Norman Allan
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Art and Fiction

 

Chapter Six



It wasnít till after I had passed Sacramento that I encountered my first hitch-hiker. He was skinny as a bean with long stringy hair.

"Hi there man. I'm San Fran Pee. San Francisco Pete. Too much, eh man."

San Fran Pee was on his way down to Monterey to the great Acid Rock Revival Meeting. "Man, everyone who's anyone's gonna be there. Some real bad assed bands, man."

"A Festival," I mused. "Why not?"

We parked the pink Lincoln in the car park - "thatíll be fifty dollars" - and walked the trammelled dusty path to the site. The winter sun just warmed the California winter air. Sleep starved I zombie-trucked as through a teaming Indian incarnation samsaraing round and round through deja vu past rentacop and his dog past rentacop and his dog. A twelve year old boy with a hotdog stand cried, "Hash, acid, speed."

Hungrily, I enquired about the hotdogs.

"Na, out oí dogs."

"What acid you got man?" asked San Fran.

"Purple haze, orange sunshine, strawberry fields for a nickle. And some window-pane.... That's a dime, but it's outrageous. Or an organic mesc-cap for fifteen dollars. Pure pie, no shit. How about some coke?"

"What them green microdots?" San Fran wanted to know.

"0h, you don't want them. They're bad shit. Two dollars a hit."

"Yeah, far out, man. I'll take two of them. Too much. Hey, Chris, man, you gotta couple of bills?"

As I opened my mouth, to say what I may never recall, San Fran popped in a pill and pushed it to the back of my throat with a grubby finger. In my fatigue and confusion I swallowed it.


We walked beside a ten foot barb-topped fence, up towards the gate bastioned with uniformed security-men. To enter this Festival, this haven of love, you had to funnel through the turnstile under the scrutiny of tired hired eyes. San Fran Pee tried to press through on press privilege. "I'm with Rolling Stone, man. Look, I got a pass."

"Rolling Stone, hey. Another one!" The gate fuzz grabbed San Fran's shoulder.

"Hey, man," said San Fran. "Watch out. I do Kung Fu. Seventh Dan, man."

"Boss! Over here! Another Rolling Stone."

The gate superintendent detached himself from a rearguard table. "Gathering no moss." He duck waddled towards them, a small man with a white rat's pallor, and wildly paranoid eyes.

Now several of us spoke at once. "No problem," I said. "We'll pay."
"Says he's got press privilege."
"Let's see."
Pee handed the press card to the superintendent. The superintendent, without looking at it, put it into his pocket. "It's forged."

"Like hell it's forged," said Pee. "That happens to be a government stamped priority pass, man. You could get yourself into a lot of trouble over this. Take a look."

The superintendent took out the card. "Look, there," said Pee, pointing. Then, taking them all by surprise, San Francisco Pete grabbed the card and ran into the crowd. Rentafuzz chased him through the throng. I followed.

Into a maze of noise and bodies. I sighed. "Where now?" The acid had started rising. I felt detached, as though observing everything from a great distance I fell into the third person.

I saw myself, Chris, ease his way along the peripheral fence. There was sort of a corridor there heading vaguely in the direction of the stage. On the ground was a hunting knife, machete-like, sharp. Abandoned in the crowd. A problem. "What to do with it? Just leave it there? You realise you are responsible for everything."

Chris puzzled awhile. Then he picked up the knife and sheathed it slotted between the corrugated iron fence and its scaffolding, and wondered how it all connected: marvelled at the size of the world, at the weave of the web of all these souls.

A quarter of a mile away, Butch were playing. Butch was a bunch of crew-cut lesbians (formerly dykes). Direct and aggressive. "I've been doing it since I don't know when. Been a Mother since I was ten. Come over here and give us a fall. Puss, you know you don't need balls to ball," ran the lyrics.

"Hi, man," said San Fran, suddenly reappearing at Chris's shoulder. "Too much, eh?"

"You got away. What happened?"

"I gave the card to some cat, and the pigs picked him up. I've got another card anyway. Too much, eh?"

Chris suddenly disliked San Fran, very much. "Grubby fingers in my mouth!" He turned and pushed his own way forward. San Francisco followed. "Hey, man, don't get sore. They'll let the kid go. For sure. Hey, man, I'm your buddy."

Still a hundred yards cut from the stage they met the press enclosure fence with its three foot wide walk-way patrolled by rentacop and his dog again. "Hey, man," Pee shouted waving a second press card, "let us through." He turned to Chris. "You stick with me." They scrambled over and edged onwards to front of the press enclosure. They were still sixty yards out from the stage. In front of them was the roadie's and friend's enclosure, and beyond that the management and family's enclosure, and only then the stage.

"There's Boogie. Hey Boogie, man, over here man," screamed San Fran Pee waving his arms.

A curly-locked middle aged face came goggling over to them at the enclosure fence. "San Fran Pee. Too much."

"Far out, man. Who you working with?"

"I'm with the Baters."
"Too fucking fantastic. Hey man, I thought you was with Juju Muggy's Peace and Plenty."

