restaurants, some of which seemed straight off some film studio’s back lot. Many were managed and designed to reflect these socially conscious times. There were Co-Op stores and supermarkets, owned partly by their customers. There was John’s Soup Kitchen, a great place for interesting soups and sandwiches, that donated profits to a host of city causes. Then there was One World Family, a restaurant whose exterior was covered with psychedelic images, and whose proprietor, unfortunately, was an unlikable sort. He claimed to have been abducted by aliens and selected to spread their message on earth. He sought followers by misleading them with the promise they could leave on the spaceship when it ultimately returned for him. In time, I would grow to so dislike this character and the way he treated others, that I wished I could contact that ship to come pick him up ASAP.
Next door was the Mediterranean Café, serving European-style coffees, that became the home of my new obsession—strong Italian coffee. There were bookstores of every kind. Cody’s was well known for publishing local political essayists and writers, as well as poets. Shambala had the largest assortment of spiritual books I had ever seen.
And nestled in between was Rag Theater, a hippie-style clothing store. I met with the owner, Gene, and told him of my background as a salesman and buyer for a clothing store in my hometown of Rochester, New York, where I had worked on and off since I was sixteen. Actually, I had originally lied about my age to get the job. The owner and his wife were so happy with me, that by the time they discovered my true age, it didn’t matter. They treated me like a son. It was a wonderful and long relationship that taught me much about business. I also told Gene of my experience at Paul Sergeant’s and The Brick Shed House in Greenwich Village, both, famous boutiques on West 4th Street. Gene seemed like a hip guy, so I leveled with him about my probation requirement.
“Say no more,” he said. “You’re a cool guy and besides, anybody from New York can do the job better than anyone from here. Start tomorrow!”
I contacted my probation officer back in Rochester to report the news. Gene helped with the appropriate documentation, and thankfully, I was allowed to fulfill my probation in this fascinating, progressive mecca. I was in heaven. I now worked at a very cool place in a town that strived to be a utopia. I began to think that the spiritual Master, into whose studies I had been initiated, was looking out for me.
For the first time in a long time, I was enjoying myself. I had been war worn from my exhausting LSD experimentation, not to mention my arrest and the resulting stress. Now I was part of something positive and uplifting. I never felt better or clearer. I was attending group meetings, learning more and more about the “Path,” and meditating, glimpsing that euphoric state I had been seeking so vigorously. And I was CLEAN! No drugs, not even the smoking kind! Yet, I felt intoxicated. This is when I truly found my Guru. The Guru appears when the soul is ready. And ready I was!
I spent my days waiting on customers while listening to great music, selected by all of us who worked in the store. We had a deal with Moe’s Bookstore, where we had money on deposit. This allowed us to choose new albums whenever our current repertoire needed refreshing. Out the window, the endless Fellini-style parade of Telegraph Avenue would file by. As I took in the potpourri of sights, I would find myself daydreaming that the store was mine
Tim Leary had a son named Jackie who used to hang out front of Rag Theater. Jackie was a really nice guy who was a bit melancholy. Even though he was closer to my age, he hung around with a younger group of charming mischievous children that called themselves “The Mini Mob.” I really liked those pain-in-the-ass, ballsy kids. Jackie never knew it but I would get word back to his father on how he was doing. I know Tim appreciated it. Yes, Jackie, he really cared. They never got on that well, which bothered Tim greatly through the years. It can’t be easy to be the son of such a controversial figure.
The neighborhood attracted all kinds, some interesting and colorful, others less fortunate, even sad. Marty Balin, lead singer of Jefferson Airplane, was often hanging around. Apparently he and the group parted ways and he hit the drug skids. He would come around completely strung out. I was a huge fan, and it broke my heart to see him like this. Fortunately, in time he got himself together and rejoined the band, making a comeback with some of the best songs he ever wrote, singing better than he ever had, his music sounding even more poignant after he found his way out of the abyss.
One day Gene came in to the store and approached me, holding up a set of keys.
“Here,” he said, jingling them.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Take them, the place is yours.”
