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The big book I'm working on, Cronies,
is neither a memoir nor fiction, but a series of adventures starting
with meeting Kesey at
Stanford in 1958 and ending with his death in 2001.
Here's an excerpt:
"One time were going down to
his swamp to split some wood. We
arrived at the pile we'd bucked up the day
before. Kesey used a wedge and
sledge. I was a maul man. He set the wedge and pecked at it with his
the round of wood split down the middle.
I set a round up and lifted the maul high over my
brought it down hard enough to split the round with one whack.
He said, "You know, you'd save a lot of energy
wedge and sledge instead of that maul."
"Yeah, but it would take twice as long."
"Twice as long as what? You're not going any
than I am."
"You kidding me? There's no way you can split wood
a wedge and sledge faster than I can with a maul."
"You want to bet?"
"Does a fox suck eggs? Name your wager and make it
"I'll go twenty bucks for twenty minutes."
He nodded and we set in. I grabbed those rounds
whacking for all I was worth. I could hear him hitting
at a steady beat. This
was going to be a cinch. After a while I had to take off my sweat
forehead wasn't even damp.
"That's it," I said. "Time's up."
He stepped back and surveyed the pile. "Well," he
said. "I guess you hornswoggled me this time."
You bet I had. It wasn't even close. We'd split
pile and he hadn't done piddling.
The flush of victory lasted about two minutes. It
that long to realize I'd been hornswoggled. He didn't rub it in
though. We took
the twenty bucks to Jim's Landing and drank gin and tonics.
Next day I made a phone call.
"Hello, is this the Sheriff's Office?"
"Yes. What can I do for you?"
"I'm calling to report Ken Kesey is hiding
inside his firewood!"
"Thank you very much for the call, sir, we'll look
The next day, the Sheriff's Deputies descend on
They bust open every piece of wood, but find no
They sneer at Kesey and leave.
The phone rings at Kesey's house.
"Hey, Kesey. Did the Sheriffs come?"
"Did they chop your firewood?"
"Happy Birthday, buddy!"
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2019
STORY IN CATALYST MAGAZINE, SALT LAKE CITY
I WILL BE DOING A READING AT SANDERS RARE BOOK STORE
IN SALT LAKE CITY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2019
Ken Babbs, one of the original and
leading Merry Pranksters and participant in the famous (or infamous,
depending on who you’re talking to) ‘Acid Tests’ will read excerpts
from, Cronies (a work in progress) at
Ken Sanders’ Books on September 28. Cronies, which Babbs describes as
“neither a memoir nor fiction,”
chronicles his many escapades with best friend Ken Kesey between 1958
and 2001. Babbs says the book is a
“burlesque” in the style of Washington Irving’s A History of New York:
a historical recording of real occurrences,
but with many (sometimes irreverent or absurd) “inventions and
exaggerations.” The point, he says, is not to
school or persuade as it seems every other book wants to do nowadays,
but simply to “entertain” and brighten
the reader’s day. Babbs is in the process of procuring a publisher.
When I called to interview Babbs I caught a telling snapshot of his
life after ‘Further’— the magic bus in
which Babbs and other Pranksters, including Neal Cassady, Larry
McMurtry, Jerry Garcia and many
other notables ate a lot of acid and toured the West. His wife answered
the phone and said he was “wrangling
chickens” and can he call back in an hour. He now spends most of his
time writing, reading books, biking and
gardening with his wife Eileen, surrounded by nature in small-town
Oregon. Who could ask for more?
FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE CLICK ON:
VIDIE OF MY READING FROM LAST
Took place at Tsunami Books in Eugene Oregon. I read a chapter from my
CRONIES, the chapter about Woodstock on the fiftieth anniversary of the
HEADLINE AND STORY IN TODAY'S
EUGENE REGISTER GUARD
SATURDAY, AUGUST 10, 2019
Here's Kesey with the Dinochicken we
took with us on a speaking tour to the East Coast
one time. The chapter in my book, Cronies, about the tour is called,
"There is no danger
of the Dinochicken escaping.
