Glamorpusses of the Haight #2: Lori Helms

Ah, Lori Hayman Helms.  So beautiful she was.  And probably still is.

Lori was Chet Helm’s wife, but he got all the glory.  Chet was the outgoing, easygoing impresario with the Texas accent who founded Big Brother and the Holding Company, then went on to pioneer the weekly rock dances at the Avalon Ballroom.  Without Chet and the Family Dog, the Haight-Ashbury as we remember it never would have happened.  So Chet got all the press, all the glory.  Lori got nothing but grief.

I remember their big wedding bash in December, 1965.  Chet rented a hall in the Mission somewhere and everybody was there in their finest thrift store finery.  What a scene! My date Linda Lovely wore the black beaded flapper dress I’d scored for her at a thrift shop in Virginia City.   I knew only my belted maroon velvet smoking jacket, my striped bell bottoms – wool, very classy – my high collared, mod navy blue shirt with its tiny white flowers scattered in every direction, my long flowing Pondering Pig locks and, of course, my shiny black Beatle boots, de rigueur in the era, only these could match the splendor of the occasion.

The hippies’ own rock band, The Charlatans, were on form that night, playing the most danceable rock ‘n roll in the City That Knows How, and all the hippies were sweatin’ it out on the dance floor.  I ran into my pal Peter Kraemer and he introduced me to his new guitar-playing friend Terry MacNeil. They were writing songs together and getting ready to start a band called the Sopwith Camel.   Peter had never sang a note in his life as far as I remember  – he was an aspiring filmmaker – but why should that stop him?  He was clever, he wrote funny lyrics and, hey, George Hunter, leader of The Charlatans, couldn’t even play an instrument.  He’d taken up autoharp so he could hold something onstage.  This was 1965, man.  Possibility was rife!

What a party! Chet was floating, pot was smoking, pigs were dancing, punch was drinking – where was Lori?

I hope she was smiling.

Lori was a sweetheart and as beautiful as Jean Shrimpton (for those who came in late, The Shrimp was the most famous English Supermodel of the era) but watching Lori was like watching a living Antonioni film –  quiet, with big lost eyes. She was hurting inside, even I could see that – but what it was I never knew. She kept her heart hidden. Lori wasn’t unique – it’s funny how many gorgeous bohemians I knew with hearts like that  – the Valium generation.

Oh, one more little memory – about eight months earlier I moved into a two-story flat on Page Street. Chet and Lori were living in the attic, the nicest room in the house, and Chet was running the place.   What I particularly remember was their cat – a fat tortoiseshell named Hecate. Hecate – the goddess of witchcraft, right? Appropriate for a cat. And you could also pronounce it, “Heah, kitty.”

I’ve heard vaguely that today Lori is a Shakespearean scholar of some renown. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t seen the kid in forty years. God bless her – and that goes for all you Haight-Ashbury girls.

Photo by Marilyn Jones McGrew


A Poster For Bo Diddley

Here’s a poster Alton Kelley (and Stanley Mouse) did for Bo Diddley, the pioneer rocker who followed Kelley into the great unknown yesterday. Bo Diddley was already legendary in 1966, one of the legends of our youth. He invented the bo diddley beat. It sounded so simple when you listened to it, but it was hard or impossible for aspiring rockers to pull off — that relentless driving cross the night.

I was still in high school in 1959 when my more intelligent Palo Alto girl friend introduced me to its grinding, insinuating rhythm, although we were sitting in her parent’s living room with all the lights on. She flipped on her new LP and swung it into “Hey, Bo Diddley”, then the one I couldn’t get out of my head for weeks, “Diddley Didlley Diddley Diddley Daa-aah-die”. Bless you, girl. By 1966, when he appeared at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco, he’d already finished his first brush with fame, and was on the comeback trail. Actually, Bo wasn’t particularly rave among the hippies and promoter Chet Helms took a chance by booking him. But the Paul Butterfield Blues Band had blown the hippies away when they arrived in San Francisco the preceding spring. The Chicago masters soon followed in their wake – Muddy Waters and James Cotton became San Francisco regulars, and an unknown named Steve Miller (The Steve Miller Blues Band in those days) showed up a little later. So by the time of this July concert the pump had been primed to go beyond Chicago blues…and into the Chicago bo diddley beat.

On Meeting Chet Helms

I suspect most readers will recognize the name Chet Helms. He was a seminal figure of Sixties San Francisco and a friend. Unusual for The Pondering Pig, we’re turning over the space today to a reminiscence of Chet written by another friend, Greg Hoffman of San Mateo, California. I met Greg one night nearly three years ago when he called to interview me about my early memories of Chet. Since then, he has interviewed nearly two hundred sixties survivors and family members as he researches the first authorized, authoritative biography of the man. Here’s Greg Hoffman…

At precisely 6:00 p.m. on November 9, 2004, Chet Helms closed the door of his small, cluttered, ground floor apartment on the corner of Bush and Mason in San Francisco and stepped out into the damp, bone-chilling air.