"Nah. That was yesterdayís papers."
Boogie called out to the pig, "Hey man, let these cats through. They're cool."

Christopher's eyes were twitching from sleep loss, and the acid was beginning to creep up on him like the tide under a beached boat. Energy flowed. Boogie was speeding, and rapping fit to beat the band.

"Yeah, man, I've been with the Baters for two years now, and before that with Juju, and before that with Degradation, but I guess this is the classiest outfit Iíve worked with since I was humping for Hot Crust back in the sixties. Did you ever hear Hot Crust get it on? Nah, you'd be too young. You shoulda heard the set they laid down at Woodstock. Shit man, now that was boogie. Woodstock..." repeated Boogie, a magic word, and he started to reminisce. "Woodstock. What a gig. They had this country house, hotel place, they hired for the bands a few miles away from the site. The things that went on there, wow:" Boogie hooted. "Man, there were bottles lying all over the corridors, people fixing up on the stairs, balling on the landings... They had this fence round the building to keep the chicks out. There'd be dozens of them at the gate trying to get in, trying to get at the bands. Me and a couple of other roadies, we'd go down to the gate, pick out some chicks, ball for a couple of hours, then tell the pigs to throw them out."

Christopher, feeling compromised in having followed San Fran Pee this far, now desperately wanted to escape. His mind floated off. He followed.

At some point he found himself leaning against the enclosure fence gazing at the stage. The Baters were on. Silver trousers, thumbs tucked into belts, knuckles glistening with duster rings, bellies slouched forward, no shirts, but oiled chests with their little male nipples rouged and pierced. Bouffant hair stacked high above eyes like dark embers, cheeks sunken silver, lips day-glow green and pouted. Between the band and the audience at the front of the stage, was a wall of oil-spray fire. The band shimmered like a mirage behind. The lead singer mouthed sulkily, "I want you and I want to. God damn it, it feel good."

Chris looked elsewhere, craning and turning his head about searching for somewhere where his eyes could rest peacefully, he found himself in a dream gazing at a lady stretched out as Botticelli sketched Aphrodite with Mars on the green sward of the management and family enclosure. Her body, visible through its film of dress, perfect. Her face an angel's. She was smiling at Chris, beckoning him over with her eyes. Chris arose and arrived, sat opposite her in bliss.

Johni Howard, lead guitar and vocalist with Milk and Honey, this season's top band, Johni Howard's moon-child smiling face slept cuddled in her crotch. Johni awoke and stretched like a cat. His smile widened. Chris in his trip didn't recognise him. "Who are you?" he asked.

"Oh, I'm with a band," said Johni, rising to his feet in a languid gesture, he glid off towards the stage. "See you later Angel. Have fun. Bliss you."

It was some time though till the equipment could be changed and Johni and Milk were on and tuned. Meanwhile, the Baters set had set a wave of frustrated energy rippling. A cacophony of bum-trips were popping through-out the sea of fans. It got quite choppy, rising to a swell, and splashed against the stage as Milk and Honey tuned up angelic in their white smocks. Johni Howard slid to the microphone. "Listen, friends. We wanna start off kinda geníle with some mean bliss sounds, so for the sake of receptivity I'd like a minuteís silent meditating. Aíright? OM brothers,"

"Come on, you mothers! Boogie!" "Get it on."

And they did. They settled into a groove of some indescribable hooka hooka boogie. They laid it down.

For Christopher the music was just a synaesthetic rippling of Angel's hair, at least until the last verse of the last song. Then some deep programmed filing system if his mind's ear sprang him to attention. Sung to an eerie moog-synthesis the lyrics ran as follows:-

"Where did the music begin?
Back in the edges of time.
Primordial melody, roaringtune
Rhythmic harmonic rhyme.
Back past the reaches of mind,
Before desire made all our songs flat,
But Lord, when I'm truly with you,
Again I sure know Whereitzat."

Next morning I woke up in a hotel room curled up between Johni and Angel.

"Hey, get some breakfast together, man?" Johni requested softly.

I arranged B.L.T.mayos and brewed coffee, and climbed back into bed for breakfast.

"Iíve been doing some thinking about the origins of music," I said. "About the relationship between Rock and Roll and Jazz and other musical forms."

"Yeah, Rock and Roll's whereit'sat," crooned Johni. "It's cornered the market on orgasm."

"This phrase, "whereitzat", now that seems to be a key that has some hidden meaning... For example, it occurs in your song "Where the Music Begins". What's it mean there?"

"I don't know, man. It's just a song," said Johni. I explained about my quest for the lost tribe of Roaratuni and the origins of Jazz.

"Far out man."

I kept pressing Johni about his lyric.

"I donít know man! Like, the words stream out of the collective unconscious, donít they? I mean the words are the words. Dig, man. You can make whatever anagrams you like. Analysis, science... Live and let live, that's my motto," lulled Johni.

"But the coincidence of the theme with these two key words..." I began again.

"Hey, Angie. Where'd you find this dude? Listen, man, the party's over."




illustration by JKW

Chapter Seven