The MOST Newsletter Summer 1999 Volume
I thought, but to think
Thought sure as Steel
Pure and bright as Gold
Thoughts which would render Time
And capture the Wild Birds of your Dreams
I tried telling only Truth and my Words
Would only Lie
My tongue could only lie... Still, like a nag
Content, in a stall
I tried to give you a poem
Which would spin in your head
Like crazy Ballerinas
I tried and found, instead
On Feet of Clay
4/14/99: What go Around..." I thought you'd enjoy and
get a kick out of this flashback! Here's my ticket for the Trips Festival.
Just looking at it today, all the specific details surrounding it came
back as if it were yesterday. I knew I'd seen Rena around the old Mime
Troupe loft on Howard Street quite often. But in your case it was more
widespread than that. More like, where hadn't I seen (and recognized) you
In 1964-65 I lived in the big white Victorian on the corner of Page and Ashbury -- 1550 Page Street. My lover/partner was Berbie (Roberta) Browne who brother Jackson came to live with us in the summer of 1965. We lived in the flat on the second floor (with the balcony outside our bedroom). Upstairs, on the third floor lived our friends/loved ones Greg and Judy Copeland (Greg was a poet) and a young lad (I just this year found out) with whom I had attended Lowell High School, the son of well-known church figure in the Bay Area -- [let's call him "Steve" out of respect for his family, because subsequently he came to a tragic end -- RS]
It was Steve who in 1964 turned me and Willie B on to LSD (he was getting it from a psychiatrist, at first). Steve also gave me my first taste of peyote -- mixed into apple sauce -- uhgg! At that time, Berbie was mostly the one actually gettin' high. Then came Steve and definitely, lastly, came me and Willie (we were, after all, in the Mime Troupe performing several times a week.) It took us longer to slow down enough to Get It! But once we did (1965) we did!
Soon, after the psychedelic community in the Haight defined itself/recognized itself, we (you and us) really took off, so to speak. Ron and Jay Thelin, the Acid Tests on Haight and then (in what seems a fairly close proximity) "The Trips Festival."
That's where today's floodgate of memories come in. That first night of the Trips Festival, Willie B and I had performed a show as usual. We arrived later than most and proceeded to enter Longshoreman's Hall without a hitch, or a ticket! "We're with 'Bill' (Graham)," we said. That always worked. Expecting to be shocked (almost literally), just coming on to the acid we had taken minutes earlier, to hear the response of the ticket-taker (it wasn't you -- I think it might have been Ben Giacopetti), "It's two bucks! This isn't a charity event!"
"Well, maybe it should be!" I remember saying back to the man, who was beginning to look and sound more like a New Yorker as my LSD kicked in. I also recall being quite facetious as I searched my fashionably empty pockets (by Mime Troupe standards) for the $2.00, found it, paid up and stepped in. "Thanks for 'bummin' my trip, asshole!" That's the ticket I kept all these years.
Now get this, Ramon. Willie B, (who was a couple of years older) also had some 'ducats,' but rather than pay up and allow us all to get higher, he demanded to see 'Bill' in order to get in. It took a long time. I was 'peaking' on acid, and this cat was saving two bucks! Bill finally showed up at the door where Willie explained his situation (omitting the fact that he had the cash). Bill responded by pulling one of his classic power trips. Lots of yelling, twisting, wrangling, etc. Willie B is standing here, watching it all come down (including me!) and, of course, Bill is loving it. A "B G Production."
Now make no mistake. Usually I liked having Bill in my corner (I do love the man) but for two bucks? 'Nuff said except, Ramon, Willie owes you some money. Maybe he'd like to donate a couple of bucks [plus 34 years interest? -- R] to the MOST Newsletter. How's about it? Cheers, and much love,
4/18/99: Yes, it's me again. I must be on a roll. I'm reading backwards through my MOST collection. That accounts for this recent spate of letters to you, after years of silence. I'm finding that one advantage of reading our history in reverse is that by watching stories unfold that way, my own personal recollections are 'tested' or verified. For all those years, the most common comment re our stories has been, "Wow, you actually remember all that?!!"
I've rarely sensed a degree of cynicism in these remark. Most have been sincere without being obvious, like "Well, they say if you remember the '60s..."
Hold on, Kojak! Some of us were very much 'there' and remember a lot! (Yourself among them, Ramon). It must have something to do with the level of attention one pays, 'stoned' or straight.