“What are you talking about?" I replied, sure he was kidding.
He wasn’t. Proving once again that dreams really do come true, apparently even daydreams. He had lost so much money through his Scientology that he could no longer afford to run the business. He said that all the stock was paid for, as was the rent. I could keep any money from sales as a severance bonus. After I sold everything, I could either get up some dough to keep the store going or I could walk away and let it close permanently. I appreciated the opportunity very much, but the likelihood of my being able to raise enough money on short notice to carry the place was slim. I decided to take a different approach, a more Berkeley approach.
I immediately called in the Mini Mob and outfitted them. I invited all my friends to come in and wardrobe themselves, on the house. I sold some of the remaining stock, and gave more away to homeless and others in need.
This is an excerpt from my book "I Just Happened To Be There," which my agent is about to shop, look for Part 2 soon. Go to Aug 09 on this blog to see "What's In My Book" for more of the books contents.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Let’s be honest, the current batch of Republicans that are left in Congress and the Senate are southern based who have found themselves with a black President and angry, misinformed constituents. Instead of correctly informing them they choose to echo their words, stoke the fires, appeal to and enable the lowest common denominators in mankind, fear and hate.
“We want our country back, it is being taken over by Muslims, we want our freedoms back too,” one lady yelled at a recent gathering of Dick’s Army of nut jobs. Dick let me ask you are there no principals that you won’t sell out for a check from the insurance industry?
Jim DeMint an elected U.S. Senator spoke to this rally of loons, and told them, “ I’m here to stand with you, as there are no freedoms in congress in fact this Congress stands against freedom, the very freedoms we stand for.” I don’t blame the confederate flag holding crowd, carrying pictures of Obama as Hitler, they are being enabled and in essence told that they are correct. I blame these leaders who know better.
How does DeMint think that congress got there, how in fact did he get there? Real freedom is the right of the people to vote for their leaders. He practically told this riled group that Obama is a dictator who has been imposed upon us by force against our will and by force we shall remove him. This was a not so subliminal message at the rally of loons. Where are the reasonable Republicans and why are they allowing their party to be hijacked by this lunatic fringe? Those who make their fortunes by being divisive like crazy radio hosts and TV talking heads are inciting poor ill informed souls to show up at these rallies. Is this really the face the Republicans want? Why are reasonable Republican leaders silent, silent even as the loons carry assault weapons to Presidential events? The answer to it all is MONEY.
The Republicans are so reduced in stature that this fringe is now their base and by enabling them they raise money for their campaigns. Both parties are full of so called “leaders,” who run for office not as a principled candidate but as Manchurian Candidates. They profess to believe what they are paid to say by corporate interests, from Healthcare reform to Wall Street reform money is the culprit. Over a half billion dollars has been donated to the campagain coffers of representatives of both parties by Wall Street since January, to block regulations. Just think, the future could bring another collapse of the economy as our “leaders,” sit on fat bank accounts and enjoy government run healthcare that we paid for.
A chameleon is a creature that changes colors according to their needs of any given moment, and right now their only color seems to be green. A majority of Americans voted for Obama we are the majority, where are our rallies? Where are our voices?
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I always thought the true gross national product was spam, and in a way I wasn’t wrong. What is spam? It is an indefinable blend of things that are evidently so harmful that the ingredients have been a closely guarded secret for 70 years. A closer analysis will reveal that spam is not unlike our political process. Pollen Ticks would be a more appropriate title for our election and governing system. Tick – a small wingless bloodsucking insect that lives on the skin of humans. Not to say that good decent well-intended leaders don’t appear with selfless motives from time to time, but this is not only rare but also dangerous for them as the special interests try to take them apart piece-by-piece so their unbridled quest for more greed will not be impeded.
Our system is based solely on MONEY. We have enabled our election process to become a cottage industry in the U.S. In the U.K. if someone runs for Prime Minister they are given equal funds, a level playing field by the government and the whole process takes a couple of months. It always astounds me how we feel that we have nothing to learn from other nations whether it be healthcare, or their electoral process when we are only a couple of hundred years old to their thousands of years of experiences.
