FLOWERS IN THEIR HAIR

The following is the online version of Flowers in their Hair. The print version is available from amazon.com.

 

Zane Morgan’s odyssey through the decade of the sixties begins with a hitchhiking trip to San Francisco at the age of seventeen. He quickly becomes embroiled in the events of the times. The drug scene walks in his front door. The military draft seeks him out with the intent to destroy, so he believes. He learns to keep on running with the hope that “they” won’t catch up with him. He beats the draft by convincing them that he is too crazy for the army. The “crazy man act” proves useful on several subsequent occasions. Street demonstrations, petty crime and student uprisings are on his list of approved activities. He lives like a nomad even during his periodic stays in San Francisco, the home base he returns to, each time a journey completes itself because he ran out of money, temporarily ran out of places to go, or simply ran out of gas and needed the recharge of the Bay Area hippy Mecca to get him energized for the next foray into the unknown.

There are also considerable journeys into inner space via the medium of LSD and other mind-expanding substances. With many fellow-travelers he watches the boundaries of ordinary reality dissolve, shift and recreate themselves in vivid Technicolor and communion with what appear to be other worlds. LSD seems to accelerate time so that there is a feeling that lifetimes may have been lived within a few weeks. Sometimes he is confused by all this time-traveling and wonders who he is. Relationships are intense but short, passing from passionate enthrallment to vague disinterest within a matter of months. Yet the grief of loss and the fear that “they” might eventually catch up with him is also inescapable. He goes from atheist to passionate believer and experiencer of all things spiritual. He studies Sanskrit, Zen Buddhism and Native American prophecies. His travels in Mexico open him to ordinary people with huge hearts who don’t judge him negatively in spite of his long hair and beard. He seeks enlightenment through naked exposure to nature. He makes a lot of mistakes and suffers the consequences. He has brushes with the law and even gets locked up for a while, an experience that exposes him to influence from a whole different underclass than the streets of San Francisco.

He follows leaders, but only for a short time until he’s off and running once again on his own trip. He has brief encounters with some of the famous people of the era including Cesar Chavez, Janice Joplin, Chet Helms, Zen Master Suzuki Roshi, Stephen Gaskin, and several Black Panthers. They all contribute to his accumulation of wisdom. Is he seeking love or enlightenment or both? He seems to find elements of both, but they are ephemeral and tend to dissolve with the rapidity of an acid vision. The question becomes if there is a way to hang onto the beauty, the truth and the understandings of how to live a better life. Perhaps there are more skillful means than psychedelics, more skillful means than sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Is it karma, a random roll of the dice, or kismet that leads him to a crossroads and a choice that leads either to commitment to a life with his true love or devotion to a serious spiritual practice?

 

I came upon a child of God

He was walking along the road

And I asked him, “Where are you going?”

And this he told me…

–Joni Mitchell

Goin to San Francisco

If you’re goin’ to San Francisco

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

–Scott McKenzie

“Them hills are so purty you could just dip a spoon in and take a bite.”

Right after that he wound that Merc’ up to about 100 and kept it there for a while.

“Been drivin’ all the way from Texas.”

“How long that take you?”

“Bout 33 hours.”

He was going to Oakland, and hitchhikers don’t make a lot of comments about the driving of those who pick them up. It was late fall, and the hills between the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area were bright green from the early winter rains. Zane had been on the road almost eight hours. Started out in Bakersfield just before midnight.

Last night he was sitting in the Waffle Shop at the Y where Union Avenue meets Highway 99 with Jimmy, of course.

“The parents said I can’t go to San Francisco. I’m going. I’m just gonna walk out on this highway and stick out my thumb.”

“All right.”

“Wait here till you see me get picked up. Then call my parents and tell them I took the Greyhound.”

“OK.”

“I gotta do this.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Mick’s waiting for me. I can stay with him.”

“It’s great, man. Have a blast.”

Zane finished his coffee, walked up the highway to a good spot and stuck out his thumb. He’d never hitchhiked before, but he’d read On the Road. He was ready. His first ride was an old guy in an old sedan, who talked to Zane man to man. He reminisced about hitchhiking when he was younger. Zane began to relax, like maybe this trip was gonna go all right. He knew he was only seventeen and if the cops picked him up, they might just send him back home. He didn’t carry his driver’s license, just his student I.D. from the junior college, figuring that would show he was over eighteen. Good ride, took him all the way to the Manteca turnoff. Where he had to leave Highway 99 and cut across on State Route 120 to get on the main highway into Oakland and San Francisco. Not too many cars at 4AM, standing in the fog and darkness outside Manteca. So when the crazy Texan picked him up, he was glad for the warmth and the ride.

Rolling into the Bay Area just awhile after sunrise, the Texan had reached the end of his long journey.

“I’m getting off up here.”

Zane walked from the freeway to the first big street, East 14th and 60 something.

“Man, there is not a white face to be seen.” But he stuck out his thumb and an old colored man in an old junky car picked him up.

“You a long ways out here, boy.”

“Yes sir, trying to get to San Francisco.”

“I get choo little ways down.”

Little else the old man said was intelligible to Zane. He dropped into some vernacular of English Zane had never heard before. It was a little bit scary, but he didn’t really feel in danger. Zane had once dated a colored girl. Met her at a party, got her phone number, asked her out. Took her to a movie in downtown Bakersfield at the old Fox theater, one of those grand old movie houses that still had velvet drapes. Scariest thing was the looks of hate he got from some of the white people on the street. Sat in her living room listening to Miles Davis. Always felt bad he didn’t have the courage to ask her out again.

“Far as I go.”

“OK, thank you.”

Now the cross street was 30 something, still totally a negro neighborhood. The next car to pull over was a police car. White cop.

“Let’s see some ID.”

Zane pulled his junior college student body card from his wallet.

“This all you got.”

“Yes sir, just trying to find a bus to San Francisco.”

“Next street over, East 12th.”

“OK, thank you.”

“You go get on that bus and get the hell out of this neighborhood.”

“Yeah, I will.”

Less than two months later, Zane was driving to San Francisco in his own car. A Nash Rambler was a sensible compact car in the fifties when American car makers were building gas-guzzling high horsepower performance machines. The convertible version operated by push-button and the rag top rolled flat over the top of the window frames fitting snug and weather-proof. Zane’s 1951 Nash Rambler convertible had belonged to one of the professors at Bakersfield College. He sold it to the son of another professor who sold it to Zane for $125.

Zane left Bakersfield on Feb. 1, 1963, feeling he’d somehow escaped by the skin of his teeth. Another friend drove with him. Bill had started going to California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland the previous semester. Bill was an artist with a wiggy imagination for fanciful creatures and surreal combinations of images. After dropping Bill in Oakland Zane proceeded to his new home in San Francisco. He’d brought very little with him only his clothes and a few key books such as Kerouac and Ferlinghetti. The apartment he would share with Mick, Susan, and their kid was on the 6th floor overlooking Alamo Square. Zane had been the sole inhabitant of a good-sized bedroom in a quiet suburban house with swimming pool for years. His new junior bedroom shared a wall with the living room of the apartment. He still had some commitment to being a good student. Having a quiet place to study was an essential component of his study habits.

Tall and lanky with dark curly hair, half-Irish, half-Jewish Mick was a son of the working class. He and Zane had met at Bakersfield College. Mick was old enough to buy booze, so they easily became drinking buddies. Mick had knocked up Susan near the end of high school. They got married and Mick worked and went to school and tried not to lose his wild self. Susan, who had grown up Catholic, often took the kid to her parents’ house for overnights leaving Mick and Zane with the run of  their apartment. Mick was full of stories about previous sexual exploits, petty crime and the rest of the wild crowd at Bakersfield College. Another couple lived next door. They had also recently had a shotgun wedding, and she was visibly pregnant. They provided occasional entertainment. When they fought all that could be heard was, “Bitch!”

“Bastard!”

“Bitch!”

“Bastard!”

They could go on like that for a long time. Later Mick and Zane got to hear the make-up sex.

One sunny day in San Francisco Zane, Mick and others were sitting by the windows overlooking Alamo Square. A woman with long black hair had come to the center of the park. She began to dance wildly throwing arms and hair around in a pattern barely short of chaos. Everyone began watching her intently. Then one of the other guys said, “Hey Zane, you better go check her out”.

“Yeah Zane, check her out!”

A chorus of voices rose in the room urging Zane to go investigate what was up with this woman. Zane flew from the room, down the elevator and across the street into the park. The woman was starting to leave, heading in the opposite direction down the hill toward Fillmore Street. Zane followed and caught up with her a block or so down the street. As he strode by, he turned to look at her. Simultaneously she looked back at him with the deepest darkest blackest scariest eyes he had ever seen. He froze. She walked on. He thought, “Welcome to San Francisco, Zane!”

After a month in the junior bedroom next to the living room, Zane realized he needed to find his own place. He found an ad for a share rental at the corner of Waller and Ashbury, yes, one block from the corner of Haight and Ashbury. He moved into his own full-sized bedroom sharing a kitchen and bathroom with Thomas Tom, a Chinese college student. They hardly saw each other. Zane’s window overlooked the corner of Waller and Ashbury where the trolley buses made a turn to head up the hill toward upper Market Street. He spent a lot of time in that window staring at the buses and the people on the street.

A bunch of other friends and friends of friends had rented a large house on the corner of Haight and Baker across from Buena Vista Park. So a few blocks away Zane had a place to hang out and continue his education on living life from this gathering of older brothers and sisters. Impromptu groups would gather in the kitchen of this house to discuss deep philosophical issues such as the virtues and drawbacks of eating pussy. Zane, still a virgin at that time, did not hazard an opinion on such topics. The high rate of homosexuality in San Francisco also came up for discussion. There seemed to be a peculiar fascination and lots of talk about the “fairies”.

Residents and others began to write and draw on the walls of this rental. In large letters was inscribed “Life is not a bowl of fluffies,” signed by the author of this deep philosophical insight. Tina was the girlfriend and future wife to Daniel, a preacher’s son from South Africa. Years later the accumulated effects of the sixties, the wars in Vietnam and at home, and the drug culture caused her to declare herself an unfit mother and place her son, Krishna or Kris, in foster care. Indeed, life was not a bowl of fluffies. JJ was an early and long-term member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe until too much craziness and too many loose ends caused him to flee back to Bakersfield to take care of his ailing mother. Many of the sons and daughters of Bakersfield and other cities of middle America, who had responded to the allure of the Bay Area, sooner or later were overwhelmed by its bigness and complexity. Many of them temporarily or permanently returned to Bakersfield or Long Beach or wherever. Some moved on to other places more rural or suburban. A few made the City their permanent home.

Zane could walk in most anywhere and buy a jug of Red Mountain Burgundy. Nobody seemed to check I.D. in San Francisco. The only place that had ever served him in Bakersfield was the Basque Bar near the old Southern Pacific train station. Late in the evening the men would dance arm in arm to the music of their homeland. They invited Zane to join them. With a belly fully of bourbon and seven he gladly joined in.

A gallon of rotgut red for only $1.50, what a bargain! Bob Jones and Charlene lived nearby. Zane and Char had known each other since childhood. Her aunt and uncle and Zane’s parents were good friends and got together regularly for dinners and backyard barbecues. She had gotten out of high school early and come straight to the City with Bob. Hanging out with them was a lot calmer than with the whole group at Haight and Baker. Bob never did get quite as caught up in all the craziness as a lot of others did, and he never lost his wholesome red-headed appearance. Zane had a crush on Char, which he never revealed. Never figured he had a chance with her. Some evenings Zane just sat in his room, drank red wine and watched the scene from his 2nd-story window.

When Zane arrived in San Francisco, he stopped getting haircuts. Didn’t really know why. Said he didn’t like barbershops. No more than just another challenge of the prevailing rules. Every once in awhile he’d see some other guy on the street growing longer hair. The reaction was not one of recognizing a long lost tribal member. It was more like, “Eek, someone else is doing it.” Nobody told them to grow their hair. It was just an impulse that occurred among a lot of guys around the same time. It was in that spring of ‘63 that Zane first heard the word “hippie”. Didn’t know where it came from. He’d heard the term “hipster” in Norman Mailer’s Confessions of a White Nigger and in Allan Ginsberg’s Howl, but “hippie” was a new one. Didn’t know that it would stick and become the major designation for everything that was yet to happen in the sixties. Same time heard about the Beatles for the first time, probably their first tour of America.

Mick and Zane decided to go to the Monterey Folk Festival. Someone was driving down that way. Maybe that’s why they decided to go. Before leaving the city they went to the big old pharmacy at Haight and Market and each bought 16oz. bottles of Romilar cough syrup. They went to Monterey with no money and no way to get back. It was an adventure. It would all work out somehow. From the Festival grounds they got a ride to a nearby campground. Zane drank ¾ of the bottle of Romilar. Mick drank all of his. The recommended dosage for a good crazy high was 8oz. Zane wandered around the campground all night quite uncomfortable and deranged. Mick actually went blind for a while. But in the morning they were basically fine, not even a hangover.  That day they heard Bob Dylan for the first time. No money so they couldn’t get into the arena, but outside they could clearly hear the strains of “Blowing in the Wind” and “Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”.

“How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?

How many years must some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?”

Right from the get-go he was the voice of a generation and rather soon also the raconteur of the generation. Each succeeding album seemed to parallel the experiences of so many of the Love Generation, Flower Children, Hippies or whatever they came to be called.

“Oh, where have you been my blue-eyed son?”

That evening there was a hootenanny. It only cost a dollar and anybody could get up and sing or play in front of the microphone. So Zane went. One girl got up with no guitar, no band, nothing but her great big voice. Zane said to himself, “How can this little white girl sound so much like Bessie Smith?” Her name was Janice Joplin, and she was not long out of Texas. Within a year or two she was singing with Big Brother and the Holding Company and on her way to national and international fame. Turned out she was old friends with Chet Helms, who managed Big Brother. He also became a managing founder of the Family Dog, the other big music promoter in SF besides Bill Graham. So many of the names for bands, businesses and other emerging phenomena were thumbnail expressions of a particular world view that was growing in its articulation: against the War, for civil rights, and somewhat spiritually based on the direct experiences provided by psychedelic drugs. The commentary on the hypocrisy that was taken as normal in the fifties was increasingly biting in its sarcasm and increasingly strident in its criticism of the destruction being wreaked by the “American Way”. There were mentors from past generations. “Big Brother is watching you”, was an image from George Orwell’s 1984,  a dark futuristic vision of where things were leading. The Grateful Dead reminded their fans of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, one of the early guidebooks to the death-rebirth nature of the psychedelic experience.

Kelly and Joe showed up at the Monterey Festival. The previous year Zane had tried to seduce Kelly one night in her house with her parents asleep in the next room. He fully intended to pursue something with her, but each day he got more scared and never did even date her again. In his absence she had gotten together with Joe, who smoked too much and drank too much but had a nice car, a full-size Dodge with push-button transmission and lots of power. Joe and Zane were friends. In fact Joe had driven Zane to the supermarket where he almost got busted for stealing booze. Mick and Zane rode back to San Francisco with Joe and Kelly. When it was time to go back to Bakersfield, Kelly suddenly announced she was staying in San Francisco. Joe left crestfallen and undoubtedly suspicious.

That night Kelly and Zane were in bed together. It was his first sexual experience with another person. It was too quick. He was too anxious. He was in too much of a hurry. Nonetheless he lost his virginity. In the middle of the night, the phone rang.

“Is something going on between you and Kelly?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s all I wanted to know.” Click

The guilt began right then. Who knows what might have happened otherwise. Zane came home from school that day. Kelly had cleaned his room. In particular she had picked up all the newspapers he had read and thrown on the floor so that the entire room was carpeted with an inch of newspapers. He didn’t really want his room cleaned, but after that he didn’t throw his newspapers on the floor.

Later that evening he told her, “You should go back to Joe.” She didn’t protest or argue. One more time he acted out of fear and guilt. She just went along like good girls did who had grown up in the fifties. She went back to Joe. Later she married him. A few years passed, and she left him as he gradually sank deeper and deeper into alcoholism and depression. Much later she became a very successful realtor in San Francisco and a high-class member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Her best story was about being registered into an international AA conference in Monte Carlo by Ringo Starr, the Beatles one-time drummer, whose only solo hit was a song written by Buck Owens of Bakersfield, “Act Naturally”.

“They’re gonna put me in the movies

They’re gonna make a big star out of me…

And all I gotta do is act naturally.”

“I’m staying at my grandma’s house. Come on over. I’ve got some pot.” Perry was one of those guys who breezed through Bakersfield and then he’d be gone again. Gone to L.A. Gone into some mystery. He dressed like a Pachuco gangster from East L.A., pants high on his waist and dragging on the ground, shiny shoes, fancy shirt, sports jacket draped over one arm. He didn’t walk. He strolled like he’d been practicing how to walk without his upper body appearing to move at all. He was one of a few friends of friends that Zane always considered way too out there even for his craziness. But there he was sitting in the attic of Perry’s grandma’s old two story house on tree-lined Truxtun Avenue in Bakersfield toking up with Perry and their mutual friend.

A semester in San Francisco, he’d come across pot once, but it hadn’t done anything to change his state of mind. This time he started smiling and couldn’t stop. It’s like there was this permanent smile on his face. He was totally relaxed, totally at ease.

“Let’s walk down to Tiny’s and get some pie and coffee.” Perry was one of those guys whose experiences just seemed to put him a couple of jumps ahead of everybody else when it came to being hip and cool. So there they were sitting in Tiny’s at the center of downtown Bakersfield, eating apple pie and drinking coffee and grinning and grinning.

He was no longer a virgin but still clueless about how to have a girlfriend. Fall semester brought a new influx of Bakersfield immigrants to San Francisco including Joe and Kelly. Joe had a sister and the sister had a roommate. They lived off California Street in one of the nicer neighborhoods of the City, a good gathering place for Bakersfield transplants and a few others.

Zane vaguely remembered Beth from Bakersfield High School. Afterwards it was hard for him to remember who seduced whom. But he was having sex, and he was having some other feelings too. Was this love? They spent a lot of time together. And she cooked. She cooked lasagna and spaghetti and tacos. He was actually eating a good diet, considerably expanded from the beans and rice and hamburger of last semester. And they had sex a lot. And they talked.

Beth had recently gotten out of the hospital. Her ex-boyfriend had performed an illegal abortion. There were complications. She bled a lot. She was barely healed when she and Zane got together. She had also had an abortion in high school, which her mother arranged in some Bakersfield back alley. Fortunately birth control pills had recently been invented. So Beth got on the pill, and both of them were in fucking hog heaven. Zane dropped out of school. Still playing out some scenario stored in his brain from reading Jack Kerouac, he figured he needed real life experience if he was going to be a writer. Any experience would do as long as it was real. Real writers didn’t go to school. Someone was going to write the great American novel. It might as well be him. He went to the Unemployment Office.

“What kind of work do you want to do?”

“I don’t know. Anything.”

“Why is it that kids from San Francisco State don’t know what they want to do? I get kids in here from City College. They know what they want to do. I get high school dropouts. They know what they want to do. But none of you kids from State have any idea.”

His voice rose as he delivered this epistle. Zane shrugged and stared at him blankly. The job guy left his desk and returned with some index cards.

“Here, try this.”

Name of a company, address, phone number, Zane took the card. His new title was Postage Meter Boy. Every morning he took the streetcar to lower Market, walked a block to Mission Street and spent the day in the basement of a huge warehouse feeding junk mail through a postage meter machine. Most of the workers were women, but referred to as “girls” by the boss. They stuffed envelopes with “direct mail advertising”. He weighed the envelopes, set the machine for the correct postage and fed endless envelopes through the machine. At lunchtime, a half-hour, he saw the light of day and sat in front of the Transbay Terminal and ate his sandwich. The pay was minimum wage, $1.25 an hour.

“President Kennedy’s been shot.”

Everyone remembers where they were when they first heard the news. Zane was in the Sears store a few blocks from Beth’s apartment. An event that shaped history for years to come was at first presented so coldly, so matter-of-factly. Like many days in San Francisco it was gray and foggy. By later in the day everyone was up-to-date. John F. Kennedy was dead. Whatever hopes people had pinned on Camelot and a youthful president died with him. Whatever enthusiasm for mainstream politics Zane had generated while working for the Young Democrats to elect Kennedy back in 1960 at Bakersfield High School was also dead.

After a month he was fairly fed up with the junk mail business. A friend who’d gone back to New York wanted him to visit. What the hell! The call of the open road, the call of the unknown, the call of new experience–he would hitchhike to New York. Beth would wait for him. Perhaps she recognized the restlessness of young men. Perhaps things were so new, it was still all some romantic dream. Perhaps she was afraid to say, “No”. Maybe she was excited by his foolish courage.

In any case one morning in November a friend dropped him off somewhere east of Oakland on Highway 40, the direct route from San Francisco to New York. To spend time in New York and San Francisco was almost an absolute requirement for being truly hip. The day went by pretty easy. That night a ride dropped him in downtown Winnemucca, Nevada, small town, a few casinos, nothing special and then the local cop.

“You can’t hitchhike in Winnemucca..”

“What am I supposed to do?”

There was a pause. “Hop in. I’ll give you a ride to the edge of town.”

“OK, thanks.”

A dark lonely road at the edge of god-awful nowhere, he stuck out his thumb. A trucker pulled over.

“Don’t know how far I can make it tonight, but I’ll take you as far as I go.”

“That’ll be great.”

Turned out the trucker was a Mormon headed home to Logan, Utah. He wouldn’t be drinking any coffee to drive all night. Zane opened up the conversation.

“I was born in Logan.”

“Is that right?”

“Yeah, didn’t stay there long. Family moved to Ogden before I was one. Been in California since I was five. You like Utah?”

“Yeah, don’t really know any place else. But driving truck, I’ve seen a lot of country. No place I wanted to live. No place as beautiful as Utah. You know, I got lots of family. It’d be hard moving away from them.”

“Yeah, I got tons of relatives in Utah. I gonna call my cousin when I get to Salt Lake.”

They talked on through the night.

“Well, I’m going stop here and get myself a motel room. Good luck.”

“Thanks, if you see me here in the morning, pick me up again, OK?

“Sure.”

Wendover–midnight–cold, cold, cold, way too cold. “Man, even this old army pea jacket doesn’t do the job.” New strategy, gas station, ask people who stop for gas to give him a ride. Success, three guys in a Renault Dauphine are headed for Salt Lake City.

“What religion are you?” These guys were Egyptian foreign exchange students, been out in Nevada doing God knows what.

To them Zane replied, “I’m a Buddhist,” and thought, “I’ve read The Dharma Bums, so by God, I’m a Buddhist. Also read The Religions of Man and liked Buddhism the best.”

One of the Egyptians, “Oh, that’s not good.”

“Why not?”

“Buddhists don’t believe in God.”

“Is that a problem?”

“Oh yes, you must believe in God.”

As they drove down the highway the driver was weaving back and forth for no apparent reason. Zane was thinking, “Why do I always get the crazies after midnight?”

Zane decided go try once more, “Buddhism teaches non-attachment. Don’t be attached to the fruits of your labors.”

“Doesn’t make sense. Is not possible. Anyway everything comes from God.”

“Maybe you’re right.” Zane decided not to argue with the source of his transportation in the wee hours of this cold November morning. The Arabs talked amongst themselves in obvious high spirits from whatever adventure they had found in Nevada. The driver continued to periodically crank the wheel back and forth like they were on some carnival ride, or maybe he was just proving that God would protect them.

Salt Lake City, first light, Zane found a pay phone and called his cousin, Brendan. Safe haven, too goddamn cold to be out on this highway. After a couple of days Brendan drove him up to Logan, where Zane’s brother, Lee, was going to graduate school at Utah State. Zane was rethinking his plans. Brother’s wife delivered their first child. Zane thought it was pretty cool, he was there for the blessed event. On another morning he was walking around the neighborhood and saw a temperature sign, 17 degrees. “Shit! Way too cold.”

“Hey Beth, I’m coming home. I miss you.”

“I miss you too. When’ll you be here?”

A phone call and then a Greyhound trip from Salt Lake to San Francisco, take the easy way on the return trip. He and Beth fell right back in with each other. It was fun. It was sexy. It was easy. Life was a joy ride. They decided to go to Bakersfield for the holidays. They’d each stay with their parents, but they’d see each other a lot.

Zane went to Beth’s parents’ house to pick her up, a tract house on the flat farmland southwest of Bakersfield. He had his parent’s ‘54 Oldsmobile, the cruiser, bench front seat, drive with one hand and wrap your other arm around your girl as she snuggles up right next to you.

“What’s going on between you and my daughter?”

“Nothing.”

Big man, angry voice, threatening, “If you get her pregnant, I’ll kill you…Get out of my house.”

Zane got up  and walked out. The pot-bellied father followed him. Zane couldn’t resist.

“I’ll bet this makes you feel like a real big man.”

The father closed the distance between them. Wham! He hit Zane hard on the back of the neck. Zane just kept walking, got in his car, started the engine, rolled slowly down to the end of the dead end street and flipped a U. By the time he got back even with the house, Beth was heading across the lawn with her wicker suitcase. She hopped in the car and once again Zane couldn’t resist. He punched it and squealed his tires all the way down the street. Zane’s parents had already left for the east coast to visit his other brother, so Zane and Beth moved into his parent’s bedroom and had their own special celebration of Christ’s mercy.

“Hey, the post office called up.” It was his roommate. “They want to interview you next week.”

“OK, thanks.”

During his job search Zane had applied for the post office and taken the civil service test. Now it looked like they might give him a job.

Sorting mail at the post office turned out to be as dreadfully boring and mind-numbing as running a postage meter machine even though the pay was better. Rincon Annex was a block long warehouse in the same neighborhood as the junk mail business. He was only working four hours a day. He could barely stand it, sitting at his case going through stacks of letters and placing them in one of several dozen slots. How did people stand this? The regulars joked around with each other a lot. He didn’t know anybody and didn’t get to know anybody.

“I better go back to school.”

Feeling a Draft

Come on all of you big strong men

Uncle Sam needs your help again

He’s got himself in a terrible jam

way down yonder in Vietnam 

So put down your books and pick up a gun 

we’re gonna have a whole lotta fun

–Country Joe and the Fish

“Man, you have to register.”

“But I don’t believe in the draft.”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s fine, but you can get into so much more trouble if you don’t register. They can throw you in jail just for that.”

Within a few months Zane had turned eighteen, smoked pot and had sex. He was feeling his oats. His plan had been to ignore the draft, blow it off, resist. He didn’t really know much about it and didn’t really want to deal with it. His friend was trying to talk some sense to him, or call it reality. So Zane registered for the SSS, the Selective Service System, at the local office in San Francisco. He was not the only person in those days to recognize that it simply contained one more S than the infamous German SS of World War II. There wasn’t really a war yet, not until after the Gulf of Tonkin was blown out of proportion by another crazy/evil Texan named Lyndon Baines Johnson. But already there were war resisters. There were conscientious objectors. There was opposition to the universal military draft. There were communists, socialists, anarchists and peace-niks. A new American Revolution was simmering and getting ready to boil over. The right-wing excesses of Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon and the House Un-American Activities Committee had given birth to a movement on the left that was slowly defining itself around issues of civil rights, civil liberties, and then resistance to the war in Vietnam.

“Why were you six months late in registering?”

“I don’t recognize the right of the government to make me  go kill people.”

“ There’s a place on the form for you to make your explanation. It would be a good idea for you to fill it out.”

Zane took the form and filled it out. It forced him to define his beliefs which had previously existed mostly as feelings. “I don’t believe that the United States Government has any right to require citizens to involuntarily register for induction into an organization whose prime purpose is the killing of citizens of other countries. Nor does this government have the right to be the sole determining judge of a person’s conscience with regard to not being a trained and hired killer. My conscience is my own. I should not have to prove the validity of my conscience to the same organization whose business it is to recruit, train and maintain an organization of such killers. They are not qualified to be judges of my conscience or conscientiousness. I do not believe in war. I will not fight under any circumstances.”

Zane was surprised at his eloquence. Perhaps his high school debate team had been more valuable than he thought. He had known and said as a child, “I will never be in the army.” The thought terrified him. If he stayed in college he was eligible for a student deferment, but just as he felt that petitioning the system to be recognized as a conscientious objector was incorrectly allowing them to be the judge of his soul, likewise applying for a status deferment was dishonestly conferring unjustified authority on the same system. So he would take his chances with his own brand of honesty and forthrightness. Meanwhile he increasingly hung out with the radical politicos at San Francisco State, when he felt like attending classes.

Zane had made one new friend in his first semester at State. Sam, a slight Jewish fellow from Orange County, appeared in both his Chinese language and Chinese civilization classes. With such common interests they decided to be roommates, which might have worked out fine except that Zane kept moving other people in. First came Beth, not a problem. Steve, another Bakersfield denizen and a few years older, had been one of Zane’s alcohol buyers in Bakersfield. After moving in, Steve didn’t get a job or get in school. He and Zane began to stay up all night often walking from their flat up the hill from Market and Divisadero all the way to North Beach and back in the middle of the night. They’d arrive home around sunrise, sleep most of the day and do it all again. This was not helping Zane’s school attendance, but he felt himself soaking up the aura of San Francisco and the Beat Generation. City Lights Books was a favorite hang-out and the old Hot Dog Palace, also known as the Meth Palace, on Columbus Avenue. There was always Winchell’s Donuts on Market on the way back home.

Steve had another disturbing habit. He began referring to Sam simply as “the Jew”. He became the butt of endless anti-Semitic jokes when he was not in the house. Zane was not comfortable with this, but didn’t know what to do. He was still desperate enough for friendship that he didn’t want to piss anyone off. His feeble attempts to say something to Steve resulted in Steve maintaining he was not doing anything wrong. It was all a joke. What’s the big deal? There was tension in the house. No one wanted to admit it. When he wasn’t sleeping all day, Zane found himself dosing his morning coffee with bourbon, especially when everyone was home for breakfast. Sam talked to Zane about never really agreeing to Steve as a roommate, which was true. Sam had a girlfriend who was very Jewish. In her early twenties she could have played Edith Bunker in All in the Family. She had a way of saying, “Samuel”, that sounded just like Edith saying, “Oh, Archie.” She also talked to Zane about the unfairness of the situation.

It was finally resolved when the upper and lower floors of the house on 17th Street became available for rent. Beth and Zane moved upstairs. Sam got another friend for his roommate. Steve and his soon to be pregnant girlfriend took a smaller downstairs apartment. Zane wrote on the wall of their new bedroom in six inch letters with a Magic Marker, “SIN”. “Might as well let everyone know we’re living in sin,” he quipped. Months went by uneventfully. A friend of Zane’s came back from New York, and moved into the other room in their flat. An older woman (thirties) attached herself to him as an erstwhile girlfriend. She seemed to be practicing free love, bragging that Papa Bear Blakely, the jazz man, was one of her lovers. New York Norm had his hands full and spoke disparagingly about the flabbiness of her body including her private parts. Young men like Norm often had no clue of how to deal with the complexities of the women they were meeting and getting intimate with. Free-love Mary tried to seduce Zane one day, but he resisted more from fear and guilt than morality. At least she didn’t try again.

“The cops called and asked if our upstairs neighbors were smoking pot.” It was Steve in a panic. Mick was hanging out at the house. He hopped on the back of Harvey’s Honda and they were gone in a flash. All drugs in the house went down the toilet, not a large stash.  In moments the narcs were there tearing the house apart and being generally nasty.

“Where’re the drugs?”

“There’s no drugs.”

“We know there’re drugs here.”

“No drugs. We don’t use drugs.”

“Stop your lying.”

Finding pots full of dirt in the back yard, “Look they’ve been trying to grow.”

Finding nothing else they finally left. No apologies. No cleaning up of their mess. Everyone in the house was freaked out. They also knew what a close call they’d just had. Pot was a felony in those days. People were doing three years in San Quentin for one joint. How the hell did the cops know to bust them? Months later Steve admitted his girlfriend had called the cops because she was freaked out about him using drugs. The upstairs neighbors were clearly to blame. So much for solidarity.

Monterey was a sometime sleepy village on the shores of Monterey Bay. It had been the setting for Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, a very real area of the town which had once housed a thriving canned fish industry. On weekends the population of downtown Alvarado Street was swelled by hundreds of GI’s on leave from nearby Fort Ord, the army boot camp for all inductees from California and some other parts of the West. These uniformed rascals with newly shaved heads scurried, crept and staggered their ways between a number of cheap bars, cheap hotels and tattoo parlors. Tattoos were still a mark of service in the military or prison. Hardly anyone else would even enter a tattoo parlor.

That summer Zane lived in a boarding house run by a volatile Armenian woman. He thought Armenians were only in Fresno along with William Saroyan, but here was one running a house for young male college students of la lengua Francais. The Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies offered total immersion courses in a number of languages, six hours of class per day and living quarters in a house where presumably only the language being studied would be spoken. That rule was immediately broken in Zane’s house and, in fact, was hardly ever followed by any of the ragtag collection of frat-boy refugees who made up the bulk of his household. MIFS had been modeled on the Army Language School, which was also in Monterey and reputed to be quite effective in eliciting basic competence in languages within a few weeks of study. The school was run by an older Alsatian couple who were rumored to have fled France following World War II to avoid reprisals certain to fall on NAZI collaborators. Madame` spoke no English, shopped at the French Market in Carmel, and seemed to fit the stereotype of French arrogance. The main French teacher was a beautiful young woman. Rumors flew about her as well (like all French women she didn’t bathe often, only put on perfume, and didn’t shave her armpits). Classes were totally conducted in French right from the first day.

Zane had bought a motorcycle from Bob Jones. When not in class he loved to just ride. The 49-mile drive along Monterey Bay with its wind-twisted cypresses was a favorite destination. It was often foggy, but not that cold, which added to the feeling of mystery as he rode through the streets of old Spanish Monterey. A few blocks from the boarding house in an old adobe was a coffee house called Sancho Panza’s, very hip, very beat. Sancho’s became a favorite hangout for Zane and his new friend from French class, Kevin. They began to meet other people in the area and get invited to parties in Monterey, in Carmel, even as far away as Big Sur. Big Sur, land of Henry Miller, land of Robinson Jeffers, the mountains rose out of the Pacific Ocean only slightly less steep than cliffs. The arched highway bridges hung over chasms formed by swift creeks. Fertile water spilled out of those ragged green mountains into sage green surf eating away at the base of those precipitous flanks of Mother Earth. Occasionally the tag team of surf and heavy rain would undercut the hillsides and grand collapsing landslides would dump tons of brown soil into the verdant surf, ripping away roads, houses and anything else in the accidental pathway. It was wild country. You could feel that wildness. You could feel it high above the ocean perched like an ancient condor waiting to swoop and soar on the thermals blown up from the shore. You could feel it running in the waves where the creeks formed the only beaches on that whole rocky coast. You could feel it sitting in the Big Sur Inn drinking a cup of their good strong coffee.

“Yeah man, I didn’t bathe or shave for a week. I poked holes in my arms with a pin–made me look like a junkie–and just before I went to the draft board I went down to the Carmel River and rolled around in green scum and muck.”

“Did it work?”

“Hell, yeah, it worked. They didn’t want anything to do with me. But don’t do what I did. Come up with your own crazy plan.”

Whenever the subject of beating the draft came up, a spirited rap would ensue. Every young man had to make a decision. “Which side are you on, boys; which side are you on?” Like the old song said, battle lines were being drawn. Johnson was president. The war was heating up in Vietnam. Cannon fodder was required. Guys were leaving the country. Many didn’t return until President Carter declared amnesty nearly fifteen years later. Others were drinking or smoking themselves into premature medical problems or literally shooting themselves in the foot. “Draft dodgers” was the derisive epithet applied by mainstream Americans.

“The squares don’t get it. The U.S. Army is out to kill US.” Listening to this other guy at the party in Carmel gave Zane an idea. He could do a “crazy man act”. He didn’t want to leave the country. He didn’t want to do anything openly illegal. He didn’t want to end up in federal prison like Joan Baez’s husband. He didn’t want to declare as a conscientious objector and let them be judge and jury of his sincerity. He never forgot the conversation with this guy he never saw again.

Kevin presented as happy-go-lucky, but was definitely inquisitive. “So what’d you do this weekend?

“Got high.”

“High or drunk?”

“High.”

“You smoke that stuff?”

“Yeah!

“So you’re a head. Well, hey, head.”

The name stuck. From then on Kevin never called him anything but “head”. Kevin was a drinker and a cigarette smoker, but he didn’t touch any of that other weird stuff. Some people never got into drugs. Whether they still believed the hype of old scare stories like Reefer Madness or whether they really just made some decision based on an instinct for self-preservation, there were those who were part of the scene and never smoked pot, never dropped acid, never touched anything defined as a drug. Kevin was a few years older. He’d already done his stint in the army, spent most of two years in Germany. He did a good imitation of hick Americans trying to speak a little German. GI German had phrases like, “It’s a shern damn Tag.”

Kevin and Zane got to be friends with Jasmin. Jasmin was born in Lebanon. She was slim, dark and exotic. They both were attracted to her. Neither wanted to admit it. Kevin had a girlfriend back in Long Beach. Beth was waiting for Zane in San Francisco. The three of them palled around together. Jasmin had a Citroen “deux chevaux”, one of Europe’s emerging small cars. It looked like a badly put together tin can and had only a two cylinder engine, thus the nickname which translated as “two horses”. It was so lightweight that if Kevin and Zane sat in the back seat while Jasmin was driving, they could bounce up and down and get the rear wheels off the road. One night Zane found himself alone with Jasmin at her place. They talked into the night. Who knows what they talked about, but it felt good, really good. And then he left. He probably could have stayed, but he didn’t know what to do. He didn’t suggest anything. He didn’t try to kiss her. He was so hung up in his own considerations, he obviously wasn’t paying attention to any signals she might be sending out. Another lost opportunity bred out of fear and inexperience. Did he feel some loyalty to Beth? Yes, but why? Things were not going well between them.

Sometimes Beth took the Greyhound and spent the weekend in Monterey. They would rent a room at one of the cheap hotels on Alvarado Street, mixing with the GI’s and their girlfriends and prostitutes. There had been an incident during one of Zane’s visits to San Francisco that had colored their relationship. Beth had moved to her own place in one of the nicer neighborhoods of the City. She had a roommate, a girl she had met at SF State. Kerry Ann actually grew up in San Francisco, one daughter of a large Irish-Catholic family. She had long flaming red hair and a personality to match. After attending Mercy, a girls-only Catholic High School, she was off the leash and making up for lost time. Somehow Kerry Ann knew this odd little cat who had figured out how to make LSD on sugar cubes in the chem lab at UC Berkeley. He and Zane dropped some acid, while Beth and Kerry Ann went out. No one except maybe the chemist knew what to expect. When Beth returned, Zane was perched at the top of a tall ladder near the high ceiling of the Victorian apartment.

“What are you doing up there?”

“I’m God.”

“Get down off of there!”

There was an instant clash of realities. Beth’s anger escalated as Zane failed to participate in her reality. Zane felt perfectly safe on top of the ladder and wasn’t inclined to descend into more dangerous territory. For several hours he and the chemist had been seeing really cool stuff, laughing a lot and playing like a couple of kids. Beth seemed more than a little dangerous to these fragile good spirits. Why was she so angry? After this incident Zane found he was increasingly reluctant to talk to her about anything important, or anything at all. Something was frozen inside of him. More and more he wanted to break up with her, but he couldn’t tell her that either. When she came to Monterey after that, they had sex, they went places, but he didn’t talk to her. He wanted to break up, but he was afraid he’d be alone. He felt guilty whenever he was with her. Girls were so damn complicated. Their sham of a relationship limped on through the summer of `64. He was becoming more radical, but didn’t yet have the courage to totally act on it. Except for living in sin with him, she was pretty much following the “good girl” script, going to school, keeping her house clean, and reading books.

At the end of summer the temptations and insights of Monterey were over. Vain hope temporarily renewed their relationship, Zane and Beth decided to move in together again. They found a small apartment at Frederick and Belvedere just four blocks from Haight and Ashbury. The difficulties of the summer, the divergence of their experiences, maybe they could put that behind them and go back to playing house, having sex and enjoying life in San Francisco.

Jimmy got out of the army. He and Zane had been best friends in high school. Then he had up and joined the army in the fall of  ‘61 like a lot of other desperate young men, who couldn’t figure what else to do with themselves. But there he was getting off the Greyhound in his full dress uniform complete with green beret. Zane was ecstatic. His old running buddy was back. Things could only get better. Jimmy came to stay at their apartment. There was not much privacy. No more fucking bent over the stairway railing next to their bed, but the landlady downstairs had pretty thoroughly destroyed any sense of privacy. She was totally nuts. When Zane went to pay the rent she talked to someone who was not there. This happened more than once. The “piece` de resistance” was when she banged on her ceiling with a broom handle right below their bed at 4AM, yelling at them to be quiet. They were sound asleep. So adding Jimmy to the chaos didn’t seem unreasonable at all.

Jimmy met Kerry Ann. Instant connection. Smoking cigarettes. Making love on the pull-out bed in the living room. She talking a mile a minute, he trying to keep up, laughing, whooping and ready for anything. The army had definitely rid Jimmy of any lingering fear of doing all kinds of crazy stuff. His happy go lucky attitude from high school days had returned. In some ways he’d grown up. In other ways he was just a great big kid with more chutzpah than ever before. He didn’t seem to be afraid of anything. He’d also had the Special Forces Medic training. So one day he showed up with a hypodermic needle and some meth or crystal, a white powder easily dissolved in water and injected intravenously. Zane had never shot anything in his life. He’d watched another friend once. It didn’t appeal to him. But this was his best buddy, and he must know what he’s doing, and he didn’t want to be chicken, and Jimmy and Kerry Ann were going to do it. Mercifully Beth had gone somewhere. So Jimmy shot Zane up with meth, Instantly he didn’t like it, like something was crawling around inside of him trying to get out and couldn’t. He was freaking out. He just wanted it to end. It felt like it was lasting for hours. Nobody understood. They left the apartment, riding the Muni. “Just want this to stop.”

New York Norm had gotten together with Zane and Jimmy’s old girlfriend from Bakersfield. Norm had some pot. He rolled up a joint, lit it and handed to Zane. A few deep inhalations later he began to relax. A sense of well-being rolled over him. Life wasn’t so bad after all. In fact, things were great. The torture of the last few hours easily dissolved into kick back, everything’s cool, spin some sides and ride the waves of rock and roll, Beatles, Ike and Tina Turner humping down some soul-side, mashed potatoes and gravy on a Sunday afternoon. Mama wants you! Mama needs you! Mama gonna hunt you down and find you. You can’t hide. Don’t matter where you are. Mama will find you. And when she does, you’ll be glad she did. If there was anything better than the emerging San Francisco style rock bands, it was their roots in black rhythm and blues and soul that told you where you lived and how good it could be in no uncertain terms.

It became obvious that they needed to move out of the apartment with the crazy landlady. As a form of protest they had piled all their garbage in a corner of the kitchen instead of taking it down to the cans outside. Soon it would begin to stink. Coincidentally another friend was moving out of his basement apartment on the edge of the Fillmore. Oak and Octavia, almost underneath the freeway on-ramp, basement apartment, the windows looked out on a parking lot right at ground level. Heat?–the kitchen stove–concrete floors, three rooms including the kitchen, no doors, everything open except when they strung curtains. This was really it. This was as good as Kerouac in a flea-bag hotel at 3rd and Howard. Now we’re getting down to it. Jimmy and Zane moved in. Beth found her own place. So did Kerry Ann. They came over a lot. The only thing left behind was a “Dizzy Gillespie for President” bumper strip in the front window.

Zane’s motorcycle had not run well for awhile. He had no confidence when it came to mechanics. Probably it just needed something simple like a clutch adjustment, but he procrastinated and got progressively frozen about doing anything about it. Also he had flopped it twice in the city coming around corners and hitting grease spots. He had lost interest in the motorcycle and dropped it the way a little kid drops a toy he’s through playing with.

“I’ll fix it.” Jimmy, the young man brimming with confidence, had more confidence than knowledge. He had more confidence than good sense. He had more confidence than sense of responsibility. He tore apart the whole motorcycle.

“I’m gonna rebuild it.” Soon the front room, Jimmy’s room, was covered with motorcycle parts. It turned out Jimmy was the kid who has more fun taking apart his toys than playing with them. He put the blue gas tank just outside the front door at the bottom of several steps that led off of Oak Street down to their basement. That motorcycle never did get put back together. The coup de grace happened much later when Jimmy moved to Berkeley and a box of motorcycle parts fell off of his trailer onto the freeway. Zane had a lot of feelings, but the strongest one was relief. He didn’t have to worry about killing himself on his motorcycle because of some grease spot or something else he didn’t see in the road.

“Come to bed!” Beth’s shrill voice pierced the shroud of the night.

There were gargoyles, death’s heads, and other phantasmagoria floating around the room with an eerie blackish-red liquid background. Many of these quasi-human faces seemed to be emanating from Kerry Ann. He’d only smoked some pot with everyone else so the intensity of hallucination was more than a little surprising

“I’m cold. Come to bed!”

Zane was not moving, afraid to disturb the atmosphere. The freakish faces had not bothered him, but if he moved maybe they would. Kerry Ann also looked at him as Kerry Ann, as if waiting to see what he would do. He could hear Beth behind the curtain in his middle room.

“If you don’t come to bed, I’m leaving.”

He didn’t move. Too dangerous. The swirling faces still swirled and floated around the room. Kerry Ann was still looking at him. Were people talking? Maybe they were, but he couldn’t understand anything they were saying. Maybe the red was coming from a light bulb. Beth appeared fully dressed. She walked through the room and out the front door. She looked normal, no color, exactly like she always looked. The red liquid appeared to part as she passed through. Kerry Ann looked at him. He sat. He didn’t move. The red was coming from a light bulb. Jimmy liked to put red light bulbs in his room. Did he sleep that night? Eventually he went to bed. He wasn’t sorry. He hated her anger. He could handle anything else. At least he thought he could, but he hated her anger. He also hated it when she ordered him around. Like somebody’s mother. It was several months before he even saw her again.

There was a lot of pot smoking. Jimmy and Kerry Ann liked to get stoned and go out on the streets, go to North Beach or some other happening part of town. Zane liked to stay home comfortable in the dream world that arose from the smoke of Cannabis Sativa. Too many people made him nervous, even paranoid, but by himself in his stoned world he was totally at peace.

The Skinny

Come on over, baby,

Whole lotta shakin goin on

–Jerry Lee Lewis

“What’s the skinny, man? What’s shakin’?”

There was a whole new language evolving, part ghetto slang, part made-up words out of the emerging psychedelic culture, certainly an attempt to be hip and with it, far out and weird. Zane tried to maintain his good student status at San Francisco State. One day he returned from school. Jimmy had a surprise for him.

“I traded your peyote for some speed.”

“What!?”

“You know, crystal.”

“I don’t want fucking crystal.”

“Well, you know this guy came by and he wanted to make a deal, and I thought what the hell, make a deal. He seemed like somebody it might be good to know. He’s a San Francisco cat, knows the scene, been around.”

“What the fuck!”

Zane was unusually angry especially with his old buddy, Jimmy, but this one really blind-sided him. Of all things, crystal! And peyote wasn’t that easy to get. Fuck! Thus came into their life, Gil Grayson, also known as Skinny, and skinny he was. He looked like the epitome of city slicker, razor-trim haircut, pencil-thin mustache, flashy sport jacket.

“Well, this cat knocked on the door looking for a motorcycle gas tank. Crashed his bike, saw the tank, saw “Dizzy for Pres”, figured we were cool. One thing led to another.”“Peyote for speed, that’s a bad trade.”

“It’ll work out. He’ll be back. The cat has all kinds of drugs.”

The next thing Zane knew his front room was full of needle freaks, speed freaks, people he didn’t know, never seen before. The bowels of San Francisco had disgorged into his apartment. Skinny/Gil was a tenderloin huckster, been in and out of jail, but boy did he have connections. His background as a son of mainstream America, who grew up in the Sunset district of San Francisco, was long gone. Suddenly the whole underworld of San Francisco was at their fingertips. People of all shades, shapes and descriptions, these were not young refugees from middle-class suburbia.

Gil was full of surprises, too. “Nice guy, huh?”

“What?”

“Nice guy.”

Gil was referring to a stunning black woman in a bright yellow dress who had just left their apartment. Eventually Zane gathered he had met his first drag queen.

One night the front room contained a circle of a dozen or more freaks. Huddled like some witches’ coven, the ritual objects passed from hand to hand. Hypodermic needles with the nipple from a baby bottle securely attached in place of the plunger, which no one seemed to have and must have been harder to obtain. These kits, outfits, or simply fits were shared among all present, as were the available drugs. A woman took Zane under her wing, soothing his fears and eventually shooting him up on meth and subsequently on some Percodan to balance things out. He found the combination pretty pleasant, and he relaxed among this group of mostly strangers. How easily he had slipped into a world of  “hard drugs”. Spade Bob was standing in a corner outside the circle shooting directly into the muscle of his arm. He was the source of the Percodan.

“Doesn’t have any veins left.”

Somehow Zane accepted everything that was going on as if he was some non-judgmental anthropologist visiting a tribe in the jungle who were not out and out cannibals but might be dangerous in as yet unrevealed ways. He was also the epitome of flower child going through all this as if it was merely a weekly episode of “The Magical World of Disney”. Elaine, his guardian angel or initiator to the witches’ coven, turned out to be an important connection because she knew Hocksley.

Hocksley was already becoming a legendary figure. Friend of the Grateful Dead, friend of Timothy Leary, Hocksley acid would be the standard for really good shit for many years.  Zane met Hocksley one block up Oak Street at the old Fleishacker mansion, a onetime elegant dwelling of one of the elite families of San Francisco. Among other things the Fleishackers were the founders and benefactors of the San Francisco Zoo.

Zane and Hocksley had one short conversation with a pithy message from Hocksley. “Yeah, I started out making meth, but as soon as I got turned on to acid I wasn’t interested in that shit any more. I’ve been trying to get all my old friends off of it. Elaine is a really old friend.”

The Fleishacker mansion with working gas chandeliers in some of the rooms was now a drug house and a site for some big acid deals that would go down. Somewhat amazing that Hocksley himself was there, but LSD was a new drug on the scene, and not yet illegal. In fact it wouldn’t be illegal for at least a year or more. The distribution network was in its infant stages and Zane and Jimmy were about to be part of it. The money for the deal they were putting together came from Tim. Tim was going to Stanford. He came from Durham, North Carolina, and his father owned a radio station. Tim had more money than everyone else and used it to be a crazier hippie than anyone else. One time Zane woke up coughing to the strains of Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”. Tim had crept into his room, turned on the music and stuck a lit joint between his sleeping lips.

“Take me for a trip upon your magic swirling ship.

My senses have been stripped.

My hands can’t feel to grip…”

Dylan was becoming an oracle for the entire generation, chronicling all the various drug experiences, street scenes, and bizarre head spaces. He was constantly re-inventing himself, and each incarnation seemed more convoluted and out there than the last. Zane listened to Bob Dylan as if he was describing Zane’s life.

Zane often reflected, “How did he know this is what I’m going through?” “The chimes of freedom were flashing,” at the same time that “Johnny was in the basement mixin’ up the medicine.”

So there they were in the old Fleishacker mansion capping up acid. The acid arrived as bags of powder and had to be loaded into individually dosed gelatin capsules. A capping party could be a lot of fun until too much acid was absorbed through the skin or breathed through the air. Then not much work got done. Elements of the old Tenderloin downtown San Francisco hard drug scene were combining with starry-eyed erstwhile college students from suburbia to supply the new appetite for psychedelic experiences. It was almost an article of faith that experience, any experience was good. After all they’d all grown up in or lived through the wasteland of the fifties where Elvis’ gyrating hips couldn’t even be shown on TV and conformity was more than expected. It was enforced. As the War heated up, it was easy to say, “No matter what I’m doing it’s not as dangerous as creeping through the jungle getting shot at by Viet Cong.”

Boundaries were dissolving right and left. No use saying, “I’ll never do ______,” because the next day or the day after some combination of circumstances and head space, and there you’d be, doing whatever it was you’d sworn you wouldn’t do.

Being a small-time hustler, Gary also pimped young girls that were addicted to speed, or maybe they gravitated to him or anyone they thought might protect them. One day he brought a girl by and dropped her off. She was strung out and willing to do anything for her next shot of crystal. Jimmy, the old soldier, took her under his wing, but she also looked to Zane for favors, like finding a vein in the back of her hand that would still accept a needle. Her arms were already covered with purple lesions from shooting up excessively and without sterile precautions. She was sleeping in Jimmy’s bed and returning sexual favors for whatever care was being provided to her.

“You want her tonight?”

“Uh, sure, I guess.”

Zane found himself in Jimmy’s bed with something or someone he didn’t understand at all. Her eyes were rolling wildly. There was no sense of making contact with a real person. She was sexually turned on. He wasn’t at all. After a few minutes of feeling progressively freaked out and at a loss about what to do next, he got up and found Jimmy in his room.

“I can’t do this.”

“OK.”

Zane never did partake of the many prostitutes, young and old, who plied their trade on the streets of the Fillmore and other districts of San Francisco. It was way too scary and maybe just felt wrong. When he was older he might reflect on not contributing to the exploitation, the lack of any real human connection, and the dangers of disease. In 1964 it was just an emotional reaction of fear and repulsion and guilt.

Dropping acid was part of the mix, but for Zane it still hadn’t lived up to its billing. He often felt bottled up like something was supposed to happen, but it couldn’t get out of its cage to happen. He tried lying in a dark room while a friend read passages out of The Psychedelic Experience. He rode around town with friends. He’d heard Richard Alpert speak in person about the importance of set and setting, meaning where you do it and what your expectations are. Imprinting was another term Alpert used, like the way baby ducks in their innocent openness imprint on their mother as mother. If someone else shows up at the crucial moment they will imprint on whoever or whatever has appeared to them. All these concepts were insightful and sophisticated and clearly came from a lot of experience and data gathering, but they were hard for a 19 year old to apply on the level of his experience. Zane wasn’t quite sure what he needed to do to have the kind of trips that other people were raving about.

He was still going to classes and dabbling in literature. One day he took some speed on his way school. Instead of going to class, he sat at a desk in a hallway and wrote a crazy, fanciful, tripped out short story about Kaw-liga, the wooden Indian from the Hank Williams song, and Sita, one of the East Indian goddesses. This was the kind of writing he thought he wanted to do, stream of consciousness, imaginary and strange.

The come-down off the speed was ferocious. That night he sat in his bathtub trembling in terror. Every sound stimulated more paranoia. All of his worst fears were about to burst through his front door and eat him or arrest him or further emasculate him in some way. Toward morning it was finally over, and he definitely wondered if it was worth it. Part of the dilemma was that drugs like pot and psychedelics opened a person up to new experience with a certain innocence and vulnerability, but the scene required a lot of hiding and secretiveness. Drug possession was a felony punishable by years in prison. Draft evasion was a felony punishable by years in prison. Already Zane had a friend who had totally assumed a new identity. His girlfriend had changed her name as well. They hoped to remain invisible to the authorities so that the draft would never catch up with him. He had to live in a shadow world, an underground economy where no records could ever be used to trace him down. There grew to be more and more an us-vs.-them mentality. Like the old union song said, “Which side are you on?”

A loose coalition was forming of those who for one reason or another did not buy into the mainstream version of reality. In the summer of `64 while Zane was in Monterey, several of his friends went to Mississippi to work for civil rights and voting rights. That was the summer that three such civil rights workers were murdered by the sheriff of one of the Mississippi counties. Zane remembered traveling with his parents and stopping at a gas station in Charleston, South Carolina, in the summer of ’63. There was a march of elementary school kids going on down the street. His mother probably referred to them, politely she thought, as pickaninnies. The gas station attendant was a big dumb-looking, dumb-sounding cracker, whose tone was loud and threatening.

“If you left it up to me, I’d know what to do about them niggers.”

All that Zane could think was, “Pump that gas, and let’s get the hell out of here.” The edge of violence was scary as hell and lived up to all his stereotypes of the Deep South.

Demonstrations had begun in San Francisco by the Ad Hoc Committee to End Racial Discrimination. Various businesses were targeted as having discriminatory hiring policies. The racial mix of their employees did not reflect the racial mix of the city at large, often less than one per cent black compared to more than 20% of San Francisco’s total population. Among these businesses were the Sheraton-Palace Hotel, Bank of America, and the dealerships of Auto Row. When he was not preoccupied with experimenting with various drugs, Zane took part in some of these marches, as did some of his friends, singing “Solidarity Forever” and chanting, “Jobs now!” It was another way of being part of a larger circle. “We shall not be moved,” was the recurrent chorus of the political movement beginning to take place on many fronts.

The Free Speech Movement was going full-tilt at UC Berkeley. It had started to address university policies of hand picking who would and would not be allowed to speak on the campus. The Movement rapidly expanded into a number of social and political issues including the Vietnam War Resistance and People’s Park. Mario Savio, an articulate orator and leader of FSM, had thrown down the gauntlet and defined the high stakes of what was going on. It rang true. It was radical. It was extreme. It was heroic.

“There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies on the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”

Brave words, slightly suicidal, and indeed the media had already treated everyone to the image of a Buddhist monk in Vietnam burning himself up as a form of protest. So even suicide was contemplated as a legitimate form of opposition to the monolithic oppressive system. Lesser forms of suicide, such as slowly destroying oneself with drugs, gained a relative legitimacy. As if to say, “I am an instrument of my destruction, but not the prime cause. The prime cause is this machine that is grinding everyone to dust whether you resist or not.” The choice was not whether to be killed, but rather how to be killed. Better to die on the streets of America in some form of resistance, than to die in the jungles of Vietnam as a contract killer for the banks and oil companies. Seems like a strange logic to justify drug abuse, but twisted logic was endemic to the times. The establishment had begun corruption of the language. They did not attack; they made pre-emptive strikes. They did not have concentration camps; they had strategic hamlets. They did not drop bombs; they were anti-personnel devices. We did not take dangerous drugs; we were pursuing mind-expanding experiences.

Lots of young people were running scared and too scared to stop running. They felt cornered with a need to counter-attack sometimes against themselves. Sometimes the flight was into what Rollo May later called “false innocence”. The term “flower child” summed up that impulse. So what were they, flower children, hard-core drug addicts, dangerous terrorist revolutionaries, or scared kids trying to create a reality they could understand and live comfortably in? They felt terrorized and desperately wanted to fight back or find a safe haven.

One day in late Spring, Zane dropped some acid and wandered up on Haight Street. The sun was shining and everyone seemed mellow, easy, peaceful. Hey, there’s Chet Helms. “Hey, Chet.” They hung out just standing on the street, not saying much, no hurry to get anywhere, enjoying the colors, commenting telepathically on the impressionistic landscape: Was Haight Street a Utrillo painting? Did the sky look more like Monet or Van Gogh? Someone walked by with a bouquet of sunflowers. That was definitely Van Gogh. That girl there, her skin looks like Renoir’s girls at the piano. Another girl dances by, long legs, poofy little skirt, she’s a Degas ballerina. People have begun to dress up in costumes to just to walk down Haight Street. It’s an ongoing carnival. It’s scene after scene from Children of Paradise, Les Enfants du Paradis, WWII resistance fighters disguised as circus performers. It’s all about the dance. Everyone is dancing. Someone parks their car and cranks up the tunes. The dancers are from all over the world, classical Indian, traditional African, simpering Chinese and Japanese, Greek men arm in arm, Russians kicking out with their great big boots. And everyone is an animal. The lion is lying down with the lamb. That girl has the cutest cat face, and she moves like a cat, slinky and silky, no bumps or grinds in her satiny slide. That spade cat, he’s a panther sauntering down the street with all that restrained power, ready to pounce, ready to take what’s his. Hey, there’s my friend John he’s trippin’ too. You diggin’ the light, man. You ever seen colors like today. The whole world’s like a bunch of those rainbow Popsicles just drippin’ into each other. Oh wow, I want to lick it all. I’d like to lick her especially.

“Hey, get your vibes up!”

‘Was that Janice Joplin tellin’ me to get my vibes up. Now there’s Pure Land Buddhas floating through the sky. But they’re all pink. Whoops! Now pearl gray, now baby blue turning into dancing Shiva/Shakti in divine embrace. Joined at the heart. Joined at all their chakras. They’re dancing in a ring of fire, but they don’t get burned. Why’s she curled up on the sidewalk moaning. Oh well, it’s her trip. Walking to the Park with John. The sky’s exploding, but it’s so beautiful, awesomely beautiful. You can’t possess any of it. Enjoy it. Let it go. The Park is painted by Van Gogh. The trees all have “S” curves in their trunks. The trees are dancing. They’re dancing with each other. They’re dancing with us. Buzzing. Where’s all that energy coming from? Man, it’s the grass. It’s the earth. It’s the trees. Wow, the earth is energized. That energy is flowing in every direction. People walk by. They’re either pink and purple or green and yellow. Pink and purple looks more healthy. Pink and purple looks good enough to eat. Strawberries and boysenberries spilling out of people’s faces and falling on the ground.’

Random hippie in the park, “Hey man, you wanna hit? Yeah you, wanna a toke?”

“Sure, yeah sure.”

‘The smoke has little creatures in it, elves and leprechauns and fairies flying in and out and scattering fairy dust. The leprechauns have big funny looking eyes. They look at me and make me laugh. The elves are in the bushes now. There’s a pretty little brown elf girl. She disappears under a leaf. The leaf is liquid. Wow, am I seeing the protoplasm flowing in the leaf? Carousel music, oh yeah, there’s the merry-go-round.  Let’s go ride on the horses. Close your eyes. The horses are real horses. I’m riding across the steppes. I’m a Cossack with a scalp-lock and a long mustache and a curved sword and big baggy pants. I’m an Apache riding bareback, hair and head-sash streaming in the wind. I’m going home on my faithful horse, too tired to guide her, she knows the way. I’m a gaucho, a cowboy, a Mongol, a Musketeer, oh I like that one, broad-brimmed hat with feathers, thin sword, dashing through Paris, Zorro all in black slashing “Z’s” on the chests of the oppressors. Hi-yo Silver away, it’s the Lone Ranger and his faithful Indian friend, Tonto, it’s my grandfather leading the grand entry into the rodeo on his horse, Blaze. The ride ends.

‘Now we’re foot soldiers. “Die Gedanken sind frei, (the thankful are free)”, Spanish Civil War, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Gary Cooper making love to Ingrid Bergman. That girl sure can move that hula hoop. Baby, baby! Japanese tea garden, so peaceful, such harmony, feels so comfortable, could just curl up or just sit and contemplate. The arch of the wooden bridge, the bamboo, everything moves gently in the ocean breeze. Like coming home to a safe place. Sit for a while as people pass by murmuring pleasant sounds, not words. There is only the Buddha. All-encompassing, pure land, Buddha Land, trees and flowers and grasses, even people are part of the harmony.

‘There is no need to decide who you are. You will become who you are meant to be. There is no rush. There is plenty of time to be reborn. You can remain in the Pure Land as long as you wish. Only your desire will cause you to be reborn into a human body. Desire and karma, all of us must resolve those things that we’ve set in motion in previous lives as well as this one. Remain in the Pure Land as long as you can. It will help you in all future actions to bring the peace and oneness of the Pure Land with you. Remain with us in Buddhahood. May all beings be liberated.’

Eventually Zane stirred from his reverie. The sun was low in the Western sky. The Tea Garden was closing. Time to make his way back home. Just as soon stay right here for a long time.

Sierra Gist 

First there is a mountain.

Then there is no mountain. Then there is.

Donovan, after an old Zen saying

By the summer of ’65 Zane felt terrorized by the scene that had gathered around him in the basement on Oak Street. He was ready to flee to Bakersfield for the summer and leave Jimmy to deal with the minions of the Tenderloin and Fillmore and the drug distribution network. There was no steady girlfriend, just a couple of one-niters that didn’t go anywhere afterwards. One of these was another Mercy High School alumna, friend of Kerry Ann. Ironically Jimmy became really enamored of Rochelle, and when he told Zane that he was really interested in her, Zane stepped out of the way. Regret and relief, he didn’t get the girl one more time, but he also didn’t have to deal with having got the girl. These Mercy girls were a handful, being newly off the leash and all. Just like  Joe and Kelly, Jimmy really seemed to want Rochelle. Zane could take her or leave her. Just like Joe and Kelly, Jimmy and Rochelle were later married. Jimmy went to school at Berkeley, and they lived next door to Bob Avakian of the FSM and later the Revolutionary Communist Party, a Maoist oriented organization.

So back to the relative safety and simplicity of Bakersfield. His parents gave him the job of painting their house, so he had gainful employment for the summer. Bob Dylan had made the crossover onto the pop charts so there was his raspy nasal twang resounding from the air waves of AM radio as Zane applied paint to wood for hours on end.

“Once upon a time

You do the bumps and grinds in your prime, didn’t you?

People call, say beware doll

You thought they were all kidding you.

You used to laugh about ever’body who was hanging out;

Now you don’t talk so loud

Now you don’t seem so proud

About having to be scrounging your next meal.

How does it feel; how does it feel

To be on your own   with no direction home

Like a rolling stone.”

How could this song make him so nostalgic for the romantic destitution he’d just left behind? Well, he was back in the tame predictable world of suburban America, clean streets, trimmed lawns and trimmed people. Nothing scary or exciting here! He had a small stash of pot with him. Often in the hot afternoons he’d drive a few miles and park on a hill overlooking the lake at Hart Park and get stoned. It just felt pleasant and good, by himself out in nature, the yellow hills above the Kern River.

Some weeks into summer he took a trip back to San Francisco traveling as usual by Greyhound. He met a guy named Chuck on the bus, who was just kicking around from one place to another. They would hang out at Jimmy’s pad and soak up some San Francisco magic. He also wanted to score some pot and acid to take back to Bakersfield.

There had been a bust. Predictably Gil had again run afoul of the narcotics squad. He was so well known to them and they to him, he had a jingle he’d recite:

“Martin and Lawler, Hurley and Dixon,

Shame on you if they catch you fixin’.”

Nobody knew for sure how involved any of the rest of us might be in Gil’s problems, but Fleishacker house and Jimmy’s were on high alert. At the same time nobody was going to stop us “on the road to freedom”, so it wasn’t like anybody was lying low or not getting stoned. Jimmy had such bravado, like he was still some kind of Special Forces operative engaged in evasion and escape.

“Gil’s been busted in court. Flush everything and get out of there.” Instructions followed on where Jimmy’s stash was. For some reason Zane stuck the acid in his pants, but he flushed near an ounce of pot. Then he and Chuck were hotfooting it as casual as they possibly could up the alley behind Oak Street.

“We better get out of town.”

“Sounds like a good idea to me.”

They headed for the Greyhound station.

“You wanna come to Bakersfield. My brother and I are taking a trip to the mountains.”

“Sure. Sounds great.” Chuck traveled with his backpack and sleeping bag, so he was ready.

Zane’s brother, Lee, had completed graduate school in Logan, Utah, and returned to the San Joaquin Valley. He and his wife were expecting their second child. Zane, Chuck and Lee, drove up to Mineral King, a wilderness area just south of Sequoia National Park. The plan was to hike a ways up the trail to Florence Peak, camp and go to the top the next day. Zane had brought the acid. Chuck had never done acid before, but he was game, so they both dropped acid and headed up the trail with Lee. After awhile the acid was clearly coming on. Zane could see Chuck was going into that other world, so he wasn’t surprised when Chuck told them:

“I’m just going to hang out and take it easy. You guys go on.”

Lee was suspicious. “Is he all right? He seems weird.” Lee was a drinker. He’d never done illegal drugs, so he qualified as square or straight.

The acid was energizing for Zane. By midday he was a ways ahead of Lee, who called up to him.

“Let’s stop for lunch.”

“You go ahead. I’ve gotta keep going.”

Lee set about pleading and reasoning with him a bit, but Zane was adamant and continued up the trail leaving Lee below with his can of sardines and bag of dried fruit. What a relief to be alone on the trail with only his own thoughts. By then the acid had really come on and Zane was feeling ecstatic and energized, and all the natural colors were brighter. He felt the aliveness of everything. And he reached the top of Florence Peak. What a thrill, 12,000 and some feet, his first real mountain climbing, on top of the world.

“I’m here on the top of Florence Peak in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Everything around me is pulsating with life. Even the rocks are alive. I feel connected with it all, like I’m part of the mountain, and it’s part of me. I wish I could communicate this.”

This was Zane’s first time being on acid out in nature, not just a city park, but the far fucking out wilderness. He was enjoying himself a lot on top of the world. There was a sense of communion with others on top of other mountains all over the world. Invisible lines of connection among all of them strung between America and Asia in particular, holy men in the Himalayas praying and meditating and chanting the names of God. This cosmic connection affirmed by all those who knew to confirm it. He suddenly realized the sun was low in the Western sky. Time to stop communing and start walking.

“Guess I better be getting down off this mountain.”

Sure enough, by the time he was half way down, the last light had disappeared from the sky. No light, no nothing, no panic. Then two things happened. It seemed that his feet had eyes or feelers that could sense where the trail was. If he led with his feet and didn’t step down until he was on secure ground, then he couldn’t fall. At times it seemed that the trail was lit up by some invisible source and his way down was clearly illuminated. So in the dark of early night with no moon, he strode down that trail like he was walking in midday. He was beginning to get some of the magic of psychedelics. They truly were mind-opening or consciousness-expanding. It all kind of made sense.

“Where you been?”

“I made it to the top.”

“But it’s dark. Been dark for a while. I was about to send the ranger after you.”

“I was all right.”

“How was I supposed to know?”

“I don’t know. Have some faith, or tune in, I guess.”

“This Chuck guy is really weird. What’s wrong with him?”

“We dropped some acid.”

Lee got quiet. Zane could tell that his last answer had only increased his brother’s aggravation. He didn’t realize then there would be retaliation. Zane found Chuck and they talked openly about what they had seen and done. Lee stewed, convinced that all of this was just crazy talk, and anybody who took drugs couldn’t be trusted to have good judgment about anything. Chuck must have brought the drugs. His little brother was being led astray. As the night and the next day wore on, he built a bigger and bigger case. Chuck and Zane had a lot to talk about. Zane was enjoying his role of initiating someone into psychedelics and enjoying how comfortable and totally at ease he had felt yesterday while climbing, being on and descending the mountain. This was his first time tripping in nature. It would not be his last.

His brother tattled on him. The reaction of the parents reinforced everything that Lee had been feeling. They spirited Chuck away and dropped him at the Greyhound station. Zane never saw him again, though they exchanged a few letters.

“Is there any more?”

“No, we took it all,” Zane lied.

“Where’d you get it, from Chuck?”

“No, he got it from me.”

Zane’s parents always believed that he was being corrupted by others. Any bad thing he did could only be attributed to the influence of bad company. Even though from early in high school it was Zane pulling others into his crazy schemes, his parents were absolutely convinced that nothing he did wrong was his fault. They had time and again tried to protect him by driving away friends who were perceived to be leading him down some primrose path. It hadn’t worked, but clearly they had no other strategies. Once they got rid of Chuck they began to relax and lecture Zane on why he should not be taking LSD. He listened, nodded, tried not to yawn. The only thing he learned was not to trust his brother with anything his brother couldn’t handle. During one such lecture he went to the medicine cabinet, found his father’s barbiturates and thrown them on the table.

“That’s different. That’s medicine,” mom jumped to the defense.

Yeah, like Dylan said, “Johnny’s in the basement mixing up the medicine.” The old man had been ordering these same pills in bulk from some pharmacy in Utah ever since the family had come to California. That’s a lot of medicine. Anyway there was no reasoning with them. They had their own strict categories, and that was that, end of story. He would be going back to San Francisco soon for fall semester. So no sweat.

Meanwhile one other good thing happened that summer. Zane met Josie. Well, he’d met Josie before, but began hanging out with her.  Still as impatient as ever one night he tried to get it on with her in her childhood church, to which for some reason she still had a key. Having sex on the floor next to the pulpit appealed to his odd sense of revolution or outrage or doing the most forbidden thing, but Josie was having none of it. Guess it wasn’t a good place for her to relax. This time he didn’t give up or run away. For some reason, unlike the others, he was really interested in Josie, and she seemed to be interested in him.

Coming Up Josie’s

Honey, everything’s coming up roses and daffodils!

Everything’s coming up sunshine and Santa Claus!

Everything’s gonna be bright lights and lollipops!

Everything’s coming up roses for you and me!

–Stephen Sondheim and Julie Styne

She was the one he would win for himself. Didn’t totally know why, but he wanted her like nothing he’d ever wanted before. She would be going to SF State in the fall, so he soon convinced her to move in with him. She had been with another friend, and a third friend was interested in getting together with her. But this one was his. Dane was moving out of his place on Linden Alley about two blocks from the Oak Street pad. No way Zane was going back there, too much heat, too many strange people. Maybe he could have a girlfriend and go to school and stay away from trouble.

It was one of those warm and sunny days that San Francisco gets in late summer,  The natives do their best to take advantage, as if they actually lived in the well-advertised Sunny California instead of the cool North Coast fog belt, to which the Bay Area claimed membership.

Josie made the suggestion. “Let’s go to the beach.”

They took the streetcar all the way to Ocean Beach. Even there the warm temperatures had brought forth a coterie of strollers, waders, and the more brave body-surfers. They walked barefoot on the firm wave-smoothed sand.

“I’m going in the water.”

And she was gone. In a couple of minutes Zane could see her beyond the breakers happily stroking through the gentle swells of the blue-green Pacific. He was a little bit worried and nervous. Mostly he was thinking, ‘She’s the girl. I’m the guy. She’s out there swimming in the ocean. I’m standing here on the beach. She’s being the brave one.’ It had never occurred to him that you could go out beyond the breakers and just swim in the ocean.

He swam out and joined her. The water was really cold, but for a while it didn’t bother him at all. He rode the swells. They rode the swells together. They laughed. They yelled in delight. This was really far out. She had just led him into incredible joy. What a girl! He was really glad he had joined her swimming in the ocean in their street clothes. He wanted to be with her even more. Occasionally, they slid by each other, lightly touching or propelled into contact by the waves.

Eventually the cold was too penetrating and they swam back to the shore. He was shivering. She wasn’t. They had almost no dry clothes. He didn’t care that he was shivering. It had been such a gas. He was becoming totally enthralled with this exciting adventurous girl he’d latched onto.

They took the streetcar back to Linden Alley. Gradually his shivering subsided. People on the streetcar got a kick out of these youngsters being young and foolish, but so happy and playful with their foolishness. They stripped off their wet clothes, crawled into bed and held each other, just enjoying the sensations of gradually getting warm together.

It was Dane’s advice that Zane had followed in finally registering for the draft. Dane had been an enfant terrible in high school, a budding poet and writer with lots of revolutionary attitude. He’d been kind of a role model for Zane. He went to Antioch College for two years, one of the most liberal make-it-up-as-you-go-along programs in all of academia. Antioch emphasized significant work experience in many geographic locations as an integral part of their academic program. The novelty wore off for Dane and he transferred to SF State after two years. SF State had a renowned creative writing department, so it seemed like a good next choice. Plus, so many friends from Bakersfield were either there or at Berkeley. Dane once wrote a polemic in response to a proposed dress code at Bakersfield High School. He got in lots of trouble for making copies on a mimeograph machine and distributing them widely on campus. It began, “Have you heard that sweat shirts are a Communist plot…”

During the Oak Street days Zane would often go to Dane’s place for respite from the craziness of living with Jimmy. Dane had a calming influence, and among other pursuits they would write poetry together, alternating lines and time at the keyboard.

“…the Lord stood there

with his hat on his head and his hands in his pockets

corncob pipe clenched between his jaws…”

Dane also had a lot of interesting theories about history. He seemed to know a lot about the Soviet Union, particularly with regard to how brutal and destructive the communist leadership had been. Lots of people postured as leftists of various colors ranging from bright red to light pink in those days. Most didn’t know much about what they were talking about. Dane was intelligent and informed. His favorite story seemed to be about the death of Stalin.

You see Stalin was on his deathbed after 25 years of ruling the Soviet Union with an iron fist. Among those present was Beria, who had been for many years the head of the dreaded Soviet Secret Police. Beria was one of the few survivors from the old leadership of the Communist Party. He had liquidated and purged many others, always showing absolute loyalty to Stalin, but he knew from experience that was no guarantee of his own survival. It appeared that Stalin had died. Beria began to dance around the room chanting, “The tyrant is dead. The tyrant is dead.” Stalin raised his head opened his eyes and looked directly at Beria, who froze in his tracks. Then Stalin’s head fell back and he breathed his last.

Dane also rode a BMW motorcycle, the one with the opposed cylinder heads. He was headed to Berkeley for graduate school when Zane took over the pad. For a small price he left all his furniture for Zane, including an enormous work table that was way too big for the small apartment, but fit with the theatrical attitude with which they approached their lives. Things that didn’t fit were highly valued.

There was an unspoken ethos, like some primitive form of socialism. Those-who-had shared. There was a faith that those who didn’t have eventually would have, and it would all work out more or less equally in the long run. Zane and Josie had moved into Dane’s old apartment, but often they were not alone. Mick’s on-again off-again marriage was currently off. His wife had gone back to Bakersfield, and Mick slept wherever he was on any given night. Rod had wandered up from Bakersfield at some point, and he also crashed wherever he happened to be. Rod had thoroughly rejected the values of his working class family. Even his friends thought of him as weird. Heavily bearded and reeking of the Camel straights he smoked like a house afire, Rod espoused any available radical philosophy. He was definitely into the strange and offbeat authors of French existentialism and their precursors. Themes of alienation and oppression pervaded his reading list, which included titles such as The Stranger, Journey to the End of Night, Season in Hell and Flowers of Evil.  He studied French and German and ultimately wanted to read everything in the original language. Much of Europe was still trying to digest the brutal horror show known as World War II. An ongoing battle raged between being and nothingness, pervaded by fear and trembling, and positing theories such as “gratuitous crime”. The battle against any perceived form of authoritarianism raged unabated. Law and order were code words for oppression. Images of technological homogenization had contrasted with the pristine complexity and simplicity of nature and Zen in the writings of the Beats.

On Linden Alley there was no door, only a curtain, between the kitchen and the bedroom. The bedroom, which was barely large enough for a double bed, also served as  a hallway between the kitchen and the small living room at the front of the apartment. Privacy was an odd dance among the participants with an underlying spirit of enthusiasm for living in some outrageously new way. Whoever was there on a given night had a warm place to sleep, and they weren’t living with their parents. It was not where they had come from, the suburbs at night suffused with the eerie silver light of a TV set in every living room sucking the singular attention of every two-legged creature in every tract house, where dogs barked at anyone who dared to pass by on foot instead of conveyed by the low rumble of a multi-horsepower gas engine.

The landlady, an ancient woman known as Mrs. Meg, filled in Zane on the history of these strange little apartments half a block from the Fell St. off-ramp of the Skyway.

“Back at the turn of the century the rich men of San Francisco built these places for their kept women. They could come out here quite a ways from downtown and enjoy the favors of their special ladies. Wasn’t much else around here back in those days. Hayes Street here was called Hayes Valley `cause it was old man Hayes cow pasture where much of the milk for the City came from.”

Mrs. Meg was an entertaining old gal and didn’t seem to care what went on in these apartments with a long history of ill repute as long as the rent got paid on time. In a predominantly black neighborhood, the tenants of her eight-plex tended to be young, white and counter-culture.

Zane and Josie were riding a wave with each other, and nothing could be bad. Nothing was insurmountable. It was all a grand adventure devoted to new experience and exploration. As Fall wore on into the rainy season, Josie liked to walk in the rain by herself. She’d return in an hour or two drenched but not cold. All she would say about it was, “I just like it.” She came back so calm. It was like she’d just had some ritual cleansing bath, and all her cares had been washed away.

Sex was abundant and good, except that Josie had never had an orgasm. Zane took on that challenge with a determination that he would be the means to her first orgasm. She was touched and amused by his futile efforts. His attention to her, his determination to please her, his wild enthusiasm for crazy capers touched her and entertained her. She was less concerned with having an orgasm than he was, and he was working hard.

“Seems like you’re trying to make me have an orgasm.”

“Well…yeah…maybe.”

“I don’t think it works that way.” Neither of them was particularly knowledgeable about sexuality from any objective viewpoint. Typical young man for the times, Zane had little understanding of the emotional components of relationship. There were no sex education classes. The Joy of Sex had not been published. In other words they were pretty much flying blind. When not stuck in a predictable rut, they would engage in some tentative trial and error to see what could be whomped up in the way of sexual pleasure for her. She enjoyed his attentions even though there was no big “O”.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with homosexuality. People should not be persecuted for the way they are. It’s just another way to be human.”

“OK, I guess.” Josie was a little tentative, but she came from a liberal background so she saw no reason to argue the point. Zane was still going to classes from time to time. SF State was a hotbed of liberal and radical philosophy, but this conclusion really came from some deep feelings about justice and injustice that often fueled Zane’s pronouncements and actions.

Chet Helms was having a big old birthday bash. Chet had already become the best known of a group who called themselves the Family Dog. They were promoting full-scale dance concerts in large venues, which were showcases for the emerging San Francisco sound rock bands and a place for numerous long-haired freaks to drop acid and dance until the wee hours of morning. The first bell-bottomed jeans were homemade jobs. The outer seam was split and then filled with a triangle of bright cloth. Paisley, polka dot, flowers or solid color were equally good. Style was everything and nothing, meaning you could wear whatever you felt like. It was all groovy,  total costumes from granny glasses and granny skirts and granny boots to short skirts and thigh high boots to Nehru jackets and various articles off the bargain rack at Cost-Plus Imports. Be yourself, or be who you wanted to be.

The first “Acid Test” was held at the Longshoremen’s Hall in North Beach featuring the Charlatans, the Great Society, the Jefferson Airplane, and the Marvels. The Charlatans included Dan Hicks, who went on to quite a solo career. Grace Slick was singing lead for the Great Society prior to her extensive career with the Airplane. Lots of folks including Zane were tripping around the Longshoremen’s Hall, which was already legendary in San Francisco. The Longshoremen had been one of the most radical, left-wing unions in the United States. On one occasion they called a strike that virtually closed the major ports of the West Coast. Outside the hall was a large sculpture by Beniamino Bufano, sculptor and favorite son of San Francisco whose saintly renderings blessed many public places in the Bay Area. That this venue should be the sight for one of the first large celebrations of the new radical culture was highly appropriate.

Girls and boys alike were eschewing the use of razors. If hard-core hippiedom had prevailed, Gillette may very well have gone bankrupt. Music accompanied by projected light show, strobe lights and other visual effects, a new genre was being born. With all the tripped-out visual and auditory stimulation, there were lots of ooohs and aaahs as the bands played on and the audience danced on or simply moved to the grooves in whatever way they felt like at the moment. Do your thing! Dance your dance! Shake that thing! Not all the mottos had yet been invented, but they were being done as all the stimuli combined to open people up to a free expression of themselves perhaps previously unknown in white American culture. The opening of hearts and minds facilitated by psychedelics was qualitatively different and deeper than any previous intoxicant know in American culture. The anthology of the Collective Unconscious was accessed in brilliant images and with an aura of clarity and beauty. Knowledge was directly experienced with startling clarity such as microscopic and macroscopic visions of things not ordinarily perceived by the human eye. Memories stored in the DNA emerged like movies projected on the retina. Consciousness and experience of other species moved through with the ease of changing a TV channel. Spiritual awarenesses thought only to be available to great saints and mystics presented themselves like the fruit of a great flowering tree ripe for the plucking. The early hippies began to learn that they could pick and choose and to a great extent begin to create their own reality. There were always surprises and new things that had to be learned, but the understanding of how to work with one’s own conscious awareness was growing in quantum leaps. And there was no reason not to pursue the joy and ecstasy of it all. How much delight could be shared with each other? Was it real? On the other hand, if the reality of straight society was the only reality then life would be pretty grim and bleak. The War and the Injustice continued to be at the top of the daily news. They killed Kennedy, and they might kill us, but in the meantime we would have our time in the sun.

Dance on, hug, kiss, and be who you really are. Society’s program prepares us only to be cogs in that machine that Mario Savio was talking about. We’re just going to have to figure it out for ourselves. Don’t trust anyone over 30. If it feels good, do it. Try it; you might like it. It felt like the revolution was happening, and it was not a revolution of guns and violence. It was a revolution of love and peace suffused with music and beautiful visual images and spiritual awarenesses that went far beyond the conventional straight-America version of how to live life.

So Chet Helms, co-launcher of psychedelic rock dances, was having a birthday party at a huge warehouse south of Market filled with several hundred people and music and visuals. The people were tripping through in various co-created mythological dramas. Of course the punch was spiked with acid. Zane knew it when he felt that characteristic sense of energy and heightened awareness. The night wore on in a great bubble of collective oneness. Nothing stood out as any more important than anything else. In the early morning hours he decided to walk home. Josie had not come with him, and he was missing her.

Walking along Market Street in that blissful state of openness characteristic of psychedelic euphoria in a pleasant environment with lots of dancing to smooth out all the wrinkles in the physical energy, Zane was hailed by a rather average black guy, not tall, not short, not good-looking, not ugly.

