We found Alex in a vast dark victorian Pile called the Russian Embassy. Our flat - called an apartment - was shared with a girl and her tiny child. I discovered to my dismay that this little person was nearly two - her mum was into macrobiotics and was feeding her brown rice and onions. I was slicing a green pepper when she crept up to me and looked impluringly at this green-ness - well i gave her a teeny bit - I had to didn't I? Her mother was outraged - I had aparently ruined all chances of a buddhahood with that lovely green morsle. Food - this was my first impression of the United States - and how it all tasted of nothing - was vast in size and gave the seasoned old traveller her first case of 'touristas'! After that came the San Franciscan architecture - I walked the up and down streets howling with laughter - they were a delightfully coloured, jigsaw cut-out, all with front porches - so hospitable.
Then there was the language - I needed nails to hang some pictures - but where was the iron-monger (I come from a time when there were places like that in England.) No-one could help me and I walked for miles - I spotting some gardening tools and went inside, oh yes, all kinds of nails - but called a hardwear store - functional - but without the poetry of 'the iron-monger'. I had never seen a supermarket, if they existed in England then - well I had never seen one. Little shops was what I knew - so this vast airplane hanger filled out with food isles - shelf upon shelf of comestibles of every kind - very confusing - I carefully bought some proper cheese and the green peppers - the loaf of bread I picked up squished to nothing in my hands and I put it back before it died - terrified by this time and with burning feet I tried to find the counter where one paid. A heavy hand on my shoulder and a deep bass voice telling me to hand over my basket - naturally I had my wicker shopping basket on my arm - it had come a long way that basket and I wasn't giving it away to anyone - WHY - I was being arrested for shoplifting - but I had not found where to pay and I stoutly gave him my 'shopping lady.' They let me go - what could they do really. My first brush with American Law - more to come.
For now though I made my first American friends Mikki and Ion Grande who lived upstairs, also Mark Endey whom we had met in Tangiers - I recalled that he had tured my antoharp beautifully - a muscician perhaps? Yes and he knew this town well and wanted us all to share in a big place in a park like area called Haight Ashbury. The lady and her baby we had just had to leave to fate - the gods and marcobiotics and went to live in lower Ashbury Street very near a long ship of green, boardered by eucaliptis trees called the panhandle.
This was a two floor all wood beautiful-gracions interior, with an attic so large we filled it with cushions and things - these were to be found everywhere in good condition - you can imagine how I felt at this affluence after all my years of fringality.
Language was still sometimes a bugbear - one visitor (people 'dropped by' like ripe fruit constantly) phoned to say that she had left her pocket book with us - it was black, could I look. I did but - whew - she steamed back a little later shouting at me that it was right there, what was my game etc - amazed, i stared at a handbag. How could this bulging thing remotely resemble a book - let alone one that fits in the pocket.
Marco played the sitar and had just come from studying with Ravi Shankar, his first American student he said. He was very pretty - looked like a Rajput miniature with a dark moustache and a head of dark curls.
Painting by Hetty
He had a huge instrument and I played it like a double bass and thought of Lenny. Marco wanted to be my lover - I did not think it would work for a moment but he was rather fun then. So we had a white floor to ourselves. The houses were very close together but it did not seem crowded as they were white clapboard with big windows - very close to each other and CRASH, a man burst through from next door in a quick noisy, destructive manner - Marco was cross. I was quite amazed - this man had performed a dangerous feat to see me - I was an exhibit. His name was Harry Monrow and Marco pleaded with me not to know him of go next door. He was protective by why so adament - what did they do? Their gramaphone played non stop night and day - did they never sleep? This was another new impression. Of course we had good weed in England then - legally from African Gents - and we had tried Mescalin - but the vast variety of mind benders and mood alterators was again like that supermarket. So this little lot liked to stay awake and Marco did not want me to be the same. Fine by me. Marco had been to school locally with Rock Scully and with him we went one day to a local town where some friends lived in Merry something Lane - a small street of more wooden porches, but this one had all kinds of junk in the front garden - called a yard. Very messy people they were - think sort ot leader called Ken - tight to scull blonde curls and big-man attitude - very positive. He had written a book about a loony-bin called "One flew over the Cookoo's nest" which was achieving fame for him but he lived in this jolly little crumbling house and joy shone all around. There were some good musicians, playing a new kind of music to my ears. Rock and Roll San Franciso style baby and I loved it. Marco had a friend called Chet Helms, and a covered truck. The two if them drove around around town visiting tips called Clementina boxes - all sorts of goodies thrown away by this amazingly consumer society - no compost or wet garbage so they collectef furniture which Marco repaired or even constructed, I remember a throne like chair he made out of three fake victorian recliners. They also visited attics and then Chets Laurie and I got first pic of the beautiful clothes they found. Chet sold them from a shop front in Benkley somewhere and with the money they hired the hall for the first rock and roll fance. The Sokal Hall on Page Street, an American social club I think. Just across the road in a large basement some musicians had been jamming for some time and groups were farming - so the Charlatans were on the bill and I think a good dance band called Mount Rushmore - maybe they came later - they never became famous but I thought them among the best for dancing to. I loved to dance.