So much money is needed to run for any office in America that if one succeeds they need to spend most of their time in office not serving the people but raising money daily for their next election. If you should have an endless supply of money like Bloomberg in NYC you can spend any and all of it to get yourself elected, in his case the amount exceeds 20 billion. Where is the outrage? Do we understand the precedent this kind of money can set? In NYC term limits are in place, voted on by the people. Well Bloomberg decided that after two terms he wanted this toy for himself one more time, ok, so far so good, except he could not legally run, so instead of having the people reverse the term limits they put in place he went to the city council, cut deals, donating to their campaigns, or “foundations,” and got them to clear the way for him to have another run for mayor. He is spending so much for so long that one barely knows who if anyone is opposing him; some very fine people took themselves out of the race, as they could not compete with this kind of money. I won’t get into my personal feelings about the mayor of NYC as there is not enough room here to do so, but like him or not, shouldn’t this perversion of our system be alarming to everyone? The very premise of his campaign should set your hair on fire; is his whole basis for another run “everything is so bad after my two terms that only I can fix it?” Come on everyone wake up!
Until money is removed from our system we will never have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Washington has become a city of lobbyists. Some say “what’s wrong with that?” they present other sides of the debate, well if that was the case we would only need one for each cause or industry. NOT one who bares gifts in the form of trillions of dollars to influence our representatives. Forget the NRA, or any other lobbyists there are an average of 6 lobbyists for each Senator and Congressman representing the Healthcare/Insurance industry alone So if we don’t get a decent Healthcare bill don’t blame our President, he is only one man, blame your self. Power to the people!
The above was a web letter I wrote that appeared in Nation on Sept 21st. See the editorial that provoked this blog, "By Any Means Necessary."
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Coming Of Age, Or When Coming Is No Longer Enough
THE PARTY’S OVER
Stanislavsky, the famed Russian teacher of the method system of acting said, “In communicating these thoughts to you, I hope that each of you possesses the sort of love that will teach him to devote all his life to the service of art. Do not try to push your way through to the front ranks of your profession; do not run after distinctions and rewards; but do your utmost to find an entry into the world of beauty. If you find it in yourself once, having achieved only for a few hours during your studies the fullest harmony of mind and heart, you will already be able to bring undeniably creative treasures into the life of the stage. And even if these do not reach the stage in your person today, they will not be entirely lost, for they will remain in your subconsciousness, and while mute today, you will project them into your life tomorrow in some other part and strike a responsive chord of beauty in the people around you”
It is over and above mere advice for a system of acting, it is sound advice for life itself. It was true when he wrote it, it perfectly describes hitting that note in the 60s, and serves as good advice today. But if all the world’s a stage, why be a mere player? Why sit in the audience? Why not star in the production of our own lives? Star in it by hitting it head on, exploring it to its fullest, being open and letting it flow through you. This is what I tried to do in the time we call “the sixties.”
In my course of experimentation with “mind-expanding drugs,” I failed to recognize that they were just what they were billed to be—mind-expanding. They were not a ticket to ride into blissful states beyond. They might expand what is there, but they do not bring anything out of you that was not there already, nor do they put anything in.
That means they can only take you so far without repeating the experience. It is said that madness is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results. In this sense, I was mad.
If love is the fiber that holds us together, then those who are spiritually inclined and on a course of consciousness-raising will touch upon a state of euphoria. Tasting this nectar for even a single moment is enough to make one devote one’s life to achieving that state again—wanting to know more about it, why it feels so right, trying to touch it one more time, to verify its existence, and maybe, to stay longer next time—in the hope it can become a permanent feeling. Once experienced, it will always be there for you, acting as a shield from the difficult headwinds of life, and helping you to remember that there is more as you deal with day-to-day challenges. In 1969, I lived to recreate those moments. Another hit please! Given the times, I had a lot of company, at least for a while.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Jimi Part 2
Talk about sensory overload! Perhaps an hour or so later, it’s difficult to know, I heard a footfall behind me. When I turned to see, I just about freaked. It was Jimi. I thought I was hallucinating. He came by the hotel asking for me and was directed up to the roof. He wanted to know more about this powerhouse drug I’d given him.
