Hop in! Where you headed?

I aim this blog at Hitchhiking stories, obviously. However, you can take that in the 'poetic' sense, as we are 'snakes' in time and the asphalt rivers take us to many places, as well as 'places'..

.... occasionally my own 'Road' spurs me to use this blog to communicate with someone I've 'travelled with' who holds a special meaning to me.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bob Dylan - 3rd party anecdote HE was hitchin'

Dateline Ashland, Oregon, 1970 ( unless my memory polices my precision post-post):

I'd been staying on High Street with Lydia and her friends. I think around that time my buddy Morley Hughes, whom I'd met when he'd been visiting Yakima a year or so before, was also living in Ashland. We hitched together alot--more to come about Morley. We all had an acquaintance, another long-hair, who lived in town, a tall fellow and I don't recall his name. He was employed though, which set him apart from us. But it was a cool job as late night/all night janitor at the Angus Bowmer Shakespearean Theater
I think we'd run into him in the afternoons sometimes in the local restaurant where sometimes the actors would have lunch.
I recall a burly actor in casual clothes who was playing Macbeth at the time loudly proclaim,
" WENCH! ANOTHER FLAGON OF COFFEE!" in his stage voice. Damn, he needed no amplification. Big Lungs, we'd call him if he was to become a character in this anecdote, but he's not.

Our janitor friend would generally get off work, then walk home through Lithia Park, named after the famous Lithia water, which perked from underground springs, and has a variety of minerals and chemicals, including lithium. I could struggle to make a connection here to Hollywood being a town of manics and how actors maybe could benefit from learning their craft in a town that provided such a liquid for free in their water fountains around town,......but I won't. The other 'aside' about the Park is that is that it was indeed designed by John McLaren, who also designed the Golden Gate park in San Francisco...and, whether they still survive there or not, there were Black Swans in the park when I was there, for the tourists among you, the hunters not so much.

Our janitor pal's place must have been on the little road that borders the park, probably near where I lived with Alaska John in my then future temporary home (another 'incarnation' in Ashland).

One day, after he awoke from his day sleep (night-shifters understand this), he trudged to the coffee shop/restaurant, and, in a very low keyed manner, very cool, like not-trying-to-impress us, he told us a tale of an encounter he'd made at dawn.

6 AM. Same day, earlier. He was tired. Probably mentioned lighting a joint for his short walk home, a small studio, I believe near the park. You walk through the park from the Angus Bowmer Theater then get to a place up-park where there used to be a home. The cement foundation is barely seen, but the steps leading up to where it had been are still used. The home had been on the park side of that little road I mentioned earlier. No other homes were on that side, I believe. The park folks probably tore it down or something when the park went in, but these cement steps remained and were used to climb to the road above. They were known as "The Wishing Steps", for the mythical purposes we all needed at the time . A good place to sit and enjoy a toke. Sun was still trying to get it's head over the 'sill' of the horizon.

So. As he lit a number, our bud saw a stranger parked on the top step, with a backpack. His recounting to us right then, in the same tone as he'd begun, included this at that point,"...it was Bob Dylan". No exclamation point. Very cool.
"I just greeted him, and asked where he was headed. He said he had a farmer friend in Yreka, NOT Eureka, and was hitchhiking to go see his friend. He stopped in Ashland to rest a bit and perhaps because his friend wasn't going to be home til afternoon.
"I said, 'I'm on my way home...you want some lumpy mush?' Dylan said, "Sure. Thanks." and we walked to my little place.
"As I reheated my lumpy mush on my little burner, I had the hi-fi playing Dylan tunes. I never asked his name, or mentioned his name. But it was Bob. No doubt.
"We enjoyed the mush, he said, "Thanks, man", and then hit the road."

I know what you're thinking. But I believed him. Never had a reason to doubt him.
My friend Evelyn and I saw Dylan with Waylon a few years ago in Portland. That was the second time for me. I'd seen him with The Band at the old Seattle Center Collisseum, in 1976, I think. My girlfriend, Laura is deaf, so she enjoyed my Mariott suite while Ev and I enjoyed the show. I enjoyed the element of lots of folks about my age who lived through the same things almost as much as Dylan himself. I play guitar. I think it's still true that I've forgotten more Dylan tunes than all the other tunes I do remember. But I kinda decided my favorite, if there is one, is Boots of Spanish Leather. It can make me cry. After the Portland show, I got back to Seattle and 'lifted' many different versions of that off the internet by various artists.
I then read his book, bought with his complete poetry, which I still am working through,saw the interview with Ed Bradley on TV, and am even more of a Dylanophile now.

This Ashland tale brings back warm and free and footloose memories for me. Perhaps to anyone else it isn't much, but I hope it is. If anyone knows this Morely Hughes, or someone named Lydia who may have been there in the early seventies, please relate this to them. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

..we're still on the A's..if it's alphabetical..I know! ALLEN GINSBERG!!

During my almost a year living in Denver Colorado from November 1972 to July of the next year when the First Rainbow Family Gathering in the Rocky Mountains drew me back towards my former reality as a Northwesterner, I developed an ambivalent memory set towards meeting Allen Ginsberg..ambivalence because I met him, but probably could have gotten to know him better.

