Sunday, July 12, 2015

Channeling The Grateful Dead Minus…

Channeling The Grateful Dead Minus…

From The Pen Of Sam Lowell

No I was never a “deadhead,” never would have accepted that designation in any case if somebody tried to lay that moniker on me although in the old days, the days of the 1960s mad dash to seek a newer world that got trashed about seven million ways before the deal went down and “the authorities,” as my mother used to say when speaking of the ruling class or its agents, pulled the hammer down and soured a whole generation, no, make that three generations now since they are still furiously trying to keep us in lock-down mode, I went out in San Francisco by the moniker Prince of Love. But that was strictly among the brethren, those who were, literally, my mates on the yellow brick road converted school bus which a group of us called home for a couple of years as we went up and down the coast looking for the heart of Saturday  night, looking for the great blue-pink American West night, hell, maybe just looking to turn the world upside down and see if that was any better than the gruel that was on tap, was being force-fed to us for no known reason.

No, as well, I never went to one of their sold-out stoned out concerts which was something of a ceremonial rite of passage for those who did consider themselves “Dead Heads” and insisted that each and every time out they eat so much acid, smoke so many reefers, swallow some many bennies just like the very first time they hear the Dead in order to get that same guitar rush. And taking something from sports figures and their superstitions wear the same outfit each time to be washed clean by the Dead magic (of course those who never gave up the tradition had pretty threadbare outfits before Jerry went over the top, went to see the “fixer” man to get well one more time, one time too many). So like I say despite the voodoo stuff I have any number of friends who were/are ardent fans and they seem to be, well, normal, normal except in those flashback moments where they see “colors, man, colors,” would have “far out” experiences when they would/will get ready for a Dead concert. (Remind me to tell you sometime about a friend of mine from back in Carver, a town about thirty miles south of Boston, who to give you an idea of the tenor of the times back then went from a foul-mouthed corner boy, actually using that moniker, he said it turned the girls on, to “Far-Out Phil” when he came West to join us.) So even the best of them would succumb until the wheels kind of fall off….for a while.  

But here is my take on the Dead just to keep things in perspective, just to keep things right. I, after a couple of years on the road out there, and maybe not directly in the inner circle of the hippie/drug/literary scene but close enough to get tangled up in the new dispensation I like to look at the connections, the West Coast connections, where a lot of the energy of the 1960s got its start or if started elsewhere got magnified there. Draw the lines, if you will, from the wild boy alienated, there is no other word that says it so well, bikers over in Oakland and the edges of other working-class towns, mostly white, mostly with some kind of Okie/Arkie background roaring up the streets of Squaresville in search of the village daughters and putting the fear in the average citizen who thought Attila the Hun’s kin had descended, but remember that alienated part that is the hook-in, hot rod after midnight “chicken run” runners out in the valleys, alienated too but with a little dough and some swag and a hell-bend desire to go fast, go very fast, if for no other reason than to breakout of  valley ennui (although they would punch somebody out, fag bait somebody if they ever used such a word in their presence if they knew what it meant) and surfer boys, coast boys and with a little more laid back approach in search of the perfect wave (read: Nirvana), maybe not quite so alienated because of that golden tan blonde dish sitting on the beach waiting to see if Sir Galahad finds the holy grail, to the “beat” guys Kerouac, Cassady, Ginsberg and friends running across America just to keep running, writing up a storm, wenching, whoring , pimping, white blue-eyed hipsters “speaking” be-bop to a jaded world, to sainted Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters (and our Captain Crunch, leader of our own merry prankster psychedelic bus), the Hell’s Angels (bad dudes, bad dudes , no question), Fillmore with strobe light beams creating dreams, et. al and you have the skeleton for what went on then, right or wrong. Wasn’t that a time, yes, wasn’t that a time. And the Dead were right in the mix.         

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