Skip to content

Talking hippy talk — retry

July 19, 2012

.

(There seems to be a problem with the last posting.  I resent it.)

.

Above are two joined pictures of Greg Harris playing guitar and fiddle (in front of a fellow band member).  These was taken in the early 1970s at Mountain Charley’s Saloon and Restaurant.  Greg was a good friend and a regular attraction in the Saloon.  He is still an active professional musician today in Southern California.  Jim Farwell was the owner of Charley’s in those days.  At 5:00 this afternoon, join Jim’s son, Joe Farwell and his wife, Lara, to celebrate Mountain Charley’s 40th Anniversary.  There will be light  appetizers and an open microphone.  Let’s do them justice.

.

`Ed

.

.

.

(the poster for the concert below)

.

Near the end of my third semester at San Jose State, I decided to quit school. I made the decision just a few weeks before finals and I informed each of my professors in a half hearted attempt to get “incompletes” instead of Fs for grades and salvage something out of this lost semester. I was very idealistic in those days and couldn’t see wasting a spot in school when all I wanted to involve myself in was art and philosophy. I was already excelling in these disciplines and the institution of school was just getting in the way. Each one of the professors who’s classes I was taking that semester insisted I have a meeting with them to discuss my untimely and unwise decision. I went to all these scheduled meetings but, as usual, I was very stubborn. Besides, I had always hated school anyway. Why drag it out for another bunch of years? I quit school and moved over to Santa Cruz, what my parent’s generation would often call an “Art Colony.” This was in 1967. The really hard core hippies from the Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco were already moving out of the Haight via Marin county up to the north or into the San Lorenzo River Valley, inland from the coastal town of Santa Cruz, in the south. While still sleeping near San Jose State, I spent everyday driving over the hill, going through Scott’s Valley, and parking the car in Felton. Then I would hitch hike up and down San Lorenzo Valley to meet the hips and find a hip place to live in one of the towns of the valley: Santa Cruz where the river meets the ocean, Felton, the next town up the river, then Ben Lomond and lastly, Bolder Creek, the little mountain town at the river’s headwaters.
.
Well, finding a place in the tiny, redwood valley wasn’t as simple as I figured. Though I was meeting a good variety of people, I didn’t get one good lead regarding housing. After about ten or twelve days of this searching, I realized I was exhausted and truly hungry. I was a bit overconfident and didn’t take of business. I cut the Santa Cruz search loose for a couple of days and stayed in San Jose to just repair and relax a little. I’d then go back to the San Lorenzo Valley once again and again.
.
It took nearly the whole summer to finally find a place and, until I did find it, every few weeks I’d repair to San Jose. As I ran into the same folks once, twice and once again in the Santa Cruz valley, some of us became friends. These friends would allow me and my car to crash at their places for a night or two, but nothing permanent. I was offered to stay with a band, they had an extra room in Felton and needed a house sitter for when they were on the road. These guys were very heavy into drugs and wild times and this wasn’t for me right then. After the holidays that year, I once more repaired to San Jose and just collected myself.
.
One afternoon, while I was deep in slumbery rehab mode, some friend came driving by our tiny converted Victorian that my whole bunch had taken over. It started with one of our couples renting a small apartment there, but within a year we had ended up renting all five of the small apartments in this older, modest Victorian house. I was dozing on the porch and he honked the horn of his pickup until I roused up. I got up on one elbow and asked him what’s up?
.
“Want some mushrooms?’ he asked, bending his head towards the truck’s bed. I looked in and saw that the bed of the truck was completely covered by torn up mushroom shards. They were maybe three or four inches deep. I stood up and walked barefoot to check this out.

“Are those silly mushrooms?” I asked very quietly, looking from side to side to make sure the coast was clear, approaching the shotgun window.
“Yep.”
“Man, how did you get so much?” I asked.
“The diggers gave them to me. They planted a whole hillside up by the lakes on Skyline.”
“Wow,” I said, and then asked “did they give you any food?”
“Nope, they are holding all the food for their own guys and the clinic (the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, in those days, about the only place a hip could feel safe about getting medical attention and not getting busted afterwards). The cops have been busting some of their sites so they are concentrating their efforts in a few special places and increasing security.”

“Bummer” is all I could say, looking at the ground with great frustration. I’m no expert on the diggers but they were a bunch that everyone seemed to have heard about. Their gig was to find big patches of fairly level ground, dig it up and plant fruits and vegetables. When they harvested what they’d sown, they would take it down and freely distribute it throughout the Haight and other neighborhoods that they selected in the Bay Area, all for free. Still being idealistic, I thought these were a bunch of very far out and groovy people.
.

