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Hippy Decadence

When I was living on the Santa Cruz side of the mountain, back in the early 1970s, we had a unique friend who lived in Swanton, just a few miles north of Davenport. Swanton is more of an area than a town, it was a logging community just a few miles inland from the coast on an old, abandon steam train route.

Our friend had a large house in an easy, shallow canyon that had belonged to one of the old time logging bosses in Swanton. It’s ground floor was dug into to the hillside so that when you came in the long driveway, you were looking at the handsome facade of a two story house, but when you exited the back door on the second story, you only saw the back side of the top floor. There was a twelve foot wide terrace that wrapped three sides of this big building on the second level. When it wasn’t raining, nearly all the living was done on this grand veranda. There was a great variety of outdoor furniture spread throughout the terrace and it was just way to easy to find yourself in a chaise lounge and napping off a good part of a lazy afternoon whenever you visited the place.

My Santa Cruz painter friend, Jeri Predika, was friends with the guy who owned this really nice Swanton homestead and often times, when I needed to see Jeri, he’d tell me to meet him up at Sam’s place, the big house in Swanton. As it turns out, Sam was had been a long time announcer/DJ at one of the oldest and biggest radio stations in San Francisco. After 30 years of being a big success up there, Sam retired and made a great living as “voice talent,” selling his big, smooth, familiar voice to all sorts of big time advertisers all over the west coast. He made more money in retirement than he ever did working for the station. Sam was a haughty, private sort of man and I never got to know him very well. Jeri might go to Swanton and spend three or four days staying at Sam’s, sleeping in one of the many extra rooms. Sam was generous with his lodgings and there always seemed to be three or four extra “non-residents” hanging out, usually refugees from the City (San Francisco, often L.A.).

I was in my early 20s when we were spending time at Sam’s in Swanton, and for a long time Sam would barely acknowledge my presence when I was at his house. I was like just a shadow of Jeri but after a year or so, he started talking to me as a viable and intelligent person. As I slowly learned, Sam’s long time in the City, involved with radio, music and night clubs, he was very into the alternative culture scene up there, the beat world; Lawrence Ferlighetti, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac were all friends of his though he seldom spoke of them. Sometimes one of them might show up at Sam’s, but they never socialized. Sam would sequester such visitors to a private and far section of the enormous terrace and have subdued, low toned pow-wows with them.

For whatever of Sam’s peculiarities, there is one thing I loved about visiting his place, he and I and Jeri would sit on the longest of the terrace sections facing the rear of the property where, below us stretched out a large, poorly groomed vegetable garden with some large, fallen redwoods at it’s back side. Jeri and I would bring bags of empty bottles and cans to Sam’s and we’d place them on the top of the fallen redwood trunks. We’d pull up three of the chaise lounges near to the railing, along with some low end tables and we’d pour ourselves snifters to the correct fill of Grande Manier orange liquor. We pull out our .22 rifles and each of us would set a box of .22 shells next to our snifters. We could easily spend an entire afternoon, emptying those bullet boxes and break open a new one just before sunset. We might exchange as much as $25 on an afternoon, betting on special shots that we’d set up on the backs of the fallen redwood trees. And, truly, how often do you get to practice shooting from an inverted prone position, laying on your backside, with your back at an appreciable incline. Those chaise lounges got a good workout on those afternoons.

These were the good, old simple days, where one could have a pleasurable and enchanting day with out all the accouterments of a gym or a golf course. All you needed was your rifle and a brandy snifter. I remember one trip over to Sam’s, I was driving my Volkswagen over Highway 17 and as I swung into Laurel Curve at the turnout, the car started slowing down to a crawl and as I gave the gas pedal a goose, the engine just remained at an idle. And as I rolled off the road onto the turnout, I realized that the throttle cable had broken. The motor ran fine, the transmission was perfect but I couldn’t rev it up.

I opened the trunk and shuffled around the tool box and the spare tire and found some old, fine fishing line. I took out my pocket knife and cut a length of the line and tied one end to the throttle on the carburetor. I laced the line through a vent hole above the engine and I just wrapped the other end round my hand. I proceeded to Swanton pulling on the fish line to control the speed of my motor. Jeri smiled big when he became aware of my simple solution and resourcefulness.