Photo by Herb Greene
That dance had no light show and was very basic but it was a start and Height street was going through a strange transformation; from a natural American shopping street with a five and dime - sort of woolworths, a 'Goodwill store' for cheap clothes etc. We needed incense but Chinatown quite a ways away so - suddenly a little shop on the corner of Haight and Maxonic was vacant and it became the weedpatch - the first shop created for our needs in Haight Street.
Others followed with bewildering speed, the five and dime became the Print Mint and the Thelin brothers opened the Psycodelic shop. Hung with Indian bedspreads and sweetened with incense it became a focal point - still we were not that many - indeed on helping a friend put up shelves for her dress shop I wondered if there would be a clientele for her kind of clothes. I need not have pondered that point for we had come to the attention of Herb Cain, a columnist for the San Franciso Chronicle, who wrote that some young people were forming groups in the Haight Ashbury district - they were too young and colourful to be called Beatnics (who prolificated on North Street) - he would cain a phrase from our vocabulary - the word 'hip' and add the diminutive 'ie' - thus the word Hippy was born. To my distress - "labled like a pickle bottle" I mourned - don't worry - oh yes sir sorry but this one will stick - it is catchy - and by gum it has. We had a grand death and burial of the wretched subrequet but it has never left and now is a term of decision.
Nevertheless we carried on our merry way, those were fun years indeed - Marco, Jason and I moved into a charming little home off Shaddock Avenue in Berkely where we could make a noise all night should we want to because out house was included in a row of shops and therefore not residential. The school playground boardered our little garden - so Jason just had to run across it to school. Marco was going to take lessons in the sitar from some Indian musicians nearby which was why we moved and one day I asked if I could go with him to the home of the Scrips family just to be able to imagine the surroundings. I hid in a vast arm chair and peeped out - the teacher looked very kind - but I cringed as he came toward me holding a cup of tea and enquired why I was not playing an instrument - I stammered that I played piano and organ and therefore was not that hot on strings - however (remembering the gourd bars and thinking of Lenny) there was one instrument which intrigued me - the tanpoura. 'Why do you like tanpoura' he demanded - 'because it is the timeless absolute?' "oh yes", never mind what that was it seemed to be the right answer because he said 'you start tomorrow.' Oh dear - we only had money for Marco - but I turned up with flowers and sweet cakes and was handed a vast instrument, all carved wood - quite unlike Marco's gourd. I started out with a ghastly jangle and he smiled and handed me over to some South Indian singers who were to instruct me. This wonderful man was Ali Akbar Khan, the great Sarod player.
I played away every morning with the South Indians - small and very funny - always playing jokes and jumping out to try and make me stop - because the tanpoura never does. Nara Simulu had incredible breath control for he could inhale an entire joint and hold it. He often came to our little house and would drink and smoke literally everyone under the tables - bodies everywhere; but he just sat bunched into full lotus position singing away. I made them very merry with me incessant worrying about money - being the only non fee paying student - but you are our only real student - they don't pay in India but serve their teacher - so the flowers and sweet cakes paid off and our happiness at having them around. At last 'Dada' (as we called Ali Akbar Khan) asked me to perform and I was thrilled to hear that I oculd play the timeless absolute and play for his own practice sessions. It was truely bewitching, and once he had me play for the class which was not as much fun. Helloh - I oculd play the Indian double bass - Lenny again.
Marco was asked to play with Donocan who was recording in L.A, everyone was into Indian music at the time so we went there - Jasonm too - and stayed with Tom and Lisa Law who were looking after an unbelievable house called the Castle - up near the observatory - opposite the Frank Lloydd Wright house for the Winchester rifle people - it looked like an astec crematorium outside and we never saw inside. Cream adobe house - cream adobe growling guard dogs. Just across the road defiantly stood the castle, I don't know who the architect was but he borrowed a bit here and a bit there - gandi for the stairs - medieval crypt for the hall and a huge room mwith an art deco window to view the smog, we were just above it so - a dun brown lake view - lovely. One black and gold tiled bathroom had seen Valentino abluting I was told. Barry Maguire who had just had a nuumber one single with the Eve of Destruction was living there with his beautiful lady and Severin Darden the actor lived in the garden flat.