I was never very much into dope, dope of just about any kind, so I left the mushrooms where they were. The driver of the pickup pushes a half dozen concert tickets into my hand.
.
“Well, take these at least. The diggers gave me a whole bunch of these,” and he drove off. I glanced at the tickets expecting them to be for some bunch of garage bands but the names on the bill shocked me out of my sleepyness; at the bottom was Albert King (the brother of B.B. King and just about as good), John Mayall, and the headliner was Jimi Hendrix. In anybody’s book, these were all headliners. But, at this particular time, Hendrix was definitely the big draw (and, even with all the history, still would be, even today). This was a Bill Graham concert at the new Winterland venue, a place I had yet to visit. Before telling anyone about this treasure trove of concert goodies, I examined several of the tickets to be sure there weren’t any hidden “hooks” where you needed to pay some door charge or join the Scientologists, sell your soul to the devil or some such thing. I couldn’t find any. The only problem was that they were for that very same evening, not much lead time. Maybe that’s why Graham had given them to the diggers, he just wanted to fill the new place and show it off, Bill Graham was famous for just about never giving anything away.
.
It took me no time to get five more bodies to go to this show, this was going to be really, REALLY good. We pretty much had to leave within the hour and everyone knew there was going to be a very long line waiting at the door. A couple of the girls made up some nice sandwiches and a few of us guys ran to the Safeway and got a couple of jugs of wine for the trip up and the trip back. Calm down reader, this was 1967, a very different time, and too, we weren’t totally stupid. Once our preparations were complete we jumped in one girl’s big, poorly running station wagon and headed for the City. I was still a victim of burnout and slept pretty much the whole way up.
.
I must have been big time burned out because I remember nothing of the ride, nor standing in line nor entering the hall. About the first thing I do remember is some guy unknown to me was sitting on the floor next to my bunch of guys offering me an apple or something. I wasn’t hungry and thanked him but waved it off. My San Jose compatriots were loaded on the wine from the trip and the joints circulating around the floor. They were having nothing to do with the dead head Ed. This stray fellow tried starting some small talk with me but all I wanted to do was sleep. The roadies were tuning the guitars and setting the drums and I slept through it all. I want to say I was so sleepy because I was stoned or something, but this was after I swore off marijuana and I hadn’t drunk anything during the trip, I just slept. I guess I was just plain exhausted.
.
I stayed awake through all the music which was even better than I expected and I did start chatting with the guy next to our group, as the group was up on its feet, laughing and dancing their asses off. For them, it was like I wasn’t even there, the one who got them the tickets. Albert King was great, Mayall was phenomenal, as always, but after him, the auditorium went silent for a long time, way too long. People started yelling out complaints, going on for maybe half an hour. Finally Graham himself came out to make an announcement. In these days there was an ongoing battle between the hippie audience and the promoter Bill Graham. He had a reputation for taking advantage of the bands he managed and promoted and running rough shod over anyone who questioned his orders. I never met him but the bands I hung out with and the roadies I knew were all afraid of the man, and only added to the legend of his really lousy personality. He put together great concerts but he was a first class asshole everyone loved to hate. So, as Graham mounted the stage this evening, as usual, he was showered with apple cores, orange rinds and banana skins. He would curse the audience with great drama and vehemence, and the audience would simply curse him back and shower him once more. It was just part of the show. He announced that a friend of all of ours was adding her talents to this show. It was a surprise even to him but she only lived a few blocks away and she had the night off, so she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play with these other great musicians. Graham left the stage never giving us this female artist’s name. I was quite sure that he did this to quiet the audience, leaving them to speculate about the added performer rather than concentrate on the endless break.
.
I fell asleep again.
.
.

I have no idea how long the break actually lasted for my heavy sleep, but it ended abruptly and sort of mysteriously. There was a rustling behind the stage and my new friend shook me and shook me until I sort of woke up.
.
“Get up, Brother, it’s time. Get to your feet.” Everyone in the building was standing and silent, and facing stage right. A spotlight was choked down so there was just a tiny little blazing white sun on the back of the stage. The entire building was as silent as some ancient tomb, a million souls were holding their breath, even the crickets a hundred miles away quit chirping, not one whale sang a song in all the oceans, even the man in the moon was stalled and still. From behind the huge column of black speakers mounted for Hendrix, the column disappearing up into the lofty blackness, a tiny white hand thrust a dark bottle into the sun spot, we had to strain our eyes to make it out.
.

It was a bottle of Southern Comfort. The entire building became one enormous, open-ended ejaculation. It was Janis Joplin.

.
.
There is no way to verbalize or document that orgy of music. At some point Hendrix got on the stage between the endlessly high black columns, but before dawn, all of the musicians in the place were all jamming together all over the place but there is no way to sort it out, to make it linear. I hate to tell you this, but this was a perfect psychedelic acid trip without the acid. It was nirvana, which I also hate to say, but really all I can remember is an extended non-time of the perfect white light of joy and pleasure.

.
.
.

Guess what? I take it all back; there is a God. As I started writing the last two paragraphs, the radio started playing “Me and Bobby McGee” . . . Janis Joplin’s number one single, after her death.
.

WOW
.
.

.

Joplin’s 356 Porsche
.

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: