“The Straight on the Haight”
A true life saga from The Psychedelic Era of Love,
Drugs and Rock and Roll
by Reg E Williams
© 2006 All rights Reserved
Altered for the Web
Dedicated to the proposition that the Cosmic
Editor, Literary Agent and Publisher will soon appear.
A TRIP CENTER
The vision of creating a Trip Center has been lurking in the back of my mind since 1963 when I heard Leary and Alpert first describe a place for stoned people to hang out where the “set and setting” has been geared for the ultimate trip. After doing the lights for Butterfield this weekend creating Alpert and Leary's “Sensorium” seems more real now that I am a player. " It's Happenen!".
Dissolving the small white cap of Owsley's under my tongue makes it come on fast. The beautiful spring day beckons me outside, it must be time to explore the exterior Cosmos .'Go with the Flow cause A trip is a Trip.'
Leaving Justin's Baker Street pad I climb the hill of city blocks, full of cars and people before plunging into the deep woods of Buena Vista Park. Now under the tall canopy of Eucalyptus trees the sound of walking on the fallen bark disguises city noise. As I reemerge from deep shade into muted sun light above the terraced lawns that descend to the Christian Science Church we just picketed I wonder how the film I took of my old Sunday School came out. I got to pick them up. But not today.
Today I'm going to Golden Gate Park, walk to the Pacific and watch the setting Sun. I'll stop at my friend from State, Peyote Joel Stores on the way. I see his apartment on the same level just across the steep street from the woods that still shades me. By crossing the street I reenter the city and quickly climb wooden stairs to the third floor before knocking at an old wooden door blistered with faded paint.
Joel ushers me into his pad raising a two twisted fingers erect as one in front of his mouth then exhales a hush and rolls his eyes toward the back room where his old lady is practicing her piano. In a low voice asks " How's was that cap?" almost gurgling as if he is being effected by my psychedelic vibe. "I was just about to roll one. Come on in, sit down dig this." He plops down onto a pillow beside me and holds out a tray full of pot for me to examine then begins to clean it by pulling apart the large buds and fanning the green pile with a card shooting seeds to the bottom of the tray. Over the rapid fire pings he continues " Wow. Man, you got to be high right now. I 'm getting a contact high. "
I notice the colors deep with in his Persian rug are dancing with energy making the patterns flow like a current all over the floor. Simultaneously I hear his old lady practicing piano down the hall, someone talking down stairs and creaking foot steps from of the ceiling above. Reality compresses and time stretches before I answer, "I took an operational dose and I'm going to watch the sun set."
"The sundown stare ritual." referring to the practice I borrowed from Alexandria David Neil's description of a Tibetan yoga practice.
“ I don't know if that's so very wise”. He continues “ But dig this shit. It's Boss." He flares a match and lights the Lucky Strike size joint, snorting smoke out of both nostrils then passes it to me. He rises from his cushion and leaves the room. When he returns he is carrying a rectangular leather covered beaded box. Holding it reverently with both hands, he drops to the floor and sits cross legged placing the colorful sacred box on the floor in front of him. "Got this at the Meeting in Oklahoma to keep my rattle and the cosmos produced an eagle bone whistle to go along with it. " He pulls the small bone cylinder out and blows on one end. The high pitch screech emanates from the sacred summoning devise raising the hair on my neck. The sound travels beyond audible scale in a warble of vibrations trailing impulses on my ears which I feel but can't hear. He raises the rattle and spins the small smooth rocks inside the leather covered gourd which is decorated in red white and blue beads and sings in a high pitched voice in what sounds like an authentic plains Indian song. Stopping suddenly he takes the joint back and huffs at it several times waving the smoke around me with his decorated eagle feather "You want to buy some of this shit?"
"No, maybe later tonight when I come back."
"If it's still around. Been dry lately. This Shit ‘ll b go fast."
"We'll see what happens. Looking out the window to the west I rise to my feet, "Later on my friend." We hug.
` His building is perched high above Haight Street so I sidewalk slalom straight downhill to Haight Street.
As I cross Masonic I notice that many buildings are vacant making the neighborhood an eerie urban ghetto movie set. The boarded up windows effect my trip trying to turn it into a frightening one, by focusing and attaching to a D.D.D. Bardo rather than a beatific one. The DDD trip coined by Justin taken from Charles Adams cartoon book " D ear D ead D ays" describes a trip set off by some intrusive reminder of D eath, D estruction, and D ecay and can result in a highly agitated mental state that then colors every thought and action' I suddenly flash. 'A person usually in the wrong " Set & Setting" might get locked into creating a bum trip complete with physical death like symptoms. Here the inner city squalor with over half the businesses boarded is a graveyard of broken dreams. Dusty "For Rent" signs loom behind cracked plate glass storefronts on both sides of the street. The sky is blocked by a tangle of wires overhead. I take in a few deep breaths and refuse to attach to any of the apparent evil decay I see surrounding me. As I continue walking I remind myself of the positive power of life. Light begins to penetrate the old façades lending a more cheerful ambiance in the Street. The Haight is a "cup half full" because "For Rent" could also mean new affordable opportunities are available here and now to anyone with gumption and the ability to as Bill says "Shuck on Thru".
The neighborhood is obviously in transition. Eastern European immigrants who had followed the Irish Americans are being replaced by Black Americans determined to break free from the Fillmore ghetto while the prospering Chinese and Japanese Americans leapfrog to surrounding hillsides in route to the Richmond and Sunset. Artists and writers, folksingers and beatniks can't afford Bohemian North Beach with rents pushed by topless, skyrocket are landing here in the Haight.
The smell of ground meat deep fried in dough pockets wafts down the side walk from the Peroski Palace as I cross Cole drawing me inside. The counter is jammed with SF State students and young adults of all ethic and racial backgrounds chatting loudly while eating the cheap hot meal. Just inside the door I stand by the old fashioned cash register and order a preoski to go from Momma Peroskli herself. After paying I take mine and squeeze through the folks hanging out on the sidewalk. The neighborhood's younger generation, many attending SF State, are dressed in the same pea coats and eclectic garb as the newcomers and both are friendly to changing urban dynamics. They are as vehemently anti war as we are. The same reasons applies. Funny their parents and grandparents who have fled maniacally meddling militarists wasting a generation as cannon fodder still frown at me from under their black shawls before hurrying down the street wishing it was yesterday. A rising tide of artists, artisans, Heads, intellectuals, Diggers, dealers and merchants are starting to grab up vacant rooms, flats, houses and now, the vacant storefronts. This could lead to a renaissance antiwar community of artists, artisans, and hip merchants.
After finishing the fifty cent meal and seeing no one I know I start to split through the crowed doorway. Looking across Haight street at the bent Cole Street intersection I am startled by the towering Marquee of the Old Haight Movie Theater. The huge long abandoned theater's once magnificent façade has faded taking on the anonymity of the surrounding squalor making it hard to notice. I cross the street to the boarded up entry doors behind the tiled ticket booth under the giant sign's canopy and peer into one unboarded door's beveled diamond shaped window but see only darkness. A weathered note tacked to the door reads "Inquires taken at 1746 Haight." My heart begins pounding in anticipation of receiving a Cosmic Gift as I walk the few steps West on Haight to McFarland's Hardware store.
The thin white haired proprietor dressed in a tan apron is alone in his sparsely provisioned store stands behind a cracked glass plate counter with one hand tucked in a drawer out of sight. "What do you want?" he asks through clenched teeth.
"I saw the sign on the theater's door saying you had the key. I'd like to see inside. What's the rent on it?".
"Can't say. You'll have to talk to the Nob Hill realtors that manages it." He abruptly retorts.
"Who owns it?"
"That theater and most of this block belongs to an Estate. You can call Mrs. Center over there she works for the Broker. She'll answer all your questions." He looks at me straight in the eyes like it's some kind of show down never taking his hand from the drawer. "They got time for questions I don't." He hands me a business card with his free hand. "Copy down the number on that pad of paper and leave the card on the counter."
"I'd still like to see inside first. Can I have the key?" comes my smiling query.
"What do you want with a rundown movie theater in this neighborhood? The furnace been broken for ten years that I know of. Never mind here's the key." He says handing me a shinny key attached to a large block of wood by wire. " You can't see in there. There's no light. Got no electricity at all. The queers that operated that place last tore all the copper wire out of the whole building and sold it from what I hear. Want to buy a flashlight? I got several to choose from?"
"Could I borrow one? I don't need another one."
"Then where is yours when you need it? You got a five dollar deposit? I lost one before plus the key when this feller never came back." He says reaching for a dented once chrome flashlight without revealing his hidden hand.
I leave the deposit and scurry back to the theater. Open the door and shine the small beam into the darkness. The Lobby looks like its done a "Sleeping Beauty" growing spider webs and sprouting dust while patiently waiting to awake. The green walls haven't been painted for decades but the solid glass counters and solid tile floor only need of cleaning and decorating. I cross the lobby to the right hand door leading into the auditorium and am overpowered with the stench of old mold. I shine the dwarfed beam through the gloom revealing long strips of paint peeling from the ceiling some sixty feet above me. Sweeping the light over the tall walls and proscenium stage I whoop out loud, " The biggest cyclorama in the city." I almost gag from the mold smell and lower the beam letting it race across the backs of a sea of dark theater chairs. Every one has spawned a blanket of spotty white mold. I gag again and run toward the exit doors stage right. As I reach them I slip on the slick carpet and almost fall into an unseen puddle. Hiding in the darkness this rainwater constantly leaking under the door had become catalyst for the mold. But it also indicates the lack of interest anyone else has in the place. Throwing open the double metal doors lets in a blaze of sunshine, fresh air, and reveals a vacant dirt lot stretching away to the west.