“Jesus, man, what is this shit? I’m still peaking!”
When I told him it was STP, he seemed relieved. He smiled that great smile of his and giggled, as he often did, then gracefully slid down into a sitting position.
“Might as well get into it and ride it out.” He lit a cigarette. “It’s nice up here.”
He was excited about plans for his own recording digs. Apparently, he spent large sums renting studio time, and someone figured out he’d save money by having his own. He believed it was the first commercial studio owned by a rock recording artist, and had ambitious ideas for its use. He was told an underground spring ran beneath the building and spoke in very trippy terms of how that would affect the music, that the natural presence of water would have a creative influence.
At times, the intensity of the drug made it necessary to maintain some distance. In effect, we took communication breaks, one of us moving across the roof.
In a separate conversation, he shared how burnt out he felt.
“They’re workin’ me to death.”
He didn’t say who “they” were, and I don’t mean to accuse anyone of anything, I don’t claim to know, but he felt “used.” He enjoyed his drugs, but he also believed he needed them to accomplish what was expected of him.
For me, his words hit home. I was a guitar player with aspirations, and here was the best in the world, having the kind of huge success the rest of us dreamed about, and he was unhappy. There were moments where he seemed almost despondent (the drug could have been partly responsible. Hallucinogenics could easily set off mood swings, although often they simply amplify what is already there, hidden beneath the surface).
Finally, the edge came off this mega trip, and we began the journey downward. Jimi thanked me and we said our goodbyes.
“At least we won’t need any more drugs for a while,” he said on his way out, meaning the STP was so strong, who needed to get high again anytime soon?
That was the last time I saw him. His Electric Lady Studios finally opened its doors. Then came the awful news. He had overdosed and died in London. One of the greatest talents ever was gone.
At least we won’t need any more drugs for a while. His parting words still ring in my ear.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Back in New York, one night I went to a friend’s party, a perfectly fine get-together but nothing out of the ordinary. That is, until Jimi Hendrix walked in. I’d heard he had a place in the Village not far from the Albert Hotel. Of course, I was very interested to meet him. When I overheard him mention Tim Leary to someone, it created an opportunity to join the conversation. He was warmly receptive and easy to talk to. I couldn’t help but share how I followed Tim to Montreal and just missed being a part of possibly the greatest music video of all time. I soon found myself in Jimi’s company again—it seemed we had a few friends in common. On more than one occasion we’d pass each other a joint or hash pipe, which led to in-depth conversations, or at least we thought so in our stoned state. I was, in those days, a musician, a guitar player, and Jimi enjoyed my stories about jam sessions in the basement of the Albert.
Many musicians hung out at a cellar club up at 46th Street and Eighth Avenue called “Steve Paul’s Scene.” Speaking of jams, how about this legendary combo: Hendrix and BB King on guitars, with Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Experience) on drums, and John Lennon singing! Was I there? Of course not! It was a night I decided to crash and stay home.
One night at the “Scene”, I was in the men’s room checking myself out in the mirror. Along with my wigged-out, layered, Sergeant Pepper haircut and my blue velvet, Edwardian, double-breasted jacket with crepe ruffle shirt, bell-bottoms, and sneakers, I wore a rather funny look on my face. Why do I say that? And why do I so vividly recall in such detail? I was just getting off on some acid and zoning in the mirror. Hell, I remember what the air smelled like, even its texture.
Another patron stepped in. He took one look at me and knew.
“Hey, man. You’re trippin’!” It was Jimi. “I want some!”
“Let me see if my friend is still carrying. Wait here, I’ll be right back.”
I checked with my friend back at the bar. He had one more hit and gave it to me. I happily reported back to Jimi, handing him the tab. It brought a smile to his face. He popped it into his mouth and invited me to join his party, which consisted of this DDG (Drop Dead Gorgeous) blonde he’d been going around with and a male friend.