“That’s the way we do it,” he said to me as I got out of the car at the end of Sam’s driveway. For one summer, nearly all of our Wednesdays afternoons were spent drinking Grande Mariner and wasting a box of .22 bullets, and as the summer grew older, we shot less and drank more.

With the approach of a new summer, I had moved back into Los Gatos but I had one more construction job on the Santa Cruz side so I decided to check with Jeri to see if we were to take up our Wednesday afternoons again up at Sam’s. Jeri’s place in Santa Cruz was a small farm house at the end of a short road straddled by newly built small industrial shops run by mechanics and machinists. The farm house at the end of the lane stood out as an incongruous element of this little street but it’s huge yard and it’s towering trees made it a welcome respite to all who found the place at the end of the brand new sidewalks. But, this one day, as I came up to the house, things were just not right. In the front yard of the farm house, and in the side yards, were a fair number of people but their arrangement was all wrong. It was as though each of the friends were not people but chess pieces on an invisible chess board, rigid and passionless, no one person relating to any of the others, so alone and stoic each of them were. No one moved, even as I parked the car and said a pleasant “Hi” to everyone, there was no response, as though they were all frozen. I ignored the rebuff and went through the open front door.

I was carrying a six pack of Jeri’s favorite beer and I set it down firmly on the kitchen table where Jeri and his east coast, professor friend, Ted, were sitting. Jacky, Jeri’s girl friend was in shorts and barefoot, with her back to me, at the small stove, frying up some eggs. I looked round to the three of them, not a smile, not even a glance from anyone, just stillness except for the popping oil in the pan.

“God, what’s with everyone?” I asked, totally confused.

Jacky turned to me, seething and breathing harshly through her teeth, she screamed at me

“Ed, how could you ask that? HOW COULD YOU?” She threw the spatula across the room so hard you would think it would stick in the wall as if it were an ax.

My eyes popped open and I gasped in a breath as all three stared at me as though I was a criminal.

“WHAT?” I insisted. Something was very wrong.

“Nancy was killed” Jacky screamed at me. Nancy was Jacky’s sister and Swanton Sam’s wife.

“No, no, no, . . . she wasn’t killed, No, Ed! She was murdered!” Jacky screamed as she slammed the sizzling frying pan onto the table, breaking some of the beer bottles, we all ducking out of the way. Jeri jumped up and hugged her as her head sunk between her shoulders, sobbing.

Murder? was in my head and all the stuffing had been kicked out of me in one breath. Murder?

I had always thought of Nancy as an extra special person, for her openness and generosity. Murder?

Ted scooped me up and took me into the living room. He whispered to me that Sam had shot Nancy then killed himself at the foot of the stairs of the big house with the terrace. The police found four bullets standing on end on the banister, thinking they were meant for the couple’s four kids, but scratches on the floor suggested that Nancy put up such a fight, Sam only did the two of them.

I became a chess piece in the front yard.




St. Patrick’s Day in Los Gatos, Past and Present

There is one venerable place in town where I simply spend just entirely way too much time, C. B. Hannegan’s.  This coming Sunday, Hannegan’s will be repeating their hugely famous Saint Patty’s Day celebration.  I’ve copied this announcement from their web site:


images/images/ST PATS TIX ON SALE.jpg

or give them a call at 408-395-1233.

But, for those of you who may not know, this celebration has it roots deep down in the lore and legends of our dear town.  And rather than me boring you with some half baked, second hand version of this history, I again link you to Hannegan’s web site, but this time you can read the complete history of the world famous “Shooter Scooter Races” which took place right here in the streets of old Los Gatos.  The story is told by one of my oldest and dearest friends, Tom Ovens who has been the bartender “par excellance” at some of the finest drinking establishments in our fair town.  Read about the beginnings of Saint Pat’s celebrations in Los Gatos by clicking here . . .


Concert, Anti-Concert

In the mid 1960s the real, hardcore, honest to goodness hippies were the ones you found up in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury and unless you very regularly commuted up to the Haight, being a hippy in the South Bay was something less extreme, less committed, less unconventional. To my awareness, the south bay hips were more like “weekend” hippies, working pretty normal “9 to 5” jobs Monday through Friday, or going to school, then dropping acid or smoking hash on Saturday and Sunday. Their hair wasn’t really that long and they would stuff their calico red headbands into their back pockets on Monday when they went back to their workday jobs. The “real” hips, up in City (San Francisco), lived an entire life style of hipness, 24/7, as they say now-a-days. They might panhandle for their “bread” (money) or they might own a head shop, selling hookahs and psychedelic rock and roll posters, but they’d never work for the “man,” the man being any one of the corporate “suits” that ran the straight world. The real hips would always have their psychedelic music playing on a record player, if they weren’t making it themselves. The south bay hips might spend eight hours a day listening to elevator music while they sat under fluorescent lights in a drafting room or stuffing electronic components into printed circuit boards.

