Norman Allan
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Art and Fiction

Chapter 5.

Breakfast in Des Moines. Last dollars. Back in the Lincoln I extracted the T.V. from its housing between the liquor cabinet and the back-seat sounds. I pawned it for petrol and pocket money. Replete, I continued westward.

Now, prior to my drive across America in Bookish’s pink Lincoln Continental I was in no way Messianic. I had no mission. But by the time I drove through salt Lake City my views had began to change.

I had been driving the freeways of America for two days and nights. It was three days since I had slept. My encounter with Professor Bookish, Roaratuni, lost chords, SoundEculture, Salvationism, lapped and slapped back and forth across the pond of my mind, punctuated by the glare of on-coming headlights, and the occasional rise to the surface of libidinous fish.

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"Musical foci in ancient Egypt? I wonder if that girl, Cher, with the beautiful pair in Denver is still round? Did Templeton really cancel Beamish, or is he saving him for future use?" That Templeton was exploiting the final and most sacred of human experiences, death, scandalised me. Having met Templeton face to face, and feuding with him now over Beamish's ten thousand dollar cheque, I felt myself to be personally at war with Salvationism. A dozen times I fancied myself driving the pink Lincoln up the stairs into Templeton's main California office to denounce him with words so telling that all who heard them... "Mmmm, let's leave the intercom open and somehow broadcast it round the whole building..."

My thoughts kept returning to the magic lost tribe, the Wheritzat, the origins of jazz. Perhaps their magic stemmed from their music. Music can move roses. Make gardens blossom. Music can make men flower too.

"We need a higher Woodstock. Festivals are the answer. A space in which to celebrate life and learn the lessons of living together, of sharing, peace and love. Turning the world into a garden."

But to make a garden you have to control the land, and to control the land you have to have money. To put on festivals takes money. But festivals make money. My head buzzed.

I drove through Salt Lake City on the fifth of December. Brigham Young, the founding Mormon father, had planned Salt Lake City to be a garden of a new and better world, a city through which "flows an unfailing stream of pure, sweet water spreading life, verdure and beauty over what was heretofore a barren waste." But the Salt Lake City that I found on my dash across America was just another urban sprawl and Mammon, not Mormon, called the tune.

"Even so," I thought, "even so. If you have the right music you can move people and begin to build!" But it seemed you need vast financial resources to consolidate, to hold on to what you build. Driving through Salt Lake City I found a mission. I would go to Roaratuni to search for the source of music, music that might lead us back to whereitsat.

I had found a mantra too, which went like this: "A hundred thousand million billion grand."

Chapter Six