He was wearing a pair of thick-soled, black shoes; baggy, wrinkled khakis and a heavy black coat that was buttoned up to his neck, around which was wrapped a bright red scarf. A black bowler was perched atop his head which was ringed by his flowing, white hair and long, white beard. He looked like someone who might have fallen out of the pages of a Dickens novel.

Chet crossed Bush Street and continued down the steep Mason Street hill to Sutter, where he turned left. A half-block later, he entered the Hotel Rex and walked past the reception desk into the spacious, dimly-lighted lobby that doubles as the hotel’s bar in the evening. There were a dozen people, mostly couples, scattered throughout the room, talking quietly. Several of the patrons nodded at Chet and he acknowledged the greetings with a smile and a small wave.

He carefully folded his tall frame into a straight-backed chair at a small, round table near the center of the room and crossed his legs. Once settled, he slowly unbuttoned his coat and removed his scarf, which he draped across his lap.

A few minutes later, a young, Asian barmaid approached the table. Chet ordered a cup of hot tea and honey. His soft, deep voice carried the hint of a Texas accent. His enunciation of each word, of each syllable, was impeccable.

The waitress soon returned with a delicately-patterned, ceramic tea pot, a matching cup and saucer, a spoon and a small container of honey.

“Thank you,” Chet said, almost inaudibly, but with unmistakable sincerity. He didn’t just say it, he meant it.

He spent the next several minutes meticulously preparing his cup of tea. His movements, from pouring the water to spooning and stirring the honey, were excruciatingly deliberate and almost hypnotically graceful. It was as if he was performing some sort of ancient, sacred ritual that required a precise choreography.

When he finished, he encircled the tea cup with his large right hand, raised it to his lips and took a small, exploratory sip. Satisfied that he had achieved the desired result, he gently placed the cup back onto the saucer, leaned back and laced his fingers together across his ample stomach.

Then he did something he loved to do, something at which he was well-practiced, masterful and indefatigable.

Chet Helms began to talk.

He began to talk about himself.

Greg Hoffman is inaugurating his own blog. He”ll devote it to tales of the people he meets and stories he hears on the research trail. It’s got to be good – The Chet Helms Chronicles: Documenting A Life.
Better bookmark it.

Kaffke Of The Comsymps

Of all the freaks who congregated at the second table left of the front door of San Francisco State’s Commons, the most unique was a pugnacious little guy named Bob Kaffke (Koff-key). If there ever was a man born to be investigated by the FBI, Kaffke was he. He had a one-track mind and that track was non-stop revolutionary socialism. And at our table he had a congenial, or at least non-judgmental audience.

The Commons was not a village green where the the peasants kept sheep at night, but rather a big noisy cafeteria filled with cigarette smoke and students of every variety smoking them. Jocks, business majors, drama majors, art students, blacks, Asians, sorority sisters – every group had a corner and one, two, three tables that were theirs and nobody else sat at them. Unless it was raining or something.

After the student strike in 1968, President S.I. Hayakawa tore the building down, making the pithy comment: “The Commons breeds revolution.” Replaced it with the Student Union – lots of little rooms where groups stay isolated. But in its day, the Commons was the intellectual and cultural ignition point for everything that was Happening in San Francisco. Don’t let those Berkeley people tell you anything different. Plus you could get a bowl of chili with extra soda crackers for thirty-five cents.

Funny to think of us all after so long. The peacenik table in those early years — ’61, ’62, ’63. We were lit majors, polly sigh majors, philosophy majors and biology majors, mostly dressed in beat war surplus peacoats or field jackets and scruffy beards or Cost Plus Guatemalan peasant skirts with handmade sandals and maybe a wool flannel stadium coat- (the kind that had toggles and leather loops instead of buttons) against the foggy San Francisco afternoon. Plus more young guys who didn’t attend classes at all, but took the M car out to State to hang in the Commons and eat chili. Future founder of the Family Dog Chet Helms was one regular visitor.

Vietnam was just a worry in the left wing weeklies. The Freedom Rides were beginning but their struggle seemed far away in the south somewhere. Ban the Bomb: that was the issue of the day. The government had restarted atmospheric testing of H-Bombs at their Nevada test site. Radioactive clouds were drifting over the little cowtowns of the west and heading for Vegas. Doctors found Strontium-90 in middle class American mother’s milk. “Perfectly harmless,” said the middle class American fathers in Washington.

Then there was Cuba. Fidel Castro was nationalizing all the American-owned sugar plantations and the US was unhappy about it. Kennedy decided to embargo all trade between the US and Cuba, import or export. That would hurt the Cubans good. Still, there are limits to pain. According to legend, Kennedy purchased 5000 Cuban cigars for his personal use immediately before ordering the embargo. (It’s still in place after nearly fifty years – did it work?)