I, personally, have no stomach for city living and I couldn’t spend more than one or two nights up in the Haight. I spent the bulk of my hip days on the ridge of the Peninsula just south of the City or in the San Lorenzo Valley sliding down off the Peninsula’s ridge and running down into Santa Cruz at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River. There was a good sprinkling of hips all up and down this stretch of redwood covered hills and canyons. These were the mountain hips, an entirely different sub-breed of hipness.

During what should have been my college days, every few months I’d trek off the mountains down to the San Jose State neighborhood and visit with my lifelong friends sticking it out in school. I can remember my fits of culture shock while having to sort out the new and complicated eight way stoplights at the intersections of the newly built expressways. I was never sure which light was pointed at me in my dinky little Volkswagen. I would get to the various apartments adjacent to the campus and make my presence known. I’d catch up with the gossip, kiss a few old girlfriends, make some music then return to the calmness and and natural order of the hills, with a big sigh of relief.

I liked to think of myself as more than one of the weekend hippies, even if I might not be the absolute real thing, after all, having not really spent much time in the Haight. Though I wasn’t a big time doper, like many hips, I never worked for the “man” in those days and my life style was pretty committed to hipness. I made leather clothes, hammered nails, chopped frames (worked in a frame shop), I did just about anything but sell dope to make a living and stay “under the radar,” the man’s radar. I lived OK and pretty honestly.

The one thing that is pretty hard to express without having been there, is that the one big reality in all these realms of the hip world, was that music, our music, was the soul of the whole thing. Our special music kept us all headed in the same direction and soothed all of our counter culture wounds. The music was everywhere and ever present. The music was the tangible fabric of the hip. If it wasn’t real in your ears, it was real in your head. If you couldn’t hear it in the stillness of the forest’s mists, you could see it in the filtered and tempered forest light. It was the poetry and the philosophy of the times. It was the binder that held the brotherhood together.

The music was so important that even the big, famous San Francisco bands of this era, would put on free shows in Golden Gate Park just to make sure that our community was getting its proper dose of the great music that was so very important to us. Even while they were making successful commercial albums, the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother and the Holding Company were yet providing free concerts to the hip people in San Francisco.

While a few attempts were made in the South Bay to duplicate the free concerts in the San Jose area, no one really got it right. We still had to go to the City to get our music, free or not. Then some San Jose promoter got it all wrong. While I was never privy to all of the actual facts, the way I understood it is that this promoter signed on some minor league bands and made the proper arrangements to hold a two day concert in San Jose State’s Spartan Stadium out on Alma and Seventh Streets. The big problem is that he was not of the altruistic hip persuasion, he was profit motivated. The promoter was going to charge the south bay’s hips to listen to their weekend music. I really don’t remember all the details of the uproar that developed but I do remember flat bed trucks running up and down the numbered streets around the campus with guys mounted on the beds of the trucks with bull horns demanding a boycott of this upcoming concert. The radio stations were supporting the promoter and a regular war of words started. While I was in the mountains for the first few fusillades of this tempest in a teapot, I finally descended into the campus environs to personally watch where all of this musical tumult was going to end up. I had just started spending time with the young lady who I would marry a few years later and, at this time, we were blindly and madly in love and we never wanted to part except that I didn’t want to move out of the mountains and she didn’t want to move out of her parent’s house in Monte Sereno. Was not this a truly adolescent dilemma?