I thought I was living in the old Antlers Hotel, a place of such rampant character that I was recently frankly amazed that I could Google not one story about it. Maybe one minor one, but it was so brief it was hard to tell. Other 'Antler Hotel's' arose form other eras, but not mine. Now I'm pretty sure I was instead living across from the Cathedral on Colfax over the pharmacy with the evil landlord pharmacist.

Daily labor was the name of the game. The hardest work I have ever done..and that includes harder than working cutting bottom vines in Yakima Valley hop fields, running ahead of the tractor and chopping through the bottom of the vines so that the guys in the crow's nests on the trucks following me could cut the tops so that the vines would fall nicely into the back of the truck. But at least in the case of these Denver days it was a different job every day. One day it would be jack hammering some guys basement; musta been six of us with jackhammers down there. Or else at a country club by the pool...not what you might think...sledge hammering through the cement to get to a broken pump by the pool.

Whatever it was on this particular day in 1973, I at least was working with a new friend, Richard, I had the fortune to meet up with. We had enough of a connection in this big 'melting pot' of a city to enjoy each other's company. We'd worked our asses off at some hard job, in fact I believe it WAS that pool job. Oh ! I forgot to say hardest work I've ever done AND the absolute worst pay, even for the times. The entire eight hour day netted us a check for just shy of a ten spot each.

So there we were. The company had given us a free ride back to the 'office' and our daily check. Ironically, we decided to celebrate and spend it all that afternoon in a nice little restaurant a few blocks north of Colfax, an Italian place that had a great spaghetti and Italian Sausage. So I think we both had that and a bottle of beer, wiping out our funds. We bonded over some spiritual stuff, got to know each other a little better. Then we paid our bill, after we were refreshed and full, and started to leave the cafe.

Immediately. There he was. Standing on the sidewalk with a woman who turned out to be either Italian or French, I forget. Allen Ginsberg. As if he'd been waiting for us. I was carrying my book, Gurdjieff's All and Everything, or Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson. Straightaway, Ginsberg mentioned it, recognizing the binding and the thickness of my book. He the explained that he and his female companion had I think gotten off the bus and were lost. He spoke of the Revolution, and that he was going there to greet the people who were camped out on the Capitol steps then. It was the time when Nixon had put mines in Hanoi Harbor. People were in protest over that.

I thought Ginsberg would know Denver, but the truth is the downtown area is like a big disk that has been turned so many degrees. Some of the street corners have little static compass sculpture things embedded in the sidewalks to help folks know where North is. They were trying to find the Capitol Building. Richard and I pointed them the way. So I guess we helped Allen Ginsberg through life, so to speak. I'll put that on my resume.

We said a friendly adieu and went our respective ways. Richard and I chatted more as we walked, he relating to me that this wasn't the first time he'd met Allen. Once in Washington Square Park in NYC, Richard witnessed Allen reading some poetry from a podium. Beside him he had a paper sack. As he read, he'd chosen to use a different technique to indicate to his rapt audience exactly where the exclamation points were. He would reach into the bag, clasping a handful of what apparently was human shit, and (EXCLAMATION POINT!!) SLAP it onto the pavement beside him!

Richard later introduced me to a band of spiritual brothers who were bonded by a similar bond I had been missing from my own 'brothers' from the North West whom I'd decided to take a hiatus from. I may write more about the Denver band of brothers later. Denver Tom. Clarke ( dangerously aware vs. sociopath--you'd have to meet him then decide for yourself, he defies description..i vow to try another time). The skinny guy sharply aware, and penetrating eyes. The cabby who apparently liked little boys, but nevertheless turned me on to Idries Shah's Sufi writings, which enjoyed very much over the years.

Throughout the week following meeting Ginsberg I saw him twice more. These other times are the times I kick myself about as both times I sensed he would have welcomed a conversation, but I think I was intimidated, undervaluing my own experiences..shucks.

One time I was walking by the Greyhound Station I think on the same street where we'd met. Inside, in the bus station coffee shop, Allen sat at a little table with a middle aged man, possibly a gay friend of his, but he glanced out the window and remembered me. He waved and smiled, and so did I. This icon. Made my day again. Ah, well.

The other time was across the steet from my little studio on Colfax, across from the Cathedral, just up Colfax from the Gold Domed Denver Capitol building, in a little coffee shop where I spent much time reading. I'd been there downing cup after cup from an hour or two around dinnertime when in walk three or four 13 or 14 year old boys with an older man who I did not ID right away as Allen. Then it hit me. He didn't see me this time. Perhaps because he looked preoccupied. I have no idea what was going on, but the boys did not seem to be particularly and/or sufficiently impressed with this American literary icon who accompanied them. Was he babysitting? Was he interested in something else?... I sure don't know. But his demeanor was, to my completely uninformed eye, depressed. Hunched over. Trying to hide, or uninterested in what the boys were actively talking about...wishing he weren't there. It seemed, if I was challenged to write about what I saw..as I am now challenging myself to do...that Allen was perhaps one of them, and not a very popular one.. like following them around. One can't know all about what one observes, but we always try to make sense of things. I guess I'd lay my money on babysitting a friend's kid and his buddies. Very surreal, but who knows! OK. No drama here. Not fur you, maybe. But it was a highlight in my life back then.

