Norman Allan
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Art and Fiction


Chapter 7:

I took a taxi back up to the festival car park to collect the Lincoln, then drove up to San Francisco. Waiting around to hear from my lawyer about cashing Beamish's cheque I spent his time drifting in circular thoughts and cruising the scene, and naturally, at the first scene I hit I ran Into San Francisco Pete.

"Hey there man, where you been? Weren't the Baters bad. Cosmic. Hey, man, you shoulda stuck around. Boogie and me went back stage…"

Despite San Fran Pee, the party had its compensations. The wine was as clear as acid: the acid mellow as wine. Some hours later San Fran Fee stumbled in on my new found friend, Melody, and I practising Tantric postures in the bath.

"Hey, man. Far out. I'm gonna cut this scene, man. We're going to this scene round the corner. Tequilla, jacuzzi, coke and hash. Nippleeze Man! Bring your friend..." As it seemed San Fran Pee might run on forever, I was forced to disengage, and bustle Pee from the bathroom.

"That man is too much," I commented, rejoining Melody.

"Far out," said Melody.

I spent weeks rolling in circles from scene to scene and thought to thought. Music? The meaning's in the rhythm and the melody, and the rhythm carries... is it feeling? Well, what does it talk to? The tempo of our movements, gestures, postures…"

I also wondered about Wheritzat, and about what one might do to save the world. Find the right song. Where does music come from? I found no answers.

I did my damnedest to avoid San Francisco, but at every scene I hit there cachugging along 'kappow' on next year's Harley chopper, or gazzooming up in daddy's Maserati, would be the ubiquitous San Fran Pee singing, "Cat Man Do, Daddy. Far out."

"Melody," I said one morning. "You know, babe, there are no real answers for me here on the Bay."

"Yeah man?" said Melody. "San Fran Pee has sure been getting to you."

We drove off to the mountains - spent seven idyllic days and nights in the wilderness - then drove on to Denver. Here I changed licence plates and sold the pink Lincoln to a Salvation Used Car Lot. The sale being in a sense the materialisation of Beamish's Roaratuni Expedition cheque, this event marked for me the start of my search for Waretsat. I kissed Melody goodbye, and hugged her, and flew off to Tokyo to buy an 80 watt Sony micro-mini-quadrasonic recorder, a replacement for my 200 watt Ampex pocket stereo which had begun to squeak. Cassette recorders kept bumming out on me, which may seem a minor irrelevancy, but the ramifications of this particular trivia proliferate to affect the fate of nations. Such is the fate of trivia.

Next I flew to Vancouver and made my way up into the Rockies to Granville Cougar's Mountain Farm, where Zakeri was staying. Zak was my yak. He wasn't really mine, and he wasn't strictly a yak. Zak's mother was a yak, and he was raised as a yak, but his father was a holy bull, a zebu.

The wild mountain yak, which in 1758 Linnaeus classified as Bos grunniens, or the "grunting ox", because it grunts rather than moos, is the world's largest variety of cattle. The bull may stand six feet eight at the shoulder, but they are very agile. Grazing at up to 20,000 feet they live higher than any other mammal (bar yeti). Yaks are generally dark in colour, and very shaggy.

Zakeri's mother was a wild Himalayan yak. Zak's father was a Brahma bull, or zebu. Cattle are left to wonder in India. Typically the zebu may be observed wandering trance-like through an Indian market, its mind on higher things, cruising with Krishna past a vegetable stall where snap, it will zap a cabbage, and trot off down the road.

Zak's father wandered where the spirit took him, and up into Nepal where he, and consorted with, met Zak's mother. In the spring, however, she was drawn back to the lands in the sky and returned to the Everest range. There, the following autumn, Zak was born, and spent many happy hours on the top of the world in the warm nurturing space neath his mother’s skirt.

What then was Zak? Yak bulls are commonly crossed in Ladakh with zebu cows to produce a beast known as a zo. But it was Zak's mother who was the yak, his father the zebu, so he was neither yak, zebu, nor zo. He looked like a yak, only he was a small yak, and white.

Perhaps in search of the holy white bull that had sired him, Zak left his shaggy dark cousins at the top of the world, eventually meeting up with me in Turkestan. Something about me attracted Zak. Maybe it was my shaggy white sheepskin coat. Anyway, Zak took to following me, and carrying me. Together we crossed Siberia and the Baring Straits to Alaska - it was autumn - and went on down to British Columbia. However, having reached B.C. things got dicey. Zak took an insurmountable dislike to western city life. He would not tolerate Vancouver’s traffic and fumes and raucous city boredom. He took to chasing cars. So I took him up to sojourn at his friend Granville Cougar's Rocky Mountain Farm. Granville raised mountain goats and grizzlies. (The goats for milk and wool: the bears for export to Alaska's hunting parks.)

Having dropped Zak off to stay with Cougar, I went on to Toronto to take Professor Bookish my nose-harp tapes, and then I drove across America to Monterey, San Francisco, and back to Denver, whence I flew to Tokyo. Now I returned to the Rockies to collect Zak. Together we hitched down to Vancouver, and caught the afternoon flight to the Congo.

Chapter Eight