Between the Rock and the Hard Streets

When the truth is found to be lies
and all the joy within you dies
don’t you want somebody to love
don’t you need somebody to love
wouldn’t you love somebody to love
you better find somebody to love

–Somebody to Love (Jefferson Airplane/Darby Slick)

I heard the music.  Grace Slick spoke to me.  The words tore at my heart.  I was living those lies.  And it seemed that my options were few.

I was a failure in so many ways…or so it seemed.  Unwanted, unloved, even in my own family.  At least that was my perception.  The great hope for my family…but no hope for me.  Sent off to an Ivy League school to become the next Einstein, I returned home a broken failure.  I couldn’t even manage to succeed at suicide.

She said, “There is no reason
and the truth is plain to see.”
But I wandered through my playing cards
and would not let her be

one of sixteen vestal virgins
who were leaving for the coast
and although my eyes were open
they might have just as well’ve been closed

–Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum/Keith Reid)

I sent letters to my past friends.  Within them I quoted the Tao te Ching, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Dhammapada.  Sent to crack the code of the universe, I found the words telling me the pursuit of that lay within.  On top of that were the words of Brecht’s Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder telling me of the futility of war.  But there were also the words of Hesse in Steppenwolf, which taught me about transcending.  It was 1967. 

Johnny’s in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he’s got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid
It’s somethin’ you did
God knows when
But you’re doin’ it again
You better duck down the alley way
Lookin’ for a new friend

–Subterranean Homesick Blues (Bob Dylan)

I could not stay there in my home town and face the music.  Shame forced me to leave.  Where was a failure to go?  It was the Summer of Love…and I had none.  And seasons change.

Strobe lights beam create dreams
walls move minds do too
on a warm San Franciscan night
old child young child feel alright
on a warm San Franciscan night
angels sing leather wings
jeans of blue Harley Davisons too
on a warm San Franciscan night
old angels young angels feel alright
on a warm San Franciscan night.

I wasn’t born there perhaps I’ll die there
there’s no place left to go, San Francisco.

–San Franciscan Nights (Animals)

I decided to chase Life…or Death.  Which one didn’t seem to matter much to me.  So I went to the Haight and joined in with the Diggers.  I dedicated my life, whatever might be left of it, to giving things away for free.  I still do that.  Welcome to the Diggers Free Store.  Care for some free words?  Want me to teach you something?

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s “off with her head!”
Remember what the dormouse said:

–White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane/Grace Slick)

And I fed my head.  Me and “Oh, shit” Bill.  Every chance we found.  And that was often because Bill could smell dope at amazing distances.

Bill got his name because he heard voices.  The voices told him jokes.  They were often funny enough to make him cry out, “Oh, shit!”  He told me of his escape from Lompoc…and about not wanting to go back.  He told me of not wanting to take his medication either.  I could grok that.  We self-medicated together, so he could free himself of the voices and I could search for myself.  I was in there somewhere.

One of the pains of my life is being a day late and a dollar short as they say.  I got to San Francisco just in time for the Death of Hippie.

And in my head?

And you see a girl’s brown body
dancing through the turquoise,
And her footprints make you follow
where the sky loves the sea.
And when your fingers find her,
she drowns you in her body,
Carving deep blue ripples
in the tissues of your mind.

–Tales of Brave Ulysses (Cream/Martin Sharp)

I chased her down and down.  My regret is that I didn’t catch up to her for a quarter century. 

Meanwhile I was stuck with reality.

So many fantastic colors;
I feel in a wonderland.
Many fantastic colors
makes me feel so good.
You’ve got that pure feel,
such good responses.
You’ve got that rainbow feel
but the rainbow has a beard.

–SWLABR (Cream/Jack Bruce and Pete Brown)

Hippie was dead and I was dying inside.  I left the Haight for the first time…disillusioned.

I went to search for roots in Seattle.  But there are no roots on the original Skid Row.  I allowed myself to be nearly raped in order to avoid freezing to death.  The experience told me I was not gay.

And so it was that later
as the miller told his tale
that her face, at first just ghostly,
turned a whiter shade of pale

–Whiter Shade of Pale

So I went on the road again, once again in search of my soul.  I lost my religion in a mission in Tucson in the waning days of the year.  I decided that if that’s what it was to be a Christian, then I wasn’t one.

Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see
It’s getting hard to be someone
but it all works out
It doesn’t matter much to me

–Strawberry Fields Forever (Lennon/McCartney)

Crossposted at Daily Kos


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    • Robyn on August 31, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    …a little later.

    I’m a little slow apparently since I just discovered that this site is run on Pacific time and I have been thinking in Eastern time as far as scheduling have been concerned.

  1. im always awed by the number and variety of paths we’ve all taken, yet all ended up here.

    you bring so much with you that’s personal, yet you are so adept at using art and verse to make it universal.  thanks for that, too.

      • Robyn on August 31, 2007 at 10:48 pm

      I got a little worried I was going to have to be schizophrenic.

      Not that that is necessarily a bad thing.

  2. Next level please.

  3. thank you very much…..

    • pfiore8 on September 1, 2007 at 2:51 am

    and you story of becoming…

  4. I am….bemused …..with myself for thinking it would be easy or quick to find me.

    And at the same time silly enough to think that the me I found every day wasn’t, somehow, the REAL me.

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