I open the other lower exit doors on the west away from Cole Street and returning through the lobby climb the stairs to open the doors on the West side of the balcony letting the light shine in since who knows for how long. The Balcony's center row hangs over the auditorium providing a perfect place to set up a giant light show which could cover the stage and adjoining walls. I give silent thanks to the One Mind that governs the Cosmos and think, "How Cosmic." I lean over the balcony and yell out loud "Right On!" a chorus of reinforcing responses echoed off every wall
I ignore the mold growing over every seat, the broken
furnaces, and almost insurmountable electrical problems. I see only the giant 40 foot high walls surrounding the orchestra seating area and stage with a short throw from the balcony to project liquid lights, slides, and films. A Sensorium is what Leary and Alpert
would call it. " A TTrripp Palace." I yell to the empty theater.
Climbing the stairs to the upper balcony I try the projection room door. It's locked but standing on the backs of chairs I can see there is no projection equipment. On the way to check out the stage I pass by an office on the mezzanine level which is barren except for two old office desks which practically fill whole the space. A small window opens onto Haight Street below and Cole Street as it rises up the hill. Thick plush carpet pads my footsteps as I cross through the mezzanine. In the middle two large mirrors momentarily cast my endless reflection back into the dark reflection of a long couch The flash light and the endless darkness. What a perfect place for people to hang out away from the action like any good Sensorium should. The stairs to the lobby are symmetrical to the ones on the west. At the bottom I pass quickly through the lobby push open the doors to the auditorium and return down to the stage. ‘McFarland said there were no lights but this is dark.'
I find two small dark dressing rooms down each side of the wide proscenium stage. At the East end the stage has double doors that open directly onto Cole I discover as I open them and quickly close them fearing undo attention. “Low Pro” but thiese doors will make for Easy load ins. This place is huge but intimate' I flash. I close the fire doors one by one returning the cavern into total gloom. A howling and rattling sound emanates from somewhere beyond the high ceiling raising my hackles. As I lock the front door the mold's smell rushes out around the closing door on some cold current of air.
I head up Haight to return the key and flashlight my mind racing. I have got to make this happen but how with no bread not even chump change.
As I enter the door Mr. MacFarland hurries to get back behind the counter then sees it's me returning his property. He retracts his hand from the drawer exposing an old 38 caliber police revolver. " Had to shoot a couple of would be robbers just yesterday" He points at the large bullet hole he had put into his own plate glass store window. "Damn them, they ought to just stay down in the Fillmore where they belong. Oh I called Mrs. Senter and said you might be calling. Are you?"
"That's for sure. What about my deposit?"
He grabs the bill and whips it toward me. " I never make anything at all for all my trouble." He grumbles.
"It's going to take a lot of hardware and supplies to fix that theater.” I say over my shoulder as I leave.
"You can bet on that, young Bub." He shoots back before I reach the decal covered door.
I beeline to Bill's new pad. For years we have been organizing Anti war mobilization and rallies for the Auto Row sit ins, supporting Berkley activity and at State. Last year we organized an all night Teach In Multi Media Event presenting noted speakers, Vincent Hallenan and IF Stone, rock music by The Sopwith Camel who had just reached the charts with "Hello, Hello" and jazz by John Handy's Big Band all in a large Quonset hut on campus. When we became Intrepid internal explorers I trusted his thinking above most others. I'm so enthusiastic he quickly shares the vision becoming my partner.
First we have to call the Nob Hill Real Estate Operators just to get preliminary details like the rental price and terms.” I a say as we walk to the local market phone booth. I get Mrs. Senter on the phone and after a minute I'm talking to Bill Baldwin who says that he is Executor and property manager for the Haight Theater which is a small part the extensive holdings of the Mary Sproul Estate.
"You mean as in Sproul Hall at University of California?" 'Wow haven't been there since the last protests' I keep to myself.
"One in the same. Listen I know it's run down but we are not investing any more money into the place. You'll have to cover everything yourselves needed to bring the place up to code before you can open to the public. You'll need a building permit to start. That means submitting acceptable plans to the city before you even get a go ahead. Then pass the electric, pluming, heating inspections. You'll need a health permit and meet their inspections. Finally anyplace with a capacity over fifty people needs a Public Assemble Permit. Can you do all that?"