At Jimi’s table, they ordered drinks, except for Jimi and me. We were “on the wagon.” Before long, I started feeling the acid in a very big way. I thought my body was melting. I could see Jimi wasn’t far behind.
He leaned over and confided, “I gotta get out of here.”
He put some money on the table and, to the bewilderment of his friends, hurried out the exit. He hit the street before me, as I held back to wait for the others. By the time I got outside, Jimi was speeding off in a cab, leaving even Ms. DDG behind.
I managed an awkward “Nice meeting you” to her and her friend and went back in. I could tell there was something different about this acid, and asked my friend about it. It was called STP, a rare, stronger form of LSD that boasted an extended peak time.
I decided to go home, back to the comfort of the knowing individuals at the Albert. Thank God for the Albert, I thought. I went up on the roof, as the song goes, to try to catch my breath. I ended up spending much of the night up there, tripping my brains out, with the moonlit sky above and the lamp-lit Manhattan streets below.
THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM MY BOOK CALLED "I JUST HAPPENED TO BE THERE," WHICH MY AGENT IS ABOUT TO SHOP. THE REST OF THIS STORY ABOUT JIMI WILL BE POSTED THIS WEDNESDAY SEPT 2nd
Friday, August 21, 2009
Growing up I was a Star trek fan but in today’s world I find little need to read or view anything Sci-Fi. What for? All one needs to do today is merely look out their windows to find strange phenomena. We seem to have advanced so far with technology and regressed spiritually. All this technology can work for us or against us and might even eventually be the cause of our demise, if we don’t strengthen our spiritual muscles.
The level of stuff that we now accept would have previously been beyond the most vivid of imaginations. We enable a Wall Street full of criminal parasites that suck the blood of society for their own personal and immediate gains. Wall Street a place where humorless robots that look and dress alike walk around clinging to their lust with overactive libidos of greed. They dress like their stylist was an undertaker from the 50’S and they all wear baseball caps even in the gym, what’s that all about? I guess with pursuit of collective greed one loses all individuality
We live on a planet where conservatives demand that a woman has the child even if it came from a rape or incest. Once it’s born they don’t want to inoculate it, give it an education, or healthcare and God Forbid it should grow up and receive social security or medicare, on top of all that they want to put you down for being a single mom.
Our streets are lined with fertility clinics where whore doctors will take any request for anything, like a bad DJ on life’s highway. Just look at the Octo-Moron Mom. In my view one should examine the reason they want children. Is it for ego extension? Given the state of the world today what will their futures be like? With so many being born will any of them ever find a job 20 years from now? Can you provide for them for their entire life? If one truly feels the need to have children they should not come from labs, children should be considered as a gift, born out of love, not a material possession you have and then turn over to a nanny.
In this space in time, we are the ones occupying this plane called earth, and we seem to be witnessing a transformation, to a “New Species.” A new breed that pumps out children like a cat does a litter. Instructing their local Frankenstein lab doctor to create a minimum of twins. No one has a single child anymore. I guess they want their moneys worth from the clinic. Well, if you have that kind of love in your heart and you cannot have kids, ADOPT!
We live in a time where we want to legislate love. Love is love whether it is between a man and a women, a man and a man or a women and a women, and no government or religion should stand in between nor get in the way of love. It’s simply not our business. If you feel threatened by this kind of marriage I suggest you spend your time strengthening your own relationship.
Men speak so softly today and are such “high talkers” there seems to be a homogenization of sexes going down. Are we on our way to a one sex society, where men and women fall in line, dress alike, think alike? Soon they will be selling the space on their shaved heads to advertisers, to get us to buy more so their stocks can go up. Can you deny that it’s a Sci-Fi world after all?