“Hey, what’ that you wearin’?” He came over to Zane and he was fingering the wraparound Oriental top Zane had donned for the evening. “Oh, I like that. Where you get that?”

“Probably Cost-Plus.”

“Oh, I have to get me one of those. You wanna come to my place?”

There was no censor functioning in Zane’s mind. There was nothing scary about this guy. He felt friendly and cordial. So they walked a few blocks to Alan’s apartment. Once inside it soon became obvious this was intended as a homosexual liaison. Alan’s clothes were off revealing a good-sized erection.

“What do you want me to do?”

“I want you to suck it.”

So Zane found himself giving head to a cordial young black man, who seemed to have no inhibitions about his sexuality.

“Catch it now. Catch it. Don’t lose any.”

Zane swallowed all the cum. He felt somewhat in a trance but not unpleasant. Then they talked. Alan held him but also got up and moved around a bit restlessly.

“I’ve been in every branch of the service, army, navy, air force. I’ll show you.” He went to his closet and pulled out discharge papers demonstrating the truth of his assertions. “I’ve been with guys everywhere. Never had any trouble. You’d be surprised how many of us there are in the service.”

Alan had another erection, so Zane brought him off once more. Then Alan insisted on returning the favor. So this friendly black guy was now sucking his cock. Zane was a bit tight. There was the post-psychedelic physical tension and then the strangeness and newness of all that was happening, but Alan was determined to bring him to a climax. He was a good lover, responsive, considerate and tried to soothe him with encouraging words.

“Come on now; you can do it. Yeah, you’re getting there. I can feel it. Come on now. Oh, that’s nice, a little moan.”

Indeed, Alan had coaxed him into an orgasm, not the best he’d ever had, but still pleasant.

“Well, I guess I’ll go home now.”

“OK, you come back and see me. Here’s my phone number.” He scrawled it on a scrap of paper.

When Zane hit the streets it was already first light and in a few minutes he was home. He crawled into bed with Josie. She roused and they began to make love. He was tender and slow and really felt her. She moved with him and they moved together as if no one was leading, no one was following. He felt an overpowering love for her like his heart was blowing up like a big blue balloon, cool yet warm as warm could be. She began to come, shaking and moaning and even screaming a couple of times. It seemed that she came for a long time. Then he came and she came with him again. They lay in bed together, he marveling over the strangeness of it all, like this young black guy had somehow taught him how to make love. She just felt fulfilled in a way she’d never imagined and loving and very grateful to Zane who had somehow turned the trick for her and introduced her into this mystery called orgasm. After that their love life was different. He was tuned into her. He felt her. She felt him, and she was much more open and loving toward him. She was a beautiful woman. He was a beautiful man.

Later that day he told her about his liaison with the black man. All she said was, “I’m not surprised, the way you’ve been talking about all of that.”

“You know, it was good, but I want to be with you.”

“OK, I want to be with you too. I always said if somebody gave me an orgasm I’d stay with him forever.”

Zane felt proud and happy. She was his baby. He was her man. Together they would be the greatest and do awesome things. She really had no judgment about his experiment on the other side of the street. She loved him and accepted him. He began to embrace black culture and language in a huge way. He was talking ghetto slang and calling everybody, baby. Like he was the new shill for black culture.

“Black is where it’s at, baby.” She not only put up with this. She embraced it. It’s like they were walking together into a whole new world. As good white liberal kids, loving other races was pretty much just a theory. Now they were embracing the folks around them with open hearts, without fear. They were, in fact, believing that black might be better. It sure did feel good, really alive and connected with the rest of life. Like the soul song said,

“I feel good, like I knew that I would.

I feel fine, most all of the time

With you, with you,  oh…oh…oh…oh”

On the one hand everything was groovy. On the other hand their kitchen was again becoming a site for a lot of heavier drug use. Mick and Rod were hanging out a lot, and crystal was part of the mix. No one really knew what a dangerous drug it was, even though they’d all seen meth freaks with rotted teeth, who jabbered gibberish and seemed to have no purpose in life other than to find and take more crystal. They didn’t believe they were the kind of people to become addicts like that.

“Hey, they lied to us about pot. They’re probably lying about everything else.” They’d all seen the health class movies in high school delineating the inevitable destruction of those who started down that perilous dope road with an initial puff of marijuana. The classic was Reefer Madness, which was shown in art theaters in the `60’s as a comedy and generally stimulated a high level of hilarity among a mostly stoned audience.

A favorite pastime was drawing on the walls with magic markers. Rod actually had some artistic talent, so his drawings impressed everyone. Even folks that thought he was just extremely weird were awed by the designs that came out of his magic markers. He could do meth and draw for hours creating intricate convoluted multi-colored psychedelic swirls containing a multiplicity of images that emerged out of and disappeared into each other.  His life-size drawing in the hallway of a buzzard with the moon rising over its shoulder was a masterpiece of dark imagery. Zane’s favorite was a rainbow oval on the kitchen wall intentionally drawn to resemble labial lips. They all were working at being crazy artists of some kind while assiduously rejecting labels of any kind.

One morning Zane was up early. For some crazy reason he decided to do some crystal. Opting against shooting, he dropped some white powder into a shot of whiskey. Down the hatch! Soon he was out the door in the early morning sunlight, walking west at a brisk pace. Up the hill out of the Fillmore and through the Haight, he breezed through the several miles of Golden Gate Park and arrived at the ocean. It was a sunny day even at the ocean, and the sun warmed his back as he gazed over the waves at the infinite blue water. Somehow he fell in with a guy and two girls who were also at the early morning beach.

“Wanna ride with us?”

“Sure.”

Zane and one girl got in the back of the `51 Plymouth. It was just like the one Zane totaled when he was 16, chair high seats, massive curved body, soft suspension. They headed north across the Golden Gate Bridge and soon were winding the narrow roads on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais. The driver was hot-rodding to the limits of his and the car’s ability to stay on the road. In the back seat they slid from side to side. No one seemed to be the least bit scared, like this was a normal everyday cruise in the park. They all rode the sensations like a really great carnival ride. Nobody talked. Even when they got back to the freeway and returned to San Francisco, nobody said a word. No one seemed to feel there was anything unusual about not talking, like they had fallen into a collective trance where ordinary reality was suspended. They were both protected from any potential harm and released from needing to maintain normal social amenities. They were all flying high, and anything was possible.

“We’re going to the Haight.”

“OK by me.”

They parked right on Haight Street. It was barely midday. They stood on the sidewalk in the warm sun for a few moments.

Zane addressed the other guy, “Hey, thanks.”

“Anytime.”

Zane walked away down Haight Street towards the apartment on Linden Alley. He never saw any of that trio again. When he got home, Josie was still in bed. He crawled in with her, and they made love.

Beating Up the Draft

Come on mothers throughout the land

Pack your boys off to Vietnam

Come on fathers don’t hesitate

Send your sons off before it’s too late

And you can be the first ones on your block

To have your boy come home in a box

–Country Joe and the Fish

“Don’t ever join the army. They’ll fuck you up. Don’t ever join the army. They’ll fuck you up.”

“I won’t. I won’t”

Over and over Jimmy repeated the same phrases like some really bad cheer at a football game. At the soon to arrive peace marches, chants were simplified, generally to three words like, “No more war.” There were occasional interruptions while he barfed into the toilet he had his arms wrapped around. It was Christmas vacation, 1963. Jimmy was home on leave from Army Special Forces. They had shared a bottle of Chivas Regal at some party. Well, Jimmy had shared more of it than Zane, and Zane was pretty drunk.

That scene was so etched in Zane’s mind, it was his first thought when he received the government postmarked letter that began as they all did, “Greetings.” He could have applied for a student deferment, but that created a conflict in his mind. If he didn’t believe the draft board had a legal right to exist, how could he apply to an illegal entity for some special dispensation? Besides his habit of dropping out and dropping back in at SF State would have eliminated his eligibility for such a deferment anyway. One had to show academic progress, or the deferment would end. Periods of non-attendance would eliminate the “privilege”.

Zane chose his own simplified view as his trance induction for the battle ahead, “They want to kill me.” He decided if he concentrated on that simple fact, he would know what he needed to do. The letter reached him in the late summer of `65, forwarded to Bakersfield from his last address in San Francisco. He felt pretty lost and scared, and didn’t have a plan. In August he had again returned to San Francisco and stayed at Dane’s little apartment on Linden Alley. He thought he would just get up in the morning, take the bus to the Oakland Induction Center and go through the process. In the morning he felt like shit. He was afraid to leave the apartment. He was frozen. He went back to sleep. Late in the morning Dane was standing over him.

“What are you doing? Why’re you still here?”

“I didn’t go.”

“What d’you mean you didn’t go? They’ll put you in jail. They’ll come right here and arrest you.”

“I don’t care.”

“No, no, you gotta care. Look, you don’t have to play it this way. Just call them up and tell them you were really sick this morning and couldn’t make it. They’ll reschedule.”

Sounded reasonable, and of course it was. Dane always seemed to grasp the reality of situations and the necessity to respond in the right way to survive. He was rebellious but not idealistic and definitely not fanatic. So Zane took his advice, and it went just as Dane predicted. So the inevitable was delayed a couple of months. He was saved from his paranoid paralysis by his good friend.

The two months turned out to be crucial. By October Zane was back in San Francisco, living in Dane’s old apartment with Josie, and was able to enlist the aid of other friends. He had the chance to talk to lots of anti-war students at SF State. Everyone had a piece of advice. These pieces began to form a coherent puzzle. Before he knew it Zane had a plan and helpers to carry out the plan. He gathered his gear and his friends to carry off the kind of caper he’d heard about back in Monterey, convince those mother-fucking killers that he was uniquely crazy and unfit for the army.

From Cost-Plus he procured a red cotton kimono and a Pakistani Jinnah cap, a kind of fez. From a junk store on McAllister came a pair of Mahatma Gandhi glasses that completely blurred his field of vision. From an ecclesiastical supply house near Mission Dolores came a three foot high, inch in diameter white candle. He plastered the kimono with bumper strips, buttons and magazine cutouts: “IF WORLD WAR COMES DEATH WILL STRIKE HERE,” “OUT OF ORDER SERVICEMAN HAS BEEN CALLED,” “BURN BABY BURN,” “Mickey Mouse Club Official Mouseketeers,” “watching television will make you STERILE,” “STOP the WAR in VIETNAM,” “SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ANARCHIST,” “U.S.A. Unlimited Senseless Aggression,” “DISARM THE ARMIES AND POLICE—ARM THE POOR,” “OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT,” “I AM AN ENEMY OF THE STATE,” “Love thy Neighbor SEXUAL FREEDOM LEAGUE.” Also included were flags of Cuba and North Vietnam, infrared pictures of human spinal structure and an appeal to stop the war signed by eight recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize including Albert Schweitzer, A.J. Luthuli of South Africa, Linus Pauling and Martin Luther King, Jr.

It read in part, “The war in Vietnam challenges the conscience of the world. None of us can read day after day the reports of the killing, the maiming, and the burning without calling for this inhumanity to end. Our present object is not to apportion blame among the groups or combatants. The one imperative is that this crime against all that is civilized in the family of man shall cease.”

The night before the appointment at the Oakland Induction Center, Josie, Mick and Zane sat up all night in the front room of their little apartment. Mick and Josie painted Zane’s entire body with watercolors and magic markers. Across his chest in four inch letters read, “ARM SHIT”. Mick drew peyote buttons, six inch hypodermic needles, mushroom caps and other paraphernalia. They smoked pot all night. They didn’t sleep. Early in the morning Dan came by in his VW bug. They piled in and headed for Oakland. Mick decided to represent himself as Zane’s lawyer. At the draft board Zane would alternate red, green, and blue colored light bulbs in his mouth. Unable to talk, unable to see, he obviously needed guidance and assistance.

At the entrance to the draft board the first line of security tried to turn them away.

“You can’t come in here. Go away.”

Mick explained, “Our friend is here for his physical. He hired us to make sure that he got here.”

“OK, he can stay, but the rest of you have to leave.”

“We’re very worried about him. We don’t want him to get in any trouble.”

“He’ll be fine. Now get out of here.”

They took Zane and placed him in a line with other recruits. He stood out, barefoot in his red kimono with nothing on underneath. Not five minutes passed before one of the uniforms came up to Zane with a slip of paper.

“Come back at 12:30 to see the psychiatrist.”

They conveyed Zane back to the entrance. Fortunately his crew was still hanging around.

“What’ll we do now?”

“Let’s go to Berkeley.”

“Yeah, we’ve got three hours, let’s go to Berkeley.”

Berserkly, as it came to be known, the other homeland for the emerging tribe, home to the Free Speech Movement and much of the anti-war protest movement, a Mecca for these pilgrims, a haven from the military and the police. They drove straight to the campus. It was cold, but the exhilaration of the temporary respite from danger and the diet pills Zane had popped earlier, had his fires stoked. He was coming out of paranoid shut down. He was starting to trip. As they walked toward the central plaza of the university, he was quoting Chaucer with an appropriate Middle English accent, “and to the holy fount to make a pilgrimage.” He made a beeline straight for Ludwig’s fountain. He stepped over the edge and into the fountain. The bottom was slick as baby oil. He slipped and fell backwards, full-length, total immersion. It was ice cold. He leapt up on the bench edge of the fountain shouting, “I been baptized.”

For the next two hours he stood on the edge of the fountain and delivered a spontaneous speech or sermon to the gathering crowd that eventually numbered several hundred.

“Yeah, I been baptized right now, and I’ve come to tell you what we gotta do to stop this goddamn war. You know we gotta stop this war. Only thing we don’t know is how. I aint sayin’ I know how, but I got some ideas. Today’s my day at the draft board. You see how I’m dressed. We don’t have to do it their way. Just don’t follow the rules. Whatever the rules are, don’t obey. Make it up your own way. Make it up as you go along. Do weird stuff. Do crazy stuff. Just don’t do what they expect you to do. Don’t play their game. Make up your own game. This is our right. This is our time, and they are trying to kill us. They want to send us to Vietnam and kill us. Yes, me and you and every one of you standing out there. They want to kill you. We can’t let them. We got to be smarter. We gotta know when to duck. We got to know how not to be there when they come to get us. We gotta convince them we’re more trouble than we’re worth.

“I am not army material. Do I look like army material?” The growing crowded laughed in unison. “I will not carry a gun. No one can make me carry a gun. If I am clear about that, I’ll be OK no matter what they do. And we must do everything we can to disrupt them. Don’t play along. Don’t cooperate. Don’t do what they want. Get a herd of pigs. Paint peace signs on their butts, and drive them through Oakland all the way to the draft board. You don’t have to do my craziness. Do your own. We’re all weird freaks. So don’t hold back. Until we can put LSD in the water supply of the whole country, we’ll just have to do other stuff to get the message across. And the message is peace, peace no matter what, peace no matter what sales pitch they lay on you about communists or some other boogie-man. They’re folks just like us. They got a right to run their country, not have it run by us. But you know all that. Just get creative in how we can stop the war. STOP THE WAR! STOP THE WAR!”

“STOP THE WAR!” the crowd roared back.

Spell-binding orator, preacher of peace, Zane didn’t know he had it in him, but here he was with all eyes upon him. Like some spirit had truly taken him over, he was the radical politico of the day. He just kept talking. It was easy. He was tripping, and all he had to say was what he believed and just keep saying it in different ways. He wasn’t thinking. He was just riding the wave, coasting on the energy of the crowd and the perfect drug combination flowing through his brain. As midday approached Mick and Dan were pointing at their wrists, “Time!”

“OK, all you cats and chicks, all you crazy hippies, all you nuts who have no desire to kill anyone. What the hell is wrong with you? You don’t want to kill anybody. You don’t love guns. You don’t hate Commies. You don’t want to kill a Commie for Christ. What the hell is wrong with you? Well, the same thing is wrong with me. I’m probably some leftist Commie pinko bastard, ruined by parents who didn’t teach me to hate. But I gotta go meet the psychiatrist at the draft board, and if I don’t show up they’ll throw me in jail. So I’m going to go back down there to Oakland and mess with them as much as I can. You wanna go with me?”

“Yeah!” Part of the crowd answered right back.

“OK, if you got wheels, we’ll caravan together. And let’s march into the draft board singing, ‘We Shall Overcome’. Are you with me?”

“Yeah, we’re with you!” Part of the crowd was mobilizing. Others were drifting off to class or the Student Union or … A loose caravan of a dozen or so cars drove more or less together out of Berkeley to the entrance of the Oakland Induction Center. They did march in together singing, “We Shall Overcome.” Someone led the group of thirty or so proudly holding the ecclesiastical candle like a flag at the front of the group.

“Get out of here right now or we’ll call the police!”

“Let `em call the fucking pigs. Go ahead. Call your pig buddies.” Various voices of defiance floated out of the crowd. The Peace Movement was often hampered by feeling the need to act within certain bounds of peaceableness. It might have been more fun to turn over some desks, or throw blood on the walls, but for some reason Zane encouraged every one to leave. He individually thanked as many as he could.

“Thanks, I’ll take it from here.” He had a performance for the psychiatrist, and he needed to focus on that. This morning he’d felt paranoid and almost catatonic. Now he felt brash and almost maniacal. His confidence was definitely up for dealing with these agents of evil.

They’d put him in an office. A guy in a white coat stood near the door.

“So you’re the psychiatrist.” Zane bombarded him with questions. The guy said absolutely nothing. The door opened, and another white coat walked in. the first guy left.

“So you’re the psychiatrist.”

“Yeah.”

“Where’d you get your training?”

“Marquette.”

“That’s a Jesuit university, isn’t it?

“Yeah.”

“How’d you like it?”

“Fine. How about if I ask the questions for a while, and you give the answers.”

“OK, but I’ve got a few more for you first.”

Zane continued to fire questions at the white-coated doc. Any answers he provided were glib, flippant and designed to deceive. The shrink gave up after a few minutes.

“All right, we’re done.”

“Great, I can go now.”

“Yeah, here, take this to the nurse at the desk outside, and then you’re done.” Zane looked down at the papers he’d been handed. “Paranoid schizophrenic with severe and marked tendencies indicating an oncoming breakdown,” and in larger letters, “deferred 1Y.”

‘Yes, he’d pulled it off. He was a serious loony tune.’ Papers to the front desk, out the front door, it’d become a sunny day in Oakland, pleasant even for a barefoot man wearing nothing but a cotton kimono.

Later that same month there was a huge peace march in Berkeley. It was perhaps the largest yet. The plan was to march from Berkeley to Oakland and rendezvous there in a public park and listen to speeches by some of the prominent anti-war activists. Zane, Rosie, Mick and Dan got to Berkeley and joined in somewhere in the middle of an enormous group of marchers. Zane was hyped. He began to sing at the top of his voice.

“Everybody needs somebody.

Everybody needs somebody.

Everybody needs somebody to love,

Somebody to kiss,

Somebody to hold,

Somebody to love.”

For a while the group around them adopted this as their chant instead of “No More War”. After sufficient repetitions Zane had made his unique statement in the midst of this mass movement.

“Just wanted to know what we’re here for.”

Everyone around him laughed.

He was happy to meld into the crowd and feel himself part of something really gigantic. Mick and Dan had drifted off, but he and Josie were side by side. The massive crowd energy was very comforting. Many people were impressed with just how many of them there were. The outpouring of support for war resistance was heartening to everyone who had been carrying on in numerous individual ways. “There are really a lot of us.” The thought reverberated in his mind. Also this was really fun. What a gas! What a huge street party. What a celebration of us, who we are, and what we stand for.

All Zane knew was the march took a big right turn and then another right. They were obviously marching back toward the center of Berkeley. Word passed through the thousands of marchers that the Oakland Police had turned back the march at the Oakland city border. [There was one big problem. The City of Oakland had not provided permission or permits for the march to enter Oakland. At the borderline between Berkeley and Oakland, the marchers were met by a solid line of Oakland riot police in full battle gear. Mick, ever the one to be at the center of the action, was there and later described the scene to Zane.]

Suddenly Mick appeared by their side. Blood was streaming down one side of his head. Josie was the first to find words. “Oh my god, what happened? Are you all right?”

Mick was screaming, “Fucking pigs clubbed me. We were trying to get into Oakland by marching right through the police line. The goons just started beating people to the ground with their three-foot clubs. They turned the march like a herd of cattle. Those fucking pigs, I wished I had a brick.”

Everyone one around them were gasping with shock. Murmurs of outrage and fear spread through the crowd like ripples from a stone thrown in a pond.

“Shit, I’m glad I wasn’t at the front!”

“Let’s go back and beat the hell out of them.”

“I don’t wanna get anywhere near those motherfuckers.”

“I would if I had a bomb.”

The voices drifted through Zane’s brain like the cacophony of chaos that the march was in danger of becoming. He pulled the red bandanna off his own head and handed it to Mick. “Wrap this around your head, man. Head wounds can be nasty. You need to stop that bleeding.”

Mick was still running on adrenalin, but did as Zane suggested. In a few minutes they were at a park near the center of Berkeley. Zane propped Mick under a tree. Lots of people wanted to hear his story.

“Shit, man, how the fuck did that happen?”

“Jesus Christ, look at all the blood on his shirt.”

Mick’s head was starting to hurt, but he was also basking in the glory. Josie thought, “Yeah, this is how heroes are born.” Her best friend, Molly, had been part of Mississippi Summer in 1964. She had talked about the discipline necessary to maintain non-violence and peaceful civil disobedience. Obviously it was not easy when others begin practicing violence on you.

Mick was getting to tell his story over and over. It grew with each telling. Someone handed him a joint. Pretty soon he had wrestled a club away from some pig and cracked him across the ribs before another goon cold-cocked him from behind. They’d have busted him if he hadn’t run like hell at that point, and the pigs weren’t so busy beating up anybody else who wanted to get into Oakland. That march was a turning point as young revolutionaries made decisions, mostly on an emotional basis, to go down one road or another.

There was PA system and speakers began to focus the energy of the thousands who had assembled. One speaker was telling a story about Gandhi and the discipline that pervaded the ranks of his followers to never strike back no matter what was done to them. “We have to have that same discipline if we expect to be successful in this struggle. They have all the guns and all the viciousness. We cannot do anything to justify their unleashing of violence against us. The only advantage we have is morality, and we have to maintain that advantage, or we lose everything that we stand for.”

Out of the blue Jimmy showed up. Zane called out to him

“Hey Jimmy, were you in the march?

“No, but I heard everyone was headed over here. Hey, that’s a bad looking head wound. Let me take a look at it.” Jimmy had been a medic in Special Forces and hoped to go to medical school. He poked around the blood-caked bandanna, not wanting to disturb the makeshift bandage. “Looks like you got the bleeding stopped, but you don’t want infection. I don’t imagine that bandanna was exactly sterile.”

Zane laughed, “Came off of my head.”

“I’m just a few blocks from here. Let’s get him to my house and give him some proper treatment.”

Mick was reluctant to move away from the wave of crowd energy he was riding, but folks had shifted their attention away from him and were listening to the speakers, so he accepted the shoulders of Zane and Jimmy. They left the anti-war rally and walked the few blocks to Jimmy’s place.

The march turned back into Berkeley. The organizers must have had a contingency plan. Word spread back through the miles of peaceniks, that the destination was now a park in Berkeley. Some people continued marching. Others broke ranks and headed straight for the park.]

Direct confrontation with the police, civil disobedience, the movement was growing in size, bravery and militancy. Zane felt proud to be involved with something so righteous as this campaign against mass murder of unarmed foreigners.

At Jimmy’s place they drank some beer, smoked some pot and kicked back. Mick continued rave about the “fucking pigs”. “Those fucking helicopters, they know exactly what we’re doing. They’re always one step ahead of us.”

“I could bring down one of those choppers,” Jimmy caught everyone by surprise.

“What? How?” he’d gotten everyone’s attention.

“Just get me the gun I need.”

“You wouldn’t do that.”

“Yeah, I would, but I gotta have the right weapon.”

Everyone was shocked. Green beret turned revolutionary, wow! Mick was the most serious. “Can you tell me how to get the weapon?”

“Sure, you get that head wound healed up, and we’ll talk.”

A few months later at San Francisco State he was telling his beating the draft story.

“I just told ‘em I was homosexual,” one of the small circle that had gathered in the commons.

“Really,” everyone looked to the new speaker.

“Yeah, they have you fill out this medical history form, so I just checked everything I knew they couldn’t verify one way or the other. It was kind of fun. There was bed-wetting, drug or narcotic habit, and homosexual tendencies. They sent me right to the guy in the white coat. He says to me all serious, ‘So you’re a homosexual.’

“I didn’t say anything, so he says again more insistent like, ‘You’re homosexual.’ I laugh casual like, ‘Yeah, you got it right.’ He writes on a slip of paper, ‘Deferred, sexual deviation.’”

“It was easy, man. I was in and out in an hour, 4F and everything. I never did get a physical.”

So the search for the perfect draft dodge continued. Sure, everybody knew they were lying, but the choice between lying and killing seemed abundantly easy. Lying to the guys who wanted them to kill people. That wasn’t even a moral dilemma. The experience that so many people had with draft dodging laid the groundwork for endless justifications of other questionable behavior. If the pigs beat people up at a peace demonstration, at the next demonstration someone or many someones would throw rocks or bricks at the pigs. To be devotedly peaceful and non-violent took serious commitment and training. It took just as much training to be a non-violent warrior as it did to carry a gun. Increasingly guys just hated the pigs, hated the establishment and acted out when there was an opportunity to do so. Martin Luther King was one voice crying in the wilderness, but someone like Stokely Carmichael probably represented the sentiments of much of the younger generation, particularly those of color, with his exhortation to, “Burn, baby, burn!” and “Hell no, we won’t go!”

The moral redefinitions became more and more comprehensive as stealing was recast as liberating and smoking pot as getting straight. The counter-culture felt their logic was no more twisted than that of the establishment, which treated killers of gooks as war heroes and locked up those who refused to kill. Language was being butchered and twisted everyday by those promoting the war. A concentration camp was called a strategic hamlet. An attack became a pre-emptive strike. Everything was being euphemized and euthanized. Compared to the enormous rationalizations being projected by the establishment, it was comparatively small potatoes to talk about going to Safeway to “liberate a couple of steaks.” Of course there were dangers in this course of action. Individuals might not know where to stop in their pursuit of situational ethics or relativistic morality. What was truly justifiable under a variety of circumstances that kept inevitably presenting themselves? Was this a revolution? Was this any way to run a revolution? Zane still believed himself to be a pacifist, but his beliefs were being challenged by the violence of the establishment and the violent feelings of his friends.

This Was the Place

This is the place.

–Brigham Young

Hippies tended to be nomads. On the Road still provided the thematic basis for a set of feelings and urges that led folks to pick up at a moment’s notice and head almost anywhere. The lure of the open road, the desire to see new places, the craving to get high in some way, meet people, do anything that was new and different, they were compelled to seek out ever newer and farther out sensational happenings. One of the basic lessons of psychedelics was that anywhere could be a source of be-wonderment.

“You wanna go to Salt Lake City?”

“Sure.”

Josie was generally up for what ever Zane suggested. She had become the classic hippie chick, ready for anything, strong, at times tough, but without ever losing that open innocence like a little kid at Disneyland. Her devotion to Zane was amazing even to him. He’d never been loved and accepted the way she did. They both seemed to have a faith that it was all OK, that it was all leading somewhere, like there really was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow they were chasing. Whatever this hippie thing was, there was a sense of solidarity, of brotherhood and sisterhood, of faith and trust, a huge family simultaneously fighting against the evil system and building a brave new world of peace and love. Every day in a growing number of places this vague set of warm and fuzzy beliefs was being espoused and acted out in a myriad of momentary details played differently than before, danced to the beat of a different drummer, flown across the airwaves through the lilting voices of John, Paul, George, Ringo, Grace and others. It was Janice in the Park for free screaming, “Take another little piece of my heart…You know you’ve got it, if it makes you feel good.” “One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small…Go ask Alice when she was just small.” The wonderland and fantasyland of their childhoods was being re-experienced and reinterpreted through the drugs and the music. Simultaneously everyone was involved in a very serious, very grown up, noble crusade to create a better world with mottos like, “No More War” and “Freedom Now”.

Zane had talked to his cousin in Salt Lake City. There was already a budding little scene happening there. He and some friends were smoking some pot and were definitely curious about the happenings in San Francisco. Brandon had been to the City a few times and actually had friends from the old Beat scene. Some years ago just after Zane moved to San Francisco, they had gone to a poetry reading featuring Allan Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Phillip Lamantia and others. Brandon reminded Zane of Ginsberg dancing around the room singing, “Pistol-packin’ Mama”.

So they cooked up this trip to Salt Lake City. Zane felt like the evangelist from the San Francisco scene. He would bring along whatever pot and psychedelics he had on hand and maybe pay for the trip by selling them to Brandon’s friends.

They got on the train in Oakland one evening about 5:30. The Western Pacific ran a passenger service all the way to Chicago. The tracks ran up the Feather River canyon across northern Nevada and the Great Salt Desert of Western Utah. They rode in the dome car. Too bad it was night time, but the romance of sitting together in the dome car as the moonlit prairie of Nevada passed by on either side was titillating to both of them. They arrived in Salt Lake City the next morning, and Brandon picked them up at the train station. He had some far-out friends who would have been crazy by San Francisco standards, so Zane and Josie felt right at home.

Stan looked like a pirate. His stance in life was trickster in every situation and with everyone. Everything was a joke. He’d probably been the kid who was always poking you in the ribs just to get a rise out of you. He was brash and swaggering despite his short stature. He’d had numerous brushes with the law, all of them as yet misdemeanors, 90 days here, 120 days there, in and out of jail with a regularity and nonchalance that was almost unbelievable. Most people would have looked at Stan as a “sure bust”. He just did whatever he felt like and never seemed to consider the consequences. Most of the Utah crew didn’t know much about acid. Stan knew about it and wanted as much as he could get his hands on. His trademark was an outhouse tipping over onto a cross and knocking it over. He had a favorite place to park and get stoned in hills east of Salt Lake.

“It’s the only place in town where you can’t see the dang temple.”

Stan helped Zane introduce the rest of the crew to LSD. It was the first time for everyone else. The urban environment was a mixed bag of fun and fascination and bleak and ugly darkness. The police seemed to be well aware of their existence. There were numerous contacts. They knew Stan on a first-name basis and checked him out periodically because they knew he must be up to something. Zane was learning about a side of Salt Lake City his Mormon relatives had never shown him. Various coffee houses, dives and hang-outs for the non-Mormon or Gentile population were scattered throughout the city. One night Stan, Zane and another guy are tripping. They were in some joint playing pinball.

“Hey, can you guys help me out?”

“What’s shakin’, man?”

“I gotta get my car out. It’s really loud. I don’t wanna wake my grandma. Can you guys just help me push it out of the garage and down the street?”

The three of them look at each other.

“All right, man.”

“We better walk. Just gotta be really quiet.”

They walked a few blocks, standard suburban neighborhood, car in the garage. Nice car like a Fury or a Barracuda, it’s easy work. The driveway slanted down out of the garage. Pushed it maybe half a block down the street. Stan was making sure not to leave his fingerprints on the back of the car. The guy jumped in and started it up, powerful roar of the engine. A wave of thanks and he’s gone.

“You know what we just did, don’t you?” Stan looked at the other two. It was slowly dawning on them. They walked back to the pinball machines and soon decided to get out of that neighborhood.

Another night they all dropped acid, and Brandon got stuck. He was rolling around on his mother’s bed in his underwear just moaning “Mommy, mommy, mommy,” over and over again. Stan was making fun of him and trying to joke him out of it. It wasn’t helping. Finally Zane found a tranquilizer he had with him and gave it to Brandon. In a few minutes Brandon was fine. He got dressed, and they hit the streets. It was not the style of the times to further investigate Brandon’s mother complex.

On another day Josie and Zane dropped acid on their way to Temple Square. It was Zane’s idea. As usual Josie went along for the ride knowing whatever Zane cooked up, it wouldn’t be boring and would probably turn out to be a trip. Temple Square is the hub for the entire Mormon world. There is the Temple itself built soon after the arrival of the pioneers in 1847. There is the Tabernacle famous for its perfect acoustics and weekly performances by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Zane wondered, given his ancestry, if he would feel anything special tripping on acid at Temple Square. They took the guided tour of the Tabernacle, and yes, you could literally hear a pin drop at the other end of the long building which seats thousands.

They were walking around Temple Square. Zane had his hand in his jacket. Inside his hand was a joint. Suddenly he felt a powerful grip on his arm. He freaked out, thinking he must be busted.

“Is this your wife here?” The man had a distinctive Utah twang that almost sounded Celtic. Zane decided to say, “Yes.”

“Would you like to know the secret to a happy family?”

“Uh, sure.”

“Pray together.” Zane looked at him blankly. Josie was mildly amused. “That’s it, son. Pray together.”

Zane stammered a thank you. The man let go of his arm. Soon thereafter they decided to walk elsewhere. Temple Square was actually at the north end of Salt Lake City. Within a few blocks they were out of town and headed up one of the numerous canyons that dump creek water out of the Wasatch Mountains and make the Salt Lake Valley the fertile place it is until that same water eventually ends up in the brackish brine of the Great Salt Lake itself. They found a place underneath some trees by the side of the road. They sat there for the remainder of the day. It was cold, but they held each other and felt wonderfully warm inside.

“We could all drive to California together.”

“Let’s do it.”

Stan had an old Plymouth station wagon. It had been decorated by throwing paint at it with brushes, spray cans, and other implements from every angle and in every color. It was a Jackson Pollock painting on a dirt brown canvas. One side window in the front seat was busted out, and the heater didn’t work. It was late November. Stan had a collection of heavy old army coats. They all bundled up in coats and blankets and huddled together on the bench front seat. They weren’t really cold. It was exhilarating like an old time sleigh ride. It felt so good sitting there together mile after mile feeling each other’s bodies, the cold air washing across their faces, alert to their own natures even though they were in a machine going down a highway. The trip slid by so easy. Once they had a blowout, but it happened right in front of a tire store in some little town in southern Utah. There was this belief that things just turn out all right, like we’re the good people and we deserve good things, and it seemed to be happening.

November was a relatively beautiful time of year in Bakersfield. The families were happy to see Josie and Zane. His family had some questions about school participation. He gave some explanation about writing assignments and breaks from class to accomplish them. And they could hardly criticize his visiting the ancestral homelands on his own. He told them about going to Temple Square and the Tabernacle. They could relate. It was Thanksgiving time. Family ambience was at its high point of the year. The families knew and basically approved of each other. Zane especially liked Josie’s father, who was liberal, open to new things and basically non-judgmental. What a difference from Beth’s Mississippi redneck father who had rabbit-punched him for daring to be with his daughter.

One day Zane borrowed his father’s VW Beetle. More than a year ago on a visit home he had crashed this same car on a mountain road outside of Bakersfield. His oldest brother had been angrier with him than his parents. His story was that he had missed the brake and hit the gas just before a curve, which was true. The part he didn’t tell was that he was hot-rodding, driving as fast as he could on this mountain road. The dirt part was the most fun, drifting around corners in a four-wheel slide, then hitting the gas at just the right time. So he had spun out, not corrected in time, crashed into the mountain side and the car rolled over on its side.

“Did that freak you out?”

“No, did it freak you out?

“No!”

He and Mick crawled out the passenger door, which was above them. They rolled the bug back on its wheels, borrowed an ax handle from a passing pickup truck, pried the fender off the tire and drove home. Big Brother was livid.

So Zane, Josie and Stan drove into the winter rain green hills NW of Bakersfield, no destination, no map, no other cars on these remote country roads, nothing to do but keep moving and drop three caps of acid. Brisk sunlit air combined with fall colors and served to brighten up their day like someone had just cranked up the rheostat. They drove just to drive. They rode just to ride. At one three way crossroads Zane drove in circles until one road opened up and he took it to whatever destiny awaited them.

In the afternoon they came across California Hot Springs, an old resort with a hot pool and a full-sized swimming pool somewhat warmed by the hot water. They immersed themselves in the hot pool, and their day slowed down even more. Sensual feelings pervaded every pore. Zane and Josie touched each other lightly sliding fingers and open hands over intimate areas. The love-pleasure was overwhelming. They almost didn’t need to touch, just be really close, but they also sat quietly at times just gently holding each other in the hot water. They felt so in love, so one with each other, so blessed to be alive and able to be together in this moment.

When he felt he was melting away, Zane would walk to the snow-covered diving board, jump into the cold end of the swimming pool, get instantly shocked into active alertness, swim to the warm end, vault over the wall into the hot pool and begin the process all over again. He had fallen deeply for this woman. He had never felt so loved before. They were bathed in the pleasure of each other. Eventually they had to tear themselves away from this pleasure dome of Xanadu. The place was closing, and it was getting dark. Like jellyfish with kissing lips they slithered their slithy selves into their little putt-putt rig and slowly weaned and wended their way home.

Going South

I remember holdin on to you

All them long and lonely nights I put you through

Somewhere in there I’m sure I made you cry

Steve Earle

“We could go to L.A. I’ve got friends in Fullerton. We could unload some of that acid you’ve been carrying around.” Stan was selling Zane on another trip before going back to San Francisco. Keep the adventure going, new places, new people, more time on the open road, more time just moving.

Josie chose to stay with her family. Zane and Stan went south on Hwy 99 in the Jackson Pollock Plymouth, up the Grapevine, over the Ridge Route, passing the barrier of the Tehachapi Mountains and then descended into the L.A. basin. Tejon Pass, 4,000 and some feet, the L.A. side is not as steep.

As they begin their descent, “We got one joint left. Might as well smoke it.”

“Yeah, might as well,” and they drifted out of the early winter mountains into the rat maze and bad air of southern California. But they didn’t care. They’re on a trip. Life was good, and they’re spreading the good times into places still living in oppression.

Life was not so good in Fullerton. Stan’s friends reminded Zane of his first impressions of Stan, juvenile delinquents, little guys still trying to prove how tough they are, hung up stupid American male stuff. They’re off and on talking among themselves. He kept hearing, “Yeah, we rolled this queer…” Blah, blah, blah, it sounded like a locker room. They all dropped acid, and then things got really strange. These guys were wrestling like little boys do, jumping on each other, grappling, pushing, trying to dominate. They’re also calling each other names like faggot, queer, numb-nut, and similar put-downs. Zane had never been in on an acid trip like this before. He remembered Richard Alpert, “set and setting”. ‘This is not San Francisco, Dorothy.’

Next morning Stan was making phone calls, trying to line up buyers for the acid. When everything was set up, they left the house, five of them in the Pollock Plymouth. They’d not gone a block before police cars descended from all sides.

“OK, where’s the stuff?”

“What stuff? I got no stuff.”

“Where’s the heroin?”

Zane laughed. He thought, ‘These clowns really think I’ve got heroin.’

“Come on, give it to us. We’ll find it anyway.”

They got his suitcase. It was locked.

“Unlock the suitcase or we’ll break it open.”

After he’d unlocked the suitcase, they rifled through it and found a bottle of capsules.

“So this is the stuff, the heroin.”

He was scared, but the whole scene was so absurd, he couldn’t help laughing again. As luck would have it, they didn’t have anything illegal with them.

“It’s acid. It’s LSD.”

He was not sure the cop even got what he was talking about by the blank look on his face. Nonetheless they were arrested and soon were behind bars in the Fullerton City Jail. The other guys were talking shit with each other, totally making light of the whole deal. Zane got his one phone call. He called his parents. He was more scared talking to them than he was the police. Dad had a lawyer friend. Said he’d take care of it. Zane’s first time being locked up, he didn’t like it. Just wanted to get away from these other fools. They are not part of the Love Generation. They are just nasty violent idiots.

Next day he was taken out of the cell alone. The cops talked to him. They were pretty nice.

“Look, we had that house staked out. Those two you’re with, they beat up an old man couple of nights ago. Damn near killed him. He still might die. You seem like a nice kid. I don’t know how you got mixed up in all this. The phones were tapped. We heard drug deals going down. That was just icing on the cake. But we were there to bust the two hoodlums that beat up the old man. They’re in lots of trouble. Now we’re gonna let you call your parents again, and you’d best arrange to leave town as soon as possible. There’s a Greyhound station just a few blocks away.”

“OK,” Zane’s actually scared at that point. He was thinking, ‘How the hell did I get mixed up in all this bat shit craziness? These are not my people.’

He called his parents. He had enough money for a bus ticket. The cops gave him back his Samsonite suitcase. Soon he was waiting for the bus in front of the Greyhound station when who should drive up but Stan and Harley.

“They let us out too. We had nothing to do with that other stupid shit.”

“I’m taking a bus back to Bakersfield.”

“You don’t have to do that. Come on, man. We got the car. Let’s go.”

Reluctantly Zane got in the car, and they headed south.

“Car’s not running good. My friend down in Tustin works in a gas station. He’ll get it fixed up for me. Man, we oughta get our acid back. It’s not illegal.”

“Let’s just leave it alone.”

“Yeah, maybe you’re right.”

Small-time hoodlum from Salt Lake City demanding his rights from the Fullerton Police, yeah, that was a good picture. But how did he know so many people all over the place? His friend network looked and felt a lot like the hippie tribal ethos. In his own way he was a revolutionary, but extremely self-centered, but able to foster a give and take that worked and got him what he wanted. What was his was yours and vice-versa.

On the way south for some reason they decided to get off the freeway in Santa Ana. Within two blocks the cops had pulled them over.

“What’s your business in Santa Ana?”

“Just wanted to get some food.”

“Well, we don’t want your business here, and you can just turn yourself around and get right back on the freeway. What d’ya have in the car?”

“Nothing you’d be interested in. You’re welcome to look, but it’s been in lockup up in Fullerton for three days, and they didn’t find nothing.” Stan was almost gloating.

The cop grunted, “Well, you heard what I said. You just get on outta here.”

Zane piped up, “This doesn’t exactly seem fair.”

The other cop chuckled, “It’s how we keep our town clean.”

No food in the city of St. Anne for the likes of Stan and company. As they were getting close to Tustin, the engine began to freeze. Next thing they knew they were broke down on the freeway north of Tustin. Stan found a phone. His friend came with a tow-truck and towed the old Plymouth to his gas station. They spent the night at his friend’s house. Next day they discovered all their stuff had been stolen out of the car. The Samsonite suitcase with all his clothes was gone. Anything of any value was gone.

“OK, I’m catching the next bus to Bakersfield.”

“Hold on, wait a minute. Harley’s got a car.”

Sure enough, Harley had offered to sell, give, or trade an old car sitting in his back yard. The Tustin friend gave them a ride to Brea. He had a `40 something black Chevy coupe in his back yard, no license plate, no gas cap, only a rag stuck in the hole. Ever the innovator Stan went back to Tustin, got the Utah license plate off the Plymouth and a gas cap. He attached the old license plate to the new car. They had to push-start it, but then it ran fine. Meanwhile Harley’s parents had got a phone call that the Brea police were looking for them.

Stan, “Now we got cops in three cities looking for us. Must be time to get outta here.”

So they loaded up what little they still had and headed north. Harley came along for the ride, thought he’d check out the scene in San Francisco. It was uneventful until they got to Bakersfield and had to deal with Zane’s parents. His father seemed more scared than angry, scared for Zane and the trouble he easily could have been in. Zane passed it off as bad luck and bad company. He was doing his best to avoid the truly criminal element, but somehow they kept creeping into his life.

“If you’d had one bit of marijuana, I couldn’t have gotten you out of there.”

“I know,” but Zane still felt that nothing really bad could happen to him. He would just never go south of the Tehachipis again. This couldn’t happen in the Bay Area.

Josie, “I had a feeling you might get busted on this trip.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I just figured it was your trip,” Josie was way too casual about this near disaster, but then she was just like she was about everything, easy, accepting, without judgment. How could he complain about something he loved about her most of the time?

“Next time, tell me!”

Harley, Stan, Josie and Zane rode on to San Francisco. The young couple had been gone for several weeks. It was December already. Mick and Rod had been taking care of their place. The weather had turned cold.

Zane caught a really bad flu bug, chills, fever, and one ear felt like someone had blown up a balloon in it. He suffered for several days. Someone came by and saw how bad off he was.

“Hey, Phil would probably do a guided acid trip with you, you know like a healing journey or something. He’s been doing that with a lot of folks.”

“Which Phil?”

“Back Phil.”

“Really, like what’s he doing?”

“I don’t know. You should ask him, or call him up, or go over there.”

Josie called him up, and he said to come right over. He was known as Back Phil because he and another Phil and their ladies shared a large flat farther up the hill toward the Haight. Front Phil lived in the front of the flat, and Back Phil lived in the back. Front Phil was going to law school at Hastings. Back Phil had been part of the research done by Stanislav Grof in Silver Springs, Maryland. Grof and his associates were legally giving people acid as part of a psychiatric research project. Their target groups were back ward mental hospital psychotics and heroin addicts. Back Phil had been part of the heroin addict group. He kicked heroin and stayed off of it after a number of therapeutic LSD sessions.

Grof had started out in Czechoslovakia before coming to America. He had a fairly tight research design. During the LSD sessions, which were twelve hours long, there would be a male and a female therapist present at all times. He had a good track record with populations previously deemed to be hopeless. Back Phil was one of his success stories, and now he was passing along the gift of guidance using adaptations of Grof and Alpert and Leary’s The Psychedelic Experience. Josie and Zane were basically put to bed and tucked in on a mattress on the floor of the old Victorian. They were given a standard dose of LSD and a tranquilizer to relax them.

Phil read numerous instructions to them as the night wore on. Zane just remembered feeling really relaxed and really good. He hadn’t felt good in several days so something was definitely working. There was a pleasant sensation of warmth and easy waves of pleasure in his body. Josie was right beside him but in her own world for many hours. Sometime after midnight Zane felt significant dampness on his pillow and noted that the balloon was gone from inside his ear. Something had burst and drained. He could hear out of that ear again. It was like a cup of water had been poured on his pillow. For many hours not quite awake, not quite asleep, in the early morning hours Zane and Josie turned toward each other and looked into each other’s eyes. Deeper and deeper as if each was traveling a black velvet tunnel into the other’s soul. They looked and looked, and the feelings began to come up. They cried together. Then they laughed together. Then they cried together. Then they laughed together. They were perfect mirrors for each other. Like two Greek drama masks, one tragic and one comic, they melded into one another, first sad, then happy. Seamlessly the two moods flowed into each other, as if they weren’t really distinct, but more like two sides of a slowly twirling coin or yin and yang endlessly streaming into each other as part of some larger all-encompassing force called Tao. The bonding was powerful yet gentle as if each was the mother, and each was the baby, and “I’ll be your baby tonight.” They were alone together as if nothing else but them existed in all creation. They were it, the totality.

The sun was streaming in the windows. It was sunrise. Phil came in. Zane felt great. Rosie felt great. He was all healed from the flu. She was happy to be alive with him. They thanked him profusely.

“You did it all yourself.”

This was a standard line from the psychedelic guidebook and they knew it, but he was doing his job and doing it well. He gave each of them a small dose speed pill. Soon they were up and ready to hit the streets, which they did. They decided to walk around the neighborhood and wake up their friends and spread the joy and energy. They were so bubbly and so full of good cheer and so loving and so infectious that nobody objected. They invited them in. They joined the caravan to go wake up the next household. Soon they were a dozen or more tramping the streets of the Haight-Ashbury and then into Golden Gate Park. The sun was so bright. They found the playground and played on the swings and sat on the horses of the merry-go-round, still too early to be running. Hardly anyone else was in the park, and if they were, they were tripping too. Zane wasn’t just healed from his illness. He was ecstatic. It reminded him of another time when he was tripping and slammed his head on a car door and opened up a cut above his eye. He’d been able to catch the pain within a few seconds and make it go away. When the pain went away, the bleeding stopped. It left a scar but hardly bled at the time.

Zane wrote a poem after the ecstatic bonding and healing he had been immersed in with Rosie on the night he went from desperately miserable and sick to joyous and energetic as they lay on Phil’s floor together being tour-guided by his gentle words. Zane felt so blessed to have such a girlfriend, to be feeling so much love, to be so in love with her and to see her as such a magnificent goddess-like young woman. And she was his, and he was hers.

good morning mrs. all and everything

howdy do pleased to make your

acquaintance this here fine morning

hello ma hello pa     relax

i’m in school and i’m in love

what more can a man ask for

so haul out all these dusty

penny whistles

slide trombones

rootitoottoots and

rummytumtums

haul out the star spangled banner and

strike up the band

james agee was an incredible insomniac

so the world is not going to stay asleep

this fine morning

when daisies and purplish tinted magenta

aquamarine fireworks are flashing

in your eyes

first, a thank you note and

several cartloads of deep red roses

to the lady who tried in her own honest way

to tell me about soul

don’t’ hurt yourself babe and don’t lose

what you did for me I already failed

in repayin

this is just my humble thanks for what

you tried to tell me

next, to your candidate and mine for

president of the united ego-states, Bob

Maxey, cheerio i’m in love and the

world is a beautiful place even if it

blows up tomorrow

to lonely intellectual companions

of the past

Cryptic Message no. 5005 from

Mystic Marvel Readers and Lovin

Spoonfuls Anonymous

A Last Pronouncement on the

affairs of the word in two parts

1. Listen to the Spades

2. Love is a very very beautiful

way to put in your time

The watch lies on the counter

Its face obscured by several

hastily dispatched dashes of thyme

To my Buddha-like cousin a

short injuncture

Why doncha come back to

San Francisco

Look out world the blinds are up

The royal blue night sky is a

vision of shadow-egos slipping

in dark cloaks like last year’s

skin

Tis goodby to them like the

echo of a long tunnel

What their eyes see is of less

concern

The proper and studiously polite

doorman will tip his hat as they leave

to my love, who sleeps, this here fine

morning being the only one granted

such permission precisely because

she is my love and can do what she will

Please Please Please Please

yes yes

    i love  you     so

my woman, somewhere during the

night I lost sight of where I

ended and you began and said hello

to myself in a new way

Goddess of spring and water and

everything that’s fresh and alive

I found you with the wind trembling

on your ears, you shook your hair

in the morning light and winked at

the sun with both your bright eyes

Twas a long trip oozing through

the tarnal fog to the cradle where

your beacon brought me home free

with the tremor of it shaking

the earth

i just dropped in to tell you

what all the hollering’s about

Twas a long drop quoth Alice

As Peter the Pan fell deeper and

deeper in cahoots with a real woman

Baby   Baby

I’m on my bended knee

Your warmth keeps me warm

Your cradle keeps me safe

Your young body whispers to me

in the frighteningly silent night

“i’m alive         i’m alive”

Keep me there where you and I

are one

People were experiencing paranormal abilities, but no one knew how to control them, or make them happen on command. They were learning, playing and experimenting as they went along. Ancient lore from all directions was showing up. The Indian mystics were particularly alluring. Maybe the extensive traditions of various magical powers had some validity. They seemed to have a language for some of what folks were experiencing on psychedelics. Everything that human beings had ever experienced anywhere anytime seemed to be accessible through psychedelics. What to do with that? How to work with it? How to avoid bad trips? Scary trips through the annals of darkness and evil came up with the same regularity as intense sweetness and light. ‘Do not attach to any of it,’ said the Tibetan Book of the Dead. ‘Peaceful deities, wrathful deities, it’s all the same.’ Good trick!

So Josie and Zane would have these intense emotional experiences of bonding with each other, and then it would be another day and another experience. It was like one acid trip could equal a lifetime, and then they’d be in another lifetime with each other. They were mostly good lifetimes, and in any case they rarely lasted more than a few days, so ride it out. Don’t attach to any of it. What about love? Did you attach to love and loyalty and faithfulness? Zane was afraid not to be attached to Josie. Besides he continued to really like her a lot and enjoy the hell out of being with her. So it definitely wasn’t about having another girlfriend in another life. It wasn’t about free love, whatever that was supposed to be. That sounded pretty scary too. I mean, free was supposed to be good, and love was supposed to be good, but free love sounded kind of dangerous. Most everything ended up feeling kind of equal and hard to make choices about. Just do the next thing. Have the next experience that was lined up in the dispenser. Maybe it was all pre-destined. Free will was an illusion. We’re all just playing parts in a drama we signed up for long ago.

Crystal meth continued to float through their household. Mick was often the source. He would talk. Rod would draw for hours with his magic markers. Sometimes Zane would write crazy poetry. Rosie did a little of everything, talk, write, draw. They got a couple of black dogs, Smokey and Crystal. Smokey was a scruffy longhaired male mutt. Crystal was a sleek little lab mix bitch. Mick proposed a road trip.

“Let’s go to Arizona and get some peyote.”

There were stories about peyote. If you went down in the desert in the right place you could just pick it out of the sand. Of course none of them knew where the right place was, but they still had their incurable faith that they could just make things turn out the way they wanted. They could almost wish things to be so, and they would be. Josie didn’t want to go on this trip, but she blessed their journey. Mick borrowed an old panel truck from Bill who was going to Cal Arts and Crafts in Oakland. The forest green truck had a rack on top for carrying equipment for painting houses, a trade that a number of the group were beginning to dabble in. Neil would be the third musketeer on this trip.

Neil had taken a lot of acid. He was very tuned in, but didn’t say much. He seemed to have an extreme sensitivity and ability to read other people. He could appear and especially disappear from a group with so little notice being taken that he’d earned a nickname, the Gray Ghost. He was the boyfriend who had botched the abortion on Beth a couple of years back. He’d always been different, but after that he seemed to steadily go more and more into a world he didn’t share with others.

Mick had scored some Sandoz blue liquid acid. Sandoz, the Swiss pharmaceutical company, was manufacturing pharmaceutical grade LSD in the land where LSD was discovered by the chemist Hofmann. It was somewhat difficult to obtain and highly prized. A truck, the open road, three crazy friends and a vial of Sandoz blue liquid, what a formula for high adventure. It was January, a good time to go south.

Much of the trip was uneventful. With three drivers and the bed of the truck for sleep, they didn’t stop but for gas and food. They drove all the way to Tucson arriving in the early morning. Not knowing what else to do, they began asking around at plant nurseries. After several dry holes, they struck pay dirt at a small nursery run by a cordial Mexican man. He sold them fourteen peyote plants he’d been growing in pots. The price was cheap. Each plant was at most 2 inches across and an inch above ground. They’d left San Francisco on a prospecting lark like bearded old men with donkeys wandering in the desert. They’d found gold in a couple of hours. By that afternoon they were headed back north. Might as well drop some acid. They each took a good swig of the sapphire blue liquid, and as the sun rode down the western sky they all began rising to the occasion. Mick and Zane were kicking back in the back of the truck probably watching the movies on the backs of their eyelids.

“Oh, shit.”

“What?”

They scrambled up front as Neil at the wheel began bouncing across the meridian.

“Got on the wrong side.”

Sure enough they could see as he pulled back onto the right side of the divided freeway, he had been driving on the wrong side of a divided highway, for how long nobody knew. There had been a construction zone. Maybe that was where he got confused. Oh well, hardly any cars on the road this late at night. Nobody had honked. Maybe they were invisible like the Gray Ghost himself. They all watched the tracers off the few other car lights on the road. Hey, those stars were really twinkling. “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.” That’s what that song was about. Were they on acid when they wrote that? It was pretty quiet after midnight on an Arizona highway.

In Flagstaff Zane took over. They had decided to check out the Grand Canyon. Just north of Flagstaff it began to snow, fat white fluff balls slowly floated out of a dark sky to splat on the windshield. Zane had never driven in the snow, but he’d watched his father many a time and listened to his father instruct his brother once or twice.

“Never put the brake down hard. Squeeze it slowly. Be prepared to let off if you start to slide. Counter steer. Not too much. That’s right. Easy does it. Not too much gas too fast either.”

He’d watched a car do a 360 on an icy road in Missouri once. It ended up on the meridian. He could feel the loss of traction, sliding a little one way, then a little the other. He was quickly mastering the art of counter steering. There was a rhythm he was digging. He was getting off on the whole deal. Just keep going. It was uphill. Can’t stop, never get going again. After a while the snow slacked off, and it started to get light. He drove right up to the edge of the Grand Canyon just as the sun peeked over the eastern horizon. They all piled out of the truck. What burst of color! This place is huge. They were almost walking in circles.

“Wow, how cool.”

“Awesome, man, you really got us here.”

They stared at the gigantic hole in the ground, pretty much swallowed up in the hugeness of it all. Zane saw the colors breaking up into individual dots of thousands of shades and nuances like a Seurat painting, pinks, oranges, purples of every shade imaginable. He didn’t have names for a tenth of them. Then they moved and began to melt and flow into each other like an oil lamp, like clouds made of rainbows, like a clay pot. Yeah, that was it, the Grand Canyon was just one enormous clay pot made by some even more enormous ancient Indian, who was still hanging around here somewhere waiting for the opportunity when the time was ripe to throw another pot. OK!

They didn’t linger long. Back in the truck, there was a little village with an open store. It’s a gift shop or a curio shop. They wandered on in. Zane was completely unprepared for what happened next like another random turn of the universe. He was looking around. He heard a small commotion. Mick was extricating a scarf from underneath his jacket. Mick was not slick. They’d caught him shoplifting. Shit! He was talking fast, really fast, making some glib explanation. Meanwhile Neil had disappeared. The old couple, who ran the shop, were dumbfounded, all of this first thing in the morning on a weekday. They ascertained that something else was missing. She turned to Zane.

“If your friend took that horse’s head, please tell him to bring it back. We don’t want any trouble.”

“Oh yes, ma’am, I sure will. I’m real sorry about all this.”

Zane must have had the only honest face of the bunch. He and Mick left quickly. Fortunately they’d parked the truck quite a ways away almost out of sight of the store. The old couple didn’t follow. Neil was in the truck with a very beautifully carved horse’s head. Mick congratulated him. Zane just got in and drove hoping they truly could be invisible. The Gray Ghost had struck, and they’d made their getaway by the skin of their teeth. If Zane hadn’t been in that post-psychedelic space, where everything is everything, and nothing is either bad or good, he might have been really pissed. One of the potential problems of psychedelics on the street was that the suspension of conventional reality included the suspension of conventional morality. It wasn’t mean-spirited, more like Coyote-Trickster, or the childish curiosity of seeing if you could get away with something, or in some cases even a child innocence that had not been indoctrinated into conventional concepts of right and wrong. Among indigenous tribes there was very little sense of private ownership. Also you couldn’t run away from the group with your loot and never be seen again.

Their luck was holding. Taking risks was becoming a way of life. You don’t know when to stop. There’s always one more challenge, one more tightrope to walk, one more show to show off with, one more thrill dangling from the edge of a precipice, one more road trip with a couple of happy mountain morons, who liked to play chicken a lot more than Zane did.

Zane got to drive in the snow one more time, coming over the Tehachipis just east of Bakersfield early in the evening of that same day. He felt like an old hand at driving panel trucks in the snow, and loved the sensation of steering the truck like driving a boat, not exactly a straight line, a slightly serpentine pattern through the mountains. He was the father getting these boys back home to the safety of the San Francisco Bay. He wasn’t exactly looking down on his friends. After all, one for all, and all for one! He even admired the brash courage it took to walk into a strange place one minute and walk out the next with something under your coat. Still he had no desire to see a jail cell again, and little confidence in his own abilities as a thief. He was, however, a damn good driver in the snow coming over a mountain pass.

They decided they would stop at Zane’s parents’ house only slightly off their route. Before the truck was even fully stopped, both parents were out the front door firing questions and accusations.

“Where’ve you been?”

“You’re supposed to be in school.”

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“We called your house. Josie said you had gone to Arizona.”

Zane tried to answer calmly. He went to the refrigerator, grabbed a beer and began to drink it. The barrage did not let up. They were angry and determined to be heard. Nothing less than full compliance and contrition would do. Finally he flipped. His hand jerked up, and beer splattered all over the kitchen ceiling. In a flash he and the other musketeers were out the front door and into the truck. The parents were in hot pursuit. He couldn’t make out what they were saying. He was blotting it out. He was canceling it out. He was making them invisible. A few blocks down the road, they checked in.

“How you doing?”

“Fine. How you doing?”

“Fine.”

“That was weird.”

“Yeah, really weird.”

And they were fine. They all had a knack for moving at will in and out of different headspaces. Once they were away from the screaming parents, they didn’t exist any more. It was all in the moment, here and now, like Zen.

They rolled up highway 99 that night. Neil was driving again. They stopped at a drive-in for some food. Crash! Oops, he had driven under an awning forgetting the rack on top of the truck. They got out. Only a small dent in the metal awning, but the rack was totally broken off the truck. They grabbed the 2X4’s, tossed them in the back of the truck, got some food and hit the road one more time. They arrived back in San Francisco in the early morning hours.

Zane crept quietly into their bedroom.

“You wanna go to Mt. Tam.”

“Sure. Why not?” She was barely awake, but somehow managed to put on one of Zane’s favorite outfits. Below the knee boots and above the knee skirts were a combination he found incredibly sexy. She joined them in the panel truck and by sunrise they were somewhere on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County. Mick and Neil wandered off. Zane was so turned on just to be with Josie. He wanted her. She didn’t resist. He took her fully clothed on the damp earth hillside. Most of the world wasn’t even awake. It wasn’t the best sex they ever had, but the risky and risqué part of it turned them both on. They were ready for more whenever the next opportunity arose. Once again Zane felt so lucky to have such a hip and cool girlfriend. She was the best.

 

Passports Painted Brown

But I recall all them nights down in Mexico

One place I will never go in my life again

Was I just off somewhere or just too high

–Steve Earle

Myths and misinformation abounded. Mexico was becoming a Mecca for hippies from San Francisco. Those who returned had great stories: how much you could buy for an American dollar, how friendly and generous the people were, how easy it was to get pot, how spiritual the whole place was, and pot was practically legal.

“You can go down there and have a kid. The kid is a Mexican citizen. Then you can buy property for next to nothing.”

Char and her new man were already working on that plan. She and Bob Jones had taken a road trip to New York. Mark had hitched a ride with them back to California. By the time they got back, Char and Mark were together. Zane was one of the first people she came to see on her return to San Francisco, hoping he wouldn’t judge her too harshly. Zane loved Char. He thought she was the perfect woman. The fact that she and Josie were old childhood friends was part of his attraction to Josie.

“Hey, what happens happens. Are you happy?”

“I’m very happy. This guy just seems to fit for me in a way that Bob never did. You know Bob. He’s a great guy, but maybe not the greatest guy for me. You know, sometimes he felt like a parent.”

“Yeah, I get it. I’m happy, if you’re happy.”

Crystal continued to be part of the mix. In some ways they were using just because they didn’t know how to say, “No,” to the offer of new experience. It wasn’t like they thought of themselves as addicts or had some craving for the stuff when it wasn’t around. But if it was around they’d be shooting up with everyone else. So once again travel may have felt like a way to get away from certain things. It always held the promise of opening doors into new realities. This aura of mystery and mysticism was growing around Mexico.

Josie was doing a lot of thinking even though she wasn’t always sharing with Zane or the other guys at the apartment. She was reading Lin Yutang, the Chinese philosopher.

“Lin Yutang has this idea about young men with great potential. That’s kind of how I see you. You don’t have it all together, but you probably will someday.”

She was trying to complement him, or trying to make her peace with the flaws she saw in him. They were twenty years old. Zane took offense. He wanted to believe that he did have it all together already. Josie’s body was changing. She felt softer. When Zane drew attention to that, she took offense.

Going to Mexico required some planning. They had to get passports. Mick and Rod would stay in their apartment. They stayed there half the time as it was. They could leave Smokey with his parents in Bakersfield. Crystal had already run away or been stolen. Some of the black kids in the neighborhood had taken a shine to her. They called her Jet. It was likely she was in one of their houses in the neighborhood.

Lots of folks contributed to their itinerary from what hotel to stay in in Guadalajara to the woman to crash with in Ajijic.

“You got to go to Oaxaca. The Mazateca Indians—magic mushrooms—Veracruz—take the train from Mexicali,” all the pieces of advice became parts of their itinerary. They got traveler’s checks. Josie had $600. Zane had $200. Zane had been paying for everything for a while. He thought that’s what he was supposed to do. He was the man. He had been supplementing the $100/month stipend from his parents by buying kilos of pot and selling lids (ounces). Still it was hard to get ahead. He figured and they agreed, she would use her savings for the trip.

The invisible hand of the marketplace, for the last two weeks before they left, they could find almost no pot. The supplies had dried up, but there was crystal everywhere. So for the first time they really did a speed run.

Early in March they got a ride to Bakersfield with a friend. He promised her a lid of grass for her trouble. When they got to Bakersfield, he split the small amount he had with her. She ended up with less than half an ounce of low quality pot. She was pissed. He had burned her, conned her, played her. That friend later enrolled at the Ali Akbar College of Music. Zane saw her years later in concert playing tamboura with an Indian combo. Zane and Josie each carried a rucksack of basic belongings, clothes, a Learn Spanish through Pictures book, and not much else. They were traveling light.

They spent a few days in Bakersfield both sleeping in their own parents’ houses. Josie’s parents were splitting up. Her father moved out of the family house while they were there. He had a girlfriend. Her mom was devastated. Josie was stunned. Zane didn’t want to deal with it and was pissed that the parents’ mess was messing with his plans. Meth does not increase a person’s empathy. Not using after two weeks of using definitely doesn’t make one a kinder, gentler person. He was edgy, snappish, judgmental and just wanted what he wanted, which was Josie to himself without all these family complications. He was starting to play the kind of one-upmanship mind games that meth users inevitably get into. He had no patience for her mom’s teariness or her father’s guilty confusion.

Driving across town one night he kept seeing people crawling out from underneath parked cars and running in the road. They were white, spectral. He knew enough to know they weren’t real. He didn’t slam on the brakes to avoid hitting them or anything like that, but it was disquieting and one of those indications that maybe crystal wasn’t such good stuff. That same night Josie’s dad smoked pot with them for the first time. Predictably he got goofy and disoriented. Zane messed with his confusion and then played judgmental parent to his goofy little kid. It was not a pretty scene. Josie’s whole family was upset and vulnerable. Zane was harsh and mean and pissed off. They were messing with his plans. He just wanted to get out of town.

Finally they got on a greyhound bound for Calexico. They walked across the border into Mexicali, found the train station and bought tickets for Guadalajara. Zane didn’t talk to her about her parents’ breakup, so he didn’t know what she was feeling or how she was coping with the shock of such a major change. She was really beginning to notice how he really didn’t think about anyone but himself. The last meth run had not improved either of their attitudes. A lot of loose feelings were floating around, but she couldn’t solve her problems anyway. It was just a bad scene, and they needed to put some miles between themselves and all that. They were plunging into the unknown. Only adventure lay ahead.

The train trip from Mexicali to Guadalajara took more than two days. They slept when they could on the stiff but padded bench style seats. Fortunately the train was not crowded. The towns they stopped in along the way invariably had street vendors with the local version of taco, burrito and refrescos (sodas). They did not starve nor die of thirst. They didn’t get sick. They didn’t drink the water. They did occasionally go between the cars and smoke some pot. Soon after they left Mexicali two uniformed officials came through the train car.

“Where is your tourist visa?”

Zane pulled out his American passport and handed it to the official. He laughed.

“This is American passport. You are in Mexico now. You must have Mexican visa.”

“I didn’t know. Can I get visa?”

“You must go back to Mexicali. Visas are issued only at the border.”

Sinking feeling, “Isn’t there any other way?”

“I don’t think so. Maybe.”

He left with their passports. In a few minutes he returned.

“Keep these with you at all times. And next time get visas at the border.”

Zane and Josie thanked them profusely. The one who hadn’t talked much couldn’t take his eyes off Josie. They were relieved. There were no further crises on the train trip.

After miles and miles of desert the train climbed into some mountains. There were cultivated fields and other greenery. Someone said they were in the state of Nayarit. The train stopped in the town of Tequila, and sure enough vendors appeared at the train windows with bottles of various sizes. Many passengers purchased tequila and began passing the bottles around. Alcohol was not a big part of the hippie thing, but Zane and Josie took a few swigs and soon felt the pleasant warmth and glow as the hard liquor hit their bloodstreams and brains. Soon there were drunks. One decided he would teach Zane to speak Spanish.

Yo boy.”

Zane tried to follow along not yet realizing that the “voy” in his phrase book was pronounced “boy”.

Yo boy a Guadalajara.

Finally someone told the drunk to leave him alone, and they settled back for a mellow cruise the rest of the way into Guadalajara. They took a taxi to the hotel that had been recommended. As forewarned he bargained with the taxi driver before they ever got in. Everything was ridiculously cheap, but you had to be on your toes, or somebody would be trying to rip you off. The hotel was across from the bus depot. The buses were noisy, but it was handy when they left Guadalajara.

Their little bit of money did go a long way in pesos. They could live like prosperous Mexicans. They went out to dinner and were serenaded by mariachis. They visited the university and its beautiful gardens.

One night they were directed to a cockfight. The taxi driver dropped them in the neighborhood and picked them up later. What an unruly weird crazy scene! The place was packed with drunk Mexican men holding up wads of bills, making bets, yelling at the cocks, yelling at each other across the ring. Zane and Josie got seats a few rows up with a good view of the blood sport. Indeed two cocks with razor sharp spurs attached to their legs would be set down in the small ring surrounded by the cacophony of screaming drunks. They would go at each other until one drew blood on the other. Then the handlers would swoop in and gather up the birds. Either a victory would be declared, or they would decide to continue the match until there was a greater injury to one rooster. Sometimes a bird would die from its wounds. Zane had been to bullfights before. The bullfight always ended with a dead bull being dragged from the ring by a team of horses. No one bet on the bull to win. There was toreador music and fancy costumes and the artistry of an ornate dance. A cockfight seemed to be totally about money and blood and noise. Everyone in the place was intensely into it.

After a few days they got on a bus and headed for Lake Chapala in the mountains of Jalisco state. Specifically their destination was the town of Ajijic and a woman they’d been turned onto named Suzanne. Suzanne was older with three kids and had lived the expatriate life in Ajijic for a number of years. Char would totally dig her. Suzanne’s house seemed to be the crash pad for nomadic hippies on their way from nowhere to somewhere or vice versa. She managed by knowing the local resources and moving people on according to their resources and abilities.

“You been to Barra de Navidad?”

“What’s that?”

“Oh man, you gotta go to Barra de Navidad. It’s on the coast. There’s a sand bar separating the ocean from the lagoon. You rent a palapa  for a few pesos and just kick back.” The speaker was one of a number of drifters who passed through Suzanne’s house. Most only passed through to share a joint or drink a cup of coffee. There were many young Americans traveling in Mexico. The loose camaraderie and exchange of information fueled a sense of common purpose and comfort, like the extended family always had the next piece of travel news that was needed to get on down the road.

They decided to go. They hadn’t seen the ocean. They were becoming real travelers now, not just relying on information gleaned before leaving home but picking up tips and clues along the way. Another drifter invited himself on the journey. They were more than happy for the company. There was a sense of relative safety in numbers, and someone else whose bit of knowledge might make the difference. This loose communal existence worked. People got from place to place, found food and places to sleep. Everybody took care of everybody as best as possible.

The bus dropped them at the edge of the sand. Sure enough everything was just like the cat in Ajijic had described. They walked down the sand spit, found someone renting palapas, and they were set. The palapa was the size of a large tent constructed of palm leaves. It provided minimal privacy and shade from the sun. They could sleep on the sand or on wooden tables, which were the only piece of furniture. Someone had warned them about sand fleas, so they chose to sleep on the tables. Their landlord also sold ice-cold cervezas and refrescos  and some simple food. They could sit at one of his handful of tables and while away the days. They could also swim in the ocean or the lagoon. Josie loved to swim, and Zane was right behind her most of the time. To be in the pleasantly warm water together, swimming together and apart and together again, a sensual aquatic dance. The dust of the road, the hard traveling, the many miles of challenges just to get there began to melt off of them. This was the Mexico they had been seeking. This was the Mexico their friends in San Francisco had raved about.

They began to feel in love again. Josie still thought a lot about her parents’ breakup, just how weird and disjointed their time in Bakersfield had been. She worried about her father. She even worried about her mother, who she didn’t feel nearly as close to. There wasn’t much Josie could do, but her heart hurt for them and for the loss of her family as she had known it. She didn’t really know or understand how deeply her sense of trust had been shaken. She was trying to just play along and live for today like everyone else seemed to be doing. But she was preoccupied with her family drama. Immersion in the deep clear blue waters of the Laguna de Navidad  was helping to at least begin a healing process. She didn’t know then how long that healing would take. Why had she come to Mexico without birth control pills? Why was she feeling so angry with Zane? Why was she hating Mexico? All these thoughts and feelings came and went. In between she was mostly the same old Josie except she clearly was not feeling or being as affectionate with Zane as she had been since they first got together. It was wonderful to totally immerse herself in these tropical waters and just let all her thoughts and feelings drift away into nothingness. He was happy to feel her relax some. He wanted to have sex with her, but more importantly he wanted her to be happy. He wanted them to be happy together. He was in this for the long haul and just wanted to figure out what to do and how to make it happen.

One day they rented a dugout canoe. The three of them paddled around the lagoon together. On the far side of the lagoon they found a road built up many feet above the floor of the jungle. This was their first dramatic experience of the fact that Mexico had a history of complex civilizations going back a long time. Who had built this road and for what purpose? Where did it come from? Many questions that didn’t have immediate answers, they were somewhat afraid to explore into the jungle very far. It seemed dark and impenetrable and scary. It was thick and overgrown.

Zane, the paleface, got severely sunburned on his thighs from the day of canoeing. The tropical sun had done a job on him. He was fortunate that at least he’d worn a shirt and his lower legs had been tucked under him most of the time. He spent a sleepless night with the pain of the burns. The palapa patron` noticed his plight the next day and gave him some salve in a plain jar to rub on his legs. Miraculously the pain was gone in a few hours. They decided they had done Barra de Navidad. The next day they caught a bus back to Ajijic.

A few days into their second stay Suzanne asked, “You have any money?”

“Yeah, we have money.”

“Let me show you where you can stay.”

She took them to a small hotel a few blocks away. It had the obligatory broken shards of glass on top of the walls which surrounded it and two vicious-sounding, vicious-looking German shepherds, who patrolled the courtyard at night. Sleeping in the hotel bed was actually more comfortable than Suzanne’s floor. They had to ring the bell and waken the caretaker if they were returning late at night. The barking dogs were definitely intimidating. The one little café in town had an adequate supply of bisteca, huevos, and spicy frijoles. They ate there most every morning and evening. There was a little store with cheese, yogurt, and other snack food. They swam in the lake, wandered around and increasingly hung out with the semi-permanent American population. Clearly Lake Chapala had been a destination for crazy Americans for a while.

One such American was dealing acid. Another couple from San Francisco showed up. Jerry was a friend of Tim’s from Stanford. He had gotten heavily into meth and come to Mexico, perhaps instinctually fleeing his own self-destruction. They had a little black dog with them, who’d ingested enough meth he seemed to often be barking at hallucinations. Some people found this entertaining. Jerry was friends with Gil Cassady. They had once come by the Linden Alley pad. Cassady, the presumed real-life model for Dean Moriarty in Kerouac’s On the Road, was very straightforward.

“Got any meth?”

“No.”

“Got any acid?”

“No, I got some pot.”

“Forget it.”

With that they turned and left. Zane’s entire experience of Gil Cassady lasted less than a minute.

Jerry told Zane about the pharmaceutical speed available at the local pharmacy. It was called Aktedron. Jerry and Zane scored some acid. Josie wasn’t interested. She had also revealed to Zane in Guadalajara that she had come to Mexico without her birth control pills. She was not open to other suggestions such as rhythm, withdrawal, or anything at all. This felt like a big push-away. Zane was cut off. He tried the Aktedron. It didn’t raise his spirits. Mexico was different from San Francisco. Life was getting difficult.

Jerry and Zane decided to drop some acid and hike into the mountains above Lake Chapala. The acid was mail-ordered direct from Sandoz to their new friend in Ajijic. On a mild and pleasant spring day they found numerous trails that took them away from the lake and higher into the mountains. Josie stayed in town with the collective of nomads and expatriates that numbered at least two dozen in this little Mexican village. Sometime in the afternoon Jerry decided he’d had enough.

“I’m going back.”

“I’m going to keep going.” Zane was reminded of his brother last year. Seemed like Zane was always the guy who had to get to the top, keep going when others stopped or turned back. So be it.

The trail he was following got narrower and steeper. Finally he could see that he was coming a very steep area almost a box canyon. He could try to clamber up the mountainside ahead. He had the feeling if he could just get beyond the ridge, there were people and a whole different world on the other side. But he was out of food and water, and he was alone. He crouched on the trail peering down into the canyon below. He could feel himself transforming into a giant condor. He sat for many minutes in this hunkered condor meditation. Then he started down toward the village. On the way it grew darker until once again just like in the Sierras of California, he was coming down the mountain in the dark of night. And once again he felt like his feet were being guided. He was off trail but closer to the village was not so steep, so he just walked at times his huaraches sinking into the soft soil. He walked into the village very near to the dealer’s house. Everyone was there, a lot of talk and energy going every which way. He really wanted to talk to Josie. She got up to leave, and he followed her outside. She was somewhat blowing him off.

“Wait, please wait, slow down.”

“What?”

“I want to talk to you.”

“OK,” she was exasperated, impatient, irritated. He was trying to reach out, do some repair work, make up for his bad moods, let her know that not having sex was ok, reconnect with her. Not that she was listening, his anxiety spiked.

His mind said, “I love you. I want you.” His mouth said, “I need you.”

She stormed off. He had just recited the lines of a currently popular song, but only the last line came out of his mouth. It did not have the desired effect. He stood in the street for a while, wondering what to do next. He didn’t want to go back into the party. Maybe the little tienda was still open. He walked in that direction. Suddenly three dogs were on him all at once barking viciously. He kicked at them as hard as he could. They were wily, and his kicks did not connect. They backed off, but he had to kick his way into the store. He bought a refresco and waited for the dogs to wander off to some other prey. Then he walked back to the hotel where he had to ring the bell and put up with the barking German Shepherds until the caretaker came to let him in for the night.

“Maybe you should just go to Oaxaca, and I’ll meet you there in a few days.”

He was depressed. He didn’t want her to see him this way. He had drawn a cartoon of himself in his notebook, eyes bugging out, tongue hanging out to one side. Arrows pointing inward surrounded him. They were labeled, “SELF PITY, SELF LOATHING, GUILT, SHAME, UGLINESS, etc.” Nothing was working to make him feel better. Her presence was only making him feel worse.

“Well, if that’s what you want.”

She thought, “This is him getting rid of me. He doesn’t want to say he’s breaking up.” Her self-esteem was not at its highest level either.

“I just need a few days. I’ll get my shit together and meet you there. We can meet at the Station Hotel they told us about. Just rent a room there, and I’ll find you. It’s right next to the train station.”

“I guess that’ll work.” She played along.

So it was decided, and the next day they went to the beach at the lake and felt better with each other than they had in days. Two nattily dressed Mexican men overheard them talking about her catching the bus. They offered to give her a ride to Guadalajara. A few minutes later she got into their late model American pick-up truck and drove out of Ajijic. Zane and Josie would not see each other again for three months.

Not far down the road, the men began drinking tequila. They offered Josie some, and she took small sips. They got rowdy. It felt dangerous. They were proposing having sex with her, but weren’t coming right out and saying it. She got the drift and wanted none of it. If she wasn’t having sex with Zane, she definitely didn’t want a couple of strangers messing with her. The tension went on as miles passed on the road. She just wanted to get her bag and get out. Second class buses stopped anywhere along the road if you flagged them down.

They were fed up. They weren’t getting what they wanted. Fortunately they weren’t really rapists. In another small village they abruptly dropped her off and drove away. There was a bus stop. An old woman saw her upset and offered for her to sit in the shade of her house and brought her a taco to eat. She caught the next bus to Guadalajara and then on to Oaxaca.

Oaxaca was already filling with people for the celebrations of Easter week. Josie was lucky to find a hotel room at all. It was not in the agreed-upon Station Hotel. When she was finally in her room after her long journey, she cried and cried and cried. She believed it was all over with Zane, and she had to decide what to do next.

 

If They Said Goodbye

I only miss you every now and then

Like the soft breeze blowin up from the Caribbean

Most Novembers I break down and cry

Cause I can’t remember if we said goodbye

–Steve Earle

Meanwhile Zane was following the plan. He was getting his shit together. He laid off the Aktedron. He stayed away from the impromptu parties. But everyone was a source of information about how to travel, where to go, what to do, what to see. He found out he could catch a bus in Ajijic that went around Lake Chapala, through Xoxotepec and Morelia on the way to Mexico City. Morelia was a beautiful, old Spanish city. Trees and overhanging vines seemed to be everywhere.

Mexico City was a shock. Zane had to change buses there for Oaxaca. In the bus station a gang of pre-teen youth were harassing an old man. As Zane watched they stole his belt and his shoes and ran off into the streets of the big city. The bus for Oaxaca could not come soon enough. The day-long journey to Oaxaca was punctuated by numerous stops, some in towns, some along the road through the mountains to pick up individuals who appeared out of nowhere with no sign of a human settlement. The Mexicans carried belongings tied up in cardboard boxes and often tied livestock on top of the bus. Most of the time there was standing room only. The regular stops came often enough for bathroom breaks. Zane was often the only gringo aboard, but everyone was friendly, and he felt safe and at ease. His appearance was that of a stereotypic hippy, long blonde hair and long red beard. Most people did not seem put off by his appearance. They invariably called him by one of three names, Jesus, Fidel, or General Custer. They were entertained by and accepting of this strange young American. He didn’t hear the name hippy or references to his long hair being feminine. Such references were commonplace on the working-class streets south of Mission in San Francisco. In this part of Mexico people seemed to be intrigued by differences instead of meeting them with suspicion or condemnation. Perhaps with Easter week being imminent, Jesus was on everyone’s mind. Fidel Castro had definitely caught the imagination of many common people in Latin America.

The bus rolled into Oaxaca after sundown. Zane stepped onto the street and had not gone half a block when a torrential downpour hit full-blast. In a few seconds he was drenched to the skin. He actually felt refreshed after the long bus ride. The weather was warm, so what was there to worry about? Using his pocket Spanish-English dictionary, he managed to get directions to the Station Hotel. At the front desk he gave them Rosie’s name. They had no record of such a person. He was at a loss as to what to do next. The man at the desk informed him that most likely all the hotels were full in Oaxaca because of Easter week. He told Zane he could go to the police station and explain his situation. They would allow him to sleep there. His clothes were already dry from the warm temperatures.

So he went to the police station, and they accommodated him. The concrete floor was no more comfortable than the steel table. They were the only two options. There was a young Danish medical student who had also been directed to the police station hotel. He spoke good English and slightly better Spanish than Zane. They hit it off and decided to be tourists together the next day. Oaxaca was surrounded by a number of small villages. Each one seemed to have an Easter pageant on a different day of Easter week. Zane and his new Danish friend walked the two or three miles to the following day’s parade. They shared some pot that Zane had brought from Ajijic. That didn’t make walking in the heat any easier. Many others were walking the same road. It became like a parade in which some of the crowd were dressed in passion-play costumes. They appeared to be acting out the marching of Christ carrying the cross. Somehow these two gringos had stumbled right into the middle of the pageant. No one acted as if they shouldn’t be there, so they marched along with the rest of the group, enjoying the energy, the costumes, and the strange combination of agony and celebration being acted out by the native participants.

Oaxaca has a largely native population. Seven major Indian groups live in the state of Oaxaca, the largest being the Zapotec and Mixtec. Perhaps the predominance of native people explained the tolerance toward these strange-looking foreigners. The vibe felt like, “if you’re here, you’re supposed to be here.”

Another night at the police station and the next day the Dane decided to travel on to some less impacted locale. Before he left they had coffee at a café overlooking the central plaza of Oaxaca. Many vendors tried to sell them serapes, sombreros and other locally handcrafted items. Zane was traveling light and cheap. He resisted the good deals. His friend of a couple of days left on a bus to Veracruz.

Zane still had hopes that somehow he would run into Rosie among the throngs who had gathered to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ. That day he sought out the relative quiet of a church just to escape the crowds for a while. He was awed by the brightly colored iconography, the full-size Christ figures stretched out on holy sepulchers. Dead, dying and wounded Christs were everywhere. The churches were empty, perhaps because everyone was in the streets. That afternoon he fell asleep in the park. Two nights of trying to get some rest on rock-hard surfaces had worn him out.

“You can’t sleep in the park.”

“Huh?” he woke up with a handsome young Mexican man standing over him.

“You can’t sleep in the park. The police will pick you up.”

“That’s where I slept last night, the police station.”

“Please come sleep at my house. My parents invite you.” He gestured to a couple sitting on a park bench nearby. They smiled and waved at him. He waved back.

“OK, thank you. I need to get my things that I left at the police station.”

The young man spoke perfect English and accompanied him to the police station. Then they walked a few more blocks to his house. They offered him a rollaway bed with sheets and everything. He thanked them profusely. The parents spoke little English but were very cordial and generous. They fed him home-cooked meals, and he had a comfortable place to sleep. What good fortune! He told them his story about losing his girlfriend. He called her his esposa, which he believed to mean fiancé. They commiserated with the difficulties of their city during Easter week.