Here's a rundown about the dinochicken:
There is a three figurehead reward being offered for the safe return of
a giant chicken. In the Summer
of 1964, Ken Kesey and about 30 of his followers 3000 miles to visit
the headquarters the 'League of
Discovery' in Millbrook New York. To the dismay of Kesey and his
followers, Timothy Leary and League
initially refused to meet with them. Though the other Pranksters wanted
to simply give up and go home,
Kesey insisted that the Dinochicken be presented as an offering
to the League. Kesey's plan was wildly
successful, the two groups became fast friends, intermarried, and
twelve children were born nine months
later. The Dinochicken became internationally hailed as a symbol
of diplomatic breakthroughs.
since 1969, and has rarely
been available for public
viewing. In 2008, the surviving Merry Pranksters were pressured to
surrender the Dinochicken to the
Department of Homeland Security, who feared that its legendary
diplomatic prowess, if uncontrolled,
could inadvertently bring peace to the Middle East, thereby ruining a
perfectly good war.
possibly 'ferners' possibly wearing
type of head scarves,
absconded with the Dinochicken. The Merry Pranksters desperately seeked
the Dinochicken's return,
and authorized a three figurehead reward for whomever brings it, intact.
In the spring of 1966 we put on the
first L.A. Acid Test at Paul Sawyer's Unitarian Church
in the San Fernando Valley. Here' a writeup of the event that was in
the L.A. Free Press
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 7, 2019
BARLOW ON THE
timbers made up Barlow’s corrals. They surrounded his abode, a second
on the Bar Cross some distance from the main ranch house. Between the
two ran a
cart track a f
ew hundred yards long, up and down which, that winter, we daily
shunted hay out for the cattle
from a tractor drawn rick. “This is fire breathing
work!” John would say as our breath steamed
and mixed with the snow falling,
against a background of dark, blue-toned horizon clouds flashing
lightning, “Tis the very thunder of Thor approaches!” “Commonplace
I can tell ya!”
Conversation with John was ever runneled through with lines of
poetic timbre; he strove for and often
reached couplets of immediate meaning
and understanding. This was an environment of range and
geophysical drama, as
if the scope and potential of human freedom was limitless. You could
feel it on
the end of a phone line – in those days, the 1970s when he worked the
Cross, John would reach out
in the middle of the night to his friends, many in
California, inspired to talk and spark ideas, and the
visionary poetics of his
landscape would come through loud and clear.
“You seem to be
impressed by the country, fauna & flora up here,” he said on a
to Wyoming, which was an understatement, more or less fresh
off the boat from England as I was. “Well,
I can show you something.” And off
we went across the plains, through forests and along riverine
his trusty El Camino, past elk and wildfowl till arriving at a very
the high country:
a boggy, heathy, outcropped headwater region where three
great American rivers arose – the Green,
the Wind, and the Colorado – all in a
small area. “This is where the Water Witch lives, Guardian of the
John said, pointing to a ramshackle establishment nestled in a slight
to be no other houses anywhere, and we had passed none for miles.
It was remote, and I felt as if entering
an otherly domain, especially when, in
this somewhat entranced mood, the house and its occupants turned
out to be, Oz
like, a very ordinary middle aged American couple, beaming with the
comfort of their
domicile in its lonely, magnificent and potent, mountain
peaked surroundings. Such a discovery of oneself
in an off-beat conflation of
circumstances and events was pure Barlow magic; common humanity with a
the surreal. We had a cup of tea, which I didn’t fail to notice had a
Alice to it, and talked of the
prevailing conditions in their domain.