Monday, November 23, 2009



Organized by Boyd Grafmyre, held at Gold Creek Park in Woodinville.

I had a couple friends who got on as security for Boyd. Other entries regarding this event I may remember later, but for now it's the Doors that come to mind.
It was night time, or at least dusk, I seem to remember.
As it wasn't for an album, but an outdoor venue, the DOORS began an unobtrusive intro, which probably ended up being fifteen minutes or so. I think there was significant time space between acts so people were busy getting high or walking around. As each band's sound permeated the park people regrouped. It was no different with the DOORS except for this steady build up...very slow build up..like their songs have anyway, much of the time. bom-bom bu-bom-bom... on and on..before Morrison decided to start...
It was still building..minutes..minutes.. Jim stood there, holding the microphone on it's stand,moving it back and forth, nodding to the musical buildup. There was a small crowd right in front of the stage. As the music got a little louder... you just couldn't wait to hear Jim's first words. They had it down. But some folks in the very very front had stood up, in anticipation of Jim's first vocalization in the song. I forgot which one, but perhaps something like Riders on the Storm.
OK..Some other folks sitting ont he ground behind those very very front folks, had begun to kind of shout, "Sit down!! Down in front!!"
OK....by the way this made the papers the next day.
Jim Morrison, slowly.....slowly..with the building beat and music behind him...slowly cupped the microphone. He brought it to his mouth, all in 'synch' with the music...not losing the mood..but instead of singing, Morrison spoke. Slowly. Here is what he said:

"Hey!............All....YOU....People... Sitting Down......In BACK of.....the People.....Standing up......." Then he held up the significant middle finger, and finished the thought with, "..........FUCK.........YOUUU!!!".. Moments later, he started the lyrics.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The DOORS and Dr. Ben Casey in LA

Standing on a corner on Sunset Boulevard, perhaps the first time I was ever in LA, I'm guessing the same day I arrived by thumb. Waiting, waiting...--years later on another LA 'layover' on my way back from Mexico I was walking, walking walking up Sunset or down La Cienega, and some A-hole in a convertible yells out to me, laughing, "Get a car!!!!, Buddy! You're in LA now!". Guess he was right.--ok, back to waiting, waiting...still seeing the WAIT sign. A tall skinny fellow not carrying a backpack ( as I was carrying one) sidled up to the pedestrian crossing next to me and starting chatting...

I think we had some coffee at the Denny's on Sunset, or maybe IHOP. Then the subject got around to work.
"Hey, man...if you're looking for some work, I know a guy.." This guy he knew had been a manager for the DOORS, and the guy telling me this apparently had worked for this 'manager of the DOORS' fellow in the past, as a 'roadie', moving amplifiers, etc.
He knew where the guy's condo was a block or so off Sunset. After coffee, as the evening crept up on us, some other guy joined us, I think, and we found the condo, or apartment of the "DOORS manager" dude. But he wasn't home.
My acquaintance knew enough about this guy to convince his roommate that we were authentic, so he said, " Sure, come on in! He's working his own band now, but he'll be off around 4 AM or 5 AM maybe back here about 6, but you guys can crash in the living room chairs if you want." As I glanced around the room, the amplifier cases, black suitcase like things, had white paint stencils on them which indeed spelled "DOORS". So I give him the benefit of the doubt.
We chatted some, perhaps, and fell off to nap as the hours ticked by. Until about 6 AM, when the real person of the 'DOORS' manager guy got home.
My acquaintance awoke with his spiel ready, "Hey man! Remember me?! I worked for you a year or so ago! You're roommate said we could crash and wait. We're wondering if you have any work?"
The 'DOORS' guy didn't miss a beat.
"YOU!!", he shouted. "Yeah..(sarcastically)..I remember you, alright!...What the hell are you doing in my home!!??" then he went on about how he had not been happy with this fellow I was with as an employee.

At least I'd found a warm cozy place to catch a few winks, but once kicked back onto the street, I made light of it and we parted ways, I finding my way back to the IHOP or Denny's on Sunset. It may have been that same morning, as I hitchhiked down Sunset that a middle aged fellow named Sky with long hair, driving a Mustang ( convertible I think) gave me a lift and even bought me breakfast at Denny's. This SKY--another brush with fame-- told me as we drove down Sunset that Vince Edwards had slept on his floor before he got the role of Ben Casey. Sky, himself, was friendly and not looking for anything else, it seemed from a young man hitchhiking...but seemed to be looking for some attention he'd not succeeded in getting somewhere else. A lonely LA character. Gullible or not, I find no harm in giving these types the benefit of the doubt.

Highway 410 Landslide pics

Was a bit cloudy today but I wanted a look at the area. Laura and I had just driven by here 12 hours before the Highway 410 slide happened. Geologically, we just made it! 12 hours! ........( awaiting your amazement).....Did I say 12 hours?
I mean LOOK!!!