A truely happy bunch with our singing sweetheart Mama Cass of the Mamas an the Papas,
eating in the kitchen. We had some swingin' parties I'll say, unril Bob Dylan showed up with the Band. Helloh - oh dear oh dear - no helloh. I liked Garth from the Band who ironed his ties but this Dylan chap I did not care for. He had frightening eyes - dead like blind with catoract. He was always looking for his coat. My son Jason wearing his chinese silk suit - playing his flute - gave him a big silver plastic knight with the solom warning 'this is the night of the night and when he opens up his thousand eyes watch out babe blue' - what it meant I din't know but is he the child dancing in one of his songs. My little book of ragas transposed for piano stave wasn't there after one session - pity, it had taken a long time to do and Pig was interested. So - too many people and Marco and I went to live with the Grateful Dead incarcerated in the L.A flats.
Photo by Herb Greene
This was more like it. Here the buzz I was used to - the San Francisco vibe. A large wooden house with a love palue tree outside contained the group 'the Warlocks', now known as the Grateful Dead. Many people have their version of how this curious name came to be but I remember - in the Ashbury house Phil coming up with the headline in the Egyptian book of the dead - 'the ship of the sun ferried across the sky by the grateful dead - but it seems out of sync so it was already established - apt, though - for many of us had 'died' and were grateful for the experience. Owsley also lived there and in a small room up top a lovely young man Tim Scully )no relation of Rocks') was engineering a super conductor of a sound system, something Owsley always aspired to and Tim longed for alchemy. Both succeeded, Tim rather better! Did the Dead make a lot of music there - well no because their instruments were all in pieces - being brought up to super electronic speed. Gerry played the six stringed banjo which was tingling stuff whilst we waited for Owsley to open the wall cupboard - all in one tiny room of expectancy. Yes we were strange prisoners - mainly because lack of money. Owsley also had strict diatary notions - meat - processed cheese - milk and white bread. Imagine the state of the kitchen! Twas pretty chronic when young Bobbys gums started bleeding. Good God - Scurvy. Hetty confered and she and Marco were added to the cast of an after showtime show in a quonset hut. Severin Darden - Del Close - Hugh Romney - and to top the bill Tiny Tim tripping tiptoe through the tulips - how lucky we were. A lively little show called and money from the door shared evenly from Hughs lovely wife Bonnie. Straight across the road bolted Hetty to another vast shop with a windmill on the roof (used to them by now.) Bought fruit of all kinds whilst Tim bought spinache and told me that should he ever marry they would have seperate bathrooms - offsubject for supermarket banter. They would wait up and grab those fruits I'll say - Owsley was very cross with me - I had ruined his experiment - like the baby girl denied Buddhahood by a sliver of green pepper - oh the sins of vitamin C. He had embarassed me horribly soon after I arrived - I had been told to come up to the castle to see Tom and Lisa any time - but be cool - come alone. Owsley offered me a lift (no public transport at all in L.A_ and when he arrived demanded entry - pushed his way to where Mr.Dylon was standing by the art noveau window - strode up to him, extended his hand on the end of Stiff outstretched arm. "OWSLEY" he proclaimed "Zimmerman" came the reply followed by "will someone get this bum outa here." OH SHIT. Hetty blamed again. But how hilarious - two monomaniacs face to face.
Photo by Stanley Mouse
All this time Pigpen and I had become buddies - blues were our meetig ground and it grew. Marco went to San Francisco for some reason and it meant I was ready for a chance so I had a wee fling with Severin at the castle - empty of the Zimmermans but a curious blonde girl who kept turning off the power switch when we climbed down to fill the goose pond and feed them - chinese they were. Her name was Nico. Then came the grand news that we were all booked for a weekend gig at the Longshore mens warf in S.F. I was Hetty, the witch from England ( well well!).
Severin and I went to see a show
directed by Andy Warhole and acted by Gerard Malunga and Mary Mary to the velvate underground - a New York band, Sev drove me in his black porche with the batman sticker and we saw them again at the Philmore - little did I know that the love of my life was hovering near (sorry Lenny). Free of Owsleys tyranny the Dead tried out their cumbersome new sound system and during those three days Pig and Hetty got it together and he said his parents would like me.
So I moved with them after the momentous gig which I did with flash papers (thank you Gerry who had been a stage musician) peacock feathers soaked in Patchouli and a vast feathered head-dress.
It was long, hard and fun and I tied a top cop up in recording tape at a run - so we were tired and this big white house across the bay was inviting.
The Olimpali Ranch where a native tribe had lived and then discarded. Clay pots abandoned in shards and vast charred trees where it looked as if they cooked. The spaniards rowed across the bay and taught them how to make adobe - there was a peice behind glass in one wall. One morning as I was making breakfast I noticed a black dog with golden eyes staring at me from the laundry room. Helloh where did you come from, this question never answered. Her collar stated that she was 'Lady' and that was all. She finally left as she came, we never knew where she went but for about three years she spent a lot of time with Jason and I had several litters on my bed.