"Sure between me and my partners we can have it open in six weeks. What's the rent?" I take a drag on the big joint Bill has brought and pass it back without letting it be heard over the phone.
" Leased for a year its $500 a month. Options for renewal after that for from one to three years depending on out mutual feeling at that time. After the lease runs out, of course, any capital improvements will remain the property of the landlord. We can throw in the lease for the Masonic Hall next door for only $250 a month more"
"I think we will work on the Theater by itself, at least for now." I equivocate," Can I have a week to decide? I need to do a feasibility plan"
" Well drop by the office and I'll give you a the last market study that was done by a theatrical exhibiting outfit. "
" We don't plan on showing feature films."
"Oh how's that. I don't want another church or anything off color. You understand? He inquires.
"Yes sir. We are going to hold musical concerts and use the money to underwrite an acting and dancing company which will also perform in the theater. " I pass on from some previous rap session.
"All above board? Is that correct? He pushes.
"Yes, Sir. And our Lawyer is Herb Resner an associate with Melvin Belli. We will consult with him and get back within the week."
"That would be advisable as there are other parties expressing interest. I'll give you a week."
“ Do you think he has other “ interested parties? Bill says handing back the roach as we head back up the street.
We beat it across town to the Nob Hill office in Bill's bright red 60 Ford landing in front of a small apartment building behind the Pacific Union Club on manicured tree lined Pacific Street. I see through the hedged park grandmother's California Street apartment as a clanging cable car heads West. It takes a while to find a parking place but Bill soon finds a space big enough to wedge into.
Bill opens the wrought iron lobby latticed door flashing our leaf cut prepy image in an arc. Button down Brooks and Roos Brothers polo shirts and we both wear khaki pants. Pacfic heights look. We step across the white marble entry hall the sound of ur penny loafers slapping back from the Nineteen twenty ceiling only stop as we step into a thick carpeted antique elevator and ride up a few floors to the seat of this Old California family power.
As we enter a wood paneled suite occupying the Bay side of the building I say to the lady waiting there “ What a glorious San Francisco view.”
Mrs. Senter dressed in a severe dark suit sticks out her hand as she rises from behind an imposing Napoleon III desk “ Yes it is. I am holding down the office while Mr. Baldwin is out. Here is the feasibility study made in 1964 by prospective film exhibitors.” She says handing a small pile of paper stapled together to Bill. "Mr. Baldwin has left for the river. He runs a rice farm there in the Delta. He wanted me to mention the necessity of immediately obtaining full liability insurance coverage. Do you have a current policy or one you can put into effect?"
"No" I respond. "How much?"
"You must maintain and show proof of one million dollars coverage. Who is your agent?"
"I have several that we use." Bill maintains earnestly.
"Well Mr. Baldwin said you could have 10 days to decide and he would waive rent for two months while you perform necessary repairs. Here's a key. You may inspect the building as needed for estimates but no work is to be performed until the insurance is in place. Return the key if it doesn't work out"
We leave with the first piece of tangible reality in hand. Bill looks as happy as the children swinging in the tiny hill top park just across the narrow Street.
The sun has passed over the steep hill leaving the bottom of Fell Street in deep shadows when we reenter Bill's wooden frame flat. We begin to analyze the lengthy prospectus like having an intense rap session. After a few minutes Bill looks up from the pages and begins boiling down the stilted information.
"It was once a proud vaudeville Theater built in 1912 with perfect acoustics. You can hear a whisper from the stage anywhere in the house. It converted to movies in the twenties. It has seen duty during war and peace until the early 1960's when the changing racial ethnic and economic patterns swung toward inter city urbanization which uprooted the previously homogeneous neighborhood. The Haight Theater closed then reopened as a short lived Black Abasinnian Church followed by a Devoutly Gay advocacy group which emanated its message by radio from with in the hallowed walls." Bill interpolates.
"That's when the heavy gauge copper wire supposedly disappeared, leaving the gutted facility useless since." I add "But that's one reason it could become our very own TRIP Center, no one else want to deal with it."
Bill seeing that I have finished cleaning and rolling a Bill sized joint from out of his stash box exclaims "Ah Rollen Reggie doze it again."
"I used to be the champ until you converted" I retort from behind the glowing orb. Snorting cloud of smoke I pass it to Bill." Now you've got the title. You know maybe I can get a loan from LC Smith that will tide us over until the money starts coming in the door."
"Yeah, Maybe Herb can help, too. He's a little down now though. Who else? What about Justin?
“ Maybe when he finds out if he's going away.I prefer to get the money ourselves with out selling out to anyone . He'd just take over."