Despite our confused priorities, me and my girl managed to borrow an empty room in one of the friend’s apartment near the campus for the concert weekend. As the Spartan Stadium concert approached, the radio station/flat bed truck announcers became more harsh and threatening, trying to give the impression that this “war” was even more important than the war in Viet Nam. It was getting ridiculous even to the most inexperienced and naive of bystanders. Then, with true counterculture logic, a new and separate concert was announced. This counter-concert was to be held in the athletic fields adjacent to the very stadium where the paying concert was being held. Now, things were starting to get really interesting. Me and my sardonic friends had willowy and wispy grins all teasing ’round our lips and eyes, this could go just about anywhere. Let us watch this very closely and we rested lightly on our expectant haunches and waited for the fire works to begin. We wanted no part of the drama to come, but for to watch it. This was right out of the heart of unreality; sort of concert and anti-concert, like matter and anti-matter, when the two touch, they uncreate the universe, or so we are told in the weekly Star Trek episodes.

The streets became littered with quickly drawn handbills for the “anti-concert” as we came to call it. It was going to be more of country faire sort of thing than a concert, where there would be a variety of casual booths set up offering bar-b-qued hamburgers and hot dogs and a variety of drinks and desserts, a few t-shirt and tie dye outfits were to show up, and there were going to be a few small venues set up in the various practice fields for different types of music. The flyers told of a stage set up for acoustic folk music, one for rock and roll and one for “experimental” music, this last one had us turning our heads to each other and wrinkling our noses. There were no specific names of bands, just styles of music were mentioned and everyone figured the actual music would be nothing more than a collection of garage bands from local suburbs. It wasn’t a real professional effort but at least we were showing that insidious, profit motivated, penny pinching, capitalist promoter that we could still do something with at least a semblance of idealistically motivated hipness. One half hearted effort to counter another half hearted effort. This was now looking pretty un-exciting to us expectant shit kickers.

As the concert-anti-concert weekend approached, my girl friend and I had lost interest in this dissipating tug of war and we focused more on two days of pre-matrimonial bliss in the borrowed room, her parents believing she was staying at a girl friend’s place for the two day concert. But just two nights before the weekend, everything escalated to the level of World War III. Rumors had come from the City that we were going to be seeing some big name bands at the anti-concert, names that would dwarf the stadium musicians. A keen and edgy high intensity of interest was refocused on the two concerts once again. New rumors were flashing down from San Francisco almost on an hourly basis. It was said that the biggest names of the City’s rock and rollers were really pissed off at the San Jose promoter for trying to make a financial killing on a concept they have been supporting for free for the last few years. Some hours later, we heard that the big names would play in a sympathetic anti-concert in Golden Gate Park on one of the weekend days and on the alternate day, they would come down to San Jose and play in the anti-concert here for free, making the stadium concert a total bust. Why go pay for a concert of “also rans” when you could see first rate acts for free? The shit kickers were giggling with glee. The announcers of both sides were worked up into a frenzy. Everyone wondered what the cops were thinking. Both concerts had the correct permits and licenses and whatever else that was required. Where in the world was this strange situation going to end up? One of my smart aleck friends made me snigger when he noted that this was the ugly underbelly of “flower power.”

The Saturday morning of the embattled two day concert came with a dusky sunrise of high clouds faintly streaking the sky. It was going to be one of those hazy, listless, dry days in Santa Clara Valley. We put air in the tires of our funky bikes that were used to pedal around the campus because the one thing that was for sure on this concert day, parking at the stadium grounds was simply going to be impossible. A two mile bike ride from the apartments to the stadium would surely be quicker than a walk from a parking space ten blocks away. The anti-concert flyers said they would be starting the music around noon. Considering what the rumors were telling us, we didn’t want to miss any of this peculiar show, no matter which musicians showed up.

As expected, the streets many blocks from the stadium and its athletic fields were tied up and confused with masses of cars at all the intersections, the worse the closer you got to the fields. The front of the stadium was just a jumble, many people demanding their money back because of all the unconfirmed rumors. No one, just no one, knew exactly what was going on, everything was up in the air. The shit kickers were loving it.

The so called booths for the goodies on the anti-concert grounds were no more than card tables with butcher paper signs with big plastic coolers underneath scattered on the green turf. There were a few bar-b-ques stoked up. It seemed that all of these anti-concert tables were manned by long hairs.

The stadium was generally filled with straight people. It had a professional, permanently installed sound system and their sound checks and tuning could be heard all over the various grounds and venues. The temporary stages of the anti-concert were spread far apart from each other. They had black speaker and equipment cases clustered in head high piles, bristling with cords and cables. Men could be seen rushing about looking for unseen sockets and plugs. There was a large circus type tent set up at one corner of the anti-concert area and there were some very serious looking people entering and leaving through guarded canvas flaps. This is where the really interesting stuff was happening.