So, the letter that 'leaped out' at me in Vol. V #1 (Autumn 1998) was that of Mr. Ray Stinnett, p. 4. I feel privileged to remember Ray -- well, his story. I can't yet recall a face. Still his story was/is precious.
My first connection to Ray was through Sonya, she of the flamin' red hair, and my partner in various 'love-crimes.' (We were by that time living in what I believe was formerly first Joanie's and then Joe Conti's beautiful camp, slightly removed from the barnyard, set back in the trees. A stream ran through and made a pond in the kitchen, then flowed on to the creek.) I was lying on the open platform looking up at the redwood 'ceiling' (gorgeous!) wishing I had... "some dope." That would be English for 'marijuana.'
"What 'cha doing?" Sonya asked as she appeared from deeper in the woods.
"Just wishin' for some dope."
With that, she sat down next to me and began rolling a joint (I've always loved a woman who could roll a nice joint -- with weed she provided).
"Where'd you get that?" I asked.
"From this guy and his wife by the creek."
Sonya proceeded to tell me of the couple and baby that she had just met on her daily wanderings. (Boy, could she ever wander! But more about that later).
"Man, this is terrible!" I said, giving my opinion of Ray's marijuana. "I've got to meet this guy!"
Upon first hearing of Ray, my reaction was, "We can get higher than this!" That feeling stayed with me throughout the Summer of '67 at Morning Star. I was always determined that before the day's end, Ray, Reggie and Dianne and the rest of us who'd 'close the store' nightly in front of Uncle Lou's cabin, would be "good 'n high" (we were always "good," but not always "high.")
But that first particular evening, by the time the crew of us were about to give up and seek our separate ways back to our camps, a beat-up car (that had ignored the 'no cars' sign at the front gate) roared up and parked right in front of Lou's cabin. A bunch of crazed and 'rich' hippies poured out, distributing candy, cigarettes, and... "heah it come!" ... hashish! Apparently wishes made while staring up at redwood trees work! Soon we were getting high and it was then (after Uncle Lou pleaded for some peace and quiet) that Ray shared with us his 'roots,' including his direct connection to "Wooly-Bully," the song by Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs. Along with others (I remember Reggie and Joe in particular) we were fascinated and thrilled to hear his story.
Really for me, it would have taken a lot more to impress me than having been in on an 'Early Sixties' classic like "Wooly-Bully!" At that time I was just finding my groove on the dance floor to the incessant pumping of the band on that tune, and here he sat, one of those 'cats!' Whew! 'Does it get any better than this?' I wondered.
Ray was modest about presenting this to those few souls still gathered by the small fire we had built (all the better to listen to legends unfold). After a while, reminding us that he had a wife and child, Ray departed for the creek.
"...Think he did it? He's a little 'weird'," Reggie said, who usually reserved judgment on anyone.
"Reggie, the cat is sayin' he helped write 'Wooly-Bully'! Of course he's a little weird!"
Reggie saw the wisdom of my observations and agreed.
"'Wooly-Bully' -- that's heavy!"
With that, Reggie stepped on the remains of our little flames and sent us home to digest what we had just heard. Joe was receding into the redwood grove repeating the irresistible refrain, "Wooly-Bully! Wooly-Bully... Amen!"
Now there was something that seemed to haunt Ray (besides having been 'blessed' with having the 'burden of proof' on something as 'insane' as "Wooly-Bully!") Talking with him one day soon after he'd arrived, he had described an incident in which he'd met 'some people' while on acid.
"They were really cruel to me," he told me. "I don't know why!"
I thought, then listened some more, and then having gathered all my resources, I told him, "Ray, I know (understand) what you experienced. There's even a name for it. You were burned! I know how you must hurt -- it happened to me once. I've never forgotten that feeling. But you know something, Ray? They were wrong!"
Ray seemed to take some comfort from my venture into an 'opinion of something I hadn't witnessed.' I'm convinced that given the circumstances, I would do it again. Ray's a brother.
Ray was nothing if not humble and sincere. He was extremely smitten and enthusiastic by what he'd found happening at Morning Star. He wanted to start a band (including me and Willie B. whom he met, just once, on a visit from Wheeler's).
"Can that guy sing? (Can he?!) You two have the kind of thing with each other that's what a good group needs! Ever think about performing together? I know what I'm talking about. You guys would be good!"
I knew what he was talking about too, and smiled. God Love to Willie B!