What's the Ching say?" Bill points to the dark bound book of ancient Chinese scriptures which outlines the daily method that leads toward creating the orderly life of the Superior man resulting in a peaceful and prosperous society. Bill's book is becoming worn from constant use. I recall that Jung in introducing this edition out lines the scientific basis for this forecasting method. We have become totally convinced during psychedelic out of the body experiences directly merging with mind cruising the highest Bardo Alpert Leary named" The Clear White Light" that we pervade mass traveling through time and spac even beyond time's boundary. This freedom allows Subconscious and Superconscious to reach out beyond our corporeal being to deliver and retrieve vibes from the present, past, and future. The strength, importance, and usefulness of these vibes are modified by personal perception as it is intensified by deep focused concentration.
Bill has changed back into his stripped tea shirt and as he breathes deeply touches his love beads then scoops up six copper pennies out of a small pile of silver coins. He shakes the coins concentrating. His arms ripple as he casts the coins skittering across the wood floor. "Hey, wait up. You should throw you found it." He says.
"To late, Even number. Solid. Let's alternate. " I gather in the three copper pennies. I shake them toward the ceiling breathing deeply then expel the Bedouins of fortune onto the floor.
"Two twos and a three seven. Odd." Bill announces. He sweeps up the empowered coins in a single swoop. Shedding them as quickly he creates a Changing Even line by rolling all heads. “Six”.
“Broken changing to Solid.” I say rolling all Heads. " Another Six. Another Broken line changing to Solid." Then hand the coins to Bill.
He rocks forward and releases. The first two coins are Heads the other rolls toward the door before falling over Tails side up. " an other Broken. No Changes. Last chance."
The eight which started the session appeares again as the last cast.
"the first hexagram is Kun, the Receptive Earth over the Abysmal Water, Kan." He flips the whole big black book from
the opening Yi Chin plates to the index found on the very last page. His fingers fly from the index to the chapter in question. " Number Seven, Shih, The Army.”
“The Army is like water stored in the earth. Like ground water the Army is never visible during peace, manifests only for a righteous victories war, and afterward these people return to the land like water stored in the earth.” I paraphrase.
“Danger, inside and outside, obedience and discipline. The strong line represents the efficient General not the Ruler as if found in the upper trigram. Efficient authority creates obedience. 'The Judgment: The Army needs perseverance and a strong man. Good fortune without blame.' It requires a strong man who captures the hearts of the people and awakens their enthusiasm.”
“I know. He needs the confidence of the ruler and a justifying cause, a clear and intelligible war aim which is conveyed to the people getting them to pledge themselves to the cause creating a strength of unity leading to victory.” I jump a head.
“Yea.” Bill continues “Then afterward guard against the passion of war and delirium of victory do not give rise to unjust acts with widespread disapproval.”
“Yea. But what do the Changes say?”
“Six in the Third. Perchance the army carries corpses in the wagon. Misfortune. Means the General's authority is usurped.”
“ This really sounds like Nam. A war with no widespread support with evil motives with unjust acts and worldwide disapproval.” I interject.
“ The "Mast” was just sent home. He'd been over there almost a year or a hundred body count but not out. They gave him escort duty. He escorts the endless stream of corpses in aluminum caskets from the Presidio to San Bruno.”
“ Yeah You told me. So he's out now?”
“Not Yet. This hexagram sounds like the army has carried corpses in wagons for quite a while. But what's it mean to me? To us?”
“Six in the Fourth. A Retreat from hopeless struggle saves defeat.”
“Still sounds like Nam.”
“Six in the Seventh. When the war is over the King and Prince found states and dispense fiefs as the reward for loyalty. But the superior man uses only cash to pay off inferior people.”
“OK That sounds like it could be applied widely. I think the theater will bring people out of the woodwork. The Good Bad and Ugly.
But as of now we don't have any money to get it.”
“We have a piece of the action to sell to contributing investors. We're producers” Bill's wide grin reveals more than he says.
“What's it Change to?” I continue.
“The Caldron. Nourishment. Clinging Fire above, Li with Sun, The Gentle Wind Wood below. The Ting or Caldron is only one of two man made objects used as major lessons in the I Ching. This vessel reflects civilization both in the spiritual and mundane world. It celebrates the ancestors in temples and feeds fosters and nourishes able men who can then return benefit to the State. Wood nourishes the Flame or Spirit. All that is visible must grow beyond itself, extend into the realm of the invisible. Thereby it receives its true consecration and clarity and takes firm root in Cosmic Order. Here Civilization's culmination is seen in religion. The Ting serves in offering sacrifice to God. The highest earthly values must be sacrificed to the Divine. The truly Divine does not manifest itself apart from man. The supreme revelation; God appears in prophets and holy men. The will of God revealed through them should be accepted in humility: this brings inner enlightenment and true understanding of the world and leads to great good fortune and success. The fate of fire depends on wood. There is in human existence a fate that lends power to life. Assigning the right place to life and fate and harmonizing them he puts his own fate on a firm footing. These words contain hints about the fostering of life as handed on by oral tradition found in the secret teachings of Chinese yoga.”