Photo by Stanley Mouse
Jason had at this time threee homes - this was because we thought it a good idea. One was with me of course and I was in Pagest as well as Olimpali and Danny Rifkin, now the Deads manager, had opened up the house on Ashbury Street - he had been renting it as a B+B or something but for now the Dead lived there - yes after a momentous party at the ranch when everyone was running around naked and dogs and children abounded -
Bobby and I were in the kitchen which had a full view of the festivities when two men with bow ties came by and looked amazed. "Just a few friends dropped by" said Bobby and that summed it up. Then men were agents for the estate and so back to San Fran we went. Just around now I went up to see about this local paper, coming out of two tiny rooms above the print mint in the old Five and Dime store. Hey why the black and white and columns I exclaimed - 'we are a psycodelic community so where's the colour and swirling formats.' I was not very impressed but very soon afterwards Travis Rivers, the oracle manager, came in a white van for me and we drove to a new office in a flat overlooking the Intersection of Haight and Masonic. This had been donated by Mr Bowen who was moving to Stinson beach. At first I worked under the art editorship of Gabe Katz, byt he moved on and I did the work I loved - colour and form on newsprint - new and inspiring.
I wasn't living
anywhere - staying with Pig - sleeping in the park with Lady as a warm pillow - just totally free and Jason had taken to living with the Dead - he had a small room like Harry Potters under the stairs - it was clean and cosy and next door was Laird who had been a Hells Angel but reformed by the magic of alchemy was now a 'Dead' roady, no mean task with all of that owsley sound system! I was very close by when with Pig because the house was quite small but held a lot of people including many many visitors.
Among them was a girl, she had been bought from Austin Texas by Chet Helms and Travis and now was singing with a band called Big Brother which Chet had been promoting, sadly not so successfully but in his newly aquired dance hall the Avlon Ballroom. I had listened to this girl sing and enraptured, knew that Chets bad would definately succeed. Her name was Janice and we were buddies.
People said we looked alike but we didn't, perhaps we wore the same feathered hats and shoes.
She drank I didn't - well I recall sitting between Janice and Pig passing the Southern Comfort back and forth - ugh that smell!! I had another girl friend called Ami McGill a fine artist, a regular Oracle staff member, she also had a magical little shop filled with fun and rainbow glasses which were colourful to wear except when going down stairs. We were merrily walking to 'the office' one sunny morning and passes a wee florists shop - outside were bunches of very wilted daisies. So we asked the lavender coloured lady inside 'how much' - not much, so we carried them away to put on the art room mantlepiece - but we gave them all away even to a policeman who put it in his cap. Would a bobby have done the same, i kinda doubted it. Anyway we enjoyed that and we came to an arrangement that we had the most wilted daily and it caught on - soon people were festooning each other and flower power was born - from small beginnings!!
Suddenly there opened yet another dance hall - this in the Philmore district - rather shabby - well it had been open for a while because Marco and I were invited to a 'Promenade' there way back. It was big and cold and rather tatty - no light show and the Dead were still the Warlocks - but one could walk up and down and meet friends - a long bar - a large band room and many little hideaways. That particular evening was made a little strange because a very agitated man kept charging up and down - to me he looked as if in the Merchant Navy - off.
Navy sleeveless pullover and anvy trousers - white shirt and as I said very nervous - put us on edge. Some people thought he was a policeman - that straight and snappy - not like us. This was our first sighting of Bill Graham! More or less my last as I did not care for autocratic people, especially at a time when everyone was doing well at being kind - delightful and at one with each other. No doubt he was an excellent dance hall manager and all that went with it but as I was not a rock and roll musician we did not need contact. Around this time a wonderful summer passed in Lagonitas, a scattering of houses in the woods in Marin County, across the superbe Bay bridge. The Dead had an old 1930's camp site and Janice with Big brother had a house above mine in a haunted cul de sac. Opposite to them was a wooden villa all boarded up and notices saying 'Property of Lloyds of London. Intriguing. Then Pigpen saw a vintage car go by, driven by a man in a cap and his passenger - a lady wearing a large green feathered hat. Another sighting of this pair was down by the creek and the man was very tall. There was talk among the children of breaking in, but we scotched that my going in by the back door ourselves which was ajar! It led into a kitchen with gleaming copper pots and all the furniture etc was totally 1920. I noticed that the old wall plugs were shiny and new and the folded fan of newsprint in the grate was white - I looked for a date and yes, sometime in the 1920's. Sorry mate but newsprint yellows and it should have been brown! We crept upstairs and a huge pair of mens brown shoes caught our eye and then - on the bed - a big green feathered hat - we fled downstairs and from outside came the demanding voice of the Sheriff. We lay on the floor and between me and the window a dark figure stood. I was petrified but dared not move. I don't know who was I was more frightened of - the ghost or the Sheriff. The Sheriff eventually gave up and went away, and eventually the ghost faded so we crept out. There was a garage and cleaning the window a little we saw a large vintage car. What on earth was all this about, so we asked at the general store in Lagonitas - oh yes we were told - the lady died and the house was locked up years ago. There really was a haunted house in Lagonitas Marin County.
Painting by Hetty.