They walked to Monte Alban. The young man had decided to be his guide to the important destinations of Oaxaca. Monte Alban was practically compulsory. It was dramatically situated on a hill overlooking the city of Oaxaca. It is the major ruin of the ancient Zapotec culture, which was a trading partner of the Aztecs but never conquered by them. A large interior ball court had been the sight of a game, which involved tossing a ball through a hoop. Various stories existed about the fate of the losing team. Whether symbolic or actual death awaited them was left open to conjecture. Maybe basketball had not been invented the USA. The large scale of these ruins dwarfed anything pre-Columbian Zane had ever seen in the States. In both the stories of the ancients and the modern depictions of Christ, themes of death seemed much more prevalent than they were in American culture. There was no land of the dead in Disneyland.

Zane had seen no sign or trace of Rosie. His hopes were flagging with each day. He was becoming resigned to not finding her in Oaxaca. He had gone to Mexico and lost his girlfriend. What a chump! He felt he had to find her. There was nothing left to do but head back north. He thanked his host family and caught a bus for Veracruz. Perhaps she had gone to Texas to see her father. Maybe he could find her there. Indeed Rosie had already left for Houston a few days earlier. He didn’t know how he would find her in Houston, but hope was hope. This time he took a first class bus, guaranteed padded and nicely upholstered seat and air-conditioning. It only stopped at designated stations along the way. He slept and looked at the rugged mountains as the journey took him out of those mountains and down to the Atlantic coast. He wondered where those Mazateca Indians of magic mushroom fame were hiding out. He hadn’t picked up any further clues as their whereabouts so on he went to other ports-of-call.

Veracruz was definitely a port-of-call, major seaport for Mexico’s Atlantic trade and approximate site of the landing of Cortez, the Spaniard who changed Mexican history forever beginning in 1519. Veracruz had a European flavor. There seemed to be people there from everywhere. Near the beach was a broad promenade on a major street. Benches and plenty of room for walking drew people of every description. Everyone talked to everyone.  Spanish, English, and other languages floated through the air. Zane met lots of different people in rapid succession. There were two young guys from Belize, one black, one Latino. The black guy was headed to New York to hook up with his brother. The Latino was just traveling. There were two Americans hoping to catch a job on a freighter and ship out to see the world. Joe from Illinois and Bobby from West Virginia had met each other along the way and now were traveling together. Joe played guitar and Bobby played banjo. They picked up a few coins pickin’ and singin’ in the central Mercado, while others plied their wares and ate bowls of beans at 50 centavos a pop.

These meetings all seemed to be fated. The most amazing serendipity was running across four of the original Family Dog from San Francisco, Allie, Drew, Lauren, and Vin. They had driven a school bus from San Francisco. These two couples planned to sell the bus and use the proceeds to continue their travels. They were camped south of Veracruz next to a large river. They invited Zane to join them. Joe and Bobby and the Belizeans came along too. The spirit of the commune prevailed. Large pots of beans were cooked over an open fire. Everyone pitched in. The only glitch was when the black Belizean disappeared one day and so did Allie’s watch and diamond ring.

Zane was still mourning the loss of Rosie. Allie was willing to talk with him at length about this and other topics. She began to educate him about the Native American Church. The four of them were members. Feathers were very important. They could not be allowed to touch the ground. Peyote was a sacrament used only in the ceremonies of the church and not in any other profane way. Spirit was a powerful, tangible entity that could show up in one’s life in very obvious and influential ways. And don’t fuck with that power by trivializing it or not taking it seriously, or there will be definite though undefined consequences.

Allie had a scar right in the center of her chest, a three-inch circle of wrinkles.

“Car crash. Yeah, I was loaded back in Detroit. That’s where I grew up. Lucky to be alive. If I’d been going a little faster, I wouldn’t be. The tree didn’t budge.”

Zane was impressed. His near misses hadn’t involved any personal injury. Allie seemed too petite and perky to have gone through such trauma. But everyone was living more than one life, and that was probably a past life, pre-San Francisco, pre-psychedelics, pre-any kind of mind-opening experience.

“I just feel like I have to find her.”

“But she left you, didn’t she?”

“Well, kind of.”

Actually when it came down to it they had kind of left each other without really saying they were leaving, and then fate took a hand in sealing the deal and ensuring that they didn’t reconnect. Zane was not resolved to that being the outcome.

“You know you’re here in Mexico. Make the most of it. When you find her again, either you’re together or you’re not. Rushing off to find her right now isn’t going to make it any better. Maybe she doesn’t want to be found.”

He couldn’t really argue with Allie’s logic. She was like the big sister he never had, giving him worldly advice about important things, especially girls. Allie gave him the comfort he needed in order to move on and keep exploring. It was true. He was on the east coast of Mexico, farther than he’d ever been on his own. Maybe he should just keep going and see what he could see.

Jose, the Belizean, made an offer. “Come to Belize with me. Once we get there, it costs you nothing. You stay at my house with my family. I will show you Belize.” Jose had no money and was bumming his way around Mexico. He was in Mexico as an illegal immigrant. Maybe this was a good deal. Zane would take care of him, food and transportation, to the border. Then Jose would take care of him.

So they hatched a plan together. He and Jose would head south along the Atlantic Coast through Yucatan to Belize. Joe and Bobby would stay in Veracruz and keep trying to ship out. The Family Dog crew would sell their bus and go to San Miguel, where Drew’s family owned a house in his little brother’s name. Drew was on the run from some drug charges in Nevada so he might be staying in Mexico for quite a while. He gave Zane the family address in San Miguel and took Zane’s rucksack. Zane gave his extra pair of army fatigues to Vin. He would travel light with little more than a hairbrush to keep his long hair in place. There was no shame in Mexico if you had a hole in your pants or hadn’t bathed that day. He was adjusting to the lowered standards of expectation. It was what hippies were trying to do, but found so difficult in the middle of rigid compulsive money-obsessed Amerika.

Jose and Zane went out on the highway near where they’d all been camped. They stuck out their thumbs and soon got their first ride on top of a truckload of pipe. They had one stop, gas for the truck and refrescos for them. Hours later they were quite a ways down the coast, and Zane was feeling sick. He fell asleep by the side of the road. He was awakened by woman, who invited him into her tienda and offered him some warm milk. He continued to be amazed at how people reached out to him when he appeared to be not doing well. It was beyond generosity. It was looking for the opportunity to be charitable. It occurred to him in passing that something was happening here that was more Christian than anything he’d ever come across in his life.

As they passed through Coatzacoalcos, a huge oil tanker steamed up the river. In Ciudad del Carmen they took a break and swam in the turquoise waters of the gulf, so clear they could see twenty feet to the bottom. Refreshed and clean they walked to the Central Mercado and ordered soup and beans and rice at one of the booths, total cost about 3 pesos or 25 cents American. The woman behind the counter was friendly and talkative with Jose. Her pretty daughter worked by her side. When they left Jose turned to Zane.

“That girl wants you.”

“Huh?”

“I’m telling you she wants you. Didn’t you see how she was looking at you?”

“No,” Zane was oblivious. He had no idea some Mexican girl at a taco stand would be interested in him.

“You could go back.” Jose was really pumping it up. He wanted to see Zane show some interest in this girl. Zane still couldn’t see anything but Rosie, and didn’t want to. Jose in his own way was trying to help Zane move on. He didn’t even know the story. “Man, it’s your loss.”

Zane mumbled something. He was actually scared and embarrassed. Wouldn’t have known what to do if everything Jose said was true. Couldn’t really remember what the girl looked like except he had momentarily noticed she was pretty and young.

That night they slept in a house under construction, just laid down on the ground and went to sleep. The hitchhiking wasn’t going so well, so they hopped a 2nd class bus. Jose had friends in Ticul. As the bus moved from Campeche into Yucatan, the terrain became very green and flat. Men stood by the road awaiting buses. They each carried a machete and a rifle.

“They’re going out to work their land. They stay for a few days, and then come back to their village.” Jose knew these people. He and Zane were moving into his home territory. In Ticul they went to the home of a family he knew. All the houses were rectangular with a kind of thatched roof. Inside were as many hammocks as family members who were sleeping there. The adult women all cut round figures, their heavy bodies enclosed in white dresses or skirts and huipiles, a kind of loose blouse. Lots of embroidery covered the white cotton. The mama welcomed them and fed them. The young man Jose’s age came from some work he was doing locally. The father was far away working his land.

After dark the young men were joined by other young men. They rented bicycles and rode the dirt paths in the dark. They went to the village bars and drank beer. A bunch of pot appeared. They rolled cigars from brown paper bags and smoked them in the forest outside the village. Then they rode around some more. Zane was blitzed and having a hard time staying on his bicycle. At one of the bars, there was one large woman drinking with the men. She came up to Zane and admired his long blond hair.

“So pelo,” she looked at him seductively.

“You want to go with her?” Jose asked.

“No.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah.”

“Can you give me ten pesos?”

“Sure,” Zane reached for his wallet and handed a ten peso note to Jose. Their companions and the men in the bar were like a cheering section as Jose and the woman disappeared into some back room. A few minutes later they reappeared. The woman acted like she’d been given a hell of a ride. Jose simply grinned. Everyone cheered.

Since the other guys spoke no English, he had little idea what was going on. He was literally just along for the ride, except his money had provided for most of the party for these young Mayans. He didn’t mind. He got his own hammock that night and slept like a baby softly swinging from one of the poles supporting the roof.

After the mother fed them the next morning, they took a bus to the next village, Oxkutzcab. Jose was looking for more friends.

“They say there’s a fiesta in Peto.”

“Where’s that?”

“Next village.”

“OK, let’s go.”

Zane was at times wondering where he was and particularly where all of this was leading. But they had some pot now, which pretty much assuaged any concerns about things like ultimate purpose. In Peto there was plenty of beer and food and a Mexican rodeo. Several men would get a rope around the neck of a bull. While they held on and tried to keep the bull under control, other men and boys would mess with the bull by running up and slapping him or pulling his tail and then running away again. After a while they drug the bull away and unroped him. There was no blood, just harmless mischief.

Jose continued to mix well and Zane made the rounds with him.

“This man wants to talk to you.”

“Who’s he?”

“He’s a federale, but don’t worry he just wants to check you out and make sure you’re not a revolutionary.”

The federale was drinking a beer. He was cordial. He asked Zane a few questions: what was his business in Yucatan, how long did he plan to stay, stuff like that. He spoke good English.

“Just passing through on my way to Belize with my friend, Jose, who’s from there.”

“OK, enjoy the fiesta,” the federale saluted him with his beer and a smile and they parted amicably. In his khaki shirt this official stood out, a head taller than the Mayan men. He enjoyed the relaxed nature of his job out here in a small village. Had to check out the strangers.

The village shoemaker was quite drunk. He invited the young men to stay the night at his house. Again Zane was impressed by the natural hospitality. Only problem, there were only two hammocks and three of them. The shoemaker started to crawl into the hammock with Zane. They were both pretty uncomfortable. The man got out and slept on the floor leaving the good sleeping arrangements for his guests. They had all drunk enough to sleep soundly.

Chetumal stands at the border where Mexico and Belize are separated by a river.

“We just find the guy to row us across the river. A few pesos and we’re in Belize.”

Zane was resisting. He was scared about entering a new country illegally. He remembered the officials on the train out of Mexicali. “I don’t think so. Can’t we just walk across the bridge?”

“We can try.” Further discussion did not create another plan.

So they went to the bridge. Following instructions, Zane signed off his tourist visa for Mexico and gave it to the Mexican officials. Halfway across the bridge they were met by a black man in a red uniform with a clipped British accent. He was all spit and polish.

“How much money do you have?”

Zane showed him what remained of his traveler’s checks, about $70.

“That is not enough. You may not enter Belize.”

Just then Jose walked up. The border official acted as if he knew him personally.

“You. You have been in Mexico illegally again.” He took him by the arm and handed him over to another uniformed official. He turned back to Zane, “You are denied entry to Belize. Go back across the bridge.”

Zane and Jose looked at each other one last time. Jose had been right of course. Zane was somewhat shocked as he went back across the bridge.

“Let’s see your tourist visa.”

“You have it. I just gave it to you.”

“This visa is not valid. It has been signed off.”

“Can I get another one?”

“No, you have been traveling with an illegal immigrant to Mexico. Come.”

They sat him down by the border booth and continued to question him.

“Why is your hair so long?”

“I took a vow I would not cut it until the war in Vietnam ends.”

“You are communist.”

“No!”

“You must be communist. You look like Fidelista.”

“No, I’m just against the war.”

Another man, not a uniform, joined the discussion. Zane could only understood some of the Spanish being exchanged. The other man was obviously advocating for him.

No es communista. Es idealista.” 

Once again Zane wondered where these saviors came from. The three men continued to talk in Spanish.

“You must come to main police station in Chetumal. They will decide what to do with you.”

Within the hour a car picked him up and one of the uniforms accompanied him to a relatively imposing building for this sleepy tropical border town. He waited in an outer office. Finally he was called in to see the officer in charge.

“We are returning your tourist visa to you.”

“But I already signed it off.”

“Don’t worry about that. You have until sundown to leave Chetumal. If you are still here at sundown, you will be in big trouble. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have the means to leave Chetumal?”

“Yes, I can buy a bus ticket.”

“Be sure you do.”

The interview was over. Another officer escorted him to the front of the building and pointed him in the direction of the bus station. He bought a first class ticket for Merida, the big city of Yucatan. He sat on a bench for a couple of hours and waited for the bus. The only drugs he had with him at this point were some Tetracycline. He took one and it just made him slightly out of it. The bus pulled out of Chetumal a couple of hours before sundown. Zane was thinking, ‘probably better to be headed back north. Don’t have that much money. Tired of paying for myself and Jose. He was a good guide though. Everything happens for a reason.’ He drifted into a gentle slumber as the bus rolled through the flatlands of Quintana Roo and back into Yucatan. When he roused the landscape was the same flat green he’d seen since entering Yucatan a few days before. There continued to be men with rifles and machetes alongside the road.

Late night Merida, found a hotel, good night’s sleep.

‘I want to see some pyramids.’ Chichen Itza was not far from Merida. It was one of two ancient sites Zane had been told to check out. He signed up for a tour bus that went to Chichen Itza, allowed a few hours to explore, and brought everyone back to Merida.

The tour guide talked about observatories and various theories about how the pyramids got built. Zane didn’t get much from all the talk. He wanted to climb to the top of the largest one, and he did. He expected to feel more than he did. Maybe it was the lack of drugs to enhance the experience and his attunement to other levels of reality. Oh well, he was still glad he’d done it, glad he’d stood at the top of one of the largest pyramids in the Western Hemisphere. He wasn’t sure if the ancients had touched him or not. Time would tell.

He took the night bus to Veracruz zooming through towns in a night, he and Jose had taken most of a week to traverse. No use wasting money on another night in a hotel room. Either he’d find some of his friends in Veracruz or go right on to San Miguel.

Next day on the promenade he ran into Joe and Bobby. They had rented a house. He was welcome to stay with them. They were giving it a few more days to catch a ship, and then they were going to head for home. They went down to the waterfront together. Zane considered the possibility of shipping out himself. The waterfront felt rougher and scarier than any place he’d been in Mexico except for the bus station in Mexico City. Quite a few men were hanging out apparently seeking a spot on a ship. Joe was the courageous one. He went right up to large ships flying every flag of the world, found out who to talk to, and asked if they needed any hands. He continued to get turned down. The Norwegians were the most friendly and helpful, wishing him good luck in his travels.

Their last day in Veracruz Zane sang with them as they serenaded the Mexican crowd with Beatles songs and picked up a few coins, enough to buy lunch at one of the booths, a bowl of beans, rice or soup for 50 centavos, about 4 cents. They informed the landlady they were leaving. She had washed their clothes and performed other services for these young men like a good mom.

They decided to hop a freight out of Veracruz to get to Mexico City. At the railroad yards they clambered onto a gondola with a load of pipe two to three feet in diameter. For some reason Bobby put his banjo in the next car. They all fell asleep and woke up when the car was no longer moving. They weren’t even part of the train any more. They were on a spur line. Bobby’s banjo was gone. Disheartened with this mode of transportation, they found the highway to Mexico City. The train had taken them less than half the way. They hitchhiked the rest of the way, easily obtaining rides. Perhaps the novelty of three wacky-looking Americans served them well.

Joe had friends in Mexico City. They were living in their own apartment and going to the American University. They all stayed the night there with plentiful beer and pot facilitating an easy evening. They were all just passing through. Zane left Joe and Bobby in Mexico City. They would head back north soon. Zane found a bus to San Miguel and arrived there the same day. Drew’s directions led him right to their door in an alleyway half a block off a main street. Zane was thankful to reconnect with the Family Dog clan and feel himself in a safe haven again. He’d gotten used to traveling. He’d been all over Mexico almost at random as one influence took him one way and then another took him in a whole new direction. He’d been on the west coast, the east coast, the southern border and now back in the center. He’d cut himself loose into the chancy adventure of it all, just moving to see what the next miles would reveal. Still it was good to see some folks who seemed to know the ropes a little better than he did. Drew spoke excellent Spanish and because of his family’s holdings had spent a lot of time in Mexico.

Gone Fishin’

Betcha goin  fishin’ all of the time.

Baby’s goin fishin’ too.

–Taj Mahal

Lady, whose shrine stands on the promontory,

Pray for all those who are in ships, those

Whose business has to do with fish…

–T.S. Eliot

Reunited with his friends and his few remaining belongings, Zane settled into a rhythm at the casa in San Luis. There were regular meals and renewed conversations with Allie. Zane was moving on with his life, though in certain ways he never moved on from the sense of failure incurred by losing Josie in Mexico. He certainly didn’t want to believe that she was the love of his life, and he’d lost her, and he wasn’t even 21 yet. But several weeks had already elapsed since their fateful parting on the shores of Lake Chapala, and he had no certain idea where he would even look for her. So nothing to do but keep on living—he looked up to these folks in San Luis who had befriended him.

Perhaps he would pick up some clues on how to live better, wiser, happier, braver. There was an additional member of the household. Zane heard about him before his arrival. Charlie Sparrowhawk had contracted hepatitis while traveling in Mexico. It had slowed him down a bit. He was convalescing. Apparently everyone else looked up to him. He had earned his name, somehow bestowed through the still mysterious connections that had to do with the Native American Church and Native Americans in general. References were made to him with great respect but little detail regarding his role with these folks or with Native American affairs.

When Zane met him he was sporting new clothes tailor-made by a local seamstress. They were traditional white cotton loose-fitting pants and shirt. With his straw sombrero and huaraches he could have passed for native except for his pale skin. He commanded a presence whenever he entered a room as if some other large being had entered with him though invisibly. Charlie seemed to be a kind of spiritual leader for this small family.

Vin probably spoke the feelings of all of them. “We need to get some pot.”

Drew was always ready to hit the road. “Yeah, let’s take a trip. Sure would be great if we could find some acid somewhere.”

Zane spoke up, “I know where we can score some acid.” The rest of the group was all ears. “Yeah, this cat in Ajijic is getting it straight from Sandoz. Al is his name. I don’t know where you’re going for grass, but if you want to slide on by Ajijic, I’m sure we could score some acid.”

Some maps appeared. The little mountain village near Zamora where they went for la grifa, the local name for la mota, the more common name for pot in Mexico, was on the way to Ajijic. A plan was put together, a run to procure the sacraments of the sect, pot and psychedelics.

Drew, Vin, and Zane hitchhiked out of San Luis on a day as warm as the rest of them had been. On their way to Ajijic they passed through the town of Celaya. On the outskirts as they stood with their thumbs out, an unmarked van rolled up. Three uniforms jumped out and motioned them into the van. They headed back into Celaya to the police station and jail. They were left in an inner courtyard with no benches or chairs. As they hunkered against a wall the inmates were let out of their cells for lunch. A bucket of beans and a stack of tortillas were placed in the center of the courtyard. The men blinking in the sudden bright light dipped tortillas into the bucket of beans and ate their fill without benefit of utensils. They sat on their heels and munched until they were directed back to the dungeon-like lockup area.

About then their captors fetched them into one of the offices. They were directed in Spanish through Drew to buy bus tickets and get out of town. Apparently they were not deemed to be worth enough for any further bite from this local gang of police. Drew had informed them that he was a resident of Mexico living in San Luis, that his family owned property, perhaps this helped to back them off as well.

The bus dropped them on the highway at the edge of Ajijic. Almost immediately an American heading out of town informed them, “The federales are in town, better get off the streets.”

They headed for Al’s house, down back streets just a few blocks away, Zane leading the way. Al was freaked out, really running scared. He was packing up to leave town too. But he made a sale to Drew and Vin. The three of them left town almost as quickly as they’d arrived. Their entire stay in Ajijic might have lasted a half hour. They were on the highway again keeping a low profile until a bus came by headed in the opposite direction. Their timing had been immaculate, to make the score, avoid the federales and split town again. Next stop was Zamora where a local gave them a ride to the mountain village. Things hadn’t exactly gone as planned in Ajijic, but bottom line they had the acid they had come for.

The one cantina in town was still open. Drew found the man he was looking for. Within the hour he had provided a bundle of pot that appeared to be about a pound. Drew secured it in his backpack, checked out the directions for departure and later in the same evening that had begun by dodging the federales in Ajijic, Zane, Drew and Vin were tramping across plowed fields in the opposite direction from the road that had brought them into this mountain village. It was late at night. They passed in the distance several small collections of houses. Dogs barked but otherwise they neither saw nor heard another soul. After several miles of adroit navigation in the semi-darkness, they reached another road. They waited this time for most of an hour before a bus came by. They flagged it down, chose from the numerous empty seats and heaved a sigh of relief. They were basically safe at this point. They would be bus passengers until they returned to San Luis. The run had been successful in spite of the challenges. Zane felt good that he had been able to contribute to the success of the Ajijic portion of the enterprise.

Within a couple of days they all dropped acid. At one point Drew, Allie, and Zane were in a back room of the house. They were giggling like little kids. Suddenly Charlie Sparrowhawk appeared in the room. He stood tall and straight and took one deep breath. He looked around the room with a slow cool clarity. Everyone else kind of woke up and refocused, aware again of the field of their surroundings. Zane didn’t even have the concept as yet of personal power, but he had just experienced it. This was why Charlie commanded such respect. He did not lose his head. He took responsibility for being the one to stay focused on a broader awareness. He was a small hawk, but a hawk nonetheless, with the acuity of vision of such birds to fly high and yet not miss the details of the entire panorama.

The folks who launched Family Dog must have been a large family. Another of the group showed up. Nick came up from Mexico City. He’d been busted there and given a deadline for leaving Mexico. He spent a few days in jail before his Mexican lawyer was able to spring him. He’d spent most of his money fighting a pot charge that consisted of smoking a joint in a public park. By the time the cop reached him, he had shredded the joint into the lawn, but rules of evidence only vaguely applied in Mexico especially in the federal district. If they wanted to bust you, they busted you.

Zane was running out of money too. He and Nick decided to head back to the States. They pooled their funds, got 1st class bus tickets to Mexicali, and bought some Seconal sleeping pills from the local pharmacy. Their plan was to sleep their way to the border, instead of staring their way across the endless bleak miles of the Mexican desert. The plan worked pretty well. Zane remembered occasionally staggering off the bus at some rest stop blottoed on “reds”, but passing the two days with little effort. In Mexicali Nick was definitely showing Zane the ropes.

“At the border they will definitely strip search me. They know about the bust. You’ll be suspect just because you’re with me.”

They left the reds and another bottle of pills on top of a trash can on their way to the border. One might have expected a “Welcome Home!” but instead just as predicted Nick was taken to a back room and strip-searched. They just asked Zane some questions and looked through his rucksack. They walked into Calexico, California, free men. Neither of them kissed the ground. Again it was nighttime. They found the highway heading north, stuck out their thumbs, and soon were shortening the miles between themselves and San Francisco. Perhaps when they got back to the City they would kiss the ground.

Two Mexicans picked them up and as they headed north through the Imperial Valley, America’s wintertime vegetable garden. The Border Patrol stopped them. Fortunately the Mexicans had their papers in order. The uniforms hardly even questioned Nick and Zane. Later in the day they were in Bakersfield and stopped by Zane’s parent’s house. Might as well get a couple of meals and a good nights sleep in a bed. The parents were cordial and talked with Nick adult to adult. He was older and had worked in the music industry including a DJ spot at KSAN, the hippy radio station. So he had semi-legitimacy with the folks. They didn’t hassle Zane, probably just glad to see him alive and well after two and a half months in a foreign country without so much as a post card.

Josie had passed through and picked up the Smokey dog. The parents didn’t ask a whole lot of questions about what happened. They may well have expected the worst and were relieved that Zane appeared to be alive, healthy, and not markedly insane. They didn’t inquire about his finances either. And he didn’t tell them he had seven dollars to his name. They dropped Nick and Zane on Highway 99 the next morning, wished them well and drove off. The rest of the journey passed easily.

San Francisco, no money, no girlfriend, no place to live, no immediate prospects, the next few weeks would require some faith and courage. In the accelerated pace of the times a lot could happen in three months. Zane gradually learned of the darkness that had overtaken his friends while he was losing as much as he was gaining in the land of the ancients. Mick had gotten hooked on heroin. He had pawned and sold everything Zane had left with him, books, furniture, clothes, everything, and he had lost the apartment. One day he was totally zonked out in a public park. The police arrested him for being under the influence. He was released to his parents’ custody in Bakersfield to clean up and get his act together. Rod just drifted to the next available crash pad. Almost everyone he knew was shooting a lot of crystal, some handling it better than others. Just as when he left for Mexico, crystal was plentiful, pot was scarce.

So he joined right in with his friends and soon was running the streets trying to make dope deals by being the conduit between those who had money and those who had drugs. Disadvantage was he had to talk to a lot of people to try to put these deals together. He got a reputation as a blabbermouth, disquieting to the large-scale dealers who liked to keep things on the hush-hush. He once showed up at Cadillac Bob’s house with seven hundred dollars of Front Phil’s cash in his pocket. Bob wouldn’t touch him with a ten- foot pole.

“Too many people are talking about this deal. People I barely know are telling me about it. Besides I don’t have the acid yet and the deal was for $1000, nothing less.”

“But…”Zane tried his best speed rap to no avail. He had to go back and return Front Phil’s front money and give up the dream of putting together big-time dope deals.

One day in the middle of his survive-by-dealing days, Zane went to Berkeley to see Josie with a lid of grass stuck in his sock. He finally had a little cash in his jeans, not feeling so down and out, and he had lots of drugs and access to more. Josie and Molly were living in a virtually all-black neighborhood in West Berkeley. He was going to try one more time to get her to come back to him. He didn’t know how, but he’d been doing a lot of speed, so he had plenty of confidence, though not much sensitivity or subtlety. He made his desires known. She said, “No”. Suddenly he realized he’d slapped her across the face, and she was retreating into her little house. She was crying.

“Sorry, sorry, sorry!”

“Go away. Just go away!”

As he walked out the door, he put on his street face. A young neighbor was standing by her driveway.

“Hey man, you wanna buy a dime bag of grass?”

“Sure, yeah, I guess. How much?”

“Just a dime, man, just a dime.”

He pulled a dime out of his pocket and started to hand it to Zane.

“No, No, man you know what I mean, like ten dollars.”

“Oh, I don’t have no ten dollars.”

Zane stuffed the baggie back in his sock and walked away quickly in search of an AC transit bus.

Meanwhile he was crashing on the couch at Don and Harvey’s place on Fulton Street across from the old brewery. Fulton and Webster was closer to the heart of the Fillmore. Hookers plied the corners of Webster and Buchanan. Sometimes as many as eight pretty young black women would be offering their favors as he walked down the front steps of the Kelly green eight-plex near the heart of the ghetto. Don sometimes bought these favors and even got involved to the level of bailing one gal out of jail when she got popped, as they periodically did. Jack and Mary Shea still owned this building in what was once a solidly Irish neighborhood. A few blocks away the Ukrainian Bakery still sold the best dark rye bread in town, and the synagogue held its weekly services.

Shot some speed and laid on the couch half the day and half the night playing Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” over and over again until he practically had it memorized, until he knew that Dylan had intimate knowledge of his life and all the changes he was going through. It was uncanny how this guy could write such an accurate commentary on Zane’s life.

“Oh, your railroad gate, you know I just cant’ jump it.

Sometimes it gets so hard to see.

You’ve left me here beating on my trumpet…”

“If you live outside the law, you must be honest.

I know you always say that you agree.”

“Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,

Where the sad-eyed prophets say that no man comes

…Oh, sad-eyed lady should I wait?”

Pining away for that sad-eyed lady again and again, tangled up and blue, and these visions of Johanna that won’t let me sleep. The feelings were all there in the music, but weren’t really accessible to work with to change anything in the daily fare. Insight didn’t make anything any different.

One night some guys came by looking for pot. Zane had seen them before. Harvey seemed to know them.

Harvey was avoiding them. “No man, I got no pot,” followed by a long uncomfortable silence in the room.

Zane jumped in, “I got some. I’ll sell you some.” Harvey looked at him with daggers and a shake of his head. “Well, I don’t have it here. I’d have to go get it. It might take me a while.”

“No man, we’ll keep looking a few more places. Maybe we’ll come back.”

When they left, Harvey was livid, “That’s it man, you gotta move out. I’m 86ing you right now. You don’t know those guys. They could be narcs. You can’t be bringing heat on the house that way.”

Zane couldn’t believe what was coming down on him. He apologized as best he could. Harvey disappeared for a few minutes. Zane sat on the couch paralyzed. Harvey returned.

“You don’t have to leave. Just don’t ever do that again. Ever!”

“OK!”

“A few minutes later Zane and Harvey at Harvey’s invitation were doing up some crystal together. All must have been forgiven.

Rick lived in one of the other flats on Fulton. He was encouraging Zane’s interest in world business.

“You just go talk to people. Find somebody who’s doing what you want to do and go talk to ‘em. Most of the guys are flattered when someone shows an interest. You want to do world business, you could do it.”

Don had done commercial salmon fishing the previous summer. His friend who owned the boat offered it to Don if he wanted to take it out. Don needed a crewman. Zane jumped at the chance, leaving to go fishing the day Rick had lined up an interview for him.

Petaluma, California, had been known as the egg capital of the world. Clover Dairy was the other main industry. The town sat astride the Petaluma River, which is really a tidal slough that flows into the north end of San Pablo Bay except when the tide is coming in. Duffy, the old fisherman who had sold his boat to Don’s friend, lived in Petaluma and the boat was docked on the river. Duffy had taken a liking to young men in his elder years. Don characterized him as an “asshole bandit”. He liked Zane’s long blond hair and was not shy in saying so. They needed Duffy’s expertise to get the boat running and pointed in the right direction so they might have a chance of catching some salmon and actually making some money for their heroic efforts.

The boat had been built on the hull of a WWII landing craft, not the prettiest or sleekest boat in the water, but solid and definitely functional. Don was the captain so Duffy mainly instructed him about the running of the boat, equipment, etc. Don passed on the information as needed to Zane. They headed south down the river, having called ahead to get the drawbridge at “D” Street raised so the mast would clear. The marshlands of the North Bay lay on either side of them until they passed underneath the arched bridge of Highway 37 and into the open waters of the Bay. Zane had never been on a small boat before. He was stoked. Soon he was driving with the gentle back and forth play of the wheel to keep an approximate straight line. They docked at Sausalito that night tying up to a line of boats six deep in what had already become a large harbor for small boats, salmon trawlers, yachts, small sailboats and cabin cruisers. A coterie of permanent residents also lived in houseboats.

After a night being rocked to sleep by the gentle rhythm of the waves, they passed under the Golden Gate Bridge into the really open waters of the Pacific Ocean. What a thrill to see the rugged cliffs of the Golden Gate and the green hills northward as they motored through the waves on a brilliant sunny day. The diesel engine was enormously noisy, but every other sense was filled with salt air, the rocking rhythm of the waves and a coastline of cliffs, beaches and green rolling hills . They went far west through Drake’s Bay and around the tip of Pt. Reyes before entering the perfect protection of Bodega Harbor, one of the main destinations for fish sales from boats like theirs. In Bodega Bay they took on a load of ice and topped off their diesel fuel. Duffy left their company in Bodega Bay. They were on their own. They would work their way north over the next week or so, trolling and running to their next destination, Noyo Harbor near Ft. Bragg. Hopefully when they reached Noyo, they would have a hold full of salmon on ice.

There were numerous protected bays and coves where they could pull in for the night, drop anchor, cook up some grub and just enjoy being where they were. From the beginning the boys were not very good at being early risers, up with the sun to catch the morning bite. They managed to catch some fish during less than prime-time hours. They watched the weather and read their charts, so they generally reached safe anchorage before the seas became too rough. Zane took to reading the charts. He was memorizing the coastline, Ft. Ross, Anchor Bay, Stillwater Cove, Timber Cove, Albion River and finally the Harbor at the Noyo River. He was also learning to read a loran, an instrument which charts position by triangulating two signals from loran stations on the mainland. Zane learned to trust his instruments. The entrance to the Albion River is narrow with rocks on either side of the channel. They came into Albion in a thick fog. Zane charted their position using the loran and gave the course to Don and then got on the bow of the boat as they headed into the river, just in case. As they emerged from the fog they hit the channel dead center. They celebrated as the newly accomplished do.

Protocol for anchoring in a cove without a dock involved Don driving the boat while Zane stood on the bow. When they reached the shallow but not too shallow area of the cove, Don would yell, “Drop it,” and Zane would drop the anchor. Then Don would back the boat until the resistance indicated that the anchor was hooked on the bottom. The second night after leaving Bodega, they were following the protocol in one of the smaller coves. Suddenly Don was frantically yelling, “Drop it. Drop it.” Zane dropped the anchor and the boat kept going until the anchor caught  and swung the boat around until it was facing back toward the open ocean. They came up just short of the rock-lined shore.

“What happened?” Zane was a little freaked out.

“Lost the shift linkage, I think.”

Sure enough the connection between the gearshift and the transmission had come apart. They had no way to shift gears. Don got in the lifeboat and rowed to shore. Fortunately the cove had a farmhouse. Don called Duffy.

“You got any beer cans?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, flatten a piece of one out and fold it over. Then pound it in with the rod where it fits into the bigger rod. Make sure you got a tight fit and it won’t pull out again.”

“OK”

Don followed instructions and an hour or so later, they could shift gears again. The fix-it job worked until they were coming up the Noyo River at the end of their first stint at sea. Zane was in his usual position on the bow, rope in hand waiting to toss it to whatever boat they were tying up next to or hop onto said boat and tie them together. They were in the middle of the river.

“Throw the rope. Throw it now! We lost the tranny again.”

Fortunately Zane had a large coil of rope. He threw it, and it uncoiled across a stack of boats tied side to side.

He started yelling, “Somebody grab the rope and pull us in. We just lost our tranny. Help! Pull us in. We’re drifting toward the rocks.”

At first there was a bunch of guys staring at him like he was a crazy man. Then one guy ran over to the rope and began pulling them in. They tied up to the nearest boat and showered thanks on the guy who had saved them.

Another phone call to Duffy, “Get it welded this time.”

They kept going north. Sold the fish they’d caught, iced up, fueled up, their destination was Shelter Cove at the southern end of the Humboldt County coast. They could troll and run a few days up and a few days back and sell their fish at Noyo again. They were enjoying the fishing. Their trawler ran three steel cables off of large poles set at an angle on either side of the boat. Six leaders were baited with herring and snapped to each steel cable. So at any one time there were 30-36 hooks in the water trailing out behind the boat at various depths. They could set the iron mike, a kind of automatic pilot, and both work the poles. They would watch until it appeared that one of the large springs through which the cables passed was bouncing up and down excessively. Then they would winch that cable up from the several fathoms below the surface where the leaders were trailing out behind the cables. The excitement came when one of the leaders had hooked a salmon. They snapped the leader to the stern of the boat and then pulled the fish in by hand simply grabbing the leader and pulling against the strength of the salmon until it was close enough to either net or gaff. Netting was the more conservative approach, but developing one’s technique with a gaff hook was one of the marks of a true pro.

To single-handedly gaff a 20 lb. or larger salmon required coordination, strength and timing. A gaff hook is about 30 inches in length with a 3-4 inch hook at one end. Perfect technique requires the fisherman to hold the leader attached to the fighting fish in his weaker hand, swing the gaff hook so it catches the salmon right in the gill slit, and then swing the fish onto the deck of the boat. A swing and a miss could result in knocking a prize salmon off of its hook and losing it back to the open ocean. If a fish was successfully gaffed or netted, the gaff hook then doubled as a club. One or two blows should render the fish senseless and immobile. When the boat got into a rich fishing area or a “potato patch”, the deck might be piled with dead salmon awaiting a lull in the action so they could be cleaned and later packed on ice in the hold. Any fish above 20 lbs. was referred to as a slug or hog and was cause for a minor celebration. Sometimes an undersize fish was caught already dead from being drug behind the boat. These unfortunate youngsters were immediately transferred to the stove. A similar fate could await any ling cod, rock cod or snapper that found its way to the baited hooks.

The trip north went well. At Shelter Cove they rode waves as tall as the boat into the shelter of the small bay. There was a settlement with a store and a few houses. Don went ashore in the lifeboat to stock up on beer and a few other items. They decided to drop acid the next day just resting on anchor in Shelter Cove. The trip was pleasant and mellow, being rocked like a baby by the ocean waves and lying about in the warm sun. That evening brought a minor crisis. The engine wouldn’t start. They weren’t planning on going anywhere until the next day. However, a lot of boats including theirs leak a bit. When the engine is running the bilge pumps clear the water out of the area between the deck and the hull. No engine, no bilge pump, and they had begun to take on enough water that the boat was beginning to list. Don got on the marine band radio and called the Coast Guard. Shortly after sunset a full-sized Coast Guard Cutter hove to a ways from their boat.

“Did you request Coast Guard assistance?” bellowed the bullhorn from the bow of the cutter.

“Yes, yes, that’s us,” waving their arms at the Coast Guard.

Several Coasties sped over in their runabout. They assessed the situation, went back and fetched a 24-volt bank of batteries. With that added kick their trawler’s Jimmie Diesel cranked right up.

“We’d recommend you keep your engine running until you get back to your home port or somewhere with a mechanic.”

“Yeah, we will. Thank you. Thank you.”

The Coast Guard left as quickly as they had arrived. Don and Zane were abruptly committed to making a night run back down to Noyo. At least they weren’t listing any more. The ocean was calm, and the weather was clear. They did have to set a course and navigate their way past Cape Mendocino. They set the iron-mike and both managed to fall asleep. Fortunately the course was true, and they didn’t end up on any rocks and require further Coast Guard assistance.

Another friend drove Don’s Porsche up to Noyo, so they had wheels when they were ashore. Joel was a true outdoorsman but also a heavy drinker. He preferred the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana to any place in the world, but returned to the Bay Area periodically to gin up another grubstake or to wait out the winter. The only café in the fishing village of Noyo was Snug Harbor, “where fishermen meat”. Turned out fish stories weren’t just about fish. One morning a young fisherman loudly regaled the whole room about the “long-haired boat-puller” who had accompanied him up from Bodega Bay. She was sucking his cock at the stern of the boat as he ran the lines and pulled an abundance of slugs from the blue Pacific. Two minutes later his wife, who was stunningly beautiful walked in. He didn’t even blink as he greeted her and brought the waitress over so she could order breakfast. Everybody figured he was bull-shitting, but everybody loves a good story, especially one that speaks to a fantasy they’d all had at one time or another.

Joel’s only problem was seasickness. He had planned to hang with them for a few days, but one day of hanging over the rail was enough for him, and he hitchhiked back to San Francisco. Don and Zane finished out a month of fishing before heading back to the City. They cleared about $1000. Zane’s cut was $200 enough to live for a couple of months, enough to buy a kilo and sell lids, enough to get him back on his feet and off the streets.

His disastrous finish with Josie convinced him to chase other girls. There were a few he knew; most of them were friends of Josie and Char. He was not as speedy, impetuous and lacking in subtlety as he was during the month after returning from Mexico. He was still running, not clear whether running away from something or running after something or both. As he tried his less than suave seductions to several of the group, they all kept directing him to “go see Janice”. On the surface he wasn’t attracted to Janice. He also was not pausing long enough to really get to know any girl. He was rather obviously pursuing sex while trying not to expose himself to emotional hurt. Janice might have been perfectly wonderful for him, but he never took the time to find out or even reflect that she came from a rather wealthy family in Bakersfield. He spent an evening with her, was crudely seductive, trying to prematurely place his hands in intimate places, trying to hit a home run in one swing. She resisted but invited him to spend the night. In the morning she offered to fix him breakfast, but he hit the street…running.

At another gathering of the girls he was tripping, when the Jefferson Airplane’s latest hit, “Don’t you want somebody to love? Don’t you need somebody to love? …” came loudly over the stereo. He hit the street…running… that time too, overcome with a flood of feelings and close to tears.

 

Turned On–Tuned In

Turn off your mind,

Relax and float down stream

It is not dying…It is not dying.

–Beatles

Someone told him about someone who took Sanskrit at the American Academy of Asian Studies. The idea appealed to Zane. Fall semester of 1966, he registered for a beginning Sanskrit class. Sanskrit would open some doors to the spiritual realm that at best had only previously been cracked for a few moments. The atmosphere of the school was like entering the peacefulness of a monastery. The first phrase he learned to read and write was, Satyan Nashti paro Dharmahah. It meant, “There is no religion higher than the truth”. Zane was hooked. Good fortune smiled in synchronicity. Zane got a place to stay.

When Zane first met Tammy, she was Front-Phil’s girlfriend. She had two kids, first one born when she was sixteen. She married the guy. He was a neat freak, got his panties in a bundle if she didn’t fold the laundry right. Front-Phil wasn’t much of a family man, so they had split up and Tammy had a quiet apartment in the Mission District just a half block from Mission and 17th St. She was taking a three week trip back east and invited Zane to stay at her place while she was gone. What a boon, his own three-bedroom apartment for three weeks.

Zane decided he had never really done acid in the right way. Soon after Tammy left he dropped some acid and got into a wonderfully warm bath in the huge claw-foot bathtub and settled back. The city was quiet. He felt like he had gone into that “all is one clarity and undifferentiated 1st Bardo state he’d read about in Alpert and Leary’s reworking of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. For several hours he hardly stirred except to occasionally add hot water to the mix. He repeated this experience several times. As the sun rose he would begin to incarnate. His influences included Ramana Maharshi writing “Who am I?” a tract which explored the inadequacy, insubstantiality and impermanence of most answers to that key question, a different, more intellectual approach to the 1st Bardo. As he practiced his Sanskrit many spiritual thoughts flowed through his mind. He concluded that it all was real, that there were very real substantial experiences connected to every spiritual path on the planet. Ideas were coming to him that he had never learned consciously anywhere. He seemed to have tapped into a universal consciousness, a spiritual awareness that was pervasive on the planet so long as one practiced being aware of it.

His Sanskrit notebook was filled with his musing about his sudden immersion in the spiritual realm. The phrase “chosen of Krishna” appeared in his notebook. He found himself identifying with Krishna and then practicing the facial expressions and hand gestures of the traditional representations that were readily available at India Imports and other outlets. Krishna’s eyes formed an expression of true deep love. He held his lips in a certain way. When Zane could carry this energy with him through posture and expression, he was overpowering to some women who had spiritual sensitivity. The day he bought the Thangka hanging of god and goddess in ecstatic connection, the clerk at India Imports could hardly look at him and was clearly blown away by his energy.

At Powell and Market a woman with a megaphone was singing, “We’ll all gather at the river, the river, the beautiful river…” Zane stopped to listen. She noticed him.

“Do you like my song?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Do you believe it?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Would you like to sing a song?”

“Yes, I would.”

She handed him the megaphone. He trained his gaze all the way up California Street. “Om Namah Shivaya, Om Namah Shivaya, Om Namah Shivaya.” As he neared the end of the third repetition, he began to choke up. The woman took the megaphone from him.

“That’s a beautiful song. What does it mean?”

“It’s to the great god, Shiva, the god of death and destruction, who watches over the city at this time.”

“I heard Shiva was the god of peace.”

“I believe both are included.”

She motioned for him to pass on. He continued his walk up Market Street as she continued her song.

Another morning after the bathtub Bardo, Raquel Welch was on a TV talk show. Her eyes as she looked into the camera were as fascinating as Krishna’s. What an alluring goddess! Chosen of Krishna, chosen of Shiva, what did it all mean? He continued to practice his Sanskrit and scrawl other messages in his notebook. He also covered the walls with magic marker messages including, “Tat Twam Asi, That thou art!” in four inch letters above the stairway. He accomplished that feat with one foot wedged between the struts of the railing and the other flat against the opposite wall some ten or twelve feet above the stairs below. They never were able to reach that message to paint over it.

He was drinking tea ceremonially with a Japanese tea set. He was chanting to Shiva, to Krishna, to Rama, to Buddha. How did he know these chants? They were just appearing in his mind. He was meditating. He learned to ask questions, important questions, and trust that the answer would appear in his mind later, and it did. Holy Names came to him. He didn’t know it was a Catholic concept. He chanted the rosary. It seemed as good as the chants from India. He let his voice make sounds without conscious meaning just expressions through sound.

He came across strange new ideas. Vinson Brown’s book, Warriors of the Rainbow, included a story of Hopi prophecy, the basic idea being that in this fourth world people had strayed more and more from a spiritual path, and that had caused everything to become more and more out of balance. Signs that had already appeared indicated that a day of purification was imminent. This day of purification would come about when things got so out of balance that they couldn’t hold together anymore. The Hindu stories concerned this Kali Yuga or Age of Darkness, which would also culminate in a destructive cycle. These ideas fit well with the perception that the 20th century had been a time of greater and greater wars, destruction of human life, destruction of other species such as the buffalo. One holocaust after another had characterized modern times with the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over everyone. If there was an antidote, it was spiritual practice and the attempt to live in greater balance with nature or Mother Earth.

Mark, Char’s new man, turned him onto Zen Macrobiotics, a dietary theory out of Japan that placed brown rice at the center of the food chain. Brown rice, soy sauce, sesame salt (called gomasio), aduki beans and fish—it all felt very spiritual and pure, but after a few days Zane would find himself at the hole in the wall on Cole Street just off Haight to grab a burger and an acid shake. Hard to stick with any discipline for very long especially if it started to not feel good. Mark was also an aficionado of Marvel Comics. Zane’s favorite, of course, was Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts with his high Himalayan teacher the Ancient One.

Some of his friends made fun of him. Some played along and did their best to participate in the world he was living in and creating on a daily basis. One day Daniel came by with a very small taste of smack for Zane. He did it up, and it was instant cloud nine. They went for a drive in Daniel’s bug pretty much at random. They ended up driving down the peninsula on El Camino Real, the King’s Highway, the original Spanish route pioneered by Padre Junipero Serra and his military escort, Portola. The colors of the day were like Popsicles. Zane’s passion to touch all things spiritual, they stopped at a Greek Orthodox Church. The iconography facing the street caught Zane’s eye. With a lit joint they knocked on the front door of the church. A patriarch with long beard came to the door. For some reason Zane spoke Spanish to him.

Es permisso entrar?”

He looked at them with some openness. Then he saw the joint.

“No, no!” and he closed the door to them.

They laughed. It was worth a try. The Greek Christ doesn’t like potheads.

Zane had seized upon a concept, “It all fits. It all fits,” he kept repeating in numerous situations.

Finally Daniel replied, “If you want it to.”

New concept for Zane, he wasn’t just an observer of the cosmic phantasmagoria. He was also a participant, perhaps a co-creator. It all just kept getting bigger. He was having psychic premonitions. One night he called his mother with one of his musings that a cousin gave birth to a dead baby. His mother’s only response was to ask if he was taking drugs again. A week or two later, his mother called to say that his grandfather had died. On the same day his cousin successfully delivered a live and healthy baby. Obviously he was tuned into something, but needed to unfog the lens on the camera a bit. He had a very strong vision of his own destiny to become some kind of spiritual teacher. The Sanskrit and other things he was learning about and being exposed to were definitely opening some doors in his mind and spirit.

Another day Jim came by. Zane had moved into divination. The things appearing in his mind were signs and omens, means by which to descry one’s path in this human life. Jim was a child of the Haight-Ashbury. He had grown up in the neighborhood. He came by with some crystal and his works. Zane should have known better at this point, but his cosmic oneness did not yet include the ability to discriminate what was right for him and what was not. Everything was everything, equal in the cosmic oneness. Like the renunciate who ate whatever appeared in his begging bowl, and one day ate the finger of a leper, which inadvertently landed there, Zane was living out some radical form of spirituality that was fraught with peril in the context of a Western culture.

Zane found a vein, but the needle clogged and wouldn’t inject. He pulled the needle out and blood ran down his arm. He was ready to take that as a sign, but Jim insisted on finishing the job, and he did. That was the last time Zane ever shot drugs of any kind. It was undoubtedly also the time he contracted hepatitis because some weeks later when he had come down with the disease he saw Jim on Haight Street looking mighty yellow himself. How difficult it was to make good decisions. The psychedelic world was all about openness. Psychedelic means opening the mind. So there was an opening to oneness and interconnectedness, but was everything of equal value? The first lesson of spirituality is openness, but the second lesson might be discrimination, and the third lesson, which comes from lack of discrimination, is the knowledge of good and evil. The fourth lesson, having to do with how to maintain spiritual awareness, is consistent right effort or a practice that keeps one connected with the best influences.

In the psychedelic world everything appeared equally important and alluring like a steady stream of 30-second spots designed by Madison Avenue’s best creative minds hired to sell anything, spiritual or material, to the naïve expansive mind. That snake in the garden must have been one cool dude and the queen of wonderland wielded enormous power. Everything was everything without discrimination. The accidental euphoria of the monastery Zane had constructed could not be maintained when other experiences cascaded upon his consciousness. Were they invitations to further enlightenment or invitations to his own beheading or temptations to self-destruction masquerading as the next peak experience? Without shaman, guru, holy man, or other human guiding light, it was difficult to decipher which clues were genuine of all that were dropped in his path, and then to doggedly pursue a true path without getting drawn off course by any of the many tantalizing delicacies that titillated the senses on a moment to moment basis. He believed he was ready, but the teacher had not appeared.

Buddha taught that pain is the great teacher. Unwittingly Zane had invited the great teacher to his doorstep. The spiritual path required more than drug-induced euphoria and a small vocabulary of Sanskrit phrases. In the meantime he was trying to hold onto and recapitulate the euphoria utilizing whatever tools were at his disposal.

One of these tools was yoga. A few years back Zane had tried to learn yoga out of a book. Didn’t work too well. The Himalayan Academy offered a yoga class at SF State. There was no college credit, just knowledge. He learned 24 asanas. The teacher complimented him on his deep breathing.

When Tammy returned, she invited Zane to remain living at her place with her and her two daughters. Zane was already running again. Like an instinctual aversion to anything that felt like getting tacked down in any way, he hit the streets again, crashing wherever he happened to be. There was always the couch at Don and Harvey’s place deep in the ghetto. Joe and Kelly had a place near Dolores Park in the Mission. They were good friends and he could always hang out there. Turned out Kelly had a sister, and what a sister. She was visiting from Bakersfield. Zane fell right into her deep blue eyes. They dropped some acid one night, and spent it playing, talking, looking into each other’s eyes, and just feeling good. Kelly and Joe were happy to watch this connection unfolding.

Kelly and Zane cooked up the idea of taking a road trip to Bakersfield to see her sister. He borrowed Daniel’s bug and one night they headed south. They dropped some acid, at least Zane did. The drive became an adventure of driving any but the usual roads they might travel. The deserted San Joaquin Valley in the early morning hours. Zane talked incessantly. Kelly kept up the best she could. Zane was enthralled with her sister. Zane was prophesying. Zane had something to say about any topic imaginable. The highlight of the trip for him was suddenly stopping the car and running to the east across some railroad tracks just in time to greet the sun coming over the horizon. He did an impromptu dance to the sun and then drove on into Bakersfield.

Zane was not sleeping. He didn’t feel the need to sleep. He was ecstatic as long as he kept on running. Running through Bakersfield didn’t work so well. That first day he was immediately over at Kelly’s house. Colleen was staying there for a while. There were undefined problems between her and her husband. He was a pretty ordinary Bakersfield kind of guy who didn’t understand any of the craziness she’d gotten into in San Francisco. Apparently she’d come home after her one acid experience totally blown open and was wandering around in a magical fairyland. He wanted his wife back and didn’t know where she was. Zane showed up with more acid, and they were tripping again at Colleen and Kelly’s mom’s house. The mom called Zane’s dad to get him away from them. Zane had been incessantly referring to her as Mother Mary. When Zane’s Dad fetched him, Zane noticed how bad his color was, really pale and washed out and unhealthy looking. They went swimming.

“So what are you going to do with your life?”

“I’m already doing it.”

“What’s that?”

“I’m a poet, a prophet and a preacher.”

Exhalation of air, expression of disgust, thinking “he’s farther gone than I thought.”

“What are you going to do for money?”

“It’ll all work out. It is working out.”

Zane’s father sent him to a criminal defense attorney friend. He tried to talk sense, i.e. conventional wisdom, to Zane also to no avail.

Colleen had been sent to a psychiatrist who had prescribed Thorazine, one of the heavier anti-psychotic drugs available. Zane insisted on going to the same psychiatrist to test out this drug. The doc gave him Stellazine, an analog. It was supposed to calm him down and stop his crazy behavior. It made him feel like crap.

As he felt it come on he screamed, “I been poisoned!”

His parents tried to calm him and package him in some way that might be semi-acceptable to conventional society. The next night Kelly snuck Colleen out of the house. They met up with Mick and Zane. Mick was in better health and unhooked from heroin. Oddly at this point he was more the sane one. They holed up at Sarah’s house and dropped acid. Colleen and Zane spent the whole night in bed sort of trying to have sex but mostly just playing with the energy and laughing like kids. In the morning Zane realized he’d never checked in with his parents. He was of a mind to just tell them the truth. Mick had other ideas.

“They just want a plausible story. So come up with something. They really don’t care as long as it’s believable. Don’t bring any heat on Sarah. She’s been nice enough to open our house to us while she’s in L.A.”

“How about we drove over to Taft, lost track of time and I crashed at your house. Didn’t want to call ‘cause it was already 2AM.”

“Sounds good. Call ‘em and do it.”

Sure enough, just as Mick predicted, Zane’s mom took the story in stride and merely asked when he’d be home. Don’t hassle the straights! It was a new motto about how to survive in the conventional world. Tell them something they understand. Don’t be trying to convert them to your truth. Keep your psychedelic hippy weirdness well hid. It’s survival, man. Don’t show off. At the age of 21 Zane had to be taught how to successfully lie to his parents.

One morning a tall angry man showed up at his parents’ house.

“Stay away from my wife and kid,” it was Colleen’s husband.

“I don’t think that’s up to you.”

“Look, I don’t want any trouble, but if you make trouble…”

“Colleen can do what she wants to do.”

“Well, so can I, and you might not like what I might do.”

He abruptly turned, got in his truck and left. Zane’s father followed up.

“You know, he could shoot you, and there’s a good chance it’d be called justifiable homicide. You’d just be another correspondent in a case of adultery. So watch yourself.”

By the time Daniel showed up looking for his car, Zane was into a communist theory about joint ownership of everything. He tried to give his father’s VW to Daniel. Daniel had a calm way of saying, “No,” and reclaiming his own car. He always appeared unruffled in the middle of the most far out scenes.

Finally Zane played sane, calm, and rational for a few days in a row. He was noticing that he was not exactly welcome in Bakersfield. Soon he caught a bus back to San Francisco.

Back in the City it was time to drop classes again at SF State. Non-attendance had again been a problem. The Academy of Asian Studies was within walking distance, but State was a streetcar ride away. Neil and Zane dropped acid and went out to the campus so Zane could drop his classes. Zane was obviously tripping. In some waiting room a Time magazine had an article about Kennedy’s potential candidacy for president. Somehow he became Bobby Sparrowhawk to Zane. He was writing and drawing in the magazine with a magic marker and began chanting to himself, “Bobby Sparrowhawk for President.”

He got all the forms filled out but couldn’t be bothered to wait in line to turn them in. He went to the window and dropped them on the counter and left. Neil was trying to prevail upon him to do things the way they needed to be done. Zane was on his own trip. Much later he learned that his drops had not been recorded, and he had received a semester of F’s.

Valerie blew into San Francisco at the age of 17. She had hooked up with Harvey, and they had a kid together. In the midst of all the idealized American Indian revival that was going on Val was a real Indian from one of the Northwest tribes. Her people lived in Washington State, but she had gone to a special art school for Indian kids in Santa Fe. She called him by his full name or only his last name, the way boys did with each other in high school.

So when she called him up that day, it went, “Hey Morgan, you wanna get together some time?”

“Sure, yeah,” except for his Sanskrit class he didn’t have a lot of commitments. He wore the hat he’d made while staying at Tammy’s apartment, a costume stovepipe hat. He’d glued duck wings to either side, a duck he’d shot while he and Don were out fishing for salmon. In front was a picture of Krishna he’d picked up at India Imports. He was quite proud of that hat, one of a kind.

Valerie had a lot of heart, a capacity to love and be wounded by love that far surpassed most of the Love Generation. She also thought and felt deeply about life situations. The drugs of the time seemed to mostly take her deeper into her heart instead of into the wild crazy complicated head-trips that were increasingly common. Despite their common age her depth and maturity far outstripped Zane’s except perhaps on his best days. Valerie took him to her bed and surrounded him in a warm comfortable darkness. He responded and felt a simple soothing oneness with her that surprised him. They were a safe haven for each other, but one that included being entertained by each other. They were both young and struggling and from such different backgrounds, but each with an incredible as yet largely untapped potential. Zane stopped running and basked in the comfort for a while. But because of all the fear that still ruled him, he also held her at bay and kept himself largely unavailable emotionally.

Like Josie she saw something in him and was falling in love with the potential. She could see his potential depth even though he was afraid to show it most of the time. Each experience he had wherein he experienced a depth of feeling was usually followed by a retreat into concerns with everyone else’s opinion of him, trying to live up to some imagined peer group ideal, afraid to distinguish himself from the group norms and live life by the truth of his own being. On the one hand he was reading and learning about very high spiritual ideals in his Sanskrit class and through other readings he was doing. On the other hand he was incredibly sensitive to the approval and disapproval of those around him. He could defy the government and the draft board, but was quite timid about standing up to his friends or really applying the spiritual principles he was learning about. When it came down to it, fear had been stronger than love in his relationship with Rosie. When things got too tough and he was on his own, he ran away or pushed her away or retreated into his cave and piled rocks across the entrance. He desperately wanted to be loved and to love, and he was deeply wounded in his ability to trust. So he would make deep connections and then disappear, just the kind of guy who drove women crazy.

Valerie was amazingly imaginative and would make up stories about them. After such a creative outpouring while he had the security of his own space at Tammy’s, Zane had retreated into a rather constricted state of mind, again more concerned with day-to-day survival and less able to allow his mind to free flow into flights of fancy.

“So you could be the white pioneer, and I’m the Indian maiden lying up in your covered wagon on the way to California.”

Her imagination was clearly a bid for greater intimacy. Zane was embarrassed and had a hard time playing along. Perhaps the mania of his explosion into spirituality and creative connectedness with everything had been followed by a relatively shut down state of being, difficult to access the same degree of freedom of thought and feeling that had come so easily not long before. He felt his inability, and that compounded his embarrassment. He knew he was not at his best and didn’t know how to get back there. The real tragedy was he probably didn’t need to be at his best for Valerie. He just needed to be there. She thought of him as relatively safe, someone who was not out to get her in some way in this dog-eat-dog world.

What he hadn’t learned how to control yet was his own sense of self. With a great deal of openness and receptivity he drifted from one ego identity to another, from one post-psychedelic incarnation to another. He hadn’t yet developed the means to choose and remain in a particular lifetime, even if it was one he really liked. Like a leaf in the wind he was tossed from place to place, from situation to situation, from one character in one movie to another character in another movie. Despite his best desires and intentions he was a ship without a rudder meandering through open seas hoping to reach some port-of-call, also hoping that a whirlwind did not appear on the horizon and totally transplant him to some more gruesome reality.

A number of things contributed to Zane’s dilemma. He would have to decide who he really wanted to be, and then he would have to work at it, put in regular effort or practice. He would have to take responsibility for his life, not just be content to float through the milieu seemingly at effect of whatever influences pushed him one way or another. To be someone instead of holding the potential to be any one–was that some kind of trap or a doorway to true evolution of the soul? As it was commitment to anything in particular felt like some kind of restriction of the freedom to continue exploring, to keep trying on ego states like a suit of clothes, to still believe he could be anything he wanted to be. He was very resistant to leaving the fairy-tale land of childhood where imagination could take you anywhere. When he had turned 21 a few months earlier, many of his friends had said to him, “Now you’re a man,” or, “Now you’re an adult.”

His response was invariably, “No, still a kid,” or, “No, just a kid.”

Josie might have wanted him to be more of a man. To be with Valerie he would definitely have to grow up. With Colleen he had predominantly been in the fairy-tale world. Her mother and her psychiatrist had committed her to Camarillo State Hospital. Society clearly had a way of dealing with those who wanted to retreat into childhood or change identities mid-stream. As long as Zane could keep everything very short-term he felt ok, not locked in or confined or held down against his will.

In the darkness of December the dark rooms of Fulton Street fit his mood. Spending all day doing various drugs and then going out in the evening looking for more was just part of the merry-go-round they were all on. Trying to escape the wintertime malaise, numbed-out, dismal, gray descent into darkness seemed as inevitable now as the ascent into light a few months ago. It was all just a trip he’d run, rolling through his rolodex of sweet spiritual images from the world’s major religions, and now the flash cards were flickering with stoned-out apparitions sucked of all their color and all their feeling. Could some other place or some other people inject some life into his otherwise deaded-out and listless migrations?

A few blocks away lived these two chicks. They weren’t very nice and they weren’t very interesting, but they were close by. He wandered in there. Some barefoot and disheveled cat was talking to himself. He had a major monologue going. In Zane’s non-discriminatory, non-critical state of neither acceptance nor rejection, this guy made a certain amount of sense. Zane could remember when he got that one going for a while behind acid. Somehow Zane and this guy teamed up. At least they left together. The girls were probably glad to see them both go.

“I want some meth, man. Gotta get some meth. You know where we can get some? Do you? Do you?”

“No, man, do you?”

“Yeah, up in the Haight. I know where. I know where.”

“OK, let’s go.” Zane didn’t really want any meth, but he didn’t not want it either, so what the hell.

“I wanna drive, man, I wanna drive. You got a car, got a car.”

“No, man, no car. We can walk.”

“No, don’t wanna walk. Tired of walking. Wanna drive. Get a car. Gotta get a car.” Suddenly he was in the front seat of a parked car, rifling through the glove box. “Where’s the keys? Where’s the goddamn keys?” He grabbed a pair of shades and put them on.

“Hey, what’re you doing in my car?” the owner, a middle-aged woman, walked up.

“Looking for the keys. Gimme the goddamn keys.”

“I’m not giving you my keys. Get the hell out of here.”

All the while Zane had just been standing there. He and the potential car thief continued their slow stroll up this alleyway near the Civic Center. They hadn’t even gotten to the next corner when the cop cars rolled up. Zane took the peyote buttons out of his pocket and put them on the sidewalk by his boot. Neither one of them put up any resistance. It was like a dream, not even a bad dream, just a strange dream.

“What’s that, peyote?”

“I don’t know. It’s not mine.”

Handcuffed and placed in the paddy wagon, short ride to the substation just around the corner, they were placed in a holding cell.  Other petty criminals joined them over the next two hours. Mostly drunks and other derelicts became their cellmates in the two-cell jail.

Cop came in with the peyote buttons. “Listen, we’re giving these back to you. I just wanna know what they are. Is it peyote?”

“You got it right.”

Cop handed him the peyote, “you better take these or flush ‘em. They might think different once you get downtown.”

“OK, thanks.” Zane was a bit surprised they gave him back the peyote, so he ate it and felt it come on. He was actually feeling pretty good. He sat cross-legged on the concrete floor and chanted “Hare Krishna”. Later he tore up an empty cigarette package and spelled out “Jesus” on the floor. A drunk kept stumbling around and messing up his “Jesus”. Zane just straightened it out each time.

A cop came in and saw the “Jesus” on the floor, “I thought you were Hare Krishna.”

“Same thing.”

Downtown, main jail, Zane was given a top bunk. He was still tripping. In the middle of the night, he was down on the floor doing yoga postures. Next day he got his one phone call. Called Front-Phil, who was in law school. Phil told him to get a continuance, so he could represent him. Good advice but when he got to court, the public defender and the district attorney offered him, ten days suspended and three months probation for a guilty plea to petty theft. They considered him the lookout for the meth freak who stole the sunglasses and “tampered with the automobile.” He took the deal, and after a short visit with a probation officer was on the street. They assured him if he successfully completed probation, he could have his record expunged.

Christmas was approaching. His parents wanted him to accompany them to North Carolina to visit his brother, sister-in-law, and their kids. Since he wasn’t really living anywhere, and travel kept things from getting too tacked down, he decided to go along. Also it seemed like a good time to get out of town for a while. He had maintained a short hair and mustache appearance in recent months. Oddly enough except for his complexion he could have passed for an average Mexican man. It gave him some flexibility including the ability to look and play very straight when necessary. He could fly to North Carolina in his hound’s tooth check sport jacket holding most of a lid of pot and not be a sure bust.

Friends commented on his straight appearance before he left. He was still in and out of the magical world. Donovan had just come out with “Season of the Witch”. Zane got all tripped out on hexes and spells for a while. One day a friend waved his arms and pronounced, “All spells are dissolved,” and they were. Some things resolved that easily. Zane still easily got into being the one influenced instead of the one creating the reality. It was a slow process of changing perspectives.

The pot he took to North Carolina was visionary. Behind his brother’s house in Durham the night sky was a matrix of mandalas with a star at the center of each one. Respite from whatever family stress came from a few tokes in the backyard.

Tim was in Durham. He had gone back home after spectacularly crashing at Stanford. He was crazy enough his father had him committed to the local mental hospital. As Tim characterized it, “I was there for 24 days. It took me most of that time to figure out that the only way to get out was to tell them what they wanted to hear. The rest of the time was me telling them that regularly enough they were finally convinced I was “sane”, and they let me out.” Tim met his new girlfriend in the hospital. She was no crazier than he was. They seemed to make a good pair. During that same year of ’66, Tim’s father had died. Tim was carrying some guilt about his father’s death, but also a hefty inheritance.

But then misfortune struck Zane in a big way. The first obvious symptoms of hepatitis showed up. He was yellow. He felt like crap. His brother the doctor was incensed that Zane had brought disease into his household, disease that he had brought on himself no less.

On Christmas Eve there was a large soul music dance party in Durham. Zane, Tim and Patty were among the few white faces. Integration was new in the South. People were still adjusting to token blacks at white gatherings and more especially token whites at black gatherings. Zane felt a bit out of place. Folks were subtly drawing attention to the fact that he looked really uptight and was walking around with hands clasped in front of him. The music was dynamite, Percy Sledge belting out “When a Man Loves a Woman” and Eddie Floyd with “Knock on Wood”.

Rhythm and Blues was still big in the South. At a record store Zane bought a couple of 45 singles, Ray Charles doing “I Don’t Need no Doctor” and Jimmy Reed’s classic “Big Boss Man”. His niece really liked Ray Charles and did the sing-along, dance-along with Zane. And Zane ate way too much Christmas dinner.

The next day it was still sitting on his stomach. He wandered the house in his boxers. His brother got increasingly uptight.

“Put some clothes on!”

“I feel like crap.”

“I don’t care. Get dressed!”

“Give me a break. I feel like I’m gonna throw up.”

“You shouldn’t have eaten so much. It’s your own fault. Get dressed!”

He’s standing at the bathroom sink. “I’ll do as I damn well please.”

Wham! His brother punched him right in the nose. Instant blood! They grabbed each other and careened down the hall into the living room. His brother had stuck his fingers in the corners of Zane’s mouth and was stretching his mouth. Zane had landed on top and was punching his brother upside the head. By then the parents had grabbed him to pull him off, which they managed to do. Zane was swearing a blue streak. He was calling his brother every name in the book. Across the room in a flash he punched Zane in the nose again. More blood flowed, and Zane was on top again and again pulled off by the parents. He retreated to the bathroom, bled in the sink, threw up in the sink, continued cursing his brother as a cowardly, dirty fighter, son of a bitch, chicken-shit, bastard, cunt, fuck-head, dick-head, etc. Dirty fighter stuck in his head along with sucker-puncher. Whatever respect he’d had for his brother disappeared in those moments. ‘Fuck him and his intellectual prowess. He’s a dirty-fighter and a coward.’

“I’m leaving. I’m not staying in this house.”

He called Tim, who was fine with Zane staying with him for a few days.

At Tim’s house he met Ram, a substantial black woman, and her kids. Ram had more or less raised Tim. Tim had a mother, who seemed relatively disconnected from the daily activities of the household. She had her own section of the house, which she occasionally emerged from. Ram, on the other hand, was a constant presence fixing meals, directing her kids, and organizing things with Tim. She had obviously been in his life most of his life.

One night she told about the death of Tim’s father.

“He had a heart attack, and they took him to the hospital. Everyone had visited him. He seemed fine. We were all sitting right here in the front room, and it was storming. Out of nowhere lightning struck this big tree that used to be in the front yard and set it on fire. We all knew, but nobody said anything. It wasn’t five minutes the hospital called to say Tim’s father had passed on.”

Two days passed. Zane’s brother called and suggested they get together. So they went out to lunch. The brother ordered a beer for both of them.

“I thought you said I wasn’t supposed to drink alcohol.”

“I don’t suppose one beer will kill you.” After some food and an awkward interval, “Our parents have suggested that maybe I haven’t been listening to you.”

Wow! Zane was thunderstruck. It had been years since his brother, the doctor, had treated him with affection or respect. At first he didn’t know what to say, but then launched into a recounting of the four great ages or yugas according to Hindu philosophy.

“We are in the Kali Yuga now, the time of greatest darkness. At the end of this age there will be some final destruction of enormous magnitude. Then presumably there will be a golden age again.”

“I guess it’s as good a theory as most. There’s definitely something going on.”

It was non-committal but an attempt to acknowledge that Zane was still involved in learning, in the accumulation of knowledge, and his knowledge might have some value. Zane moved back to his brother’s house. He always liked talking with his sister-in-law, and with his seven-year-old niece he felt a special bond.

Dropped Out and Turned In

I’m ready to go anywhere, I’m ready for to fade

Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way,

I promise to go under it.

Hey Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,

I’m not sleepy and there aint no place I’m going to.

Bob Dylan    

Zane returned to San Francisco, but the disease began to drag him down. Life got dark. He was going to inherit the Fulton Street pad from Don. Harvey had already fled for Bakersfield to convalesce with his own case of hepatitis and escape the circumstances of his life. Harvey had stayed in school during all of the craziness, so he had just received a B.A. in sociology and would soon be employed as a social worker by the Kern County Welfare Department. Don had found himself a nice new pad in a better neighborhood on Liberty Street.

It was January, cold and rainy and dark. Zane and Don were hunkered down like a couple of hibernating bears. There was meth in the house. Don had never shot up before.

The curiosity must finally have gotten to him.

“Will you shoot me up?”

“Yeah sure. Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I wanna try it.”

“OK, I’ll shoot you up first. This is a clean needle. I don’t want you getting sick with what I’ve got.”

Zane was not totally thinking straight. He drew up way too much. Maybe he was trying to discourage Don from getting into crystal. As he was injecting the liquid into his vein suddenly Don said, “That’s enough!” Zane pulled the needle out. Don disappeared into his adjacent bedroom and went to bed. Zane squirted the remaining liquid into his own mouth and then fixed up a shot for himself.

The next thing he remembered was waking up. It was dark outside, but it was the next day. He had slept or been unconscious for more than 24 hours.

He helped Don move into his new place. The most exciting part was getting Don’s piano into the upstairs apartment. They had to take out the entire window and swing it through suspended from a crane. He hired professional piano movers to do the job.

Alone at Fulton Street the darkness and paranoia crept in on him. He was living in a known drug house with a bunch of drugs. This house had been raided before, more than once. Visiting Valerie was a temporary respite, but he was collapsing in on himself and not very available for love. He was getting more and more uptight. Had music been any solace he might have played the Stones “Paint It Black” over and over again. Dan came by to share a joint and rap.

“I’m going down to Bakersfield for a few days.”

Zane saw his chance. “I’ll go with you.”

“OK.”

“I’m gonna move back.”

“You sure you wanna do that?”

“Yeah, I’m just too freaked out. I can’t handle anything. Harvey’s there. Mick’s still there. I gotta take a break.”

“I get it. Well, pack up your stuff, and let’s go.”

Zane didn’t have that much just the few things he’d accumulated since returning from Mexico with nothing and a few things scavenged from Bakersfield. Most importantly he had about a pound of pot and several dozen tabs of LSD. He called Valerie.

“Do what you need to do. Will you come back and visit me?

“Yes, I will.”

“OK, I love you.”

Zane couldn’t say, “I love you,” back and felt guilty about that too.

There was more light in Bakersfield when he opened the curtains in his childhood bedroom. The inner darkness did not go away. He was miserable. He felt like a failure. He was paranoid and anxious about everything.

At his parents’ suggestion he registered for classes at Bakersfield College. The spring semester was just beginning. It was something to do while being sick, something to distract his mind from the bum trip he was on. Mick was at the J.C. too. Mick was all recovered from his bout with hepatitis. His temporary conservatism, that Zane had experienced a few months before, was long gone. Mick had carved a niche for himself in the growing hippy scene in Bakersfield. Older, more experienced with years in San Francisco behind him, he had become the darling of the 18 and 19 year olds who were hungry for some real groovy, weird and far out experiences. It was easy to be an evangelist to such a willing audience. Even high school kids were turning on to pot and psychedelics.

Mick came by with one such high-school kid. “He wants to buy a lid.”

Zane had not planned to start dealing in Bakersfield, but what harm was there. He went to the garage where he had stashed his grass and sold the lid. The kid who bought it turned on another kid at high school, who turned him in. So Zane’s first sale in Bakersfield led to a bust. Fortunately the kid did not reveal where he had gotten the pot.

Zane’s father observed this whole transaction. He found the stash and dumped it in the garbage.

“Do you have any more drugs?”

“No,” Zane lied.

He was losing everything little by little and big by big. He was trying to salvage something of his old life from the shambles and tattered remnants that littered his present existence. And there was still way too much coming at him. Maybe a trip back to San Francisco to see Valerie would work some magic.

He took the bus. Valerie was sweet and warm and loving. He felt some respite. She wanted him to meet her friends from Indian Country. They were a couple. The guy openly made fun of Zane. The sport jacket seemed to be a particular symbol for white or straight or both. His sarcastic remarks cut the defenseless Zane in the small remaining reservoir of his self-esteem. It ruptured and leaked in the form of misery and anger. He didn’t have it in him to simply tell the brash young Indian to “fuck off”. The anger landed on Valerie instead, as if she was supposed to protect him from her mean friend. Zane was little better than a wounded child. Everywhere he went his wounds would open up leaving a trail of blood to attract predators. He was currently unfit for life in the world.

All Valerie could say was, “What’re you getting mad at me for. Yell at him.” She sensed his hurt, but this was something she couldn’t take care of. She felt for his suffering but couldn’t fight his battles for him.

Zane was collapsing and collapsing. Everywhere he went there was another threat or challenge he couldn’t cope with. There was no respite. There was no safe haven. Since Zane was more into flight than fight, his inclination was simply to distance himself from Valerie, easy to do since he could just go back to Bakersfield.

Back at the J.C. Mick introduced him to another of Bakersfield’s wanna-be hippies. This one wanted to score some acid. They all went to Zane’s house where Zane sold him two tabs of acid.

The following week the police came to Zane’s front door. The story that unfolded could not have happened in San Francisco. The kid took the acid one evening at home. He got scared at all the weird things he was experiencing. He was worried he would do something dangerous or hurt someone. He went next door to his neighbor, who was an off-duty sheriff’s officer, to protect him from himself. The neighbor took care of him but also got the whole story of where he’d gotten the acid and how.

“Where are the drugs?”

“I don’t have any drugs.”

His mother was distraught, confused, and almost in tears.

“Do you want us to tear your mother’s house apart to find them?”

Those cops knew just the right buttons to push. Zane was already so guilt-ridden from the events of the previous months, he didn’t want to cause his mother any more grief. He went to his room, got the drugs and handed them over to the detectives. They handcuffed him and took him away. His mother was pleading with them, but Zane couldn’t even hear what she was saying.

They read him his rights. The wounded child just wanted to confess and be forgiven. He answered all their questions. By the time he was bailed out by his father, he had given the police everything they needed to hang him or at least lock him up for a few years. Since he still didn’t believe he’d done anything that bad, it didn’t occur to him that he was being seen and treated as a serious criminal. Walking to the car at the county jail, his father put his arm around his shoulder.

“We’ll get through this…together.”

Zane wasn’t so sure. He was sure the floor had collapsed, and the roof had caved in, and his life was a pile of rubble. On the one hand it was heartening to know that his parents cared enough to stand with him in these circumstances. On the other hand he was so used to expecting no understanding from them, it was hard to take in anything even if it was genuine love, support, or care. The darkness had become deeper and more pervasive. Despair ruled the day.

Suicide seemed like a viable option. All of Zane’s confidence, bravado and self-assured foolishness had rapidly eroded away in the beginning of 1967. He was still stung by the loss of Josie. He had gotten hepatitis, basically by not following his own inner guidance, and instead allowing himself to be swept along by some other idiot who already had hepatitis. He’d left San Francisco in disarray, feeling incapable of taking care of his life and afraid of getting busted. He’d allowed Mick to draw him into some lightweight dealing in Bakersfield with disastrous consequences. He’d just been busted on three drug felonies. Already they were talking three years in state prison. There was no light at the end of the tunnel, only darkness and darker darkness. He was physically miserable, filled with anxiety, fear and paranoia and profoundly depressed. The only way to put an end to all of it was to put an end to all of it.

The family kept a 22 rifle in the hall closet. Zane had fired that gun many times splattering bottles against sand hills and making tin cans fly through the air in the oilfields north of town. Target shooting was a favorite activity for him and some of his friends growing up. They all experienced some success and didn’t compete too fiercely. He could go out in the backyard and shoot himself. It would be all over. All the pain would be gone. All the shame would be gone. All the humiliation, all the taunters and tormentors, everyone who’d ever bullied him or put him down, they’d all be gone. The police would be gone. The courts would be gone. His suffering parents would be gone. For a few days the logic seemed impeccable. He thought a lot about precisely how to do it. He got hung up on the problem of leaving a mess. He thought about his mother finding his bloody body in her back yard. He couldn’t come up with a solution to these troubling details

Something else crept into his mind, curiosity. ‘What if I don’t kill myself? What if I stick around? I wonder what will really happen.’ Curiosity grew on him, becoming as strong as the pain and fear and humiliation. He had made the front page of the local newspaper several days in a row. Headlines trumpeted his dire dilemma, STUDENT ARRESTED IN HIS HOME WITH A QUANTITY OF DANGEROUS DRUGS. On another day it read, “SON OF PROMINENT COMMUNITY MEMBER ARRAIGNED”. He had achieved instant fame or at least notoriety. Friends contacted him and commiserated. Throughout the ordeal ahead he found he really did have friends who would show up even when he was not at his best. Valerie regularly sent him letters to try to cheer him up and give him news of everyone still dropping acid and watching the sun rise and set over San Francisco Bay. She wrote great letters that sometimes read like short stories. He felt some hope when reading her words.

Little did he know but Zane had become a cause celebre of the local hippy community. Hippies in San Francisco, including a new publication, The San Francisco Oracle, had announced the Summer of Love. Hippies were all over the mainstream media. The weird freaks of San Francisco had invited weird freaks from all over the country and the world to convene in San Francisco for the summer of 1967. This was beyond a single march on Washington or any other singular event, this was an entire summer of community communion, music, political talks, spiritual talks, poetry, and an influx of tens of thousands of long-haired oddly dressed young people from everywhere. The establishment led by Mayor Joseph Alioto prepared for an invasion. Where would they all stay? How would they all eat? How could they be stopped from disrupting the daily life of ordinary San Franciscans?

Zane was in grief. Everything he had been part of, everything he had helped to create was coming to a kind of climax while he was a prisoner of the evil kingdom. Like Moses he had led the people there, but he wasn’t going to be allowed into the Promised Land. No one knew how all of this would play out. It was kicking things to a whole other level. Visions included the biggest longest party in the history of the world. What was the largest number of hippies dropping acid in the same place at the same time? What would come of that? There was an evangelical spirit that included all of the elements that had been growing for a number of years. It was time to communicate all of it the as wide an audience as possible. The psychedelic experience absolutely had to be shared. It was at the center of everything else that was happening. It generated the visions of peace and other visions of spiritual well being and greater harmony in the world. It generated an intensity of focus upon other issues of social justice. It had generated a whole new genre of rock and roll. The San Francisco Sound was cross-pollinating with the British Sound and rhythm and blues and soul music in a way that tickled the ears and hearts of an entire generation. Experiments in social action were cropping up everywhere. The Diggers were collecting and serving free food in the Park. People were living in Communes sharing everything with each other. Urban gardens were being planted. The Black Panthers were serving a huge number of breakfasts to school kids. The white kids at the center of all this ferment were doing their best to welcome in and share the podium with the Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans and others. There was already an active group of Veterans against the War. Richard Alpert had gone to India to become Baba Ram Das. Timothy Leary was evolving into a cosmic cowboy sending out his own versions of “Yippee tai yai yeah!” All the little dogies were rollin’ in along trails that stretched from coast to coast and drew in folks from everywhere in between. The trail drive song had been written and was being sung even on AM radio.

“If you’re going to San Francisco,

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…”

Would this eventually replace “I left my heart in San Francisco” as the official song of the City? Who knew, but clearly a movement was afoot. It had its songs. It had its chants, “No more war!” and “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” It even had a vague theology, which was expressed in its simplest form as “Peace, Love”. There had been sit-ins in the civil rights movement, and teach-ins at various universities regarding peace and social justice. The format for the Summer of Love was the Human Be-In, as vague and undefined as possible but whoever showed up was supposed to be there. The stage was shared by poets: Gary Snyder, Allan Ginsberg and Michael McClure; inspirational leaders: Tim Leary, Dick Gregory, and various astrologers and cabalists; and especially the musicians: Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Grateful Dead, Dizzy Gillespie and the Jefferson Airplane. A Gathering of Tribes to what purpose? Figuring it out as they went along, knowing first of all it was simply crucial to gather, to see and recognize each other, to understand that they really did exist and there were a hell of a lot of them, and they’re out to change the world and somehow make it a better place.

Meanwhile the captive of Middle America parceled out his days in a more constricted environment. He visited his lawyer, the same friend of his father’s who had tried unsuccessfully to talk some sense into him last fall. The lawyer emphasized how stupid he had been in talking to the police. Zane knew that, but at the time the guilty child seemed incapable of doing anything other than spilling his guts as an act of contrition and hope that all would be forgiven. The lawnorder system did not exist in some fairy tale. It played by its own rules, and if you didn’t know how to play, you got smeared when you weren’t looking. So Zane began a regimen of going to court every two weeks to have the case continued for another two weeks.

Valerie came to visit. Her son was staying with Harvey most of the time so she could get her life together in the City. Harvey had hooked up with a Mexican gal, who had a son about the same age. It was kind of instant family, and most of the time Valerie felt it was a better environment for her boy, although sometimes she missed him terribly.

She stayed in a motel. One day she and her son, Adam, came by and had dinner with Zane and his parents. What a disaster! The parents were obviously uptight and judgmental of this dark-skinned, wide-bodied young woman with a less than well-behaved child. The parents were truly looking daggers at both of them. The silence was deafening and the vibes were thick enough to cut with a knife.

“So, Valerie,  are you going to school?” is mother began the interrogation.

“No, I have applications in.”

“Where?”

“Berkeley.”

The mother’s surprise was not well concealed. Her mind was racing. This didn’t fit with the pre-judgment she’d made of Valerie. Then she remembered hearing about all the special programs to encourage minority participation in the university system, and her cognitive categories relaxed. “What are you planning to study?”

“I want to be a writer.”

‘Oh, no, not another one,’ she thought. ‘Just what Zane needs to encourage his impractical plans.’ Right then she vowed to get this young woman out of Zane‘s life, this divorcee with a child, this Indian with unrealistic dreams.

It didn’t help that Valerie spoke in the halting way that many Indians do, just a bit slower than average honkies. They were often judged to be inarticulate and stupid just because of this slightly different style of speaking.

Meanwhile Adam being a typical almost two-year-old was scattering food on the table and the floor. Finally his mother couldn’t contain her anger. “Can’t you control your child?”