“ Wow stoke the fires and live cosmically."
“Ha, Shuck on thru if I ever heard it. We'll stoke the fires. The Cosmos says yes. Shuck on Thru." The car noises increase as the waves of commuter cars come rushing down Fell competing to be first onto the freeway ramp.
He hands me his blue binder "You want to see some of the pages I written for the Super paper. We have to at least get the preliminary drafts approved in a week or so. Read this."
I began reading his clear handwriting.
"The United States, today, is extremely close to being the pinnacle of civilization. Science, technology and resources have bequeathed us the means with which to satisfy man's physical and emotional wants, while simultaneously providing the leisure time and expanded knowledge necessary for the world's greatest renaissance.
" My rendition became oratorios." He interjects.
" But before any humane technical machinery can be activated, certain basic inconsistencies, which have been present since before our cultural inception must out of dire immediate necessity be resolved.'
This is Cool. Man. 'The time bomb like quality of recent technological advances has exposed a monstrous duality effecting the course of mankind. Cyber-nation is the ultimate computer control over an Industrial Society. Will the leisure time generate a renaissance or rioting?"
The shrill door buzzer interrupts and Tom, Bill's brother, passes through the old Victorian door. A harmonica box is sticking out of the pocket of his blue work shirt.
"How dee. I see you're not ready to split to North Beach. You said you had to work. The rehearsal starts in less than an hour. "
He says to me then to Bill " Want to come over to hear the Band rehearse. Begruean said he'd be there at Harwanes. You can drive us over in the new Red Rag."
"Whose in the Band now?" I ask.
"Cousin Robert, Johnny Cambode, a guy from Marin" Tom answers.” And a guy named Bard Dupont is co managing with J.B.
"Parking is always a bitch but it's midweek. Were gone."
We get in Bill's bright red and pull away from the Fell Street frenzy heading to North Beach on city streets by passing the clogged freeway.
"Tell him, Reg." Bill prompts.
" I found a multimedia theater in the Haight. It's abandoned and available. It's a natural trip center. Got it tied up for a month while I inspect, see about permits and fix the place up. "
"What about loot? The juice? The scoot?" Tom fires.
'I'm going to see LC Smith for a loan to start. Then we will bring in some investors. Hopefully silent ones. Open the place and charge $2. Holds up to 1500 people per Concert times that many dates and we'll be pulling in thousands a week. Doing just what we want. No Bosses, no bullshit."
”I was just up at Justin's and he always has money he can free up from some account or trust." Tom interjects.
Bill pipes in "Reg doesn't want to tell Justin at this point because he thinks he'll take over.
"Gene Pool Wars. He's going to Lompoc for a fucking year at least. " Tom cuts. "Probably this month."
"I love Justin and appreciate everything he has done for me including introducing me to Bill Graham and Tony Marten at the Fillmore but I want to explore some other possibilities first. OK?" Even I can hear my note of irritation.
We have climbed the hills heading North then barrel East through the Broadway tunnel snaking our way through the narrow old world streets of North Beach until we reach Upper Grant Avenue.
" Wow man a parking space right in front. Good sign."
The narrow street leading to Coit Tower allows parking only on one side. but directly below the four story wooden building a car leaves the spot to us.
We pass through the wooden gate to get to the open rear stairwell that climbs floor by floor to the roof arm in arm with the wooden staircase of the neighboring building. We climb to the third floor front apartment of Bob a professional photographer and his small family. The Band, set up in the living room, is already playing.
Tom quickly jumps in grabbing his harp with one hand and an open mike with the other. His vow to stop cutting his hair makes sense now when it rushes forward as he grabs a high sustained note shaking his head with them electric blues. Bill slaps my shoulder motioning to the stairwell. He couples arms with John Begruen, the bands manager and long time Seaclif friend, also leading him away. The young balding blond President of the Yong Democrats and leader of a State contingent to Selma last summer. We climb the wooden steps between the buildings until we reach a deck built over the flat roof. Bill's match flares as he lights the fat joint before passing it to his long time friend. "What's goin on?" they say in unison.
Just down the hill the sun, dropping below the Golden Gate, radiates its most golden rays.