The next day,
back at the ranch, the adventure was of a different sort. After Melody,
and proficient cowgirl you’ll ever meet, had taught me how to
smooth the ride on one of the Bar Cross mares,
John and I saddled up and rode
off to check on a herd a few miles distant from the ranch. What we
perilously close to a worse-case scenario: some 30 or 40 head were
lying on the
ground close to a dry well,
gasping their last and eyes rolling. The pump had
failed. We galloped back to the ranch, as I forgot everything
Melody had taught
me and hung on for dear life, filled a pickup with cans of water and
back. The pump
man from Pinedale arrived while we were still hand watering half
an acre of supine cows. One of us would turn
limp heads upwards from the ground
while the other poured water down parched throats. As I remember, all
survived, and my intimacy with the awesome desperation of the great
the ranch community marked an iconic event in range life with some
cooking, lively talk,
a drink or three, and an ironic wit, particularly from
John, as if to say “commonplace hereabouts.” The ranch
house exhibited an
atmosphere of spacious accommodation of all the exhilarations and
life at altitude
in grand space. Here was the domain of Mrs. Barlow, matriarch:
sitting room of blazing fires, generous hospitality
and welcome; kitchen large
and fit for hunger; mud, laundry and storage rooms of outsize
proportion – in
setting, that is, but for this land, “… just enough.” The upstairs
landing was like a prairie: vast, empty, a common
floor off which opened
bedrooms and bathrooms and onto which one day on yet another, future,
unbox his boyhood train set and proceeded to set up a track for the
wonder of my own young son.
But in that
stormy winter before these summers held their sway, another Western
was soon to unfold.
Inclement weather raged too often around the cabin where we
huddled by the stove, talking ranching and writing
and drinking Wild Turkey.
Mornings, John would fix a huge and complex breakfast featuring a lot
pepper and bacon designed to both nullify the downside of our
indulgence and to fortify against the cattle feeding
run, whatever the
snowstorm or freezing cold. Then, back in the cabin, it was the
couplets, for this
being the time of song creation for Bob Weir’s first solo
throw out tangents and soliloquies of all
kinds. As music publisher for his songs to be at Ice Nine, I was a
interested foil, and when it came to Cassidy we jammed on Cassady, he
and On the Road,
“Lost now on the
country miles in his Cadillac” for an evocative entanglement
of names and energies for the lyric. And a road trip
was soon to be our own
most potent adventure.
notified one day that his father was ailing, perhaps rapidly, at the
apartment in Salt Lake City.
Concern became action and it was decided we’d
drive to Salt Lake immediately. Normally a four-hour trip of 250
miles, we set
off as dusk fell and the storm loomed ahead, its darkness already
snow, and settled into a
slow drive through hours of what became whiteout
conditions. The El Camino soldiered on; where is the The Way ....
looking for it, and it was hard to find. Roadway borders were
from the flat and featureless
high plains; the road itself was unmarked, the
only car tracks ours, behind us, soon covered. Often we had to get out
car and look for signs of edges. The storm worsened. “John,” I
this a rather dangerous situation
we’re in? We could die out here . . .” He
laughed, agreed full heartedly, “Commonplace up here.”
Trackless was a place
Barlow was able
to live in with an attitude of equanimity; being on the edge was
ground. And a determined
energy carried him through, forging tracks. We made it
to the city; his father recovered.
John told this
story often, but the joke was on me: newbie Englishman meets the Wild
hand beats the odds.
John took on the odds and came out even more than most of
ACT Eugene, May
Came across this in response to the curiousity awakened in me after
watching the movie, On the Road
(which didn’t seem to do justice to anyone in it). I presume “Cronies”
includes tales of Neal? I think I
might spend a good part of the winter in Scottsdale, with some
traveling in CA. I’d love to attend a book
release party for Cronies, if one should happen.
Ken Schumacher received this story from Barlow after posting a request
for reminiscences from people
who'd known Neal Cassady. Thanks to Ken for sending this to me, and to
John Perry Barlow for giving
me permission to include it in Literary Kicks. It is a very beautiful
piece of writing, and it also answers a
question that had been bugging me for years: why did Barlow spell
Neal's name wrong in the title of the song?
Turns out there's a simple answer. -- Levi Asher
By John Perry Barlow with Bob Weir
Recorded on Ace (Warner Brothers, 1972)
Cora, Wyoming February, 1972
I have seen where the wolf has slept by the silver stream.
I can tell by the mark he left you were in his dream.