Valerie mumbled some vague apologies. “Maybe we should just go.” She looked at Zane, appealing for some help. She had Adam in one arm and was trying to pick up particles of food with the other hand.“I can take you back to the motel.” Zane thought, ‘Anything to get out of here.’

His mother was relieved to get the dark people out of her house. “Don’t worry about that. I’ll clean up the mess.” There was slightly too much emphasis on the word mess.

Zane and Valerie gathered her things, mostly Adam’s things, and were soon heading out the door. His mother called after him, “Don’t be too long.”

It was difficult for Zane to get away to spend any time with Valerie, and when they were together, he still carried his daily paranoia and preoccupation with the dismal conditions of his life. It was hard to focus on Valerie and enjoy her presence. Even making love was a temporary respite from his pervasive anxiety. She was struggling as well, trying to accept the situation with her kid and her ex’s new woman and trying to put up with the racism of Zane’s parents without taking it out on Zane. It was difficult to find that place of warmth they had previously established with each other. She didn’t give up on him and continued to send cheery, at times, and always interesting letters to keep him entertained and connected with the life he’d left in San Francisco.

One day out of the blue, he got a phone call. It was Beth. She sounded nervous and awkward.

“I couldn’t help noticing your name in the paper.”

“Yeah, I reckon not.”

“I’m really sorry all this is happening to you.”

“Yeah, so am I.”

“Look, would you like to get together sometime?”

Zane paused for a moment, “Uh, sure.” ‘Why not,’ he thought. Beth was probably on his parents’ approved list. At least it was a way to get out of the house and maybe have a little fun. From the beginning she was formulating the relationship and he was just passively going along. She had her own ideas of helping him out. They easily fell back into a sexual relationship. She had a Ford Falcon, so they could go places. Beth carved an amulet out of soapstone. They went to the Kern River and threw it to the middle of the channel as an act of magic to bring a good outcome to Zane’s trial. They would drive far out into the desolate oilfields north of town to find an isolated place to get it on. When the back seat of the Falcon became too cramped, they laid a blanket on the ground and went for it under the hot blue sky with oil pumps creaking in accompaniment. Once they were just finishing up and half clothed when a pickup truck drove through their trysting spot, demonstrating they weren’t as private as they hoped to be.

Beth didn’t want to get back on birth control pills. “I’m just not into that any more.” Zane wasn’t quite sure what she meant and didn’t pursue it. She used spermicidal foam as she had done early-on the first time they were together. Zane proposed a trip to the City. They could stay with Mark and Char, who had a beach house in Pacifica. Char was on the approved list based on the old friendship between her family and Zane’s. It was already late spring. The trial just seemed to drag on and on. Zane was feeling better physically.

They drove the Falcon to Pacifica. They could sleep in the front room of the beach house for a few days, make some lightweight forays into the City, renew some positive connections, read some Marvel Comics, and play on the beach. At times he and Mark would cruise around in their old orange Dodge panel truck, while the girls hung out at home. One day they smoked some weed and went to Golden Gate Park. There was a Be-In happening. Mark had some deliveries to make for his work so he dropped Zane in the park for a few hours. Zane felt out of place and disconnected. He could hear Leary’s voice, “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” He wasn’t sure he really bought that any more. He circled around the outside of the crowd. He was probably expecting some joy or openness or at least to see someone he knew. People seemed flat, a bit bummed out, and disconnected from each other. He was disappointed, and since this was his only contact with the Summer of Love, he left with a feeling that grew on him that he’d already been part of the best that was going to come of this whole scene.

He wandered down on Haight Street. Of all people he ran into Stan, still looking like a sawed-off pirate like he did in Salt Lake City.

“Hey,” giving him a big hug, “come on over. We got a pad for the summer.” So Zane went with Stan and some other Summer of Love immigrant just a couple of blocks away.

“Come on in! We’re just getting rid of last night’s crew,” he gestured toward of a couple of young girls, who didn’t look happy as they were gathering their few belongings together and departing. “Gotta get ready for tonight,” Stan winked at him with a little smirk on his face. “Roll ‘em out. Roll ‘em in.” He laughed. Stan had once proudly shared with him that he had six kids by six different women. He definitely approached women like fast food.

Zane was repulsed. If this is what the Summer of Love had turned into, it was a dismal failure. He didn’t have time to stick around and do more research. He wasn’t feeling so bad about missing the event of the century.

Back in Pacifica, he and Beth were going at it on the front room floor. Zane raised the question of birth control. Beth disappeared into the bathroom for a long time. When he entered her he didn’t feel the characteristic initial minor sting of the spermicide. He didn’t think any more about it. Beth had to get back to Bakersfield. Zane decided to stay a few more days. He was so glad to be back in the Bay Area, out of Bakersfield, and he was beginning to feel a little more like his old self.

He caught a ride into San Francisco with Mark and went to see Valerie. He was really happy to see her. It was a warm day in the city. They just hung out at her apartment, made love, ate a little, and made love again. He felt more and more relaxed and at peace with himself. His health was returning, and he was in the arms of the woman he loved. And she still loved him in spite of all the disaster he’d brought on himself. Maybe life could really be good again. He was really beginning to feel like she could be his girlfriend. He’d have to find a way to break it off with Beth. She’d provided some comfort in difficult times, but he really didn’t love her, not like he loved Valerie. He really looked forward to being with Valerie and enjoyed their time together. They could talk about so many topics. Her mind was interesting. She’d had really far out experiences. Beth was smart enough, but the way she talked about things didn’t draw him, didn’t pique his interest, didn’t invite him to come out and play. He left San Francisco more in love with Valerie than he had been except for when they first got together, but this was different. This wasn’t just initial infatuation. They had a relationship.

More letter writing, her letters just made him feel comfortable, sometimes amused, sometimes at-home, always pleasant and intrigued as to what the next page might bring. Her comfortable way of talking or writing to him put him at ease. June moved into July. He got a phone call from Valerie.

“I think I’m pregnant.”

“Oh,” a flood of feelings coursed through him, joy, fear, concern, worry, “What do you wanna do?”

“I don’t know. I wanted to talk to you.”

“Do you think this is happening for a reason?”

“What do you mean?”

“Like, do you think we’re supposed to have a child?”

Zane had retreated to his bedroom, so his parents wouldn’t hear the conversation. He was surprised at how positive he actually felt.

“Well maybe, I don’t know. I already have one kid.”

“I know. Maybe this would be different.”

“So you’re ok if I decide to keep it?”

“Yeah, I think so. I’m certainly not against having a baby with you. I kind of like the idea.”

“Ok, I gotta think about all this.”

“I love you, no matter what.”

“Ok, I love you too.”

One major thing after another kept getting heaped on Zane’s pile. The pile was labeled, “Deal with this!” He liked the idea of having a baby with Valerie. He had no idea about supporting a child. He wasn’t even supporting himself. He might be in prison for a while. But his emotional response to making a baby with her was basically positive.

Within a few days Beth came to him.

“I’m pregnant.”

“How do you know?”

“I missed my period. I never miss a period.”

The discussion that ensued was about how Beth couldn’t be an unwed mother. She’d lose her new teaching job in Bakersfield, lose her reputation, and basically lose everything she’d worked for.

“What do you want to do?”

“I want you to marry me or get me an abortion.”

Scary thoughts, Beth had already had two illegal abortions. The last one damn near killed her. Zane was already facing three felonies. He didn’t need another one added to his rap sheet. He couldn’t come up with a better alternative than marrying her.

“Well, I guess I’ll marry you.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

Beth was overjoyed. She threw her arms around him and hugged him and kissed him.

“Thank you.”

“It’s ok. It’s the right thing to do.” He wasn’t sure if he’d said that or some other voice had said it. They talked about how and when they would get married.

Meanwhile Valerie called again.

“I got one of those shots that gets rid of the baby.”

“Uh-huh.”

“ Are you ok with that? I kind of had to make a quick decision, and I guess I had to do it on my own.”

“I’m ok. I’m really sorry. And I have something to tell you. Beth is pregnant.”

Valerie knew about Beth, and she had accepted that Zane was just getting some aid and comfort during his exile in Bakersfield. This was way more than she had bargained for.

“What are you gonna do?”

“I have to marry her.”

“Why?”

“Well, we’re stuck here in Bakersfield. She’s got a teaching job she could lose. I’ve got this court case. Anything but marriage is a bad choice for both of us.”

Valerie felt like she’d been kicked in the stomach. “I understand. I guess.”

“This is not what I want to do. I feel terrible. I want to be with you. I love you.

“I guess it’s just not possible. I’m gonna hang up now.”

“I’m sorry.”

Zane had read a dime novel in high school about juvenile gang life. In the book was a motto, “Live fast. Die young and have a good-looking corpse.” That saying came to mind as he hung up the phone. How many more things could he screw up this year?

The next day for some reason his mother chose to have a heart-to-heart talk with him.

“You know, of all the girls I’ve seen you with, Beth really has the best qualities.”

“But I’m not in love with her. I’m in love with Valerie. And you really like Beth better than Josie?

“Yes, I do. Think about it.”

As if badly miscast my some botch-job director in cahoots with a hack-job writer, Zane found himself before a judge in the same court house where he was on trial for his freedom, saying, “I do,” in the presence of the judge, Beth and some random witness dragged from the adjacent hallway. They were married and went home to announce it to their parents. It was two days before his 22nd birthday. He wasn’t dead. He was healthy. He still might go to jail. He’d just signed on for a lifetime of servitude. And he’d abandoned his true love in favor of short-term survival and expediency. What further punishment could be coming his way?

The last time he saw Beth’s father, he got punched. Now that they were married, everything was sweetness and light. He started calling him, “Son,” and lending tools to him. Some primitive bonding was happening as they stood around the barbecue at Hart Park by the Kern River drinking beer and trying to avoid touchy subjects.

Beth and Zane moved into a small one-bedroom house in Greenfield just a few blocks away from her parents. One night they got into an argument in bed. He’d told her he was going back to SF State to finish up his degree. She got so mad she smacked him up side the head with her fist. He did the same right back to her. Beth went to Zane’s mother. She weighed in with Zane.

“I was always taught a woman’s place is with her husband. Where he goes, she goes.”

Zane drove the Falcon to the City to register for SF State. He visited Valerie. She was reticent and protective of herself

“I still love you.”

“You need to take care of your responsibilities.”

“I want to be with you.”

“That’s obviously not possible right now.”

They did sleep together, but something was missing. Valerie was trying to move on. She was beginning to think of him as just another paleface who couldn’t be trusted–broken treaties, broken promises, broken hearts.

There had been several curious developments in the court case. The star witness, who had freaked out on the acid Zane sold him, disappeared. Word on the street was he had signed on as a fire lookout way out in the mountains of Northern California. The other rumor was that he had been threatened by a group of longhairs outside a dance, that if he testified, bad things would happen to him. Zane’s lawyer had discovered a precedent that stated that a legal arrest could not be used as a pretext for an illegal search. Thus all the drugs from Zane’s house could not be used as evidence. The D.A. had offered a deal: plead guilty to one misdemeanor possession of dangerous drugs, and all the other charges would be dropped. A misdemeanor brought no more than a year of jail time. Straight probation was a possibility, thus the plans to resume at SF State in the fall semester.

Zane went to court for sentencing in early September. At the judge’s first words he had a sinking feeling.

“I don’t agree with the probation report. I am sentencing Mr. Zane Hiram Morgan to six months in county jail and three years probation.”

Zane and his lawyer approached the bench.

Zane asked, “Is there any alternative?”

“Yes, a straight year in county, no probation.”

Zane took the combination package and was immediately whisked away to lockup. When his father came to see him, he was visibly shaken and upset. He knew from his own work just how bad jails and prisons could be. Zane was actually relieved. The ordeal of threats and dire predictions was over. He knew what was facing him. He figured he could do it.

 

Locked Up

Let the Midnight Special

Shine its light on me.

–Leadbelly

Zane had gone to court dressed in his black suit and a pair of huaraches because he’d left his black shoes in San Francisco in the suitcase he’d left behind thinking he’d soon be returning to resume his life there. He was issued a standard jail jumpsuit, but inmates provided their own footwear. When he was ushered to his cell in the section of the jail where guys were actually doing time, several black guys immediately wanted to trade him for his shoes. They were good-natured, not pushy, and he was able to politely decline. He ascertained rather quickly that they were some truly scary guys in lockup. Some were there awaiting transfer to state prison. Others were doing the maximum one year of county time. There were those who looked like they’d be violent if you looked at them the wrong way. Actually the black men seemed the most friendly and least scary. The mix was about one-third, one-third, one-third black, white and Mexican. He was assigned a top bunk in a standard cell that housed twelve inmates, three double tiered bunks on each side, a narrow space to walk in between and an open toilet at one end. He’d have to get over any pretense of modesty or embarrassment. Virtually everyone smoked cigarettes.

His father was allowed to visit rather soon after his incarceration. He was visibly upset.

“I never wanted to see you in a place like this.”

“It’s all right, Dad. I’ll be ok.”

“Do you need anything?”

“Maybe some cigarettes.”

“Yeah ok, Gil Jesford works in the jail. He said he’d look out for you the best he can.”

“I appreciate that. I like Gil.”

Gil was a sheriff’s officer married to a woman that Zane’s father had counseled extensively at the junior college. They had remained friends, and when she married, her husband became a friend of the family as well.

Later that afternoon Zane heard his name.

“Morgan!” yelled with that authoritarian law enforcement tone.

Zane jumped off his bunk and went to the front of the cell. It was Gil.

“You doing all right?”

“Yeah, fine so far. No problems.”

“Listen, I’ll do what I can, but I can’t make it too obvious more for your sake than mine.”

“I understand.”

They were speaking softly between the bars.

“You need anything?”

“You got some cigarettes?”

Gil reached in his shirt pocket and quickly handed Zane his open pack through the bars. Just as quickly they were in Zane’s pocket. Zane nodded thanks.

More loudly, “All right, you keep your nose clean, Morgan,” and Gil disappeared down the row of cells. Nobody seemed to take any notice. In fact, it was like they purposely ignored anybody’s dealing with the officers. Mind your own business was the prevailing attitude. Zane was fine with that. There were the usual exchange of questions about what’re in for and how long they give you and that kind of thing, but nobody pried.

In the adjoining top bunk was a pudgy white guy. He and Zane got to talking at more length. This guy seemed to want to tell his whole story.

“Yeah man, I had this great deal going. I’d roll up to a car dealer in the middle of the night with one of those car-carrying trucks. I’d load up a bunch of new cars, take ‘em to the next town, off-load ‘em and take another load in that town. I had a whole network going up and down the state. I was making thousands a week. Guess I shoulda stayed out of Bakersfield.”

Zane had some doubts about this guy, but he was a great storyteller right down to his arresting officer who had been a neighbor of Zane’s growing up. The stories kept Zane entertained and maybe that was the point. What was there to do in lockup except tell stories, and probably the stories got grander with time to perfect them. Certainly nobody would accuse anybody of lying.

A few days passed.

“Morgan, grab your ditty bag. You’re going to the farm.”

Ordinarily drug offenders didn’t go to the farm. Either he’d gotten lucky, or more likely his father had pulled some strings. The farm, more officially the Kern County Farm and Road Camp, was an old army barracks ten miles out of Bakersfield near the town of Shafter. It served as a minimum security facility for those who were considered to be a minimum flight risk. The wall was an eight foot chain link fence with several strands of barbed wire at the top. The prisoners were housed in barracks, 30 bunk beds with a capacity of 60 prisoners to each of the five barracks. It was really nice to see the sun after five days in lockup. The atmosphere was more relaxed and easy going. Prisoners worked in the fields, the kitchen, the road crews or other assignments five days a week. They earned 20 cents a day toward commissary. Forty cents would get you a can of P.A., Prince Albert rolling tobacco. Everyone smoked P.A. unless they could get friends or family to bring them a carton of something better. Packs of cigarettes were the medium of exchange. They could be traded for anything else anyone had. Zane’s favorite became a pack of cigarettes for a sandwich custom made by one of the kitchen crew or sometimes a slice of cake. The diet consisted of a lot of beans and potatoes and pancakes. Some kind of meat was guaranteed once a week. Animals were slaughtered on the farm, but the prisoners never saw any of that. Rumor was the guards took it home to their families.

Zane was assigned to Barracks 1. He was simply sent there from the main office with a numbered bed assignment and some instructions on when to line up for count, when to eat, and don’t worry it’ll all be announced on the loudspeakers and do what the other prisoners do.

Zane walked into Barracks 1. His first contact was a black man who could’ve been Chuck Berry.

“What choo in fer?

“LSD.”

“LSD,” he exclaimed with delight. “Hey everybody, meet Acid. He just got here for selling LSD.”

From that moment Zane would be known as Acid at the Road Camp. Nobody ever called him anything else. It seemed like a quick ticket to acceptance. He was a novelty. In Kern County people had heard of acid, but nobody really knew anyone who had done it. Everybody was pretty friendly anyway. It was not hard time, more like some strange military-penal sit-com that ran a couple of seasons until people lost interest. The blacks were the most friendly and Zane fell into an easy camaraderie with many of them. He didn’t make a close friend until a few weeks in, Vincent Franken walked into Barracks 1. He appeared to be a Mexican with a German last name.

“People call me Mexican. I’m actually not. I’m Apache and Spanish. Family’s never been in Mexico. My grandfather worked for a rancher named Franken, just took on the name. Anyway my friends call me Flash.”

Flash had done a few different drugs in L.A. including pot and acid, so he and Zane hit it off right away. Flash had come up from L.A. with some of his buddies. They all got drunk at Hart Park. Flash got drunk and rowdy. He was in on a Drunk and Disorderly charge. Flash and Acid became running buddies, and as other young guys of their ilk arrived they were added to the Musketeer group. They had a fearsome foursome of Flash, Acid, Willie, and Dingleberry. Everybody had to have a nickname. They were  having almost as much fun as if they were still on the street.

Everybody worked road crew until they got assigned to something else. Rural county roads accumulated a growth of weeds along their shoulders. The job was to chop the weeds down and haul them away. Not too tough and the weather was cooling somewhat as summer moved into fall.

Then Zane got assigned to the cotton field. Cotton was grown all over Kern County. Along with potatoes it was a crop the region was known for. Cotton gins were everywhere. The county farm was used for some experimental agriculture. That year they had planted a new strain of cotton that was supposed to be more productive. It grew about ten feet high and didn’t produce as many cotton bolls. Still the county wanted it harvested, and it totally didn’t fit the capabilities of mechanical cotton pickers.

So Zane was part of a crew picking cotton in the hot sun. He had seen people in the fields picking cotton. As a kid he’d gone out in the fields to touch a cotton boll and see what it felt like. They only worked till 2PM each day, didn’t have to work in the worst heat of the day. In theory picking cotton was simple. You used all your fingers and thumb to reach inside the prickly leaves surrounding the white fluff and plucked in one easy motion and deposited it in the large drag sack which was tethered to you by one cross shoulder strap. Trouble was the dry surroundings of the fluff got under your cuticles and drew blood. The sack could hold 50-100 lbs. of cotton depending on how tight you tamped it down. Professional cotton pickers dragged the sack between their legs and picked two rows at once using both hands. A professional could pick 100-150 lbs. in an hour. Zane could work the five hour day and not pick half that much.

Contraband circulated among friends. Everyone smuggled in instant coffee. The coffee served by the cafeteria tasted like it was made from someone else’s used grounds. Zane’s parents brought a baggie of instant coffee each Sunday visiting day. They passed it under the picnic table, and Zane stuck it in his under shorts or in his armpit. It was then transferred to an empty Prince Albert can. The tap water came out hot enough to make a decent strong cup of coffee. Pills were also smuggled in. Harvey brought Zane some codeine. Zane took apart his nearly empty chap stick and kept a few pills in the metal case. Harvey was no longer hooked on heroin, but he hadn’t lost his taste for opiates and had a doctor who supplied him with liberal amounts of codeine. There were spot searches, and occasionally someone would be caught with contraband and either spend a few days in the brick house which had a couple of cells with bars on site, or they’d be transferred back to county jail.

Another new friend was picking cotton with Zane. He was a white guy who did ten years in Texas for robbing a gas station with a shotgun when he was nineteen. He offered Zane a speed pill, actually they traded for cigarettes. That day Zane picked his hundred pounds before 2PM and got off for the rest of the day. He just wanted to see if he could do it. After that he returned to his usual slow pace. The guards hassled him. It had been a mistake to outperform himself. The center of the cotton field was especially thick and tall. He and others would disappear into this jungle and lie down in the shade for a while. The guards were too lazy to come looking for them, and if they did someone would whistle them into alertness and the appearance of productivity.

A letter arrived from Don reminding him of all the tripped out creativity and freshness of vision that the whole struggle was about. Despite whatever mistakes he’d Zane had made, he was part of something bigger that was gaining momentum and a hell of a lot more interesting than what went before. The letter was full of the kind of e. e. cummings wordplay that Zane admired and tried to emulate in his writing, not needing to make literal sense, just getting caressed by the cascade of images. He hadn’t known that Don had such poetry in him.

As the flame of autumn flares into winter’s ice spires, the falcon sores toward his winging pray; ruthless, laying shrieks of tear her against the hunter’s unbowed barrel. Ya ya yah.

An Indian princess, while contemplating the consequence of the covetous action in which she is involved, was caught, the merchandise in her possession. Her creative mentor called for mercy. The white judge ruled probation. Tribeless, she asks for speed, as the blood issue of her next generation wonders in Washington forests with dying giants.

Hippies die into a newer freedom, as yet unnamed, and hope for the death of a dozen draft protestors to free the world from a war for which they care or know nothing. 

The hawk exercises his eye muscles in preparation for a master’s mickey mouse and talks searingly to his whispering shadow. The letter draws near its close in lieu of an upcoming meet with a Berkeley sorceress. Alchemy, ostensibly, the name of the game. There are others as well, but not so well.

A CHORD KNOWTED

First there was this sound—

Cheese chattering—

Precipice–to be flowed

Over with a shudder;

Unhearing action

Gleaming down the slickway metallic:

Brazed corners, heliark connections.

With sureness and corruption

His mazy mind crystallized the

Fluff—a mashmellow hell.

The second sound—

The first with different ears;

Heard at a distance

By a ballerina sea cow

Plagued by the frustration of

Selfishness.

Unable

To be led to herself,

She pokes a finger in his mouth

Asking to be chased

Away from surrender.

And what once pulsed

With curious instruction and

A possibility of love

Now hangs in honest statement.

The third sound—

The second in lonely modulation

Now heard through ears objective \

And a mutant hope.

In search for a sign of willingness

He places within her hand herself.

She draws away disgusted, herself.

His hand moves against her

The other draws her own, self-rejected,

To himself in an act of twisted

Unfolding, a selfish endeavor to

Dissolve them both

The fourth sound—

A mechanical finger hears the moan

Of stirred music sung for unhearing ears.

The hesitant hand relaxes its grip and

Lets surrender slip,

Swept up in a self-disclosed ecstasy.

She arches willingly

As the swiveling torque of

The onanist wave, received

Second hand, drowns the sound

To herself of her loneliness:

Release without surrender.

The fifth sound— 

Surrender without release.

Walk with me awhile, to when I was a

Child

Alone in all that is.

Walk out with me awhile to where I learned

To smile,

At home in all that’s not.

Ah the sound of home! It was contacts like this that kept Zane going while he stirred in stir. His friends hadn’t forgotten him in his misfortune. This letter was also the only news he received of Valerie the whole time he was locked up. She was having her struggles too. He didn’t know Don could be so evocative with words. He only knew his masterful jazz piano licks. Wonders were continuing to unfold.

After the cotton was all picked, Zane returned to the road crew. Another young newcomer was on his crew.

“Hey Acid, you know what that plant is?”

“No.”

“It’s jimson weed. It’ll give you the craziest trip you ever been on.”

“Really.”

“Yeah, you take the seeds out of one seed pod and swallow them. Don’t take more than that. Our friend took four, and we had to take him to the hospital and get his stomach pumped.”

Zane filled his pockets with the spiky seed pods. Back at the barracks that night he shared the pods and the instructions with Flash and a few others. He and Flash decided to take it that night. Somehow Flash had the sense to crawl up in his bunk and stay there. Zane was having trouble breathing. He could hardly move his diaphragm. He went to the rest room, the only lit area of the barracks at night. He stuck his fingers down his throat. Absolutely no wretch reflex. He was beginning to panic, but now it was hard to even move, talk, yell, do anything. Finally he thought to himself, ‘Well, I guess I’m going to die.“ As soon as he said that, it was like he passed into another world. For the rest of the night he wandered the barracks. He wanted to sit down. He got his pillow from his bunk. He put the pillow on a low stool. The pillow fell to the floor. There was no stool. The stool was over there. He picked up the pillow, put it on the stool again. Again it fell to the floor. The stool kept moving. Maybe there was no stool. Some of the sleeping prisoners had emanations coming from them or were superimposed on them. The old Indian who slept below him was in and out of the road camp on drunk in public charges. He’d be out less than a week and he’d be back with a new sentence. The road camp was his home more than any other place. He had turned into a growling, grunting ape man. Another prisoner was a bright-eyed saintly figure like some character out of a Catholic story book. There were also spirits in the room who weren’t connected to any of the sleeping prisoners. One was a man with a guitar. He reminded Zane of Picasso’s “Man with Blue Guitar” except he appeared happier. He didn’t play his guitar but seemed perfectly capable of doing so.

A beautiful dark lady appeared. Black hair, black clothes, black eyes but pale skin, she was so beautiful Zane wanted to get closer to her. Each time he moved towards her she faded away. When he backed off, she would reappear. He had never seen a woman he wanted so much, just wanted to get close to her. She seemed so inviting, so alluring, so attractive. If only he could touch her, feel her, embrace her, merge with her, he would be…something that he wanted more than anything. But there was no way to get closer. He could only stand and commune from a distance craving to taste her essence, craving to be touched, perhaps healed, by her. Eventually she faded away, but he never forgot her image though it was difficult to see her with any clarity of detail. It was more an energy even than an apparition, definitely not something solid or fixed.

One bed check was made in the early morning hours. The night guard came through while Zane was still wandering the barracks. The guard accosted him.

“What are you doing out of bed?”

“I saw two guys go over the fence, and C. was chasing them.”

The guard left and didn’t return.

After dawn two officers appeared. One was the assistant superintendent of the camp.

“What’s going on?”

Zane told them the same story about guys going over the fence and C., another guard, chasing them.

“Come with us.”

They took Zane to the brick house and locked him up. To them he was not making any sense. In the cell he kept seeing the door to the cell being open, but each time he tried to walk through it, he ran into a ruddy-faced kind of ugly guy who wouldn’t get out of his way.

“I’m just trying to get out of here. Can’t you get out of my way?”

The brick-colored man with the plaid shirt refused to answer. Zane was perturbed but kept trying for a while. He couldn’t understand why this guy wouldn’t get out of his way and wouldn’t talk. Some time passed and the senior officer came back to talk to him.

“How’re you doing?”

“Fine.”

“Had kind of a rough night?”

“Not really.”

“Well, you been acting kind of strange. What do think happened?’

“I don’t know I woke up in the middle of the night, and I guess I was seeing things. Maybe it was a flashback.”

“Are you ok now?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. What about C. and the guys who went over the fence?”

“Well, a couple guys did go over the fence, but C. wasn’t even here last night.”

“Oh!”

“You hang out for a while longer. We’re probably gonna let you out of here, We just want to make sure you’re all right.”

“Okay.”

In a few minutes they checked him out again and did release him from lockup. He continued to see things that other people weren’t seeing for the next day, but was better able to distinguish his reality from the collective reality and not get in any more trouble. One of his friends, who’d become known as Fish, had dumped the rest of the prickly seed pods in the garbage, so there was no evidence of contraband. Luck had been with him for this escapade.

They had taken his ditty bag and everything else around his bunk, but found nothing to implicate him in wrongdoing. They transferred him to the hospital barracks, which meant he didn’t have to work. It also meant he didn’t leave the camp, no further chances to go hunting and gathering. The hospital barracks was for those in camp who couldn’t work for one reason or another, but nonetheless were better housed at the camp than at county jail downtown.

When he first signed into the jail, he was informed that any immediate family member could visit him, and he was allowed two other approved visitors. His only friends who were in Bakersfield were Josie and Harvey, so he added them to his visitors list. Mick had copped an insanity plea for the same incident that had Zane in jail. He was at Camarillo State Hospital. Early one Sunday morning Josie and Harvey arrived together to visit Zane. He was really happy to see anyone who was not his parents, wife or brother. Josie had returned to Bakersfield after some reversals in San Francisco and to give some care to her mother, who was still struggling with the trauma of her recent divorce. Josie had spent some time with her Dad right after Mexico. Now it was time to make her peace with Mom, the less favorite parent. It was by no means a romantic visit with Zane. She probably wouldn’t have come if Harvey wasn’t coming. They were shooting the breeze about nothing in particular, catching up on everybody’s current state of being, when Beth arrived.

Beth flipped out and accused Zane of having an affair. Josie and Harvey took this as their signal to leave and did so. Zane was pissed.

“I get a few hours one day a week to spend with some friends, and you have to ruin it. I’m having an affair in jail? Do you know how ridiculous you are?”

Beth was not to be mollified. She was on a roll. Zane and Josie had broken up almost a year and a half ago. They’d had little contact. She’d been with two other people. She’d come close to marrying the Masai and going back to Kenya with him. It didn’t matter to Beth. There was no reasoning with her. She was reading Zane the riot act and was not to be stopped. Zane’s parents and brother arrived. That didn’t slow her down. The rest of the visiting area was getting quite a show. Finally Zane’s brother volunteered to drive her home. She did not simmer down the whole way back to Bakersfield. Zane felt like his family finally got to see what he’d dealt with off and on the whole time he’d known her. For once she was not on her good behavior around them.

During the ensuing week he composed a letter to her. It began, “Dear Ex-Old-Lady, Ask anyone you know, and they will tell you, you’d be better off without me…”

He showed the letter to some of his friends. The jailhouse wisdom was you never cut yourself off from potential suppliers of anything while you’re locked up. Time enough for that when you get out. Zane was steadfast. This was his opportunity to cut and run. He might not have another one. And he really did not want to ever have to deal with her anger ever, ever again.

She visited him one more time the following Sunday. They were both very subdued. Zane didn’t recant anything he’d said in the letter. She didn’t try to apologize. It was a Mexican standoff. The next Sunday she didn’t show up at all, and during that following week he was suddenly called to the main office. Wondering what he’d done or what he’d been caught at, he didn’t have long to wonder. The officers handed him an envelope of legal papers. She was suing him for divorce.

Fully one-third of the prisoners at the road camp were there for failure to provide child support. Zane did not want to find himself in the same boat. He wanted a clean break with no strings attached. He also figured if he never saw the child, there would be no troublesome bonding to haunt him. Get on with your life. I’ll get on with mine. So when his family came for their next visit, he gave instructions through his father for his attorney.

“I will give her full custody in return for no child support. Any other proposal and I’ll fight it out in court.”

“Are you sure this is what you want?”

“Absolutely.”

Zane figured he’d sacrificed enough to protect her reputation and her livelihood. Probably he’d never be able to put it back together with Valerie. The child would be legitimate according to the law. She could keep her teaching job and have the baby she’d been trying to have since high school. He’d done everything he could be expected to do. She took the deal.

For the next month Zane kicked back in the hospital barracks. He worked on a correspondence course in U.S. History, a requirement he still needed for SF State. He made new friends. Again he gravitated to the black men, especially the older ones. Smitty had the self-appointed job of sweeping up the barracks, emptying trash cans and keeping the place cleaned up. He’d seen a lot of life and loved to share his experiences. He carried pictures of his wife and child. She was sitting at a coffee table with a beer in front of her. Alonzo was seventy years old. He’d been arrested for having a loaded shotgun in his car. He’d been hunting and forgot to unload it. Leon was a brash tall slim young black man, full of himself, and lots of stories about all his women, but he was friendly with everyone and fun-loving. Clifton was a Cajun from Louisiana. He had the biggest cock anyone had ever seen, and he knew it. He had hilarious stories about homos trying to grab him in public rest rooms. He also had stories about growing fields of pot somewhere out in the south part of the county. All of these men seemed to have no meanness in their souls, and they were funny and entertaining without being obnoxious braggarts. They seemed to have gotten locked up for trying to have too much fun. Zane could relate to that.

One day Leon was talking to Alonzo.

“Old man, I gotta know. Does your dick still get hard?”

Alonzo pulled a comb out of his pocket. “It gets as hard as this comb. It just doesn’t do it as often.”

Leon heaved a visible sigh of relief, like he was really worried about that. “Thank you,” was all he said.

One Sunday at visiting time, another of the younger black men got a visit from his sister. She was over six feet tall with broad hips and a broad smile, but everything was in proportion. She opened her purse to show him something. There was a half pint of whiskey.

“Oh, I forgot that was there.”

Everybody in the immediate area looked at each other, looked around to see where the guards were, and tried stifle their laughter. The visiting continued. Harvey and Josie came again that day.

“Molly’s in town. She wants to see you, but she can’t come inside.”

Zane looked toward the chain link fence. There was Molly walking along the road. They waved to each other. It was like going to jail made him some equivalent of a combat veteran among his Bay Area friends. He was becoming more popular than he’d ever been. Molly and Josie were old friends from high school. Many a fine party had happened at Molly’s house when her parents were either out of town or stayed discretely in the back part of the house. She had gone to Mississippi during the summer of ‘64 campaign for voting rights. So she was a combat veteran of the civil rights movement.

His parents brought his usual supply of coffee. For some reason he refused it. Sure enough there was a spot search that day and some people got sent back to county jail.

Leon had a big grin on his face. “I saw your sister on visiting day. Boy, is she ever…healthy.” The pregnant pause before he said healthy could have been filled with a dozen words. Everyone within earshot cracked up.

The brother of the healthy sister grinned right back emphasizing each word, “Yes, she is,” and brought more joyful laughter from the rest of the brothers.

It was already December 22nd. Almost three months had passed since he got locked up. He was beginning to count the days. He was talking to his friends about getting out.

“With good time I figure I got another 45 days. I’ve already done twice that. You can do that standing on your head.” Everybody laughed. He’d picked up the lingo of the jail. He was one of them. Jail had turned out to be so not-dangerous.

Good time was time off for good behavior. Prisoners could earn up to a week a month, and it could be taken away for infractions in the jail. Zane had lost a few days for his jimson weed caper. That very day announcements were being made for early releases. Those with only a little time remaining were often given an early release for Christmas. Zane figured he didn’t have a chance.

The list was being read over the loudspeakers. Zane heard his name. He couldn’t believe it. Everybody was slapping him on the back and shaking his hand and congratulating him. He had little time to tell all his friends “goodbye,” pack up his belongings and get up to the front office. His parents were there with street clothes, and before he could even realize his good fortune, he was free to drive away in a car, call his old friends, celebrate Christmas and walk the streets of Bakersfield.

Back in Skedaddle Again

Free at last, free at last,

Great God Almighty, free at last..

–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Everyone was in town for Christmas. Not only was Zane out of jail way ahead of schedule. All his friends were present to congratulate him, listen to his war stories, treat him like some kind of hero of the Movement, and get him stoned. Being locked up for three months plus another six months of being threatened with much worse had not slowed down his desire to be a revolutionary, trouble-making, dope-smoking hippy. His friends made sure he was never holding and getting stoned happened in the relative safety of parents’ houses. It became clear that Zane often had a police tail. They had their eyes on him as long as he remained in Bakersfield. One night around midnight coming out of Tiny’s, the coffee shop at the center of Bakersfield, the cops stopped all of them and checked ID’s before they ever got to their car. His friends took the heat in stride like it was all part of the war.

“Fucking pigs gotta hassle somebody.”

Another night there was a party at Molly’s house. Her parents were out of town for the holidays. Police came to the door.  The group made sure to flaunt the alcohol. They had all turned 21. Any dope-smoking was in the far back room.

At Molly’s party he met Abby. She was one of the high school group of girls who had not gone to San Francisco. Her father was Hispanic, her mother Anglo. She made an obvious play for him, and he was more than willing, having been in lockup for the last three months. She was cute and perky. He had become the bad boy who women were fascinated with. She took him to her house. Her parents were also out of town. It was strange. In all his past experience, he’d never just met a girl and been in bed with her the same night. Once they were in bed together, he was not getting aroused. She thought maybe he wasn’t attracted to her.

“No, it’s not you. I just haven’t been with anybody, and I’ve gotten so used to holding back.”

They kissed and cuddled.

“I’ve never been with anyone with a mustache.”

“How do you like it?”

“It kind of tickles.”

They fell asleep. In the middle of the night, he awoke with a throbbing erection. He rolled her over and took her half-asleep, she moaning as if she didn’t quite know quite what was happening. A few hours later there was a repeat performance. This time she was softly moaning, “No, no,” but offering no real resistance. Now he was falling for her, or falling for her innocent vulnerability. She was definitely different from all the other girls he’d been with. In the morning they ate breakfast together.

“You wanna get together again?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Why not?”

“You’re just not the right kind of guy for me.”

Zane was shocked. He’d never been seduced and summarily rejected before, all in less than 24 hours. He’d never had a one-night stand with a girl. He wasn’t sure how he felt about it. He was happy to get laid after all these months.

A few days after his release Zane had to meet with his probation officer. She was all business, no nonsense.

“I think your problem is you just don’t know how to say, ‘No.”

Zane started to launch a defense, an explanation. She waved him off.

“Just think about it.”

Conditions of probation: he could return to SF State. He was expected to make academic progress. He was to make monthly written reports, since he would be out of county and unavailable for face-to-face. Any further brushes with the law could be grounds for violation of probation and return to Kern County Jail to complete his one year sentence.

Molly was working to register voters for the Peace and Freedom Party so it could qualify for the 1968 ballot. She had connections to the Farm Workers Union through Grant, an old high school friend who had dropped out of Harvard after three years and been working with the Farm Workers Union ever since. He was one of the last remaining Gringos in the union structure. Grant would get them access to rank and file members who might be convinced of the wisdom of getting Peace and Freedom on the ballot.

Zane was more than happy to get together with Molly on this venture. It gave a good excuse to get out of the parents’ house doing something that they could understand and approve of, legitimate legal political action. Besides it was something new and different, an  exciting adventure. After his travels in Mexico, Zane felt as comfortable with working class Mexicans as anybody in the world. It would be like taking a short visit to Mexico again. He was also enjoying hanging out with Molly. She had a flair for risk-taking that sometimes outstripped his own.

They went to Delano, about 30 miles north of Bakersfield and national headquarters of the Farm Workers Union. When they got there, a meeting was in progress at the Filipino Hall. They poked their heads in the door. Cesar Chavez was speaking to the group. Grant was sitting in a aisle seat a few rows from the door. He motioned for Zane to come in. Zane squatted in the aisle as Grant started to explain the plan to him.

“Who are you, brother?” Cesar was addressing him from the podium.

He stood up. “Zane Morgan, Peace and Freedom Party.”

“This is a closed union meeting. You can’t be here.”

“Sorry, I didn’t know,” and with that he turned to leave.

Zane’s story after that was that he had personally been thrown out of a union meeting by Cesar Chavez. He always added how cordial Cesar had been, and how he addressed this Gringo stranger as brother.

After the meeting Grant, Molly and Zane got their heads together. Zane hadn’t been this directly involved with party politics since he was a Young Democrat working for JFK in 1960.

Grant had some concerns. “The union has very strong ties with Bobby Kennedy. They won’t do anything that would hurt his chances. They may see Peace and Freedom as eroding some of his support.”

Zane had a bright idea. “What about this as a strategy? Third parties always push things in their direction, so Peace and Freedom strengthens the liberal agenda. Farm workers could register for Peace and Freedom so it gets on the ballot. They could still switch back before the primary and vote for Bobby.”

Molly was impressed. “That might actually work.”

Grant was willing to entertain it. “I’ll run it by Cesar.”

Half an hour later Grant returned. Meanwhile Molly and Zane had just hung out and talked in general terms with individual farm workers about what they were doing there, not trying to actively proselytize until getting the go-ahead from Cesar.

“He’s still somewhat dubious, but he said go ahead. Be sure to explain the Bobby strategy to everyone you talk to.”

Molly and Zane worked as a team. She had all the experience in Mississippi getting black folks to register to vote in spite of threats to their lives. Zane had a way of explaining things and his comfort with the culture after his trip to Mexico. After several days of working and talking they and others who came to help had over 200 new registrants for the Peace and Freedom Party.

That first night one of the farm workers invited Zane and Molly to his modest dwelling. Some might have called it a shack. They drank red wine out of a common jug that was passed around, told stories, and eventually fell asleep on two old couches with a blanket or serape tossed over each of them. Zane remembered the camaraderie he had felt in Oaxaca and especially Yucatan.

Back in Bakersfield, Sarah was out of town for the holidays. Molly and Zane slept in her bed.

“Would you go down on me?”

“Sure.”

In all his wild years in San Francisco, the only oral sex he’d given or received was with the black guy who’d picked him up on Market St. He liked her and was happily surprised at how willing she was. Molly had long curly black hair and small breasts. She was an aggressive lover. His self-esteem was growing by the day.

Molly also indicated she wasn’t interested in an on-going relationship. She’d go back to Berkeley, and he’d go back to San Francisco, and they’d live their lives. It didn’t really feel like rejection with her, more like her wise acknowledgment of the reality of where things were at. He experienced her as wise, certainly capable of dealing with very challenging and even scary situations. He admired her and felt honored to have shared a short but sweet interlude with her. The fact that both Abby and Molly had chosen him straight out of jail felt really good. Later it occurred to him that maybe they were “Sisters of Mercy” as sung about by Leonard Cohen.

Harvey had a ‘51 Ford. He offered to sell it to Zane for $100. Zane jumped at the chance. He worked the details out with his parents. Everyone was on board for Zane to succeed in his return to San Francisco. He’d have wheels. He would actually go to classes. He’d complete his probation. Based on his experiences in Mexico, he’d decided to major in anthropology. His father approved, having many times talked about the value of anthropology.

So one day in January Zane headed up highway 99 to resume his career as a Bay Area hippy. The adrenaline was pumping and he had the old Ford wound up to about 75. Around Fresno he noticed he was overheating. By the time he got it shut down, steam was billowing from under the hood. He made the mistake of adding water immediately. He slowed down and watched the heat gauge the rest of the way, but by San Francisco the engine was running a bit rough. When he checked the fluids, there was water in the oil or oil in the water, whichever was not a good sign. He’d cracked the block.

Next time Zane saw him, all Harvey had to say was, “Guess I should’ve told you about the leaky radiator.”

Son of a bitch, Harvey still hadn’t shed that street hustler mentality he picked up in the City, even with one of his supposed good friends. But Harvey was the guy who could listen to that old soul song, “Be Thankful for What You Got”, and comment, “You’ll never get anywhere that way.” Maybe he was getting back at Zane for picking up on his ex-wife and for snatching up Josie when he had designs on her.

Zane called his parents. His mother answered the phone.

“We’ve been talking about your car situation. We didn’t think that Ford was going to last very long. You dad and I want to offer you the old Oldsmobile.”

“Really? That’d be great. Are you sure?”

“Yes, we want you to have reliable transportation, and we’re ready for a new car.”

Zane was grateful. His parents were being so generous. He was really going to try to stay out of trouble and finish college and do something with his life. He called a junk yard and got them to haul away the Ford, took the bus back to Bakersfield and picked up the Olds. It was a two-tone blue Rocket 88 with hydramatic transmission, a real cruiser. Next task was to find a place to live.

Gene and Sally lived in Noe Valley, a nicer neighborhood, not the Haight, not the Fillmore. Sally was the girl Jimmy snatched away from him at the end of high school. Gene had lived with Zane’s old Jewish roommate after Zane and Beth moved out. They had become a couple and had a roomy pleasant apartment in a sunny part of town. They had a neighbor who was looking for a roommate. Zane met her. He didn’t think too deeply about the set-up. She wasn’t looking for a lover, yet she expected them to sleep in separate beds in the same bedroom.

After a few days, Zane realized this arrangement was driving him crazy. He went to the Goodwill and purchased a used cotton wad double mattress and threw it down in the front room. He needed his own space. The girl was not pleased. They argued but not fiercely. Zane also bought a quantity of pot about half a pound. He was planning to start his business of selling lids again. He hid it behind the ironing board which pulled down from the kitchen wall. He didn’t hide it from the girl. She was not pleased about that either. Her protests brought out his jailhouse instincts, and he made vague threats toward her such as she would regret it is she went to the police or anything like that.

Meanwhile Zane spent a lot of time next door at Gene and Sally’s place. One day a slim blond passed through on her way from somewhere to somewhere. She was dressed in a mannish sport jacket, but otherwise was ultra-feminine in all of her mannerisms, speaking style, sound of her voice, and the way she moved through the room. She reminded him of Jeanne Moreau in Jules and Jim. She was gone as quickly as she’d appeared.

“Who is that blond?” Zane was stricken.

“Oh, she’s staying with us for a while. She’s had some hard times. Her name is Julia.”

From that first glimpse Zane was in hot pursuit. He was rapidly forgetting all the other women he’d been with, all of those he’d loved and lost. She was a vision. She must have come from another world.

He did pursue her. One thing led to another until one warm sunny afternoon they got together on his cotton wad mattress in the front room. It had been awhile. He came too soon. She quickly disappeared next door and then returned. He imagined she was applying some after the fact birth control. She was not a natural blond and her breasts were shriveled from having a child and then losing a lot of weight. Zane didn’t care. It was not her body he was after. She had an aura that was absolutely captivating.

She was surprised and even taken aback that anyone could be so intensely interested in her. She’d been depressed, weighted down by the responsibilities of mothering her six year old daughter and overwhelmed by the circumstances of her life. She didn’t believe she was at all attractive in her current state of being. When Zane came after her with such intensity, she began to dare to believe that there might be another man in her life. She dared to believe she might get beyond the traumas of her life. His enthusiasm was infectious. She began to feel like living again.

Her daughter was not quite so enthralled with Zane. She’d had mom all to herself for quite some time and was rather sure she didn’t want to share. She was high-spirited

and even rebellious. Neither Zane nor Julia had the gumption to discipline her adequately. But they were in love, and the daughter wasn’t really mean, just a high-energy handful.

One day about a month after moving in, Zane returned to his apartment after a day at school. His roommate was in the kitchen with an older man. The man was pleasant but firm.

“You’re going to have to move out.”

“Why?”

“I rented the apartment to this young lady, and she doesn’t want you here. We don’t want any trouble, and there won’t be if you just agree leave.”

“How long do I have?”

“A week?” he and the roommate looked at each other and nodded in agreement.

“Okay, I’ll go. I don’t want any trouble either.” Zane could see the writing was on the wall, and he better git while the gitting was good. He’d best skedaddle before somebody set the revenuers on his tail. He was beginning to realize he’d played this roommate situation with excessive stupidity. His jailhouse bravado was wearing off, and some sense of reason and perspective beginning to replace it.

He found another share rental in the Chronicle. Two girls, SF State students, had a 3-bedroom near 7th and Lincoln in the Sunset district, another good neighborhood. He interviewed with them, and they welcomed him in. He still spent most of his time in the front room at Gene and Sally’s sleeping in a single bed with Julia. He just couldn’t stay away from her.

Her story gradually came out to him. She hadn’t told this much to anyone in a long, long time. She’d been born in one of the Baltic countries near the beginning of WWII. She was an infant when the Nazis swept through on their way east. Her father had told her that nothing much changed under the Germans. They just identified the leaders of villages and told them that they would report this or that German officer. It was like an extra layer of administration was overlaid upon what already existed. Towards the end of the war when the tide had turned and the Red Army was storming in their direction from the east, everyone knew from reports that had come their way that their policies were dramatically different. When the communists took over a town, they identified the pre-existing leadership, rounded them up, lined them up against a wall and shot them. Julia’s father had been the mayor of their village. The family hurriedly packed a few belongings and fled westward. The ended up in what became West Germany, living for some time in an abandoned railroad boxcar and surviving by charity and the wits of her father. After a couple of years, they were sponsored to come to the United States and moved to Chicago. Her father never recovered from the deprivation and powerlessness of those later war and immediate postwar years. Even though he became prosperous again in Chicago, he was a miser, who still rummaged behind the grocery store for a cabbage that was only half rotten.

“Wow,” thought Zane, “this girl is not only not from Bakersfield. She’s not even from America. I guess I’ve finally escaped the legacy of the Valley and launched myself into the larger world.”

His heart went out to Julia’s tragic story, and he hadn’t heard the half of it yet. She went to college in Florida and met a man from Iran. They fell in love, married and moved to Tehran where she had a child by him. The longer they were in Iran, the more he changed from the charming fun-loving cavalier she had fallen in love with to something she could hardly recognize, rigid, controlling, suspicious and overly religious. She realized she was a prisoner in her own home. Women had no rights in Iran. Men controlled and dictated everything. She could not travel nor do anything without his permission.

She began to conspire, mostly with herself, how to escape, knowing she had only one chance if that. When she struck, she and her daughter boarded a plane for a random destination. They took five different planes in five different directions, finally landing in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Twice already in her young life she’d had to flee from certain death or a lifetime of persecution.

Zane was dumbfounded to realize people live such lives. It made him love her all the more and want to take care of her. Meanwhile the relative stability of his relationship, his living arrangement and the fact he was only smoking some pot upon occasion was facilitating a successful semester at SF State. He was completing twelve units of anthropology with A’s and B’s. With his car he and Julia could travel north along the coast, through the redwoods, going as far north as Prairie Creek State Park where elk roamed canyons full of ferns all the way to the sands of the blue Pacific. They even explored the possibility of moving together to Marin County. Mill Valley looked to be within their grasp. Zane was stepping up into a semblance of real relationship with this older woman. She was drawing a maturity out of him, he’d not previously been aware of, much less able to access.

Late Spring Zane and Julia went to a party or get-together with some of Zane’s friends. He’d scored a bunch of THC, at least that’s what it was sold as. Probably it was PCP, which was beginning to make the rounds in capsules with or without other additives and sold as THC, psilocybin, angel dust, or space fuel. Effects ranged from being knocked down like a major tranquilizer to a variety of quasi-psychedelic effects. It was unpredictable and therefore intriguing to the adventurous. Ten or twelve people took a single capsule, ready for anything. Julia was on a schedule to get back home and take care of her daughter so she was the only one present to eschew the “THC”. The group literally ended up in a large pile lying about on the floor draped over each other as if they were nodded off on heroin. During moments of semi-consciousness, Zane found himself drawn into the dark brown eyes of Allie. She was the little sister of Reyna, who had changed her name along with her man to stay hidden from the draft. Without intent Allie was captivating Zane with her innocent openness. Just eighteen and about to begin her studies at UC Berkeley, Allie was petite, dark-skinned, dark-haired and dark-eyed. Zane was falling right into her dark simple open warmth. She was a girl on the threshold of womanhood. As the evening wore on they were more and more lying on top of each other, nothing more because they were both too doped out to move or make any attempt at greater connection. The energy between them was obvious to anyone who was conscious.

The only truly conscious person in the room was Julia. She became increasingly hurt, appalled and incensed as the night wore on. Around midnight she asked Zane for his car keys. He fumbled them out of his pocket. She was visibly upset. He was unable to make any coherent response. She left, and he never saw her again. Two days later he tracked down his car at her sister’s house, who informed him that he should make no attempt to contact her. He didn’t. He wanted nothing to do with a woman’s anger, and anyway he was already in hot pursuit of Allie.

The group laid in their heap together until morning. Probably none of them had ever slept with so many people at once. No one had stirred for hours. When Zane was aware of anything it was Allie close beside him. Her presence felt wonderful. He was already hooked.

As Spring moved into Summer, Zane arranged to be together with Allie whenever possible. Meanwhile the semester ended, and the house on 7th Ave. broke up. There was an opening back on Linden Alley. Zane loaded everything in his Oldsmobile and moved back to the ghetto. He got the upstairs apartment this time. Don had not lasted on Liberty Street. The neighbors had not appreciated his piano-playing. So he had moved recently into the old downstairs which had once been Zane’s. The Fulton Street crew had reconstituted a few blocks to the southeast.

A back stairway connected the two apartments and there was a basement that was open to both or maybe just undefined in any rental sense. Two of Don’s friends from UC Berkeley rounded out the household. Stefan had vacated the upstairs apartment but was still hanging around as some kind of undefined tenant or roommate. He gradually claimed the basement as his space and built a photography darkroom which was open to the rest of the crew. Zane had spent childhood hours in his grandfather’s darkroom so he easily gravitated to the world of red lights, photo-chemicals, enlargers and 8×10 glossies. Leon rolled in from Florida where he had spent some jail time for a bar brawl. He had been working the boats and shipyards until a back injury eliminated that possibility and he retreated to the Bay Area.

Leon was a heavy cigarette smoker. He and Don liked to drink. A certain macho camaraderie pervaded this oddly shaped household. Don’s place became the hub of social activities. Zane could always retreat upstairs, and Stefan down to the basement. Leon eventually took the apartment next door.

Zane reestablished his domain on Linden Alley, this time without roommates or any regular crashers at his pad. The group who had dropped “THC” together were a fairly tight circle who’d been at UC Berkeley or lived in East Bay. One was a doctor from Humboldt County who had somehow hooked up with a buxom young woman from Berkeley named Barbie. He was older. She was extremely bright and apparently able to meet him in many ways. He was in great shape, regularly ran on the beach and swam in the cold northern Pacific. He had a thriving practice and a house outside of Eureka in the redwood forest. He invited the group to come up for a long weekend.

Zane invited Allie to drive with him. He had recently decorated the Oldsmobile with spray paint and stencils. It was much more artistic than the Pollock Plymouth he’d ridden in from Salt Lake City back in ‘65. Allie came to his new apartment on Linden Alley. This was really his own place, no one else’s. She would stay the night and next day drive to Eureka with him. She was shy and a bit scared. She informed him she was a virgin. He determined to be very gentle and careful with her. He saw her as a beautiful but fragile flower. He didn’t want to bruise her. He’d been reading about tantra and practicing some of the breathing exercises and postures. What an opportunity to initiate this beautiful youngster and make her first sexual experiences lovely and mysterious instead of traumatic and weird. Such was his care plan with this young virgin who had mystically landed in his lap.

For perhaps the first time he felt like the experienced one placing care, understanding and protection around a younger sister. She was open and trusting and honest about her fears and understandable reticence to engage in the awesome edginess of sex. After all just how weird is it, never having experienced it before, that a guy is going to insert a large part of his body inside what until now had been considered a small opening in her body. How scary…and exciting! She didn’t know what to expect, so when he went so slow, kissing and caressing, touching and then asking her how it felt she was puzzled but also pleasantly surprised. He never pushed her. He would move closer place his penis and leave it at the entrance to her vagina for a while, until she got used to it. Then he might insert it just a short way. If he felt resistance inside her he stopped and again rested. He practiced his deep breathing and chakra meditations. He was content to be with her feeling a soft flow of energy, an easy warm glow surrounding them that seemed to grow as they laid and sat with each other in contemplative intimate contact.

When he did finally enter her all the way, she was of course tight and still not ready for vigorous action. They sat together in yab-yum position as he’d seen in the Tibetan and Indian paintings and drawings, simply holding and embracing each other, her legs wrapped around his waist, their arms embracing each other, available to kiss lightly or passionately, to hold and stroke as inspiration guided their movements moment to moment. She was small and light. He could lift her up and down while looking into her eyes and noting her every response to everything he did with her. What a gift to have such a marvelously open and willing lover. How well he was doing at honoring the gift. When he felt near to orgasm he would lift her off of him and rest for a while, breathing and holding her until he felt capable of being inside of her for a while again. They spent half the night in this rhythm. He never climaxed. He didn’t want to. He definitely did not want to leave his seed inside of her, as she had no birth control and neither did he. He was content to feel the rise of pleasure until there might be a release, but then withdraw and allow the feelings to subside so they might do it all over again.

This became the pattern of their love-making for a number of weeks. She made an appointment with Planned Parenthood, but he was absolutely content in this newfound practice of tantric lovemaking. In many ways it felt better and certainly more spiritually fulfilling than any sex he’d ever had before. Allie was the perfect partner, following his lead yet not afraid to tell him what felt good, what felt better and what didn’t feel so good. Like a child who can simply say, “I like this. I don’t like this,” the communication and ambiance between them was perfectly simple and easy.

The drive up 101 felt like they were enclosed in a bubble of sensual delight. Both felt extraordinarily lucky to have stumbled into this evolved dance of sexual/sensual energy with each other. It was Lila, the play of the gods, and they were right there playing with the gods, playing like the gods, somehow not just being the same old compulsive human beings. The magic of the redwood forest and the North Coast simply embellished their immersion in swirls of hot fudge and French Vanilla ice cream with numerous cherries to bite into, anticipate and crave the streaming pleasure of sweet warm juice over swollen taste buds. In their private world life was all pink and red and full of pie a la mode and chocolate mousse. Whatever else happened hardly mattered. They could be in San Francisco, Eureka, East Bay or anywhere. Wherever they were, they were still with each other and the divine sensuality they had learned to create.

Fireworks, and Gurus

St Stephen with a rose

In and out of the garden he goes

Country garland in the wind and the rain

Wherever he goes the people all complain

–Grateful Dead

Allie was in Berkeley and Zane was in San Francisco, so there were days between their get-togethers, which generally occurred at his place or on her sister’s living room floor in El Sobrante. Zane was taking a summer school class at SF State. He had one GE requirement to complete, biological sciences. In a large lecture hall with over a hundred others he was learning the rudiments of human biology. A black girl began talking to him regularly. Like Valerie, she called him by his last name. As they got to know each other she teased and flirted with him. She was from Guyana and spoke with a British accent. Zane was intrigued. The attention was flattering. She was different, exotic, fascinating and a bit scary. She had a boyfriend, a rather ordinary white guy, who was struggling with his moods and emotions. Zane had several long talks with him. It was clear that Guyana girl was more than he could handle. She was running circles around him, and he was getting more confused and morose. This girl was full of life and incredibly spontaneous. He was white bread from the suburbs and out of her league. She probably wanted to dump him, and he knew it.

She was quite obviously inviting Zane to be more interested in her. Maybe she was just playing. He wasn’t sure and couldn’t bring himself to so quickly replace this other poor guy, so he kept it casual and never really followed up on any of her overtures. It was tempting, and he felt like he could have her if he decided he wanted to. Whatever happened happened, but there were some vague guiding principles somewhere in the unwritten operating manual. What they were perhaps emerged on a case by case basis.

As summer moved into fall, Zane registered for another twelve units of anthropology. Completion of these classes would make him eligible for graduation. Anthropology was coming easy for him. He loved learning about how different people all over the earth lived so differently. He embraced concepts like cultural relativity and ethnocentrism. His teachers had lived with people in the jungles of West Africa and South America. Anthropology was broader and more encompassing than history, which only followed the predominant cultures of the world, those who created the biggest wars and the biggest empires. Anthropology also looked at modern life in the Western world through a certain theoretical prism. Thus a phenomenon like black revolution could be analyzed as more of a cultural expression than just a political stance. One of Zane’s final papers explored this phenomenon using Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice as major source material. Cleaver, a one-time inmate of Folsom State Prison and current leader of the Black Panthers, had been chosen as the presidential candidate for the Peace and Freedom Party. The Peace and Freedom Party had qualified for the ballot and looked like a damned good alternative to Lyndon Johnson’s Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, or Tricky Dick Nixon. He remembered the old Socialist cartoons depicting Tweedledum and Tweedledee running for president. The alliance between Black Panthers and Peace and Freedom seemed like a natural, but wasn’t the choice of an ex-convict going to alienate some of the potential support? Who knew, but it still seemed in some ways like desperate measures for desperate times.

The THC in a capsule continued to be a source of entertainment. It was not as flashy as acid, interesting and unpredictable in its effects ranging from hyperactivity to suddenly falling on the floor in a heap of disorganized protoplasm unable to coordinate the basics of motor activity. One afternoon he had an anthropology paper due on some bland subject like “What is Culture?” He dropped some THC, turned on the hippy music radio station and stood ready for whatever happened next. He remembered Pete Seeger seemed to have a long segment on the radio. Otherwise his only memory was what he wrote and later turned in as his anthro paper.

I. Sumpun bout dis here Culture

Life What is it

Man has pondered this and that

Loving and Giving

Getting and Spending

Never Depending

in the end

on Mama

Cat gets fat

Off the grease of other cats

Big issue of rats

CultureWe’s

I gots itall’s

You gots itgots

She gots itits

Are we that insecure

of our spiritual development

DON’T go Maryann——————————-

Love sta amore

It’s new all the time

Look for no sign

Crave not power

Beyond the flow er

Out of sight out of mind

or I will leave you behind

The backroads of yon neon woods

Center your mind

with the Mind

oogenesis

noosphere

gear fab

rabba dabba doo

to you too

Life as karma yoga

the pursuits of history

I yam that yam

Where the am

of where I am

Daughter/son of Uncle Sam

Lay the dam wall

Beside the call

of duty

bought born and bred

in a fading guitar

& metallic shred of

yesterday’s mournings

for which we have all paid our price

with the next roll of dice

buy some ice

Jeez Chrice

AUM

the message does come

in some other

language

behind it all look behind it all

we call God

because it’s simpler than explaining

all the details

because all backbones feel

essentially the same

Family Dog Pro duct ions

I-ON

Here and Now

The Purple Cow

Tao Tao Tao

Adam starting inventing things

then fire

spears guns arrow bow

what now

invents words       language

communicating sometimes deaf

conquer desert ice

ocean shore

all       but self

invented war

inventing new world

with no place for mankind

one ocean of water and air

dance of death

break the grip

invent peace

Some

scorn and scoff

Adam’s children

build new garden

Eve where is Adam

wandering shore to shore

Love

Could Save This

World from Disaster

Is it just one more

Illusion

Great Love must

have

Great Anger

Innocent People Shot Down

Target Square

Not Blind Anger

Correction creates a

new crime

Music bring peace

be musician

break the chains

Got to build a new garden

Decent Home for all

God’s Children

Pacem in Terris Meer

Shanti Shalam S Hewa

Loyalty to our Kind

Cannot Tolerate Obstruction

Life is Change

How it differs from Rocks

New Worlds to Gain

And Be Alive for

You

Show me the Way

Smiling

Love

Making

Love 

Crying

      Got to Go

      Break

    Laughing

Wonder

Had Some

Boys    She’s got more

Paper dresses catch on fire

2 gms Now

Woman with a greasy Tongue

Change Before the End of

Time

Laugh before

Speak your mind

Darkest Hour just

Before dawn

Terry Cloth of

Ages     So Much

Could Happen

KALI YUGA

AQUARIAN AGE

two sides of the same possibility

Culture: man’s part in the survival pie

piece

(peace)

Positively Pathological

Makes Sense Only to-the-art-form-itself

So God can view himself

Cultures are inseparable from the people possessing them.

When peoples die cultures die

Culture can be abstracted, analyzed, and discussed with

The same justification as human anatomy and physiology may be.

*The Medium is the Massage by Marshall McLuhan  & KSAN

An experimental college had been created at San Francisco State. Almost anyone could teach a class on almost anything. There was no academic credit, but a great deal of dynamic energy as various social, political and spiritual topics could be explored. Astrology, street poetry and North American White Witchcraft were included in the course offerings.

Stephen Raskin’s career at SF State had begun as a protégé of S. I. Haykawa, the popularizer of General Semantics. He taught semantics and creative writing in the regular academic programs of the college. He was quite a fan of Hemingway. Then he took a trip to Latin America where he had some profound experiences with psychedelic botanicals. He returned a changed man espousing a variety of theories, principles and practices that might be summed up as how to have a better acid trip. His offering of North American White Witchcraft followed upon the previous semester’s focus on God, Magic, and Einstein. More than a hundred students regularly hung on his every word. Class breaks consisted of joints being passed around large circles of the aficionados. Everyone was encouraged to socialize with and get to know everyone else. Simple rituals including pot-smoking and the regular chanting of Aum by a hundred plus voices in unison. There was a pleasant hypnotic quality to the proceedings. Besides which Stephen was hip, a bit older, spoke the language and clearly had enough experience with everything that everyone was going through to have something worthwhile to say about it all.

His long rambling free associations covered a whole complex of various disciplines. He might have been called holistic before the term ever became popular. Interspersed with the combinations of spiritual teachings, science, psychology and social action were one liners that almost anyone could hang onto in a moment of high stress like, “What you do is just be groovy as you can all the time.” Stephen was very charismatic and many people went along for the ride because the advice often worked, and Stephen seemed to be able to handle adversity with some aplomb. He was espousing tantra and what you do with your attention and seemed to be able to adequately field any question on any subject and bring it back to some hippy-psychedelic-spiritual life path that made many young hippies feel again a significance and even a superior morality to what they were all doing in their Love Generation revolution. It really sounded like he could provide simple explanations and guidelines to the mystical paths, like just do these simple things, and you’ll get there.

Advice like, “whatever you put your attention on is what you get the most of,” or, “Meditation is learning to handle the normal thoughts that come up,” made people feel that there were some easy signposts to follow in the whole psychedelic razzmatazz, and enlightenment might actually be possible as a hippy acid freak. His descriptions fit with the experience of other mind-trippers: “Contemplation is where you’ve already listened to your subconscious long enough that the stuff that is coming up out of it is pretty much cool now. And so you’re not sitting there trying not to freak out at the contents of your subconscious anymore, you’ve got a clean head and you can point it onto whatever you want to point it onto. And you can let your mind go there, and you go into a psychedelic state.”

Stephen was speaking to a college population. It was not the ghetto or the streets of the Tenderloin. People were willing to lend a certain seriousness to what was going on and make some effort to do the best possible with the resources at hand. Much of what Stephen said made a lot of sense to Zane and matched his own experiences. It was a great group of people, psychedelic, friendly and loving. Zane’s social group was healthier. Meth had virtually disappeared from his mix. Having more of his focus on school and the scene going on at school was easier, safer and more comfortable than the street scene, ghetto scene, or street hustlers and road agents. The people he was hanging out with just weren’t as dangerous as in some years past. The loving was easy, and the women were free.

Melissa was a flaming redhead. Her thick long hair brushed her soft butt. She seduced Zane, and he went along with it. She would just show up at his apartment, jump into bed with him, make love and leave again within a few hours. Yet it never felt cheap or causal. Her intensity more than made up for her apparently transient nature. She had a knack for subtly letting him know he was the best lover. He wasn’t even sure quite what she had said or done to communicate that, but he felt it and always looked forward to her surprise visits. Unfortunately she caught a dose of clap from one of her spontaneous liaisons and was forced to convalesce for a few weeks. She was a wild fun-loving balance to Allie’s doe-like innocence. Zane had made no promises to anyone and didn’t feel he needed to. No one was making commitments. Everyone was just having experiences, trying to be free and easy, trying to enjoy life and not hurt anyone, trying to feast on the magic mushroom without getting caught in the vengeful reflections of one’s fear and guilt. At this point it was all working rather well, so no reason to change anything.

Joe had a cousin. The cousin had a girlfriend. They were splitting up. Zane met Amanda at Stephen Raskin’s Monday Night Class. She was bouncy and full of life. Zane was interested. She was going to Sacramento State. They talked about his coming over to see her in Sacramento. He was so inclined. When she said goodbye by kissing him full and long on the lips, the deal was sealed. He got to Sacramento at his next opportunity. She lived downtown near the capitol in a wonderful old Victorian with a hip older woman and her kids.

Her bedroom was ultra feminine, full of frilly, flowery, paisley thises and thats, and her bed was covered with big soft pillows. She took him to that bed almost immediately. He felt super-charged. Allie had been meditative. Melissa was sweet and slow and full of undefined longing to immerse more and more fully in the warm pool of her body and soul. Amanda was knock your socks off fireworks. He was so turned on, he found himself pulling out to dive into her full-on with tongue and lips and drive her even wilder, so he could last longer, stay in such earth-shaking ecstasy absolutely as long as possible. He came with great bellowing, that must have brought the whole neighborhood to a heightened state of alertness. Who was this erotic witch who had taken him to the edge of unbearable and then bathed him in passionate pleasure like he’d never felt before? He was so blown away, all he wanted to do was give back and be the craziest, most satisfying lover she’d ever felt.

They spent a lot of time in bed together. She had him by the cock and balls. He was filling her with everything he had. He loved the cunnilingus, the oh-so-intimate act of licking the soft petals of her labia, vibrating her clitoris with his butterfly wing tongue, tasting the sweet juices, the eau de cologne, dripping from deep inside her wombanly essence, the vain attempt to penetrate all the way inside her with his rigid tongue. She was a taste treat in every way and so much more. The emotions were following on the sensations. He couldn’t get enough of her sexually, sensually, emotionally, and she was smart and loved to follow song lyrics just the way he did, tracking the poet in the songwriter with the same seriousness and delight that he did. She got him to pay fuller attention to Joni Mitchell as a kind of female Dylan. She was falling for him in a big way, which no doubt added to the passionate intensity he was feeling. Maybe what they were experiencing was their own version of North American White Witchcraft. Although Stephen was touting tantra as the path of cosmic trip artists, not everyone was buying into his full program. The way of the white clouds might be lovely, but fire on the mountain was at least an equally alluring path.

Her thick dark wavy hair was a lush forest to get lost in. He loved to dig his fingers into the rich tangles like meadow grass on a warm afternoon. He’d hold her head and kiss her, then let her go so her head could thrash from side to side as freely as the rest of her body. She was so juiced. It was like making love to a live wire which happened to be enclosed in a slim leggy luscious female body.

“Look at this.” She pulled back her dark tresses. Deep within the dark forest of her hair near her forehead was a lock of absolutely silver gray. The contrast was striking.

“I was born with it. Supposed to be the sign of a witch,” she giggled.

She showed him some pictures. In some of them she had a look in her eyes that almost made him recoil. He couldn’t figure it out. It wasn’t really ugly or scary, just unique and somehow intense and oddly familiar.

After their first love-making her roommate landlady made friendly reference to the unmistakable nature of their interaction. It felt like having a totally approving mother or big sister. After one more mega-decibel performance, Amanda prevailed upon him to show his pleasure for her more quietly, which he was able to do. They settled into a rhythm of weekend visits with each other. Often she would stay with him, and they would go to Stephen’s get-together before she took the bus back to Sac.

Zane just didn’t call Allie any more. Amanda had stolen him away, and he was a willing captive, even part-time slave. This abandonment didn’t earn him any points with her big sister and the East Bay circle, but in a sense Allie had unwittingly stolen him from Julia. The Beat goes on! Zane was easy to seduce, easy to capture, easily diverted by the next woman who paid attention to him and made him feel special in some new and different way. Part of being a Flower Child was smelling and caressing all of the flowers. It had not yet occurred to him that among these beautifully captivating women, there might be the one who was the best for him, that breadth of experience could detract from depth of experience. He was floating like a chemical element in solution, bouncing up against other molecules, bonding for a while, then sucked away by a stronger pull to bond with a different molecule. These out of town girlfriends made it even easier to slosh around from one delicious liaison to another. If the current bond wasn’t in the immediate solution, many other alluring molecules drifted on by. Stephen even used the term, “Swap around,” when he called breaks from the weekly road show. An ambivalent term, perhaps he only meant talk to people you haven’t talked to before. On the other hand he might be encouraging a more intimate kind of swap. When he later declared that he, Debbie, Monroe and Ida Rae were a four-marriage, that is, all married to each other, the latter seemed to be what he was aiming at.

One of the recommended techniques he taught was two people looking into each other’s eyes and endeavoring to relax fully while doing so. It was like a two-person Zen meditation with the added supercharge of possible communion, energy exchange or recognition of some attractive aspect of the other person’s soul. Oddly enough Scientology taught a similar technique in their introductory basic communication class, which Zane had availed himself of during one of his explorations of everything that claimed to have some answers about how to live life. So during breaks at the Monday Night Class, the configuration was generally circles passing joints or twosomes gazing into each other’s eyes. Stephen’s ostensible purpose was to build a group meditative consciousness that could be maintained in action, while carrying on other activities of daily life. Zane picked up a yoga technique called “training the gaze”, which involved focusing on one point in the field of vision and relaxing the half-open eyes so that they could remain unwavering in their focus. This practice rapidly became quite meditative and could be done in regular academic classes. If called upon he could respond since he had been listening. Nothing in the field of sensory awareness was shut out. All was included. There was simply a center to the focus.

Periodically Stephen would invite the class, which was a loose conglomeration of whoever showed up week to week, to gather on Mt. Tamalpais on a weekend morning. Let’s all get together and drop acid and wander around in nature and play with each other. Zane went to one of these morning gatherings, during one of the fiercest storms he’d ever seen in the Bay Area. Rain was falling in sheets, and the wind blew hard enough to blow you over unless you allowed it to blow through you. There were breaks which allowed the celebrants to get out of their assortment of cars, Metro vans, trucks and VW buses, dance around the hills, play perception games with each other and occasionally engage in serious conversations.

At one point he found himself on a knoll in the fog with Stephen, a teenager who had precociously become one of the best trip artists in the group, and a newcomer Zane had met at the Monday night class. The newcomer was consulting with Stephen.

“I’ve been smoking pot and really getting some powerful insights. Sometimes it feels like it’s just opening me up.”

Stephen, “You should try some acid.”

“Do you have any?”

“No.”

“I have some,” Zane popped in eagerly.

“Great.”

Zane pulled out his wallet and extricated a small piece of paper. The acid was a round colored dot on the paper. He carefully tore it in half, not wanting to blow the guy away on his first trip, and handed him a half a dose. Later in the day this guy was getting some entertaining visuals and his aura/skin tone had pinked up from its previous yellow green. This synchronistic foursome on a foggy knoll was Zane’s first personal contact with Stephen. He felt honored to be of service to the cause.

Meanwhile politics had taken over at San Francisco State. All the various movements which had been fermenting throughout the sixties were coming to a head. Everyone was increasingly impatient for change. Vietnam was proceeding unabated. The election of Richard Nixon promised only more of the same. The assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King had left many in the movements feeling angrily grief-stricken, ripped off and deprived of inspirational leadership. A more militant confrontational tone permeated the pronouncements of the new politicos. At SF State the Black Students Union (BSU), with collaboration from La Raza, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and others, were spearheading a campaign for what would be called affirmative action. The basic demand was similar to the one propounded some years earlier by the Ad Hoc Committee to End Racial Discrimination: proportions of blacks and other minorities in all levels of business, government and academia should reflect the percentages of those groups in the general society. There should be a quota system for admissions to colleges, law schools, medical schools, etc. Inferior housing, schooling, employment and other disadvantages had created an artificial class system that continued to be promulgated like it was some kind of honest meritocracy. Level the playing field. As long as the disadvantaged had to compete with the advantaged, the same unequal discriminatory result could be expected.

Liberals were somewhat targeted as paying lip service to the issues, yet producing no more concrete changes than the conservatives. The hopes that many had pinned on Bobby Kennedy as the liberal who actually had and would make things happen had been destroyed by his death. Protest and civil disobedience were taking new forms in the absence of King’s calming and orderly influence. Much of the tone was strident, in your face and “up against the wall, motherfucker.”

The first sign of real trouble was a sunny day on campus in mid-Autumn. Zane was hanging out in front of the commons when he heard a yell.

“Pigs off campus!”

Zane turned to see seven SFPD tactical squad officers marching in formation down the sidewalk from the 19th Avenue side of campus toward the temporary bungalows to the side of the commons which housed offices for various campus organizations. The cry, “Pigs off campus,” was taken up my numerous others, and a crowd formed and moved in the direction of the seven uniforms. The growing thickness of the crowd and Zane’s basic survival instincts took over. He scrambled on top of a telephone booth. From his catbird seat he could see the entire unfolding drama. A long-haired hippy stood in front of one officer, “Why are you doing this?”

The reply was a blow on top of his shoulder from the 3-foot truncheon wielded by the pig. The hippy crumpled to the ground. The pigs proceeded straight to one of the bungalows, grabbed one black student, and just as quickly headed back in the direction they had come. No one else challenged them except with words. Soon they were gone, leaving behind a profound sense of violation and outrage. Up to that point life on campus had proceeded rather normally. Afterwards the increasing escalation of words and action seemed to have no limits. The sense of academia being an inviolate sanctuary was gone. What would happen next? No one knew. All bets were off. A growing cycle of retaliation was inevitable. Clearly there was nothing civil about this civil disobedience.

At first the liberal leadership of San Francisco State tried to negotiate and work with the revolutionaries. There were some minor acts of property damage. Some carried a spirit of anarchy. A student strike was declared to emphasize the demands. Many professors supported the student strike. There were picket lines. Some students openly walked through the picket lines to attend classes that were still convening. Zane was struck by the irony that just when he decided to get serious about attending classes, the classes were not there to attend. Some of the charismatic leaders seemed intent on whipping crowds of students into a well-rationalized frenzy to strike back at the oppressors in any imaginable way.

One afternoon Zane was getting sucked into the rhetoric of one of the BSU speakers. Stephen, Ida Rae, Debbie and Monroe came cruising through the crowd. One of them tapped him on the shoulder and gestured for him to come with them. They proceeded to the little used athletic field. A joint appeared and passed around the small circle. Everyone relaxed. The uptight edgy feeling generated by the firebrand rhetoric dissipated.

“You can’t let those guys grab your head, and they will.”

Zane didn’t have much to say. Once they’d gotten out of range of the speech, he felt himself cooling off and regaining some good humor.

“Maybe they don’t know exactly what they’re doing, but they squeeze your head until you see less and less, your thoughts get more and more narrow, and they’re whipping up your emotions and trying to get you to act on them. It’s our job to see the whole picture. Their goals might be right on, but their methods will only bring disaster.”

As was often the case, Stephen’s analysis was right on. His time as Hayakawa’s protégé had inured him to being manipulated by language. He was always analyzing, not getting caught up in the tricks of the trade. Of course he was using those same tricks to promote his brand of spirituality, but at least he was sharing a lot of the technology at the same time that he was using it.

It was into this black market carnival that the leadership of the state college system injected S. I. Hayakawa, master of the manipulation of language and an odd little drama queen in his own right. His clever responses to the growing chaos at SF State later catapulted him into the U. S. Senate, where he was mostly famous for sleeping and occasionally using old skills to dramatize an issue. He would commonly make statements like, “We stole the Panama Canal fair and square, and we ought to keep it.” His fame was ensured at SF State when he leaped up on a sound truck that was blasting political messages from 19th Ave. and ripped out the speaker wires essentially disabling the truck from further usefulness. That caper made the cover of Time magazine and sealed Hayakawa’s reputation as a radical answer to the radical challenges of the day.

Hayakawa was not afraid to use the police and to say, “No,” to non-negotiable demands. Many of the strike leaders were arrested numerous times. Marches on campus would be declared illegal gatherings and bunches of the rank and file hauled away to detention. During one period of time there were over six hundred uniformed police officers on campus.

Most of Zane’s professors supported the strike and informed their students that they would receive A’s for the semester. His senior seminar occasionally met in the library to complete some requirements with less formality. Another professor passed out a take home final. Zane stuck it in the pocket of his raincoat and forgot about it.

Coming out of the library after a meeting of the senior seminar Zane got caught up in a march that was circling the quad between the library and the commons. On the north side of the circle numerous cops from various jurisdictions were milling about in small groups. The marchers understandable fear, as they observed the riot gear that the cops were slowly dressing themselves in, was mostly expressed as sarcastic comments to each other. The most succinct was, “Oink,” said just loud enough to be heard by the uniformed guardians of the status quo.

After a while the police formed a line on the north side of the circle and marched shoulder to shoulder in full riot gear toward the protesters. They didn’t stop when they reached the circle. Those who tried to hold their ground were clubbed. Others scattered to the south. They made about thirty arrests. Lucky for Zane, he was on the south side of the circle when the police hit the line. He heard the screams of , “Fucking pigs!” and other signs of anger and panic as students fled in his direction. He and others easily retreated to the library steps and waited. The police withdrew with their captives many of whom were identified leaders of the strike.

A few minutes later Zane threw himself into a pile of leaves that had been collected by the garden crew. He was with friends and began chanting, “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.” As he continued his chanting, a TV film crew came by and stuck their microphone near his chanting voice.

“And folks here we have some of the few remaining good vibes on the San Francisco State campus.”

Amanda had  decided he was really the one. The feelings stirring in her were new to her, and she couldn’t hold back from expressing them, especially to the guy who was responsible for the gush of her emotions and the flush of her cheeks.

“I’d really like to have a baby with you,” said with her usual radiant smile and compelling eye contact.

Zane felt something go cold as ice inside of him. It was so instantaneous and instinctual, he didn’t even recognize it as fear. Amanda didn’t know about the dire straits of his pregnancy and marriage episode with Beth. She probably would have been understanding. She was only expressing a feeling, not a plan. On a deep level inside Zane he had developed a fear of entrapment. Once it was activated, it was very difficult to return to the pre-existing idyllic dream of perfect love, life, relationship and spirit. The glitch was in the system taking up space, altering and distorting the flow. He would keep on trucking but watchfully and certainly without the previous feeling of total immersion.

The guys were hanging out together on Linden Alley. Zane could remain on his own trip on the top floor, or he could gather with the group in Don’s kitchen downstairs. Many mornings Leon was parked in a straight-backed rocking chair drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and trying to straighten out his injured back. Just like on Fulton Street Don’s pad had become the gathering place for the minions. Don was developing a relationship with a neighbor, Alicia. Sometimes she hung out with the guys. She was dark-haired and openly affectionate with him. He somewhat held her at arm’s length, not wanting to give up his freedom for a steady girlfriend, but enjoying her attention and favors as long as he had a clear path to the exit. He still had his fascination for the young black hookers who had become his steady date back in the Fulton Street days. After all for a short time a good hooker will give you exactly what you want unlike the day to day negotiations of a full-on relationship.

Vince, who rounded out the fearsome foursome, had a steady girlfriend. He stayed at Jan’s place about half the time. She was tall, blonde and could have been an artist’s model. He did take some nude photos of her, artistic, black and white, developed in the darkroom he’d built in the basement. She was cool, even aloof, and had a constant companion, Misha, her beagle. Vince was not a warm person. Philosophically he said all the right things, but his style of relating was rather aloof as well. He could be talking directly to you sitting at the same table, and you’d feel he was talking from the far corner of the room. His stance was that most of what was being promoted as spiritual was bullshit, yet he had a humanitarian stance and practiced Buddhist meditation. He openly made fun of Stephen Raskin as an emerging cult leader with his psychedelicized sheep.  He was generous with his darkroom and taught Zane how to develop, print and enlarge. Each of the guys took a turn at being semi-serious photographers.

Part of their openness involved their back doors always being open to each other, so they could use the back stairs to visit each other at will. They became prey for the neighborhood thieves. The most dramatic occurred while they sat together in Don’s kitchen. Someone came through his front window, boosted his TV and disappeared. They were all twenty feet away drinking beer and being rowdy. There went their pro football afternoons together.

Don had a knee operation to repair damage he’d sustained some years previously in a motorcycle accident on Highway One near Big Sur. It was apparent after the operation that his drinking and drug use accelerated. He was angrier more of the time and went out of his way to mess with everyone around him. Probably no one acknowledged how much pain he was dealing with. Post-traumatic stress was only a nascent concept in the mind of some Vietnam Vet. Don had also been in a car crash in high school. His best friend died next to him in the back seat of the car. The rest of the group kept expecting Don to buck up and return to his former self. He never quite did. His smart-ass combativeness grew like he was suddenly trying to prove he was the manliest of the bunch. The only one with any interest in competing with him was Leon. They nearly came to blows several times even after Leon moved next door to his own place.

The incidents started out as understandable and gradually became obnoxious. Just after Don came home from the surgery, Leon tossed him a can of beer. He missed it, and it landed square on the sore knee. Don flung the beer with full force. It hit the end of the roller bar of a typewriter, punctured and spewed beer all over the room. Oddly, the typewriter was one Zane bought from Skinny Gil four years before for $25. Skinny had boosted it out of a parked car.

It was after the operation that Don began to brag of his sexual exploits, describing in detail what he was doing with the street hos he was again picking up on more frequently. He also talked in the same terms about Alicia as if she was just another ho in his harem. Don was increasingly embracing the dark side, seeing things in terms of power dynamics and the sicker side of human desires and out to prove he was the manliest man of the bunch. No one could pull him back from the road he was going down. No more wimpy peace and love for him. He got a job in a print shop in the East Bay. Many of his co-workers were biker gang types. There was a lot of speed going round the shop. Don’s macho attitude accelerated.

Seemingly all continued swimmingly between Zane and Amanda until Sabrina came by Linden Alley one day. The other guys knew her from Berkeley. It was obvious to them she came by to get fucked. She was seductive with everyone. Zane was the gullible one. He took her upstairs. She was the first other girl he’d been with since he and Amanda got together. He enjoyed it. He didn’t feel guilty. Of course there was something uniquely attractive about her. He kept remembering how her legs felt. In a few hours she was gone.

When first together with Amanda, Zane had been inadvertently faithful and true to her. Melissa had come by and awakened him. He blurted out that he’d gotten together with someone else. Melissa left with hurt feelings, but there was no damage to his relationship with Amanda.