Around this time two Oracle staff members shared a strange vision - myself and Steve Leiper - for myself it was this: walking along Haight Street with Potraro Hill to my left suddenly the road was blocked with a high hedge hung with spirit catchers.
On my side all our friends were sitting in the road - along the brow of the hill a line of Native American warriors. I peaked round the hedge and was met with a cacophony of hideous screeching - beeping - howling sound, and to my dismay the road was filled with police cars, all their radios jammed and bull roarers shouting. Hastily round to the peacefull side and eyes shut tight - then - all gone. Steve saw a pure blue moon and as he was on the hill saw the warriors close up and heard weird noises. Well the next day was the first invasion of the police phalanx. Also the evening when Chief Rolling Thunder arrived. He was expected and somehow everyone thought he would arrive in full costume! I saw a man in a navy blue raincoat and snap brim hat carrying a brief case - I was sure - not so some others who thought he was 'the man!' I invited him into the art room where he sat on the floor and invited us to do the same - by the light of the gas fire I saw a ruby glint as he rolled up his right sleeve, and lo! he had a snake armband round his forearm. He became a good friend and a regular visitor.
Ron Thorud had the idea for the Summer of Love, and that brought the television folk who looked at the festoons of dusty electrical wire and blenched - they went ahead and nearly blew us up! They wanted a round table discussion but this was not our way so out we went into the little garden and played hide and seek with them. I stuck my head out of a Bush and begged anyone coming to bring a sleeping bag as it could get very cold when the fog rolled in. Actually for myself I was not too keen on the idea - we were not ready for any kind of influx - and it was huge. Young and enthusiastic we were and strong also but we frightened the powers that be - because the youngsters who arrived in droves wanting free everything, were from grand families as well as the Iowa farm boy. This bought the police batons down on us every day. We all wore whistles.
If we saw anyone being beaten up - we blew - and soon everyone joined in and we rain to help. Mouse and Kelly were turning out wonderful posters - even the bail bondsmanhad one! Travis and I used to visit him nightly to bail out those arrested - mostly for vagrancy which was $25 each. No wonder the Oracle went bust in the end. Well obviously something had to be done and so the good natured bands played on a flat bed truck to the drumming of an ancient dyram.
Speedway meadow became a dance floor and this worked for awhile because the cops could not enter the park and the rangers were averse to arrests. The Grateful Dead played a concert in Haight street and the audience stretched the entire length.
So although there were tense moments there were funny ones also - like one young mans answer to a cop who had found some weed in his pocket - "Oh that! I carry it as a status symbol." That boy will go far I thought, wonder if he did. Emmet Kelly and his cohouts took the throw away from outside the various supermarkets and fed several hundred people daily in the Panhandle for free. Plus we had the Haight Street Clinic and Brian the Deads Lawyer. These were helpful indeed - but not enough. Too many came - I hope they all learned and had fun and togetherness as we did.
Around that time a tall man came into the art room with a little blue book of poems. I redirected him to Allen and Steve as I had no say as to content. This was my first meeting with Angus Maclise.
Then, a good friend from the old Russian Embassy told me of an affair she was having and how she longed to meet him somewhere, where her husband Ian would not see. Oh dear. However, I dearly wanted a drawing from her for the Oracle so I bribed her! Said she could meet him in the art room if she drew for me.
She did, very nicely thank you, and he arrived - fall bespectacled - she told me he was the best man in the world. I took her word for it and went on drawing or whatever. You see - Marco could not be lived with - nor alas could Pigpen, with him - alcohol - with Marco, stronger stuff they called Dujee. I needed neither, so I decided to be alone, free, and to devote all my energies to the Oracle. So - during all that time, about a year - whilst everyone was seriously into Free love - I remained celebate. One thing had changed however - I no longer slept in the park for I found a wonderful place to live. The stone stables of one of the San Francisco mansions destroyed in the earthquake. This was very sturdy and in the middle of all the back gardens. Reached ny a tiny passage opposite the library in Page Street. Glorious! and Jason had his own room again and bred hampsters who nested under the big iron stove in the kitchen. His room had one wall, a union jack - we wondered who had painted it but he wanted it to remain and so it did.
Mikki and Angus came round in the evening when many people came to talk and laugh. I found that he was interested in the myths of the world as was I - so there were many interesting conversations. Also, the first time I witnessed Angus' habit of picking people up and swinging them around! This was right on Haight St as we started off on a picnic - I decided not to go and so - just to say tootaloo he picked me up and round I went and came down abit breathless, but basically unmoved. Christmas was coming and Jason wanted to go to the Kesey Ranch. So I was without children for the first time in years. A gale swept may branches down so I gathered them up and made a 'tree' in the corner. Under which I put Jasons presents and sat painting tiny miniatures for my close friends - it was Christmas Even when the front door banged open and there stould Angus. "Gimme Shelter", he shouted. Heavens! well come on in. He was on the run from three women - lord help us!! One was Mikki, two a girl who had followed from New York City and some unclear third. Well as Jason is away you could sleep in his room - but when he returns i'm sorry but you will have to find someplace else (funny-.) He begged me to accompany him to collect his things, which I did, and felt really uncomfortable because they all leapt to the wrong conclusion. I fervently reassured Mikki that I was just giving him temporary room space. I sat and tried to remember that it was christmas eve whilst shouts and sounds of objects flung about. Angus emerged and we left, but after us ran the girl from NYC - as we clambered onto the bus she moaned "No more Angus." I would get to know that one.