Ah, child of countless trees.
Ah, child of boundless seas.
What you are, what you're meant to be
Speaks his name, though you were born to me,
Born to me,
Lost now on the country miles in his Cadillac.
I can tell by the way you smile he's rolling back.
Come wash the nighttime clean,
Come grow this scorched ground green,
Blow the horn, tap the tambourine
Close the gap of the dark years in between
You and me,
Quick beats in an icy heart.
Catch-colt draws a coffin cart.
There he goes now, here she starts:
Hear her cry.
Flight of the seabirds, scattered like lost words
Wheel to the storm and fly.
Faring thee well now.
Let your life proceed by its own design.
Nothing to tell now.
Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine.
This is a song about necessary dualities: dying & being born, men
& women, speaking & being silent,
devastation & growth, desolation & hope.
It is also about a Cassady and a Cassidy, Neal Cassady and Cassidy Law.
(The title could be spelled either way as far as I'm concerned, but I
think it's officially stamped with the
latter. Which is appropriate since I believe the copyright was
registered by the latter's mother, Eileen Law.)
The first of these was the ineffable, inimitable, indefatigable Holy
Goof Hisself, Neal Cassady, aka Dean
Moriarty, Hart Kennedy, Houlihan, and The Best Mind of Allen Ginsberg's
Neal Cassady, for those whose education has been so classical or so
trivial or so timid as to omit him, was the
Avatar of American Hipness. Born on the road and springing full-blown
from a fleabag on Denver's Larimer
Street, he met the hitch-hiking Jack Kerouac there in the late 40's and
set him, and, through him, millions of
others, permanently free.
Neal came from the oral tradition. The writing he left to others with
more time and attention span, but from
his vast reserves flowed the high-octane juice which gassed up the Beat
Generation for eight years of Eisenhower
and a thousand days of Camelot until it, like so many other things,
ground to a bewildered halt in Dallas.
Kerouac retreated to Long Island, where he took up Budweiser, the
National Review, and the adipose cynicism
of too many thwarted revolutionaries. Neal just caught the next bus out.
This turned out to be the psychedelic nose-cone of the 60's, a rolling
cornucopia of technicolor weirdness named
Further. With Ken Kesey raving from the roof and Neal at the wheel,
Further roamed America from 1964 to 1966,
infecting our national control delusion with a chronic and holy lunacy
to which it may yet succumb.
From Further tumbled the Acid Tests, the Grateful Dead, Human Be-Ins,
the Haight-Ashbury, and, as America
tried to suppress the infection by popularizing it into cheap folly,
The Summer of Love, and Woodstock.
I, meanwhile, had been initiated into the Mysteries within the sober
ashrams of Timothy Leary's East Coast, from
which distance the Prankster's psychedelic psircuses seemed, well, a
bit psacreligious. Bobby Weir, whom I'd known
since prep school, kept me somewhat current on his riotous doings with
the Pranksters et al, but I tended to dismiss
on ideological grounds what little of this madness he could squeeze
through a telephone.
So, purist that I was, I didn't actually meet Neal Cassady until 1967,
by which time Further was already rusticating
behind Kesey's barn in Oregon and the Grateful Dead had collectively
beached itself in a magnificently broke-down
Victorian palace at 710 Ashbury Street, two blocks up the hill from
what was by then, according to Time Magazine,
the axis mundi of American popular culture. The real party was pretty
much over by the time I arrived.
But Cassady, the Most Amazing Man I Ever Met, was still very much
Happening. Holding court in 710's tiny kitchen,
he would carry on five different conversations at once and still devote
one conversational channel to discourse with
absent persons and another to such sound effects as disintegrating ring
gears or exploding crania. To log into one of
these conversations, despite their multiplicity, was like trying to
take a sip from a fire hose.
He filled his few and momentary lapses in flow with the most random
numbers ever generated by man or computer or,
more often, with his low signature laugh, a *heh, heh, heh, heh* which
sounded like an engine being spun furiously by
an over-enthusiastic starter motor.