Within the first hour we finally heard some guitars tuning up, drums being tested. Within another hour some actual music was starting to be played. Announcements brimming over the wall of the stadium said that the first band would be starting within ten minutes. When we heard this, some police cars arrived at the secretive tent and several cops went inside. A few minutes later about a dozen people filed out of the tent, including several police officers in full uniform and they all walked single file over to the stadium. Now, this seemed strange.

After about fifteen minutes we watched some custodial looking men walk to a back door of the Stadium and browse through some equipment cabinets and then they started walking across the large turf field to one of the temporary stages. None of this was making sense.

All of sudden, maybe a half an hour after the single file march, both the speakers in the stadium and the speakers of the temporary stages started clicking and coming to life. They were hooked together, they were all driven by the same microphone. We could hear someone saying “test, test, . . . test, test, . . . can you hear me?” coming from all the speakers, inside the stadium, and outside. This voice announced that he was lieutenant so and so from the San Jose Police Department. He went on to say that in the interest of peace and sanity, the two promoters of these two concerts were joining forces and this was now to be considered one large concert. The stadium was open to anyone and the anti-concert field was open to anyone as well (and it already was, anyway). We, in the anti-concert area, started laughing and hooting with the success of our conquest. Of course, those who had shelled out so many bucks to get inside, were booing at the top of their lungs. The police had already announced to them that there was no equitable way to refund everyone’s money in there. They would just have to take the loss. After all, they were still going to get better entertainment than they were originally promised anyway, they lost nothing. Everyone else just got the same thing for free.

What a day that was.

We heard lots of good music that weekend, and finally, we did have our free concert, with a little help from our San Francisco friends. No, a lot of help, actually. Honestly, I can’t tell you what San Francisco bands I heard on that weekend more than forty years ago, but there is one act I do remember clear as a bell. Someone set up a temporary stage in a tennis court with the high chain link fences surrounding it. On that caged-in tennis court, for the first time, I heard Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company behind her. I listened to her wail it out like no one else could in the whole world. That girl could sing to bring tears to your eyes. It was one of the most outrageously good performances I had ever seen. I worshiped her for years. And though there was chain link between us, I wasn’t more than ten yards from her. That little girl just shined like a light, a screamingly huge and brilliant light.

This one performance made the whole weekend worth it, but the weekend was filled with other good performances as well. Near the end of Sunday, my honey told me she could use something to wet her whistle. I took her hand and pulled her to one of the card tables with a paper sign for soft drinks. We walked up to the table and I pulled out my wallet, addressing a man leaning down with his back to us, reaching for one of his coolers. I told him we wanted two cokes, and he turned round to us and said OK and my girl screeched out a scream to tear your ears open and she swooned, falling to the ground.

The man had no face. His mouth and his eyes would open in the flat, featureless dough of human flesh, like a living pie crust with articulated holes in it. There were no features on this plate of flesh. He had been doused with napalm. I looked right into his eyes, forcing myself to not stare and apologized for my friend’s reaction. I had seen some stuff like this before, victims of napalm burns, but nothing so complete, so total. It was so un-human, and so ultimately inhumane. And there was no music at that instant, no green grass, no Janis Joplin, no sky.

Nothing was bigger than Viet Nam in those days and it was not to be joked about.




A Great Loss

A solemn moment of silence, please, for an old friend who passed on last night, Peter Carter.  His family is in shock, as are many of his friends, and I really have not much more to say of the matter until my disbelief wears off.


The following is a sketch I included in my recently published collection “Small Mountain Rambles” about an afternoon Peter and I shared.



Finally, Spring has Sprung

         When the University of California at Santa Cruz had just opened and there were only two campuses operating, my ex-wife worked at the University library. I’d have to pick her up from work and sometimes I’d go up there early and pursue a long delayed project, listening to all of Mozart’s symphonies in order, 1 to 41. The University library had these brand new listening rooms and all the records you could imagine. Obviously, this was a pretty esoteric and useless project but I was able to track a few themes that Mozart experimented with early on and perfected in the later symphonies. Other than that, I really didn’t get that much out of the exercise. Actually, some of the early work was pretty pedantic and boring and I’d read various music related literature on the back of the album covers.