"Oh Man I was supposed to be at work an hour ago. Later on. Man'" I say over the rock music blaring from below. I bound down cream yellow staircase two steps a time until I reach the basement. I turn into the door of a long basement workshop and see the string of lights shinning up through the long continuous sawhorse table. The arraigned glass focuses vivid color all over the walls.
"Hello" I tentatively call out.
"I'm here." responds the ruby cheek artisan dressed in a glassmakers apron emerging from the front of the shop. David Arnold was the glass artist commissioned to create the world's longest glass mural and install it at the Hilton Hotel downtown. He has to finish before hotel construction is completed. He is also my boss. With arms folded in mock disapproval he continues " The word deadline mean anything to you? Where you been. I got a new shipment of Virginia Plate just about calling your name." He hands me a leather apron while leading me to the large pallets of colored glass one foot squares formed one inch thick.
Soon I'm sitting at my stool like apprentices of old working away the hours chipping the large colored glass squares into assorted shapes and sizes while the artist places the pieces into a continuous translucent mosaic stretching down the never ending table. I rhythmically chop form out of pure color showering a glass rainbow to the floor. Rock music wafts in from the floors above.
"Triangle and two rounds, coupla recs." He warbles.
I am momentarily transfixed by the streaming beauty of a deep rose colored strand twisting through the gleaming crystal I am chopping into pieces. A beam of green light blends the master into a tunnel of colored lights. Wow the joint smoked on the roof must have kicked the psychedelic."
"You want me to stop and bring them now? " I stack another completed round in front of my stool on the floor waiting for the answer.
"No don't stop cranking." The electric blues resonating down the old tenement through the air and up from the ground. Suddenly a sour note pierces out above the rest. "Ow, that one hurt." David moans
Hours later after the rehearsal has broken up the piles of deeply colored glass shapes are at attention in front of me surrounding the artist laying out his mosaic. Why don't you take off? I have plenty and you've put in four hours."
I walk out into the steep narrow streets of upper Grant moving from the glistening shroud of one old street lamp to the next toward the phallic beacon that sits on top of Telegraph Hill. Several blocks up the hill and down an alley the light over a basement apartment door is off leaving the alley in darkness. My old friends are already in bed so I hesitate to knock even though I need a place to crash on a familiar floor.
"Hi" a cheery voice sounds from across the darkness." I haven't seen you for a while what's you been doing? Drop out of School.?" The sweet familiar voice jells with the approaching dark clad figure.
" I live up there, now." She points over her head to a flat several floor above. "You know I think they went out awhile ago the Jaguar is usually parked there. How's State treating you? "
"Nancy? " I call out as the brunette beat Chick approaches.
Her black straight sweater tight black skirt and black leotards have invoked her Beat rebellion against Beehive America since Junior College "I haven't seen you for a while around State. Drop out?"
"You want to come up and smoke some pot? I have some pretty good stash. You still get high? ' She tugs my suede jacket and looks at my wide whale cords. " You ever get back into student government after Junior College?"
" I switched to protest. You know organizing antiwar student mobilization, civil rights. The administration at State is really promiltaryestablishmentarinaizm."
"No shit, Little Beaver. Come on." She leads across the alley through a wooden gate up to her apartment. We smoke a joint on her couch. I notice that her previous JC awkwardness in being tall is gone. In its place is a confidence, ease, and grace with a body matured into shapely womanhood. She had always been one of the thinkers and doers at College of San Mateo and one of the people I began early psychedelic experimentation with while I was Chief Justice of the Student body. She had stopped wearing makeup and her natural warmth radiates.. Her previously restrained breasts are now bra free giving the sweater a whole different effect as she talks and gently sways passing the joint. She looks up sweetly with her brown eyes sparkling and puts the joint in my mouth. " Were you going to spend the night at Fankie and Larry's? You can crash here if you want. Right here if you want." She leans across me to arrange a sofa pillow.' " If you want."
Great" I snort with an exhale of smoke. I crash on their floor a couch is great."
She turn out the lights leaving the moon over Coit Tower streaming in the narrow window." You look tired."
"Yeah and I got a Doctor's appointment in the morning."
" nothing serious I hop."
" Not that kind of Doctor.'
"What do you mean?"
"I have been called up ordered to report for the physical. But fuck them I'm a psychedelic ranger and I know they don't want me they just don't know it yet. Beside I refuse to be the first one I know to go, That's what we always say. You don't mind.?" I stretch out and she kisses me on my forehead goes through the pull out doors to her mattress under the window., The moon emblazons a cross on the wooden floor and fills the room with pale cream light as staccato head lights occasionally flash across the ceiling .