As far as I could tell he never slept. He tossed back green hearts of
Mexican dexedrina by the shot-sized bottle, grinned,
cackled, and jammed on into the night. Despite such behavior, he
seemed, at 41, a paragon of robust health. With a face
out of a recruiting poster (leaving aside a certain glint in the eyes)
and a torso, usually raw, by Michelangelo, he didn't even
seem quite mortal. Though he would shortly demonstrate himself to be so.
Neal and Bobby were perfectly contrapuntal. As Cassady rattled
incessantly, Bobby had fallen mostly mute, stilled perhaps
by macrobiotics, perhaps a less than passing grade in the Acid Tests,
or, more likely, some combination of every strange
thing which had caused him to start thinking much faster than anyone
could talk. I don't have many focussed memories
from the Summer of 1967, but in every mental image I retain of Neal,
Bobby's pale, expressionless face hovers as well.
Their proximity owed partly to Weir's diet. Each meal required hours of
methodical effort. First, a variety of semi-edibles
had to be reduced over low heat to a brown, gelatinous consistency.
Then each bite of this preparation had to be chewed no
less than 40 times. I believe there was some ceremonial reason for
this, though maybe he just needed time to get used to the
taste before swallowing.
This all took place in the kitchen where, as I say, Cassady was also
usually taking place. So there would be Neal, a fountain
of language, issuing forth clouds of agitated, migratory words. And
across the table, Bobby, his jaw working no less vigorously,
producing instead a profound, unalterable silence. Neal talked. Bobby
chewed. And listened.
So would pass the day. I remember a couple of nights when they set up
another joint routine in the music room upstairs.
The front room of the second floor had once been a library and was now
the location of a stereo and a huge collection of
It was also, at this time, Bobby's home. He had set up camp on a
pestilential brown couch in the middle of the room, at the
end of which he kept a paper bag containing most of his worldly
Everyone had gone to bed or passed out or fled into the night. In the
absence of other ears to perplex and dazzle, Neal went
to the music room, covered his own with headphones, put on some be-bop,
and became it, dancing and doodley-oooping a
Capella to a track I couldn't hear. While so engaged, he juggled the 36
oz. machinist's hammer which had become his
trademark. The articulated jerky of his upper body ran monsoons of
sweat and the hammer became a lethal blur floating
in the air before him.
While the God's Amphetamine Cowboy spun, juggled and yelped joyous
*doo-WOP's,: Weir lay on his couch in the foreground,
perfectly still, open eyes staring at the ceiling. There was something
about the fixity of Bobby's gaze which seemed to indicate a
fury of cognitive processing to match Neal's performance. It was as
though Bobby were imagining him and going rigid with the
effort involved in projecting such a tangible and kinetic image.
I also have a vague recollection of driving someplace in San Francisco
with Neal and a amazingly lascivious redhead, but the
combination of drugs and terror at his driving style has fuzzed this
memory into a dreamish haze. I remember that the car
was a large convertible, possibly a Cadillac, made in America at a time
we still made cars of genuine steel but that its bulk
didn't seem like armor enough against a world coming at me so fast and
Nevertheless, I recall taking comfort in the notion that to have lived
so long this way Cassady was probably invulnerable and
that, if that were so, I was also within the aura of his mysterious
Turned out I was wrong about that. About five months later, four days
short of his 42nd birthday, he was found dead next to a
railroad track outside San Miguel D'Allende, Mexico. He wandered out
there in an altered state and died of exposure in the
high desert night. Exposure seemed right. He had lived an exposed life.
By then, it was beginning to feel like we all had.
In necessary dualities, there are only protagonists. The other
protagonist of this song is Cassidy Law, who is now, in the summer
of 1990, a beautiful and self-possessed young woman of 20.
When I first met her, she was less than a month old. She had just
entered the world on the Rucka Rucka Ranch, a dust-pit of a
one-horse ranch in the Nicasio Valley of West Marin which Bobby
inhabited along with a variable cast of real characters.