          Yesterday I was helping a friend work on a new piece of topiary (sculptured plants). This friend has no problem pointing out my faux pas and other lapses in credibility. Once we were looking at a picture of John Kennedy riding in an open limo. I mentioned that I really liked those 1966 Lincoln Continentals. This friend turns a wry eye to me and tells me that it must have been quite a car, considering Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Hmm, OK . . . So yesterday we are fooling around in the garden, soaking in the super nice weather and he has the speakers blasting Mozart from the windows. We both commented on how well the setting, the weather and music all came together. We get involved with the entwined ivy plants and are quietly piddling along. Then, the music takes a turn, a movement changes and there are these broad, strong extended chords coming from the speakers. I pause my puttering and exclaimed “Now, that’s Vivaldi!” My friend cocks his head, and likewise pauses. He resumes his gardening without saying a word.

         On one of those album covers forty years ago, somewhere deep in my memory, was a notation that Mozart, in his secular music, used to experiment with techniques and musical devices used by his contemporaries and predecessors. Those strong broad chords struck me as an attempt by Mozart to use a Vivaldian sound, sort of unusual for Mozart, thus my outburst.

         While my friend is quite well versed in the musical disciplines, I guess he wasn’t quite sure if he was listening to Mozart or Vivaldi at that point. I didn’t feel especially inclined to enlighten him with a lengthy and, frankly, a vague explanation I wasn’t real sure of anyway. To my great satisfaction, the entire microscopic issue quietly died on the vine, in the warm sunlight and the mild Mozart. The gardening went on for hours without much discussion at all. That, too, was satisfying in the great weather and the gentle setting.



a portable topiary





Young Punks Running the Town

(We are experimenting with the links but we are still having some problems, not all jump to the proper place on the link page.  Please bear with us.)



I’ve come to an awareness in these last few years, since I’ve started writing these little tid bits of my mountain side memories; in the late 1960s and early 70s, we were just a bunch of young punks who started some businesses in downtown Los Gatos and we just sort of took over the whole town.  We opened places like Mountain Charley’s Restaurant and Saloon, The Grog and Sirloin, the ubiquitous Porch, selling everything from Godiva Chocolates to Tiffany lamps and broadleaved palms, “Puttin’ on the Ritz” with its crafts, cards and whatever sorts of art they could get their hands on. Old Town was just burgeoning over with leather works of all sorts, shiny ceramics off potter’s wheels and hand made jewelry embedded in a warm atmosphere of mellow guitar music and quirky poetry readings. The little town of Los Gatos was just boiling over with energy and exuberance to the point where some of the real old timers were often heard bemoaning the fact that we were turning the place into another “CARMEL.”

But, the point to be made here is that it was hard to find an owner or operator of all these enterprises that was more than thirty years old, for that matter, even twenty five years of age. And there was a certain vain of commonality in that all of the cute, young girls, in their floor sweeping “granny” dresses and long locks of hippy hair, had all been seamstresses for the rock and roll bands at one time or another, and all the shaggy boys in their bib overalls and handle bar mustaches had carpenter’s belts always at the ready for the next neighborhood barn raising even if their day job was in a big city law firm or accountant’s office. It was a very unique time.



One of Mountian Charley’s annual staff pictures, displaying costume preferences


I think I was a senior in high school before I realized something very obvious about our farm neighborhood; everyone older than me and my buddies were adults. None of us had older brothers and sisters, but we all had younger siblings. Then we started hearing the new phrase, “Baby Boomers.” We were the first generation after the end of World War II. During that war, everyone turned away from baby making for the duration. When they turned back to baby making, we were the result. It was sort of a weird awareness, I always thought. Our fathers, if we were lucky, were our older brothers. In that regard, I was really lucky, I guess. I’ve told way too many stories about my Pop.

So, when we over ran downtown Los Gatos, we re-encountered the Baby Boomer phenomenon. The old guard of politicians and business owners in Los Gatos were usually about a generation older than us and it was with them that us “young-uns” dealt with as we built up this withering, dusty old town. I distinctly remember how I backed away from one of the town elders who had served several terms as mayor, when, after my circulating a petition regarding town government, he asked me if I was after his job. With an embarrassed jolt, I told him I was just a punk kid, I’d never even talked to a mayor before, but it made me aware of how these elders viewed us, the only “next generation” that there was, here in town. And the stuff that we were doing was the only game in town.