I must have dosed off because I see her stand up back lit by the moon as she strips the leotards down her legs then lowers her skirt like an pleated theater curtain. She quietly crosses over to her small bathroom and snaps on the light and opens the mirrored cabinet. She withdraws her hand in a blur and with her back turned to me raises one leg on the toilet. She spins snaps off the light and comes through the pool of moon light takes me by the hand and leads us back to her alcove. Droping to the mattress on the floor under the window she says " I don't have another blanket you'll just have to share mine. Mind? Nothing serious just share my blanket". She rolls over facing the city beyond and I hop out of my boots and jeans. When I get under the covers she scooches over toward me backwards until we fit like spoons. Sighing "Good night." with a slight exhale she leans backwards offering her lips. We gently kiss. Her shapely breasts strain to get out of the buttoned black sweater. I help the cause. I can feel her skirt moving up her legs. I had always found her handsomely attractive but now she had become gorgeous, the total embodiment of a natural woman who didn't need societies props, style cops, and cosmetics to be a natural female and feel and act frankly sexual.
"Now's Babies," The smooth rich voice of Sly Stone almost croons over the air waves. "From KSOL downtown San Francisco check this one out." He hums then improvises over the record he spins out to his loyal hip new crossover audience of heads.
We move to the music ebbing and flowing probing and contracting until finally the eruption of pleasure. " Thank you ." She whispers inexplicably. I don't know what to say so I let Sly do the entertaining until we fall sleep. Out the window a few blocks up the steep hill a crescent moon seems to mount the illuminated phallic tower dedicated to love.
Dr Francis Rigney lives and practices here at 2235 Webster Street in the center of a hedgerow of gingerbread Victorians is famous for two things. I'm here to see him about his renewed popularity. I am lucky he squeezed me in. A slight man impeccably dressed in a pastel button down shirt and bow tie ushers me through 1900 Vienna to a small office drawing room at the end of a short hall. He motions subtly to the couch as he sits in an upright chair. I am overcome by terrifying memories
"Then I'd start shaking and would piss down my leg totally soaking my pants making a pool on the floor. This would make him madder. He could pick me up with one hand and hit me closed fist with the other, If I turned my back he'd kick me with his wing tip shoes"
"When was the first time you remember?" Lying on a Viennese couch to small to stretch out on or so I had thought at first buffers questions which sends me back through time and space without losing intensely emotional memories.
" I was maybe seven. He told me to let the dog out. I broke a pane of glass as I pushed against the stuck wooden frame. Dad swooped in from the front room and picked me up and hit me in one motion, In a blur I spit out chipped teeth. Mother told the family dentist while he applied a silver cap that I had fallen while chewing a butterscotch ball."
"How long did you have the silver toothcap?"
"Three or four year."
"Authority figures. "
" I said it figures. How did you escape from the violent enviorment?
'ran away and got married when I was 18. Lasted for about a year. She and I were both virgins until then unlike most other teens."
"But earlier when did you actually become sexually aware?
" Oh, man when I was young every body on the block was into it."
"Evey attic or unused dog house was a play doctors office. Licking and touching was unrestrained boys and girls were equally adventurous. The older kids told the younger and the we found out about it in pairs by exploring on our own. It was all fun and mutual for the most part. Once I caught the boy across the street tying up Tanya in the bushes covering the turnaround at the end of the block. She was terrified and sobbing so I plunged in and rescued her. She just thanked me again a week ago.
“ For the most part it was mutual fondling society. I've always loved girls especially physically and took risks maybe more than most of my peers but not all. The girls have always been at least as adventitious They have always played night spy. They'd been out in the dark playing spying peeping games, I know grammar school and high school. As a generation we are becoming freer. There's even organized orgies"
"Yes I have heard of the Sexual Freedom League. You obviously smoke pot right.
"Sure, everyone I know does.
"When did you first get high?
"Not till college."
"You didn't smoke or drink in high school."
"Sure everyone did."
"What about earlier?
"No mood altering activity?"
"Well at our parents parties we would take deep breaths and stand up fast and fall over. Or spin till the room fell over and you'd come to looking up at the ceiling. Is that what you mean?
" Only mind manifesting organic substances like pot or hash or LSD, Rollos, Anything sacred from any ancient cultures like magic mushrooms or peyote. We used uppers for finals but no hard drugs like heroin or meth. Never have or will geeze if you please. I'm into the mind and spirit if you know what I mean."
"Yes I am quite familiar with the bohemian scene."
" I know you wrote "The Hip 400"
" It was actually called “The Real Bohemia” I see the hour has come and gone. Would you please return in a week I think I can help you with your problem without to much to do beyond another session or two."
“ My migraines or military status' I wonder.
"A Trip Center" by Reg E. Williams