Sabrina was no one to him, yet it was so easy to just fall into bed with her as casual as going for a swim on a hot day. Perhaps some aspect of the macho competitiveness of his neighborhood was rubbing off on him. Perhaps he was still so flattered when any pretty girl came after him, it was impossible to say, “No,” still compensating for feeling like the ugly duckling all the way through high school and junior college.

Amanda came to see him that weekend. She could tell something was different. He was far less present when they made love. She inquired about the change she was picking up on.

“Do you mind if I make it with other girls?”

“No,” she lied in a meek voice, beginning to tear up. Her bubble had been popped in a big way. She could feel her emotions recoiling from him. She didn’t want this to be happening. How could such sweetness, such beautiful loving connection, crash so quickly. She would try to be brave. Perhaps it was not the end. Perhaps Zane’s dalliance was nothing more than a minor diversion. Perhaps he would realize what he had with her. She could hang in. She could hope. She could believe that everything was fine. Maybe he would come around. Give him some time.

Chet Helms had another extravaganza birthday party. It had been three years since Zane had last gone to one. The format was similar, a large warehouse south of Market and acid-laced punch. There were many rooms in the warehouse, each with a scene of its own. Zane got pleasantly stuck in the room with Indian music, very calm and meditative and a girl named Rebecca who had somewhat of a reputation for her spiritual presence, kind of a female Charley Sparrowhawk. Zane was re-experiencing some of his insights from his days of Sanskrit studies, feeling very safe and comfortable with no desire to move on or explore further. Periodically Amanda would flash through. One time she did an impromptu dance.

Someone in the room sighed, “Not another Shirley Temple.”

Zane was feeling more and more detached. Everything he had loved about Amanda was being balanced by emerging negative traits. At some point they flowed out of the party and drove to Zane’s pad. He remained very distant from her and went to sleep. When he awoke she was gone. He called her up.

“I didn’t think you wanted me around.”

“It wasn’t that. I was just in a head space, you know.”

“You weren’t being very nice to me.”

“You know how it is on acid. You go where you go.”

“Maybe.”

“Well, I didn’t want you leave.”

“Sorry, you didn’t tell me to stick around.”

“I didn’t think I had to. When am I going to see you again?”

“I guess I’ll come next weekend.”

Peace or Love?

Up on Project Hill it’s either fortune or fame

You must pick one or the other

Though neither of them are to be what they claim

–Bob Dylan

It was true that Zane was not in the habit of telling Amanda or any girl how much she meant to him. So when she got indications that he wasn’t interested or didn’t want her around, there wasn’t much to buttress her beliefs against her fears that he was drifting away from her, rejecting her or seeing her through less than favorable eyes. Zane was running with his fear of entrapment, another girl who wants to have a kid.

They had taken a trip to Bakersfield to visit his parents. It hadn’t gone well. She came down with a bladder infection. They went to the emergency room at Kern General Hospital. They gave her antibiotics. No sex for a while. Too bad! It was one of the best things they did together. The whole visit was subdued and somewhat depressing. It was his first trip back in almost a year. It was the meet-the-parents visit. Something was off. Perhaps he depended entirely too much on Amanda’s bubbly self to maintain the tone and mood of the relationship. He was also haunted by a certain look she’d get in her gray eyes. Every time he saw it he flinched, like a startle or panic reaction.

Bakersfield had also reminded him of illness, incarceration and vague but pervasive feeling of impotence. Glad to be back in the city, there were always the parties in motion. Small group at someone’s pad. Wander around the neighborhood, drop in on someone you sort of knew.

“Hey let’s go see so and so.”

“Yeah sure.”

So a small group would walk or drive over to some friend’s apartment. More joints would pass around, maybe some acid, followed by more mobility. It was random following of the latest idea, go up on Haight Street, go to the Park, check out the happenings somewhere. During one of these perambulations of the neighborhood, Zane ran across Jeanie. She had gotten to San Francisco after meeting Mick at a peace march in Fresno. Oh yeah, Mick had gotten out of Camarillo State Hospital after five months. He was stuck in Bakersfield for awhile and decided to make the most of it. There had been a good-sized peace march in Fresno. Mick and a group came from Bakersfield to march. The opposition to the Vietnam War had grown all over the country. No longer just a Bay Area phenomenon, war resistance was being embraced by middle America. Jeanie was a semester away from a B. A. in nursing when she met Mick at the march. He swept her off her feet, undoubtedly fed her some acid provided by one of his fellow travelers. She dropped her plans and showed up in San Francisco with Mick. They didn’t last long as a couple particularly since he was newly off the leash and running the neighborhood with a nose for fresh pussy. She didn’t care. She’d gotten a ticket out of her old life and went her own way.

Jeanie attached herself to Zane. She just nuzzled up against him and held on, not tightly but steadily. He liked how it felt. She was only five feet tall, just a little girl wandering around San Francisco in late fall barefoot and coatless. She was the perfect waif, and he picked her up and took her first on the floor of someone’s apartment. She was more than willing but also detached as if she would do anything if she could just hang around. She wasn’t exciting or ecstatic. She felt soft and peaceful and safe. He was moved to care for her. She went home with him but then caught a ride back to Lucerne where she was living on Clear Lake. She would be back in San Francisco for Stephen’s Monday Night Class.

Zane easily floated from one source of feminine attention or affection to another. He so easily attached to any girl who came along and showed an interest in him. He thought he was just lucky and soaked up all the attention and affection. Temporarily at least, it made him feel really good about himself. He felt attractive, worthwhile, loved, pleasured and relieved of anxiety. It seemed there was always another girl to take his pain away, and he only had to do what he felt like doing, nothing more. It was troublesome that some of these girls kept wanting to have babies with him, but there was always another who didn’t have to have that as part of the package. During this period of involvement with Stephen, he really did feel free and loved and like he was part of a group that accepted him. He belonged and the group mores were working for him. Besides the sexual liaisons there were lots of hugs with lots of girls circulating through the gatherings, fresh-faced, innocent and wide-eyed. They were all potential. There just wasn’t enough time or enough of him to go around.

Amanda must have gone to Stephen with her troubles, because Stephen pulled him aside before Monday Night Class.

“That girl from Sacramento.”

“Uh, yeah.”

“You need to talk to her.”

“Yeah, okay.”

Later Amanda came and sat next to him in one of the pews. She looked miserable. He looked at her. He didn’t know what to say. She didn’t say anything, just looked at him with those sad, pleading eyes. Finally she got up and left. Thus began a long estrangement between them.

Jill came by to tell him about plans to put together a commune. They had years ago declared themselves blood sister and blood brother with each other, actually drew some blood and mixed it together. It enabled a strong friendship and clearly put them off limits for a sexual relationship. Periods of time would pass with little or no contact between them, but then they’d see each other and the old bond was still there as strong as ever. Jill genuinely liked him and had the habit of giving him penetrating advice like the day she told him, “You know people like you even when you’re not at your best.” Zane was intrigued and talked with her at some length about what a commune would look like, who was going to be involved, how it would be organized, what the rent would be, and how they would work things out to keep the house together. Jill had gotten very actively involved in the student strike and even been arrested once. She had made some close friendships in the BSU, La Raza, and SDS. The group that was coming together included another girl from Bakersfield and her young daughter, one of the leaders of the BSU, a Jewish girl from among the strike activists, Vince, and Zane. He made a tentative commitment to joining the commune.

“So you by yourself, or you and a girl?”

“I think me and a girl. I just don’t know which girl yet.”

Jill laughed and lit up another Pall Mall. She shook her head, “Same old Zane.”

When Amanda came to town it was clear that things were not well between them. Zane had no idea how to do repairs when things didn’t go well in a relationship. He simply rode the wave. When the wave crashed, he looked for a new wave. Amanda was hurt and upset. How could this guy, who was so into her, suddenly be so unreachable. She was wallowing in sorrow and panic, which was not attractive to Zane. Rather than wanting to take care of her, he was scared and repelled. They were stuck in a disconnected misery.

As a result of the student strike at SF State, the experimental college had been suspended. Stephen looked for and found a new home at Glide Memorial Church, where pastor Cecil Williams, another charismatic leader, held services for the denizens of the Tenderloin on Sundays and ran a number of charitable programs. So there they were, Zane, Amanda and Jeanie, at Monday Night Class. Afterwards they drove together to Zane’s little place on Linden Alley. He was exhausted, burnt out from all the pot he’d smoked that day. He went to bed and fell instantly asleep leaving the two girls to sort things out for themselves. A while later Leon was shaking him awake.

“You gotta come deal with this.”

“Huh?”

“I’ve got two upset, pissed-off young women in my kitchen, and it’s not my problem.”

“Oh shit. Okay,” Zane tossed on some clothes. “Send them up.”

The three of them sat in Zane’s front room. Amanda was somewhere between fury and devastation. Jeanie was detached as if whatever way it turned out was okay with her. Amanda couldn’t contain herself.

“What do you want?”

“I guess I want both of you.”

This did not assuage Amanda’s pain. She tried one more time.

“What if you have to choose?”

“I don’t want to choose.”

Her pain was too great. She fled out the front door and was gone into the night.

“Well, I guess that means it’s you and me.”

Jeanie nodded. They went to bed.

Zane drove Jeanie to Lucerne. The old Oldsmobile was really coming in handy. Jeanie had been living in a commune in an old mansion near the shores of Clear Lake. Everyone seemed to be semi-permanent. The huge living room had been turned into the group bedroom. Numerous mattresses with their individual bottom sheets abutted each other to accommodate close to twenty sleepers at once. Blankets had been sown together to create one giant blanket that covered the whole communal bed. Everyone just chose a spot and went to bed. It became readily apparent that sex was happening in various parts of the bed. Eliza had come up from Berkeley with Jed. She worked her way down the other side of the bed from where Zane was, making it successively with five or six different guys. Zane was too freaked out to make any moves with Jeanie. These folks were going a lot farther than he’d ever imagined with the whole free love thing. Maybe this explained Jeanie’s calm acceptance of his desires for both her and Amanda.

Next morning two more couples were going at it side by side with other people walking in and out of the room. Zane wasn’t sure whether to watch, be embarrassed, pretend ignorance or flee. This would take some getting used to, especially since he hardly knew anybody at this house. The house was not going to be there much longer. There were chronic plumbing problems that included backed-up toilets. He had arrived for the last hurrah of the old mansion commune, and to help Jeanie collect her things and move back to San Francisco. They had decided to live together.

Eliza and Jed caught a ride back to the Bay Area with Zane and Jeanie. On the way Jed quizzed Eliza about the previous night’s events.

“What was that like for you?”

“ I felt satiated. For the first time in my life, I felt totally satisfied, like I didn’t need anything more.”

“Wow, that’s great, to ever feel that way.”

“Yeah, I’m still riding that feeling, just complete, done, taken care of. Might like to do it again sometime, but I guess it’s not going to happen at that house.”

“No, that whole deal is breaking up. Too bad.”

Zane felt more comfortable listening to Eliza than he had the night before. She was a few years older obviously very matter-of-fact about her sexual needs, sexual desires, and the means to satisfy them. Zane was still a little shocked, but he didn’t really have a negative judgment either. It had just gone beyond anything he had experienced up until then. He and Jeanie only talked in the vaguest of ways about her involvement in this sexually free commune. She indicated there was plenty of permission but no pressure either way, definitely a “do your thing” atmosphere. In her own way she had been floating through liaisons similarly to Zane, perhaps not as caught up in it all as Zane.

His vulnerability to the next pretty girl was not unique. Perhaps his utter lack of control over what he did next was exceptional. It was like he entered a trance state in which his only influences were whatever emanated from her. The girls in his life became competing trance states in which in one way he was the utterly compliant child to keep the favors rolling his direction, but on the other hand when things were not going well he became the frustrated nay-saying rebellious withdrawing well-defended adolescent or two-year-old. When he was getting what he wanted and everything was going smoothly he was all sweetness and light, but once startled or frustrated and the vengeful rejecting side came out. It was difficult to maintain an ambiance of erotic excitement and affectionate intimacy for more than a few months without some conflict showing up. Either he was gone into the next trance before the conflict showed up, or the conflict did not get resolved and he was gone into the next trance anyway.

Since there were so many willing partners in this atmosphere of liberated sexuality, it was easy to just keep moving, to essentially live in the never-ending carnival and never pass through the gates back into the other world. The drugs definitely contributed to an atmosphere of artificial ecstasy that kept the party going and allowed the repetition of similar experiences with different partners that never went to the next level of working out the difficulties and conflicts that inevitably arise between two individuals. For many people psychedelics were fostering an eternal childhood in which the world took on a Disneyland atmosphere and everything was still possible. If you didn’t like the life you’d descended into, drop some acid and try out another one. Even if you did like where you were, drop some acid anyway just to keep the adventure going. There must be some other area of the amusement park I haven’t seen.

Zane’s return to the utterly footloose lifestyle had been facilitated by the student strike. With a lack of concrete responsibilities connected with school there was more time for creative adventure seeking. The tribal habit of instant community was facilitated by numerous formal and informal events. Protests, peace marches, and other political actions gave focus and meaning to the lives of some. For others it was a about a new consciousness being born out of a curious admixture of psychedelic drugs, a smattering of Eastern spirituality and a Peter Pan determination to never grow up. Don’t trust anyone over 30! “Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream. It is not dying. It is not dying.” The most casual and frequent occurrence was to simply show up at your neighbors’ with a joint in hand, introduce yourself, get stoned and have some new friends, some newly recognized members of the tribe.

Zach and Mariah showed up at Zane and Jeanie’s door on Linden Alley. They all hit it off and might have spent more time together except for the move to the commune. Everybody knew everybody and if you didn’t, you soon would. Come on in you’re part of the family. One of the common denominators of the sixties experience was an accessing of a more tribal familiarity where hospitality and generosity were the expected norm. An indigenous proto-communistic sense of everything is everybody’s was emerging as a predominant guiding belief. At the very least everyone deserved a joint and a place to crash. Crash pads were everywhere, and a loose network of urban communes was coming together. It even had a newsletter, “Kalifornia”.

When Jeanie was living in Lucerne, her household often made pilgrimages to Harbinger Hot Springs in southern Lake County near Middletown. This old hot springs resort had been taken over by a group calling themselves the Inner Science Foundation. Their leader, John Hamlin, had a number of entertaining and complex models concerning the changes occurring in the human mind as a result of psychedelic drugs. He was an older guy, like Tim Leary, with considerable traditional training in the sciences. The group was endeavoring to fix up the run-down resort so it could be a Mecca for the emerging new consciousness generation. They were also producing a new drug called angel dust, rocket fuel, or space fuel. Much later everyone would know that this, like the THC in a capsule, was actually PCP. In the meantime no one seemed to care, because it was a trip and unpredictable and therefore intriguing. Hamlin had a knack for attracting people who actually knew something about consciousness, like Tibetan lamas, as well as the average psychedelicized street hippy. His research was attempting to include ancient traditions and modern experiments in consciousness and design some models to foster understanding.

A get-together was happening at Harbinger. Word circulated on the streets of the City. Jeanie heard through her old Lake County network. The expectations were that this would be the ultimate extravaganza and gathering of trip artists and spiritual teachers. Zane and Jeanie drove up in Zane’s beautifully decorated Oldsmobile ready for the trip of their lives.

Approximately 300 others had journeyed from the Bay Area including Stephen and his crew and quite a few Zane recognized from Monday Night Class. Stephen and John were potential collaborators in some kind of serious formal experimentation. By the time Jeanie and Zane arrived the drumming was already going full tilt, and there was definitely a party atmosphere. The Tibetan lama had retired to his room to meditate for the remainder of the evening. There were numerous gallon jugs of organic apple juice for liquid refreshment. Of course the apple juice was spiked with acid. Most people but not everyone knew. Zane and Jeanie circulated independently. They definitely were not tied at the hip. Zane hung out in the kitchen with Stephen’s friend Monroe. They played perception games with each other for quite a while, purposely trying to alter visual field perception and then share that with the other person. They were having a lot of success, having developed an instant rapport.

In the midst of all the commotion a cadre of Lake County sheriffs appeared at the door inquiring as to the goings-on. It was kind of a standoff. They had no obvious reason to be there or to enter the big old main mansion. At first it wasn’t clear what had brought them there or where this all was going. Someone counted thirty uniforms in all. Zane remembered he was still on probation, but also felt the safety in numbers and confidence in leaders like Stephen to handle the situation. Suddenly one of the group came down the main stairway screaming obscenities.

“Fucking pigs get out of here. Get the fuck out.” He was on a tear. When he reached the front door, the sheriffs simply grabbed him, arrested him and left.

The party continued. Most people assumed there’d been a noise complaint from neighbors even though they were on acreage in the middle of nowhere. As the evening wore on Zane wandered into the open air and found the hot baths. He was reminded of California Hot Springs, removed his clothes and first immersed himself in the full-size pool. Then he discovered the semi-enclosed hot pool at the far end of the big pool. The hot pool was melting temperature and he dissolved in the warmth of that dark enclosure, alternately floating quietly until he was about to pass out and then sitting on the edge in the cold air until the heat felt attractive again. He began to chant. The enclosure reverberated his voice into a chorus of deeply chanting voices. It carried him into a deeply relaxed meditative state of mind. The early morning hours were thus spent soaking, steaming, cooling and chanting as everything else about the night’s events faded into a background of nothingness.

Towards dawn he felt a bit weary. He found a massage table in one of the many rooms and crashed for a few hours. In the morning he and Jeanie ran into each other. They’d slept a few rooms apart.

Jeanie hugged him, her head fitting below his chin. Her first words were muffled against his chest. “I tried to find you.”

“Yeah, I didn’t know where you were either.”

“I ended up sleeping alone.”

“Yeah, me too, but I was in the hot pool for hours. It was out of this world. The sound vibration just took me away.”

“I’m glad you had a good time.”

“Yeah, I did. Did you?”

“Until I couldn’t find you. Then I got worried.”

“Nothing to worry about.”

“Did you hear what happened?”

“I know about the bust. I was there.”

“No, Hamlin’s wife.”

“No, what about Hamlin’s wife?”

“I guess she didn’t know about the acid in the apple juice. Anyway she freaked out, drove off in her car and crashed a mile down the road. That’s why all the sheriffs were here.”

“No shit, is she all right?”

“Broke her neck.”

“Fuck that’s really lousy. I was kind of wondering where Hamlin was. I never saw him.”

“Yeah, that’s the story. You ready to head back home?”

“Sure, let’s check the kitchen. I wouldn’t mind eating a little something.”

“Don’t drink the apple juice!” She said it like someone in Mexico saying, “Don’t drink the water.” They both laughed.

There were a few leftovers in the kitchen, but more surprisingly they ran into Josie.

“I didn’t know you were here.”

“Likewise. How’d you hear about it.”

“Oh you know the hippy grapevine.”

“Oh hey, Josie meet Jeanie, Jeanie, Josie.”

It was all friendly and cordial as they munched on leftovers and otherwise spaced out in the post-psychedelic morning.

Then Josie was direct. “You going back to the City?”

“Yeah.”

“You got wheels?”

“Yeah.”

“Can I catch a ride with you?”

“Sure, we gotta go up to Lucerne on the way. Jeanie left a few things there when she moved out.”

“That’s okay, I’m in no big rush.” She turned to Jeanie, “Is it okay with you?”

“Huh, yeah sure.” Jeanie had no idea about the history between Zane and Josie. Probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway. She wasn’t into jealousy, especially about exes. Somehow she’d already learned she didn’t have much control over what other people did. She might want to control them, but it was pretty futile.

Zane was pretty happy to have a normal friendly interaction with Josie. He liked her. He’d seen her only sporadically since the fateful visit in jail, when she “broke up his marriage”. It was after dark by the time they got out on 101 near Ukiah. Zane got pulled over for a broken taillight. They had grass in the car, but they hadn’t been smoking so everything was cool. He got a fix-it ticket and rolled on into the City in the early evening.

“You’re living on Linden Alley again?”

“Yeah,” he laughed, “but not for long. We’re moving into a commune with Jill and a bunch of other people.”

“Well, good luck with that. Sounds like fun.”

They dropped Josie at her place. After Zane she’d hooked up with a spade cat who grew up in the ghetto. He was all fire and revolution and, “Motherfucker this,” and Motherfucker that.” That one didn’t last long and was only mildly entertaining to her old friends when she was talking just like he was. After that she got together with a Masai warrior from Kenya. He wanted to marry her and live in Kenya together. She almost went down that road, but couldn’t really tear herself entirely away from her past and take the leap. He wished Josie well, somewhat wistfully. In some ways he’d been spun out with girls ever since he lost her. At least they were both alive and seemingly well, not burnt out, strung out or counted out yet.

Nothing stays the same. Everyone was making choices. Vince and Zane were moving to the commune accompanied by girlfriends. Don had been invited but he chose to remain on Linden Alley with Leon now living next door. The months of comfortable male camaraderie were ending. No one could have anticipated how quickly Don would go downhill without his buddies around, the buddies that he often made fun of and put down but buddies nonetheless. Being at the hub of social activities on Linden Alley had been good for him as much as he might exclaim in his macho posturing that he didn’t need anybody. He had also been progressively mean with Alicia and alienated her. Probably her emotions were carrying her into a feeling of connection with him, and he could feel the ball and chain about to be snapped around his ankle. Don had really been a different guy since his knee surgery.

Commune

Wonder who will water all the children of the garden when they

sigh about the barren lack of rain and droop so hungry `neath the sky…

–Grateful Dead

Jill was not alone in finding a tremendous sense of meaning and purpose in working on and supporting the student strike and other political activities at San Francisco State in the fall of 1968. Previously she had not been particularly involved in political action, but the spirit and enthusiasm of the groups who came together and came to represent the goals of this political action had gathered a large number of previously uncommitted students to their growing movement. The polarization fostered in part by the student leadership and in part by the new administration of S. I. Hayakawa had revived the old spirit of “Which Side Are You On” reminiscent of the grand old days of labor union organization. With the addition of 600 armed police on campus, SF State had definitely hit the national news in an era when student uprisings were common.

So when Jill was putting together the commune her core group came from the student strike. There were four bedrooms on the lower floor inhabited by Jill; Sandra, another refugee from Bakersfield and her daughter, Iris; Melanie, a secular Jewish girl, who might have started off as the most conservative member of the household; and Cole, a Black Panther and leader of the Black Students Union. Prior to a short stay with Zane on Linden Alley, Jeanie had been living in a free love commune in Lake County. Berkeley graduate Vince was pursuing his photography to see if he could really make some money at it. He took two small rooms on the upper floor, one for a bed, one for a darkroom. Zane and Jeanie had a suite of two rooms with no separation between them. Others would come and go in the fluid society of the time. The only other semi-permanent resident was Lance, the plumber, who moved into a large walk-in closet on the upper floor.

Everyone on the lower floor was facing criminal charges for acts of civil disobedience related to the student strike. Zane continued to buy keys of grass and sell lids. There was an ongoing debate as to who was bringing more heat on the house the Black Panther revolutionary or the dope dealer. The politicos considered themselves too hard-headed and realistic to buy into the airy-fairy, head-in-the-clouds spiritual leanings of the Monday Night Class crowd. Vince had his own askance view of hippy spirituality based on a growing interest in Zen Buddhism. Zane had basically bought into the view that power trips begot more power trips, and it wasn’t really the way to change the world. The issues were not hotly debated. There was an amazing tolerance and spirit of coexistence as if everyone was seen as making a genuine heartfelt effort to create a better world, and all of it was better than what the establishment was offering. Everyone was getting loaded and even dropping acid together, and there was humor perhaps best exemplified by Zane standing naked on a table in the living room loudly shouting quotes from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book in his most strident and militant voice, while everyone else in the room was collapsing in laughter.

Zane had completed his coursework at SF State, so once again he had no particular focus and lots of time on his hands. It was easy to spend it hanging out and getting stoned. He and Jeanie were not ecstatic with each other, but they got along, and no major rifts emerged between them. They did things together. Sometimes she just felt like a familiar family member, a sister/playmate. They did a lot together. A favorite activity was to go to Mt. Tam or Pt. Reyes National Seashore, drop acid and spend the day hiking. Vince liked to hike and often would accompany them. On one such venture on Mt. Tam they took a wrong turn on the trail and were lost in the woods for the night. Zane and Jeanie had brought their new puppy, which Zane was carrying inside his coat. When it got too dark to hike further, the three of them plus puppy curled up inside the remnants of a redwood trunk. Vince lit a little fire and they went to sleep. In the middle of the night the trunk had caught fire. Fortunately they were able to beat it out. In the morning they continued down the mountain, circled Alpine Lake and hit the Fairfax-Bolinas Road. A hitched ride took them into Fairfax where they called the commune. Cole and a couple of his Panther friends came out and picked them up. On the way back to the city, the three panthers in the front seat were in an intense militant political rap with each other with a lot of, “we gotta show them motherfuckers,” and “up against the wall,” and “fucking pigs,” and “solidarity”. Vince began laughing and couldn’t stop. No one was offended. They were so into what they were into, they hardly noticed him.

When they got back to the commune Sandra was upset and pissed off that they weren’t apologetic for getting lost and worrying everyone. She easily took on the role of house mother, often took responsibility for organizing group meals, and at times extended her legitimate mothering of Iris to everyone in the house. Everyone else made efforts to pitch in on food prep, cleanup and household maintenance. The dogs became an issue. Misha, Jan’s beagle, was well-trained and housebroken, but the new puppy Zeke, short for Ezekiel Boris Snoid Foid da Toid (with a Brooklyn accent), pooped in the upstairs hallway. Somehow dogs began to accumulate, like every hippy had to have a dog, but then they didn’t always have places to keep them. There were probably more arguments about dog shit than anything else in the entire history of the commune, especially after Misha and Boogotcha, Vince’s new bitch got together and had puppies.

On another commune outing, most of the household went to Baker Beach on the Marin side of the Golden Gate. Zane and Jeanie threw off their clothes and ran around the beach like kids playing tag and grab-ass with each other. Cole stripped to his briefs and laid sedately on the beach, probably not wanting to add to his existing list of charges. Again they represented the extremes of the group.

Some of Jeanie’s old friends showed up on their way from somewhere to somewhere, just passing through, still committed to living out in the country somewhere, part of the growing back to the land movement that saw hippies leaving the Bay Area for Mendocino County and other parts of Northern California, New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon and anywhere else that looked promising. 1968 had seen an increasing police crackdown on the Haight-Ashbury and a definite change for the worse in the atmosphere in the neighborhood. One of the unforeseen consequences of the Summer of Love had been the arrival of predators among the sheep and exotic birds. New arrivals included convicts recently released from San Quentin and tourists from almost anywhere cruising the streets for drugs and some of that “free love”. No one anticipated the Charlie Mansons of the world, but they were part of the mix. Might be time to flee the city and sow the seeds of peace and love “across the universe”.

A bunch of the group went to a rock concert together. There were lots to choose from between the Family Dog Productions and Bill Graham. Zane was spacing around the dance floor when a girl jumped into his arms. They fell to the floor together with her on top. She was small, so no injury, but she was passionately kissing him and rubbing up against him. He could hear people around them cheering them on.

“Hey, get it on!”

“Yeah, all right!”

“Grooooovie.”

“Do it!”

“Love is all you need!”

As suddenly as she had jumped him she got off him and disappeared into the crowd. He remembered only a fleeting smile and a vague recognition. It was Jeanie’s old friend, Wendy. Later that night back home, Zane wasn’t sure what to expect. He decided to go to bed. Wendy showed up in his bedroom They got it on. She was passionate and intense like riding white water rapids, just bursting with sexual energy. He fell asleep. When he awoke in the morning she was gone, and Jeanie wandered in looking like she hadn’t slept well.

“I wondered where you were.”

“I didn’t want to get in the way.”

“It would have been all right.”

“Maybe.”

They didn’t talk further about what had happened. Besides Wendy was soon gone with the crew she had rolled in with. She didn’t return.

On another occasion there was a phone call from one of Zane’s old roommates from Seventh Avenue. Hannah needed his help figuring out some mystic formula for something. He flew to her house with a great deal of excitement. Hannah was tall with long dark hair. Her roommate, Maggie, was blond and blue-eyed. They were using astrology and other psychic tune-in devices with an eye to understanding balance in relationships. They kept using the phrase, “He balances her,” or “She balances him.” They were spending a lot of energy looking at personality traits, skills, and talents to try to understand why certain couple they knew were together. Their core operating principle was balance. Zane sat with them for several hours playing this balancing game and making contributions when he could, kind of understanding what they were talking about and remembering his own games with numbers and names and what fun it was when someone was actually into playing along with you, as if together you’re discovering some hidden formula for understanding the universe.

Late in the evening Maggie and Hannah looked at each other and using the same principles they’d been exploring all evening they began to decide which of them should more appropriately sleep with Zane that night. Hannah was the chosen one. Zane went with her. She was perhaps the tallest girl he’d ever been with. Her long legs wrapped around him were a little piece of heaven in this ill-defined journey of mystical apprehension. In the morning he was sent home with the assurance that Jeanie was his balance, or he balanced her, or both. He would have liked to enjoy more of Hannah, but that decision seemed to be out of his hands, so he went home to the shortest girl he’d ever been with. Again it seemed that Jeanie’s feelings were hurt, but she took it in stride and got over it quickly, like she was still partially operating on some theory of relationship gleaned from her days in the free love commune.

Vince’s interest in Zen Buddhism was serious enough for him to attend group meditation and instruction at the San Francisco Zen Center.  Suzuki, Roshi was the first Zen master to teach and live in America. With the help of early devotees he had established the San Francisco Zen Center. Zane accompanied Vince on one of his regular visits to sit zazen with the group, listen to some words of wisdom from the roshi, and perhaps ask some questions. After the sitting meditation, during the question and answer period, Zane asked, “What about LSD?”

Suzuki answered, “ LSD is not a bad thing in that it is not a good thing,” or maybe it was the other way around. In any case Zane immediately got up to go. When he reached the exit door, Suzuki called after him, “Come back.” It sounded like an invitation to come back some time in the future, not an admonition to come back immediately.

“Hey, come down to my office. I think I can get you all on disability.” It was Keri, one of the group who’d made the migration from Bakersfield College to SF State six years ago.  She had completed a degree at SF State and gotten a job with the welfare department. She was a social worker with the power to dispense benefits. She was sympathetic to the strike and the other political actions that had gone on for years. She knew that Jill would have a problem getting a job while facing the charges related to the strike. She also knew about Zane’s previous legal problems which might limit his employability. She wanted to take care of her own, the Bakersfield clan, and strike a blow for her political beliefs at the same time. Going on welfare as a political act, what a novel idea. Refuse to contribute to the evil system in any way. Suck off of it instead! She had married the guy who had tried to be Zane’s guide a la Alpert and Leary for his second acid trip way back in 1964.

Keri filled out all the papers for them and told them their claim would be based on psychological disability. In a few weeks there would be an appointment with a psychiatrist. If they were approved they’d be paid all the way back to the day of their application. Sounded a hell of a lot more secure than being a small-time dealer of pot and acid. Indeed several weeks later Zane had an appointment with a psychiatrist in one of the multi-story office buildings in downtown San Francisco. He thought about how he was on the verge of continuing his career as a crazy man. First the army, now the welfare department. He dropped acid and got to the appointment early. Not knowing what else to do, he went to the emergency stairwell and ran up and down the six flights of stairs until it was time for his appointment. He went into the office really mellow, so relaxed, so kicked back. He was just observing the whole process. The shrink would ask him a question. Zane would sit and contemplate, slowly deciding if he even wanted to answer the question and then often give the vaguest strangest answers.

“What do you like to do?”

With a long pause Zane’s eyes slowly scanned the room. “I just kind of wander around, see what’s going on. Sometimes I go to the park. Sometimes I just walk the streets.”

“What would you do if you could do anything?”

Another long pause, Zane was watching the patterns morphing on the walls.  “I like to travel.”

“Any particular place?”

“Uh, no, I just like to be moving, just going somewhere, doesn’t really matter where.” Everything Zane said was totally without emotion, kind of disembodied or disconnected like it wasn’t really him talking. The shrink would jerk and intensify his focus on Zane as if he was trying to elicit some reaction. Way back where Zane was sitting he found that mannerism mildly amusing because it was so ineffective. He just stayed with his spaced out, imprecise presentation. It was unshakeable. The doctor’s report included descriptions like “flattened affect” and “nomadism”. He was diagnosed as paranoid manic-depressive,  kind of a lateral transfer from the draft board’s diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenic.

The interview was successful. Zane was temporarily approved for Aid to the Totally Disabled (ATD), but they wanted him evaluated by a clinical psychologist. Zane got overconfident. He went to the next appointment straight and got tripped up. First of all the guy gave him a bunch of objective and projective tests. They were harder to fake than an interview, and Zane’s old whiz-kid self-image came out as a desire to compete and do well. He also expressed some angry anti-establishment views. He even told the shrink he was thinking of going into psychology. The shrink told him sometimes he wished he’d majored in anthropology.

He went to see Keri. His ATD was hanging in the balance.

“You didn’t do so well with the psychologist.”

“I know.”

“You got to be careful. Let me read you something. ‘Anti-establishment views do not constitute any proof of disability.’

“I blew it. I wasn’t thinking.”

“Okay, I’m setting you up to see another psychiatrist. This is like the deciding evaluation, best two out of three. So don’t blow it.”

“I won’t.”

On his way out of the welfare department that day he ran into Neil. Hadn’t seen him in a while. He looked pretty rundown, haggard even.

“Sleeping in Buena Vista Park. Doing fine except somebody stole my sleeping bag. Need a new sleeping bag.” He was talking really fast. Zane looked away. When he looked back Neil had disappeared.

It’s hard to imagine how much of a survival frame-of-mind everyone was in. The battles at San Francisco State were fresh in everyone’s memory. The tactical squad sweeps of Haight Street in full battle gear were ongoing. Black Panthers had been murdered in their homes by battle squad police. Cole was alive, but facing eight trumped-up felonies for his leadership of the student strike. The last best hope of working through the system had been ripped away by the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. It felt like the establishment had decided to counter-attack, and anyone could be a target. Passive resistance was a time-honored technique of those who didn’t have the weapons or the brute force to resist in any other way. Refusing to work for the system that was killing people in Southeast Asia and now at home seemed like a logical response to what was going down.

Zane didn’t blow it. He dropped acid for the next shrink appointment and worked on perfecting his space case presentation. The doctor concurred with the first doctor. But Keri informed him there would be a formal hearing for a final determination. She later called to tell him he was eligible for free legal counsel from a Hastings law student.

The law student came by the commune to consult with Zane. Zane talked about paranoia, which was a popular topic anyway between the drugs and politics and police.

“Maybe you’re paranoid. But on the other hand there are some very real scary things out there to be afraid of.” They talked some more. After a while he said, “Look, I’m not here to diagnose you. I’m here to help you get your disability. We’re just going to go with the fact that two psychiatrists have given you seriously disabling diagnoses. One clinical psychologist found you to not be disabled. We’ll just go with the two vs. one and the fancier credentials.”

Zane didn’t have to go to the hearing. His law student and his social worker represented him. He was approved and in a few weeks received his first check and after that his back payment check. Suddenly for him he was rolling in dough. Jeanie was approved also, so they could look forward to dual incomes for a while.

Zane and Jeanie went to Fresno to meet her parents. Her mother, a cigarette smoker and wine drinker with a stoner sense of humor, related easily to Zane and his quirky ways. She joked her way through most difficult situations. The father worked for Dow Chemical, the manufacturers of napalm. He was more dour and controlling. He didn’t want the young people sleeping together in his house. Jeanie was willing to please her father. Zane didn’t like anyone telling him what to do, so after lights out he jumped into bed with her, and they had sex.

Next day her father noticed a puddle of fluid under the Oldsmobile. Zane decided to ignore it. By the time they got back to San Francisco the transmission was burned out. The spade cat with love beads who’d done the service at the station a few blocks from the commune hadn’t tightened the transmission plug and all the fluid had drained out.

Fortunately the first disability payments were not far off, and in fact the first checks were cashed and spent on a new vehicle, a 1959 Ford panel truck, which had been a bread delivery truck. It still had all the drawers and cabinetry in back for storing the bread. Zane and Jeanie had a live-in, sleep-in, travel around vehicle. It would serve them well.

Other members of the commune were rather dubious about Stephen and the Monday Night Class. They influenced Zane so that his attendance was not as regular as it had once been. Stephen had added Sunday morning meetings in Sutro Park to his agenda. As he said, “Might as well piggyback on all the focus of spiritual energy that’s already happening on Sunday mornings.” Stephen didn’t like the hippy dog phenomenon very much. Dog energy was not focused nor meditative. It was disruptive. Cats were more evolved and able to be with higher spiritual energies.

One Sunday morning Zane arrived with Babushka one of the pack of dogs now sharing his life. Babushka was a mutt who had showed up at Don’s place on Linden Alley and hooked up with another stray that had wandered in there, Thumper, a black lab/boxer mix. Babushka was about to have puppies. She was predictably more stirred up than usual. Stephen asked Zane to take her disruptive energy elsewhere. He put her in the back of the panel truck. After the meeting she was lying there with her litter of puppies looking calm, cool, and contented. Too bad the group didn’t get to see the puppies born.

One of the more sedate activities at the commune was playing bridge and drinking. Stefan introduced bridge, and in no time serious games would form almost anytime a foursome could be put together. It was competitive but the alcohol and pot subdued that to quite an extent. Everyone was happy to play and win a few, lose a few.

Late spring there was another Stephen sponsored gathering on Mt. Tam. Zane and Jeanie went. Things had definitely progressed. There were hundreds of hippies gathered for a romp among the wildflowers. Many were barefoot and naked. Nothing risqué or inappropriate, just naked people wandering the meadows and trails, smelling flowers, hugging trees, staring off into space, dancing and sharing joints. These gatherings on Mt. Tam still felt like the essence of the Flower Children/Love Generation vibe. Stephen circulated encouraging people to be their groovy selves and make good vibes. The predators hadn’t discovered Mt. Tam, so the antelopes and gazelles roamed free and easy without a need for vigilance.

Life was rather free and easy at the commune as well. The periodic acid trips kept everyone entertained. The political trials were rolling along. Eventually all the enlisted personnel would have their charges dropped. Cole and the other leaders would take longer until they were able to complete deals of probation and community service. Given the fate of a number of other Panthers, Cole was probably lucky to escape with his life, his freedom and the ability to make some significant contributions for the good of the people.

In the commune days Vince had increasing influence on Zane. In the days back on Linden Alley they had been the most simpatico with each other, sharing some interest in Eastern spirituality. Vince didn’t buy into the aggressive macho male posturing that Don and Leon were increasingly into. He was more detached, objective, matter of fact. In looking to these somewhat older guys for role models, Vince was the best available. He would address situations by coming in at a very odd angle. One thing he always responded to was a rise in verbal aggression either directly by saying sarcastically, “you wanna step outside,” or indirectly with some weird statement like, “hit that man over the head with a broom,” or “give that man a dead fish”. Zane appreciated his ability to call people on their bullshit without escalating it.  Sometimes the targets were metaphysical bullshit as opposed to macho bullshit. Vince’s pet phrases crept into Zane’s vocabulary. Vince’s detached style of confrontation was refreshing in an atmosphere where hardly anything got confronted, where much of the time everybody just let everything go, and bullshit piled up into big stinking heaps in the living room.

In a way life at the commune was too settled, too lacking in risk, too repetitive. Vince and Zane were restless and began cooking up a trip to the Southwest. Both were ready for some new places and people. They had read Book of the Hopi and wanted to see these people and their villages, who were still living in the old ways and carrying on their traditions of Kachina ceremonies that lasted for days. The canyon lands had to be seen. Zane had only been to Zion and Bryce as an eight year old kid, and Grand Canyon on the crazy peyote run with Mick and Neil. Stefan had ambitious ideas of hiking into Grand Canyon. They also had friends who were part of the rural commune movement in the Southwest. Drop City, the Lower Farm, New Buffalo, and Lama Foundation had been added to the expanding lore of the hippie way.

So plans were made and replacements were found for their places in the commune. They would be the first of the original group to leave. Not even  a half year had elapsed. Zane and Jeanie were still a couple, not because it was the best relationship he’d ever had, but nothing huge had come along to blow them apart. Even his liaisons with other women had come to nothing. They had tasted his wares and moved on to other midways in the carnival. Really she was the one who had chosen to stay with him and not gotten majorly angry or upset with anything he had done thus far. The lack of anger was a definite plus in his book. Life with her was not a better heaven. It was a less bad hell. Eventually he might again seek those high highs with some other woman. For now the avoidance of the low lows and the relative contentment of daily life was enough.

He was planning another long trip. Maybe he’d make it back home with the same woman this time.

Zane had one piece of unfinished business. One professor last semester had not just granted carte blanche to his students. He’d required completion of a take-home final. Zane had received an incomplete. He had until the end of spring semester to complete the class. He went out to campus, again a relatively peaceful academic environment. He found the professor.

“What do I need to do to finish off that incomplete.”

“You still have the take-home questions I passed out.”

“I think so.” So far as he knew the ditto pages were still folded up in the pocket of his London Fog raincoat he’d worn to school that day in January.

“Answer the questions, and turn them in. That’s all you have to do.”

Zane did as directed. He even got an A in the class. He registered for summer graduation. He would be the class of ‘69, only eight years after his summer graduation from high school. At the time he had no idea how, but eventually he would be using that degree for something. He didn’t know if he was leaving San Francisco forever. Maybe he and Jeanie would stay somewhere in the Southwest or somewhere else they discovered in their partially planned travels. He was glad to be leaving the City with the sense of having accomplished something concrete. He looked forward to applying his anthropology learning in the Indian lands of the Southwest.

He scored some really potent pot. It would be great for the travels ahead. He was dealing lids. Word got around. Two spade cats walked into the house, nothing unusual, went right to his closet and walked out with his bag of high quality grass. He actually saw them leave and couldn’t believe it was happening until he checked his hiding place. They were gone. Another spade cat came by, a friend of Cole’s. He had a small pistol in his car. He and Zane and Don, who happened to be there, cruised the neighborhood looking these guys. They were well hid. It was all a charade. It wasn’t like he was planning to do anything with the gun. Lost his stash, lost his grubstake, headed out on another trip with a small amount of low-quality weed.

So in June, he and Jeanie loaded up the panel truck and headed for Bakersfield where they would await Vince and Jan, who planned to follow them in a few days. Jeanie was reasonably acceptable to Zane’s parents. At first the novelty of being there was okay, but Vince and Jan were held up in the City, and Zane found himself stuck in the site of his worst disasters. He ran out of things to do. He painted the truck with a brush and a can of aluminum paint. It shone a bright silver and reflected the sun. To avoid being blinded while driving he put a large orange circle on the hood, no other decoration. He got a lot of ribbing about his rising sun symbolism. He just happened to have a small can of orange Rustoleum. He got small windows that cranked open installed on either side of the panel truck and a roof vent, so there was some visibility out of the back of the truck where two people and three dogs would be traveling most of the time.

Bakersfield wore on him. One day he shaved off his beard. A few days later he got a haircut, resuming the middle-class Mexican look he’d assumed after his travels in Mexico. He’d long ago come to the conclusion that the length of his hair had no particular bearing on the length of the Vietnam War. Besides he’d recently studied magical thinking in anthropology. It had kind of ruined some of his own magical thinking.

One morning Jeanie looked especially tired.

“I’ve been up all night defending you against your father.”

“What?”

“Remember you went to bed? I stayed up for a while. I felt this dark presence in the room. It was clearly your father trying to do something to you. I had to fight him off psychically.”

Jeanie was not ordinarily on the wiggy end of the spectrum, not prone to extraordinary flights of metaphysical speculation. She tended toward being grounded and empirical even when on psychedelics, so her report was more reliable than if it had come from Hannah or Maggie. Zane reflected on the sleeping pills his father took regularly, some combination of Nembutal and belladonna. He had tried belladonna, the old witches’ brew herb, similar to jimson weed in its dark side power capabilities. It seemed quite plausible that his father consciously or unconsciously was trying to have illicit influence over his soul. Maybe this was his father’s version of desperate measures for desperate times. He began to wonder about his decisions to shave and cut his hair. He began to feel more desperate to get out of Bakersfield and more angry at Vince for holding up the process. Vince was often pretty impervious to the needs of others and singularly focused on what worked for him.

By the time Vince and Jan arrived he was fit to be tied. Three weeks in Bakersfield was about two and a half too many. Then Zane’s father overheard Vince on the phone trying to score some pot. It was really time to get the hell out of Dodge.

Keep On Truckin’

The Rain Man he offered me two cures,

And he said, “Jump right in.”

The one was Texas Medicine.

The other was just railroad gin,

And like a fool I mixed them,

And it strangled up my mind,

And now people just get uppitier,

And I have no sense of time.

Oh, Mama, can this really be the end?

To be stuck inside a mobile 

with the Memphis Blues again.

–Bob Dylan

On the road finally, Zane was extraordinarily pent up. He had been in Bakersfield, the scene of his greatest and most painful disasters, with his parents, without any of his usual social outlets and a limited supply of pot. Jeanie had been fending off psychic attacks from his father. Vince seemed oblivious to all of this, like let’s just forget where we’ve been and have a groovy time.

Their first destination was Zion National Park in Southern Utah. They camped outside the park, drove in through the awesome vistas and decided to take a hike in the bottom of the canyon up the Virgin River with the sheer walls of Angels Landing rising above them in the distance. A ways upstream they found a section of swift water perfect for floating downstream around a curve under some overhanging sandstone. No one else seemed to be around and they were a ways off the trail. They stripped naked and played in the river for a good part of the rest of the afternoon.

The next day they were at Bryce Canyon, hot and dry but beautiful bright red rock formations rising from the canyon floor like thousands of statues of people eroded beyond the vaguest of recognitions and some larger ones that looked like fairy-tale castles. They hiked a short ways into the canyon, but the heat was a major impediment so mostly they were content to drive to the various viewpoints and gawk at nature’s accidental artistry.

“These windows are kind of small.”

“You know what? You weren’t there. I had to make some decisions, try to get some stuff done.”

“Whoa, I just…”

“Yeah, you just…Look I was sitting in Bakersfield waiting on your ass for three weeks. You think that was some picnic. You were supposed to be there in a few days and it just got strung out and strung out and more strung out. You strung me out, and now I’m strung out. Tough shit!”

For once Vince didn’t have one of his glib replies. He shut up, for a while. The trip was not getting off to a great start. On top of everything else Zane had hemorrhoids that had popped out after a night of heavy drinking with his brother. So even sitting in the driver’s seat was uncomfortable. They headed for the Grand Canyon. They camped on private land somewhere in Southern Utah. The rancher’s last name was his mother’s maiden name. Zane left a note thanking the rancher as perhaps a distant relative.

Arriving at the north rim of Grand Canyon was not near so dramatic as the arrival at the south rim three and a half years ago at sunrise in the snow and tripping on acid at the end of an all-night drive. The colors weren’t as vivid. The weather was beastly hot. Just a big hole in the ground. No one was enthralled. Stefan brought up hiking into the canyon. No one else had any such desire. So they moved on toward Lake Powell where they could cross the Colorado River and get into the heartland of Arizona.

At Page, Arizona, the entry to Lake Powell, Vince asked around about rocks where they could jump in the lake. He got good directions. A few miles along the shore they found a perfect spot. The water was crystal blue, pure and cold. The rocks had plenty of clearance and depth for jumping. They spent most of the day there, warming on the rocks, cooling in the water, good for the people, good for the dogs. There was at least a partial renewal of good cheer, spirit and friendliness. They were rolling now and indeed all the other crap was beginning to fade into the background.

The relentless hot weather was not something Zane had bargained on. Yeah, it was hot in Bakersfield, but there was air-conditioning and the swimming pool. Being in an uncooled metal truck in the Arizona desert in the summer was not just unpleasant, it was wiping him out. By the time they reached Hopi, he was beginning to feel sick from the heat. They had made all this effort and spun mystical tales about communing with the Kachina spirits. They were on a mesa top surrounded by the adobe pueblos of the Hopis. The Long-Haired Kachina dance was being performed. Zane was so sick he could barely watch much less try to make any meaningful contact or communication with the people of the village. All of his anthropology interest and training dissipated in a heat wave of nausea and fatigue. Out of the sun inside the shade of the truck with some air moving somewhat revived him. They drove to another mesa. Vince took illegal pictures using the porthole on the roof of the truck to barely poke his camera through.

They found a small shop with arts and crafts. Zane bought a belt buckle, Hopi laminated silver roadrunner design. He decided that’s what he was, a roadrunner.

“We got to find a motel with a TV. The moon landing is tomorrow.” Vince, the planner, had it all scoped out.

From the Stone Age to the Space Age was only a few hundred miles drive across the desert, a drive that took them through many miles of the Navajo reservation. Women sat with their looms by the side of the road weaving rugs and blankets. At a trading post Zane and Jeanie paid $25 for a Navajo woven rug. It was not the highest quality, but still they felt lucky to find something they could afford on their welfare budget.

They rolled into Gallup, New Mexico, in the late afternoon of the next day and found a cheap motel with two double beds and dogs allowed and a TV. They watched Neil Armstrong step onto the surface of the moon.

“One small step for a man, a giant step for mankind.” What would the Kachinas have to say about walking around on the moon?

Afterwards Zane couldn’t even remember what the argument had been about or if there had been an argument. Except for the day at Lake Powell he’d pretty much felt like crap. He was blaming a lot of it on Vince. It all started with having to stay way too long in Bakersfield. Maybe there was a disagreement about itinerary.

“It seems like things aren’t working out too well.” Vince confronted things but in his usual faraway style as if he was talking by remote control from somewhere in the next room or the next county.

“Yeah, you’re probably right.”

“Jan and I were thinking maybe we should just go our own way for a while.”

“Yeah, probably a good idea. I don’t think it’s working so good either.”

They parted company somewhere outside of Gallup. Zane and Jeanie headed for Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Vince and Jan headed north to see friends of theirs in Colorado. Zane felt a sense of relief. He began to talk more freely with Jeanie. They smiled some. They enjoyed each other’s company. The troubles and discomforts of the journey seemed smaller. It was like somehow they had shed another layer of parents and were finally truly on their own. The freedom of the open road opened up for them. They hadn’t really been alone with each other for more than a month.

Rod, meth-crazed artist from Bakersfield and early Linden Alley days, had moved to the Lower Farm in Placitas, New Mexico, about 20 miles outside of Albuquerque. The Lower Farm was a commune, at least in name. There didn’t seem to be much farming going on. It was a patch of dry desert. Jeanie stayed in the shade while Zane went on a hike with Rod. Rod had been a close friend back at Bakersfield College. He had always been far out and weird, even among the far out and weird. He spent a lot of time in the Placitas area wandering the dry hills by himself. He talked about how many times he’d seen rattlesnakes. He hadn’t seen any meth in a long time. He hadn’t done much art since he moved. He was interested in one of the gals at the Farm. She wasn’t much to look at but friendly and already had a baby. She was showering at the outdoor shower when Zane and Jeanie arrived and helped them find Rod. It seemed he was finding some peace as a part-time hermit or desert rat. He was perhaps no weirder than the rest of those who’d chosen the Lower Farm as their destination when fleeing the Bay Area.

“You wanna go to the bar?” There was one local bar. Everyone gathered there.

“Sure. Why not?” Zane had wheels and room for a few folks.

As if the hand of fate was involved in their every move, they ran into an old friend at the bar. Carlo was an older fellow that Jeanie had a deep affection for. They had crossed paths in the Bay Area, and he felt very close to her as well. This unexpected reunion raised her spirits considerably. Zane liked Carlo though he didn’t know him as well as Jeanie did, and he wasn’t the kind of beneficent father figure for him that he clearly was for her. The two of them sat at a table catching up on their travels, while Zane and the others drank beer and got rowdy. Rod had been an important if strange friend along the way, and Zane really wanted to know how the move to New Mexico was working for him and what life was like for those who’d moved to this rattlesnake infested wasteland. Frankly he was waiting for the magic. July in New Mexico was just hot, hot and relentlessly hot. He was glad to be in the cool darkness of the bar doing something familiar, drinking a lot of ice cold beer.

A few pitchers of beer later, there was the suggestion to go to someone’s house. Rumor was he’d gotten a bunch of peyote. They drove some unpaved back roads for a few miles and stopped at typical adobe-style house set down in the dry land with nothing much around. Sure enough when they walked in, the kitchen table was covered with peyote buttons. Someone had made a run and faithful to the spirit of the peyote were giving it away to whoever showed up. Everyone was welcome to pick peyote buttons off the table and munch away. The beer he’d consumed somewhat cut the acrid taste of the peyote and mellowed out the usual nausea, which accompanied the consumption of the juicy green cactus. Some of the group were asking if they could take a few buttons to so-and-so. Jeanie, Zane and Carlo simply ate their fill for a few minutes. Then their other riders were ready to go so they all thanked the provider of the peyote and headed back to the Lower Farm before anyone began to profoundly feel the effects of this botanical magic which had fallen into their laps like manna from heaven.

It was getting on toward sundown as they dropped people at various places along the road and followed Rod’s directions back to the Lower Farm. Zane parked the truck in a likely spot, opened up the back doors, and he and Jeanie settled in for whatever the night would bring. For Zane it was an odd combination, the disorientation of alcohol expanded into swirling colors of a psychedelic trip. Sometimes he was just out of it. Other times he felt very up, oriented, clear and focused. He and Jeanie had the same vision at the same time, a not large but powerful appearing male deer with a beautiful rack of antlers just a few feet from the back doors of their truck. They simultaneously commented to each other, so impressed were each of them by what they were seeing. Within half a minute the deer turned into their little dog, Zeke, who hopped up in the truck with them, licking their faces and making them laugh.

Toward dawn Carlo appeared in back of their truck. He was limping. He had sprained his ankle while wandering around in the night. Jeanie looked at his ankle, utilizing her old nurse’s training to determine from feel that it was only a sprain. Zane was coming down from peyote and alcohol at the same time, not a prescription for feeling light-hearted and happy. He was having a hard time relating at all, having retreated into some place of well-defended arrogance picked at random from his genetic repertoire. The alcohol had definitely eliminated any post-psychedelic glow. His attitude was almost surly, as if the peyote had done nothing to alter the post-alcohol dehydration of body and mind.

By later in the day everyone was more or less back to normal, though Zane was still a bit stuck in his broken-off, numbed out, judgmental place of distanced detachment. Finally he did inquire as to Carlo’s well-being.

“How’s your ankle, man?”

“Oh, you know, it hurts, but I’m a tough old Swiss. I’ll be all right.”

Carlo was not a complainer. He was somewhat typical of the older generation that had occasionally hooked up with the hippy generation. They provided an elder perspective and belied the stereotypic slogan, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” Their presence was actually a steadying influence among the youth, who often had more than enough enthusiasm, but maybe a deficit in good sense or even the perspective that is gained simply from years of experience living life. They invited Carlo to continue traveling with them, and he accepted. They would head up toward Taos. Zane had some information and so did the others.

“Jimmy told me our old friend Tim got his inheritance and bought a bunch of land outside Taos, place called Arroyo Hondo.” Tim, who had been such a major player in the scene around the Fleishacker mansion on Oak Street, Tim, whose family house he’d stayed at in Durham, North Carolina, this would be the third state they’d crossed paths.

“Lama Foundation is up there somewhere too.”

“Yeah, and New Buffalo.”

“Let’s check it all out.”

With a new charge of enthusiasm they were on the road again. First stop was Santa Fe where they checked out the open market in the center of town. Many Indians offered their arts and crafts for sale. It was part of the ongoing scene in Santa Fe. Pottery, rugs, jewelry, kachina dolls, many beautiful objects for sale, but the town price was a bit above what they’d seen on the reservations so they didn’t buy anything. They drove and camped and arrived in Taos fairly early the next day. They decided to go find Tim. They could always come back into town and check out the Taos scene.

Arroyo Hondo was what his mother would have called a wide spot in the road. They stopped at the only gas station. There was Tim standing out in front talking to a tall long-haired cat. Zane walked over. Tim didn’t register much surprise. Turned out that summer Bay Area refugees had been showing up regularly to see if New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, was also the land of opportunity, at least more attractive than post-Summer-of-Love San Francisco. Tim and his friend had a lot of projects going on. He was working on cars at the gas station, which he also owned. His friend, Jeff, was doing some carpentry and furniture making. Jeff’s wife was a stunningly beautiful blond hippy chick. They had a three-year old named Dort, who often followed his papa around like a puppy dog, while Jeff worked on various projects in and around the shop. Dort seemed incredibly content to have the largest playground in the world where he could dig in the dirt, discover lots of random objects lying around, pee wherever he happened to be, and also get lots of hugs from mommy whenever he needed or wanted them.

Toward evening Tim gave them directions to his land. “Just park anywhere. You have water with you?”

“Yeah, we’re prepared for camping.”

“Good, we’re getting things together up there, but it’s pretty much fend for yourself right now.”

“No problem, man, we’re just glad to have a place to land.”

“You’re gonna have some company up there.”

“Really?’

“You’ll see.”

“You can also park behind the station tonight, and come up the hill tomorrow. I stay here most of the time, ‘cause I’d just be camping up there myself. I gotta go up there in the morning to deal with some stuff. You can just follow me.”

“Sounds good. Yeah, we’ll stay down here tonight.”

In the morning they found out what Tim was talking about. There were at least thirty people camped out on the mesa top which was Tim’s land. They seemed to have next to nothing. They were literally squatting in the dirt. Zane, Jeanie and Carlo saw no tents, no chairs, no equipment of any kind. The story unfolded.

There had been a large commune in Sonoma County, California, called Morning Star Ranch. The property was owned by Lou Gottlieb, a somewhat famous folksinger with the Limelighters, who were contemporaries of the Kingston Trio in the fifties. Zane had gone to a Limelighters concert back in Bakersfield. Lou Gottlieb was the comical front man for the group, cracking jokes and playing standup bass. He was famous for lines like, “Here comes the smut, Martha,” and song lyrics such as, “Just a dollar down and a dollar a week, and you can get anything you want.”

Early in the back to the land movement, Gottlieb had opened up his ranch to anyone who wanted to come live there. It was one of the first experiments in the genre of the hippy commune. At its height there may have been as many as several hundred people camped out on the ranch. No one was really monitoring except conservative neighbors got concerned and got the County of Sonoma interested in what was going on in this social experiment. Undoubtedly there were lots of drugs and a free and easy social and sexual lifestyle. Lots of Bay Area folks would drop by for a few days and then move on. They added to the census of semi-permanent residents. Gottlieb was cited by the building department for various housing violations. He was cited by the health department for sanitation problems. At one point Gottlieb deeded his property to God as a ploy to get the authorities off his back. The last of his delaying tactics were exhausted in 1969. The county evicted everyone but Gottlieb, bulldozed the illegal structures, and posted and monitored the property extensively to prevent any repetition of what had happened. Gottlieb was reported to have sat at his piano playing and singing old songs from his repertoire as the gang of county officials did there business around him.

Before the final eviction Gottlieb made some efforts to take care of his long-term cohabitants. He contacted Tim to see if some of his Morning Star denizens could go to New Mexico and camp out as they had done in California. Tim had given the go-ahead. Probably he didn’t realize how totally lacking in resources the folks would be who ultimately squatted in the dirt on his mesa top. There were some familiar faces like folks they’d seen at Monday Night Class or free concerts in the park or hanging out on Haight Street. No one that any of the three of them knew well enough to run over and renew  a friendship. There was a well-built muscular blond with a couple of kids. Her old man was a one-eyed spade cat known as Billy D.

Tim had a crew from Taos Pueblo building an adobe house. Talk about hiring the experts. They were there and working early in the morning. Tim had to check in with the crew chief, make sure they had their signals straight. They were making the adobe on site, had to haul in water and straw, but the dirt was right there. The forms for the bricks looked well-used, like this was not the first such project this crew had taken on.

Zane, Jeanie, and Carlo didn’t linger long. They could quickly see there wasn’t much for them with this collection of refugees hanging out at least for the foreseeable future.

“New Buffalo’s just down the road.”

“Let’s go there.”

“Yeah, they been there for awhile.”

The road followed the Rio Hondo all the way to the Rio Grande. Not far from the Rio Grande was New Buffalo, not a large piece of property but they had water rights for a share of what flowed down the Rio Hondo. They were actually farming. When the threesome arrived, the men were coming in from the fields. They were already harvesting one of their field crops. There was an evening meal at a big table. The visitors were invited to join in. Lots of informal conversation went on. The New Buffalo folks seemed eager to share what they were doing, how they were doing it and even what their vision was. They were farming entirely with hand tools, lots of hard work, but the folks looked healthy. They were in amazingly good shape even after a day of working in the hot sun. There was something very 19th century about this group, almost Amish, although there were trucks parked in front of the main house and they had electricity. They were organized and committed to something. They were open to new recruits who shared their vision. They welcomed the threesome to stay the night and have breakfast with them before moving on.

In the morning they looked around some more to see what all this group had going on. Most of them were busy with their particular work of the day. By mid-morning the day was already heating up, so they went on down to the bridge at the Rio Grande. It was a big river for sure. Others were parked there, swimming and bathing in the river. They spent the better part of the day kicking back, swimming when they got too warm, eating food they had with them and enjoying what the land had to offer them.

“So where to next?”

“We haven’t been to Lama.”

They exchanged what they knew about Lama. It was a regular stop-off for Baba Ram Dass, the former Richard Alpert. He had spent two years in India with some high-level guru and returned to the United States as an apparently genuine spiritual teacher. Casual references to it in the hippy media were generally favorable.

“Guess we better go check it out.”

Lama had an open-door policy as long as new-comers agreed to comply with the pre-established structure. Everyone worked, basically a forty-hour week. Weekends were free time for everyone. Meals were prepared and provided during the week for the various other work crews. The diet was vegetarian and anti-caffeine. There was a major construction project, a tall geodesic dome which would eventually be the community hall. Zane went to work on the dome straddling triangular spaces two stories in the air and nailing pieces of plywood in place. He liked construction. In touring the other facilities he was especially fascinated with the small A-frames that had been constructed as residences. The floor plans were sixteen feet square. Zane looked at how they were put together in detail, attempting to remember enough to perhaps build one of his own some day. They looked a lot easier than domes.

He and Jeanie camped in the woods a ways from the main compound so they could sneak coffee into their diet and the occasional round steak. Lama was in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains above the scorching high desert of so much of New Mexico. It was a lovely green environment, and the work was pleasant, not too hard and really provided some sense of accomplishment.

A few of the permanent residents proposed a hike in the mountains for one weekend, leave Saturday morning and return Sunday night. Zane joined in. He took Zeke. His boots weren’t the best for climbing, but he stayed with the group up Lobo Peak and a long traverse across some beautifully verdant and wooded country and part way up Wheeler Peak before he simply couldn’t go on. Zeke made it to the top of Wheeler Peak, but Zane didn’t. They were all back at Lama on Sunday night.

One of the gals was slightly late for line-up on Monday morning. It was pointed out that all recreational activities could not detract from the weekly schedule. She was appropriately contrite. Lama Foundation was the financial baby of two trust fund kids from back east. One of them seemed like any other member of the community, not trying to wield any extra power or influence in the community. The other one, Graham, couldn’t seem to get over himself. In the weekly community meetings he was often the loudest and most vociferous. But for his presence who knows how long Zane and Jeanie might have stayed at Lama.

Lama was a venue for spiritual teachers. When they were teaching, work assignments were suspended so that the community could take advantage of what they were set up for. Sufi Sam Lewis came for a one-week residence. Sufi Sam was a coffee drinker, the rules had to be eased for him. Zane took advantage of the available coffee and poured himself a cup several times until Graham caught him at it.

“Hey, you can’t do that.”

“What’s the problem?”

“No coffee, that’s the rule.”

“He’s drinking coffee.”

“Coffee for the master, none for the mob.”

Zane just laughed and walked away with his coffee cup.

At the next evening community meeting, Graham was on his soapbox. He really saw himself as the enforcer, and was aggressively stating his admonitions with regard to not following the rules, not toeing the line. Zane had heard enough.

“You wanna step outside?” It was a throw-away line meant as a joke, meant to draw attention to the tone of Graham’s message, slightly threatening, slightly bullying. Graham stormed outside.

One of the women sounding very much the Victorian matron, “Well, I never thought I’d hear such words at Lama.”

Zane knew his days were numbered if they didn’t get the joke, if they didn’t get what he was trying to draw attention to. He sat back and listened to the hubbub that ensued as various opinions flew around the room as to the meaning of what had just occurred. Zane didn’t know how to further explain that he wasn’t objecting so much to what Graham was saying as he was to the way he was saying it. No one in the room seemed to get the point, and he didn’t feel strong enough or clear enough to take them all on. He’d fallen in with another group of true believers. Had Sufi Sam been in the meeting he probably would have gotten the point, but alas, the teachers did not take part in the community meetings.

The “confrontation” between Zane and Graham never did get cleared up. There was tension in the community all the next day.

“I think it’s time for us to leave.” They had been there almost three weeks, a pretty good stretch and pleasant enough most of the time. Jeanie agreed.

Carlo was with them. “I’m ready to leave too.”

“Okay, let’s just pack up and leave early tomorrow morning before anybody gets up.”

“I like it. Like Eskimos, fold our tents and leave in the middle of the night.”

Zane hadn’t known that, but he appreciated Carlo throwing in the anthropological perspective. They did drive out of Lama together early the next morning before breakfast, and they didn’t look back. They went back into Taos to collect themselves and decide what to do next. Carlo was going to go back to Santa Fe. He was supposed to meet his son Carl there soon. They said goodbye to him with numerous hugs and well-wishes and promises to meet again. He stuck out his thumb on the edge of Taos and was soon gone. Zane and Jeanie decided to tour the pueblo, which seemed to be set up for tourists. They walked the passageways between the adobes. A small stream which flowed down from Wheeler Peak bisected the pueblo with numerous footbridges connecting the village halves. Doors were open, arts and crafts being sold. One man invited them in and told them about the local high school band playing in Washington, D.C., a while back. He seemed quite proud of the recognition they’d received for their expertise. The people were just normal people and quite friendly.

“Have we done New Mexico?”

“Yeah, I think we have.”

“Anything else you wanted to do?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Should we head on north?”

“Those folks in Southern Colorado, you have directions to their place, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Let’s go see them. They built a dome on a mountain top, right?”

“Yeah, nine thousand feet in the Rockies.”

“Sounds really cool. I think we gotta see that.”

“Okay.”

On the Road Again

…in order to live fully, it is necessary to be in constant movement; only then can each day be different from the last.

–the nomad in Paulo Coelho’s The Zahir

The Rocky Mountains of Colorado were exciting. Tall and rugged as the Sierras, but interspersed with dirt roads, old mines and miner’s cabins. They drove back roads, kicking up a cloud of dust behind them as they traversed high mountain passes, paralleled rushing creeks, rolled easily through lush meadows and communed with the creatures of the place. At one point beavers had dammed the creek so effectively that water was running across the road. The friends of their friends had built a geodesic dome house on a rounded crest above 9000 feet in the mountains. They were above tree line with expansive views in all four directions. They seemed happy to see any visitors. Zane and Jeanie had their comfortable bed in their truck, but they shared meals and hung out casually and pleasantly.

“What’s it like living way out here?”

“It’s great.”

“It’s awesome,” the couple spoke almost at the same time.

“You really have to find ways to stay busy especially in the winter time. We get snowed in for at least three months, can be five.”

“I sew.”

“Carpentry. Make furniture. We both keep coming up with stuff we enjoy doing, and then we sell what we made in town in the summer. There’s a couple of big fairs around here, and a shop down in Taos takes some of our stuff.”

“We both like to read, so we store up books along with food for the winter, and we really like to discuss what we’ve read. The nearest library understands our situation and lets us check out books for the winter.”

“People round here are real friendly. I guess when you live so far out you value the people you do see.”

These folks were really intrepid pioneers. Jeanie and Zane hung out for a couple of days before moving on north, sticking to the back roads and soaking in the essence of the pristine mountains. When they drove through Rocky Mountain National Park a few days later they both commented that it didn’t seem near as beautiful as a lot of the country they’d come through while driving up the state, just more people. After some discussion they decided to just continue their tour of the West. Zane wanted to see his cousin and uncle in Utah, and Jeanie’s grandfather lived in Idaho, so they headed back west following U.S. Hwy. 40 through endless mountains, tall trees, and spring-fed watercourses supplemented by snow melt. The ten thousand foot passes of the Rockies eventually tailed off into the lower Wasatch Mountains of Utah, where Zane’s relatives lived.

Zane’s aunt and uncle lived in a mountain valley in the Wasatch range about 40 miles northeast of Salt Lake City. They were fourth generation Utahns, sons and daughters of another wave of pioneers who had initially established the Caucasian presence in this part of the world. They insisted that Zane and Jeanie sleep in the house not in their camper truck. They had a regular  double bed for them in the basement of their house. They were generous and cordial feeding them an enormous farm breakfast complete with homemade scones. Zane remembered this land from many visits to his grandparents in his childhood. Their old stone house built into a hillside underneath the state highway lay a couple of miles across the valley. Nearby was the confluence of East Canyon Creek and Hardscrabble Creek. Uncle Al had inherited the family property up Hardscrabble Canyon, over three hundred acres with a cabin.

“Would you like to stay at the cabin for a while?”

Zane and Jeanie looked at each other and nodded. “Yeah, that sounds great.”

“I’ll drive you on up there, so you can find the place, show you how everything works. Then when you’re ready you can take your truck and stay as long as you want.”

“Thanks, Uncle Al.”

Zane was always amazed at the hospitality and total acceptance of his relatives in this rural area of Utah. On the one hand they lived modest lives. On the other hand they were wealthy in the beauty and richness of the lands they lived in and the ease of their social relationships. Everybody knew everybody in this little town. He remembered his grandma would get into a feud with somebody down the road and stop talking to them, but she still sent Zane to buy eggs from them. When Zane went to the back door to get the eggs, the man was sitting at his kitchen table reading out loud from the Bible or maybe the Book of Mormon. His wife sat listening with rapt attention.

Aunt Sophie sent them off with a fresh batch of scones, some lunchmeat, bread and other treats and provisions. On the way back up to the cabin, they saw a family of porcupines crossing the road, five youngsters trailing single file behind their parents. The cabin was fully outfitted with all in one pancake mix and cans of beans on the shelves. They kicked back at the cabin for a couple of days, decided their bed in the truck was more comfortable than the one in the cabin. Other wise all the amenities were adequate, and they sat in lawn chairs gazing across a field of sage and into the trees. Deer visited including one huge stag who looked back at them for awhile before moving off into the trees.

When they came back down the canyon, Aunt Sophie made sure to tell them, “Anna Mae called. She said you better not leave town without coming to see her.”

“Wouldn’t think of it.”

Aunt Sophie made sure they didn’t leave without another bag of edible treats. Zane and Jeanie were both touched by the warmth and generosity they’d received and left with easy hearts and full bellies. Anna Mae was closest in age to Zane of all his cousins. She was in the middle of raising four kids and her  little brother who was a teenager. She lived right on the highway just above her parents’ house and about a quarter mile from the grandparents’ old house. A person could see most of the forty acres of the grandparents’ farm and definitely the big old red barn from her living room. The farm land was leased out to a larger operator, and the old stone house was rented out as well.

Both her parents had been severe alcoholics. If Anna Mae hadn’t had such a strong bond with her grandfather and her horses she might have ended up no better. As it was she was overwhelmed but coping and carving out a nearly normal life for herself and her growing family. Like many young mothers she didn’t really have the time to sit down and visit. They talked as she took care of all her many responsibilities of staying on top of a family of six or seven, but it was good to see her and see her doing well. Some in the family might have predicted the worst for her because she had been in her own way kind of a wild child. After a few hours they hit the road again.

“You stay in touch now.”

“We will.”

They drove down the canyon of the Weber River, a route Zane had been on almost every weekend in his early childhood, when the game had been who could see grandpa’s red barn before anyone else. Somehow little Zane had always been the first to his great joy each time. The Weber was a rugged river rolling out of the mountains between high canyon walls heading for Ogden and ultimately the Great Salt Lake.

Zane had to show Jeanie where he had lived as a little kid. To her amazement he drove right to the place, the superintendent’s mansion at the State Industrial School. Zane was amazed at the hill in front of the mansion. He’d remembered it as an enormous steep incline. The reality was tiny in comparison to his memory, not steep not particularly high. But he remembered curling up and rolling down that hill. In his memory it had taken a long time to get to the bottom. He also remembered his brother throwing him into a snow bank on that hill. Everything went white then dark. He freaked. His brother plucked him out almost immediately scared and blubbering. His mother scolded his brother.

North to Logan, they had to stop at the Bluebird Café. Zane had fond memories of sitting at the soda fountain with his mother eating a boysenberry sundae. The soda fountain was still there, a bar of finely finished dark walnut. They had sundaes and continued on toward Idaho. They camped at Bear Lake. Zane remembered stories that this had been one of the sites for the Mountain Man Rendezvous, a yearly event during the short era of intense fur trapping that happened in all of the rocky mountains for a few years in the latter 19th century. Jim Bridger, Peter Skene Ogden, Cache Valley, as names and places filtered through his brain, he filled in Jeanie on the history of the area as he knew it. It was one of the things she really liked about him. He knew a lot about a lot of things and he could string it all together into really fascinating stories. Maybe he would make use of that gift some day.

Another day of travel and they arrived at Jeanie’s grandfather’s house in the little town of Kendrick. He welcomed them in. There was an obvious strong affection between him and Jeanie. They were really happy to see each other. Zane gathered that grandpa had been quite lonely since the passing of his wife a few years before. He had friends but still a big hole in his life where his beloved used to be. Both grandpa and grandpa were part Nez Perce, but they had grown up and lived in the white world, making their way as pretty average working class country folk not that different from Zane’s relatives in rural Utah.

Next morning grandpa turned to Jeanie, “Wanna go to the fishing hole?”

“Of course I do.”

He turned to Zane, “You like to fish.”

“I love it.”

“Great! I have some extra rods and reels. We’ll get us all outfitted.”

“Okay.”

The fishing hole was on the river a ways out of Kendrick. It was a deep hole where the trout congregated. Zane had never fly fished before. A few casting lessons from Grandpa and he was working the hole and another hole a ways upstream like a pro. What a thrill when a trout leapt out of the water in pursuit of the simulated fly that was cast back and forth and then laid lightly upon the surface. Zane was having a blast and catching some fish. Jeanie was catching fish too. She’d done this many times before with Grandpa. He was enjoying tutoring and observing the enjoyment of the youngsters but he got his line wet too and pulled in a couple of beauties himself. They released the little ones they pulled out, but kept half a dozen good sized rainbows for a barbecue that evening.

Zane thought salmon fishing had been a huge thrill but this style of fishing definitely had its own charm. It seemed the river was so teeming with fish that it was more about the sport, the play, the catch and release, letting the fish go to play another day, taking only what you needed for today.

They could have stayed longer, but were compelled to keep moving. As summer moved into fall who knew how long the good weather would hold especially in the Northwest? They cut through the corner of Washington and took a tour of the Pendleton factory in Oregon. They bought a beautiful Indian blanket. Eugene, a somewhat cosmopolitan university town, they stopped for breakfast at an obvious hippy joint. They had home fries for the first time ever for either one of them. Checked out the university campus, very imposing and ivy-covered. In Ashland they were able to get tickets for an outdoor performance of Hamlet. “To be or not to be…”, To thine own self be true,” lots of heavy philosophy, lots of dead bodies piling up on stage. Poor Ophelia, poor Hamlet, something’s rotten in the state of Denmark. Great drama, great pageantry, all good fun and they had a night out on the town for the first time in months, doing something even their mothers could relate to.

Hard to believe they were back in California. It was the longest time either of them had been out of the state since moving there as kids. They decided to drop in on Dr. Ron and Barbie outside Eureka. It had been awhile since they’d seen any of their California friends and vice versa. They were talking about their travels and how they had kind of been looking for a place to land and stay somewhere out in the country. Dr. Ron started talking about a mining claim that he and another doctor were thinking of buying. It was right on the Klamath River. It sounded intriguing.

A couple of days later Dr. Ron took Zane and Jeanie up to the Klamath River. Along the way they picked up Dr. Tom, who was the main physician at the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. They drove up the Klamath to Orleans, crossed the river and proceeded on a dirt road on the other side of the river from the state highway. The road was reasonable enough except for one place where Zane had to gun it into and ‘S’ curve, slide through the curve and keep his wheels moving in order to make it to the top of the hill following the curve. After about ten miles they came to a collection of four or five small buildings.

The doctors had been telling them about the eighty year old miner and his mentally retarded son, but it was hard to imagine until they were greeted upon their arrival. The old miner was still in amazingly good shape but figured it was time to move on while he still could and make some arrangements for his son to be taken care of after his death. He gave them a tour of the area, all of which was part of the mining claim but otherwise looked like riparian wilderness of mountains, trees and river. There were pyramids of boulders three to four stories high. Each boulder was half the size of a small car. These were what remained after the days of hydraulic mining, a practice no longer allowed. In the early days miners who could afford the cost used a powerful pump attached to a giant nozzle. Water was pumped out of the river and projected with great force against the hillsides washing away all the dirt and other lightweight material. Presumably the heavier gold would be left in the residue after everything else but the boulders had been washed away. The boulder pyramids stood as monuments to this paleotechnic approach to gold mining.

The old miner took them into his tunnel. The tunnel went three hundred feet into the mountain. It was somewhat shored up with beams, but looked pretty fragile to Zane. Jeanie chose wait for the boys out in the light of day. Along the way the miner was chattering about the vein he was sure existed somewhere close to his tunnel. He knew it was right around here somewhere. He was encouraging them to continue exploring if they took over the claim. It gave Zane the willies. He couldn’t wait to get out of that tunnel and couldn’t imagine ever going back in again. He didn’t have the slightest interest in mining. He imagined himself fishing the Klamath River and running through the woods, not creeping around some underground darkness.

The mentally retarded son didn’t say much. Apparently he helped his father with the grunt work, and they were fairly inseparable. They were shown the cabin they’d be living in, bedroom, living room, kitchen and wood stove. There was a propane stove and refrigerator. For hot water a copper coil ran through the wood stove to heat the water flowing through it. In late September everything seemed quite idyllic on the Klamath River. Zane and Jeanie made a plan. They would return to the City, gather together gear and provisions and come back to stay the winter on the Klamath. Dr. Ron and Dr. Tom were happy to have them there as caretakers, since the old man was planning to sell them the claim and move out soon.

By the time they walked through the front door and walked up the stairs of the commune they’d been gone almost exactly four months. Vince and Jan had already returned. Apparently all was forgiven in both directions. They had gone on to Drop City, another commune, where the residents were constructing domes out of old car roofs cut from their bodies with a welding torch and bolted together to make dwellings. Vince later published a photo essay on Drop City and other intentional communities in the Southwest. Jill, Sarah and Iris had moved to Eagle, Colorado, and had rented a small house there. The commune represented the revolving door of life as a hippy, people coming, people going, everyone looking for a place to be and uncertain if they’d ever found it. The commune gained some new members most prominently Travis who had come out from Colorado after meeting Vince and Jan there. Travis didn’t use a lot of drugs because he was epileptic and already taking daily doses of Dilantin and didn’t want to mess that up. He drank some beer but otherwise was drug free.

One day a  wholesome-looking redhead wandered up their stairs looking for someone or something. She was extremely spaced out and confused. She’d been in a minor car crash. She had a little blond girl with her. Turned out that Christine had taken acid once a few days before and hadn’t really come down. Travis took her under his wing, becoming both guide and protector. She got less spacey, and they got closer eventually becoming a couple. The little girl seemed to have been living virtually without discipline. Travis took over that role as well, assigning time outs and other appropriate measures to get a rein on the wild child. Travis was no older than the rest of the group but in some ways more grown up. He was pretty much a hard-headed realist. He went to one Stephen Raskin gathering and commented he’d heard every hippy cliché in the book as well as some new and creative ones. Stephen was starting to organize folks for a nation-wide caravan to “spread the word”. They would depart next spring after people had acquired their old school buses and other live-in vehicles and their adequate stash of cash.

Zane and Jeanie thought about joining the caravan, but they’d just done a long trip. When they dropped in on some old friends, who had a picture of Stephen prominently displayed and were gushingly referring to him as their “guru”, Zane definitely felt something was amiss. Maybe they were missing out on something. Maybe it was something they wanted to miss out on. Zane had virtually missed the Summer of Love. His one contact with it had repelled him. Woodstock was barely a blip on the radar screen while they were on the road, away from all media including the hippy grapevine. They heard stories of rain and mud and a great spirit. Lots of people had lots of different individual experiences. The other chilling event they’d missed initial coverage of was the Manson murders. They would be in the news for much longer than Woodstock. Some things were meant to be missed.

One of the imprints that had stuck with Zane was Zen Macrobiotics, the dietary system based on a yin-yang theory that placed brown rice and other grains at the center of the food chain with the major supplements being fish and vegetables. Fruits, sweets, and red meat were to be avoided. Jeanie appreciated domestic challenges. She cooked. She sewed. She produced homemade crunchy granola. They went to the Food Mill in Oakland and stocked up on bags of whole grains, flours, beans and other staples to get them through the winter on the Klamath. Within a couple of weeks they returned to their isolated mining claim.

The weather had turned. At first the rain and dampness was novel, but after days of the same combination of drizzle and downpour, it began to wear thin. Neither one of them had really thought through the social isolation, stuck in the middle of nowhere, beautiful wilderness though it was, with only each other, an eighty year old gold miner and his mentally retarded son for company. Had Zane been more mentally prepared and more innovative, he might have interviewed the old guy throughout the winter and written up the results for some anthropology journal. That would have required focus and commitment, not just the compulsion to seek the entertainment of the next carnival ride coming round the next curve of the mountain road.

They were more used to being on the move and having only each other for company. After three weeks of Northwestern winter, actually fall, they fled. They repacked all the bags from the Food Mill and the rest of their gear and headed back to the City. This experiment hadn’t turned out too well. Just that morning the miner and son had dynamited a boulder which had rolled off the hill in the latest storm and blocked their access road.

Back in the City, back in their old rooms at the commune, they’d come full circle. In all their travels they hadn’t stuck anywhere, just passed through and come right on round to their departure point. Jeanie jumped right into the commune life somewhat replacing Sarah’s role at the center of domestic life. The oven was often full of baking spread with her evolving formulas for homemade granola. She sewed bell-bottom pants and a bell-bottomed flowery shirt. For the first time Zane looked like a stereotypic hippy. The elephant bells radiated a good nine inches from his ankle totally concealing whatever footwear he had on. There were many wholesome dinners of brown rice and vegetables. Jeanie took a massage course and practiced her new skills on Zane. One day the transmission crapped out in the panel truck. They’d traveled ten thousand miles since leaving San Francisco last June without a single mechanical problem. At least the transmission waited until they were back on home ground. It hadn’t failed them on some dirt road in the Rocky Mountains.

He should have been happy, but in fact was becoming more and more depressed, not every day but some days were pretty dark. Sometimes those around him could pull him out of it, but other days he was pretty hopeless. He had no direction, no particular purpose. College was over. He didn’t need to get a job, didn’t know what he wanted to do anyway. Even dropping acid was no guarantee of transfer to a better reality.

Louie tried to reach out to Zane. Louie was a Puerto-Rican who had wandered in off the streets probably at someone’s invitation. The commune was gradually becoming more and more of a crash pad for pilgrims to the hippy Mecca known as Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco. Part of Zane’s problem was a retreat into his familial patterns of thought, attitude and belief. He had abandoned his stance as a devotee of the acid guru, Stephen, but he really hadn’t replaced that source of guidance with anything substantive. Once again he was a ship without a rudder. Jeanie was getting stronger. He was getting weaker.

One day Zane and Louie dropped acid at the commune. Zane sat in his room moldering in his doldrums. Louie came and sat with him. In his subtle quiet way Louie demanded eye contact and genuine presence. Zane could match energies with him, bring his energy up into his heart and feel that heart connection with Louie. As soon as Louie would leave the room, he would sink back into his depressive, shut-down, de-energized state. Louie would feel it and immediately return, and they would go through the lesson again. That day Zane never did get it, never could maintain on his own, but he never forgot what Louie was trying to teach him. It was a challenge that sat in the back of his mind until he figured out how to fulfill it, how he could consciously and actively choose a state of being and have the skills to maintain it. How strange that this uneducated Puerto-Rican street person was his first instructor in this important life lesson. Zane’s ongoing and increasing dilemma was that he had seen and experienced lifetimes in the realms of psychedelia. Everything had passed through him. He was an excellent medium for the entire history of humanity. He hadn’t really figured out how to control what was happening so that he could pick and choose and build any kind of lasting foundation for himself. He floated through ego states like they were flavors of ice cream. He didn’t like all the flavors, but they plopped down in his bowl at random anyway.

 

Gimme Shelter

I was in another lifetime one of toil and blood

When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud

I came in from the wilderness a creature void of form 

“Come in,” she said,“I’ll give you shelter from the storm”.