These included Cassidy's mother Eileen, a good woman who was then and
is still the patron saint of the Deadheads, the wolf-like
Rex Jackson, a Pendleton cowboy turned Grateful Dead roadie in whose
memory the Grateful Dead's Rex Foundation is named,
Frankie Weir, Bobby's ol' lady and the subject of the song Sugar
Magnolia, Sonny Heard, a Pendleton bad ol' boy who was also
a GD roadie, and several others I can't recall.
There was also a hammer-headed Appaloosa stud, a vile goat, and
miscellaneous barnyard fowl which included a peacock so
psychotic and aggressive that they had to keep a 2 x 4 next to the
front door to ward off his attacks on folks leaving the house.
In a rural sort of way, it was a pretty tough neighborhood. The herd of
horses across the road actually became rabid and had
to be destroyed.
It was an appropriate place to enter the 70's, a time of bleak exile
for most former flower children. The Grateful Dead had been
part of a general Diaspora from the Haight as soon as the Summer of
Love festered into the Winter of Our Bad Craziness. They
had been strewn like jetsam across the further reaches of Marin County
and were now digging in to see what would happen next.
The prognosis wasn't so great. 1968 had given us, in addition to
Cassady's death, the Chicago Riots and the election of Richard
Nixon. 1969 had been, as Ken Kesey called it, *the year of the downer,:
which described not only a new cultural preference for
stupid pills but also the sort of year which could mete out Manson,
Chappaquiddick, and Altamont in less than 6 weeks.
I was at loose ends myself. I'd written a novel, on the strength of
whose first half Farrar, Straus, & Giroux had given me a healthy
advance with which I was to write the second half. Instead, I took the
money and went to India, returning seven months later a
completely different guy. I spent the first 8 months of 1970 living in
New York City and wrestling the damned thing to an ill-fitting
conclusion, before tossing the results over a transom at Farrar,
Straus, buying a new motorcycle to replace the one I'd just run into
a stationary car at 85 mph, and heading to California.
It was a journey straight out of Easy Rider. I had a no-necked
barbarian in a Dodge Super Bee try to run me off the road in New
Jersey (for about 20 high speed miles) and was served, in my own
Wyoming, a raw, skinned-out lamb's head with eyes still in it. I
can still hear the dark laughter that chased me out of that restaurant.
Thus, by the time I got to the Rucka Rucka, I was in the right raw mood
for the place. I remember two bright things glistening
against this dreary backdrop. One was Eileen holding her beautiful baby
girl, a catch-colt (as we used to call foals born out of
pedigree) of Rex Jackson's.
And there were the chords which Bobby had strung together the night she
was born, music which eventually be joined with these
words to make the song Cassidy. He played them for me. Crouched on the
bare boards of the kitchen floor in the late afternoon sun,
he whanged out chords that rang like the bells of hell.
And rang in my head for the next two years, during which time I quit
New York and, to my great surprise, became a rancher in
Wyoming, thus beginning my own rural exile.
In 1972, Bobby decided he wanted to make the solo album which became
Ace. When he entered the studio in early February,
he brought an odd lot of material, most of it germinative. We had spent
some of January in my isolated Wyoming cabin working
on songs but I don't believe we'd actually finished anything. I'd come
up with some lyrics (for Looks Like Rain and most of
Black-Hearted Wind). He worked out the full musical structure for
Cassidy, but I still hadn't written any words for it.
Most of our time was passed drinking Wild Turkey, speculating grandly,
and fighting both a series of magnificent blizzards
and the house ghost (or whatever it was) which took particular delight
in devilling both Weir and his Malamute dog.
(I went in one morning to wake Bobby and was astonished when he reared
out of bed wearing what appeared to be black-face.
He looked ready to burst into Sewanee River. Turned out the ghost had
been at him. He'd placed at 3 AM call to the Shoshone
shaman Rolling Thunder, who'd advised him that a quick and dirty ghost
repellant was charcoal on the face. So he'd burned an
entire box of Ohio Blue Tips and applied the results.)