As it were, we ended up taking on the responsibilities of the next generation. We started a whole slew of new town traditions (the Dam It Run, the Cat’s Hill Criterium, the Shooter/Scooter-Saint Patricks Day Celebration) and we enhanced a lot of older ones, among the greatest being the annual Christmas Parade. Many of our funky, little businesses matured and became town staples, like C.B. Hannegan’s and Steamer’s, the Wine Cellar and California Cafe, Number One Broadway and Carry Nation’s as well as long lived shops such as Trent Pottery, Robertson Publishing, the Maid’s Quarters, the Wooden Horse, Los Gatos Coffee Roasting and the soon to close, Indian Store. I finished my tenure as General Manager at Mountain Charley’s Restaurant and Saloon and had just only turned thirty years old myself. Shoot! I still had a couple of more careers to start and finish and I still felt like I had already lived so much of life. I know that many of my friends felt like wise, “What are we to do now?”

I put a couple of more careers under my belt, and I lived a lot more of life and now I’m at that magical age that the Beatles once sang about – “will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty four?” A few nights ago I was clicking away on my keyboard in the Great Bear Coffee Shop and one of my friends, Pat, came through and settled down at my table. Pat is a good ten years older than me but he still is quite bright and full of spirit. I greeted Pat telling him he was providing a welcome break as I was tired of working and needed to bring the day to a close. Pat’s sense of humor and my sense of humor run on the same set of tracks and often times we just get going at a full tilt boogie and simply loose any semblance of decorum or maturity. We often get to the point that we start giggling in the extreme so that we can’t catch our breath or keep the tears squeezing from our eyes. That evening, as the Great Bear emptied ’til we were the only ones left, Pat and I got into a repartee frenzy which left us wheezing and jiggling in giggles and fits of laughter, behavior fit only for two year olds. He slipped into his coat and hustled his way out the door. I was still catching my breath, packing up my computer as I noticed the three young barristers staring at me, the last of the old guys who were rabid gigglers. I instantly sobered up and finished tucking the computer cords into my pack.

I curled up a brow and turned to the three young sophisticates and warned them that you don’t get any smarter after you’ve left your twenties, not smarter nor very much cooler. Mainly you just get rounder and grayer. And all the silly stuff you’ve picked up along the way, well, that just sticks right with you. In the end, we all have a large portion of giddy teenager stuck to our bones. So, make the most of the next few years, you really can do amazing things. None of these three kids were old enough to legally buy alcohol and they had no idea what I was talking about. They were all nice kids and I whimsically hoped they might just get half the chance to fill up their twenties like we did, we were incredibly lucky and blessed and I got just wise enough in my twenties to really appreciate this, right up to this very day.




Town Crier Number X??? (I haven’t been keeping track)

We are experimenting with a new feature
which links these blog postings to the new Los Gatos Art Bridge web site. 
When you see text in blue and bold type, this will link this person, place or event
mentioned in the post to some further information located on the Art Bridge site.
To view this information, simply click on the blue type and a new web page will
open to reveal this related info, usually at the top of the window.
  If the blue type is a site other than ours, it will be so noted. 
We admit, this isn’t exactly perfected yet, but such things take a little tweaking sometimes.
While at the Art Bridge site,
scroll to the top of the page and hit “Home” and feel free to browse around


This is another one of those “town crier” blog posts, where we the give odds and ends of town occurrences get some mention but there are no long-winded tall tales.

Firstly, my friend, Gene Faucher, a semi-retired graphic designer and full time shutter bug, and I sauntered up to the Tait Street Museum to check out the latest show there, “Draw Me a Story, A Hundred Years of Children’s Book Illustration.” A friend of ours, Susan Jaekel, was part of the show. Susan is an illustrator of the highest caliber and is one of my oldest friends in Los Gatos, having met when she was starting out in the Church Street Building, or “Casa Antigua” as it is officially called, the office complex next to the Methodist Church parking lot on Church Street.

As we approached the Museum we came upon the newest addition to its outdoor collection of memorabilia and art. The “Locks of Love” that stirred up a mild and rather over blown controversy a few months ago, are now locked to a simple, black armature stretched with chain link and mounted in the ground on the Main Street side of the Museum.