The cold war was full bore. Commies! Fidel was a Commie, get it? Now those evil Svengalis were were only ninety miles away. Anything could happen! And most likely, anything included an American invasion of Cuba followed by a rain of nuclear warheads and the end of civilization. That’s how I figured it.

Redbaiting was also full bore. Complaining about the imminent possibility of nuclear rain was tantamount to admitting you were a communist in some people’s minds. A fellow-traveler. One of those students the evil Svengalis liked to dupe! A Comsymp! I was sure that J. Edgar Hoover had my picture in his files.

Yet what had I done? I was an English major, but I preferred to spend my afternoons singing folk music on the lawn in front of The Commons like a peacock spreading his plumage. Calling all girls – look, a beautiful, sensitive poetic folksinger come to serenade you. Come, sit down beside me. But death was lurking in the clouds. Maybe we’d better sit inside.

In my simplicity, it seemed to me if a country wanted to be communist, they should be able to do whatever they want. It’s their country. And, in 1962, it looked very much like we were about to invade Cuba and take ’em down. I thought it was a classic case of the big schoolyard bully pushing his weight around, and this cocky little one foot tall midget Fidel Castro lighting another cigar and blowing smoke in the bully’s face just before he got creamed. So we would listen to Kaffke’s tirades with tolerance and a certain measure of agreement.

He was not the centerpiece of our table by any means. But he had a ferocious intensity and a lack of humor that placed him apart. His one subject was humorless dead ahead radical socialist politics. Unilateral versus bilateral disarmament. Pacifism. Conspiracy. Bay of Pigs. FBI agents under your bed. Always serious, never getting the joke, always dead set on his fixed idea – some vague revolution sometime somewhere that would lead to world peace and kindness and gentle lambs. Except first a big satisfying bloody revolution.

It’s not like I thought revolution was a bad idea, but Cuba was a long way away man, and I had gotten my girlfriend pregnant during the summer. Now we were married and making each other’s lives miserable, and the future looked like death coming in a little apartment. The Commons was my lifeline to the cool world. I needed it bad. The little lambs would have to wait till I got off work. For me, Kaffke was part of the entertainment.

I wondered about the guy though. Sometimes he’d drop teasers about his past – he’d fought in Korea and received a Purple Heart. He’d been a boxer, fought under the name Ruby, and someone had put him in a novel.

He was diabetic – I saw his syringe and little vials of insulin in a kit he always carried with him. Yet in spite of the disease he had ridden horseback through Mexico from San Blas up to Tepic and beyond, camping out in the jungle and the banana plantations.

OK, maybe he was cool after all. Because THAT was cool.

He’d been married a couple of times and had a daughter – 13 or 14. The idea of one of us having a teenager astonished me. I was thinking about my own little kid to come. What will it be like to have a kid? I imagined us living in Greenwich Village and having lunch at a sidewalk cafe. She was ten in my daydream and I was a famous young novelist. No wife in sight! Or maybe I’d be a big English professor at San Francisco State and own an imposing house in the hills near Buena Vista Park and there she is getting on the 43 Roosevelt bus — off to the Conservatory of Music for her violin lesson.

Kaffke was a spectre of my personal nightmare, I think. What if I got to be thirty-five and I still was living with my parents and had nothing better to do than take the streetcar out to State and sit in the Commons all day. The horror!

Castro loomed large in Kaffke’s cosmology. One day he got into an argument with a passing Business major. I remember him saying emphatically, “Castro…he is a Saint!” Caught me up, because a day or two before Kaffke was defending his Catholic faith and described himself as a true believer. No, he was a Fidelista first and last in the years I knew him. Cuba Si! Yanqui No! He showed us an incoherent document he had written attacking the American embargo on Cuba, and I began to wonder if he had a screw loose. That would explain things! Yet, although he never graduated he told us he had over 150 units to his credit. That’s a lot of incoherent but passing term papers. No, he wasn’t crazy in that way. Just mad – really mad inside.

One time Kaffke disappeared and we heard he had a job teaching high school in Angel’s Camp, a little town up in the Gold Rush country. Math or civics or something. He lasted about four months, then one morning there he was, back at the table. As an exercise in civic responsibility, Bob had his students write letters to Kennedy criticizing his Cuba policy. The town fathers gave him 24 hours to get out of town.

What motivated a guy like that? I’ve often wondered. Was he making a principled protest against American colonial attitudes? Was he seeking personal glory? Was he just trying to make a buck? How did he support his daughter? Did he go down to the FBI office and report on the gossip around the Peacenik’s table?