I was still wrestling with the angel of Cassidy when he went back to
California to start recording basic tracks. I knew some of
what it was about...the connection with Cassidy Law's birth was too
direct to ignore...but the rest of it evaded me. I told him
that I'd join him in the studio and write it there.
Then my father began to die. He went into the hospital in Salt Lake
City and I stayed on the ranch feeding cows and keeping
the feed trails open with an ancient Allis-Chalmers bulldozer. The snow
was three and a half feet deep on the level and blown
into concrete castles around the haystacks.
Bobby was anxious for me to join him in California, but between the
hardest winter in ten years and my father's diminishing
future, I couldn't see how I was going to do it. I told him I'd try to
complete the unfinished songs, Cassidy among them, at a distance.
On the 18th of February, I was told that my father's demise was
imminent and that I would have to get to Salt Lake. Before I
could get away, however, I would have to plow snow from enough
stackyards to feed the herd for however long I might be gone.
I fired up the bulldozer in a dawn so cold it seemed the air might
break. I spent a long day in a cloud of whirling ice crystals,
hypnotized by the steady 2600 rpm howl of its engine, and, sometime in
the afternoon, the repeating chords of Cassidy.
I thought a lot about my father and what we were and had been to one
another. I thought about delicately balanced dance of
necessary dualities. And for some reason, I started thinking about
Neal, four years dead and still charging around America on
the hot wheels of legend.
Somewhere in there, the words to Cassidy arrived, complete and intact.
I just found myself singing the song as though I'd known it for years.
I clanked back to my cabin in the gathering dusk. Alan Trist, an old
friend of Bob Hunter's and a new friend of mine, was visiting.
He'd been waiting for me there all day. Anxious to depart, I sent him
out to nail wind-chinking on the horse barn while I typed up
these words and packed. By nightfall, another great storm had arrived.
We set out for Salt Lake in it, hoping to arrive there in time
to close, one last time, the dark years between me and my father.
Grateful Dead songs are alive. Like other living things, they grow and
metamorphose over time. Their music changes a little every
time they're played. The words, avidly interpreted and reinterpreted by
generations of Deadheads, become accretions of meaning
and cultural flavor rather than static assertions of intent. By now,
the Deadheads have written this song to a greater extent than I ever
The context changes and thus, everything in it. What Cassidy meant to
an audience, many of whom had actually known Neal personally,
is quite different from what it means to an audience which has largely
never heard of the guy.
Some things don't change. People die. Others get born to take their
place. Storms cover the land with trouble. And then, always,
the sun breaks through again.
--- John Perry Barlow
MY MOONLANDING READING IS UP ON YOUTUBE
am reading at Tsunami Books in
Eugene, Oregon, the chapter in Cronies
about the day of the landing when we set up our gear in the barn at
and recorded the TV commentary with
our yakking and canned music added to the mix, a riotous, righteous
of the momentous moment in our history.
I will be streaming the reading live
on facebook ken babbs .1. It starts at 7:30 p.m. Make the reading if
you can and if
you can't, watch the live vidie.
Dee day dee alies invaded Normandy in
WW II and Hitler was so whacked out on speed and coming down
he didn't order the Panzers to the
beach, tsk tsk, let that be a lesson, tweakers.
the train from Portland to Eugene, great window seat with terrific
view, decided after a while to write down
some of the sights. Graffiti on wall:
FUCK TRUMP. Doghouse in woods. Plum trees in bloom. I 5 on the left,
grass field on the right. Cows. Walnut
orchard. Back yards and junk cluttered industrial lots. Town of
La Mota store. Taqueria. Enormous flat
fields, brown dirt. Green grass. Solitary crow. V flight of geese.
pipes on wheels. Wastewater lagoon.
Tiny Christmas trees. Small clear cut, small logs, lumber yard.
Trespasser almost on tracks. Checking rear brakes, ten minute stop.
Coming into Salem. Old hot tubs turned
down. Trucks nose to nose jump starting. Gold statue man shining atop
capitol building. Departing Salem,
out. Woods and hills. Horses. Park and softball diamond. Baby calves.