–Bob Dylan

It was billed as Woodstock West, a day-long concert of big name bands, free to all comers. Of course the Bay Area should have its own Woodstock. This was where it all started. The Rolling Stones agreed to be the headliners. It was late fall, but the winter rains had not arrived, so the hills east of Oakland were still dry and brown, these same hills that had been so “purty” and green they made you wanna dip a spoon in and take a bite seven years earlier on his first hitchhiking trip to the Bay Area. The promoters secured Altamont Raceway, a natural oval amphitheater in the hills near Altamont Pass as a venue for Woodstock West. The top bands were signed to play, including Santana, The Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and The Grateful Dead. Zane, Jeanie, Louie and several others drove over the Bay Bridge and into the hills east of Oakland. A new highway was under construction, near completion, but not yet open. It became a long thin parking lot for the 300,000 who gathered on the morning of December 6, 1969. Zane and his group walked more than a mile from their truck to the raceway.

Zane and Jeanie found a place to be next to the Hell’s Angels bus, not that far from the stage. Zane watched as Hell’s Angels drinking beer on top of the bus got so drunk they fell off the bus, but arose from the dirt with no apparent injury. The bands played on carrying the spirit of Woodstock to the West Coast especially the lilting lyrics of Crosby, Stills and Nash felt like some direct connection with that earlier gathering. Ask a hundred people who were at Altamont and you’ll probably get a hundred different stories. The spirit of freedom or perhaps chaos reigned. Zane retained a few clear memories.

Early in their set the Stones went into “Sympathy for the Devil”. They stopped in the middle of the song. Jagger went behind the equipment, took out a bottle of Jack Daniels and took a big swig. He came back to the microphone and casually entreated the crowd to, “Be cool”. There were several more interruptions. Jagger asked if there was a doctor in the house. A wave of paranoia had just passed through the crowd. People were whispering and talking in low tones: “What was that? Did you feel that? What’s going on?” The wave was so palpable, it was almost visible as it rippled back from the stage through the entire crowd to the hillside on the far end of the oval. Zane thought people might panic and start running like a cattle stampede. Hardly anybody knew what had happened. Everybody had felt it. The Stones went right into their next song. The crowd mellowed out, and the concert was completed.

Louie found them before the crowd began to disperse.

“I shared a pipe with Timothy Leary.”

“Really, how’d that happen?”

“I just went up behind the bandstand, and there he was. I said, ‘You wanna smoke?’ He said, ‘Sure,’ so I whipped out my pipe, and we smoked.”

“Cool man, you’re amazing.”

“You know, he’s all right. He’s just like the rest of us.”

“That’s good to know.”

They waited at the truck until their entire group had assembled. One of them had dropped acid. He was having a bad trip, paranoid, spooked, bouncing off his own shadows. Zane was glad he and Jeanie had confined themselves to a small amount of pot that day. Three hundred thousand people was more than a third of the population of San Francisco, so pretty much everybody had been at Altamont. Stories filtered in over the next days and weeks, the questions being, “What happened at Altamont?” or “What happened to you at Altamont?” Pretty much everybody who had dropped acid had a really bad trip. On that level it was a gigantic bum trip. Zane had been entertained but had to acknowledge that the vibes were better at any free concert he’d been to in Golden Gate Park over the years. He’d take Speedway Meadows over Altamont Raceway any time. Apparently the scene had been so bad, so many fights and threats to the musicians, that the Grateful Dead had left without playing their set.

When the news reports came out that night and the next day that a young black man had been killed right in front of the bandstand, the media had a field day with Altamont. The dark underside of the Woodstock Generation had rapidly emerged. The Manson family murders were almost daily fare for those who wanted to believe that the whole accidental social experiment of this generation was enormously dangerous to individuals and society. The teenager who died was crazed on crystal meth. He pulled a gun in front of the stage while the Rolling Stones were playing. The Hells Angel who knifed him was just doing his job, which was to keep people off the stage. He was tried and exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing. Everyone knew there were good drugs and bad drugs. Meth was a particularly bad drug. end of story.

To Zane and others, Altamont was just a bad trip that could be erased by having a good trip. Manson was bizarre and twisted, but no more bizarre and twisted than the Vietnam War, the police murders of Black Panther leaders, the police riots at the Chicago Democratic Convention of 1968 and a number of other freak shows that could be cited. Most of the hippies, if they were tuned into anything, it would have been the ongoing absurdity of the trial of the Chicago 8 or later the Chicago 7. The “leaders” of the counter-culture had been charged with causing the Chicago police riots. Everyone knew better, but the political establishment was making its best effort to railroad their scapegoats into long prison terms. As twisted as Manson was he didn’t stand out as being particularly more of a travesty than so much that was already going on.

Paul McKenzie was another older brother who wandered in off the streets of the Haight-Ashbury for a while and regaled the group with stories and visions. As soon as winter eased up he would head back to New Mexico. He reminded Zane of Charlie Sparrowhawk. He told Zane one story that blew him away. Zane had been telling Paul about his experience with jimson weed while incarcerated.

“You know these plants have spirits. People who ingest the plant will have contact with the spirit sometime during their journey. For instance your jimson weed or Datura, the spirit is a dark lady. She’s known as Toloache. Almost everyone who takes Datura will see her at some time during the trip.”

“I saw her. She was incredibly beautiful.”

“Yeah, that’s what they say. The peyote spirit is a deer, a male deer. The Huichol Indians, the original peyote people, call him Kauyamari.”

“Wow, Jeanie and I saw him at the same time in New Mexico.”

“See, it’s amazing isn’t it. There’s one more I know about. There’s a South American plant called ayahuasca. It’s spirit is the jaguar.”

“Cool, maybe I’ll see that one someday.”

“There’s a story about how the Indians up north here got turned onto peyote.”

“Okay, lay it on me.”

“This is from maybe the 1870’s. Two Apaches were out hunting. One had brought his wife with him. She grew tired and laid down in the desert to take a nap, telling the men she’d catch up with them. She had a dream. In the dream Toloache appeared to her and said, ‘I know how your people are struggling. It seems like everything will be lost, your whole way of life. When you awake look underneath where your head has been lying, and you will find a plant. This plant will help you to hang onto the important things, so that all will not be lost.’ The plant was a peyote plant. Toloache told the woman how to harvest it, how to find more, how to prepare it for use in ceremony. Previously peyote had not been known or used in the north, only in Mexico. From that beginning with the Apache hunter’s wife, we now have the Native American Church.”

Zane was enthralled with this kind of story. Paul was a new friend who dropped in from thin air. He helped Zane temporarily get out of his depression. Meanwhile Vince had bought an old Ford pickup and fixed it up for traveling. Misha and Boogatcha had puppies. Zane and Jeanie took the face-licking runt of the litter, Screwfer, a vaguely Beaglish looking mutt. At the first sign of spring, Jan, Vince and three dogs crammed themselves into the pickup cab and left for Colorado to hook up with Jill and Sarah. The regular communistas were dwindling in number. Travis and Zane tried to collect rent for March. They were already late. They got together about $250. The rent was $300. The ladies at the agency who were their landlords were not pleased. They knew about the changing demographics, the fact that most of the original crew they’d rented to were gone, the evolving crash pad nature of the household. They informed Travis and Zane they were no longer welcome. At least they didn’t waste the $250. They had till the end of March to vacate the premises. The commune lasted a little over a year. It had been the scene for many happenings and the home base for many more.

Zane called Colorado about the possibility of joining the group out there. Jill informed him how many people were already crammed into a rather small cabin. Travis and Christine left for Durango, Colorado, where he had previous connections. Zane drove Paul to the Greyhound station, so he could return to New Mexico. Louie just drifted away, probably to another crash pad. Leon came by one day. He had moved off of Linden Alley to a bigger and better pad on 29th Street. He offered Zane and Jeanie his front room on a temporary basis.

On April Fools’ Day they moved the last of their stuff out of the Baker Street commune and moved to the outer Mission. Zane’s depression rapidly returned. His routine became a mid-morning visit to the corner store for a quart of Country Club malt liquor. He might drink another in the afternoon. The daily entertainment of the traffic passing through the commune was summarily over. Once again he was adrift without  a sense of where to go or what to do next.

“Zane Morgan live here?” it was the police.

“No,” Leon lied.

The police walked right in. “You Zane Morgan?”

“Yeah.”

“Don’t worry. We’re here with good news. We got your address from your old landlord on Baker Street. It looks like one of the items that was stolen from you when you lived there has been recovered. You’ll have to identify it and make an official statement, but eventually you should get it back.”

“Okay.”

“Are you willing to do that?”

“Sure, I guess. How’d it get recovered?”

“We busted a fence. Looks like some politician in the Western Addition was playing a double game. We don’t really need your statement, but every bit of evidence helps when you’re making a case, and it’s the only way to get your stuff back. We took the thieves around and they showed us the places they’d taken certain items from. One was your old place.”

Zane was amazed. All the stuff that had been stolen from Linden Alley and the Baker Street commune, and he might actually get something back. “Yeah, I’m willing. Just let me know what I need to do.”

The cop gave him a card with a number on it. “Call this number. You can go by pretty much any time to i.d. the item. That should be it until the case is completed. Then someone will call you to pick up your property.”

When Zane went to i.d. the property it turned out to be Melanie’s stereo. The clerk was coaching him.

“And you remember this burn mark on top of the speaker.”

“Oh yeah.”

He called Melanie and told her about the situation. She wasn’t interested in getting her stereo back.

“I don’t want to be involved. If you’re gonna do it, you can have it.” It had only been a few months since Melanie had been released from the charges related to the strike at San Francisco State. She wasn’t real keen on any further contacts with the law. So the only stolen property Zane ever got back wasn’t even his. It wasn’t the last time he was stolen from, but he had Melanie’s stereo for years.

“We gotta get outta here for awhile. We’re driving Leon crazy.”

“Yeah, it’s driving me crazy being here.”

“We could just drive up and see Ron and Barbie.”

“Sure, yeah, plenty of places to camp, too.”

Late one afternoon they left the City and headed up 101. Around Santa Rosa they dropped some acid. The trip was entertaining especially watching all the tracers coming off of the oncoming headlights. Along the Eel River where the highway gets especially narrow and twisty, Zane hit the dimmer switch on the floor. The headlights turned off. In a panic he hit it again, and they turned back on. From that time on they never had high beams. When Zane later tried to replace the dimmer switch, he discovered it was rusted to the floorboard and irreplaceable. That few seconds of darkness was the scariest part of the trip. Outside Eureka they overshot Ron and Barbie’s house and got stopped at a locked gate. They crawled in back and went to sleep. Early in the morning some loggers woke them up. They were blocking an access road. Zane discovered the battery was dead. He had only turned the radio down, not off. The loggers towed the truck out of the way and jump started it. They thanked them and went a few miles back down the road to Ron and Barbie’s house, easier to find in the daylight. Ron was headed for work so they hung out with Barbie for the day. Zane found some physician samples of painkillers in a kitchen drawer so he got pretty wasted for most of the day.

Ron was a runner before running was fashionable. He liked to run barefoot on the beach. There was a beautiful sandy beach near the town of Samoa on Humboldt Bay. Even getting there was an adventure. One section of the road tended to get covered over by encroaching sand dunes. To get through it the best method was to hit it at high speed, keep your foot on the gas and hope you made it to the other side. If not the locals were pretty understanding and would tow you out of the sand with their 4X4’s.

After running up and down the beach, Ron went in the water. Zane followed suit. The cold Pacific soon had him shivering uncontrollably. Barbie was compassionate.

“Can’t do everything Ron does.”

A driftwood fire got him warmed up again. Ron filled them in on the mining claim they’d tried living on.

“Turns out that old guy didn’t own anything. He’d been squatting out there for years. Thought he could sell us something he didn’t own. So I guess you guys were smart to leave. Once we found out there was no title to anything, we just left him out there and didn’t look back. I’m sure he’s worried what happens to his son when he dies, but that’s not something we can help him with. A mining claim isn’t ownership anyway, but you get long term use of the land, which is almost as good.”

Back in the city and they were getting stir crazy again. They cooked up the idea of looking for land to buy up north in Mendocino County. Jill had returned from Colorado and was living on the Mendocino Coast. There were ads in the Chronicle for forty acre parcels in various parts of Mendocino County. Zane remembered a country fair he’d been to in Albion several years before with good food and great music.  Don and Joe came by one day with a scheme.

“Let’s buy a fishing boat together.”

Zane and Jeanie were ready for the next adventure. The idea appealed to them. Don already had a line on a boat down at Moss Landing. They went down the coast to check out the boat. Joe didn’t know a thing about fishing, but Kelly had just left him, and he was looking for the next thing. He was willing to learn, just follow the lead of Don and Zane. Jeanie could hold down the land base or come aboard. It was up to her. She actually didn’t think sharing a small boat with these three guys would be such a picnic, but she was willing to help the project however she could. Don and Joe both drank heavily and Zane did when he was around them, not necessarily a prescription for harmony. Don and Joe were also heavy cigarette smokers.

They looked over the boat, had some discussions about what else they’d need to prepare and provision it. The owner was willing to take a down payment of a thousand dollars. They’d pay the rest off over time and with a lot of salmon. Zane and Jeanie loaded up some of their stuff from Leon’s place and would live in their truck at the marina in Moss Landing.

Just a few days into working on the boat, Don got really pissed off one day and started ordering everyone around. Something snapped in Zane.

“We don’t have to put up with his crap.”

They left shortly thereafter and never came back. They abandoned the fishing boat venture once and for all.

“I guess we’ll go to Mendocino now.”

“Sounds good to me.”

They packed up the truck and went in search of land. They dropped in on Jill outside of Ft. Bragg. Just happened to run into Zach and Mariah. Took a few minutes to remember their brief contact on Linden Alley more than a year before. They were living near the mouth of Ten Mile River, a stunningly beautiful setting of river, ocean, water birds, and sunsets. They had also decided to look for land to buy.

Zach had a proposal. “Let’s join forces. We can get more acres and have plenty of room for all of us.”

“Great idea.”

Zach was already somewhat familiar with the countryside of northern Mendocino and southern Humboldt counties. He had some ideas where to look. He also had a chain saw which came in handy for lots of situations in those north woods.

“Ever been on the Usal Road.”

“Nope.”

“Takes off of Highway One north of Westport where One leaves the coast. It stays close to the coast all the way to Shelter Cove.”

“Been to Shelter Cove, by boat, when I was salmon fishing.”

“Okay, we looked at some land up there, place called Whale Gulch. There’s a bunch of crazies already living around a little town called Whitethorn.”

Zach had an old pickup. Zane had the panel truck, so the four of them and the two dogs took the panel truck up the Usal Road, many tall trees and occasional vistas of what is known as the Lost Coast.

“Right up her there’s a jackrabbit that likes to race cars.”

Sure enough Zach’s prediction was born out as a jackrabbit took off in front of the panel truck.

“Watch him around this next turn.”

The jackrabbit really stretched and lengthened his lead. Then he abruptly stopped and watched the truck go by.

“That was really cool.”

“I know, isn’t that great.”

The girls were impressed too. Even though Mariah had seen the show many times before, she still enjoyed it.

“I love that little rabbit.” She was a dark-haired, dark-eyed beauty, who loved to live her life naked and show off her legs, which were covered with thick dark fur all the way to her mound of Venus, quite a contrast to her sexy feminine upper body. She had quite a temper to go along with her looks and regularly blasted Zach for some real or imagined wrongdoing. He appeared totally unruffled by her dragon breath, and judging by the sounds emanating from their sleeping area at night, the passion between them was pervasive. They had a little boy named Raven. She was a very attentive mom except when she wasn’t.

They stopped in Whale Gulch and looked at some acreage. It had beautiful ocean views, but was all very steep. In Whitethorn they stopped to see a friend of Zach’s.

“It’s getting crazy, man. They dropped a helicopter right down in the center of town. Armed sheriffs chasing people through the trees. Shit, we’re just trying to be peaceable and practice a little agriculture. They didn’t really catch anybody for anything. I think they’re just trying to send a message, you know. Like, you’re not invisible out there in the woods.”

“What a drag, man.”

“I know. We just gotta hide better.”

Everybody laughed. Something perfected during the sixties for a variety of reasons: hide from the draft, hide the drugs, hide the fugitives, and now hide from the helicopters. The Vietnam Vets, who had begun to appear on the scene with their long hair and battle scars, were already way over-sensitized to the sound of helicopters. Vietnam Vets had some interesting skills, having been trained in evasion and escape. Some had become among the most militant opponents of the war.

Just before Shelter Cove they emerged from the trees and dropped down to the small harbor and fishing village. Zane had had a blast driving the three hours of dirt road sliding around corners, downshifting, feeling like he was part of an old dirt-track jalopy race. He’d even gotten a compliment from Zach.

“You really get it on, driving.”

“Yeah, I enjoy it. Never met a road I didn’t like. Just put me behind the wheel on any road in the world, but I like mountain roads the best.”

The search for good land continued. More mountain roads and a realtor in Redway sent them back along the same road to an area called Briceland. Before heading back out they went into Garberville, the big city of the area. On the main street coming out of the only super market was Billy D. and his muscular blond girlfriend and their two kids. They hadn’t stuck in New Mexico either. Seemed like everyone was just trying to find a place to be in the aftermath of things having gone really negative in the Haight-Ashbury, the birthplace of the movement. There might have been half a million at Woodstock, but they all needed a place to live. They couldn’t stay in Woodstock. As far as Zane knew there never was a census at Woodstock as to how many West Coasters had been there. He’d seen one girl he knew in one naked picture at the pond. That was it.

The property they looked at in Briceland was a lot of steep and little bits of flat, possible but not ideal. Zeke had an entertaining confrontation with an eight foot gopher snake that crawled under the truck one day. A lot of running full tilt at the snake and barking like crazy, and the snake rising up as if to strike, after most of an hour they both gave up and declared a standoff.

The foursome kept looking. Another realtor directed them east of Garberville to an area known as Harris. Another ranch was being sold off as forty acre parcels. The realtor tried to pull a fast one and sell the parcel that had developed water supply. The owner was retaining that one for himself. He was friendly enough and extended an offer to the two couples to camp as long as they wanted anywhere else on the property, get water from his developed spring, get a feel for the land and decide if they wanted to be there. This piece of land was rolling hills, far less trees than Briceland or Whale Gulch, land that was actually mostly usable for something other than staring at the trees. They decided to stay awhile.

Zach, Zane and Jeanie made a run back down to Ten Mile to gather gear for their extended stay. Mariah and Raven stayed behind with adequate provisions for a few days. Half way down the Usal Road in Zach’s pickup, the radiator hose sprung a leak. Zach took it off and hitched a ride. They were a long ways from anywhere, so Zane and Jeanie settled in, built a small fire, got checked out by the Boise Cascade overseers, and were ready to huddle up in the cab for the night if necessary. The Boise Cascade guy asked why they didn’t just tape up the old hose and get into town that way. Good question. Zane felt kind of dumb, as did Zach when the suggestion was passed along to him. Zach returned just before nightfall, and they were able to complete their journey.

Back on the land in Harris, Zach demonstrated his chainsaw skills. He constructed sleeping platforms for both couples, a sheet of ¾ inch plywood on top of four foot-long logs. They were up off the ground, away from bugs and other varmints, pretty ritzy. When Mariah wasn’t wandering the hills stark naked looking like a mythological creature with her white upper body and her dark furry lower body, she had a white cotton nightie that was equally dramatic in the backwoods surroundings. She was Miss Natural all the way. Zane admired the nightie.

“Try it on. It feels really good. It’s like your naked, but no sunburn.”

Sounded good to paleface Zane, who could turn pink in a half hour, somewhat an impediment in situations where throwing off all your clothes and running around in the sun was the order of the day. He tried on the nightie. It fit him and felt really comfortable.

“You like it?”

“Yeah,” he was surprised at how sexy it felt to be fully clothed and yet feel the air circulating between his legs and touching his whole body. So this was how girls felt most of the time wearing dresses and skirts and moo-moos.

“You can have it. I have another one.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, really.”

“Okay, thank you.”

Zane was really happy with his gift. Cross-dressing and cross-gender identification were things that just happened in the context of the psychedelic experience. Zane didn’t feel particularly out of place exploring his feminine self in this way. Of course the morphing among different states of being included exploring the other gender. Girls had always done it to some extent. Perhaps the long hair began the whole process for hippy guys, something that frightened straight guys so much, they had to taunt the hippies by questioning their masculinity. Many hippies had already figured out they were more complete men, more complete human beings, if they had experience and comfort with their feminine side. It also sometimes helped them to understand girls better. Gender was considered pretty much an arbitrary accident of biology.

Zane and Jeanie had to go back to the City to collect their disability checks. During their summer travels the folks back at the commune had mailed the checks ahead to them. Now they didn’t have an address, such as Jeanie’s grandpa in Idaho. Their official address was Leon’s place in the outer Mission. Eight-track stereo systems were a new item available on the market. Zane was intrigued. They had traveled all over the West without the benefit of their music, one of the key components of the hippy way of life. AM radio in the rest of the country hadn’t exactly supplied their need for the San Francisco Sound. They spent some of their welfare money on a powerful eight-track system and a dozen or so tapes. Soon one of Zane’s favorite pastimes was driving down the road with the stereo cranked full blast screaming along to eerie lyrics such as “Take another little piece of my heart,” or

“Don’t go out tonight,

For it’s bound to take your life.

There’s a bad moon on the rise.”

Don and Joe came by Leon’s place while they were gathering for their next trip back to the land out by Harris.

“The boat sank.”

“What? How the hell did that happen?” Zane’s first feeling was relief that he hadn’t been there.

“Got too close to shore. Wave just picked us up and turned us upside down.”

“Holy shit.”

They were in a dense fog in Monterey Bay. Zane remembered how foggy it could be in Monterey. He listened to the story. Sounded like they were drinking beer and hassling each other, which he’d seen them do many times. They were in the cabin with the auto pilot on as the boat slowly trolled.

Don said to Joe, “You better chart a course.”

“ I don’t know how to chart a course.”

“Well, you better learn.”

There was a pause before Don said, “I’ll go up on deck. See if I can see anything.” He got to the top of stairs when Joe heard, “It’s all over.”

The wave hit and rolled the boat over like a boardless surfer. Don was thrown clear into the open water. Joe was still in the cabin, panicking as the boat rolled over and began to fill with water. He got tangled in the anchor rope, but managed to get out of the cabin and into the open water. They found each other and began to swim toward shore. It didn’t take long before their feet struck terra firma, and they realized they were coming up on the beach. The boat was a total loss except for a few odds and ends Don was able to salvage. Later on Joe talked to Zane alone.

“You know he kind of blames you for this.”

“How so?”

“It was your money that would have bought the Loran. We were navigating by sight and setting a course and hoping it worked especially if we lost visibility.”

“Hey, I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t work with Don. He thinks he’s got to be the ramrod, or nothing’s gonna happen. He wasn’t like that when we fished before.”

“I know. I went into this knowing nothing and having nothing. I’m coming out of it knowing nothing and having nothing. Don’t think I’ll try fishing again.”

“Yeah, I probably wouldn’t either if I’d had your kind of close call. Anyway I’m glad you guys survived. It’s a bummer, but it could have been worse.”

“Yeah, that’s why I don’t want to risk it again.”

Twenty five miles of dirt road from Garberville to Harris took its toll. Along the way they got a flat tire. By the time they reached the campsite, the other rear tire was flat. Neither one had much tread. They were bought at the same time and wore out at the same time. With the panel truck sitting on its bumper jack, they tossed two flat tires in the back of Zach’s truck. He and Zane went back into Garberville the next day to buy two new tires. Thankfully they had two vehicles. Keeping them running on these back roads took a fair amount of their time.

It was still only late spring, and life was pretty mellow out on the land in southern Humboldt County. Zane and Jeanie took Zeke and Screwfer for a walk one day. Zeke got totally engrossed in sniffing out a ground squirrel. He dug down a couple of feet until he had that squirrel cornered in the bottom of his hole. The process took a couple of hours and was accompanied by lots of furious barking by both dogs. Zeke caught the squirrel by the back of the neck and killed it with one quick shake. Zane and Jeanie were fascinated watching the whole process of dog instincts taking over out in the wild. Zeke laid the dead squirrel at Zane’s feet. Zane slung it over his shoulder planning to cook up some squirrel stew for dinner. Back at camp another couple had rolled in bearing chickens from the super market in Garberville. Everyone was so negative about the squirrel, Zane didn’t even eat any of it. Zach could relate to how he’d walked into camp like the mighty hunter with his hunting dogs and the squirrel slung over his shoulder. Even Zach didn’t want to eat squirrel. So much for living off the land.

Zane had some really good hashish. One night he smoked quite a bit. Instead of knocking him out. It got him wired. Jeanie went to sleep. He laid awake watching the stars and the sky. He began to repeat his middle name like a mantra, “Hiram, Hiram, Hiram.” It was his father’s middle name as well, and an old family name. As the night wore on, the next stage of his life was opening up for him. What was clear to him was they’d gone too far away from the City. Being out here in the boonies had it’s charm, but after awhile there really wasn’t that much to do. Some friends had moved to Sonoma County. They’d visited one couple in Forestville once or twice. Another couple lived in Sebastopol. Maybe they needed to go halfway back toward San Francisco and see if life there fit better for them.

Jeanie was amenable. She was ready for a change. She was ready for something different. They told Zach and Mariah, who took it in stride. They weren’t getting along so well either. The partnership seemed to be dissolving for more than one reason. One more time Zane and Jeanie packed up their stuff and headed back the way they’d come.

A ways down 101 they took the Branscomb Road over to Hwy One cutting across another remote section of northern Mendocino County, just to see what they could see, just because they’d never been that way before. Sparsely settled with one lumber mill, the country was not much different from where they’d been for the last month or so.

Riffles of Self Discovery

It’s getting to the point

Where I’m no fun anymore

I am sorry

Sometimes it hurts so badly

      I must cry out loud

I am lonely

–Crosby, Stills, and Nash

That same afternoon they were rolling along River Road paralleling the Russian River.

“Sonoma State’s in Sonoma County.”

“Yeah?” Jeanie was waiting for more information.

“A couple of people told me Sonoma State has a really far out psych department.”

“Okay, you think we should check it out?”

“Yeah let’s check it out. It’s Friday. We can probably get there before 5 o’clock.”

“Okay, let’s go.”

Sonoma State was a small new campus in the state college system. It had been the scene of one of the larger campus demonstrations against Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia. They found the registrar’s office at about 4:30.

“Look at this, Tools for Self Discovery, Psychology of Yoga, Altered States of Consciousness”

They both signed up for classes. It looked like Sonoma State was legitimatizing the experimentations of the sixties and getting them established in academia. How cool! They were excited about the possibilities. On Monday they started classes and for the most part found that the offerings were living up to their billing. Meanwhile they went to visit the couple they knew in Sebastopol. They were living in an apple orchard of about twelve acres. Way up in the corner of the orchard on a separate half acre there was an old house trailer and a water spigot.

“You can stay here if you want.”

The trailer was not that dirty or that trashed. It had a sleeping platform they could throw their mattress on. It was late June. They could cook outside and largely live outside. It was a place to land and be while they tried going back to school.

Almost immediately Zane felt he was in the right place. Tools for Self-Discovery included guided fantasy journeys, telling stories about mythological pictures, keeping a journal, two-way counseling (five minutes for you, five minutes for me or twenty minutes for you, twenty minutes for me), sharing dreams and interpreting each other’s dreams, group processes to encourage sharing of feelings (sadness, anger, appreciations, resentments). Someone was providing some structure and guidance to the mind-opening expansion and exploration that had proceeded chaotically throughout the sixties. The approach was not so much analytical as experiential. Let’s have the experiences and let the experiences tell us what they mean instead of applying a preset bunch of concepts as a filter through which everything is perceived. Humanistic and experiential psychology was definitely not behaviorism or psychoanalysis. Zane had a stage for his antics, a place to play with the approval of the overseers, a relatively safe haven for further exploration.

The apple orchard was a wonderful setting for dropping acid. Zane wandered among the trees in the white cotton nightgown Mariah had given him. He felt free and floaty. The breeze billowed his garment like a sail or the wings of a glider. He sailed through the trees and sat contemplatively in their cool shade. No day was so hot that the ocean breeze and fog didn’t eventually roll over the hills to the west and bathe them in moist refreshment and blur all distinctions in the oneness of gray mist and mystery.

So many attractive women, he was not suave in his expressions of animal magnetism. Encounter groups were a perfect place to talk dirty, express raw feelings of lust, even plop his head in the lap of a long-haired blond as if for the moment she was either his perfect mother or his perfect soul image or both. In such groups it was expression for the sake of expression. Nothing had to be backed up or followed up on. And there was ample encouragement to fantasize at will. Even in the free-spirited atmosphere of this venue, Zane became known as kind of a wild man. Jeanie hadn’t seen him so wild and crazy. He hadn’t been since before they met. Maybe he never had been so intensely reactive to everything around. The permissive atmosphere really removed any impediments to his expressing himself in whatever way he felt at the moment.

Up the hill from the trailer site, Zane found a disorganized pile of old wood including some huge timbers approximately 12X12 and 20 feet long. He thought of the A frames he had studied at Lama Foundation. He began dragging the timbers down the hill and preparing to build an A-frame cabin. He asked permission of the owner. By the time summer school ended his cabin was fully under construction. He’d never built anything before. His methodology involved sitting and smoking pot until he had a clear picture of how it should fit together. He made some rough sketches. He was innovative and what he was doing was very he-man. The timbers were placed on pier blocks and secured with sixteen inch spikes driven by a nine pound hammer. He needed help once, to raise the center roof beam into place and secure it temporarily so that the 2×6’s supporting the roof could be attached to it. The beauty of the A-frame structure was how everything was strengthened by the way the pieces leaned against each other. Nothing stood solely of its own strength. Both his father and his brother visited while he was working on the A-frame. They were suitably impressed and complimentary.

By the time the first rains arrived the structure was livable and reasonably watertight. The roof/walls were rough-cut redwood 1X12’s overlapping about an inch, not a typical shingled roof but effective. There were two lofts, one for sleeping, one for storage. The sleeping loft had a window overlooking the little valley between Spring Hill and Freestone.

Winter set in and along with it boredom and depression. Zane was happy when he had something he was involved in. Whenever something ended, and he didn’t know what to do next, the emptiness in his existence quickly went the direction of stagnation. He had applied to Sonoma State as an unclassified graduate student, but the timing was such that he wouldn’t be admitted until Fall of  `71. For days he sat by his wood stove in his drafty A-frame, not knowing what to do with himself. He could have insulated it. He could have added any number of embellishments, but he was again literally stopped in his tracks, paralyzed.

This time around Jeanie did not have much patience for his crash. She was less enthralled with the high high times of the summer and fall than she had been in the past. She was beginning to see a pattern of mood swings neither of which had much to do with her nor particularly served her needs. Each day she drove to Sonoma State if only to take a shower at the gym. Zane was too depressed to go with her, too depressed to want anyone to see him, almost too depressed to live. He had also wangled a scrip for phenobarbital from a local doc. In her estimation it just made him more withdrawn and distant.

Several specific things had disenchanted her. During the summer Zeke and Screwfer had puppies. They were an entertaining mismatched bunch. As they grew they became a constant source of noise. One night Zane was in a particularly bad mood when awakened by the yipping puppies. He stumbled out of the trailer and strangled one of them. He and Jeanie did not know until morning that the puppy had not died. Shortly after that by mutual decision, Jeanie took all the dogs except Zeke to the Animal Shelter. The dogs that had been dropped on their doorstep by friends were also returned to their owners under threat of going to the pound.

The most disquieting episode in all of Zane’s far and wide exploration was when he got fascinated with Charlie Manson. Rolling Stone had run a cover article, “Is Manson Son of Man”. Zane read it and got caught up in Manson’s Svengali prophet-like pronouncements, his raving about the wrong-doing of society, his claims to be Jesus and the devil. Manson was just smart enough and just crazy enough to be fascinating. He portrayed himself as a victim of all of society’s ills, like he was just acting out some preordained bunch of cultural karma. Finally Jeanie had had enough.

“What about Sharon Tate?”

“Huh?”

“What about Sharon Tate? Are you bewailing the injustice done to her? Did she deserve to be killed, or was she just collateral damage to use one of your favorite military terms.? Everybody’s making this big deal about Manson, like poor Charlie Manson. What about poor Sharon Tate?” Jeanie was really pissed.

Zane didn’t have an answer. She stopped him in his tracks. Obviously Manson had crossed a line. What he did was not justifiable, just like the Weathermen’s bombs killing innocent people. The question of hypnotic influence would come up again, when Patty Hearst participated in the criminal acts of the Symbionese Liberation Army after a period of brainwashing by her captors.

During that same summer Jeanie had hitchhiked down to Fresno to see her parents. While she was there she got together with an old lover. Her self-esteem soared. She realized how much at times she’d allowed Zane to drag her down. He was great when he was great, but sometimes he was just the pits. She came back looking and feeling fresher and more beautiful. Even Zane noticed and he had been busy ogling and desiring connection with every other girl on campus.

It was a wet and cold winter. Zane couldn’t take it anymore.

“Let’s find a place in town.”

“Okay, if that’s what you want to do.”

Mutual dependency kept Zane and Jeanie loosely connected with each other, so they found a new modern apartment in Cotati. Zane never looked back. He was that way with lots of things including people; when he was done he was done. Montana Joel and his girlfriend blew through, it being wintertime. They ended up staying in the A-frame for awhile and loving it. They opened it up to some other people who eventually got thrown out of the neighborhood for too much living off the land. There was something about Zane not really finishing things either. Like he would get to where he could see the end of something and not feel the need to complete it, just totally lose energy and motivation.

When they got to Cotati Zane spent hours each day watching an old TV that was part of their city possessions. He couldn’t deal with anything. After a couple of weeks he began to go out and walk the streets of Cotati and even do a little lightweight jogging. About then Daniel came by. He had moved to Forestville with Mick’s ex-wife and three kids. They were splitting up. He’d found a house near the J.C. in Santa Rosa. He was looking for roommates. So after one month in the Cotati apartment Zane and Jeanie took Daniel’s offer and moved again to an older house near Santa Rosa Junior College. There was a social life again. Old friends dropped by. When Zane was wandering lost in the musty corners of his mind, they tried to cheer him up. Daniel had loved Zane when he was wild and crazy. He was the guy who never got upset when Zane drove his car to Bakersfield and never came back. He was looking for the old Zane who was up for anything, ready for any crazy scheme.

Joel’s approach to cheering him up was random advice like, “Nobody’s perfect,” which didn’t make Zane feel any better. He’d always felt like he was supposed to be perfect. Joel just pissed him off. Once Jeanie tried to light a fire underneath him by prodding and probing and basically pushing him to get off his ass and do something. Zane got so angry he flipped their heavy dining room table up in the air. It came down perfectly upside down smashing to smithereens everything that had been on it.

Molly’s older brother came to stay awhile. He didn’t do a lot of drugs but was so naturally weird, he fit right in. His life consisted of traveling around to different people he knew, staying until he’d overstayed his welcome and then moving on. Zane was happy for the company. Thomas didn’t make any comments about Zane’s moods. He didn’t seem to be bothered, but he interacted in his own odd way. He was strangely therapeutic by being so non-judgmental and on his own trip. He was obsessed with diet and trying to get the right diet, as if that would solve all his problems, but his intellect explored many other esoteric topics as well.

Jeanie went on a diet. She was cooking only for herself, mostly protein, like a dinner of four tiger prawns. She lost weight. She got a job and got off of disability. She was moving on with her life, and Zane was increasingly feeling left in the dust, dropping acid again to try to make things come out right or rearrange to form the proper picture. He asserted some of his old meditative calm, noticing one night on acid that sitting in full lotus and doing some of the techniques he’d learned while studying Sanskrit and taking yoga really did work. He felt better, calmer, more centered, less depressed, less weighted down with guilt, except for one thing.

Guilt and longing for Amanda came up and didn’t go away. She became more and more of an obsession. He hadn’t seen nor heard from her in more than two years. He’d heard through the grapevine, she was in Hawaii. Then she was somewhere else. One day she just showed up out of the blue. She didn’t stay long, just long enough to rekindle some flames inside of Zane with her laughing eyes and her sly smile. Then she was gone riding the same wind that had blown her in. A while later he heard she was having a baby. The baby’s father was in prison for heroin. Amanda was living in Santa Barbara. The more he thought about Amanda, the more he idealized her. He remembered her as the greatest sex he’d ever had. Part of the problem was Jeanie never did measure up in that department. They were far from sizzling together. Zane stopped sleeping with Jeanie. He made up a bed for himself in the front room of the house. He actually felt better being in his own space, not great but better.

By early summer the household was splitting up. Daniel was moving in with a new girlfriend. Thomas was moving on because he always moved on after a few months. Jeanie had found a place to rent in Petaluma. Zane could have stayed in the house and gotten new roommates. He was terrified at the prospect of being alone. He begged Jeanie to let him come with her. She tried to reason with him. He was not to be pacified. Finally she gave in and agreed that he could move to Petaluma with her. They would live as roommates, each with a bedroom and free to live their lives. They custom-painted the interior of the house. Zane’s bedroom was three shades of lavender to deep purple with the fourth wall a montage of all three weeping into each other. Jeanie chose bright bright yellow. Zane was still searching for the formula that would get him out of his funk.

His next bright idea was to hike the John Muir Trail. Almost 300 miles long the Muir trail went from Yosemite Valley to south of Mt. Whitney. It was the benchmark for serious backpackers. Zane couldn’t deal with daily life, but the idea of being alone in the high Sierras for as much as three weeks didn’t bother him at all. He still had some equipment including The Climber’s Guide to the High Sierras. He gathered topographic maps, food and other gear. He was going to try to go ultra-light eating mostly grains, in fact mostly oatmeal. He planned to cook everything in his Sierra Club cup. He had a tube tent, the bare minimum to keep from getting soaked in a mountain rainstorm. He’d heard the hike from Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows was a real bear about 4000 feet gain in elevation, so Jeanie dropped him at Tuolumne to begin his long backpack south. She was happy he’d gotten enthusiastic about anything. There was light in his eyes she’d rarely seen in months. Maybe there was some hope for them after all. The plan was that he would hitchhike to Bakersfield after he completed the trip, and she would pick him up there.

He camped along the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River and next morning hit the trail for Lyell Pass. Slow and easy is the way of backpacking, and Zane eased into a good rhythm that got him up and over the pass. On the other side he jumped naked into the first creek he found to cool off and wash off from the sweaty work. It was exhilarating. He yelled with glee at the shock of the glacial rushing water waking him from months of doldrums. A group of tall thin rock formations called the Minarets were the backdrop for everything else in this region. It was indeed a holy place. That night he camped beside Thousand Island Lake with the Minarets and Banner Peak looming on the west side of the lake. He was hungry. Oatmeal wasn’t really satisfying his caloric needs. He hadn’t brought any fishing gear, but he noticed lots of frogs where he was camped. He captured seven of them, ending their lives as he had been taught in high school biology. That night he had frogs’ legs with his oatmeal. Somewhat revived he seriously thought about climbing Banner Peak. He read all about how to do it in his Climber’s Guide. The next morning he actually started in the direction of the peak when he though better of it, and decided to continue down the Muir trail.

There were the typical conversations in passing with other hikers, exchanges of information. Be sure to see one thing or another along the way. Several people mentioned one particular lake about a two mile side trip from the main trail. He was already rethinking his plans to do the whole trail. Each day was its own adventure. On the way to Lake Ediza there was an exquisite view of a wooden bridge crossing the creek. It reminded him of Japanese paintings he’d seen. He wished he had better ability to draw. At the lake he met a teenager who was very much into fishing. At least he’d already developed a finely honed talent for telling fish stories. He was sure he would catch some fish in the little lake. He didn’t even like to eat fish. Zane told him to throw a fish his way if he caught any. That night it rained, and Zane cinched himself up securely in his tube tent, just room enough for him, his sleeping bag and his pack. It kept him dry, so it did it’s job.

The kid hadn’t caught any fish. Zane hiked back down to the Muir Trail and continued south. Several days later he reached a trail fork where he could continue south on the Muir or take a side trail out to a trailhead on the eastern side of the Sierras. The trail south was an upgrade headed toward another pass and Devil’s Postpile National Monument. There was road access at Devil’s Postpile, but it was another 25 miles south. The side trail was less than ten. He started south. On that first upgrade he realized how spent he was. Any more going uphill was not appealing. He turned back and took the side trail for Agnew’s Meadows. He felt good about his decision. He was being reasonable for a change. He didn’t feel defeated, even though at best he’d gone a quarter of the distance he’d set out for himself. He’d just taken the longest backpacking trip of his life, definitely more than a fifty mile hike. Next time he would bring more calories with him. Otherwise his equipment had held up well in the high mountain conditions. When he came back to the Muir Trail, he’d be better prepared for the long haul. A week in the High Sierras definitely elevated his mood. He was a bit hungry but otherwise elated as he left the wilderness for the nearest trappings of civilization.

By the next morning he was standing on highway 395 with his thumb out. The hitchhiking went fairly easily. By that evening he had reached the road fork where highway 178 goes over Walker Pass and then descends into Bakersfield via the Kern River Canyon. An old Plymouth pulled over, just like his first car that he totaled in an intersection collision on the streets of Bakersfield. The car was full of young people just one seat with room for him and his backpack.

“Where you headed?” The driver had wild eyes and a mop of unruly hair.

“Bakersfield, how bout you guys?”

“There’s a party in Kernville, so we can get you that far at least.”

“Great.”

It didn’t take Zane long to notice that the party had already started. The driver, who did most of the talking, was driving fast and crazy. The rest of the crew were whooping it up the way people do when they’ve been partying for a few hours, and one of the drugs being consumed was alcohol. He decided to engage in conversation, so the driver might be less likely to simply concentrate on taking chances on twists and curves of the mountain road.

“Where you all from?”

“China Lake.”

“Been there. Went to a debate tournament when I was in high school.”

“Yeah, we’re all navy brats. Can’t do nothing in China Lake. Lucky we got friends in Kernville.”

Eastern Kern County had two high-tech bases, Edwards Air Force Base and China Lake Naval Ordnance Test Station. Field trips happened for every school kid in Bakersfield. Edwards was best known as the site for Chuck Yeager’s adventures as a test pilot, setting altitude and speed records in the days before rocketry took over. Talking with the driver wasn’t really a successful strategy for getting him to drive more sensibly, so in between chit-chatting Zane was silently praying to survive one more wacko experience as a hitchhiker.

“You can come to the party with us.”

“Hey thanks, I’m kind of on a schedule,” he lied. He had nowhere to be. No one was expecting him at least for another week. He just wanted to survive this ride and make it as short as possible.

Mercifully their turnoff arrived. They parted with many thanks and lots more whooping and hollering. Zane watched the old Plymouth careen down the road and out of site. His next ride got him to Bodfish just above Kern Canyon. It was really dark. He found a county park, laid his sleeping bag down in a less than visible place, ate a few snacks from his pack and settled in for the night. It was still relatively early, and he’d not tired himself out by hauling his backpack up and down mountains, so he was awake for awhile.

He decided to meditate and for some reason he chose Transcendental Meditation or TM as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The Beatles had visited Maharishi in India, and he had established numerous outlets for his brand of meditation all over the United States. TM involved the repetition of a mantra for fifteen or more minutes. It could be done sitting or lying down. Position was not considered important. People paid to be initiated into TM. One received his or her personal mantra, to be used by that person and that person only. No one was supposed to reveal the personal mantra to anyone else, or the mantra would lose its power. Nonetheless several people had shared their mantras with Zane including Daniel and Amanda. He liked Daniel’s mantra, but settled in with Amanda’s because he began to get very pleasant energy rushes, warm feelings and memories of her. He stayed with her mantra and lost track of time. Eventually he fell asleep.

Out on the road the next morning he easily got a ride that took him all the way into East Bakersfield. He was only a mile or so from his parents’ house which was nothing compared to the miles he’d done in the mountains. He decided to walk to their house and surprise them by just appearing at their door. He was actually glad to see them, as if the mountains had at least temporarily washed away his resentments and attitudes. His mother sat him down to a plate of bacon and eggs, noting that he had lost weight. It was true, he’d taken in his belt a couple of notches.

Jeanie was surprised when he called. She had really expected him to be gone for at least two weeks. The surprise was pleasant. She could hear the life in his voice. He told her he’d stay in Bakersfield a couple of days, then catch a bus back to the Bay Area.

Don came by to see them. He was going to try the fishing thing one more time. Duffy, the old fisherman in Petaluma, had a boat he was fixing up. It needed a lot of work, and Duffy wasn’t getting any younger. He wanted to sell/give the boat to Don, advise him and get him out catching fish again. Don didn’t have anything else going. He’d abandoned academia and hadn’t been enthralled with any of the blue-collar jobs he’d had. He was also looking for a place to live while he worked on the boat that was docked in the Petaluma River. It happened that there was a little house for rent on the same property where Zane and Jeanie lived. Don moved in. The denizens of Linden Alley had migrated to the outskirts of Petaluma.

After the High Sierra trip it was increasingly obvious to Zane and Jeanie that they simply lacked connection. They were friendly, but they lacked spark, the feeling of loving and being loved. There was no desire to merge physically or emotionally, no sense of communion. Jeanie had tried. So had Zane from time to time. There just wasn’t enough passion to sustain them through all the other ups and downs of relationship. They had made a safe choice with each other, something, someone to hold onto in times when there wasn’t much stability and much to engender insecurity. Jeanie was glad Don moved in next door. Maybe Zane would have a playmate and not rely so much on her for entertainment. Getting back to Sonoma State would probably help too. Hopefully it would be a place for him to work out his stuff, and he sure had a lot of stuff to work out. So Zane was beginning to escape the doldrums which had begun with his completion of the A-frame, extended virtually through all of the time they lived in Santa Rosa, and only six to eight months later did he begin to feel the whiff of trade winds beginning to flutter the prayer flags on his sun-bleached mast. Of course once one escapes the doldrums, there is inevitably the threat of storms coming over the horizon.

Slouching Toward Satori

What rough beast is this

Slouching its way toward Bethlehem to be born again?

William Butler Yeats

She’s the kind of girl you want so much it makes you sorry

–Beatles

Feeling that he’d nearly died in Monterey Bay did not stop Don from seeking out the next fishing boat. He was definitely trying to live out that old philosophy, “If you get bucked off a horse, you better get right back up on it before you get too scared to ever do it again.” As much as all of their generation had tried to be intrepid explorers of inner and outer space, they often also sought out the familiar, old friends and associates from the hometown, even when there had been rifts in the friendship. Perhaps it was simply convenient or opportunistic to once again move in next door.  From the apartments on Fulton Street and Linden Alley in the City to the country compound on Eastman Lane in Petaluma, the watercourses of Don and Zane kept flowing together in new settings.

Don spent much of his time a few miles away at the Petaluma River working at making the new boat seaworthy. At the south end of Petaluma was a working dairy ranch with a spooky looking old farmhouse. The boat was tied up there at its own dock. The biggest problem with the boat was the engine had not run for quite awhile. Don and a new friend, Wade, spent many hours in the engine compartment, turning wrenches, cursing and talking dirty mechanic talk. The humor was tedious, but the kind of banter men engage in to sustain themselves in the face of a lot of hard work.

“Can you screw that bolt into the nut I’m holding?”

“Put some hair around it, and I’ll do fine.”

Don had assumed more and more of a crude angry macho stance. He was verbally challenging like he was consistently looking for a fight. When he and Zane got together and drank because drinking was what Don did, he challenged Zane’s beliefs, his manhood and his approach to life. Admittedly Zane had been in a weak place most of 1971. Being cut down by one of his supposed friends wasn’t exactly helping. There were times when it seemed Don was trying to speak some secret language poking at some deeper reality. The reality he was espousing was more biological than spiritual, more about sex and power and dominance than love and cooperation. What an antithesis he was to Stefan, who consistently talked as if he never quite lost the overview from the top of the mountain. Don was in the trenches where things were dirty and brutal and ugly and you had to prevail with personal strength and will. Zane was still trying to live in some psychedelic flower child world where everything was or could be peace and love. Don had decided to be the shadow voice to the whole hippy ethos. Typical of their half drunk conversations was one that unfolded in the cabin of the boat. Zane was articulating his view of relationships with girls.

“But what if they want to be dominated? What if they like it rough? What if they want to be hurt?”

Zane didn’t have answers. The questions scared him. He didn’t want to play that way even if some girl did. He didn’t know how to state that to Don.  Instead he said, “I don’t think that’s what they want.”

Don laughed derisively, “You haven’t been with any women. You’re still making it with girls.”

When Zane was at his weakest, Don’s attitude was, “Didn’t your father give you any backbone?”

What was scary about talking to Don was the feeling he was talking about things that Zane simply didn’t know anything about, that maybe he was right. There was a whole other world out there that Zane knew nothing about and found disturbing to try to grapple with. Don’s last job was at a print shop in the East Bay. Many of his co-workers had been Hell’s Angels. He scored a lot of speed pills from them. His language had become more hard-edge and violent. He liked to talk about brute force and intimidation. He was looking at the world through the prism of primitive power dynamics. Zane didn’t buy into Don’s world view, but he wasn’t very good at defending himself against it. He didn’t have the clever language to parry and thrust in response to Don’s philosophic attacks. Don had moved into a world where even men in partnership competed with each other. Sometimes Zane felt he was back in junior high or high school dealing with some guy who was always shoving someone around simply because he could, simply because he was bigger and stronger. Zane held his own when they played chess or Go, a Japanese board game. Zane usually won and could see Don’s anger when he lost.

Don wouldn’t have been Zane’s first choice to hang out with, but he was available and others weren’t. There were signs that Don wasn’t going down a good path, but Zane didn’t know how to deal with that. He was just beginning his study of psychology and beginning to piece a few things together for himself. What was Don trying to prove? What demons was he trying to exorcise? Zane was trying to figure it out. How had Don gone from the talented piano-playing, happy go-lucky cavalier with debonair good looks and charm with the ladies to this crude drunk who often had an angry edge to anything he said? He hadn’t really had a girlfriend since he blew off the girl next door on Linden Alley. Those who knew more than Zane said he really treated her like shit, and that was in the days when quite a lot of obnoxious male behavior was tolerated without comment. When he and Vince lived at the commune they went by to see Don one day and found him passed out on his kitchen floor, dead drunk with his front door wide open and no one else around. They closed the front door and left.

As Zane began to soak up some of the psychological knowledge available at Sonoma State he pieced together other bits of the story. He’d always suspected that too much speed was part of the story because he’d seen it quickly unravel other people. The theory of Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome was being put together mostly at the behest of Vietnam Veterans. The pervasive and long-term effects of severe trauma were being increasingly well-documented. There were already Vietnam Vets wandering the streets of American cities homeless, drug-addicted, and barely able to take care of themselves. The rate of suicide among these Vets eventually superseded all the deaths that happened in the war itself. Being a bad-ass warrior in the circumstances of modern warfare clearly had devastating negative consequences.

In high school Don was in a major car crash. He was in the back seat, and his best friend died right next to him. Don was hospitalized for a length of time with his first set of disabling injuries. While he was going to UC Berkeley, he was riding his motorcycle up highway one south of Big Sur when a car cut a curve and creamed him up against the hillside, shattering the leg on the car side. He was lucky to survive that one with a long hospitalization and a lingering knee problem. Then there was the sinking of the fishing boat in Monterey Bay, no serious injuries but terrifying in the first few minutes. Then he had some crazy idea he picked up along the way that he wasn’t going to live past the age of 21 anyway. Maybe the Don who had soul didn’t live past 21. His injuries had kept him out of the army and out of Nam, but in some ways he was as traumatized as any vet.

Zane’s brother, Lee, came for a visit toward the end of summer.

“You wanna go check out Don’s new fishing boat?”

“Sure. Why not?”

“He and this guy Wade have really been working their asses off to get the thing in shape. Maybe it’ll really work for him this time.”

“He’s not going to sink this one?”

“Let’s keep our fingers crossed. He’s determined to have everything the way it’s supposed to be this time. He took it down the river and into the bay once, but there were some problems so he came back to work on it some more. No more blind faith, he’s doing it by the book this time.”

“Well, I wish him luck. I think I’m more like Joe, one boat sinking in my life, and I’m done.”

They found Don and Wade in the engine compartment.

“You wanna beer?”

“Sure.”

“You know where to find it.”

Zane and Lee each cracked a beer and sat down at the table in the cabin. The engine compartment was just a few feet away. They were still working on their first beer. The mechanics were finishing their work. Lee was exchanging sarcastic banter with the mechanics and tossing asides to Zane, a bunch of guys being guys mutually harassing each other but all in good fun.

“Think we’re ready to crank her over?”

“Don’t see why not.”

Zane looked at Lee, “Hey, we’re here for the grand inauguration.”

Don pushed the starter button. The engine caught fire, literally. There were flames in the engine compartment.

“Fire.”

“Shit!”

“Get the fire extinguisher.” There was a fire extinguisher on board. One of them grabbed it in the chaos. It didn’t work.

Lee to Zane, “We better get out of here.” The flames were already blocking the stairs out of the cabin. There was a small sliding window above the table. Zane immediately went out head first. The window was just large enough. Lee followed and did fine except his wallet caught on the edge of the window. Zane pulled him the rest of the way out.

“The other boat. See if it’s got a fire extinguisher.” Zane found the fire extinguisher in the other boat and ran it over to Don. It didn’t work either. By now the flames had rapidly advanced and were already beginning to engulf the whole boat. Zane slipped and fell in the river as he was trying to work himself around the other boat to see if there might be another fire extinguisher, so he was wandering around soaking wet and realized he’d left his glasses on the cabin table.

“We better cut it loose so it doesn’t catch the dock on fire.” They cast off the ropes and the inferno began to float slowly down the river. The fire department arrived, looked at the mess and just shook their heads.

“That boat’s a total loss. Can’t save anything out of that.”

“Might as well let her burn. Our hoses can’t really do much from here anyway.”

The sinking feeling sunk lower. Within five minutes they’d gone from jubilation at completing the engine repair to the awful realization of total disaster. No one died, but the fishing boat dream had taken another direct hit. Zane and Lee stuck around. They didn’t know what else to do. It was a warm night so Zane’s clothes gradually dried on him. Wade left and came back with a gas powered pump. He waded out on the marshland where the hull had run aground and sprayed it with river water until it was dead out. All of them who’d been around boats knew what had caused the fire.

Most fishing boats have diesel engines. They are the safest. Gas engines in confined engine compartments will accumulate fumes. These fumes can be volatile when the engine is fired up. Boats with gas engines have fans and vents. Before ever starting the engine, you’re supposed to run the fan for a minute to clear the fumes. In their excitement about a long job possibly completed, they had forgotten that basic safety rule. Wade was the most experienced around boats. He felt terrible and terribly responsible. Don was already spinning with his ongoing bad luck. Zane and Lee felt lucky to be alive after their narrow escape from the cabin.

Sometimes Don’s directness was useful. He was around his house a lot more after the loss of the latest fishing boat. Zane still had few other people to talk to.

“I keep thinking about Amanda.”

“What about her?”

“I think I made a terrible mistake by leaving her behind.”

“Maybe you did.”

“Even my father asked me about her.”

“No shit?”

“Yeah, when we were stuck there on our way to the Southwest, one day I’m talking about some plans Jeanie and I were making. He says, ‘I thought you were in love with Amanda.’ Hit me like a ton of bricks.”

“Well, are you?”

“I don’t know. I can’t get her out of my mind.”

“Sounds like you better do something.”

“Yeah, but what?”

“Do you know where she is?”

“Yeah, it’s complicated. She had a kid. The guy is in state prison. But yeah, she’s in Santa Barbara.”

“You wanna see her?”

“Well yeah, but…”

“What’s holding you back?”

“Well, I’m with Jeanie, and…”

“You are such an asshole sometimes. You’re not really with Jeanie. You haven’t been with her since you guys were living in Santa Rosa. You’re just hanging onto something. I don’t even know what you’re hanging onto. You think she doesn’t know? I mean, shit or get off the pot.”

Although he hated to admit he was such an idiot, Zane knew Don was right about this one. He had to do something about Amanda. He couldn’t just continue to fantasize about her while keeping up some pretense of being with Jeanie. He realized the fantasies had begun after she stopped by the Santa Rosa house one day last spring. She’d only stayed a short time. Zane was tongue-tied but enraptured by her presence, and then she was gone again. How could he have been so stupid as to let her go, not just let her go, drive her away. Fear was the only adequate answer, fear of making a commitment, fear of really taking a stand for something, fear of ending his fanciful existence where everything remained in potential because nothing was actually done. It was like floating around in the astral realms full of mythical beings and grand stories, but never really incarnating, never really inhabiting a body and seeing what it would be like to choose to live a particular human life.

Amanda was the one he should have chosen. Amanda was the one he should have pursued. Amanda was the one he should have placed above all others. Amanda was the one who came for him, and he had thrown her away. He wrote her a letter.

“…I’ve never loved anyone the way I loved you. You were the one, and I was an idiot. I made a terrible mistake. Please, give me another chance…” The letter went on for three pages, but basically repeated the same ideas.

A week later she responded with a card, Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. Inside it said simply, “OK, come see me.” and her phone number. He called and arranged with her when to visit and got directions to her house. He had started classes at Sonoma State, but this trip took precedence over any academic pursuits. He could miss a few days of classes. He told Jeanie about his plans.

“Do what you gotta do. You gotta get this figured out.” She’d felt him leaving her by inches for many months. She was similarly leaving him. She told Zane she would visit her parents while he was gone. Her real reason was to visit her once in a while boyfriend in Fresno. So she had options, and didn’t feel so bad that Zane might run off with Amanda. She just wanted to be happy. She wanted him to be happy, too. They hadn’t been happy together for quite a while.

Zane took a long weekend break from Sonoma State and drove to Santa Barbara. Amanda’s house reminded him of her house in Sacramento which had been the location when things between them were fresh and happy and passionate. He drove with a sense of wishing he’d had the sense to hang onto her, value her as special and unique instead of allowing her to drift away like so much flotsam and jetsam. He should have taken command of his life, made decisions, made choices. What he had done instead was allow himself to drift with no sense of one direction being any better than another. And in some ways the passion scared him. To be so energized somehow brought up all his fears of not being good enough, not being good enough for her. He didn’t want to care so much that when she left him it would really hurt.

“Oh my God, I’m not good enough for her,” he thought, and immediately didn’t want to have that thought. She was too good for him, and he believed she would eventually realize that and leave him. “What the hell am I doing going to see her? What a chump! What do I think I’m going to do?”

With all these thoughts rolling around in his mind, he rolled into Santa Barbara and found Amanda’s house. She was cordial. They hugged. She invited him in.

“You know I wasn’t so sure what to do when I got your letter, but my most of my friends said to give you a chance. What harm could it do?”

All that had played in his mind were memories of how it had been before. He didn’t have a plan about how he was going to win her back. He hadn’t even made plans about what he was going to say to her. He’d pretty much said everything he was capable of saying in the letter. Now he was with her he didn’t even find those words. She kept talking.

“I’d like to go to Sacramento. You remember Susan I used to live with. Since you’re here we could drive together.”

“That sounds good.” “Ah, a plan I don’t have to figure out,” thought Zane.  “Yeah, I remember Susan.”

Perhaps Zane could have apologized for his ill treatment of her three years before. Since he still had little insight into his own process, it was difficult to know how to apologize. He also had little experience with apologies.

“Where’s your baby?”

“He’s with my parents. They take him a lot. Helps me out. When I get it together I’ll have him more. They really like having him.

Zane thought but didn’t say it how many times he’d seen starry-eyed hippy chicks get caught up in the romanticism of having a baby, but weren’t really up for the reality when it hit.

“You remember when you said you wanted to have a baby with me?”

“Very much.”

“It really freaked me out. I’d just gone through that, you know had a baby that I’d never seen. It was too much.

“You should have talked to me. It was just a feeling. It wasn’t like it had to happen the next day. But you never said anything.”

“I know. I got so scared so fast, I just froze. I was paralyzed.”

“It’s really too bad. So all the backpedaling started there?”

“Pretty much. It was like after that, things you did that I might have liked before, all of a sudden I was all critical about.”

“I felt it. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, and then I got scared and started doing things I think are stupid.”

“Like what?”

“Like being all desperate and clingy.”

“Oh, yeah.”

The Opposite is Also True

When the student is ready, the teacher appears

–Buddhist Proverb.

Zane and Amanda were starting to have a conversation of understanding and reconciliation. Then the phone rang. She talked for a minute. Then she covered the mouthpiece with her hand, “It’s this guy I been seeing. He wants to come over for a few minutes. Is that all right?”

Zane should have said, “No,” but he didn’t feel like he had any right to tell her what to do. His guilt disabled him.

“I guess so.”

She should have said, “No,” but she was keeping her options open, trying to be friendly to everyone, not wanting either one of these guys to get mad.

“He’s got a girlfriend, but we hang out sometimes.”

Zane didn’t know what that meant until Jack came over. They were openly affectionate with each other and laid down on the bed together wrapped in each other’s arms. Zane went out on the front porch feeling uncertain and shaky. Jack left within a few minutes.

“You could have stayed.”

“Didn’t really want to.”

They never got back to the difficult conversation. As bedtime approached, Amanda set out the ground rules. “You can sleep with me tonight, but I have a yeast infection so we can’t really do anything.”

Zane was disappointed. Once again her proneness to urinary tract infections was a detour sign at a crossroads. Since their whole initial connection with each other had largely been based on the fireworks and passion generated between them, perhaps the limitation on sexual activity was the major determining factor. As they readied for bed, Zane notice that her body really had changed. Guess having babies really does change a woman’s body. Her breasts were looser and her body was fuller than he remembered.

As they crawled under the covers Amanda asked, “How did you like the evening?”

“Okay, I guess, a little weird at times. How did you like it?

She looked him right in the eyes and declared, “It was merry,” turned the light off and soon was asleep with her back toward him.

He heard, “It was Mary,” and began tripping on Mary, his grandmother, a tough Irish gal whose mother had been an orphan. He didn’t sleep the entire night. It was like the night in southern Humboldt County when he was chanting his middle name like a mantra, only this time he’d hardly smoked anything. An entire story evolved during the course of the night. His grandmother Mary had wanted him to be with Jeanie. She was her namesake her middle name being Jean. It was Mary who had made sure that Zane did not stay connected to Amanda.

This particular trance state could have been a story from one of his anthropology texts about a tribe whose entire destiny is guided by their ancestors. No important decisions are made without consulting the ancestors. So grandma had set things up the way they were, and Zane was powerless in the face of her power. He hadn’t previously thought she cared that much about him, being the youngest of fifteen grandchildren. Clearly she was watching over him like a sentinel, and Amanda was not on her good list for Zane. All of this information was playing like a movie in his head. When the movie ended it simply began again and played through one more time.

Now what? Sunlight penetrated the darkness of that eerie night, but Zane was left with the unmistakable impression that the Spirit World had spoken to him and given him an unequivocal, “No,” with regard to further relations with Amanda. The roadblocks and detour signs were accumulating rapidly. He was shaken by the very idea that his grandma would care that much about his life. In one way it made him feel important, like his life mattered enough for some dead ancestor to intervene. On the other hand it was definitely not the kind of experience people talked about even in the world of psychedelics. People were more often trying to escape the influence of their parents and ancestors rather than being receptive subjects to their influence. People talked about every other kind of spiritual experience including past lives. Ancestors had not been on the list.

How to get through the rest of this trip? Zane suggested a back road over the mountains to Bakersfield. They cut off of 101 south of Santa Barbara to connect with the south end of highway 33 near Ojai then north between the Santa Barbara Mountains and the Tehachipis.  The road passed between two remote wilderness areas, high dry mountains covered with brown-green vegetation and low trees. It all looked way too dry to even grow trees. They hardly saw a car on the road and no settlements for close to fifty miles. Zane had grown up in Bakersfield and never come this direction into this dry eerie otherworldly landscape of scrub and tinder.

He tried making smalltalk about the scenery. “Hell of a place for a forest fire.”

“This land is spooky. Doesn’t anyone live here?”

“Who’d want to?”

“I’m glad we’re not staying.”

“California Condors live around here somewhere.”

“I know.”

“Ever see one?”

“No.”

“I did in a zoo once, part of a breeding program to keep ‘em from going extinct. They are big and ugly, bigger and uglier than a turkey vulture.”

On the drive Zane thought about trying to explain his experiences of the night before. How could he tell Amanda that the ghost of his grandma had haunted him all night? How could he tell her that grandma didn’t approve of her? He could barely grasp what had happened himself   and was frozen again. The thaw that had begun before the phone-call last night was long gone.  Neither was the land speaking to them in a light fluffy way. Just the opposite, there was something dark and foreboding, like this was the land of evil omens. They both felt it. Where they dropped into the San Joaquin Valley is some of the bleakest landscape on the planet. Sections around Maricopa are a white alkali desert. The soil is so alkaline nothing grows and the surface is bright white like the product of some chemical plant. By the time they reached Bakersfield both had been drained rather than renewed by the nature they had passed through.

Zane’s parents had both recently retired and were on the first of many travels they would partake in during their long years of active retirement. So the house was open for Zane and Amanda as a way station on their route north. They settled into the parents bed where Zane had last slept with Beth.

“I’m not going to Sacramento with you.”

“I suspected as much.” She had felt all day how closed down he was toward her. Perhaps letting Jack come over had been a mistake. After his visit she and Zane hadn’t been able to get back to the little bit of openness they had experienced at the inception of their time together. Maybe it couldn’t be helped. Maybe it would have turned out the same way. She was pretty self-protective when it came to him. Maybe she had intentionally sabotaged any chance of closeness. Maybe she was testing him to see if he had anything for her other than sexual desire. Maybe she was as afraid as he was to open again as deeply as they once had with the chance that it would be followed by just as deep a pain. Maybe the yeast infection was a convenient excuse or a lucky protection. Maybe on some deep level she wanted to get him back for the hurt and rejection she’d felt three years ago, give him a taste of his own medicine.

“I can drop you at the Greyhound.”

“That’s all right. I’ll hitch. Just get me to the highway.”

The fear they felt for each other made each of them want to facilitate a speedy separation. The next morning Zane dropped her on Highway 99, the same spot he had started from on his first trip to the City in 1962. He waited until she got her first ride, and then drove back to his parents’ house. He called Jeanie at her parents’ house in Fresno.

“It was a mistake. I want to see you. Can you come down? We could go to Yosemite before going home.”

“That quick you decided it was a mistake. What happened?”

“Night before last, my grandma visited me and talked to me all night. She wants me to be with you.”

“Who do you want to be with?”

“Before I couldn’t decide. Now I want to be with you.”

Jeanie wasn’t so sure. She’d seen Zane’s vacillations enough times to be suspicious of whatever he said. She still held some hope of things working out between them. The guy in Fresno was just a dalliance, fun, good for her self-esteem but not going anywhere. Besides he wasn’t going to leave Fresno, and she definitely wasn’t going to move back there.

“Okay, I’ll check out the buses. I’ll call you when to meet me.”

“Okay, thanks, I love you.”

Maybe he did love her, and maybe he was just grateful at the moment to not be abandoned. He believed he didn’t deserve her faithfulness. She sometimes wondered why she was faithful except for her occasional trips to Fresno.

He picked her up at the bus station. They had sex on the living room floor of his parents’ house. It was not particularly satisfying to either one of them. Zane noticed sores on his penis after this encounter. He would later learn he had contracted herpes. The next day they drove to Yosemite. The weather at the higher elevations had turned winter-like. The only route open into the Valley was up the Merced River. The campgrounds were virtually deserted. Before nightfall they saw a coyote standing majestically in his winter coat right there on the valley floor not fifty yards from their camp. Zane drained all the water out of the radiator of the old panel truck in preparation for a sub-freezing night.

They hiked the trail toward Bridal Veil Falls. The day was crisp enough to almost be biting, but also invigorating. For a couple of miles the climb was almost effortless. Then they came to a sheet of ice that covered the trail for a distance of at least twenty yards. It was a barrier they couldn’t get past. It looked like flowing water had been quick frozen in place. Zane could see himself taking one step on it and quickly sliding to the bottom the hill on hard ice. They turned back content that they gotten part way up the trail in late fall and seen some breathtakingly beautiful country.

Despite having an ice chest with a latch which Zane had shoved underneath a picnic table for the duration of the previous night, the raccoons had pilfered the steaks they’d brought for dinner. So they scarfed some canned pork and beans and felt glad to have something substantial to eat. The plan was to rise early the next morning and drive to Sacramento for Zane’s interview with the California State Parks.

Zane refilled the radiator, and they were at the West Entrance before 8 o’clock. An older man in an overcoat was hitchhiking out of the park.

“Where you headed?”

“Merced.”

“We can get you there.”

The man got in the front seat, and Jeanie moved to the back after giving Zane a “What the hell are you doing?” look. Zane soon regretted his decision. The guy definitely had weird creepy vibes, and Zane thought seriously about the hatchet he had stashed under his seat. What little conversation that ensued was awkward and strained, but nothing happened. They paralleled the Merced River down into the San Joaquin Valley, let the guy out somewhere in Merced, and headed north on 99.

“What were you thinking?”

“I don’t know. I pick up hitchhikers.”

“Couldn’t you tell how weird he was?”

“Not until he got in the truck, and then it was too late. Hey, nothing happened.”

“We were lucky. I thought he was going to kill us or dump us out and steal the truck.”

“Look, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t ever do that again. If you’re alone it’s one thing, but I’m a ready-made victim.”

“I kept thinking about the hatchet under the seat.”

“Yeah, if you could get to it before he got you.”

“Sorry.”

Zane was embarrassed. He knew he’d made a mistake, and they were lucky nothing had happened. The next realization was that he was running really late for the interview. No way would they make it to Sacramento in time.

“Guess I missed the interview.”

“Yeah, that’s too bad. Seemed like a good opportunity.”

“Must not have been meant to be.”

“Yeah, right.” Jeanie was feeling more and more disgusted. Why had she consented to even meet him in Bakersfield? It was over. If he didn’t leave her for Amanda, one of them would leave for someone. It might have to be her. Their life seemed to be a series of small disasters. Hopefully there wouldn’t be a big one. They turned west toward the Bay Area to return to their mediocre life in Petaluma. They returned to their separate bedrooms and didn’t have sex again. She didn’t hate him. She still wished him well. She just wanted to be free.

Zane’s continued involvement at Sonoma State was rebuilding his confidence and overall well-being. Even in the touchy-feely experiential atmosphere of the humanistic psychology program his intellectual brilliance was still an asset. He was making new friends. Girls were flirting with him, throwing their scent his way and waiting for him to make a move. He wasn’t quite ready for that, but the attention felt good. He wrote poetry about how he’d “love to lie with all of them”. Spring semester he took the Zen class again. Ben Wong had returned after a semester of leave to pursue his own practices. Zane soon felt that he’d found his teacher. Ben had a way of explaining in simple terms the simplicity of Zen practice, just sitting, breath awareness, non-striving, right effort, right attitude, etc. He emphasized the Buddha’s First Noble Truth, the reality of pain, that human existence inevitably involves suffering. Don’t try to avoid it or run away from it. Sit with it. Make friends with your fear, anxiety, anger and lust. Resistance only makes them bigger. Include all of it in your meditation. Just keep breathing, neither pursuing or shutting out the thoughts, feelings and body sensations which inevitably arise. It’s a practice of gradual enlightenment. To sit zazen is to practice enlightenment. Don’t worry about goals, just do the practice.

Zane began meditating every morning. He could tell the difference in how his days went. It was especially noticeable on days when he didn’t meditate. He was more anxious, less centered, coping less well with whatever life offered. So the feedback loop definitely motivated him to keep meditating.

Ben had his own retreat center on Sonoma Mountain, the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center. He invited his students from Sonoma State to take part in the activities at the Center, which included half days of meditation practice, instruction and Dharma-talk on most Saturdays except when there was sesshin, which was a three day or longer meditation retreat. Zane decided to participate in a sesshin. It started on a Friday evening. Saturday mornings began at 5 AM with the ringing of a large reverberating bell. There were alternating sessions of sitting meditation, walking meditation, discourse, formal meals, and work such as sweeping out the zendo until 9 PM or later. Legs and backs got sore and tired. Minds rebelled against the simplicity of the practice, wanting to do almost anything else. Zane wasn’t used to such steady discipline, but he hung in until Sunday afternoon, and suddenly left with only two hours remaining in the retreat.

He returned several days later for dokusan, an individual interview with the teacher. Bill was a mixture of the expected and the unexpected. He sat calmly in his robes and seemed to carefully reflect on everything that was said. He held a Pall Mall cigarette passing it from one hand to the other, stroking the length of it. He never did light it.

“I noticed you left.”

“Yeah, I just couldn’t do any more.”

“You are fighting with yourself.”

Zane wasn’t sure if that was a statement or a question, “Yeah, I guess.”

“Not necessary to work so hard.”

Zane changed the subject. “I had two very powerful dreams.”

“Tell me.”

“In one my mother had died, and I was crying uncontrollably.”

“Normal response to losing a mother.”

“In the other I was sitting with Anthony Gordon, my mentor-teacher. There was a rape going on in an adjoining room. Anthony just sat and smiled.”

“That was disturbing.”

Again the ambivalence for Zane, was that a statement or a question. “Yes, I wanted to do something, but it seemed that I couldn’t for some reason.”

“Yes, it’s natural to want to do something.”

Zane left with more questions than answers. There was something about this contemplative attitude he didn’t totally grasp. He was reminded of Suzuki Roshi’s answer to him, “It’s not a bad thing, because it’s not a good thing.”

Besides Zen, the other subject that had caught his interest was Jungian psychology. In a Jungian oriented dream group, he determined that the dreams were related to anima, the female soul image within a man. He wondered in what way he was allowing his feminine soul to be raped under the benign observance of his Jungian psychology teacher, and what did he need to do about it. Perhaps he was also the rapist. He’d been taught by Anthony that all things in his dream were parts of himself. What did this all have to do with Jeanie and Amanda, if anything? He didn’t have answers to his questions. Ben had said it was natural to want to do something, but what? The teacher in the dream almost seemed to be enjoying it. That was bothersome too. If he was raping his anima, observing the rape of his soul or feminine half, and also cruelly enjoying it, what the hell did that say about him. He didn’t like that conclusion. If he was doing this, why was he doing it?

Well, what had caused him or allowed him to drift into a long-term loveless, sexless relationship? Where was his soul in all of this? If he couldn’t be with Amanda, having closed and bolted that door in his mind, and things were not at all working out with Jeanie, then what?Meanwhile Jeanie continued to reclaim control of her life. She met someone, a Cuban drummer, and was off and running in the throes of an exciting new romance. On some barely conscious level Zane could feel the life force moving in her. It made her attractive. He made one more play for her, even jumping into bed with her one night. She resisted his advances, having already begun to open her heart to someone else. One night she asked if she and her new lover could spend the night at the Petaluma house she shared with Zane. Exemplary of how out of touch he really was with his own feelings, he gave his approval.

Zane’s other bright idea was to eat some peyote buttons he had on hand. So in the middle of the night, Jeanie and Carlos were making love on one side of a thin wall. On the other side a few feet away Zane was on peyote. He went into a scene of being a soldier who had been wounded on a battlefield. The battle had moved on. He was mortally wounded and dying, but it was very painful and was taking a very long time. The scene did not change like it usually does on psychedelics. He was absolutely certain he was in a past life experience. In this battlefield scene he said to himself, “I will never do this again.”

The next day he told Jeanie he couldn’t handle a repeat of the previous night’s events.

“I thought it was over between us.”

“Well, I guess it is, but it’s still painful. I just can’t handle having it in my face.”

“Okay, we just didn’t have any other place to be.”

Within a month Jeanie moved out leaving Zane with the house. Somehow the separation energized him. Perhaps he was just running scared. Perhaps pulling the plug on the negative feedback, sick dependency loop they had been running freed up a lot of energy for other pursuits. Zane bought himself a Ford station wagon. Jeanie took the truck. Zane got a job as a ranch hand on a dairy farm outside the town of Sonoma. He was paid cash so it didn’t interfere with his disability payments or create any kind of paper trail. Every morning he was there by 6 o’clock to collect a herd of 35 cows from their grazing acreage and drive them to the barn to be milked. The old rancher wanted to chitchat about Zane’s love life, which was virtually non-existent, so he made up stories to satisfy the old guy. The rancher went out every Saturday night to Little Switzerland and danced till the bar closed with every lady who was present. His wife tolerated this as long as he eventually got back home when the bar closed. He still had to do the morning milking at 6 o’clock.

A new friend at Sonoma State read astrology charts, tarot cards and did past-life regressions. Based on his most recent peyote trip, Zane was intrigued with the past-life possibilities. They ended up doing several sessions together, two of which stood out dramatically as having influence into the current life. Zane and Jimmy had been hot-shot warriors together in ancient Persia. They believed they were invincible until Jimmy got killed. Zane went into a depression from which he never fully recovered, his confidence and bravado thoroughly eroded by the death of his best friend.

The other lifetime was even more dramatic. Zane was a woman with a group of women who were a coven in the middle ages. The leader of the coven was Amanda. A group of husbands surprised them in the middle of a ceremony. They killed Amanda and drug their wives home declaring an end to their heretical foolishness. Zane remembered how he would instinctually flinch at a certain look in Amanda’s eyes, and the lock of silver hair hidden just above her forehead.

Zane’s neighbors included a mother and daughter who were loud and kind of trailer-trashy. The daughter was already dropping acid and going to junior high school. They figured out Zane was living alone and proposed a roommate to him, an eighteen year old friend of theirs. Zane talked to him. He seemed okay. He moved in. Within days Zane’s house was party central. Teenage friends of Craig were drinking, smoking and partying every night. At first Zane joined in, but he had the early morning cattle drive, and burning the candle at both ends wasn’t working so well. Then the landlord told him that Craig and his loud parties had to go. At first Zane tried to defend Craig. The landlord was not sympathetic.

“I’ve known this boy for a long time. He’s just a con. Do you want your house or do you want your con? Either  he goes, or you both go.”

“Okay, I’ll tell him he has to go.”

The mother and daughter blamed Zane for Craig’s exit from the neighborhood and were overtly unfriendly to him from that time on. Zane found a better roommate, a guy about his own age who paid his rent and lived his own life and didn’t cause any trouble. A relative peace and balance descended on the digs in Petaluma except for Don who seemed to be spending more time drinking and isolating in his little house. Whenever Zane went over to see him, he was depressed or snarly or both. Zane was less interested in spending chunks of time drinking and verbally sparring. His relative healthiness and new friendships at Sonoma State felt a lot better than the darkness and stench that pervaded Don’s house. Don had begun seeing a couple of high class, high-priced psychiatrists, one in the City and one in Marin. They didn’t seem to be helping. Zane went to see each of them once and wasn’t impressed. He saw a lot more potential in working with his mentors at Sonoma State.

Love’s Illusions?

Raven hair and ruby lips

        sparks fly from her fingertips

Echoed voices in the night

she’s a restless spirit on an endless flight

–The Eagles

A relative calm had descended upon the house and property east of Petaluma. Don was in his slow downward spiral, but Zane had a responsible roommate. He’d made a little extra money working on the dairy farm. He was lonely but not desperately so. One day a new friend came by. Fred had been one of the teaching assistants in his group process class. They’d struck up a friendship and continued to hang out from time to time. Fred lived and worked in the City and did the reverse commute to attend Sonoma State. In certain ways he was repressed and hyper-intellectual, but he also explored some of the most fringy psychotherapies that were in vogue. He was particularly drawn to the Reichian/bioenergetics body therapy approaches. Deep painful massage, going to bed with a baby bottle, sex toys, and exercise systems that elicited enough body energy flow to induce trembling all over: all these were included among his practices. He worked nights as a janitor in the P.G. & E. building in the City. He told about catching catnaps in the toilet stalls by propping himself between the throne and the door. He projected an aura of down-to-earth ease but was really highly anxious and agitated inside.

An old green VW van rolled up the driveway. A rather tall woman stepped out of the driver’s side. The first thing he saw was one leg stepping down to the ground, then a broad quizzical smile and blue blue eyes set off by dark brown hair and lightly-tanned skin.

“This is Krishanna. She’s one of my roommates in the City.”

There was an instant sizzle between them. Zane didn’t fall all over himself, but he was extremely attentive. The afternoon sped by in a blur or a dream.

“You wanna come hang out in the City with us?” She was making the offer.

“Sure, I’m not doing anything important.”

Fred took the back seat, and let Zane ride up front with Krishanna. Fred could see what was happening and didn’t want to get in the way. In fact he was enjoying watching. He knew Krishanna from living with her and would definitely have hesitated before plunging into anything with her, but if that’s what Zane wanted to do, more power to him. He watched the playful chitchat about this and that, but more he watched the energy of attraction like something almost tangible humming between them and drawing them together.

They lived in Noe Valley, south of the Castro in the City, typical San Francisco flat with several bedrooms off a main hallway and kitchen and bathroom at the back end of the place. Night was falling. Fred excused himself.

“Catch a nap before I go to work.”

Left to themselves, Krishanna invited Zane into her room. They sat on the bed looking at each other expectantly with slightly nervous, slightly expectant smiles on their faces.

“Smoke some pot?” Zane had brought a couple of rolled joints.

“Sure, I’d love to.”

They smoked and relaxed. Casual contact flowed into more obvious reaching out for each other. The heat of the sizzle rose quickly.

“Let’s go to bed.”

“Yes, ma’am.” They stripped off clothes and fell naked into each other’s arms, kissing, holding, stroking. She had a model’s body, long slim legs and breasts just big enough and her long dark hair flowing over shoulders and breasts. She kissed as vigorously as he kissed her. Passion and desire took them on an undulating ride that lasted most of the night. They made love and in no time at all were making love again, her long legs wrapped around his body or thrown back in exultant joy. They shouted their orgasms together in exaltation. In the early morning hours they had expended themselves and more than half the night and fell into a deep floating-on-clouds soulful slumber, not waking together until late morning.

Krishanna was passionate about everything. Her emotions bubbled over in response or reaction to everything around her. She was also naturally flirtatious with most men. Zane noticed that when they went by her work that day. She had a paycheck, and since she worked at a coffeehouse, they could get some quality cappuccinos to brighten up a foggy day in San Francisco. She teased her co-workers with a wink and a smile and a toss of her hair. Zane was already thinking, ‘I think I’ve got a tiger by the tail,’ but he was hooked and on board for the ride. She was obviously giving him more attention than anyone else, as well as the intimate touching that no one else was getting. She touched and squeezed him in his most intimate parts, under the table, walking down the street, and especially if they were alone or even semi-secluded.

She got very interested when he told her about the Humanistic Psych Program he was involved in at Sonoma State.

“Wow, that sounds like just what I’ve been looking for. Why haven’t I heard about this before.”

“It’s pretty new. Come up and check it out. It’s really cool how you can pretty much do whatever you want to do and get credit for it, even get a master’s degree.”

“Yeah, so you really like Sonoma State?”

“I love it there.”

“Okay, well I definitely don’t want to do the usual dry boring academic psychology full of rat labs and behaviorism.”

“Sounds like you’ve looked around.”

“Oh, yeah!”

Krishanna checked out the Humanistic Psych Program. In short order she moved in with Zane in Petaluma and they were both on a path to being kind of undefined graduate students at Sonoma State. Krishanna was a star wherever she went. She had a kind of lioness quality that made people want to get close to her whether for sensual warmth or entertainment or both.

They had a few weeks before the start of school so they decided to do a road trip preceded by a backpacking trip. They tossed their gear into her VW van and headed out for the Sierras. At a discount outfitter on Market Street they had even found a matching second-hand sleeping bag to zip together with the one Krishanna already had. They had everything they needed, most especially each other.

First destination was an area north of Yosemite called Emigrant Basin Primitive Area. Zane had chosen it in hopes of avoiding the crowds that increasingly overwhelmed the more popular and well-known areas of the Sierras. They drove up the Sonora Pass road to a trailhead known as Kennedy Meadows. Krishanna was a big strong girl. She easily packed her fair share of the weight. First day out is always an adjustment, elevation, carrying 25-40 lbs. and hiking all day. They did well. Zane was in pretty good shape from chasing cows the early part of the summer. Krishanna had been doing dance classes in the City. They carried Zane’s vinyl pup tent for use only in emergencies. It condensed water from the moisture of one’s breath, so the inside began to drip by the end of the night. It was better than sleeping in the rain but far from perfection. Otherwise they would sleep under the stars.

On the second day they crossed Summit Creek and found a beautiful secluded spot on the opposite side from the trail. This was their home for the next few days.

“So how did you get the name Krishanna?”

“Chose it. Well, actually it came to me, and then I chose it.”

“Came to you?”

“Yeah, I was in a kind of trance state.”

“Like a dream”

“Yeah, like a dream, except I was awake. I’d been dancing really hard, really getting into it. I guess I overdid. When I finally rested, I guess I kind of passed out or went unconscious. All I remember is this voice like from far away almost wailing over and over again like someone calling you from a long ways away, ‘Krishanna, Krishanna, Krishanna.’ When I woke up I decided it must be my name.”

“Wow, what was your name before?”

Reluctantly she murmured, “Peggy.”

