Linda Lovely’s Journal – January 1966.

Voices from the Haight #2

paisleylinda

The original Linda Lovely has given me permission to post portions from her letters and journals of the Haight-Ashbury period. The photo above was taken about a week before these entries begin…

January 1, 1966 Saturday

Last night was cold and frosted.  I kept trying to get into the bathtub – always someone wanting to use the toilet.  Cold water and cramps and Rolling Stones full volume.  Menthol cigarettes, my trip for the new year, velvets and bangs and opera hose.

Cold, icy Haight Street.  Michael, Diane, Chris and me four abreast to Psychedelic Bookstore.  Books and every record the hip society demands and the proper splashy paintings and the proper Ravi Shankar music.  And paisley.  This is a year for paisley…proper paisley.

Party on Fillmore Street.  Sunset Strip cellar.  Micheal’s face pulling and pinching together tight.  He tolerates the place, puts on a front of enjoying himself.  Diane with a baggy camel coat knife eyes everyone through her glasses with one lens gone.  Plastic turned up frames and missing one lens she darts her eyes about never missing anything chewing on wisps of metallic hair.  She appears frumpy to me all night, the coat, the shoulder strap leather bag, the low heels and glasses and her face never is consistent with the rest of her.  Her face defys you to come to any conclusions whatsoever about her.  She dares everyone to judge her at all.  She is without expression most of the time.  You never know what she might be thinking.

Then to the Matrix and watched the Charlatans, George Hunter dancing and springing about the stage looking like the devil himself.

January 10 Monday

Flu.  True humor begins when a man ceases to take himself seriously. (Pablo – Steppenwolf)

Nightime

Chris brought me a canvas.  I have been begging for oils and canvas for months.  Now – why do I panic?  It frightens me just to think of painting on that huge black empty space.

January 16, Sunday

A delightful Golden Gate Park day and inside De Young Museum I go.  Lost in the paneled rooms and stained glass windows and Saint Peter statues – everything so old – I for the first time Wow I really believed.  Comprehended the time, the years, medevil religious feeling was there and I let it take me for hours (just a visual and down in the stomach between my ribs trip.) A feeling of hushed reverence for everything I saw.  And for everything I saw – a window or tapestry – there was music in my mind to go with it.  And a castle or German sitting room or candle burning church.

This final ability for involvement is due to grass, I am sure – the involvement with sun shining through an 18th century chandelier, just digging it for the longest time is like on grass crawling inside a string quartet or Beatles music, nothing else exists and so whatever I am concentrating on I feel, see and am wholly and completely.  To do this on will or spontaneously is a great thing to me.  You know, I’ve always been too hung up with me before to even begin to go beyond to anything else.  Even a movie.  I gave so little attention to in the pre-days, the dog days.

Awareness of self first always but not to stay on that trip for 20 years.  Aware of self, dig self, work with self – then jump out of self and be free.

Voices From The Haight #1: A Walk Through San Francisco, Dec. 26, 1967

Continuing on my theme of recreating the sixties-era Haight-Ashbury as I actually knew it, as opposed to the mountains of hype that have been generated about it, I’m going to post some contemporary accounts – written by people who lived there – while they lived there.   Let’s start with Walrus Pemmican…

I knew Walrus well.  At the time of this letter, he had fallen on hard times.  Nearly twenty-six years old, he had finally split for good from his beautiful wife Linda Lovely.  He was living a cheap rooming house on Divisadero Street.  He called it The Black Hotel.  He had just lost his job at the post office when the authorities discovered he couldn’t load trucks because he had a serious heart murmur. He missed his four year old daughter desperately.  He visited her nearly every night to read her bedtime story.

I guess he was feeling more on the ‘On your own with no direction home’ side of life than the ‘All you need is love’ side.  He’d gone home for Christmas the day before, where someone had snapped the photo that graces this page.  Today he is back on Diviz…

12-26-67

Hi girl –

Back in the city, I am sitting on my fire-escape in the sultry dusk overlooking Divisadero – drinking Spur malt liquor and watching curly black heads pass between my feet – what a summer day it is!  Who would imagine this to be the day after Christmas!  Folks drinking beer on their front steps, kids rollin by, the tops down on their convertibles, the aroma of beans and pepper drifting up to me from Bishop’s Soul Food below in the pinkening twilight.  What a sweet day.

Today I ran errands – I stirred up the dust in my room and reshuffled my books and pencils and tapes, then ran down to Market St. – walking up and down in the December heat, doing errands – took my old Smith-Corona to be cleaned and repaired – $17.50 it will be, then to the bank, deposited my P.O. wages $151 dollars – it will be gone in 4 days, I’ll pay some bills, give you some bread,  and phoosh, gone – but that’s all right, ma.

The girl at the bank window knows me, she tells me about her real five-course American dinner (she’s Greek), then back up steaming Market St.  I stop to eat some pineapple cottage cheese in front of the laundromat, and wander into all those hi-fi stores, to stare at things I lust for – 500 tape recorders you can stick in your pocket and catch the lion’s roar, the smirk of the savant  – I visit Gyro Gearloose (ed. note: Rodney Albin) in his shop, making an electric violin, his ability with his hands fascinates me, I feel out of place in a place of hands, he shows me his latest lovely dulcimer, plaintive, hearts carved into the wood…

This day – I visit John Chance, but he is not home, so I walk through the magic Panhandle – every tree is golden today, every shape perfect, a park for lovers – I meet Peter Albin, he is going to play with Chuck Berry this weekend, to me it seems like a great honor but he takes it in his stride – used to playing with the great I guess – His wife, Cynthia, is dressed in an amazing violet Pucci print and looks twelve months pregnant, she stands apart, waiting for Peter to finish his jiving, then they walk on through the golden day.  I walk on, stop at Diane Warne’s; not home.

So now I sit in the deepening day.  It’s purple now, and I feel Spur in my brain.  Saxophones cry up from below – I love you woman – Tell me your day now.

WP

I wonder if Walrus ever got that tape recorder that would capture ‘the smirk of the savant’.  It must have been really sensitive.