We went to a party that night and they all turned up but I did not care - work it out minus me.
Christmas day spent with Oracle and friends at Azul's (Bob Simmons) studio - very jolly. So Angus stayed and Jason did not return and it was after New Years Eve and walking with Angus down Haight Street, he suddenly rushed through the tourist traffic and whirled a girl around - it was Mikki. I walked on feeling so relieved and happy that I was still just and only just friends with Angus. Oh dear - what happened? - it was so sudden. I took him a cup of tea in bed as I do for guests and burst into tears. Poor man - he looked up amazed - "whatever is the matter" - 'Oh I have just done the stupidest thing' I wailed. "What's that then?" - 'I've been and gone and falled in love with you' - really goodbye Lennie - he just pulled back the sheet and I hopped in. I stayed there for 10 years, metaphorically speaking, until he died. Between then and now however much happened.
Such as, we had a trip with friends to a lovely place caled Inverness and Angus bought me a single Iris, how could he have known it was my favourite flower, a Picesian, very romantic. So it was just a few days later, on St Valentines day, he went down on one knee in the panhandle and said that he wanted me to be his wife and the mother of his children. How enchanting and I accepted gladly - cancerian picean combination. Oh joy. We went out to the park where we found a Dingle (both of us George Borrow readers) and sat entwined when a silhouette of a man in a trench coat was seen on the edge of the little dingle ( which is a cosy private hollow in a wood.) Spell broken we walked hand in hand through the park and suddenly were drenched by a tree - yes the tree was raining, it was the only one. So here is the way Angus saw it in this poem:
Photo by Ira Cohen
Jaon returned to find Angus out of his room and into mine (good bye Lennie for some time). I don't think he was very happy about this and one can understand it - he and Angus had an early argument about stick drumming versus hand drumming, you would not think such a silly thing could have such a disasterous effect - but alas, they did not get along - ever. Jason really did not like any man who came close to me - even Pigpen - he was a posessive little boy - I understood this but could not go on living like a nun to suit him. Well there we were happy; and the Haight Ashbury scene crumbled slowly around us - you may have read some of this before in my conversation with Tim Barns earlier in this 'blog' - however at the time it was anything but funny. Angus really wanted to marry me and it did not hinder him at all that I was still married to Tom and it is two years for bigamy. I tumbled and fel so sad - here was a man who loved me for myself - after all Peter married me to obtain a government job and Tom to get wife and child support on his pension. Angus had his talent and I had my job and the Oracle, but it was disintigrating like everything else. Came the spring solstice and we went to celebrate in the speedway meadow as usual - 'oh how pretty' I exclaimed when I saw a silk tent someone had erected - so charming and tinkling with the sound of the many Japanese wind charms. Helloh - it was Diane di Prima, a poetess friend of Angus who had put it up and it is your wedding day. HELP!! No worries though - it was all hippy - nothing even vaguely legal. Someone threw a white lace kaftan over my summer smock and Angus was similarly attired. Iggy - a nice jewish friend who had completed 32 days of Zaxen meditation formalised our vows and promises, Tim Leary turned up to bless us and the dear old Grateful Dead witnessed our union. Someone produced two jade rings as we were on the ring of fire and LO! it really was a wedding after all. The only true one I had, we kept those promises.
It was said that I had to be married by my tribe, and I was. Just in time because the end of the jolly old Summer or Love was nigh. We all knew it - we were undermined by the powers that be - so easy - open and trusting we were - all one we were, until the junkies and the drunks started drifting up - the young who had come for acid were given speed by people pretending to be friendly hippy dealers - but obviously they weren't - we put fliers out again and again begging people to avoid street dealers and giving other safe options. but it was too late. Allen Cohen and Bob Simmons (now known as Azul) tried to coerse Angus into coming to Miami with the rest of us - but he needed New York and all his contacts there did not like my having a job - funny really because when we finally hit New York I held down three jobs and lived a rent free loft as part payment for one of them and although Angus did two more gigs with the Velvate undeground - his earnings were sporadic. BUT. I loved him through and through - knew I could not continue without him so, I agreed, like Ruth, to go where you go and your people shall be my peopleThis meant obtaining transport. This I left to Angus because I was busy tidying up the art room and leaving a sketchy web of an Oracle for anyone to finish - Kelly had more or less taken over anyway.