Love locks 2


I’d been to a meeting at the Museum a few days before and was only able to glance at the Children’s Book show and what I saw I really liked. Gene and I were here to really take it in at our leisure, as all art should be.

We got in and I browsed around, Gene got busy and started snapping pictures with the one camera he brought of his many. There were two things I really liked about this show, one was that there were children’s books from bygone eras that I remembered from my own childhood, the other thing was that it wasn’t simply images from kid’s books, but preliminary sketches, layout boards and so much showing the process of building a children’s book. It was all quite interesting and enjoyable. It had something for kids and it had something for adults. Susan’s work was prominently displayed and we agreed she had been give proper credit, the art aficionados that we are.


Kids Books comps 2


Kids Books comps


Book illustration is not as simple as it may seem. The artist will build simple “dummy” books to see how well preliminary ideas work within the limitations of the actual layout of the book. Many adjustments can be made before the book actually goes to press. You can see the artist’s notes to him/herself in the large book immediately above.


Kids Books pics 3


Taking pictures of art work displayed in galleries or museums can often be very difficult. In both of the framed illustrations shown here, we see the reflections of windows on the opposite wall. With more preparation and a bit more equipment, such things can be eliminated. Gene and I were just on a stroll, not a photo shoot. The sketches above each finished product tells of much preparation for each final illustration used in these sorts of books.


Kids Books pics 9


Kids Book pics 1


Kids Books pics 5


And finally, our friend, Susan!


Kids Books kids art


One display I had not expected was a very popular one. These are the Los Gatos kid’s own “children’s book” illustrations, done after they had viewed all the work of the adult guys. It looks like some of them got quite inspired.


Now, criering on;


Sculptor and retired San Jose State art professor, David Middlebrook, has informed us he has been invited to display his work at the Venice Biennale, a bi-annual art show held in Venice, undisputedly, the largest and most prestigious art show on the planet.  It is a great honor and we congratulate David on his impressive accomplishment.  We must thank him for getting his home town, Los Gatos, associated with such a grand event.  David’s web site can be viewed by clicking here:  Rest assured that we will have more on this as time progresses.





Some of David Middlebrook’s work


More criering;


Rudys Art BookcoverOur friend, Rudy Rucker, the author of many dozens of fine novels and a splendid autobiography, and, also a retired SJS professor of computer science, has recently publish of book of his own art (as in paintings) titled Better Worlds.  It’s being sold on (click here for the Amazon sales page).  I quote, here, Amazon’s book description: “Ninety-two fantastical paintings by science fiction master Rudy Rucker, including his commentaries on them. Rudy took up painting in 1999, when he was writing a novel about the Flemish old master, Peter Bruegel. The paintings are colorful and surreal, many with connections to Rudy’s science-fiction novels. This is a new, large-format edition of Better Worlds created in August, 2012, and it replaces the earlier editions.”  What more need be said?  Well, yes, see Rudy’s collection of paintings at


WoodshedLogoBack in November, Keith Holland introduced a new addition to his Guitar Hospital on Roberts Road called the “Woodshed.”  It is a low key music venue and teaching facility in the Guitar Hospital.  I had been to a couple of very excellent and extremely professional musical presentations there.  However, when visiting Keith on some Art Bridge business just over a week ago, he told me that the Woodshed had been shut down by the Town of Los Gatos for some unclear licensing issues.  He told me a few days ago that the Town is working with him to resolve the problem.  Let’s hope the Woodshed reopens soon as it is a great community resource and deserves to continue presenting its services to town residents interested in professional, quality musical applications (click here for more information).


Richard Katz piping_painting

I guess I’ve known Richard Katz, the piper, for several years now.  We encounter each other around town, sometimes, he with his pipes and sometimes not.  As I’m a nut for just about anything to do with music, Richard will show me this and that about his pipes, or get into their history and lore.  I always find it informative and interesting.  However, Richard recently offered a little bag pipes show at the Los Gatos Library for its first anniversary festivities.  I attended and was most impressed with Richard’s mild, affable and very friendly presentation of his music and his knowledge.  I’d never really seen him share like this in front of a group of people before.  For me, its always been “one on one.”  The “good vibes” with which he presented himself and his works permeated the room and everyone who left the room parted just a little richer in the spirit and the soul.  Thanks Richard from all of us.

Richard’s web site is at




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