Lambs. Irrigation ditch. Falling apart
the goods. Leave Albany again. Hard hatted crew digs with mattocks in a
pile of dirt. More piles of pallets.
snowstorm hit a couple of weeks ago, knocking out the power, knocking
down trees -- the
oaks took the greatest damage, their limbs sticking out from the
trunks, all that weight, broke
limbs, split oaks in half. Fir trees drooped and kept their limbs,
every once in a while one would
shake and a torrent of snow would fall. Now, snow is melting slowly, we
have one car and my
work truck out, driveway still clogged. With the generator, wood stove,
and propaned cook
stove we were all right, no internet however, now everything working
First morning after the storm
Catching a flake
Oak tree falleth across the vidie van,
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18,
the employees that are slacking. On a tour of the office, the CEO
notices a guy leaning
on a wall.
He can't believe
this guy would just stand around on the job. The new CEO walks up to
the guy leaning against the wall and asks, "What are you doing here?"
"I'm just waiting
to get paid," responds the man.
Furious, the new
CEO asks "How much money do you make a week?"
surprised, the young man replies, "I make about $300 a week. Why do you
The CEO quickly
gets out his checkbook, hands the guy a check made out to cash for
and says, "Here's four weeks pay, now get out right now and don’t come
The young man puts
the check in his pocket and promptly walks out of the office.
good about himself, the CEO looks around the room and asks, "Does
want to tell me what just happened here?"
From across the
room comes a loud voice, "Yes, you just tipped the pizza delivery guy
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1019
in the book, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, columns that Bukowski wrote for an LA
underground paper in the late
THURSDAY, JANUARY 10, 2019
Questions from Danny Waxkirsh
and my answers:
What was/were the biggest influences
which inspired you and the Pranksters to use acid, drive across America
and start the Acid Tests?
RETURN TO MAIN PAGE
Ken Kesey first took acid in the early sixties at the VA hospital in
Menlo Park, California where the government paid 25 dollars a session
to some grad students at Stanford, giving them pills, studying the
effects of different drugs. Kesey managed to bring home a bottle of
Swiss Sandoz Lab LSD and that's when I and our friends (we weren't the
Prankster then, that came a couple of years later) started using
acid. In 1964, Kesey bought a school bus converted into a motor home
and he and the Pranksters (we had our name by them) drove it to
Madhattan for the coming out party of his new book, Sometimes A Great
Notion. We decided to film the whole trip and edit it and release
it in theaters, a revolutionary film genre, neither documentary nor
madeup, but a combination of the two for we would take acid, stop
somewhere, people would flock to the bus, we'd get out and join them,
play our musical instruments, be part of the local drama, filming
the whole thing. When we returned to California we started editing the
film but were arrested. The cops raided Kesey's and found some
marijuana. We decided then to do the acid tests, get the action out of
Kesey's house. The band first known as the Warlocks joined in.
Was there any political motivation for your actions?
None, other than by example, living the life of the free, free to do
your own thing, free to dip in and out of business, performance art,
life at home, look any person in the eye, shake hands, be he or she a
down and outer or the president of the U.S.
How much did your group interact with the Leary camp and how similar
was your ideology? (Other than the awkward summit between your
groups described in 'The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test).
We spent a couple of days at Leary's placein Millbrook, New York while
on the bus trip to Madhattan. They were coming down and we were
getting high. It was awkward at first but we meshed nicely. EKAT laid a
false impression that we didn't get along and Leary told Kesey and me
as we were leaving we were doing the same good work and would continue
to do so, together or apart. Leary became a good friend and we did
do some works together. Check out the film on youtube: Leary's Last
Lastly, do you think we can still 'turn on the world'?
We were not the only ones doing the work of keeping the world a great
place. Many rode that first wave and contributed, and many many more
did their part to keep this bumpy ride moving along; still do, world
wide, working to restore our water and air and land and the minds of
troglodytes. Kesey said, "The only true currency is that of the
spirit." Our work has always been to raise the spirits high.