Well Angus made two choices. They were bad - they affected my life until this very day.
AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY.
Where we met the two owners of the car I do not know.
The driver answered a note on the Oracla notice board.
The car came first - two young fellows rented it in N.Y.C to come to the Summer of Love and one married - but little wifey wanted to fly and the other boy did not want to be lef t- so - Angus arranged to take it as it could not be 'turned in' in S.F - all this was beyond me - I know nothing of cars but I loved to ride and be driven - so - a driver had to be found because I quickly realised, after one hair raising trip in S.F with Angus - he could not drive! O.K put a notice on our board in the office, and sure up came Louden Wainwright the third. Just young Louden then and he had a license and was over 18, so, I tried him out and he seemed just the ticket for a journey.
On the last morning, spent with out Lynn - the Oracla secretary, a friend turned up with a goodbye gift - a huge bag of fine weed. "Oh yes" pounced Louden - 'Oh no' said I. Well having crossed America twice in a car I knew it was paramount to be clean. There was a heated argument - his was that he was to be driving and did I want him to take speed" 'Of course not -AGH?!" what did we have here? I should have called the whole thing off - but I didn't - I was tired and needed a space on the white lives of the highway (to quote Joni Mitchell.)
To stop this wingeing I acquiesced - take one joint and if we get stopped - you are responsible - throw or swallow - get it. O.K. and we were off. All serene until nearing the texas panhandle when I demanded that we disembank - turn out pockets and everything and if you have something left - hand it over NOW - he handed me some and I made 3 joints - out on my own in that real desert, and as I sat there a five mile high Hopi Katchina stalked toward me - the one with a head like a doughnut. DANGER.
So I went back to the car and demanded that he was totally clean. He said yes. We went on until a knocking sound came from underneath - Angus, who had the car papers and was being responsible made Louden pull into a roadside garage where a man looked and said 'big end' and that he did not have the tools to deal with it - "next big time" he advised us. This rose up to our left MORDOR - oh no not there - please try a little further - no notice taken of me again and into Olklahoma city we rolled.
We took the car to a big garage and they agreed to look at this big end or whatever. Off we went on a stroll around - to tell the truth I only remember it vaguely - rather bleak if anything. We went to a cinema - don't ask what we saw for I don't recall it at all. Back at the garage and Angus and Louden did whatever was necesarry as I covertly watched the man in the glass booth. He was eyeballing us alright - and as we rolled away I saw him pick up the phone. Not wanting to un-nerve Louden I said as casually as I could that I would like to be back on the road. Something that must have spooked him too because he did not turn on the lights. From the backseat I suddenly realised this and told him to 'turn on the lights god damn it Louden' for it was past lighting up time - too late.
Undulating, oscillating wails screeched toward us.
'STOP LOUDEN' I shouted and we were pulled over - oh shit - a moving violation. I prayed that my search had been thorough "up against the car mother-fucker' - Angus and Louden stretched out against that metal monster. I had been put in the cop car - he was alone - unusual - another turned up like a cruising shark - they took care f les boys and he returned to me. 'Are yoo on aacidd' he drawled. "NO," I replied, "but you had better get me somewhere fast before I deficate in your car," because sudden shock had released my bowels - bit camped up y'know in the car etc. I never wanted to go so bad in my life - why not just let go - but no my upper class morals cut it - it would be very rude of me - so I held on and got there where a poor lady cop had to take apart what I had laid before her - she used a long steel knitting needle - a weapon really. A large hall with various desks opened up like a bad smell and questions fired at us - as I politely answered them I was told to speak english - whereupon Angus shouted "she's the only one who does." How sweet - but immediate suss - passport? hand it ovver. Well on tha tocunt I had a fine green card right up to date. We were put into 'holding pens' - seperated of course and on our honeymoon no less. I enjoyed the company of an elderly Native American lady who was seriously drunk - exceptionally good company.
This happy interlude was soon to change however, to quote the good old Grateful Dead.
"set up like a bowlin pin - knocked down like it gits where it's bin." Several men in light suits questioned me. They were F.B.I sp they said and with relish told of a big bust of 'theym hyppiys' just a while back - 'sent theym down for five' (how to find an onomatapiattic way to sound as they spoke) - 'you must be real nurvous.' Now why was that. Hey - they showed me a beautiful medicine pouch given to me by Chief Rolling Thunder - was that mine - too right it was. HA - it was locked into the glove compartment. I was arrested for possesion of 'dang drugs.' That little shit had borrowed it without asking and must have kept some back after all - what a dirty trick. Vast bail was set on all three - same count each. I saw my beloved for a sunlit moment before being led to a cement block and there I was humiliated some more before being shown my bed. A lower metal bunk, one of a double, nine of them. Eighteen women in the same space - no windows and two lavatories which one had to use in full view. A steel box in the corner turned out to be a loud noisy shower where one could scream in private. There were no toys and all to read was - amazingly - a gun manual. Had I wanted to I could have learned everything I needed about various firearms - I was totally uninterested however and requested a bible - in the bible belt of America one must have one - and it is a good read.