“Oh my God, you are not a Peggy.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Like Peggy for Margaret?”

“Yup.”

“You’re not a Margaret either. Were you ever?”

“Maybe as a little, little kid I was a Peggy. The older I got the more I hated it.”

“At least they could have called you Maggie.”

“Yeah, that would have been better.”

“So like female Krishna.”

“Uh-huh.”

“So do you visit all the goat boys at night like Krishna did with the cow-herding girls?”

“I’ll never tell.”

They both laughed. “I’m glad you visit me.”

“So am I.”

They embraced, kissed, and made love in the open air in the middle of a sunny afternoon. Zane was ecstatic to have a backpacking partner who was also at times ultra-feminine, alluring, seductive and even exotic. Someone to study psychology with, someone to play in the wilderness with, someone to make mad passionate love with. After several years of feeling somewhat lost and some months of rather ugly depression, he was really happy to begin receiving some blessings. Also they seemed to genuinely agree so often it was uncanny.

In the middle of the fourth night they were caught in a sudden squall. They grabbed their sleeping bags and fled for the shelter of a thick-branched tree. The rain lasted no more than ten minutes, but they stayed under the tree for the rest of the night. In the morning the weather was definitely turning wet and stormy. They packed up to leave certainly wanting to re-cross the creek before it became swollen with the oncoming rain. When they reached the trail they seemed to have the same crazy idea. They both looked down the trail, then up the trail, then at each other.

“Shall we?”

“Why not?”

Zane started up the trail. Krishanna was right with him. The heroic adventurers in each of them were running the show. The rain soon got heavy and they donned their ponchos which kept themselves and their backpacks reasonably dry. The trail led them toward a pass dividing the Stanislaus and Tuolumne watersheds. Lightning began crashing all around them. Neither of them flinched. They just kept hiking. No sense stopping or trying to hide. That wouldn’t make them any safer from the lightning. Just have faith and hike. Four deer skittered across their path moving down into the trees below them. They were probably crazy to be climbing higher in this weather, but both of them seemed to be exhilarated by the combination of fire and water they were being subjected to. By the time they reached the pass, the thunder and lightning had passed on and the rain had slackened. It was all downhill to Deer Lake which they reached before nightfall.

They used the tent that night as the ground was sopping wet, as was any potential firewood. They feasted on dried fruits and nuts which were darn near as good as any freeze-dried whatever anyway. The weather had cleared by morning. They hit the trail. They were now two days in from the trailhead, feeling strong and just wanting to see some country. There was plenty of oohing and aahing. The colors, especially the occasional red rock formations, were brighter in the post-storm dampness. The miles passed easily and they were soon stashing gear in the van and heading on north. They took highways 49 and 89 to stay in the mountains as they slowly wended their way with no particular itinerary but a vague sense of direction.

Two nights out they stopped at Red Lake. There were bear tracks in the mud along the lakeshore. They decided to sleep in the van that night, not further tempting fate. They stopped at Mt. Lassen and hiked to the top of the peak. There was a well-maintained trail all the way to the summit, easy pickings after all the hiking they’d been doing. On the summit they talked with another young cat who said he was living in a commune in Westwood. As they were talking he suddenly started down the other side of the mountain from where the trail was. He leaped, landed, slid and leaped again, keeping his balance by keeping going on the steep slope. In two minutes he was all the way down to the saddle between Lassen and its secondary peak. Zane was familiar with this technique having practiced it on his first backpacking trip when he was sixteen. He followed down the soft volcanic scree feeling like a mountain goat or mountain gazelle if such a thing existed. Krishanna picked her way down more slowly but had no problem with steep terrain and no trail.

Krishanna’s family had a cabin on Eagle Lake. They spent a couple of nights there sleeping in a real bed, cooking on a regular stove, and hiking the mountains and woods surrounding the lake. Krishanna was excited and joyful to share old stomping grounds with Zane. She’d spent many a happy family vacation exploring these woods and mountains and canoeing on the lake.

Up through Klamath Falls and the Three Sisters, a bleak, strange, forlorn volcanic area on the eastern side of Oregon. From there they popped over the mountains and down the McKenzie River, camping in green, green woods beside blue, blue rushing water. Eugene had already become a hippy outpost on the road north. They stopped for breakfast at Mama’s Home-Fried Truck Stop. It was the first time either one of them had eaten home fries dished up with onions, peppers, scrambled eggs and sharp cheddar cheese. Yum, yum!

They were beginning to have some time pressure, so they made a freeway run on I-5 all the way to Bellingham, Washington. Friends of Krishanna’s lived in a commune known as “Old Blue”. They were a diverse lot of gay, bi and straight couples, most of whom had spent some time in the Bay Area, but had moved north to hopefully greener pastures. After a couple of days in Bellingham they went east to Rob’s place. Rob was another refugee from the Bay Area who lived in the alder forest just before the road rose onto the lower slopes of Mt. Baker. Rob was a gay man with considerable chain saw skills and a knack for living in the woods even in the severe winters of inland Washington. His other pastime was disappearing into the gay community of Vancouver, B.C., for days at a time before resuming his pastoral existence in his old farm house.

Rob went to Vancouver and left the house to Krishanna and Zane. Krishanna obviously had many gay friends and a comfort and familiarity with the gay lifestyle. The coffeehouse she had worked at, the Meat Market,  was right in the bowels of the Castro. She seemed perfectly natural and at ease with her gay friends. Zane did not have the same level of comfort. Aside from his one experience with the black cat who picked him up on Market Street in 1965, Zane had had virtually no exposure to gay people or the lifestyle. There was a way in which gays just seemed like super-hippies, a little more out there in all ways.

Zane was actually glad that Rob had left for awhile and he could have Krishanna to himself without all her other friends. He was having his first misgivings about this woman he had connected with so powerfully and wanted to do something to reconnect with her. Her friends had disrupted his ambiance and even his self-confidence. He didn’t like it when he felt someone was out-hipping him.

They decided to drop acid. Their only acid trip together had been in the Sierras beside Summit Creek. It had been pleasant and uneventful except for Zane getting a bit of a sunburn from sitting naked in the sun for too long. The plan was to just hang out on the land, wander, commune and be with each other. They were sitting together beginning to carry out the plan when a car drove up. A tall blond was talking loudly across the meadow from the house before she ever got out of the car. She had a toddler with her, same curly blond hair. Zane and Krishanna looked at each other as if to say, “Where the hell is this coming from?”

Dahlia was looking for Rob. Not finding him she was glad for anyone to talk to. Krishanna was immediately repelled, seems like she’d heard some mention of Dahlia, and it wasn’t good. Dahlia was crazy, and boy howdy, did she have a story. Zane became entranced in the story. She’d grabbed his head. Krishanna was not happy. She soon got up and went for a walk.

“I’m the Bride of Christ.”

“What?” Zane had no idea what she was talking about, but being on acid was along for the ride.

“I’m the Bride of Christ. I am the one he will return for, to marry when he returns. I’m preparing for our marriage now. No one believes me, but I know what I know, and I am the Bride of Christ.”

Zane didn’t know what to say or what to ask. It didn’t matter. Dahlia was perfectly capable of maintaining a long-winded monologue as long as she had an audience. Zane was affected by her apparent rapture.

“The pastor of the church doesn’t get it. I tell him I’m the Bride of Christ. He says, ‘We’re all the Bride of Christ.” He doesn’t get it. He doesn’t know. He doesn’t understand what I’m talking about when I tell him I’m the Bride of Christ. I’ve told him about all the preparations that have been made for the wedding. I have very specific details, how it’s supposed to be. It’s very important that it happen exactly the way it’s supposed to. I’m preparing now. This is my time of purification, so I’ll be ready when he comes. It would be terrible if I wasn’t ready, if everything wasn’t done in time for his arrival. There is a specific day and time. No one knows exactly when, but it’s soon and I have to be ready. This marriage is very important for the future of the world.”

Dahlia was so compelling and insistent as she went on with her story that Zane was inclined to believe her. After all what did he know about these things, and she had almost dropped out of the sky in the middle of an acid trip. Whatever it was Zane was more likely to believe than disbelieve especially when he was on acid. It didn’t occur to him that there was anything strange or discordant about sitting naked with a leggy blond (she had immediately taken off all of her clothes) listening to her rap about being the one and only Bride of Christ while her little daughter sat quietly, as if in typical overwhelment from her mother’s intensity.

Dahlia prattled on. Krishanna returned, her brown skin shimmering across the meadow. She was hurt and angry by Zane’s attention to Dahlia. Zane felt his actions were harmless. He was often powerless in the presence of a woman who exuded some special aura of spirituality and craziness. It was like the fascination with the impenetrable darkness of Toloache, unattainable, in fact you can’t even get closer, but your eyes and ears belong to her until she consents to release you. You’re not so sure you want to be released. Krishanna brought a different darkness, angry, stormy, brooding. It was not as appealing. Zane didn’t know what to do to pacify or reassure her. It didn’t occur to him to say something like, “I’m not interested in this woman. I’m just tripping on her trip.”

Krishanna was attached to the day they had planned and disappointed with the outcome. Perhaps nothing at that point would have ameliorated the situation for her. Zane was not good at taking into account the emotions of women and doing anything to hold or take care of those emotions and the women feeling them. He really didn’t know what to do.

Krishanna was a less comfortable audience for Georganne. She was certainly less enthralled than Zane. Soon Dahlia picked up her daughter and left.

“What was all that about?”

“I don’t know.”

“You were into her.”

“No, I wasn’t.”

“Yes, you were. I can tell when someone is into someone.”

“I didn’t want her. I wasn’t attracted to her. I mean she’s an interesting looking woman and all that. Her story just got me all tripped out.”

“You were ignoring me.”

That might have been true. Zane didn’t know what to say.

“It all happened so suddenly. She was here. You were gone. I wasn’t even sure what was happening or what was real.”

“She’s crazy, and you were all over her.”

“I wasn’t all over her.”

“I could feel your vibes. You were like merging with her, like she was some long lost soul mate.”

“Hey, I don’t want her. I’ll be happy to never see her again. I don’t want to replace you with her.”

Krishanna stopped. Her anger subsided a bit. She looked at Zane as if to see if he was telling the truth. She decided he was. “I’m still mad. I think you should kiss my feet and beg forgiveness.”

“I’ll kiss your ass if you want.”

“First the feet.”

He saw just the slightest twinkle in her eye. He kissed her feet, slowly one at a time. Then he looked up at her. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

She grabbed him and pulled him on top of her, then rolled over so she was straddling him. From this position she could either pin him or make love. She leaned slowly toward him, her breasts brushing his chest as she kissed him long and slow. They both began to feel waves of warm pleasure return to their bodies. They took a long time and made love in the sun, undulating with the languorous waves of a tropical sea. Lovely lithe bodies wrapped around each other, coupled in that slow dance of mutual exposure, mutual vulnerability to the most tender parts of each other, physically and emotionally. This time hell had turned into heaven rather easily. Odd that some crazy Christ story had been the source of hell.

They didn’t come for a long time, content to just touch and feel and roll around in the warm lush grass exposing different parts of their bodies to the sweet shining sun and moaning softly to the easy-going waves of pleasure they were strumming on each other’s harp-strings.

It was time to go home and get ready to go to school. They sped down I-5 and rolled into Medford, Oregon, in the evening. Miraculously they scored two tickets to A Midsummer Night’s Dream  at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival. Someone at the motel couldn’t use them and Krishanna and Zane became the beneficiaries. They laughed at love potions gone wrong and people making asses of themselves and each other. The pageantry of the outdoor theater was a treat in itself. What a fitting finale to a wonderful vacation, which had had its own glitch of misapprehensions and misguided fascinations while under the influence of a magical potion.

They were looking forward to the Humanistic Psych Program. Neither of them could have foreseen just how much of a bizarre carnival it would be at times. Put a hundred budding psych students with aspirations to be therapists in a large room together, stir briskly, add some peers in the field to bounce their projections off of, then bake for three hours in a low oven. Some days would be enlightening. Others were just poorly managed psychodrama. Graduate students with varying agendas had come from far and wide to partake of this new experiment in higher education. There were bound to be some bumps in the road, some acting out of old scenarios, some posturing, and at times some genuine communion with each other and commitment to whatever was being created. Everyone was a character, in one way or another. Some presentations were spell-binding. Others caused a drifting away to someone’s nearby apartment for smoky refreshment and the eternal ocean fog of the smiling Buddha Mind.

What Goes Around

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels, the dizzy dancing way you feel

As every fairy tale comes real, I’ve looked at love that way.

–Joni Mitchell

Left to themselves Zane and Krishanna were well-nigh a perfect match almost mirror images of each other’s capacity for sweet emotionality and total immersion in the steamy pool of sensuality they could create together. Such perfect crazy agreement to climb higher and head into the teeth of the storm, such ability to smooth and soothe the ruffles of a harsh interaction, swimming in waves of mutual pleasuring. The troubles arrived uninvited when they tried to socialize together. There were her weird friends and his weird friends. The gay/bi circle she had been cavorting in were definitely further pushing the edges of the emerging set of questions that had hovered in the corners of rooms ever since the concept of free love was first articulated, “Are there any objective moral limits to our sexual behavior? If so, what are those limits? If it’s left to the individual, how are the rocky shoals of our emotions negotiated between those of different comfort zones?”

Trying to push the edges had not been particularly pleasant for either Zane or Krishanna. In fact each of them had had painful experiences in trying to push the edges of conventional morality. Yet each of them seemed to have a fascination with playing around that particular fire and particularly a fascination with those who seemed to be successfully doing so. Perhaps the most extreme example was one of Krishanna’s bi friends in San Francisco who seemed to consider everyone who walked on two legs to be a potential sexual partner including his own sister. Once people broke out of the rigid constraints of the old morality, would new lines and boundaries be drawn, or was it truly anything goes, and let the chips fall where they may? The sister was stunningly beautiful, and this young man seemed very alive and vital and otherwise stood out only for the thick hair which covered his entire body like fur. Yet Zane felt vaguely uneasy in his presence, as if he might have to defend himself against something at any moment. It occurred to him that he might just be a relapsed bigot, like someone who loves black people until he actually has to deal with them in any real way. Somehow the fear felt deeper, more essential than behavioral labels, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Maybe some psych class would provide the insight he was seeking.

Molly’s brother, Thomas, showed up one day at the Petaluma house. He crashed for a few days, and it was obvious he expected to stay awhile as he had done at the Santa Rosa house and previously at the Baker Street Commune. Such was his lifestyle. He traveled and stayed with friends and family like some kind of new age circuit rider. He always tried to make himself helpful with household chores and special projects he saw a need for. He could rebuild a carburetor or play a mean game of chess. He never seemed to have a girlfriend nor make any moves to have one. In those days of polymorphous sexuality, he seemed to represent the asexual end of the spectrum. Thomas was a large brain in a small body, which had been plagued with ailments from the time he was a child including asthma and various food allergies. His sisters were dynamic, political, social, sexual beings. He was the profound introvert of the family. He tried to not take up a lot of space, but of course anyone’s presence alters the energic flow of a household. His tendency to focus on minutiae of dietary guidelines and restrictions and other obsessive traits could easily skew the group consciousness in undesirable directions. After a couple of weeks Krishanna had had enough.

“Is he ever going to leave?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, he has to leave.”

“Ah, come on, he’s harmless.”

“I can’t stand having him here. He’s driving me nuts. If you don’t tell him to go, I will.”

“Okay, I’ll tell him. He really bothers you that much. I guess everybody always makes allowances for Thomas. Even though he’s the oldest, he’s treated like the kid brother who always tags along with the older siblings and is tolerated.”

“That may be. I can’t tolerate him. He’s a kvetch. I just feel on edge. I can’t relax when he’s around, and he’s always around. He doesn’t go out. He doesn’t have other activities. He’s just here like part of the furniture, but an ugly clashing piece of furniture.”

“I get it. I’ll talk to him.”

“Thank you.”

The tribal consciousness of the sixties was slowly eroding and altering. The ethos of everyone being welcome and included was morphing into a more personal focus. The seventies would become known as the “Me Decade” with lots of emphasis on questions like, “How do I feel?” Humanistic psychology was one of the social movements wittingly or unwittingly facilitating this change in focus and belief. Zane felt bad having to tell Thomas to leave. He felt like he was losing something much bigger than an erstwhile friend. There was a whole belief system being discarded. The old communal attitude of everything for everyone that had played such a central role in the late sixties was evaporating. He could see the tradeoff. He could see that perhaps you couldn’t always have both. He could definitely see that some people just couldn’t coexist harmoniously. Thomas and Krishanna were two of those people. Krishanna wanted Zane all to herself. That felt good, in fact it felt delicious, ecstatic and secure all at the same time. But the loss of the larger circle troubled Zane. He was reminded of that corny old song, “Wedding Bells are Breaking up that Old Gang of Mine.” He picked a time when Krishanna was at school, and he wasn’t.

“Thomas, Krishanna can’t handle having you around here any more.”

“Oh, okay, I guess it’s about time to go visit Lizzie.” Lizzie was he and Molly’s other sister. She and her man had bypassed Northern California and already successfully transplanted themselves in Southern Oregon in an area called the Applegate Valley.

“I’m sorry, man.”

“Don’t worry about it. I know some people just don’t like me.”

Zane wanted to soften the blow, make Thomas feel better, “ It’s not that so much. You know, it’s a new relationship. It’s just disruptive to have anyone else around.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s really all right. I’ll be outta here tomorrow.”

“Thanks, man.”

“No problem.”

The similarities of personality and emotional character structure that made Zane and Krishanna feel like two peas in a pod were not such an asset in the larger social circle of the Humanistic Psych Program (HPP). They often found themselves competing for the same role within the group, not because they were naturally competitive or wanted to compete with each other, but simply because they were being themselves, and they were in fact so similar even in how they approached social and educational situations. It was like a movie where there was a starring role, but the directors had somehow neglected to make the final cut and left two actors to simultaneously fulfill the script. Krishanna was more angered about this than Zane. She was more used to commanding a certain attention by her regal mien, her leonine attractiveness, and the grace with which she flirted and flattered.

When he wasn’t in one of his depressive episodes, Zane was also used to being a center of attention more by his flamboyant and outlandish behavior which both shocked and entertained those around him. He could particularly get on a roll after a few drinks and become oblivious to any negative effects of his performance and be totally wrapped up in riding the wave of the attention he was receiving. So there they were two stars competing for center stage, one trying to play the queen bestowing her favors, the other more obviously walking on the wild and dark side to capture the group’s attention. Sometimes it was more than she could take.

“Why are you always stepping on my lines?”

“What?”

“You get loud and obnoxious and then there’s no room for me.”

“I’m just having fun. I didn’t know there was a problem.”

“Yeah, that’s the problem. You get into your thing and nobody else exists except as an audience for you. You and Len were horrible tonight.”

“We enjoy each other.”

“Well, nobody else enjoys it.”

“What does that matter?”

“You take up so much space, there’s no room for anyone else to do anything.”

“I think you’re exaggerating.”

“I am not. You can ask anyone else who was there tonight.”

“Maybe we shouldn’t go to bars together.”

“That’s a great solution. Why can’t you just act nicer?”

“I wasn’t that bad.”

“Yes, you were. I hate going out with you.”

“Well, sor-ree! I guess I just shouldn’t exist when you’re holding court.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means you want to do it your way, and I want to do it mine, and further you want to have it your way as much as I do.”

She was angry, but she stopped. “Oh, shut up!” She stomped out and slammed the front door behind her and went for a walk in the foggy night air.

Zane rolled a joint, took a few hits and began to laugh. They were like two kids. It was like sibling rivalry. It just didn’t seem all that important. How would he convince her of that? Right now it didn’t seem so goddamned important. He put on some music and continued smoking, Miles Davis’ Quiet Nights, his bossa nova album. He continued smoking, drifting with the mellow muted trumpet of his old favorite. As he switched to side 2, Krishanna returned feeling somewhat calmer and less angry.

“You wanna hit?”

“Sure.” She took several long slow inhalations, saying nothing but beginning to feel that characteristic pleasurable relaxation. She turned to Zane and kissed him deep and slow. Her hunger was aggressive and voracious. He responded in kind. All the anger and violence and competition they’d been feeling got channeled into a physical fuck session like two animals instinctually jumping all over each other. It was primitive and exciting and not lacking in love, just more deeply animalistic than they’d ever been before. Then with much grunting and deep growling from low in their bellies and loins and finally great expulsions of groans and moans that lasted for what seemed without time nor space, they came like thunder rumbling across the sky from horizon to horizon. Aftershock and afterglow and waves of release from deep within  bowel and womb, they lay in each other’s arms spent but still full of a hunger that could have eaten each other’s raw flesh. Within a few minutes they were at each other again with only slightly reduced intensity. Something pent up inside of both of them was crashing through dams and mixing a volatile magic in the flood plain of their passions and emotions. The rainbow flames flared and danced as high wailing guitar chords reverbed through their brains. They screamed into each other’s souls holding nothing back as the tidal waves crashed one last time, and this time they fell into a deep unconsciousness as the stereo played side 2 over and over again until long after Dawn Star had risen in the eastern sky.

“You were outrageous.”

“You were awesome.”

“We were cosmic.”

In the light of late morning each of them had cat-that-ate-the-canary smiles. The first cup of coffee did not dissipate a thick radiance which seemed to pervade the entire atmosphere.

“I guess I’m glad I 86’ed Thomas.”

“You guess?” They busted out laughing, fell into each other’s arms one more time, this time kissing and looking into each other’s eyes, holding, stroking, not as hungry but savoring each other like a decadently sweet desert.

They both had an incredible ability to leap into the vast pool of feelings and sensations luxuriating in what they could whomp up together with apparent ease of handling. Their auras and bodies and beings just hummed on the same frequency like perfectly pitched tuning forks. Their openness and sensitivity had always caused both of them to stray from the most fulfilling of relationships. Caught up in the moment because the moment felt good, and if it feels good, do it. Neither of them had figured out how to set limits on their own sensual sensitivity and receptivity. They could be in a class exchanging foot massages as an experiential exercise and want to carry it further with whomever they were with. The groove might not be as wonderful as the one they had with each other, but it was in the moment and good enough and almost as compelling as the phenomenon of chemical bonding in a complex solution. The urge to bond arises with whatever one might be prone to bond with that is also close at hand. They both knew that acting on such impulses generally led to disaster but that knowledge didn’t eliminate the urges and the tendency to toy with possibilities. Each of them still responded to the thrill of playing with fire.

They understood each other’s impulses very well, but of course became jealous and threatened when the other was acting on such impulses. In the experimental psychological milieu of Sonoma State, there were many temptations, not just from other students but from the philandering professors as well. A new book had come out entitled Open Marriage, co-authored by a married couple. It appropriately and articulately explored the concept that no one person can or should be expected to fulfill all of one’s needs and desires. It advocated the idea of close friendships between men and women. It did not address the question of sex outside the primary relationship. One of Zane’s teachers, a woman he admired greatly and with whom he’d even done a few counseling sessions, put it simply, “When it comes to that, I think most everyone would say, ‘It’s all right for me, but it’s not all right for you.’” Not a resolution but definitely a fair characterization of true feelings about the ongoing thorny issue of free love, he appreciated her candid clarity. He later learned she was leaving her husband because of his fooling around. Zane thought he must be a particular fool to lose such a lovely intelligent woman. She was probably ten years older than Zane and far more sophisticated, but …

It was the kind of beautiful fall weather that Sonoma County is famous for, clear sunny days with an afternoon breeze off the ocean, ideal for living life and dancing on the beach. Jerry called up and talked to Krishanna. He had been a friend to each of them for many years before they ever met. Jerry was living in Forestville on the Russian River. He was moving back to the City and wanted to offer his place to Zane and Krishanna. Jerry seemed to be  a recurrent source of housing. His sister had been the connection for the Baker St. commune. He was a good-hearted guy who’d been sitting in the redwood forest doing acid by himself for too long. He knew he needed to get back among people to reassert some balance in his life.

They drove to the Russian River to check out the cabin, up 101, west on River Road, left just before the Hacienda Bridge, Summerhome Park Rd. It looked idyllic in the beautiful weather. They decided to take the leap. It was exciting to consider putting their own household together where neither of them had lived with anyone else. It would be their house. The landlord was a mild-mannered high school teacher who lived in San Francisco. He talked about the cabin needing a new roof. He’d provide materials and knock off a month’s rent or so if Zane felt like doing it. When it came time to do it, a new friend from Sonoma State helped Zane out in return for a couple of ounces of pot. Zane still liked to buy pounds and sell of ounces to cover his own use, so it was perfect for him. His friend actually knew something about composition roofing, so it was a successful job wrapped up in a weekend. Jerry had left some furniture including the obligatory boards and concrete blocks bookcase. On the side of one concrete block he’d painted some flowers and a motto, “There is no magic, only hard work.” He must have had some serious revelation on one of his acid trips.

With the loan of the Petaluma landlord’s truck in addition to their vehicles and a couple of friends to heft boxes and furniture and drive, the move went quickly and efficiently as well. By the end of October they were moved in, roofed, and organized, just in time for the winter weather. There were still pleasant days, but the other days were cold and wet, the dampness seemed to creep into everything under the redwoods. They often found themselves camped on top of the propane heaters just trying to keep warm when they weren’t snuggled in bed. They purposely spent more time on campus where it was more likely to be warm and sunny. They also began signing up for more of the extra workshops and classes available through HPP. Others informed them that surviving a winter on the Russian River was the earmark of a true “river rat”.

Crossing paths with old friends continued to be challenging for the new couple. Marian showed up out of the blue one day. Zane had the vaguest kind of connection with her. Don had developed some odd kind of relationship with her before leaving the City altogether. He once suggested to Zane that he could go see her and get laid any time he wanted. One night when nothing else was going on, he did go see her. She was dark in all ways and low-level in her vibes. Zane quickly determined he had nothing in common with her and left after little more than an hour, feeling a bit freaked out by the whole strange interaction. He was sure he could have had sex with her, but he had no desire whatsoever.

“Oh hi, I dropped by to see Don. He’s not doing so well. He told me where to find you guys. I’m just kind of looking around, thinking about moving up here somewhere especially now that I have my dog.” Indeed she was accompanied by a rather large male German Shepherd.

Zane introduced Marian and Krishanna, looking at Krishanna as if to say, “I have no idea what this woman is doing here.”

Krishanna broke the ice, “Well, come on in.”

They had some dinner, chitchatted about people they knew in common, discussed Don’s worsening condition, and eventually it was bedtime.

“There’s a whole little room downstairs with a made-up bed, its own heater and a bathroom. You’re welcome to stay the night.”

“Oh, that’s okay. I’ll just crash here on the couch.”

Zane and Krishanna wanted their privacy. They really didn’t want Marian within earshot. In fact they wanted her as far away as possible.

“No really, you can have your own room and privacy.”

“I don’t need much. I’ll be fine here.”

“We’d really rather you took the room downstairs.”

“Oh, well, if that’s the way you want it,” she acted offended like somehow they were telling her she wasn’t welcome.

“Yeah, we’d really be more comfortable.”

“Well, okay,” she said with a huff.

After she and her hound retired downstairs, the couple heaved a sigh of relief.

“That woman is enormously strange, I would even say creepy.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“How do you know her?”

“Really only through Don.”

“That kind of makes sense. Let’s hope she gets out of here in the morning, and we don’t have to deal with her much more.”

“Yeah.”

They went to bed wondering about visitations like these from people who were barely acquaintances much less friends. The days of introducing oneself with a joint and a smile were long gone. Too many people had either gotten progressively crazy behind the drugs they’d taken, or they were seriously pathological to begin with or both. The ambience symbolized by Woodstock had rapidly been replaced by the paranoia of Altamont and Charlie Manson. They were too on edge to make love that night. They heard Marian’s dog whining and yapping for awhile before they drifted into an amazingly sound sleep. They slept late.

“I haven’t heard anything, have you?”

“No.”

“Guess we better investigate.”

“I suppose.”

Zane got up and went to the front window. Her car was gone.

“Maybe we got lucky. Her car is gone.”

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” Krishanna was not Catholic. She’d picked up the phrase from a friend who was. It did seem appropriate.

“Let’s have some coffee.” They heard no sounds from below, neither human nor dog, as they sipped coffee, and both reflected silently on the bizarre vibes of the previous night.

“Shall we have a look?”

“Have to eventually.”

They went downstairs and knocked discretely, then entered. The place was deserted. Their eyes zeroed in on the bed. It was covered with muddy paw prints. The placement was suspicious.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“Well, yeah, looks a lot like something rather intimate was going on here.”

They’d both heard stories of animal-human sex, but it was not within the repertoire of the hippy community nor the gay-bi community. This definitely pushed the limits of any community standards they were familiar with. They stood open-mouthed in disbelief for a few moments. Neither wanted to contemplate what might have been in store if they’d allowed her to sleep on the living-room couch.

“Guess we better wash the sheets.”

“I’d say.”

They never saw Marian again, but she was not the end of strange visitations. What had been innocently entertaining in the sixties had taken a distinctly creepy turn in the seventies. There had already been too much exploitation of the open-minded, open-hearted psychedelic Loveland of the flower child era. There were more cons and justifiably more suspicion of anyone offering or selling anything. Charlie Manson was the most vicious of the acid-crazed gurus, but there were numerous organizations based on Eastern spirituality, Western spirituality or some hybridized mishmash of Scientology, Mind Dynamics, and the promise of some version of authoritative truth. Young people were disappearing off the streets never to be seen again, their souls held captive by post-psychedelic Svengalis preying on their youthful openness and lack of discrimination or discernment. Many had catchy names. Some were best known by the names of their founders or chief gurus. The Children of God, Krishna Consciousness, Synanon, the Moonies, Sri Chinmoy, Blue Mountain, Swami Muktananda, the names went on and on. It seemed that a basic distinguishing factor was exactly how incommunicado a person was after he or she had joined. There would soon be conferences sponsored by Esalen Institute addressing “Spiritual and Therapeutic Tyranny”.

While taking a break midway through the HPP forum one Friday afternoon, Zane ran into Les. Zane had known Les since Bakersfield College. One-time husband to Sandra and father to Iris, he was older and had made a bit of a splash in Bakersfield, certainly enough to capture a young wife and father a child. He had spearheaded a student service organization devoted to the mentally retarded. Zane had participated and helped to organize dances and other activities for the local M.R.’s in Bakersfield and the more seriously retarded at Porterville State Hospital. Les had always had an aura of hustler, glad-hander, schmoozer, a little too slick and smooth, a little too complementary. He hadn’t changed or was simply more extreme in the same flimflam direction. Still he was an old friend, even more one of the Bakersfield clan. Zane was ambivalent. Les asked where he lived. Zane gave him vague directions.

Early the next day there he was in his VW van in front of Zane and Krishanna’s house. He talked even more than he used to. Zane suspected speed, but as the story unfolded it was clearly just way too much acid and a deep-seated fear process that he’d never overcome despite a master’s degree in psychology and lots of psychedelic drugs. Zane recognized running. He’d been there and done that for many years. Here was a guy more seriously devoted to running than Zane had ever been. Last Zane had heard Les had a job teaching at some college in upstate New York. Conversation with Les was mostly monologue.

“Yeah man, I quit my teaching gig. You know, academia aint where it’s at. I couldn’t deal with all that bullshit any more. You guys are lucky at Sonoma State. I can see there’s real stuff going on there. You know we can’t retreat. We can’t back down. We can’t settle for the old bullshit. We gotta keep on pushing, man. We can’t let the new consciousness die. Seems like everybody just wants to go back to the old ways, you know, get comfortable and dead inside. We can’t let that happen. It’s up to us. We were there at the beginning. You know, man, San Francisco ten years ago. We started this whole thing. Gotta keep it going. Hey, is there some place to get organic food around here. Lemme buy some food. We’ll have a good old healthy dinner tonight, just like the old days. Man, driving cross-country, it’s amazing how bleak it is out there in middle America, you know, like the sixties never happened.”

“There’s Organic Grocery this side of Santa Rosa.”

“Yeah man, that sounds good, sounds good.”

“You probably remember Gary from Far Fetched Foods back in the Haight.”

“Yeah, Far Fetched Foods, yeah, Gary, blind guy, yeah, yeah.”

Krishanna was glad to see them go. She’d already sized Les up as another wacko she’d have to figure out how to get rid of. Where did Zane know all these weirdoes from? Would the trail to their door never end? And he really didn’t know how to set limits with his old friends. He was in many ways still living in the sixties. She’d spent a year in the Peace Corps in the late sixties in Turkey of all places. Young American woman alone in a village in eastern Turkey dealing with Turkish men, she’d learned a lot about setting limits with extremely pushy people, who won’t take “no” for an answer. She lasted for a year before it drove her crazy, and she fled back home to America. She’d been expected to identify village leaders and report to some kind of operative back in Ankara from time to time. He was supposed to be Peace Corps, but she suspected CIA. So she’d learned about shady dealings and ulterior motives and things not being what they’re cracked up to be. It had given her a more discerning eye in all her subsequent dealings with humans of any ilk or representation.

Zane and Les cruised the aisles of OG, gathering the fixings for a fine organic dinner. There was Gary easily feeling his way around his domain managing by touch and sound better than many sighted people did. Gary and Les got to talking because Les talked to everybody. Zane didn’t really hear their quiet dialogue, but next thing he knew they were back in the freezer section. Gary handed Les a bag of frozen peyote buttons.

“Stick these underneath your broccoli. They’ll get weighed and paid. Enjoy.”

“Thanks man, you’re a prince.”

“Do the work, man, do the work.”

“Yeah, I am. We are. You know you’re such a part of it.”

“Do what I can.”

They both hugged Gary, and soon were checking out with enough peyote for more than three trippers and several bags of other organic produce. It felt like being back in the Haight a few years ago when everyone was part of the same benign conspiracy to resist the wicked system by whatever means and simultaneously get high.

Back under the redwoods eating peyote took precedence over eating food. Zane and Les gorged. Krishanna discretely ate two buttons.

“You guys go ahead. I’m a lightweight.”

Zane still held the belief that even in the strangest of situations there was potential for enlightenment through psychedelics. Besides there was the river and all the beautiful redwoods to roam around in. The trip was neither as chaotic as it might have been nor as transcendent as hoped for. Krishanna wandered off and found a quiet place to sit among the trees. It was cold, but she wrapped up well and experienced an easy peacefulness for a number of hours. When she tired she came back to the cabin and went to bed. Zane and Les wandered the dirt roads of Summerhome Park. The moon at times lighted their way among the trees. They were energized by how much they had eaten. Les shut up for awhile, as if even he could temporarily find some peace within himself. Zane began to just feel drifty as if he wasn’t really walking but more like floating through the night air and the silver moonlight.

“I’m tired, man. I’m gonna crash.”

“Okay, I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m still wide awake, but I’m fine, mellow trip, good cactus, bless Gary.”

“Okay, thanks, night.”

Zane found Krishanna curled up in bed. He curled around her, alternately holding her and lying on his back drifting in and out of a twilight consciousness. He felt lightly blessed, no knock-your-socks-off revelations, just the ease of a soft glow floating on white clouds.

The next day Krishanna looked at him with a funny smile, “You know what I’m gonna say.”

“He’s gotta go.”

She nodded. Zane knew that Les was too driven, too wound up, too exclusively focused on his own experience to really understand those around him. He was not immune to clues. Like animal instinct, most people can feel when they’re not wanted. It went easier than Zane had imagined.

“We really need to be in our own space. It’s been great, just totally far out we could share some peyote like this.

“Oh, no problem, man, I totally understand. I gotta get down the road myself. You know this thing just keeps going on and on. Can’t get left behind.”

Zane wasn’t sure what he was talking about but decided to agree with him anyway. He wished him well on his journeys inner and outer and bade farewell. He never saw Les again either.

Comes Around

When the truth is found to be lies

And all the joy within you dies

–Jefferson Airplane

Often the Central Valley of California has its most pleasant weather in autumn. Thanksgiving Day was no exception as Zane and Krishanna drove to Sacramento for her family get-together. “Another meet-the-family hoopla, oh joy, oh joy!” thought Zane. These things never seemed to go very well for him.

The mother was bubbly and outgoing on the surface with a booming voice she used to welcome Zane to the gathering. Zane noticed immediately that her mother still referred to her as Peggy or Peg. Krishanna winced a bit each time she heard her old name. Clearly there were memories and self-images she was trying to escape through her new name. Zane wondered about parental resistance to name changes. He’d seen it before, since it was not uncommon for hippies to take on new names as a result of acid trips or more conscientious spiritual work. His studies had exposed him to a number of peoples around the world among whom it was the practice to discard one’s childhood name and assume an adult name usually through some rite of passage ceremony. Did the parents of middle America simply want their children to remain forever children? Zane made sure to visibly use Krishanna’s name as often as possible within earshot of her mother and other family members.

The father was reserved but not unaware of the family circus surrounding him. He either felt powerless to affect it or simply uninterested. It was the mother’s show. He was a civil servant who’d worked his way up through the ranks in Sacramento and reminded Zane a bit of his own father, taciturn with a sense of unspoken judgment of the antics of those around him. Krishanna’s younger brother and sister were both redheads. Krishanna was the only dark one in the family. Interestingly the brother’s young wife had long dark hair and an exotic face. Zane couldn’t immediately place her as Asian or Latin American.

Drinks were proffered before dinner. Of course Zane accepted. The scene felt more and more like being with his own family. There was a more than adequate feast. The food was tasty. There was wine with dinner. The drinking continued after dinner. Krishanna’s brother and sister and sister-in-law drifted off to other areas of the large house. Somehow the subject of politics came up and before long Zane was on his radical political soapbox, taking his cues from his old Black Panther friends, the Chicago Eight, Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and other sources. There was no lack of egregious issues as reference points for his diatribe.

“The shit’s coming down. The chickens are coming home to roost. The blood on America’s hands is just as serious as Lady Macbeth. We’ve murdered enormous numbers of Vietnamese civilians. The Black Panthers have been targeted by the FBI for extermination for feeding breakfasts to school kids. Charlie Manson is a mirror of America’s bloodthirsty craziness, in which the innocent are targeted simply because they can be. Eldridge Cleaver was a candidate for president, and now he’s had to flee to Morocco to avoid being a political prisoner. We don’t have a democracy. We have a military dictatorship with General Waste-More-Land and his cohorts poisoning the earth so no living thing can survive. Do you know how much of the land area of Vietnam has been decimated by Agent Orange so that nothing will grow? 23%! We might just as well have nuked them like Goldwater wanted to do. We’re still a country that imprisons people for refusing to murder strangers in foreign countries.”

Krishanna’s father excused himself and went to bed, having said nothing in response. Her mother attempted to make some response, mostly minimization of the charges being leveled by Zane.

“We’re not responsible for all this.”

“I think we are.”

“That’s a lot of responsibility.”

“But if we don’t do everything that we can to stop those who murder, maim and destroy in our names, where does that leave us? They are doing these things in our names, the supposedly democratically elected government of the United States.”

“You just can’t take on all of it.”

“Then who’s gonna stop it. Do we just allow it to go on and on the way the Germans did. I saw Judgment at Nuremberg. We are responsible. Everyone of us can be held responsible if we didn’t say, ‘No.’ But now that we’re the ones practicing genocide, the My Lai prosecution stops with some poor lieutenant, and then when it all blows over he gets pardoned. The blood of the innocents cries out of the ground for justice.”

“Well, many terrible things happen in war.”

“This is an unjust and illegal war right from the beginning. The Gulf of Tonkin was a phony pretext to start a war with a country that only wanted the right of self-determination, that only wanted the country-wide elections guaranteed to them by the Geneva Accords of 1954. And fucking Johnson is one of the biggest war profiteers ever. Brown, Bevis, and Lady Bird Johnson Construction Company has built all of our installations over there. Millions of dollars to MacBird, the killer of Kennedy, and his partner in crime.”

“You don’t seriously believe Johnson was behind Kennedy’s assassination?”

“Is it any more fantastic than the things we already know he did? He’s a cutthroat thug who grew up to be a big time crook. He was drunk with power his entire career. He never played by the rules unless it was to his advantage. He got elected to the senate the first time because all the cows on the King Ranch voted for him. He performed one of the slickest coups in the history of the world, and nobody challenged it because they were afraid of even worse things happening.”

“That’s just crazy talk.”

“You wait. It’ll all come out some day when they unseal the Warren Report fifty years from now. Why did they seal it for fifty years? Doesn’t that look like a cover-up to you?”

“I can’t deal with all this. It’s overwhelming.”

“Okay, but don’t stand in the way of those who have the passion and the energy to fight the evil that’s happening. It’s like that old union song, “Which Side Are You On?” You know the fat cats sent out private armies to kill miners and their families just for organizing, just for trying to have a union. That was right here in the USA. You want to know the truth, follow the money. There’s always some fat cat making big bucks off the blood and sweat of others, and war profiteering has always been one of the best ways to make big bucks. Every day that WWI continued DuPont Corporation made a third of a million dollars. Do you think they wanted the war to stop?”

“I can’t deal with this any more right now.”

Krishanna jumped in, “Yeah Zane, give it a rest. We all should go to bed.”

Crawling down off the soapbox was hard for Zane. Once he got going, especially when fueled with an adequate amount of alcohol, he increasingly had tunnel vision which was blind to any other considerations than the rant he was on. He usually felt someone was trying to shush him because they didn’t want to acknowledge the difficult truths he was so articulate at exposing. Also the longer he went on the more he was fueled by anger and adrenalin, which could lead to a marathon. This time he was able to refocus, and at least let in some of Krishanna’s aura of concern.

“Okay, yeah, I guess it is getting late.”

Everyone retired. Against parental orders, Zane and Krishanna went to the same room. She was upset with him.

“My parents are not the enemy.”

“Sometimes middle-class complacency is the enemy.”

“Oh, come on.”

“No, I’m serious. It’s that old quote, ‘For evil to triumph, it’s only necessary for good people to do nothing.’ It’s the ‘It can’t happen here’ mentality that Sinclair Lewis wrote about. As long as my ox isn’t getting gored, everything is all right.”

“You know you are overwhelming sometimes. Your mind can marshal so many facts and references from so many different directions, it really is too much.”

“Why do think I smoke pot?”

“I don’t know.”

“To slow it all down. To take away the anger. To take away the pain that I can’t really do much about all this terrible stuff either. All I was able to do was avoid going to war myself. I haven’t been able to stop the war. Me and a million others haven’t been able to stop the war. Now that the middle-aged middle class is joining in the anti-war movement, maybe there’s a chance of ending this horror show.”

“I didn’t realize you were so passionate about this.”

“I really try not to get into it, `cause I just get bummed out. I’ve felt so powerless. This war has gone on so long. You know it’s the longest war in the history of America.”

“Try to go a little easy on my parents. I need to tell you about my mother. It’s kind of psychological.”

“Really.”

“Yeah, there’s a bit of a story. You up for it now.”

“Sure yeah, I’m all charged up anyway. Might as well listen to a story.”

“Well, this all happened when I was two so it’s some vague memories and the little pieces people have been willing to share with me ever since. My mother looks really confident and powerful even, but she’s pretty fragile. When I was two, she had a nervous breakdown. She was hospitalized for a few weeks. I just remember sitting alone in my little rocking chair, rocking and rocking and clutching my teddy bear. There’s still a sense of, ‘Be careful around mom. Handle her with kid gloves.’ You know she’s never worked outside the home except for volunteer work.”

“You know, my mother’s had a bunch of major operations.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah, hysterectomy, gall bladder, thyroid, kidney. She was in the hospital when I was three. My big brother took care of me. He was already seventeen and headed for med school. She told me when I was older, she almost died. So we both lost our mothers for a while when we were little people.”

“Yeah, I don’t expect a lot. I put up with her continuing to call me Peggy, even though I hate it. She doesn’t change very easily.”

“I’ll try to take that into account.”

“Thanks. My father, well, I think you got it. He’s not a great communicator. He delivers messages to me through my mom. Like tonight she told me he didn’t want us sleeping together, but he would never tell me directly.”

“My father’s not a great communicator either.”

The similarities between the two of them continued to accumulate. The family background stuff was fascinating, the fragile but powerful appearing mothers, the non-communicating fathers. They kept things low-key for the rest of the visit, talking about school, particularly the new master’s program that virtually assured them places in a program that led to an accredited degree. They mentioned but didn’t emphasize the design-it-yourself aspect, choosing to focus on it as a pick-your-own-faculty program.

There were lots of planned and spontaneous holiday parties. One of their classmates still lived with her mother and stepfather in Santa Rosa. Her father must have made some good money. The family house was in Montecito Heights, one of the fancier neighborhoods of Santa Rosa. Apparently everyone was on good terms because her father was at the party with his girlfriend. The house easily accommodated the fifty or so people who were in attendance. About half the group were Sonoma State students. The other half were of the parental generation. Everyone seemed cool and at ease with each other. Perhaps the open bar facilitated the apparent comfort. Zane rarely bought hard liquor, but when it was around he had a nose for it. After a few drinks he was in an all-consuming conversation with Sherry, the classmate who had invited them. He was getting lost in her deep brown eyes. She was enjoying the intensity of attention. Krishanna was watching all this with a growing sense of disquiet. She had not drunk enough to not care. There didn’t seem to be any pot at the party. It was one of those dry spells when no one seemed to have any, and everyone resorted to alcohol, which was a poor substitute.

Zane kept drinking and getting more into Sherry. Krishanna tried to ignore what was going on. She couldn’t hear their conversation. She could just see and feel the vibe of mutual seduction, been there and done that herself in the past. Finally she couldn’t stand it anymore. She intervened.”

“We should go.” Sherry seemed more amused than anything else. She took a few steps back.

“Why, I’m having fun.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed.”

“What?”

“You’re all over Sherry. That’s what.”

“We’re just talking.” There was just the slightest slur to his speech.

“You’re drooling.”

“There’s nothing going on. I’m fine.”

Krishanna gave up. No sense talking to a drunk. She shot Sherry an angry look. Sherry shrugged. Krishanna turned on her heel and strode away. She went outside trying to soothe her upset, her growing sense of abandonment and betrayal. She didn’t last long outside. When she came back in, Zane was leaning against the bar between the kitchen and family room still chatting up Sherry, who was still enjoying it but becoming a bit wary of the growing situation.

“I’m going.”

“What? What for?”

“It’s obvious you don’t know or care whether I’m here or not.”

“Oh, come on. Stick around.” He tried to put his arm around her. She recoiled. Sherry was getting worried there was going to be a scene. She jumped in.

“Yeah Zane, maybe you should go. We can talk again sometime. I’ve really enjoyed talking with you, but you should pay some attention to your girlfriend. She’s pretty upset.”

“Oh, we can all get along. No need for anybody to be upset.” The slurring was worse. “You’re both wonderful. We’re just having a good time here.”

“I’m not having a good time. You’ve been ignoring me.”

“I’m sorry. I just got into what I got into. Why don’t we just spend the night. I can’t drive.”

“I can drive. I don’t want to spend the night.”

“I can just crash here.”

Sherry was beginning to feel uncomfortable, “That’s probably not such a good idea.”

“What? Why not?” His thought process was beginning to unravel. He had tasted something with Sherry and didn’t want to move away from her scent. He couldn’t really admit that even to himself.

Krishanna was half a mind to leave him, but she worried about what might happen. She didn’t totally trust Sherry. She definitely didn’t trust Zane at the moment. She couldn’t really imagine leaving without him and letting her fantasies run wild.

“Come on. Let’s get you in the car and get you home.” Sherry looked at Krishanna with some compassion and understanding. She gently took Zane by one arm and indicated to Krishanna to take the other. They would walk him to the car together.

“I don’t wanna go. I’m having fun.”

Sherry was getting more insistent. “It’s late. The party’s winding down. Let’s get you where you need to go before you pass out.”

“I’m fine.”

“Yeah, I know. Come on. Walk with me.”

It was hard to resist Sherry’s sweet-talking ministrations. Krishanna was on his other side pushing him in the same direction, beginning to appreciate Sherry. Together they got Zane to the car and ensconced in the front seat.

“I’m fine. I love you both.”

Krishanna looked at Sherry with appreciation. Sherry held out her arms for a hug. They hugged, and Krishanna thanked her.

“Hey, no problem. We’ve all been there at one time or another. Good luck! And I’m sorry I may have contributed to the problem. Some people don’t know how to flirt without getting way too seriously into it. Probably just too much booze. Don’t worry about me. I’m not after your man. Hope he doesn’t do this too often.”

“This is the first time, but we’ve only been together six months.”

“Hey, maybe this is something for one of our group processes.”

“Yeah, maybe. Anyway, thanks again.” Krishanna got in the driver’s seat and drove them back to Forestville.

The next day Krishanna tried to talk to him about what happened. He was in total denial that there had been a problem.

“I was just talking to someone at a party. Yeah, I was drunk, but there was nothing serious going on.”

“You embarrassed the hell out of me, ignored me and made me feel like shit.”

“Hey, nobody can make you feel like shit.”

“Don’t give me that gestalt crap right now. You know what I mean. How would you feel if I spent the whole night talking to some handsome guy, and you were just wandering around the party feeling like an ugly dumb ass?”

“I guess I’d be an ugly dumb ass.”

“That’s not the point. Try for just one minute to imagine how I might have felt and take some responsibility for your actions. You didn’t go to the party alone. You went with me. If you want to get it on with someone else and want me to do the same, then let me know.”

“You know it’s not that.”

“Do I?”

“Well, you should.”

“On what basis?”

“On the basis that I love you and live with you and want to be with you.”

“How am I supposed to know that when you’re totally into some other girl like if I wasn’t there, you’d be in the bedroom in the next hour?”

“You’re taking all this way too seriously.”

“You’re not taking it seriously enough.”

“I didn’t mean anything by what I did. I can’t even remember half of what I did.”

“What don’t you remember?” She realized the absurdity of the question. It stopped her for a moment. “You really don’t remember?”

“Don’t know. Not much. Did I really do something terrible?”

“Shit! What’s the point? I’m going for a walk.”

Zane might have followed her, but he was quite hung over and actually glad for the respite from her loud angry accusations. She walked up the hill above Icebox Canyon until she got into the sun above the trees. She kept walking feeling the tension gradually dissipate from her body. She didn’t come to any firm conclusions or resolutions. She just gradually let go of everything except a certain wariness that wouldn’t go away.

Ed was a couple of years younger than Zane. They’d hit it off in some psych class and begun to pal around. They’d even co-led an informal men’s group for newer male students living on campus. Ed had a new girlfriend, a young mother named Janelle, a wispy blue-eyed blonde with a lot of affectionate energy right on the surface. She lived off Summerfield Road in the Montgomery Village section of Santa Rosa. Perhaps she and Ed and Zane and Krishanna could hang out together as couples. One evening the kid was already in bed when Zane and Krishanna dropped in on the other couple. There was a bottle of tequila. Several drinks later along with some conversation about classes and writing, Janelle wanted Zane to see something she had written. They went to her bedroom. The last thing he remembered was sitting on her bed, reading the piece she had given him, and commenting favorably on it. The next thing he remembered was being awakened by a very upset Krishanna and Ed, who had clearly already made some extremely negative assumptions about what had been going on.

“Wha.. what’s wrong?”

“Get up. We’re going.”

“What? Why?”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“No.”

“Come on. I’ll explain it to you in the car.”

Zane looked askance at Ed. All he got was an angry look back. He looked at Janelle. She was as confused and flustered as he was. He allowed himself to be steered out of the house and into the car. Krishanna drove them away fuming.

“How could you?”

“What?”

“Whatever you did.”

“I passed out.”

“That’s all?”

“That’s all. One minute I was reading Janelle’s essay. The next thing you’re shaking us awake like we’ve committed murder or something. Nothing happened.”

“I don’t believe that.”

“Well, believe what you want to believe. I know nothing happened. Was she asleep too?”

“I guess.”

“Well, it’s hard to do anything too terrible when you’re unconscious.”

“Yeah, likely story.”

“You know what? Fuck you! It’s your evil fantasy. What the hell do you think happened?”

“You were sprawled out on her bed together.”

“And…”

“I don’t know. Why’s it all on me all of a sudden? You’re the one who fucked up.”

“You mean, you’re the one making it up.”

“Great! Just turn it all around on me. I didn’t do anything.”

“Well, neither did I.”

“Just like the last party I suppose.”

“You know how drunk I was at that.”

“So that’s the new excuse. I was drunk, so I’m not responsible for my actions.” She was mocking him.

“Fuck you. Just give your evil brain free rein to believe the worst. That’s what you want.”

After a few more exchanges of even worse mud-slinging, they lapsed into a hostile silence that lasted beyond their arrival back home. Krishanna was beginning to count up the number of incidents where Zane had been less than faithful. Zane felt totally misunderstood like none of the incidents involved him seriously trying to get something going with another woman. Krishanna’s jealousy was driving him crazy, like he never knew when he was going to step on something and only realize later it had been dog shit.

Eventually the latest incident blew over. It remained in the back of Krishanna’s mind as evidence to support further suspicion and watchfulness of Zane. Zane was beginning to get a bit gun shy from her eruptions that turned into rageful accusations toward him. Each felt victimized by the other. Couples counseling might have helped, but their resources were limited. The only therapist they could find who accepted MediCal was a Jungian-oriented psychiatrist, who was newly building his practice in Cotati. He only did individual therapy. Zane, Krishanna, and several of their friends from HPP began seeing Ralph on a regular basis. Partly they were following the guidelines that if you’re going to be a therapist, you should be in long-term therapy for awhile. In reality they all had some pretty major issues to deal with as well.

Zane met Cassie in the first family therapy class offered collateral to HPP. Since she also lived in Forestville with her boyfriend, she and Zane began commuting to the City together to attend the classes. Krishanna also struck up a friendship with Cassie, and sometimes the three of them hung out together. Zane wondered if Krishanna was keeping an eye on Cassie.

Cassie and Zane began to develop a very comfortable friendship. It seemed they could talk endlessly about a broad range of topics. She read astrology charts, something Zane had had a passing interest in during his initial spiritual opening back in `66. He understood the symbols and began to learn from Cassie how a chart was put together and noticed they had a flair for reading charts together. Cassie was Jewish.

“So what does it mean to you to be Jewish?”

She paused over such a weighty question. “You don’t specialize in light conversation, do you?”

He smiled.

“I think it’s most importantly about a principle of oneness. It’s called monotheism, but it’s more than that. It’s that everything is unified in one creation that is all connected and interconnected.”

“Wow, good answer. Doesn’t sound that different from eastern religion.”

“I don’t think it is. You know when I was in India, there are so many gods and goddesses and practices, but they really emphasize the many in one, that in a way all these different gods and goddesses are just the many faces of the One.”

“Yeah, I got that too, when I was studying Sanskrit, that deep within this colorful pantheon is a Source, a One, who then is divided into three and then each of those three have many manifestations or incarnations. But the great sages are always talking about the Undifferentiated Oneness and stuff like that.”

“Sounds like Krishnamurti. I read a bunch of his books, and that’s how he talks, with a sense of non-divisiveness.”

“So is this another conclusion that they’re all saying the same thing.”

“Well, certainly the similarities are more profound than the differences.”

“Ah, so.” They smiled at each other inscrutably as if they had just become the great sages themselves.

As Zane and Cassie continued to explore their friendship and their intellectual repartee, it never occurred to Zane that they might become even closer. To him she felt more like the loving sister he never had. It occurred to Krishanna, and she grew uneasy with their growing rapport even though she was part of it quite often and certainly held her own in the intellectual, interpersonal, and psychological discussions they often had together. Her distrust translated into ambivalence toward Zane. She didn’t want him as much or as often as she once had. He felt her rejection, but when it was good between them, it was still very, very good.

Krishanna was a skier. Growing up in Sacramento the ski areas were only a couple of hours away. She had introduced Zane to the slopes at the end of the Thanksgiving trip, the beginning of the ski season. He had stumbled around on the bunny hill as a rank beginner, while she seemed to soar like a bird on the white surface of the night-lit inclines. Her cousin worked at Boreal, one of the ski areas, so she had a free pass any time she could get up there. She’d discovered several other skiers in the HPP group and was cooking up a trip for after Christmas. Zane wasn’t sure he wanted to stumble around the bunny hill again, falling down a lot and getting cold and wet, but his spirit of adventure might have compelled him to go along, take some lessons and meet the challenge of sliding down icy slopes on a pair of sticks. Just before departure he began to come down with something that felt like the typical kind of cold he would get once or twice a winter.

“Maybe I should stay home and take care of you.” She didn’t really want to, but felt obliged to make the offer.

“No, you go. I’ll be fine. It’s just a little cold. No big deal.”

“Okay, you sure you’ll be all right.

“Yeah, don’t worry about me. You go and have fun.” His grand gesture felt magnanimous, but was easy since he was unsure about going anyway.

She left with his blessing. A group of four drove to the mountains to enjoy what was already a good snow pack for skiing. Zane’s condition worsened. He was hit with a major flu bug. Krishanna had left with the car, and he was stuck in Icebox Canyon with chills and fever bad enough that for a couple of days he felt delusional. He huddled beneath layers of blankets trying to feel warm and hoping he would survive. He had a dream. He was trying to bury something or dig something up. He didn’t know what it was, but it felt important. The ground was very hard, maybe even frozen. At one point Krishanna was trying to help him. She wasn’t successful either. She didn’t seem to care as much about it as he did. Then they were in a car. Zane was driving. There was an unknown woman with a baby in the front seat with him. She looked vaguely like Amanda but wasn’t Amanda. Krishanna was in back smoking a cigarette. Zane asked her not to smoke because of the baby. She turned to an unknown man next to her and laughed derisively. Zane awoke in fear with his heart pounding in his chest. He was sweating.

Later that day the sun came out for the first time in three days. When Krishanna returned she seemed distant and different. Zane thought maybe it was the lingering effects of the flu, but she wasn’t very affectionate or concerned about his illness or even interested in him. He tried to engage her.

“How was the trip?”

“Oh, the trip was great, but at the end all the money was gone from my wallet. I only left my purse on a chair for a couple of minutes. It was even in plain sight. I don’t know how it could happen so quick.”

“That’s terrible. I guess there’s no chance of getting it back.”

“No, it’s gone. I was trying really hard not to spend much, but I brought money along just in case.”

“How much did you lose?”

“Close to a hundred.”

“Wow, that’s a lot.”

“Yeah.” She sounded sad and resigned, close to tears.

“It’s a bummer to get robbed. It’s happened to me before.” Zane remembered this black couple running a “Murphy” on him in front of Bank of America at Hayes and Octavia. He watched them disappear with the hundred dollars he’d just withdrawn from the bank. By the time he realized the quick switch they’d pulled, they were long gone and some other gal on the street had commented, “You been played on, honey. You better just take your medicine and go on home.”

“It’s not fair. I can’t believe this stuff keeps happening to me.”

“Sometimes shit just happens. It’s not like it’s bad karma or anything.”

“I’d like to believe that, but I’m still out the money.”

“I had a dream with you in it. Maybe there’s brilliant insight in the dream. You wanna here it.”

“Sure, I guess.”

Zane related his dream. As he finished, Krishanna burst into tears.

“What’s wrong?”

She kept crying. Finally she sobbed, “I got together with Trent.”

Zane was stunned for a moment. “What do you mean, you got together with Trent?”

“I slept with him.” Her crying intensified.

Zane stopped trying to comfort her. He got up and began to walk around the room. He was lost, dazed, confused. He put on his coat and left the cabin. He just walked, at first with no destination, just walking. At Hacienda he kept going east along Old River Road. The sun was going down. It would get colder soon. He didn’t care. At Champs Elysees he paused, uncertain. He turned up Champs, up the hill to the cabin where Cassie and her boyfriend lived. They were both home. Blair was out on the deck.

“Hey Zane, what are you doing here?”

“I don’t know, man, just walking I guess.”

Cassie heard voices and came out. “Zane, you don’t look so good.”

“I’m not.”

“What happened? You wanna come in? It’s getting cold out.”

“Yeah, I would, thanks.”

“You want some tea?”

“Yeah, great.”

“How about some pot?” Blair offered.

“I’ll probably cough my guts out, but yeah, sounds good.”

After some tea and pot, Zane relaxed a bit. He looked at them. “Krishanna made it with Trent.”

“Who’s Trent? Shit, it doesn’t matter. That’s awful.”

“Shit, man, what a drag.”

“Yeah! Trent’s that lawyer from San Mateo. You know the type, tall, handsome, money.” He was attempting a joke.

“Oh him, the guy who doesn’t look like a hippy.”

“That’s the one.”

“What’re you gonna do?”

“I really don’t know. I just found out. I don’t know what to do. We don’t beat people up any more, like in the old movies…do we?” This time he did get a little laugh out of both of them.

“I don’t know. Probably doesn’t do any good.”

“I just feel like walking away. You know, just not come back. Disappear, never speak to her again.”

“Kind of hard being in the same program.”

They commiserated, drank some more tea, ate a little.

“You’re welcome to stay the night here.”

“Thanks, maybe I need to go back. I mean, we didn’t talk at all. She told me. I left.”

“I can run you back over there if that’s what you want.”

“Yeah, let’s give it a try.”

They piled in Cassie’s bug for the mile or so drive back to Icebox Canyon.

“Looks like the car’s gone. Maybe she left.”

Sure enough Krishanna was gone.

“Guess I’ll stay. She’s probably left for the night.”

“If you need a ride tomorrow, just give me a call.”

“Thanks, I might.”

“You be all right?”

“Yeah, if I’m not I’ll call.”

“Any time.”

“Thanks again.”

Cassie left. Zane smoked some more pot. He found an old bottle of brandy. He didn’t get shit-faced, just sipped enough in combination with the pot to be reflective. The urge to flee was strong. He thought, “Maybe I’ll go live at the Zen Center for awhile.” In his dreamy state of mind he saw himself in the peaceful environment on Sonoma Mountain spending his days sitting, walking and listening to Ben Wong’s masterful way of presenting, “Buddhism Made Simple”. Maybe that’s what he needed now, “The Idiot’s Guide to Buddhism”. He was certainly tired of the pain. Why was it that each ecstatic connection with some apparently lovely woman inevitably led to agonizing torture within a matter of months? He was sick of it. This was one too many times. He’d learned enough psychology to suspect that he was the one repeating the pattern, so it must have something to do with him. He didn’t know what he was doing wrong. Maybe getting out of it for awhile would give him some perspective.

The next morning his resolve had not wavered. Cassie gave him a ride to Sonoma State. He found Ben Wong and asked him about living at the Zen Center.

“Yes, this is something that you can do. How long would you like to come for?”

“Well, semester break is coming up. Could I just be there full-time for those two weeks, and then decide.”

“Yes, that can be done. I can tell you who to talk to at the Center to arrange things.”

“Maybe I will decide to stay longer. Could I live there and go to school?

“I think that could be worked out. We can talk about that if you decide that’s really what you want to do. After two weeks you might feel different.”

“Thank you, Ben. I know I want to do the two weeks.”

Many questions remained for Zane. He was seeking a transformation he couldn’t exactly define. He wanted the pain to end. He thought he’d taken his best shot with Krishanna, and it had still ended up in a pile of shit. Obviously if he took any of this Eastern philosophy seriously, he must be calling this down on his own head. His actions were generating the karma. He hoped if he just sat still at the Zen Center for a while, he could at least avoid generating  more bad karma and maybe get some insight into how not to fuck up his next relationship. He had really loved Krishanna, and now it really hurt. How many other past loves had played out the same way or worse?

What If…?

Two roads diverged; I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

“What if”, two little words that make such a big difference, they are used by humans to point to a road not taken, perhaps to a road they wished they’d taken. What if Zane had remained faithful to one of the many quality women, who were more than ready to love him, more than ready to nurture his potential. What if he had maintained his resolve and stayed away from meth and other bad drugs. What if he had not run away, even once. when things got scary or difficult. What if he had better karma from past lives? Forks in the road usually have questions attached to them. People usually don’t get to explore each road and then make a decision. Many decisions are made emotionally on the spur of the moment, based on anger, fear, guilt, shame, and sometimes love. Perhaps Zane carried a torch for Amanda for most of his relationship with Jeanie, because he was using Amanda to run away from Jeanie. On the other hand maybe he couldn’t forget Amanda because she really was the love of his life. What if he hadn’t run away from Amanda the second time?

“What are you doing with Jeanie?”

“Good question,” he replied with disbelief in his voice, “It’s like I got stuck in some old ancestral lifetime. Like it wasn’t even my parents, more like my grandparents. I just gradually turned into somebody that didn’t feel like me.”

“You really hurt me when you showed up with her. I just couldn’t understand what was going on. I thought you loved me. I didn’t feel any love between you and her, but you acted like you were together.”

“I was running scared after you said, ‘Baby,’ and she came along and just clung to me at first. She was wandering around the city barefoot in the middle of winter. I felt like I had to take care of her. She was pretty lost, so I picked her up, and she got better hanging out with me. I guess that made me feel good.”

“That she got better?”

“Yeah.”

At least he wasn’t just blowing her off. At least he had some reason for doing what he had done. Still Amanda wondered, well, she wasn’t quite sure what she wondered at that point.

“But that night we split up. You wouldn’t talk to anybody. Leon had to wake you up. Did you think we would just work it out without you?”

“I guess I was hoping.”

“Good luck on that.”

“Apparently.”

“I didn’t really want Jeanie. She was comforting and comfortable. She didn’t expect much. I was already her hero by getting her off the street and giving her a place to live. I found out later she was pretty sick.”

“With what?”

“Hepatitis, the sanitary conditions at that commune in Lake County were pretty bad.”

“Was she living at Harbinger?”

“No, some other old mansion in Lucerne.”

This was a difficult conversation. Zane was amazed at how well it was going. They were actually processing, just like in that Group Process class he was taking. Maybe this new psychology stuff really worked. He was less scared. He could actually feel himself beginning to relax.

“I’ve been seeing this psychic here. I really like her.”

“Really.”

“Yeah, she seems to know things about my past without me telling her. Makes me trust her more about the present and the future.”

“What kind of things?

“Nothing I want to tell you about…yet. Maybe I will someday.”

Zane didn’t like secrets, but he knew if he wanted to stick around, he’d be playing by Amanda’s rules for a while. “What’s her name?”

“Samantha.”

“Like the witch on TV, how appropriate.”

“Yeah, I thought of that too. Would you like to meet her? We could even get a reading tomorrow morning before we leave town.”

“Tell me a little more about her.”

“Well…, she told me to give you a chance. I showed her the letter you sent. She said you really love me, but you’ve been really scared. It remains to be seen, which is stronger now, the love or the fear.”

Zane was speechless. That was a damn good summation of what he’d been going through for more than two years. He gazed at Amanda with his mouth open. Then he reached across and kissed her lightly on the lips. As he began to withdraw, she put her arm around his neck and pulled him to her for a longer deeper kiss. She had told him she had a yeast infection soon after he arrived as if to prevent him from getting his hopes up. Her medical condition placed some limits. They could be loving, but not sexual. That didn’t seem to matter. They kissed gently and warmly, feeling waves of pleasure flow through them and between them.

“I guess it still works.”

“What?”

“You and me, we still know how.”

He laughed. She was teasing him. This was a good sign. They were both relaxing and being able to relax together. He held her on the couch for a while, his arm around her shoulders, her hand on his heart. It felt so right.

“I’d like to meet your psychic.”

“Great!” she jumped up and clapped her hands. “She wants to meet you too.”

It was soon time for bed.

“Remember, no sex.”

“Yeah, I don’t want to cause you any more pain.” That was a bigger statement than he might have intended, but he realized the truth of it as soon as he said it. She looked at him deeply as if checking out his sincerity.

“Okay, I’m gonna hold you to that.” Then she laughed and gave him a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek before disappearing into the bathroom to prepare for bed.

His heart was trilling. Everything that had thrilled him about Amanda was being shown to him again. Despite the years that had passed, despite the injuries, despite the ongoing life experiences, there was clearly a wonderful connection still available to them.

In bed he curled his body around her body, feeling her butt against his belly. He was aroused but in the spirit of tantra feeling no need to act on it, just feel it and enjoy it. He drifted into a delicious sleep with sumptuous dreams of big soft pillows and her eyes floating through space gazing at him with sweet soft love. Of all things she dreamed of him in some kind of uniform. He stood almost at attention. His eyes conveyed a sense of strength and care. In the morning they lay with her head on this shoulder, her free leg thrown across his body.

“Were you ever a boy scout?”

“Yeah, for a while. Why?”

“Did you help little old ladies across streets?”

“No, but I was trustworthy, loyal, helpful, brave, clean, reverent, etc.” He laughed. “Where’s all this coming from?”

“I had a dream about you in uniform. I couldn’t place the uniform.”

“I’m applying for a job as a State Park Ranger, actually an Assistant Ranger in the beginning. That’s what I’m doing in Sacramento besides hanging out with you and Susan.”

“Would you carry a gun?”

“I don’t know. I don’t really want to.”

“You had a gun in the dream. You looked strong and capable, even noble. I was really attracted to you in the dream.”

“What about now?”

“Maybe,” she poked him in the ribs.

“Hey,” he grabbed her, and they rolled around in the bed, he trying to kiss her, she turning her face and mockingly crying, “No, no, no.” Finally he gave up and let her go. She came on top of him and kissed him long and lovingly.

“That’s for my ranger.”

He noticed she said, “My ranger.” Being a ranger was sounding better and better to him. Amanda’s playful joyousness had always buoyed his spirits. It was happening again. He really was getting a second chance, this time to step up and be a man.

“We see Samantha at ten. What do you want for breakfast?”

“Whatever you got that’s easy.”

She fixed whole grain French toast with fresh fruit, one of his favorites. They continued to alternately tease and be affectionate as the morning rolled on.

“All I’ve told Samantha is that we used to be together, and I showed her the letter. She really doesn’t know anything about you, but she said she wants to meet you.”

“The only psychic I’ve met before is this astrologer cat up in Sonoma. We used to go to high school together.”

“Really, what’d he tell you?”

“Told me to go into psychology or psychiatry, though he did say there were a dozen careers he might suggest to me. I wouldn’t say he was really supportive of me and Jeanie, like he didn’t say much about a future for us. Did say some things about her not being what I’m really looking for.”

“Interesting, well, we’ll see what Samantha has to say. I really like her, as a person.”

“Hey, if you can’t trust your psychic, who can you trust?”

“Get outta here.”

Samantha lived in a house similar to Amanda’s in an older section of Santa Barbara. She was younger than Zane expected, though probably a few years older than both of them. She graciously invited them in, hugging Amanda and then Zane. Zane felt relaxed in her presence.

“Did you bring a tape recorder?

“I did,” Amanda pulled a small cassette recorder from her voluminous traveling bag.

“Next she’s going to pull out an elephant.”

Samantha laughed at Zane’s joke, “I’ve seen crazier things.’

“Probably you have.”

“Well, let’s get started. I know very little about you Zane. I tuned in when Amanda asked about your visit, but that’s it. Do you have questions that you bring with you today.”

Zane paused for a few moments. “I think you know we were together briefly three years ago. My life hasn’t been the greatest. I’ve regretted a lot losing Amanda in the fast shuffle of the sixties. I guess I want to know what the hell happened to us back then, and why did it happen? And then I hope we have a future, and I’d like to know about that.”

“Good questions. Big questions. Amanda?”

“You pretty much know my considerations and circumstances. Let’s focus on Zane today.”

“Okay, switch on the recorder, and let’s go. I will touch you on the back of the hand from time to time. It’s a way that I make contact. Please place your hands palm down on the table.”

She began by placing her fingertips lightly on the backs of their hands. At times she’d have more pressure on one or the other of them.

Zane, you really enjoy the outdoors, being out in nature.”

“Yes.”

“You’ve applied for a job that would largely involve outdoor work. I see trees, beaches, people but not a lot of people. You’d have care-taking responsibilities. This is a job you could do for a while without many drawbacks. I see you living among trees, very green, very beautiful. Oh, you have a horse. Okay, all that was right on the surface. That’s what you walked in with.

“Oh my goodness, I’ve seldom seen such a powerful connection. When you two got together, there were fireworks. You must have lit up the sky.”

They looked at each other giggling a little, a little embarrassed.

“Then the karma hit. This other woman, a small woman, some American Indian blood, you owed her a karmic debt. It had to be paid or there would be even worst disaster later. It was tribal. She saved your life even though you had treated her people badly. You were one of those war captives, who could be saved if a woman of the tribe claimed him as a husband. She claimed you again. You could have left after she got on her own two feet, but by then you had taken on a lot of her wounds, and then had to heal them as if they were your own. You’re just coming out of that now. You can leave. She doesn’t need you anymore. The debt has been paid.”

Zane was blown away. It made so much sense. Samantha turned to Amanda.

“You, my dear, had something like a contract to birth this little boy. He was in a hurry to get on the planet. You had to be his mother. That’s why when things didn’t work out with Zane, you turned around and got pregnant by someone else, not the best specimen, but genetically adequate. Your little boy is an old soul and boy does he have his own agenda. Even the ordinary child raising rules don’t apply to him. You’ll be amazed at what he comes up with at ages way ahead of the usual schedule. You are important in his life, but not even the most important. He is powerfully connected with your parents and with people that they know. So you don’t have to feel bad about your relationship with him. It is as it is supposed to be.”

Zane thought about his son being raised by others. Amanda was soothed by Samantha’s words.

“There are two souls coming to be with you. They are not in a hurry. They will arrive at the right time for their purposes. There is no pressure at this time. Greater sense of freedom, ease, openness. Amanda, you should finish college somewhere, sometime. It’s important to your purpose. Zane, you love nature and you love to be in nature. You’re learning to love people, to not be afraid of them. Eventually you will have amazing people skills. It’s important you keep learning and growing. There are so many ways to do that these days, this Ojai community down the road, Esalen Institute, many places to learn how to help people spiritually and psychologically, not much difference to my mind. Are you studying now?”

“Yes.”

“Ah yes, you get interested in so many things. Just find something that includes all those things. Where are you studying now?”

“Sonoma State Psych. Department.”

“Oh yes, that’s very good. Many different directions to explore and find the ones that really work for you. Yes, you should stay with that. It feels really right. What are you studying now?”

“Group process and the Psychology of Zen.”

She chuckled, “See the psychological and the spiritual. The impediments to your relationship have been removed. Of course it is still entirely up to you, but there aren’t large karmic influences to deal with or get in the way. You guys can really make it if you want to. Try to forgive each other for what couldn’t be helped in the past. You were both having to fulfill contracts from the past. Those obligations have been taken care of. Love each other and create much joy.”

Their hearts were filled with Samantha’s kind and wise words. They left her house feeling blessed in their rediscovered love for each other, blessed in the desire to have a future together, blessed as individual souls and as a couple.

Shortly after noon they were on their way to Bakersfield. Zane took a back road through Cuyama Valley, an area of surprisingly lush greenery in an otherwise bleak west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Cuyama is fed by a river coming down the back side of the Santa Barbara Mountains before turning west and draining into the Pacific Ocean. Growing up in Bakersfield Zane had heard of Cuyama Valley but had never been there. They both exclaimed over this oasis of green within the larger yellow-brown valley. Past Maricopa they drove through the alkaline fields, bright white under the autumn sun.

“It looks like snow.”

“Yeah, isn’t it crazy? You ever see anything like it?”

“No, I’m blown away.”

“The soil has so much alkali in it that the little bit of rain percolates it to the surface. It just keeps collecting. It’s several inches deep.”

“Can we go play in it?” Amanda ever the one to enjoy whatever.

“It’s pretty nasty, caustic, like lye, probably not too pleasant to breathe or get in you eyes.”

“Sure is far out to look at.”

Zane’s parents were away on the first of many travel adventures they would partake of in their active retirement. He and Amanda settled into the parental bedroom. He sat cross-legged and she wrapped her legs around his waist and sat on top of him. He didn’t enter her, still being careful to facilitate or at least not sabotage the healing of her infection. They were in the classic yab-yum position of tantra. They sat for a couple of hours holding each other, meditating, kissing, stroking, feeling the energies of each other’s bodies and souls. When they went to sleep it was like they floated on a cloud together through lavender skies lit by tangerine suns and silver moons. She dreamed they were two wolves prowling the tundra and trees of the frozen north. In his dream she played the calliope, while he performed tricks with their pet monkey and collected money from the casual street audience.

Together Again

Together again

My tears have stopped falling

You’re back in my heart

`Cause we’re together again.

–Buck Owens

The joy did not go away as they drove up Highway 99 toward Sacramento. They both reached across the bucket seats to make physical contact, touch each other’s bodies, and feel the beatitude of being together, of being together again after all the intervening years and difficulties.

Susan still lived in the same beautiful old house in the Capitol neighborhood. She greeted them warmly. “Well, well, well, who would have imagined, Amanda and Zane?” She gave each of them a big warm hug. She didn’t know much except that Zane had reached out to Amanda, and she’d decided not to slap his hand. By the appearance of the two of them, things had thus far gone well.

“Your old room is free at the moment, so you guys can just crash in there. It’s not as beautiful as the way you had it fixed up when you were here.”

The room was not totally stripped of aesthetic charm but without Amanda’s fluffy, lacy, flowery touch it did seem rather plain. Zane brought in his Pendleton blanket from the panel truck. Amanda had a few things in her bag. There were enough pillows to be comfortable. Soon they had customized the room and made it their own. Susan was happy if they were happy. She’d heard enough about the breakup to be somewhat suspicious of Zane. She wouldn’t totally embrace him for a while, but would welcome him and do nothing negative in the meantime unless she saw him being less than honorable.

The civil service interview was on Tuesday. On Monday they decided to be tourists, something they’d never done before in Sacramento, practically never got out of bed on his previous visits. They went to the Capitol. They went to Old Town and shared some spaghetti for lunch.

“We could go to Sutter’s Mill.”

“Yeah, we could. I heard about this Indian store in Folsom. Supposed to have some great stuff.”

“Okay, I’m open. Maybe we have time for both.”

They drove to Folsom and found the store. There really was some incredibly beautiful stuff, most of it beyond their price range. Zane bought her an exquisitely wrapped and beaded feather. He asked if it was hawk or eagle.

“No, it’s wild turkey. Illegal to possess hawk or eagle, but the turkey looks a lot like ‘em. That artist is local, but she’s Cherokee and Navajo background. Knows her way around leather and beads.” A small square flap of leather hung from the shaft of the feather. It was covered with a rainbow rosette of beads. Amanda loved it and gave him a long kiss when they were back in the truck, to show how much she was touched. They also bought two alligator clips with decorative feathers hanging from them, roach clips, but also hair clips for Amanda.

The next day Zane dressed up and went to one of the many imposing government buildings near the Capitol for his interview with State Parks. He had already passed a written examination/screening that got him to the interview stage of the process. The uniforms who interviewed him tried their best to maintain an air of officiousness and formality. He felt he was fielding the questions well with regard to background and abilities, placing emphasis on his solo backpacking trip on the John Muir trail and extensive hiking on Mt. Tamalpais, Mt. Wittenberg and other areas of Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

“So would you carry a gun?”

He almost laughed. Amanda’s dream had prepared him for this. He had prepared his answer, “Sure, if it was part of the job, I guess I’d have to.”

“There are parts of the system where we are more like law enforcement than forest rangers. Some of the Southern California beaches occasionally get pretty rough.” Zane remembered when he and Don were both security guards in San Francisco. Don was a Pinkerton, and he worked for Burns. Don carried a gun. At one job he went to the john to take a dump, hung his gun belt on the door of the stall, did his business and walked off without his gun. Hours later he remembered. Someone had already turned in his gun to the Pinkerton Agency. The guys at Linden Alley had a good hoot over that one. Amazingly he didn’t lose his job.

“I think you know what my preferences are. I’m here to get a job. I’ve handled guns. I had a 22 rifle when I was a kid and actually loved doing target practice out in the oilfields north of Bakersfield. So I’m not afraid of guns, and I’ll carry one if that’s what the job requires.”

The interviewers took notes. “What have you been doing since you graduated from college?”

He was ready for that one too. “Did some traveling around the West. My friend and I have been working on getting a salmon trawler together to do commercial salmon fishing.”

“Have you done that before?”

“Yes, one season on someone else’s boat.”

“How’s that going?”

“It’s challenging. A lot of money goes in before you get any out.”

One of them laughed as if he had some knowledge of the difficulties. “My brother fished. There were good years and bad years. Finally he decided he needed something steady.”

“That’s kind of what I’m looking at. It’s a great life, but not real reliable when it comes to money unless you’re one of the best.”

“How do you feel about horses?”

“I like horses. I’ve ridden. My grandfather had horses. My uncle still has horses. We trail ride when I visit them.”

“Well, Mr. Morgan, the only area you’re low in is biological sciences, but your practical experience fishing and backpacking somewhat makes up for it. Once you’re assigned, you have to learn all about the area you’re working in anyway. I can’t tell you where you’ll rank on the list, but I can safely say you have the minimum qualifications. You’ll get a formal notification in the mail. Job offers come separately and involve meetings with the local supervisors.” He stood up and extended his hand.

Zane shook hands with both men. As he left the building he didn’t celebrate like he’d aced the interview, but he felt good. He hadn’t done anything to rule himself out. Back at Susan’s he and Amanda got ready to leave. Amanda’s plan was to go to her parents’ house in Palo Alto, stay a few days, and next weekend they would take her back to Santa Barbara. Zane wanted to catch the second half of his Tuesday/Thursday classes. He wanted to be at least somewhat serious about being a student, even though Sonoma State was so based on the experiential, not the academic approach. Well, if you weren’t there, you couldn’t experience. He was getting a lot out of his Group Process class and the Psychology of Zen. He’d begun to meditate somewhat regularly and was learning to communicate feelings and listen more closely to what others were saying.

“So are you ready to meet the parents?”

“Can’t be any worse than you meeting mine, can it?”

“No, my parents are not monsters, and they’ve really opened up with Sean being in our lives. I don’t know how I would have done it without them. How are you feeling about having a kid in your life?”

“Better. Not as freaked out. I want to meet him.” Zane had decided to do everything possible to live his life and be a part of Amanda’s. If she had a kid he was going to check it out. Char already had two kids and seemed to be doing fine, seemed to be the same wonderful person he’d always known. Mariah couldn’t have been any crazier without a kid than she was with one. Maybe this kid thing could be done without diverting your life down some square inauthentic path. People had kids. Women especially had kids. It went with the territory.

“I want you to meet him. He’s pretty special. Of course, I’m his mother.”

“Is it hard being away from him?”

“Yeah, but I talk to my folks all the time when they have him. And I need to figure out what else I’m doing with my life.”

“Yeah, I guess we’re all doing that.”

“You’re getting it figured out. You just applied for a real job. You’re a graduate student. Don’t minimize what you’ve done. You stayed focused enough to finish college unlike some of the rest of us.”

“Hey, it took me a while. You can still do it. You’d love Sonoma State. The Psych. Department is all about putting names and theories and understandings on everything we just did in the sixties, trying to get a rein on the wild horse without crushing its spirit. The teachers are a bunch of people like us with more schooling behind them. There’s lots of cool stuff going on, art therapy, drawing mandalas, dream groups, men’s groups, women’s groups, male-female encounter groups, journal-writing, biofeedback, yoga, Zen. It’s all right there for the taking. I learned so much in one summer session. I just needed to stick with it. Now I am. And you can still take all your clothes off and jump in the pond.”

“Wow, you are really enthusiastic, like you’ve found your place and what you want to do.”

“Yeah, there’s even wilderness psychology in case I get this ranger job. I might be able to combine it with what I’m doing in school.”

“Sounds like I should check it out.”

“I think you’d like it.”

Their conversation continued as they drove to Palo Alto. The ambiance continued to grow between them. They’d never talked so much, not even when they first met. They were rediscovering each other and liking what they were finding. The fear of disapproval, fear of rejection, the ugly kid complex, all these things were moving into a distant background. There really seemed to be some essential love and connection between these two post-sixties hippies. They might be able to figure out something sustainable for themselves. There were ways in which the whole Love Generation thing had turned ugly. The expectation of unbridled freedom in which the music was free, the food was free, the love was free, and a place to crash was free had been spawned by the Summer of Love and the success of Woodstock. Subsequent attempts to reconstitute “Flower Power” met with less and less success. Unbridled freedom inevitably bred its antithesis, limits. Anyone with any understanding of dialectical philosophy could have predicted that. Musicians need to get paid. Food producers need to get paid. Even love may have a price if one wants to nurture and sustain it. The specter of young hippies confronting police because they have to pay a nominal fee to get into a music festival totally trivialized the very important things they felt they had stood for in the middle of all the sixties craziness. Already they were beginning to feel old, and like the next decade of youngsters didn’t really get what it was all about. Sigh!

Just to sit next to each other, just to be in each other’s presence, just to have light physical contact was a source of thrilling contentment. The miles passed too quickly and soon they were in an average middle-class neighborhood in Palo Alto. Palo Alto, this was where Zane’s father had hoped he would go to college, carry on the Stanford tradition that Dad had found so meaningful. Zane finally made it to Palo Alto but under rather different conditions.

Meeting the parents had generally not gone well for Zane. Parents generally didn’t like his appearance, his style, his philosophy, his attitude or his taste in music. He was gradually learning to temper his presentation, not go out of his way to blow them out of the water, as if he had to be totally accepted for all of his most outlandish traits or else.