Now, I know this will crack you up, as it did me, but one of Ray's peculiarities could be singled out like this: on several occasions, on several different days, upon seeing Lou walk by or poke his head out of the studio during a break from piano practice, Ray asked, "Is that HIM? Is he the BOSS, the leader of this thing -- this Morning Star?"
I'd look at Lou (knowing he had no idea what we'd been discussing) and sometimes I'd answer, "Yes, That's him!"
In all seriousness Ray would than suggest that I should arrange for him to meet Lou. And he would say all this as Lou would be walking by, literally within earshot. 'Our gang,' i.e. Dianne, Lois, Reggie and Joe -- those of us who'd daily constitute the majority of Lou's audience, couldn't stop laughing at Ray's innocent and genuine reduction of the totality of this cosmic farce into Lou's being, simply, "the Boss" of all this shit!
Ramon, now tell me you ain't laughing! Whew!
In closing, I want you (and Ray) to know that I remember his song about Morning Star. My opinion today is the same as in the 'Summer of '67." Ray, the world ain't ready for us yet! Don't be discouraged, just patient.
The actuality that Morning Star had such an impact on this man, while extracting relatively little from most regulars and residents, is exactly why I think our ideas and ideals will usher out the Next Millennium. Ray gets to be Ray, I -- Jason, You -- you, and so on and so on... echoing and resounding through our universe... this little place we call "HOME." You know, I love you all so much -- Badaba and Wooly-Bully! P.S. Here's how Laurel and Tomas 'come back to me' via vision of a day that came on the ranch when we all gathered to say "good-bye" to them. I was sad to see them leave. Sonya and I stood in line to hug them. Ramon, they were our "heroes" of love, our role models for how we wanted to be fun for each other, one day.
I remember feeling lots of love coming to me when Laurel hugged me -- "even" something sexual. Then I saw Tomas and Sonya doing the same -- same energy. Finally, as we separated, I recognized what had just passed between us. It was nothing less than everything we loved about them! 4/24/99: Ramon, accepting and appreciating you as my editor! Of course it's all or nothing at all. I'm just writing!
ANNOUNCEMENT (for publication in MOST):
Watch this space!! Coming soon!!
True Accounts of "The Adventures of the:
(1) Two blackest Hip-Cats or (2) Two Hippest Black Cats (choose your own comfort level) to come out of S F's Haight-Ashbury ever!
Don't Miss It! These are the first-hand, never-before-revealed accounts of the 'real-life' duo of Willie B and Jason, two guys who could be in your refrigerator and your bedroom faster than a Kenyan track team in Orange County! Be Here (And NOW -- recognizing any apparent contradiction. For 'Comic Purposes,' I enter an alternate mode of "H & N" I call "Now and Then."
P.S. Ramon, 'Dog Tales Number One" as soon as I get some stamps, Cheers!
5/15/99: Funny but true (at least, see the "Story of Life!" down below.) Recently (April) Jason returned to the place of his (Re-) birth, "La Zona Rosa" in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, fully realizing these memories are no more important than most -- yet, more previous than some. I though you might like to see:
1) He turned me on to LSD in '64.
2) He had the only subscription I knew of in the Haight to Prof. Leary's Psychedelic Review. (Dr. Timothy was still at Harvard, of course).
3) Together we would venture as far from Page & Ashbury as Haight & Market, home of The Hub pharmacy, last vendor in town for Romilar, the 'cough medicine' = codeine! We called it "Co-Dyne!"
(One night, going to see "A Hard Day's Night" debut at the Drive-In, we drank Romilar and tried to save money by sneaking "Philmore Phil" into the movie in the trunk of Steve's car. We succeeded! No one, however, was 'aware enough' to remember he was in there until we got home, so he missed the movie)
There was the orange Persian cat that "Berbie" and I found one night at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. We were on LSD when we found him and brought him home.
"What's his name?" we were asked.
Gazing at him, I claimed, "Life!"
I few months later I came home to find Berbie in a funk. "What's wrong?" I asked.
"Oh come on, Babe, it's not that bad!"
"But it is! I mean it, 'Life is Dead!"
Dumbfounded and clueless, I walked into our living room to find the cat on the couch lying on its side, stiff as a board.
"Oh, I get it... 'Life' is Dead!"
And so on, etc. etc.
How cool? "...Waaay Cool!" Cheers!
A Dog-Tale by Jason! Love,
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