The women in there were tough on each other - they would fight and grind faces into the concrete floor. I had enough of this one night and just shouted "STOP." I tried logic in the lull that miraculously followed - "we are all in here because we all got caught" I postulated "so we should do something positive with this knowledge - a psycho drama perhaps" - 'Yes - you can dance - are you a hippy? Y'r English so your opinion don't count.' So I danced and danced - good excercise anyway, to the endless stream of country and western punctuated by a song about Quin the Esquimo which was the high spot where I rocked and rolled and made my hair wild - they went on fighting.
They were in for robbery with violence and had nothing to lose. After a while a young hippy chick came in, she was local and she told me heaps - we spent all that night whispering. We were the talk of the underground - what there was of it - I learned they were going to throw the book at us - out of towners - one seed constitutes a felony here (this was true I learned later), hard to believe, and I didn't; but I did prick up my ears when she said "the two of you, are you together?." 'TWO? WHERE WAS LOUDEN?' - "oh yes there had been three, but one got sprung the first night, his daddy came and paid him out." The 'hip spirit' me thought 'oh one out - all out.' The Hippy Tribal Law was if busted in a group, first out did nothing but get the rest free by hook or by crook. So what was taking so long - I'll tell you. As I learned later, Angus gave Louden his mothers number in Conneticut but he never called her - or did anything except sit quaking in his grandmothers Hampton palace. Leaving us to rot.
She told me that the District Attourney needed a drug felony to get re-elected. Oh dear - a death knell belt no doubt. I said goodbye to my little sister friend as she was bailed out knowing that I was doing dead time.
I was allowed cigareetes - lined notepad - one lead pencil - and chocolate - this seemed to come from the court appointed lawyer we had been given. A shallow cardboard lid held these treasures and usually kept under the bed in a lower bunk like me - cigs tucked away under the hand pillow. My main tormentor, a Native Greek came creeping one night - l leant over her and gave them to her - 'as your need is greater than mine' I explained. She was dumbstruck "if I want something I will come to you and ask!." I wondered at her utter amazement - had no-one ever been kind toward her - no wonder she was now such a wrong-un. Fact is - I have never liked chocolate.
One litle old lady came in - also too drunk to know what she was - took three days before she remembered that she had been a lay preacher and knew the Bible well - as 'they' would not let her have her spectacles - I read to her - the juicy bits was what she wanted - chapter and verse - a mid western Dot Cotton.
Also, I noticed that one girl - another Greek, called Suzy, would quietly do yoga in a darkish corner. I decided to do the same - we became almost friendly and when asked what she had done she calmly replied that she had driven away an armed truck full of money - how could you expect to get away with something like that? 'I done it before.' Well - there you are! Of course being in for 'daang drugs' especially weed, one was not even on the lowest rung of the prisoners ladder, so the bullying was fairly intense - actually it was a minor hell realm.
One night as I sat at the zinc topped table where we ate - I really dispared - three and a half weeks already - was I in here for ever. The lights do not get turned off at night - added torture - but even so, an orange ball of light appeared up and slightly to my left, sitting inside was a golden orange figure weilding a sword
- my very first reaction was to attribute this to stress - hallucinations can occur when one is subjected to the amount I was suffering.
Then the sword - Michael? was one of the angels who brandish a sword - oh well that can't be bad - like a flash - I knew - not only that I would soon be free - but also that I would have a baby and just as suddenly, I wanted one.
This was unusual because for ten years I had steadfastly refused each and every man who had asked to have one with them. They were not right, in one way or another, or I could not manage two. I was firm about this. So this overwhelming yearning surprised me. Now - having seen a picture of Manjusri. I know it is oneand the same. Al so the Hyalwa Karmapa gave Ossian the name of Manjusri 'roaring lion' - hmm - should Ossian have been conceived them I wonder for he was a little early. I did get released quite soon however, because Angus had smuggled a note to his mother and he was out. I got a prison telegraph telling me so. I have felt alone since but never - never have I felt that ferocious loneliness. There I was - totally alone and friendless - in the middle of a strange country and could I trust anyone really?
It turned out that I could. Angus, out on Thursday - had my bail reduced and freedom granted by Monday. He did this my not footing it to N.Y.C and all those fabulous new yorkers forked out for a benefit - for someone they had never met. Hang your head in shame Louden Wainwright the third.
The nice lady screw who let me iron the uniforms in the neighbouring cell which was empty. I could be done my myself, a real blessing. She said, as she gave me my navy jumper - jeans, and blue love beads - same outfit as arrest fashion, you don't belong in here - never a true word spoken dear lady. As I said goodbye - all the girls kissed me and said how they would miss me!!