Monday, August 17, 2009
Coming Of Age, Or When Coming Is No Longer Enough
I just happened to be there. Or did I? I just happened to be born into and live through times that were no less than a scintillating, creative, imaginative renaissance, pure and simple. The Sixties were a period of exciting unrest, the result of pushing boundaries. It was all part of a social experiment; a constant state of struggle between the society we lived in and the one we were trying to create. It was the perfect era for me to come of age in, for both my Spiritual Compass and the Bad Boy. Both found a solid footing in what was taking root in this new and evolving dissident culture, so open to spiritual curiosity and chock full of all kinds of trouble you could get yourself into, and I characteristically and comfortably positioned myself on the front lines. Maybe I happened to be there, but like everything else in my life, I came with body, mind, and soul. Excerpt from my book that my agent is about to shop
Monday, August 10, 2009
There has been a series of music events trying to relive the spirit of Woodstock but Woodstock was just that, a spirit, not a mere event, it cannot be relived only reborn in our hearts, minds and souls.
That special feeling we called "Woodstock Nation," is today more like A Wooden Stock Market Nation. Taking LSD today will not recreate the vibe that existed then, it would only enhance the vibe of today and that would be a nightmare. Looking at the greed and lack of compassion in the world today, I personally need more antacid. Our only hope is for us to go against the traffic and cross over to the other side, just like that famous album cover of 1969.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
I love Obama as I feel he is the right person for the job at the very moment that we needed someone like him, but I must admit I miss the humor of having a Colin, Dick, and Bush in the White House at the same time. I'm not saying Bush was dumb but I can imagine him thinking Roe verses Wade was a decision that one made at the lake. "Sir what is your position on a women's right to choose," one can easily imagine him saying something like "I'm for a women's right to shoes." Or, when asked about the NRA'S position on bearing arms him saying "I think everyone has the right to bare arms, hell I wear tank tops all the time at the ranch."
It's hard to understand how a group of people so obviously in need of healthcare, mental healthcare, could be so against it.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
As we shall see, the Bad Boy has given the Compass a run for its money.
Above is an excerpt from the beginning of my book "I Just Happened To Be There" which my agent is about to shop. In this blog I will share many excerpts, a series of incredible stories that reflect on and depict the sixties like nothing you have ever read before. Fasten your seatbealt.
From time to time I will also include a unique comparison to present day culture.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
“I Just Happened To Be There,” is a collection of autobiographical stories about a personal journey, which took root during the social unrest of the 1960s, and how it evolved into a living-large lifestyle, landing him front-and-center alongside some of the most famous, iconic figures of the times.
It is an honest, humorous, sometimes outrageous recounting of his take on the shared experiences of a generation. At its heart is an inner struggle between two conflicting desires, a duality of spirit in which one force seeks the answers to all things spiritual and will stop at nothing short of fulfillment, while the other craves to live life to the fullest, looking for fun in all the wrong places. As it turns out, each gives the other a run for its money.
These parallel explorations went beyond the normal boundaries—limits that most would not dare approach—pulling him in opposite directions. Whether pursuing the clarity of intense spiritual study and self-sacrifice, or the fog of all-nighters and over-indulgence, his close, personal associations ran the gamut from spiritual leaders, activists and social pioneers, to entertainers and underworld figures. He wound up befriending such stellar cultural icons as Timothy Leary, Abbie Hoffman, and Allen Ginsberg, hanging with Robin Williams, tripping with Jimi Hendrix on the roof of the legendary Albert Hotel in Greenwich Village, and drinking the night away, one-on-one with Frank Sinatra. In a way, his adventures are marked by road posts personified by these pop icons.
He pushed to the extreme in each genre, enabling him to meet its owner. John’s travels have taken him to many exciting locations, including New York, Hollywood, San Francisco, Berkeley, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, and India.
In the creative world, he has been a musician, standup comedian, actor, writer, cooking-school teacher, and more. In the business world, he has been in magazine publishing, advertising, and marketing and television for many years.
This book and these stories cut across generational lines. Anyone interested in the sixties and their lasting impact, not only those who lived it, but those who are clearly fascinated with the era, will enjoy and appreciate this very human, give-and-take journey of trying to better oneself while enjoying the ride.