They were cordial. Her mother offered tea, which Zane found oddly charming. Zane noticed a McDonald clan tartan on the wall of the living room. His comment about it launched a comfortable discussion of family trees. The McDonalds were obviously Scottish. Morgan is a Welsh name. The paternal grandmother was Russian and had named her son Ivan. Amanda’s mother was Jewish on her father’s side and English and Irish on her mother’s, thus the penchant for offering a pot of tea to guests.

“My great grandmother emigrated from England to Utah. She had tea every afternoon.” Commonality was being established through ancestry. Zane was glad he knew as much as he did, thanks to his Utah relatives.

The baby boy awoke from his nap. Grandma Alice brought him out to the family group after changing him. He was bright-eyed and looked around the room at each person. He saw his mom and went for her with open arms. She scooped him into her arms and held him contentedly, cooing sweet nothings in his ear. “How’s he been?”

“Oh, he’s been great, dear. He really likes it here, and we like having him.” Amanda’s mom did the books for Dad’s electrical business, so she didn’t have a set schedule and could answer phones and accomplish a lot while taking care of the little one. “He can stay here any time you want, for as long as you want.”

“I know, mom. I really appreciate it. I miss him too. I don’t want him to forget me.”

Zane was reminded of peoples he’d studied where the grandparents did much of the child-raising because the parents were busy with the work of the community, hunting, cooking, sewing, etc., and the grandparents were really the ones who had the time for the children. He moved next to Amanda on the couch, “Can I hold him?”

“Sure, let’s see.” She placed the contented child in Zane’s arms.

Zane felt a warmth that reminded him of holding his nieces and nephews. Sean was about seven months old, but still had that wide openness that Stephen Gaskin had talked about, blissful, meditative, cosmic, other-worldly.  Sean relaxed in Zane’s arms and they communed for a few minutes. Everyone noticed how quickly they took to each other.

“You’re really good with children.”

“Well, he’s good with me.”

` “He won’t go to everyone, especially not be this happy and relaxed.”

“Maybe it’s my new meditation practice.”

“Whatever it is it’s working.” Amanda’s mom was going out of her way to praise Zane’s interaction with the baby. She had tried to be understanding and supportive of her daughter’s struggles with men. Sean’s father, in particular, had not been kind. Her immediate hit on Zane was at the very least he was not mean nor dangerous, and he seemed actually rather likable. Anybody who could recognize a McDonald clan tartan couldn’t be all bad.

“So what do you do, Zane?”

“Right now I’m back in school at Sonoma State. I’ve tried my hand at a few things, but nothing’s really worked out as yet. Commercial salmon fishing was the most fun, but I didn’t make much money at it.”

“Kind of like being a cowboy. Except you’re on a boat on the ocean.”

Zane laughed at her father‘s reference, “Yeah, just about as uncertain a way to make a living.”

“So what do you think you want to do?”

“Right now I’m aiming to teach at the college level, but I also just interviewed for a state park ranger job.”

The parents were subtly checking him out, and it looked like so far he was passing. He imagined the bottom line wasn’t too high if Sean’s father was an incarcerated heroin addict.

“So, Mr. Morgan, are you staying the night with us?”

“Please, call me Zane, and yes, I’d like to.”

“You can call me Alice. We’d be happy to have you stay with us.”

“Thank you, I’ll head back to Petaluma tomorrow. Don’t want to miss any more classes, but this trip was definitely a higher priority.”

The parents exchanged meaningful glances. “What do you like to eat?’

“I’m pretty easy, like most everything.”

“I thought I’d put together a big pot of spaghetti and a salad.”

“Sounds great.”

“Looks like Sean is comfortable with you for a while yet. Amanda, would you help me in the kitchen?”

“Sure, mom.”

Zane got down on the floor. Sean was just able to sit on the floor by himself. Zane rolled a rubber ball to him, and he shoved it back when he wasn’t putting it in his mouth.

Sean’s room was also the guest bedroom. Amanda would sleep in there and Zane would sleep in her childhood bedroom.

“Come join me after everyone’s gone to bed.”

“Okay.”

They only had a single bed, but it was enough. Zane held her in his arms the whole night, not caring if he was asleep or awake. She slept peacefully and deeply except when Sean awoke once. She made up a bottle and fed him and held him until he went back to sleep. Then she slept again in Zane’s arms and he floated in meditative bliss.

Next morning they put Sean in a stroller and walked the quiet streets of the neighborhood to a nearby park. Zane sat in a swing and held Sean while Amanda pushed them gently. It was Sean’s first experience in a swing. He dug it. When it was time to leave, it was difficult for them to separate after the days they’d spent in loving embrace of each other.

“Don’t forget me.”

“Don’t worry. I’m hanging onto you this time. I learned my lesson. I haven’t dreamed or yearned for anyone but you these last three years. All the other girls disappeared. I just want you.”

“I’m glad you finally came around. I didn’t really find anyone either, but I didn’t dare to hope. It hurt too much. And I thought you were gone forever.”

“Something wouldn’t let me forget you. It became more and more obvious I’d made a terrible mistake by not holding onto you. I really believe you’re the one. I want you to be the one.”

Amanda could hardly believe what she was hearing. It was too good to be true. Tears rolled out of her eyes and down her cheeks as she smiled at Zane, her heart releasing from the pain she had carried. “I love you. I want you to be the one for me. Let’s make it happen.”

“I love you, too. I never have classes on Fridays, so I can come to Santa Barbara pretty much every weekend. In between we’ll talk on the phone.”

They kissed and held each other until he had to tear himself away and head back north up 101. Driving through the City brought a flood of memories and some tears to his eyes, tears of shame for what he’d done back then, tears of gratitude to be forgiven and able to recover what had been lost. As he passed through Golden Gate Park a young long-haired couple leaned against a tree kissing and gazing longingly into each other’s eyes. Zane blessed them and their tie-dyed clothing as he rolled on north. ‘Not all the spirit of the sixties has been lost,’ he rode the wave of that little vignette and the experiences of the last week until he saw his yellow house west of Petaluma.

It was strange seeing Jeanie. Fortunately she had had a pleasant trip to Fresno. She was not surprised by Zane’s story of his reconnection with Amanda. His depression during the early part of the year had been pretty unbearable for her. Anything that eliminated that was a good thing. She was reminded of Stephen Raskin’s characterization of mental illness as boiling down to people lying to themselves and then getting so caught up in believing the lies that life just gets more confusing and overwhelming and full of symptoms. It took three years, but finally Zane had admitted that he really fell in love with Amanda back then, and his denial of that simple fact had caused many of his subsequent problems. She wondered why she had been such a willing participant. What had she believed up until this year? She wasn’t sure, but she hoped someone loved her like that someday. When she first met Zane, she was sick and weak and just looking for a safe haven. He had provided that, and she was grateful. Gratitude was not an adequate substitute for being in love. Now she was strong and ready to live her life. She could bless Zane and not feel responsible for him. She felt released. As was often the case lines from songs would take on a deep meaning and provide explanation for distressing life situations. She was haunted by the lyrics from the Band:

You take a load off Fanny

You take a load for free

You take a load off Fanny

And you put the load right on me.

She was growing up too. She was going to stand on her own two feet, take care of herself and go for what she wanted in life. Zane had no reason to cling to her or hold her back anymore. What a relief! She had kind of loved him at one time, but it’s hard to love  someone whose heart has been claimed by another. All this free love that she and others had so freely engaged in had not really created love, at best ephemeral pleasure, the temporary delight of another carnival ride. The songs kept trying to decipher the essential truths among all the phantasmal phenomena, but the musicians as bards were as intoxicated as the rest of the tribe. The clearing of their channels awaited further refining experiences for them to qualify as sages. Often they were excellent at describing the phenomena but no better than anyone else at providing clear direction for making good decisions.

Strike another match

Go start anew

Cause it’s all over now baby blue

Zane was beginning to establish some foundation for himself through psychology and spirituality that was not drug-based. Experiential psychology still had quite a party atmosphere to it, but it also had some guiding principles and practices that precipitated some important learnings about how to live life. Learning to identify, express and hear and take in appreciations and resentments without flinching, deflecting or devaluing was one of those building blocks of personal integrity. There was much in his studies that discouraged running away and encouraged finding a way to deal with people and situations with an open heart and an open mind. Identifying and expressing a range of emotions with witnesses was in fact an amazing process of healing. To be seen, to be heard, to be recognized in your own truth, to be sad, angry, joyful, scared without shame, without a sense of feelings being some terrible flaw to be avoided on penalty of banishment: all these permissions that were inherent to the new path he was on made him feel healthier and more whole as a human being.

This fundamental ethos pervaded the psychology department at Sonoma State and provided a container for old injuries and new enactments of those old injuries. Healing was facilitated and encouraged. Explorations designed to encompass awareness of the whole Self included the bad with the good, the dark with the light, the painful with the pleasant, the ugly with the beautiful: sit with it all, embracing all of it with a contemplative attitude of friendliness. Make friends with your shadow, your masculine and feminine aspects, your various masks and acts, the hard-headed practical self, the creative imaginal self. Own your negativity. Embrace the ecstasy that is our birthright. And process, process, process! Keep turning over rocks and looking to flesh out a more complete truth about what it is to be a human being living on Planet Earth.

Perhaps someday all of this might lead to a professional path. In the meantime the personal understanding and ability to wield some positive power in his own life and make better choices was more than enough to keep Zane showing up. His teachers were an inspiration. His personal work was bearing delicious edible fruit.

Here, There and Everywhere

To lead a better life I need my love to be here…

–Beatles

Zane went to Santa Barbara almost every weekend usually driving down on Thursday night, crawling into Amanda’s warm soft bed, making love and talking until the wee hours, then sleeping that deep delicious sleep of renewal that true lovers find in each others physical presence. Sometimes Sean was there and they were a family taking walks with him in the stroller, on warm days rambling the many beaches from Gaviota to Carpentaria. Zane found joy again in swimming in the ocean. Amanda joined him, or they took turns when someone needed to be with Sean. Zane loved the warm water where he could float and ride the swells without fighting the frigidity of the northern Pacific. Their days together were an easy joy that flowed naturally from one activity to another or no activity at all. Whenever Zane got scared or uncomfortable he talked about it. It happened less and less. Sometimes he had exciting ideas or experiences to share from his days at Sonoma State the rest of the week. The textbook for his Psychology of Zen class was Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, Roshi. This was the same Zen master who had told him to, “Come back”, when he had walked out of the Zen Center in San Francisco. The idea of beginner’s mind was to perceive each situation in present time with fresh senses, without the filters of past experiences and judgments. The essence of Zen Buddhist meditation practice is to cultivate beginner’s mind.

“I like that idea.”

“It’s hard to do.”

“I’m sure.”

“Sometimes when I’m swimming in the ocean, just feeling the gentle up and down of the swells, not thinking about anything just feeling myself as part of the ocean.”

“I breast-fed Sean for the first few months. Sometimes there was nothing else, just me and him and the flow of the milk.”

“Wow, how sweet.”

“I wish men could experience that. It’s almost as good as sex. Different but just as lovely and all-consuming.”

“You know what men want from women is so much about sex. What do women want from men?”

“We want sex too, but to feel safe, protected, cared for, taken care of. We want to know that you really care about us, that we matter. So often it feels like used for only one thing and then cast aside.”

“I love everything about you, how we talk, how we walk together on the beach, how we commune when we have little Sean. I love your excitement about things. You don’t hold back your joy even in the smallest things, even when it’s childlike.”

“You’re not against Shirley Temple anymore?”

He laughed, “No, I wouldn’t want a steady diet, but once in a while she’s pretty cute.”

She laughed too, “I always thought it was one of my best qualities.”

“You know it’s something fathers find entertaining in their little girls, so for a lover or boyfriend it’s a little confusing. It’s like saying, ‘Love me the way my father did. Not so sure I want to love you like your father.”

“Good point.”

“Now, it’s okay. I know where I stand. You could do most anything other than seduce the milkman.”

She laughed again, “It’s the mailman I was interested in.”

They spent Thanksgiving in Palo Alto, just the five of them, pleasant but uneventful. Zane and Amanda went to Petaluma for the first time. Jeanie had gone to Fresno for the holiday.

“This is where I live, when I’m not living with you.”

It was strange to walk in where Zane was still living with another woman, even though they’d slept in separate bedrooms since before the move to this house. Zane’s paintjob of his bedroom definitely caught her eye. “That is far out. That is really artistic,” she gestured to the wall he’d done with the three purple shades bleeding into each other. “Where’d you get that idea?”

“Don’t know. Just occurred to me. Didn’t want the same boring colors.”

“You can paint my house any time.”

“Okay, let’s get a house first.”

“Okay,” she chirped expectantly.

“Would you consider living here? Jeanie’s talking about moving out soon.”

“Maybe, I’d like to look around at what’s available. You know my taste.”

“I’ve seen you in two places. They both had to be at least fifty years old, and they have charm.”

“There you go.”

“Okay, would you live somewhere in Sonoma County with me?”

“Most definitely!”

A joy came up inside him. He liked Santa Barbara, and he didn’t mind the drive, but he had reached a realization that he really wanted her around all the time, not just half the week.

“Where would you like to look?”

“I don’t know much about this area. Where do you like?”

“I like Sebastopol and Forestville, but I think we should just drive around where we feel like and look at what’s out there, see some countryside, wait for someplace to invite us in.”

“Ooh, I like that idea. Do you want country or city?”

“I think country, but sometimes you can find a really nice quiet place in the city. What do you think?”

And so the discussion about where to live went, each of them expressing some predilections and a lot of openness and a lot of desire to please and accommodate the other one. Zane had explored some of the county but not all of it, so this was a new adventure for him as well.

“We could drive around some tomorrow before we go back to my folks’ place.”

“Yeah, I’d like to show you some of my favorite places. There’s lots of country and lots of roads that all go somewhere.”

“Groovy, we’ll just go for a drive in the country and then go back to my folk’s place in Palo Alto.”

They had not lost the passion in their love-making nor the desire for each other. Sometimes the little guy limited some periods of expression, but they made up for it the rest of the time. They had the house to themselves in Petaluma and celebrated the coming together that was continuing to happen, as they now contemplated becoming one household. Zane reminded himself every day how lucky he was to have Amanda in his life. Lots of people don’t get second chances. For some reason he did. He was twice as motivated to create harmony and sustain the love between them. His classes continued to improve his communication skills and the peaceful center he was building inside himself. Amanda watched the potential she had seen in the beginning manifest and ripen as he made his best effort to live a human life with some principles and practices to maintain himself. She had started a class in Tai-Chi Chuan in Santa Barbara. It was a slow dance, moving meditation, martial art. It was helping her rebuild her post-childbirth body image. It felt good and gave her confidence in her own body and ability to move through life in a centered way. She brought more of that feeling into the relationship. It complimented Zane’s Zen practice. She showed him the long flowing graceful moves. He was intrigued and wanted to learn it too.

He didn’t exactly know how or why, but he had made a decision to remain steadfast in his love for Amanda. All good things seemed to be flowing from there.

Within a few months they had found a place out in the country between Sebastopol and Forestville. It was an old farm house with some land around it. They could fix it up however they wanted and did. Amanda brought her special touch to creating the ultra-feminine cushy comfortable bedroom. Zane created a den for himself where he could ruminate, write, read, study, take himself seriously as a student. He was getting really intrigued with the writings of Jung and the Jungians. The concepts were so useful for understanding the bigger picture of the human psyche. For instance the whole idea of anima and animus, the contra-sexual figure in the psyche as the gatekeeper to the soul or the way-shower to spirit, really challenged his views of his own personal history. Had his feelings for all the women he’d been with been essentially projections of his own psychic constructions? That was a question not easily answered in a sentence or even a paragraph. The question itself was a doorway leading into extensive interior exploration. There would never be full knowledge, but along the way there was at least a sense of increased understanding and clarification.

Amanda enjoyed his deliberations and laughed at some of the constructs he came up with.

“So if it’s all projection, you’re just a figment of my imagination. You don’t really exist.”

“Not as you believe me to be, but I do have an existence independent of your imagination.”

“Prove it.”

She laughed, “I think therefore I am.”

“Hey, you’re switching models on me.”

“All’s fair in philosophy and psychology. After all, psychology started as a division of philosophy. Only later did they try to make it a science.”

“How’d you get so smart?”

“I went to college, for three whole years. Part of the time I was actually paying attention.”

“Fair enough, so let me put it a different way. If I’m looking at you, how do I decipher what’s the true truth of you and what’s just my projection?

“Ooh, that’s a tough one,” she was teasing. “You could ask me. I’ll straighten all that out for you.”

Not to be dissuaded, “In other words you will be the final judge of my perceptions of you.”

“Right.”

“But what about the delusions of your self-perception.”

“I don’t have any.”

Now he laughed, “So what about your perceptions of me?”

“Totally accurate.”

“How can yours be totally accurate, if mine are semi-deluded?”

“I’m a woman.”

Now he was laughing so hard he was almost falling over, “Can I quote you in my psych class?”

“Sure.”

“I can just see it. According to Amanda McDonald, emeritus student of Sacramento State College, Jung’s extensive deliberations on the complexities and confusing nature of the human psyche had largely to do with the fact that he was a man. Had he simply had a female brain, everything would have been abundantly simpler and clearer.”

“That’s right.”

Amanda could persevere in a course of intellectual teasing with the same aplomb as Zane. He loved that about her. It made their conversations fresh and entertaining. She could adopt a stance and defend it with rationales as  well as he could. In that and many other ways she was his equal. Perhaps the intellectual cleverness was particularly important given how much Zane’s early self-image had been built around that. Only an intellectual equal could continue to keep him interested.

“Okay, great. So what gems to you have for my Zen teacher?”

“Why not instant enlightenment?”

“Huh?”

“The other school of Zen promotes the concept of instant enlightenment through koan study. Why the long arduous process of gradual enlightenment?”

“The other way wasn’t necessarily shorter. It probably took just as many hours or lifetimes of sitting on the cushion. Just at the end there was this experience of sudden pervasive clarity or satori. The other view is that there are numerous kenshos or little enlightenments along the way that eventually accumulate into a satori. Probably the most important difference is in the process, whether koans are used or not. My understanding is that koans are used as a way to short-circuit the intellect, because it is one of the biggest impediments to enlightenment.”

“So, does a dog have Buddha-nature?”

“Woof.”

They both dissolved into laughter again, and so went their delving into the deeper truths of spirituality and psychology. It was obvious that they had discovered one of those deeper truths, and that was love. Perhaps their love was sustainable because it was based on a genuine enjoyment of each other on many levels, passionate, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.

Amanda would often go to school with Zane. She liked the atmosphere on campus. She had applied for fall semester, but she liked sitting in on classes which was perfectly acceptable to most of the teachers especially in the psych. dept. and expressive arts, which was even more experiential and free-form than the psych. program. It had been founded by two psych. professors who felt that creative and artistic expression were really the most powerful path to psychological growth and spiritual realizations. Amanda was intrigued. She’d always felt artistic, but without focusing on or developing a particular genre. Her bedroom was always an artistic creation.

She could bring Sean to campus and hang out on the lawn, or Zane would take him while she sat in on a class. The little guy was growing every day and still spent about half his life in Palo Alto with the grandparents. He was loved wherever he went, so he was thriving and so tuned in to everything going on around him. He was a hit at Sonoma State. Other students fawned over him, held him, and played with him. He and several other toddlers were becoming campus mascots and darlings of the psych dept. Zane continued to feel like he really was in some new tribal existence that made so much more sense than the isolated nuclear families of his fifties childhood. The children belonged to everybody, and everybody embraced them. It wasn’t all on a couple of stressed-out overworked commuting parents. Academically speaking maybe if you were studying child psychology, there should be a child present. A few other couples had paved the way for this acceptance and inclusion of little people in the collegiate process. Especially in the psych department there was an underlying principle of trying to do that which was really psychologically healthy.

The emphasis on create your own education as you would like it to be was in its heyday and taking a variety of forms. The Humanistic Psychology Program (HPP) was a free-form, make it up as you go along, graduate program that emphasized broad exploration and led to no degree. Almost every week featured fairly famous guest presenters from the field of humanistic psychology and the human growth potential movement. The program met every Friday in a large room adjacent to the commons and right next door to The Pit, Sonoma State’s own coffee house with espresso drinks and filthy rich pastries. There were rumors that students in HPP had engaged some psych professors to put together a do-it-yourself master’s degree program. Each individual or group would have a faculty advisor to collaborate in designing a program of studies which could emphasize any of the various approaches from family therapy to Jungian psychology to the emerging transpersonal movement, a conscious hybrid of psychological and spiritual practices, to gestalt and phenomenology to Reichian and bioenergetics. Zane investigated and found out a year of participation in the HPP open forum was required as introductory exposure to everything that was out there in the field. Adjunct classes were already being put together under the auspices of HPP. Students would simply hire someone they wanted to study with, contract with them and have a class. Sonoma State acted as an administrative umbrella.

HPP and the external degree program became a route to an accredited M.A. that bypassed the competitive admissions process to the in-house master’s program, which admitted only twenty students each year from a field of several hundred applicants. More importantly a person could decide what s/he wanted to study and then go right ahead and do it. Zane’s program would ultimately combine Jungian and experiential psychology, family therapy and Zen practice.

Amanda could complete her B.A. in a year combining English, Psychology and Expressive Arts, or she could be more relaxed, take three semesters and do a bit more exploring. Sean had many caretakers who loved him. It could all work out.

The Quest

There are two basic modes of learning: “direct experience” and 

“hearsay”. Nowadays most that we know comes through hearsay–through 

books teachers and television–keyed to only a minimal ground of direct

contact with the world.

–Gary Snyder

In the spring of 1972 Zane and Amanda got involved in the wilderness psychology program. Nobody really knew what wilderness psychology was, but there were marvelous exciting exploratory experiments going on to discover or rediscover some sense of right relationship with nature. It was Taoist. It was American Indian. It was pagan. It was anything that seemed to offer some clues about how those who felt the need to get themselves “back to the garden” might actually do so. Immersion in nature or wilderness as a therapeutic methodology was another experiential approach that showed great promise with deeply troubled souls as well as providing a pathway to the deeper truer Self for anyone so inclined.

Albert Greensweig focalized a loose-knit network of wilderness explorers most of whose significant activities naturally took place off-campus in the form of extensive field trips often designed to experientially precipitate a more indigenous relationship with nature. Albert had a reputation as a kind of “wild man”, who would try almost anything that showed some promise of breaking the restrictive bonds of industrial civilization. His approaches ranged from the kind of survival skills exercises one might find in Army Ranger training to elaborate guerilla theater/psychodrama exercises staged in some remote area of Northern California. One of these involved the group dividing into two rival tribes who had to figure out how to make contact with each other, how they were going to relate, share resources and territory, and live as neighbors. Albert took the role of renegade shaman aligned with neither tribe.

The wilderness psychology program attracted a diverse bunch of yahoos, people who’d been doing their own exploring, making their own contacts, and now were coming together in a spirit of, “let’s put together what we’ve all discovered and see where we can take it.” There was beginning to be significant sharing from American Indian teachers who recognized a new level of sincerity, respect and sensitivity among some of the young long-haired white boys and girls. Hopi prophecy included a story that in the times leading to the Day of Purification, the children of the invaders would begin to dress like Indians and wear their hair long like Indians. Full-blood and Metis` teachers such as Rolling Thunder, Sun Bear, Hyemeyohsts Storm and others were teaching and writing to a largely young white audience. Some individuals within that audience took on more than the costumes and trappings of being “native”. Participation in versions of traditional ceremonies was one of the psycho-spiritual change agents that was beginning to replace psychedelic drugs as a medium of mind-expansion or more generally human growth potential.

Those who had been invited in to participate in Native American Church tipi meetings, sweat lodges, pipe ceremonies and vision quests were profoundly affected by their experiences. The spiritual power and personal strength derived from committed participation in these and other ceremonies was unmistakable. Unlike drugs the effects did not wear off in a few days. These effects could be reinforced by daily practices to maintain an openness to Spirit that had previously depended upon taking another dose of LSD or mushrooms.

On the one hand there was an uprising going on which was distinctly political in representation and came together around the year-long Alcatraz occupation from late `69 to early `71. Medicine people had participated in and supported Alcatraz. On the other hand some latter-day hippies were drawn into the Medicine Ways and Beauty Ways of the various Indian cultures. They hung out at or passed through Sonoma State and shared what they had learned. One woman had already done a fully traditional vision quest with an Apache shaman. Several people were regularly traveling to the Owens Valley to participate in ceremonies and other teachings with their Paiute teacher. A group in Marin County were beginning to experiment with designing a traditional Vision Quest, which would also more directly address the needs, capabilities and weaknesses of average young Americans, in other words make it more accessible without watering it down to the point of uselessness. This was not a totally new idea. Much of boy scout lore had a quasi-Indian flavor to it including the period of alone time required for initiates into the Order of the Arrow.

One of the women from the Marin group proposed a group vision quest for the wilderness psych program based on what she and half a dozen others had been putting together for Marin County youth. It was a new and evolving model. First of all there was no shaman overseeing the ceremony. Safety on a physical, psychological and spiritual level would have to be accomplished by the participants themselves. The group members would have to help each other with understanding and integration of their experiences. They would not return to any kind of shaman/teacher or council of elders. They would have to be their own support system. A group of ten including Zane and Amanda came together to plan and accomplish a vision quest experience with each other. They would pool their knowledge from personal experiences and some written accounts which were considered reliable and come up with something they thought they could all do. Since it was a kind of pilot project they didn’t get overly concerned about doing it the “right way” the first time, just do their best to come up with something useful and evaluate afterwards.

Somebody knew somebody who had some land inside of Mendocino National Forest north of Clear Lake on a branch of the Eel River. It sounded like a perfect location, not too far away but adequately remote. Several of the group took a trip to check it out and gave full approval. The group decided on a week in late spring for their venture. They would establish a base camp, search for individual places to spend their alone time and return to the base camp at a designated time. Some expressed concern about dehydration so the decision was made at least for this first time around to drink water but otherwise abstain from any caloric intake. They would spend the traditional four days and nights alone in the wilderness. For safety they would try to situate their solo camps close enough to someone else that a shout or a whistle might be heard and responded to. Two people decided they didn’t want to quest this first time, but they were quite intrigued and offered to just camp at the base camp and be available for first aid or any other kind of emergency. It was agreed that each person would have to be the judge of his or her own limits, and there would be no negative judgments about anyone feeling the need to return to base camp earlier than agreed upon because they weren’t handling the hunger or the solitude or whatever. This was to be research, and whatever happened was data for understanding and tinkering with the model.

Amanda went to Zen class with Zane. At first she found it quite difficult to sit still and maintain the same posture for 20-40 minutes, but she liked the tranquility that washed over her at times. Meditating together took a certain amount of pressure off of their relationship. They could always meditate, or as someone put it “the grand art of doing nothing.” And it did take a certain artfulness to productively do nothing. They also found the meditative tantra practices a joyful addition to their love-making. Sometimes they were able to sit in yab-yum position with each other physically/sexually connected but both meditating and doing nothing to promote further stimulation. Sometimes it was mind-blowing, but just like individual meditation unpredictably running a range from awesomely ecstatic to peaceful and ordinary. The opportunity to meditate in nature for an entire four days sounded so far out. They were both looking forward to that though not necessarily the four days and nights away from each other.

When they had Sean which was approximately alternate weeks, they would take turns going to Zen class or playing with Sean. There were enough young parents on campus that there was a groundswell of support for developing a kid’s playground. Sean was a little young for sand and swings as yet, but maybe he’d be ready when the playground was ready. Meanwhile a blanket and a bag of toys and an attentive parent kept him happy. Ben Wong saw them in the hallway one day and realized why sometimes he only saw one of them in class at a time. He gave them one of his best beatific smiles, ever the saintly Buddha.

In early June the group caravanned northward to their vision quest site. There was much excitement and anticipation. They were still figuring it out as they went along. Some had brought drums or rattles. Everyone had some special objects to place on an altar or within their sacred circle. Lots of ideas had been tossed around. Individual ceremony would largely be determined by individuals. They had agreed upon a send-off ceremony and some kind of return ceremony as well. The spot that only some of them had seen was lovely unspoiled nature, not a thick forest but with some big trees and an exquisite deep blue stream flowing beside the area of their base camp. For the duration of that first day the soon-to-be questers searched for their places where they would sit in their sacred circles. Everyone in the group had either read Castaneda’s Tales of Don Juan or talked with others about it and were familiar with the concept of searching for your personal place.

Zane and Amanda headed up the river together. They just kept walking mostly in silence or silently pointing out particularly beautiful rocks, trees or birds as they hiked. They came to a shallow side canyon that Amanda felt herself pulled into.

“I’d like to go up here.”

“Okay, I’m going to go a little further upstream. I’ll you meet back here.”

“Great.”

Amanda headed toward a large oak tree surrounded by several outcroppings of granite. She found a flat spot with both shade and sun. She felt protected by the tree and the rocks. There was an unobstructed view of the beautiful blue river. Zane was drawn up the next shallow dry watercourse to an area surrounded by several junipers. He could see the river through the trees and felt very at home and instantly connected with what he would soon be calling his “juniper brothers”.

A couple of the questers knew the area and oriented everyone else to the existence of bear, mountain lion, rattlesnake and other critters that likely were in the area and safety precautions regarding them. The base camp crew drew up a map of everyone’s approximate location and whether anyone else was within hailing distance of each quester.  It appeared that everyone had someone else close to them. Zane and Amanda were far from everyone else but close to each other. Many of the group had brought whistles. The universal distress signal of three was agreed upon, three whistle blasts, three shouts or three deep robust repetitions of, “Hoo, hoo, hoo!” The latter was Zane’s suggestion based on his memory of The Dharma Bums.

That evening they gathered around a small campfire and decided to share thoughts, feelings, stories, hopes and fears about what was coming up. One young man related a story from Seven Arrows  about a little mouse who got a glimpse of the sacred mountains far in the distance. Once he had seen them and their awesome alluring beauty he was determined to go there at all costs. Along the way he received help from other “brothers”: raccoon, frog, buffalo, wolf and others. It was all about his growth and transformation and the sacrifices he had to make in order to reach his goal.

A woman sang all of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s “Teach Your Children” and passed out copies to everyone.

Teach Your Children

by Graham Nash

You, who are on the road

Must have a code

That you can live by.

And so, become yourself

Because the past

Is just a goodbye.

Teach, your children well

Their father’s hell

Did slowly go by

And feed them on your dreams

The one they pick’s

The one you’ll know by.

Don’t you ever ask them why

If they told you, you would die

So just look at them and sigh

And know they love you.

And you (Can you hear and)

Of tender years (Do you care and)

Can’t know the fears (Can you see we)

That your elders grew by (Must be free to)

And so please help (Teach your children)

Them with your youth (You believe and)

They seek the truth (Make a world that)

Before they can die (We can live in)

Teach your parents well

Their children’s hell

Will slowly go by

And feed them on your dreams

The one they pick’s

The one you’ll know by.

Don’t you ever ask them why

If they told you, you would cry

So just look at them and sigh

And know they love you.

Zane got inspired and decided to tell a personal story. “I think the closest I got to the sacred mountain was when I was in Mexico. I dropped acid and went hiking in the mountains above Lake Chapala with a friend. He dropped out and went back to the village. I continued climbing. I had a really strong feeling that if I could just get over the ridge that lay ahead of me I would be in another world, that on the other side of the ridge were the ancient people of Mexico waiting for me. The trail got narrower and steeper until I came to a box canyon and couldn’t go any farther. I sat on my heels on the narrow trail and felt myself turn into a condor. That lasted a few minutes. Then I noticed the sun was low in the sky and decided to go back down to the village. It became dark, but it was like there was some sort of light showing me the way back down out of the mountains.”

A young woman spoke, “You all sound so courageous and heroic like this is the hero with a thousand faces or at least ten faces. I felt really excited during all this time we’ve been preparing. Now that we’re here, I’m scared. I’m scared of the dark. I’m scared of wild animals. I’m scared I’m gonna fall apart and not be able to do it.” She began to cry a bit.

There was an agreement to not care take each other. The next speaker had clearly been affected by the expressions of fear. “A lot of what I’ve read says this is a lot about fear and facing fear and overcoming fear. Castaneda talks about fear sitting on our left shoulder and being our ally. In Black Elk it’s not vision quest, it’s translated as crying for a vision or lamenting for a vision. I think all our feelings are supposed to be part of this and tears are definitely a part of it. I hope my prayers get me through.”

“Yeah, I plan to meditate a lot while I’m out there. I hope it’ll be enough.”

“My sister is very ill. I understand it’s appropriate to dedicate a vision quest to someone else. I want to dedicate this quest to my sister’s healing.”

“I’ve heard of that. I hope I’ll have some contact with family members who’ve passed on. My father died when I was very young. I never got to know him. I feel like there’s something missing in me that I need from him.”

“I’d like to find out about past lives, especially if I was ever an Indian.”

“There’s a story that lots of us who got born white, it only happened because there aren’t enough Indian bodies to give birth to all the Indian souls. That’s why we were compelled to grow long hair and imitate what we could of the old ways. I don’t know that we’re doing such a good job, but it’s not easy in the middle of this disaster of modern industrial materialism.”

“I’m afraid I’ll go out there and make all this effort and nothing will happen, like it’s bad karma or bad genes or something.” That one got a chuckle from some of the group.

“I’d like to teach you all a song, and I’d like to sing it again tomorrow morning just before we all go out to our separate places.”

“Okay, okay.” Nobody disagreed.

“The Earth is our Mother

We must take care of her

The Earth is our Mother

We must take care of her

Hey yunga, ho yunga, hey yung yung

Hey yunga, ho yunga, hey yung yung

The Earth is our Mother

She will take care of us

The Earth is our Mother

She will take care of us

Hey yunga, ho yunga, hey yung yung

Hey yunga, ho yunga, hey yung yung

So you repeat that whole thing four times.”

“Let’s do it right now.”

“Yeah!”

“Okay.” They sang the song four times. It helped to calm and center the group. Everyone wanted to sing it again in the morning.

“That was really cool. So maybe something else to consider while we’re out there is how we can take care of her. Maybe it’s true. If we take care of her, she’ll take care of us.”

People began to drift off to their sleeping bags. They had agreed to get up with the sun, have a cup of herbal tea and get an early start to their alone time.

In the morning cups of tea floated around as people pulled their gear together and got ready to embark on perhaps the experience of their lifetimes. No one really knew what to expect. They’d heard stories, read books, shared with each other and now they were actually going to have the direct experience. They wished each other well.

“I’ll keep you in my thoughts.”

“I’ll be praying for all of you.”

“Great Spirit and Mother Nature are with us on this venture.”

“I love you all.”

“You’re great just for being here.”

“See you in four days.”

When everyone was ready they formed a circle, held hands and sang again, “The Earth is our Mother.” They shouldered their packs and one by one passed between two large trees they had designated as the door to the Spirit World. It seemed that everyone left with their spirits buoyed by the generosity of the group energy. Zane and Amanda walked upstream together in silence. When they reached Amanda’s side canyon, they bowed to each other and smiled. Zane continued on to his place in the wilderness feeling excited and hoping he knew enough to do this the right way, not mess it up, not make too many huge mistakes, and get what you were supposed to get from a vision quest. The story about the little mouse contained the idea of receiving a new name in recognition of one’s efforts or growth on the quest. He liked that idea. Maybe he would receive a new name. He liked the name Zane all right, especially when he thought about being zany, but still maybe he was growing out of that into something that fit better for who he was becoming or at least hoping to become.

As might be expected Amanda spent the first few hours decorating her shaded spot beneath the sprawling oak. With rocks, branches and cones she made her sacred circle. She wasn’t worried about being alone. She wasn’t afraid of the dark. She’d done enough acid to feel ready for anything, but she’d never done anything like this before. Oh well, Zane was close by if she needed to run for cover. She didn’t want to disrupt his trip. Probably she’d be fine, just that vague fear of the unknown. She was just hoping to get some real clarity about her path. There were so many possibilities right now, and they all looked good. She knew that pretty soon she needed to pick one or two and really focus. She already gathered it was very easy at Sonoma State to just keep exploring. Did she want to go down the art path? Did she want to go down the psychology path? Was there some way to put it all together? She’d brought a sketch pad with her to draw and write in, and someone had given her a rattle. That was it other than meditation, prayer, chanting, singing, pretty bare bones but not really, just different from having so many things available to you. She’d done juice fasts before for a day or two but four days on water only felt like a lot. She figured she could do it.

Zane dropped his pack, sat down in the middle of his ring of junipers and meditated, feeling the weather gradually warming. Zazen was perfect for meditating in nature. With his eyes half open he could see any developments in his environment while continuing to meditate, observing, acknowledging without getting totally caught up in anything. His only visitors were butterflies. They appeared to be monarchs and a black and white one he couldn’t name so he called it the yin-yang butterfly. When he stopped meditating he noticed he was a bit headachy and wondered if it had to do with the absence of coffee in his fasting regime. If he did this again he might consider tapering off before the fast. Mild physical symptoms, tiredness, but the weather was ideal, just warm enough to be comfortable in a t-shirt inside his shady arbor.

The butterflies visited Amanda under her oak tree. As the afternoon wore on she slept and felt like she was dreaming but couldn’t quite remember what, except she was certain that Sean had been in her dream. She enjoyed baking in the sun for awhile letting the warmth penetrate to the core of her being. It reminded her of lying on the beach in Hawaii without a care or even a desire arising in her mind. This was as close to paradise as she had been since then, except for the pure joy she felt at times with Zane. He had become a constant in her life, the steady man she’d always hoped for from the time she was thirteen and began to think about boys in that way. She felt really blessed to be on this beautiful land with her beautiful man right next door so to speak. She was settling in comfortably to being in this place. Her concerns seemed to be peeling off of her like old skin. She was in love. A lot had happened in eight or nine months. Her life had taken a turn for the better. She was living with someone she was in love with who loved her child like he was his own. They enjoyed doing lots of different things together. She didn’t feel like she was dragging any big baggage with her that had to be worked out. She did wonder about Sean’s bio-father. What was all that about? Well, she was pretty driven. Why had it become so important to have a baby? It had driven Zane away the first time around. That was more his problem than hers, but still that desire to have a baby had been so overpowering, like it just took her over, and everything else went into second place.

Zane was counting his blessings too. How fortunate he had been to reconnect with Amanda, that she had taken him back after the way he’d treated her, run away from her the first time. Thank you, Earth Mother! Thank you, Grandfather Spirit! And Sean, what a great kid! Couldn’t ask for a more wonderful little person. And Amanda’s family were so great with him and so generous and loving with Zane. He had gotten incredibly lucky. He wondered if there was anything from his past that he needed to set right. He worried about Don whose slide into darkness had continued. Did Zane bear some responsibility for Don’s misfortunes, the bad drugs, the lost boats? Maybe it was just Don’s karma, but Zane felt bad about the role he’d played and wished he could make it better. He prayed for Don’s well-being, that light and love could shine in his life, and he would return to life among the living. He thought about Josie and Valerie and then the other girls he’d been with. Had he done right by them? He remembered slapping Josie across the face. He remembered two-timing Valerie with Beth; Valerie, another woman who really loved him, a quality woman with a big heart and incredibly precise perception of people and the world. God, he felt so desperate in those days, like his life was falling apart, like he was drowning and clutching after anything that looked like a flotation device. He sent blessings and apologies to Valerie and to Josie. As darkness descended that evening he was more than ready to curl up in his sleeping bag and go unconscious for a long time.

The Vision

My love she speaks like silence

Without ideals or violence

She doesn’t have to say she’s faithful

Yet she’s true like ice like fire.

–Bob Dylan

On the second morning, Amanda was dreaming Sean was with her. When she awoke and he wasn’t there, his absence was an ache she felt throughout her body. Before she knew it, she was crying. Then memories of his father hit her. She’d been able to put him out of her mind ever since he went to prison. Her memories and feelings about him were so conflicting and confusing. At first he’d just swept her off her feet. She was somewhat desperate to be loved at the time. He filled a void almost perfectly, and such a soft, sweet, gentle, responsive lover. It was like floating on a cloud being held by angels of pure Eros. He would disappear for days at a time, but when he was back, he was so attentive, so perfectly attuned to all of her needs. Then he’d be gone again. He said he had a business, and it was better if she wasn’t involved, didn’t know anything about it. She suspected he might be running pot. There were already lots of growers in the “Emerald Triangle” of Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity Counties. They needed cultivators, trimmers, distributors and other “employees” and business partners. A trimmer could make $5 an hour and lots of free pot.

When he got popped she was pregnant, something he had encouraged and supported. She thought she’d found the ideal man. When he got busted it was for a small amount of heroin, something he was only dabbling in and had only used a few times. The authorities threw the book at him and gave him the maximum, because they’d been trying to get him for his other activities. It turned out he was a highly regarded cultivator of marijuana, whose green thumb had already become famous among the evolving plantations of Northern California. He advised, cross-bred, came up with new strains of superweed and got paid in kind or in cash depending on what he needed or wanted at the time. He worked very hard to stay mellow behind everything he was into and stay at least one jump ahead of the law. He went down on a fluke, someone else’s carelessness, perhaps his own since smack does make people stupid and sloppy. She never did get the full story. She lost interest after the day another girl showed up at court with an obvious interest in Max. She was several months more pregnant than Amanda. They got to talking. Turned out the other girl was his other girlfriend. She lived on a ranch up past Laytonville somewhere. They’d been together longer than Max and Amanda had. Amanda got lots of information before the other girl even thought to ask what her interest was.

“Me? Oh, I’m carrying his child too,” and she walked out of the courthouse and never looked back.

Now she cried and cried. What a jumble of feelings flooded her mind and body. She was racked with sobs. She wasn’t even clear what she was crying about. She was just crying hard and heavy. She’d never cried about him before. He’d been confined to a remote compartment in her mind for a couple of years. She didn’t talk about him. She didn’t think about him. She tried to love her baby as best as she could, and felt she’d done a decent job under the circumstances. She had no idea how she could have coped without the love and help she’d gotten from her parents. She never felt so betrayed in her whole life. The Zane and Jeanie episode didn’t even come close. At least Zane hadn’t made some major attempt to conceal things from her. She hadn’t liked what he’d done but he was honest and open about it. She could even laugh now about how freaked out he was when he had her and Jeanie at his house. What guy gets two women into his bedroom and then goes to sleep without touching either one of them? He’d obviously bit off more than he could chew.

So now she was laughing about Zane’s former clumsiness after sobbing for a long time about Max. She felt like she could forgive him. She never wanted to see him or have anything to do with him ever again. She didn’t have to. She hadn’t listed him on Sean’s birth certificate. She wanted nothing from him. Besides he had another family if he wanted it, whenever they let him out of prison. She felt cleansed by all the crying, like she’d let go of a huge lump of pain she didn’t even know she’d been carrying around. Waves of love for Sean and Zane washed over her. Zane had really come through. As time went on she was less and less surprised by his steadfast love and the easy way they got along and shared their lives most of the time. The way he embraced Sean was an extra gift, necessary but also remarkable.

Zane entered the day more gradually in his protective circle of junipers. “Good morning, my brothers,” he addressed them. When he got up he went to each tree and hugged it for several minutes feeling the energy flowing from it, feeling his love was returned by each tree. Drinking some water he said, “Well, I guess this is breakfast,” and to the trees, “What do you boys wanna do today?” Then he laughed at his own corny humor. “One down, three to go.” His headache had mostly dissipated. He resumed sitting in his circle facing downhill toward the river. He decided to move out of the trees and sit in the sun for awhile and have a less restricted view of his surroundings. An egret glided in and landed by the edge of the river. What a majestic bird! He recalled a story he’d heard about the egrets in the Florida Everglades being hunted almost to extinction to provide feathers for ladies’ hats in New York and other fancy cities. The worst part was the prime feathers only grew on the mother birds when they were nesting, so the rapacious destruction was further accelerated. Just like the buffalo being hunted solely for trophy heads. Ah, human beings, what a scurvy lot. Well, white people at least. Goddamn Europeans doing most of the destruction. Hard to imagine sitting here in this idyllic forest watching the undisturbed wildlife, that people could be such killers and so stupid that they destroyed their own means of livelihood.

Goddamn pie in the sky Christianity. Use up the earth and throw it away. You’ll get pie in the sky when you day. “That’s a lie.” Woody Guthrie added. He remembered a good part of that song, “Long-haired preachers come out every night to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right, but when asked about something to eat, these are the words that they bleat. You will eat by and by in that glorious land above the sky. Work and pray and live on hay. You’ll get pie in the sky when you die”. Singing felt good especially in his best hick Okie Bakersfield accent. He began to run through his repertoire, Buck Owens’ “Together Again”, one of his favorites. “I think I got a tiger by the tail”. “This land is your land. This land is my land from California to the New York Island, from the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me”. Couldn’t remember if it was Pete Seeger or Woody himself that he first heard sing that one. He warmly remembered Sam and Sarah back in Bakersfield drinking beer and listening to the Weavers singing old folk songs and old union songs. And Sam was a union man, worked his whole life in the oilfields, only roughneck Zane had ever known personally.

The songs kept coming. “Can you remember the times that you held your head high and told all your friends of your Indian claim, proud good lady and proud good man, some great great grandfather from Indian blood came and you feel in your heart for these ones.” “Now That the Buffalo’s Gone”, “My Country Tis of Thy People You’re Dying”, “I’m Gonna Be a Country Girl Again”, Buffy St. Marie made him think of Valerie again. He felt so bad. He really betrayed her. Sure he’d had lots of encouragement from his parents who didn’t like her, judged her as inferior, were shocked by her dark skin and dark hair. Yeah, he’d been sick and out of sorts and not himself and facing three felonies, but still he’d lied to her or at least hidden things from her. He would have been happy to have a baby with her, but ended up having a baby with Beth. Oh shit! Oh my God! His son was four years old, and he’d never seen him, didn’t even know where he was. What the hell was he supposed to do about all that? He was raising Sean, but was that enough? He shouted out his pain, “Aaaaaah!” and then began to cry. Thinking out loud again, “Boy, I’ve made some real messes in my life. What am I supposed to do about all this, Grandfather?”

He stopped. He hadn’t intended to say, “Grandfather.” It just kind of came out all of a sudden, but it felt good. It felt right. He continued talking, addressing Grandfather, “Sometimes I really don’t know what to do. I’m at a loss.” As he talked he felt or noticed a presence sitting to his right. It looked kind of like his grandfather, he remembered leading the grand entry at a rodeo when he was a little boy. Everyone spoke highly of this grandfather, a family farmer in a mountain valley all of his life. He had once told Zane a story.

“You know when I was about your age, Chief Washakie of the Shoshones rode through here with a small band. They looked so strong and proud on their horses. They weren’t fierce or dangerous. We always had peace with the Shoshones. When I was a boy they still dressed in the old ways and could roam and hunt. We never had Indian troubles here like they did in lots of places in the country. We were kind to them, and they were kind to us.”

As Zane talked with Grandfather, he felt more at peace. He didn’t have immediate answers to his dilemmas, but he felt confident that if he waited they might come to him. Grandfather felt very wise, but he didn’t always provide answers on demand. He did get one very powerful clear message, “Take care of what’s in front of you. Do your best job with that. All the rest of it will come to you in due time. You’re where you’re supposed to be in your life.”

“Wow, that was pretty powerful.” He was content and sat with that for awhile reflecting on his good fortune to have Amanda and Sean and Amanda’s parents in his life. He’d always felt estranged from his own father. His memories of  “Dad” trying to say something meaningful to him, but slurring his words, and worse times cowering in the back seat as his father weaved down the road with his mother calling out his name to keep him alert enough to not drive off the road. “I missed my Dad.” That statement stopped him in his tracks. He said it again, “I missed my dad.” He began to cry uncontrollably, sobbing and wailing out a lifetime of pain. He cried for what seemed like more than an hour. When he was done he soon noticed that the anger was gone. He had always thought of his father with an edge of anger. It wasn’t there. He hadn’t really been aware of it until it was gone. He knew he had for many years been openly angry, defensive, or at least irritated when he talked to him. The anger was gone. It was like a miracle. He felt so much lighter.

The butterflies visited both of them again. Zane wandered down to the river. He decided to get wet. The day had become quite warm. He took off his clothes and found a place to totally immerse himself. The water was deliciously cold and exhilarating, but cold enough he didn’t stay in long, just long enough to rinse off the road dust and wake up his mind and body. Later in the day Amanda also went to the river. She waded in and splashed water on her face and hair. She saw several large trout in a deeper hole close by. It was kind of thrilling to see them so clearly so close up.

The shadows were lengthening when Zane got an overpowering urge to visit Amanda. He wanted to make sure she was all right, but he also just missed her. He went over the ridge that separated their two watercourses. From the top of the ridge he could see her camp. Part way down the hill she saw him and waited for him to come near.

“I thought it was probably okay to check on you.”

“I’m glad you came.”

They hugged and held each other gently.

“It’s been a really emotional day.”

“Me too.”

They looked into each other’s eyes.

“I love you so much.”

“Having you in my life is the greatest blessing I could imagine.”

They kissed softly and sweetly.

“This has been so amazing. I really want to complete this quest.”

“So do I.”

“So I’ll wait for you where we parted.”

“Unless I get there first.”

They laughed and parted by slowly sliding their hands apart until just their fingertips were touching. Then Zane blew her a kiss and headed back up the hill.

“Thanks for dropping by.”

“My pleasure.”

That night Zane’s dream was full of figures that looked like African tribal art but with very angular lines like cubism. One large figure was decidedly androgynous with a huge penis and balls but also pendulous breasts sticking out straight like they were carved out of wood. When he woke up with that one, Zane thought of Jung’s concept of the coniunctio, the union of male and female within the human psyche, seen as a form of psychological wholeness or completion. Jung had also mentioned other races as representing a deeper or fuller part of the psyche. His reflections on the dream felt good, like he was going in the right direction.

Amanda woke up with her favorite Joni Mitchell lyrics running through her head. She sang softly to herself, her spirit soaring with the sentiments of the songs: “He’s my sunshine in the morning. He’s my fireworks at the end of day. He’s the warmest chord I ever heard. Play that warm chord; play and stay.” “Oh, won’t you stay. We’ll put on the day, and we’ll wear it till the night comes.” “He tried hard to help me, you know, he put me at ease, and he loved me so naughty, made me weak in the knees. Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on. I wish I had a river so long I would teach my feet to fly.” “All I really want our love to do is bring out the best in me and you.” ‘Oh, Joni, how can you sing my soul so well? I love the way you talk about your man. That’s the way I want to feel about my man. That’s the way I do feel about my man.’ Zane’s visit really touched her last night. His feelings for her, his concern for her, superseded the rules of total solitude. They hadn’t really violated the spirit of the ceremony. Anyway she woke up loving him like crazy and singing Joni Mitchell to express that love. It felt like a fantastic day. She wasn’t hungry any more. Another song drifted through. This one she sang louder from her childhood memories, “Oh, what a beautiful morning. Oh, what a beautiful day. I’ve got a wonderful feeling. Everything’s going my way.” Then she laughed at the Broadway schmaltz and got up and did her little Shirley Temple dance. Nobody out here to judge her or criticize her. “I can do what I want.” She said it again a little bit louder. “I can do what I want.” One more time, really loud emphasizing every word, “I can do what I want.” Then she burst into laughter and grabbed one of the oak branches to keep from falling over.

She felt so in love. She was in love with everything. She loved the rocks. She loved the trees. She loved the sun. She loved the river. She loved the songbirds twittering in the bushes. It was all one big love fest, and it felt more real than any drug experience that had brought her to this state of mind, like it wasn’t ephemeral, like she wouldn’t sneeze and have it all disappear. The feeling stayed with her all day, a profound sense of kinship and connection with everything around her, like the birds and butterflies and grasses and sand were all family in the warmest heart-felt way imaginable. She slowly and quietly almost tiptoed up the hill away from the river adjusting each step to stay in harmony with her surroundings. All of a sudden she looked up and was face to face with a huge stag. He looked at her beneficently as if she was his child. They held their gaze for many long minutes in silent communion. Then he broke away and calmly and slowly stepped his way up the hill until he disappeared into the trees. Amanda was awe-struck. She’d never seen a deer so magnificent and so close. She felt or imagined herself a deer child. She felt like she’d just been adopted into the deer clan.

Zane decided to hike up the river. He loved using waterways as trails and discovering the life supported by these arteries of Mother Earth. He also focused on going slowly and quietly. He saw a water snake which slithered off into the water somehow swimming the way a woman sways her hips. . He rounded a bend and up ahead was a bobcat drinking from the river. The bobcat looked up and regarded him. Zane froze. The bobcat took another drink, walked upstream showing his haunches and stubby tail before turning up one of the side arroyos and fading from sight. “Wow,” thought Zane, “that’s one powerful being. Maybe he’s my power animal, maybe my new name. That’s it! My new name is Bob Katz.” Then he cracked up laughing and had to sit on a rock until the humor passed.

That night Amanda had a vivid and powerful dream. The stag appeared to her just as it had during the day. This time she followed the stag up and over the hill. The other side of the hill was lush and tropical like Hawaii. The stag ambled slowly down the hill. When they emerged from the trees, they were on a seashore. The stag looked at her as if to say this is as far as I go. He went back into the trees. Just then a dolphin leapt from the water, turned perfectly in the air and dove back into the sea. Then it swam closer to the shore chattering to Amanda. She removed her clothes and walked into the water which was unusually warm and pleasant. She and the dolphin were swimming together in perfect symmetry. Somehow the dolphin reminded her of Zane. They leapt from the water in perfect unison and dove deep beneath the surface skimming through the water as if it was as light as air. The blue of the water was stunning and intense like being on acid. They leapt out of the water into equally blue air. This time gravity did not pull them back down. They continued going high into the sky like rockets. Amanda was flying but also somehow watching from below as the two zephyrs streaked toward the heavens.

When she awoke it was first light just beginning to dissipate the damp darkness. She lay in her sleeping bag savoring the warmth. She could still feel the warmth of that blue water and the joy of two sleek bodies sliding effortlessly together. Her whole body felt deeply relaxed and exhilarated at the same time. “Wow, now that was a dream,” she thought “I’ll never forget this one.”

Her first association was that “hart” is an old name for deer. So she was following her heart which led her from her vision quest camp to a place of warmth and water, where she met and communed with a magical dolphin. She could swim in tandem with this beautiful blue dolphin, who felt like Zane or made her feel the way she felt when she was with Zane. It was athletic and artistic and joyful like two trapeze acrobats except they never touched physically just stayed in perfect ballet unison with each other. And in the end they slipped the bonds of earthly captivity and flew together into the sky, destination unknown . Flying through the air was hardly different from flying through the water. Everything was so blue, like different shades of blue, but all the blues were so intensely vibrant. She’d never though of blue as a color of life, but all of these blues had felt so vital and full of life like she could feel all of the living beings she knew were there in the salt water, the plankton and krill and things she didn’t have names for. Maybe her new name was something like Sky Dolphin. She wondered if any peoples had seen dolphins in the sky the way the Greeks saw a scorpion, a lion, a bull, a ram, a crab and a fish.

She lay in her bag replaying the dream in her mind and feeling all the joyous wonderment again and again. Even as she began to focus on the awakening world around her the feeling did not diminish. She felt a loving relationship with the earth and sky, the river and all the plants and trees and critters that she lay amongst. She felt her heart open in a way she’d at best flirted with in the past. She felt overwhelming love for Sean and Zane and her parents and some friends who had been there for her along the way. “Thank you, oak tree. Thank you, sun. Thank you, mother earth. Thank you, all living beings. I love you. You are my family. I am your daughter, your sister, your wife, your mother, your grandmother.” She laughed. “Let’s not get carried away here, grandmother someday maybe, not yet.”

Zane awoke feeling almost crystal clear as if he could taste the cold air, a new drink called Canada Dry Dewdrops. He moved to a rock in the sun with his notebook thinking to just record the random thoughts of this, the morning of the fourth day. What came was a poem which did start with a random thought, “I am the wind.”

I am the wind breathing through your raven curls

I am your black-horsed knight holding you above all other girls

Let me walk these hills forever with you by my side

The long journey that brought us into this holy communion

Was written by the prophets of old gazing into silver bowls

Of holy water set to reflect and genuflect and erect

Monuments to honor Mother Earth, our ancestors and our children

Here we sit in the center of it all two pilgrims on a bonsai path

To Lao-Tzu’s craggy mountain cave wherein this sacrament

Is consecrated each day step by step circumambulating the Blue Mountain

Above the Yellow River–these ancestors and we sip tea

And blow over holes of cane flutes and shake our bamboo clackers

Bear dance, lion dance, long-tailed dragon dance it does not matter

Because I have seen you there with me in every century until

We met again in this time and place to once again renew our vows

And continue the journey we pledged back when things began

In the before time, in the dreamtime, in the time when our ancestors’

Ancestors came down from the stars to seed this blue-green planet

With intimations of immutable truths yet to be discovered

In this ephemeral yin-yang play of time and space beside still waters

Beside rushing torrents, inside rolling waves, undersea volcanoes piling

New land on the shores of old seas you followed the great currents in your

Mind’s eye and then across the great water herself to these new lands

Awaiting our touch our fertility rites our blessings of Sky Goddess

Out of the Pleiades we came to this place to see if Spirit could prevail

Within the raw power of biology–could we maintain that which we knew

As truth back in that other star system whence we came to this place

Twin rays of the same flame devoted to a holy experiment to combine

Spirit and pleasure in one energetic body of wisdom experience

In this place where pain is so often the result of missteps along the trail

To the sacred mountain seeking a place to bow our heads and receive

The guidance we need to continue this heavenly journey on earth

When he looked back over what he had written, it was with an incredible sense of, “Wow, where did that come from?” He decided it was at least part of his vision, a vision and a story about what the heck we’re doing here on earth anyway. It made him really happy, especially the part about he and Amanda traveling together over lifetimes and oceans and continents to find each other each time with a sense of having a mission together, not just the two of them but in concert with many other fellow-travelers. He remembered that song, who was it the Yardbirds, the Jefferson Airplane? “when the ones who left us here, return for us at last.” Then he remembered more of the song, “Love is just a song we sing, fear the way we die. You can make the mountains ring, hear the angels cry. Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together right now.” Yeah that’s it. For sure, that’s all part of the same vision. That’s really what this whole ten years has been about, ever since he first came to San Francisco back in 1963, trying to bring through a vision of a higher reality, a greater purpose than “getting and spending”, a story that doesn’t just end up in some cookie cutter suburb with a bigger TV and a bigger Cadillac and a bigger power boat. The hippies and the Hopis and the old-time Taoists are all involved in trying to maintain and reclaim a story, a set of teachings, a Way that comes from the stars, and all of us on earth either figure out how to live by those skillful means of awareness and right action or this whole experiment fails and we perish. Maybe we get to try again, some other time, some other place, but this one will get an “F” and go on the trash heap of the universe.

“Wow, I’m more responsible than I ever thought, or I have to be more responsible. Hopi prophecy, Kali Yuga, all this stuff is really real, and we got to pay attention and do the right thing, especially now when it’s all coming to a head. I have to teach about this. I have to learn as much as I can and teach. These are the times we’ve been preparing for. How can so many people have forgotten so much? How can we have atomic bombs and all the poisons made to kill everything, agent orange, napalm?” He pulled himself out of that line of thought. He could feel it bringing down his mood. Something told him he needed to focus on what to do right, not on what others were doing wrong. He could feel himself relaxing again. So this was one of the lessons of meditation, to remain calm and centered in spite of the pain and ugliness and destruction, to keep affirming some simple essential set of truths. This is what it meant to “resist not evil”. Resistance just feeds it more energy. Withdraw your energy and attention. Keep your focus on what you need to do to complete your mission! All right, good guidance, good vision, just remember to do it each day, each hour, each minute, that’s the path of meditation and right action.

The rest of the day Zane and Amanda reflected on the visions that had come to them. The mediums had been different, a dream and a poem, but to each of them there was a profound sense of true Self and purpose that had come to them. Filling in the details might take a long time even a lifetime, but there was an essential direction, some trail markers, a few operating principles, probably enough to go on while they were filling in the rest of their stories. They each poked around their camps the rest of the day observing nature, feeling good about feeling good. The fourth day of a fast they were discovering, the body has adjusted to being without food. There is an energizing and a clarity better than any drug experience either one of them had ever had. A sense of contentment pervaded their moment to moment existence. The butterflies continued to be present. And hummingbirds zipped in, hovered and zoomed away. They were particularly attracted to the bright red blouse Amanda was wearing. One hummingbird must have thought she was a flower, the way it hovered within inches of her as long as she sat very still.

In the warmth of the late afternoon Amanda decided to play with the rattle she’d been given. She shook in different ways, different patterns, different rhythms. She began to hear voices faintly singing or chanting around her. She got up and began to move to the sounds she was hearing as she continued to rattle. Then she joined in the singing. It was not like any singing she’d ever heard before, but it seemed easy to imitate and sing along like somehow she did know these songs. The longer she rattled and danced and sang the more she felt herself moving into a kind of trance state. It became easier and more effortless to continue like something outside of her was moving her body and mind, a spirit moving through her and inspiring her. She felt totally at home with the sounds and the movements. It all became more and more familiar and automatic. Clearly she was being moved by something greater than herself. The singing became louder, the movements more vigorous.

Zane could hear her singing. He could feel the joy and other-worldly nature of the sounds. He thought of angels and nature spirits, like Pan and the devas who spoke to the people at Findhorn and taught them what the plants needed in order to grow vital and vigorous. He thought of the Hopi kachinas, dancing from the San Francisco Peaks to the plaza on Second Mesa where he had seen them dance. He thought of the Apache Mountain Spirit dancers. There were also East Indian and African sounds. He remembered learning about Africans who danced to be possessed by their deities. He remembered his possession experience one time on acid when his friend was conga drumming. The images that flew by came from all over the earth. He was grateful he could share in the ecstasy of Amanda’s experience. He got up and moved to her singing for awhile, basking in the reverberations of her joy.

Amanda had no thoughts. She was totally caught up in the energy a total immersion plunge into the Spirit World. Her mental state was without thought as she sang in concert with the spirits who had come near her.  She could almost see them, but not if she really tried, actually saw them better with her eyes closed but still not clearly. She sang and danced for almost two hours, sometimes loudly and vigorously, sometimes softly, slowly and sweetly, swaying gently to the voices of wind, sun, and earth. When she came out of her trance, the sun had set and day had transformed into twilight darkness. She was deliciously tired. She stumbled to her sleeping bag, crawled in and fell into a deep and dreamless sleep. The spirits hovered around her in that subliminal region where things barely exist or barely don’t exist.

Zane felt highly energized. He thought about staying up all night, just to see what he would see. He decided to play it by ear and see what happened as the night rolled on. Though it faded in and out he was aware of how long Amanda’s singing must have gone on. He was inspired. He had his shakuhachi flute. He sat cross-legged in his circle of junipers and blew the breath of meditation into his bamboo pipe. The breathing and the sounds carried him deeper and deeper into a profound state of tranquility. His one thought was that this must be the condition of No-Mind he’d read about and then he was gone again into nothing but the simple song of bamboo propelled by his even breathing and effortless conversion of wind to wind song. Hours later he opened his eyes. The almost full moon had risen just above the junipers. “Juniper Moon,” he thought and felt a rush of recognition pass through the serenity of his being. He sat for awhile longer a calm being in the center of his sacred circle where all phenomena had suffused into an undifferentiated oneness or nothingness profound beyond all statements of eternal truth. Some time later he noticed the advancing cold of midnight beginning to creep into his bones. He found his sleeping bag and wrapped it around himself. He continued to sit in Samadhi, his best approximation of what he was experiencing. The meaning of life came down to this simplicity sitting among his tree brothers on a gentle midnight slope not far from the serpentine flow of the Eel River with his beloved not far away singing her connection and communion with the Spirit World.

He sat with eyes open tasting the world bathed in silvery moonlight casting its own brief shadows as Grandmother Moon sailed across a sky punctuated by wispy clouds and thousands of stars. When his legs got tired and cramped he lay on his back and delighted in the fireworks of numerous shooting stars some showering sparks of light almost from horizon to horizon. “Nature and the universe provide such a brilliant show of artistic creativity, if we only take the time to look, to slow down enough to see what is there all the time.” Zane wasn’t sure if he stayed awake all night or not. He was drifting in and out of in-between states, not really asleep but not fully awake either. He knew that it was good, and he’d been shown something on this journey that was quite above his daily practice and attempts to bring himself to a meditative state of consciousness. A raccoon wandered through his camp in the wee hours of early morning. Like the story of the little mouse, in his mind he said to the raccoon, “Hello brother, would you like some Medicine?” He thought Brother Raccoon smiled at him before shuffling off into the trees.

First light brought some sadness as he contemplated this journey of vision quest coming to a close. How would he hang onto the gifts that had come to him? He didn’t know but he vowed to remember and practice and do his best to represent truths that were so hard to put into words. He watched the stars slowly fade from the sky as night converted into morning. The light show was still going on. It had just passed into the Invisible World. It would reappear after the next sunset to all those who cared to notice. Gratitude welled up in him like water in a spring after a rainstorm. He began to thank everyone and everything that had been part of his journey. Thank you, Juniper Brothers, for surrounding me and keeping me safe. Thank you, moon, and thank you, sun for lighting my way on this quest and the rest of my life. Thank you, stars, for your glorious fireworks and light show. Thank you, bobcat and egret and water snake and raccoon and butterfly and hummingbird for visiting with me on my journey. Thank you, Amanda, for being my soul mate and sitting with me on the other side of the hill and singing your spirit song so I could hear it and be touched by it. The list went on and included the other questers, who he hadn’t thought a lot about during the four days but considered now as he was going to see them all soon.

The sun first showed its light on the far bank of the river. “Must be time to pack up and head downstream,” he thought as he threw off his sleeping bag and headed for a patch of direct sun to stand in and warm himself. When everything was inside or reattached to his backpack, he went to the river. He splashed water on his face and felt indeed that a new day had begun. He walked the short distance downstream where Amanda’s arroyo flowed into the channel of the Eel. He shucked off his pack, sat propped against a rock and almost dozed before he heard her steps approaching.

He got up to greet her as she descended the last short way to join him beside the beautiful blue Eel River. Her soft inviting half-smile welcomed him into her arms. They hugged gently, surrounding each other with tentacles of the love they’d experienced so intensely during the four days. The contours of their bodies seemed to fit so easily with each other. The comfort of this embrace went on and on. Neither desired to move from this communion in warm holy water they had so easily flowed into.

Statuesque figures of golden light beneath the golden light of the sun beside the rippling blue waters, they acknowledged without words the deep ancient connection they had with each other. Love seemed like too weak a word to describe the sweet power that surged through them. Honey melted and dripped from heart to heart. Long tongues of nectar wrapped around one another transmitting and receiving, tasting and transforming. The reverie of true lovers, lovers of lifetimes together rediscovering the ancient fire that consumed them, coupled them and fed the flash-fire of ever unfolding creation. They could feel the new heavens and the new earth within the flame they shared as two in one.

“Ki-ai, ki-ai!”

They looked up. Directly above them a golden eagle glinted in the rays of the rising sun. She circled four more times before gliding away to the east.

Afterwords

We of the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of our country. But we were wrong. We were terribly wrong.

–Robert McNamara, 1995,

Secretary of Defense under

Presidents Kennedy & Johnson

and author of The Fog of War

The one who will get to know

You inside out is I,

For I’ve gotten used to going

Into your depths for blossoms.

–Saigyo (1118-1190)

Tr. by Wm. LaFleur

This novel is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between the characters and persons living or dead is purely coincidental. The names of historic figures have been retained.

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Community Communion–5th International Guides Gathering

 

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Returning from the Carpathian Mountains in Western Ukraine after spending a week with eighty wilderness guides from around the world, rather like I’d been to an orgy and come home feeling like I still didn’t get enough. Enough of what?–the openness, honesty, depth of sharing, awareness, stories of sorrow and joy, remembrance of ancestors and wishes for those yet to come.  The young people are so amazing and inspiring, articulate in their wisdom and wearing a maturity that doesn’t detract from their spring-fed vibrancy, beauty and raw life force. The voices of the elders resonate the bass strings in a chorus of life experience, calm deliberation, immersion in nature, and fiery passion to co-create a glorious future.

Shining eyes, radiant hearts, unguarded affection and intimate conversations, healing, growing and visioning together a world without the traumas of the past, satisfying the healthy desires of all human beings such that there is no need to take advantage, abuse, dominate, control, entrap or take revenge. It works so much better to play together, listen, receive, pray, sweat, dance, sing, fast, feast, meditate and sit in the circle of council with one another, leaving no one behind. It is a community of love, shadow, reconciliation, mutual admiration, gifting, envisioning, knowing, working through fear and grief and not running away from the sweet darkness of soul nor the crisp brightness of spirit. All of you are welcome here!

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Not the Final Answer

  Who does one serve who serves the Grail?

       perhaps no one in this great circle of existence

       and non-existence spinning molten

       cannonballs and supernovas

       in random directionality

  focus      focus      focus

  we are creators within this turning of widening gyres

                             but creating what?

  oneness with the most ultimate and unmanifest

  identity with some virtue culled from the history

                                        of human experience

  and deemed to be a key to greater happiness

                                                   or less suffering

  or the longterm minute effect of endless buffering

                                                          of the human soul

  by the conditions which simply are the conditions of our being

                 however we describe or reframe them.

ah, the Grail, the keyless key, the clueless clue,

  we see as if it will in fact change our essential predicament,

  heal the land, heal the king and queen,

                 bring harmonious flow among all the elements.

we must believe that our efforts make a difference

perhaps it is a what that we serve

  whose visible name is Grail

                a what, an unnameable,

   who could be called molloy

               or malone mourir or finnegan

               or even muhammed

  but whose name is always a made-up name

  whose name has the magic we invest in it

               with our penchant for affinity with that

  which seems to nurture us and the things we think we want

an unreachable what beyond the beyond

           we yearn for

           we yearn to touch

believing if only we can make that connection

  then all will be hunky-dory

                     an irredeemable bliss

                     an irreconcilable ecstasy

  will invest our momentary awareness

                     more profound than a moment’s pleasure

  longer lasting and always re-reachable

                     as if that what is Nirvana

  not the moment after the candle is blown out

 
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Circles

How synchronistic that this year’s theme for Circles on the Mountain  is “Community”. This year’s gathering was an ongoing demonstration of the power of community. The circle of the community encompasses the needs, desires and aspirations of the collective as well as each individual within the circle. The use of council as the primary structure through which all expressions have room to be must be an excellent example of ancient wisdom being applied in modern times. Everyone has an equal voice. Everyone is expected to listen. Everyone needs to be expeditious in getting to the heart of the matter and in trusting that Spirit speaks best through spontaneity. When community and council are being held well, each individual feels adequate in being one’s true Self, trusting that wisdom will flow through each member as needed, and that the wisdom is truly greater than the sum of its parts. We all emerge as beautiful souls in our pleasure and in our pain, in our grace and in our awkwardness, in our clarity and in our fogginess. We back each other up filling in with our own strengths the weaknesses of our sisters and brothers as they fill in ours. Thus our weaknesses become strengths as each true Self arrives to fully be and become and the trust grows that true Selves in relationship make no mistakes that cannot be corrected, and each true self can at times be beautifully awesome.

The closing ceremony touched me deeply as unassigned voices spontaneously made the offerings to the seven directions as if Spirit truly was directing us in our relationship with each other and with the Other World. How marvelous for me to finally feel this happening in such an effortless way, particularly after coming to this gathering anticipating grave challenges and conflictual debates and a difficult working through of issues. It feels like we are truly together entering Big Mind. So let us all be mindful so that this that we come to provides a foundation for further growth and enlightenment.

 
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I am reading fr…

I am reading from my book Flowers in their Hair Come and hear me and some other great local authors.

DINE WITH LOCAL AUTHORS

MONDAY March 12, 6 PM

Gaia’s Garden International Vegetarian Buffet

Wine, beer, cider, organic coffee, tea and more! $4 minimum food purchase. Gaiasgardenonline.com 1899 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa

Six authors will present their work. Call 544-2491 or email the Local Author’s Distributor:

info@jeaneslone.com to request dining at a specific author’s table.

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Peering into the Abyss

The following came from a facebook post from one of my Ukrainian friends, Sergey. It is translated via google translate. Thus some of the strange syntax. I found it entertaining
 
BLOG-BOOK REGIO DEI
Peering into the abyss – 4.
Print
February 1st, 2012 by Dmitry Stepanov
CONTINUED. HOME – HERE. PREVIOUS – HERE.

With ecstatic agony and experience related to the cleaning of fire, which Grof gave a metaphysical explanation. The associative relationship of combat fights and, in particular, sexual “struggle” with the fire element is represented in numerous metaphors and metonymy, by which various mythopoetic texts expressed epic duels and their heroes.

Epic heroes are in a state of martial ardor, as it were on fire. When the hero of the Kyrgyz epic Manas aroused a furious battle, he “flew hissing from the eyes of flame, mouth thick smoke poured, and the hair, that body, pierced the armor and popping out” (quoted in [11, p. 69] .)

Similarly, transformed in the Irish hero Cuchulainn battle, “Here for the first time Cuchulainn distorted, becoming multifaceted, horrible, unrecognizable, wild. His thighs quivered like a reed in the stream, or a tree in the stream, began to tremble inside it, every joint, every member of … Meanwhile, his face turned red in the dent … Thundering beats the heart of the ribs could be mistaken for growling dog or a menacing lion that attacked at a bear. Torches goddess of war, poisonous clouds and fiery sparks could be seen in the air and the clouds above his head, but the terrible boiling rage, rises above the Cuchulain … heroic glow emanated from his forehead with Cuchulain, long and wide, as if sharpening stone warrior … In the center of the kerf troops Cuchulainn and surrounded it with a huge shaft of corpses. ” [12, p. 220, 221, 222].

Worried militant anger Cuchulain tribesmen took several measures to extinguish it. So, they tried to translate military ardor in the heat of passion: “And now that they conspired to: send into the field to meet Cuchulainn thrice fifty naked women, led by Skandlah to show them their nakedness, and his disgrace. Soon out of the gate all the young girls and the boy showed his nakedness and shame. Concealed from them, a boy and his face turned to the chariot, so as not to see the nakedness of women. Then he took away from the chariot and plunged into three vats of ice water, to extinguish his anger. Like a nutshell scattered boards and hoops first vat, in the second bubbling water for a few cubits in height, and water from the third vat tolerated it just would not. There came forth from the boy’s anger, and then dressed him in clothes. Cuchulain returned to its former appearance, and he blushed from head to toe. ” [12, p. 172-173].

The experience of the ecstatic experience of the fire caused so stable associative trails that connect with the fire of battle fray, sexual “struggle” and all sorts of cultural variations. There is no puzzle, the only question is why the majority of patients Grof aware of the fire as a cleansing. Grof has quite clearly pointed out: “Fire, as it turns out, destroys all evil and rotten to the individual and prepares it for updating and rejuvenating experience of regeneration. Sophisticated subjects referred to in this context, the medieval practice of expelling evil spirits by the sacrifice of heretics and people accused of witchcraft, the sacrificial self-immolation of Buddhist monks and tested by fire, which was part of the ritual of initiation into the Hermetic tradition. These individuals reported that they had reached a depth of penetration into these phenomena, as well as come to a new understanding of the symbolism of certain cultural products, such as rejuvenating the fire, which supports the eternal youth of the priestess in the novel, Haggard’s “She”, and the sacrifice of Siegfried and Brünnhilde at the end ” Twilight of the Gods “by Richard Wagner. Appropriate symbol associated with the idea of ​​purifying fire, a phoenix, a legendary bird, winding its nest on fire and dying in the flames, the flames as the fire helps to hatch from the eggs of the new Phoenix in the burning nest. ” [5, p.127-128].

The answer is quite simple. Ecstatic experience of the fire was unconscious, as he was aware of an individual through their own cultural practices and appropriate interpretation of the therapist. Consumer understanding of the cleansing properties of fire, the historical knowledge of the Inquisition and the ritual of self-immolation, mythological and literary information about bird Phoenix, anti-aging fire, etc. – all this determines the corresponding vision of ecstatic fire as a cleansing.

Resolution of severe emotional crisis, the success in addressing difficult professional task, once the restoration of the lost social status and unexpected success in that seemed hopeless, can speak in a psychedelic experience ecstatic paintings of mythological and historical triumphs, victory parades and festivals, spring revival of nature and Triumphant of life. Under the influence of LSD people can relive scenes from his past, associated with its achievements and successes. Sometimes he plays and perinatal experience, reflecting the circumstances of his birth – is experiencing a revival. He sees the divine light, but it’s not a “generic” light, the light is ecstatic, expressing positive feelings.

You do not need to take the proposed scheme as a manifestation of ecstatic experiences dogma. In fact, the mental state of human communication, the circumstances of his life or external environment session with psychedelic imagery is rather complicated and unstable. So, the feeling of prenatal bliss may appear in the ecstatic state and during a heavy emotional crisis compensatory in relation to it. If a deadlock situation in life, which turned out to be a person authorized by itself, without his efforts, psychedelic experience, “no way” could be replaced by an experience of rebirth, bypassing the experience of a titanic struggle. Similar combinations of ecstatic experiences can be as much.

Patients Grof in their self-reports showed a relatively stable pattern of expression of psychedelic imagery. According to the therapist, “in psiholiticheskoy therapy in patients with severe symptoms, especially neuropsychiatric, to work through all levels of traumatic experiences of their individual life stories may take a long time and a large number of sessions. After passing the psychodynamic level of perinatal elements in the session, such patients are usually first appear before the situation “no exit” (BMP-II). As the number of sessions in the foreground are the phenomena connected with the struggle of death-rebirth (BPM-III).Sometimes in these contexts, there are short scenes of revival (BPM-IV) and cosmic unity (BPM-I). In the end, when the death of the ego and the rebirth experienced by a clear and definitive form, opening the way to the elements and the first perinatal matrix, and the various, apparently transpersonal dynamic structures. Following this, the phenomena associated with biological birth (BPM-II,-III and BPM BPM-iV), tend to disappear from the sessions and will not appear in the further procedure of LSD. ” [5, p.146].

This sequence displays the ecstatic experiences of patients Grof is quite natural. It should be remembered that the psychedelic treated neurotics who lived in a deep spiritual crisis; to Grof they came from complete despair after a long and unsuccessful traditional psychotherapy, which included psychoanalysis. Not surprisingly, therefore, that one of their first ecstatic experience was emotionally rich experience of “no exit”.

Lasted more psychedelic therapy often led to some successes – or disappear neurotic symptoms, obsessions and fears – which, in turn, is “awakened” and stepped up to the individual mental activity aimed at finding the “exit”. In the ecstatic experiences of the motive appeared titanic struggle.

Notable successes in psychotherapy manifested in psychedelic paintings of rebirth and prenatal bliss. They were not stable, if fragile, and were the results of therapy. Then, once again dominated the psychedelic experiences of ecstatic picture of combat or sexual encounters “struggle.” But if the therapy resulted in significant recovery of the patient, emotionally rich experiences titanic struggle and the revival vanished and gave way to the ecstatic experience of prenatal bliss, testifying to the restoration of the soul suffering the desired harmony.

It should be noted that in the context of the concept of Stanislav Grof psychedelic experience of prenatal bliss after the experience of states “no exit”, the tribal fighting and the death-rebirth is very mysterious. As Grof during an individual LSD session is in the process of re-birth, moving sequentially from the activation of the first perinatal matrix to the fourth. But the facts gathered by Grof, suggest that successful therapy is not complete activation of the fourth and the first matrix. In other words, according to Grof rebirth leads back into the womb.

Surviving such a painful process of birth, to eventually be back in the belly? Another grofovsky paradox worthy of Rabelaisian jokes.

All this seemed to see Grof, but somehow miraculously did not notice. In this connection, it would be better not compare with Virgil, the poet confidently vodivshim infernal circles, but with a sort of folklore the blind Homer, lost in the underworld.Fortunately, he has not appeared yet the poet who sang to it – whether comic, or tragic, or tragicomic – infernal journey. PART 2 – COMING SOON
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Used sources and literature.

A. Apuleius. Metamorphosis, or Golden Ass. / / Achilles Taty. Leucippus and Klitofont. Long said. Daphnis and Chloe.Petronius. Satyricon. Apuleius. Metamorphosis, or Golden Ass. M.: Fiction, 1969. – S. 349 – 544.
Two. AN Afanas’ev light and darkness. / / AN Afanasiev Tree of Life: Selected papers. M.: Contemporary, 1982. – S. 37 – 52.
Three. Vygotsky, LS historical meaning of psychological crisis. A methodological study. / / LS Vygotsky, Collected Works: In 6 T. 1. Theory and history of psychology. MM: Pedagogy, 1982. – S. 291 – 436.
4. Grof S. Beyond the brain. Moscow: Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. Publishing House of the Institute of Psychotherapy, 2000. – 504 p.
Five. Grof S. Regions of the human unconscious: the experience of research with LSD. M.: MTM, 1994. – 240.
6. S. Grof Journey in search of himself. Moscow: Institute of Transpersonal, 1994. – 342 p.
7. Drury AN Transpersonal Psychology. Moscow: Institute of humanities research, Lions: The Initiative, 2001. – 208 p.
Eight. Vyacheslav Ivanov. Sun Essays on the prehistory and history with

 
 
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Anti-War, Pro-Soldier?

 

The challenge and dilemma of these times is how to oppose the wars and not dishonor the soldiers. There is no magic formula, and emotions run high on all sides of these issues. 9/11 crystallized a certain knee-jerk reaction in the country, which might be summed up as, “Let’s go get the bastards and teach them a lesson.” Our political leaders (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush and others) invented other “reasons” for prosecuting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction, WMD’s was the favorite totally false fabrication.

So the American military was given the job of destroying two countries. The ultimate goals were never clearly articulated and changed with the changing fortunes of our military adventures. Patriotic fervor was whipped up to induce impressionable high-school boys to volunteer for the job of trained killer. Many of them have returned shattered in body, mind and soul. The act of killing another human being does not happen without massive psychological consequences. The experience of having those closest to you die ugly and violent deaths also has enormous consequences. Being traumatically injured has never-ending consequences.

George I, our first bush-league president, announced during the Gulf War that the Vietnam Syndrome was over. He never defined the Vietnam Syndrome, so I will define it: massive civilian casualties and loss of homes running in the millions; a pattern in the American  military of traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder/syndrome, suicide, a variety of disabilities and inability to function in civilian society; strange new diseases attributable to chemical and biological weapons (agent orange in Vietnam, uranium-coated armaments in Iraq); a population in the invaded country that has become more and more hostile to the American occupation forces; inability to distinguish ally from enemy (they all look alike and don’t often wear uniforms).

Many Vietnam veterans came home to actively oppose the war. Of course the army was not largely volunteer in the Vietnam era, and soldiers were not routinely ordered into a second, third or fourth tour of duty. When the thirteen months were completed, soldiers went home or went to Okinawa or Germany or some other non-combat zone. There was always light at the end of the tunnel. Nonetheless the number of suicides of Vietnam veterans easily surpassed the number of combat casualties and continues to rise. Since the military government is concealing the current rate of suicide among combat veterans by reporting them as “self-inflicted gunshot wound” and other euphemisms, it is difficult to determine the true number of suicides related to the current wars.

When the anti-Vietnam War movement was at its most heated, the worst epithet hurled at Veterans in uniform was “baby killer”. In some of the individual stories of veterans, what had been most devastating to their psyches was to have knowingly killed a child. The murder of the innocents clearly has more negative impact on the emotional brain than the killing of a perceived equal. Modern warfare in the last hundred years has increasingly involved massive civilian deaths. Total war means there are no non-combatants. Bombs do not discriminate. When America bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it happened with full knowledge that there would be hundreds of thousands of deaths of civilians with a predominance of women and children. The twin towers of 9/11 infamy were obviously civilian targets. The provocateurs might claim that the target was the world financial hub, but the people who died were ordinary civilians, many of them immigrants to America. When the killing is done hand-to-hand, street-to-street, building -to-building, the evidence of deaths to women and children is more extremely obvious and has greater destructive impact on all those who witness such results of warfare, especially those who may have purposely or inadvertently caused such deaths.

9/11 was a criminal act. The criminals deserved to be caught and punished. Many of them have been. Our leaders chose to characterize 9/11 as an act of war and respond by invading two countries. The initial civilian deaths of the twin towers and the Pentagon were less than five thousand. The civilian deaths of America’s twin wars easily run into the hundreds of thousands and probably millions. Has America gotten its revenge? Have we taught the bastards a lesson? Or are we, as is so often the case, teaching ourselves a lesson? Have enough of our soldiers suicided? Forget the millions of Iraqis and Afghanis killed and displaced, have enough of our soldiers died by their own hands to surpass the number of deaths on 9/11?

Will there ever be a time as there is in South Africa to this day, when the ex-combatants from both sides of the current wars sit in the same circle to try to heal from the disabling shame that they carry for the terrible things they did so may years ago? Have we learned the lesson yet, the lesson about what violence and killing does the soul of a human being? If we haven’t learned it yet, when will we?

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