I knew J. Edgar Hoover was convinced we were a threat to the American way! What a laugh! We couldn’t even get to our next class on time. The Free Speech Movement at Berkeley – which really kicked off the massive student protest phase of the Sixties, was still a couple years away.

I knew plenty of Communists, older guys who would come out to campus and make speeches about class struggle sometimes. They had gnarled up little minds with one fixed idea, an obsession with a worker-ruled economy that just didn’t fit the world I saw growing around me. They were just part of the entertainment. The chances of being duped by them were zero. But Kaffke was a generation older than me. Maybe they still made sense to him.

I wasn’t surprised when Kaffke hit the front page of the paper on July 1, 1963. He was giving an exclusive telephone interview from Havana. My journal for the day simply notes: “So Kaffke and Lorie (Cantrell) actually made it. They’re in Cuba, by way of Paris and The Prague. He’s described as ‘a 35 year old art student from S.F. State’. He’s an art student? He’s thirty-five?” They were staying at the “luxurious” Hotel Riviera, guests, along with 57 other students, of Fidel Castro. The students were on a “fact-finding mission”, checking out for themselves if Castro had horns. I think they decided he didn’t. The article didn’t mention who paid for their tickets.

Photo Credits:
Bob Kaffke photo: Days of Rage (Memoirs of the Sixties)

J. Edgar Hoover; Women Strike For Peace Picketers – Library of Congress
Castro & Khruschev:
Peace Symbol: No Nukes North
Hands Off Cuba: Mary Ferrell Foundation

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Last Days of Playland-at-the-Beach

Note: This is Part 3 of the Playland Story. It’s full of occult hippies and glamorous pop stars and stuff you’ll want to read about — but if you came in late, you might want to start with What Happened to Playland at the Beach? just below.

By the mid-Sixties, Playland at the Beach had lost it’s magic, even for me, and certainly for the Whitney family who owned the park. After George Whitney Sr., its entrepreneurial genius and founder, died in 1958, the family business slowly disintegrated in law suits and ill will, with the children — able people in their own right — battling their mother who still controlled the park and who finally forced them out of management roles.

If I ever went to Playland, it was late at night, probably with a carload of hippies who had the munchies. The Pie Shop still sold fourteen kinds of pie, and the Hot House next door still sold enchiladas we could eat sitting on the seawall across the highway. Skateland, the roller skating rink across Balboa Street from the Midway held on, and George Whitney’s collection of Victorian fortune telling mechanical gypsies, peep shows, steam pianos, and a working toy carnival made entirely out of toothpicks were still on exhibit, but somehow they weren’t trippy any more.

Yet, in 1969, as the old world of Playland ebbed, across the street the brave new plant of San Francisco pop culture was sending out a hot tendril.

The Family Dog, the rock dance commune centered around original hippie Chet Helms, lost its lease on their Avalon Ballroom headquarters and moved west, out to the beach, out to a rickety wooden building where generations of San Franciscans had come to eat fried chicken, roller skate, play with their slot cars and now…dance to the Grateful Dead.

Soon longhaired freakos, velvet swathed teen heart throbs, spotty faced boys and undercover narcs were converging on the fog-shrouded building across the street from the kiddie sailboats dripping in the foggy night dew. The guys running the ski-ball concession looked at each other incredulously as Pigpen’s blues organ drew the few lingering drunks across the street.

Monday nights acid guru Steven Gaskin was filling the same hall with a kind of revival meeting for hippies called the Monday Night Class. I can’t beat Albert Bates description: “Monday Night Class became a weekly pilgrimage of throngs of hippies from up and down the coast, from high schools and university campuses, from army bases and police academies, from mountain communes and Haight Street crash pads. Thousands of people, in various states of consciousness, came with tamborines and diaphanous gowns, love beads and bangles, Dr. Strange cloaks and top hats with feathers. The open-ended discussions ventured into Hermeneutic geometry, Masonic-Rosicrucian mysticism, Ekenkar and the Rolling Stones, but opened with a long, silent meditation and closed with a sense of purpose.”

Gaskin was teaching the kids the original Huxley-Alpert-Leary hippie vision of LSD as a life-changing sacrament, not a thrill ride or a Friday night high. Challenging them to change their lives, not just trip. And the continued success of The Farm after nearly forty years implies he was to some degree successful at it.

I could never take him seriously though. Not his fault – but to me he was just good old Steve Gaskin, my hip grad student acquaintance at SF State who had a teaching assistantship in creative writing, I think. I remember when he came back from Mexico absolutely charged with psychedelic adrenalin. The guy had had a life-changing experience down there and he was telling everybody who would listen. But I wouldn’t. Like Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honor, except to his old pals.” Or something like that. But basically I thought Steven was okay.

But there were all those other guys climbing onstage at the Avalon. OK, I’m not a big swami fan, and my prejudice colors the rest of this picture. I was at the Avalon the night Allen Ginsberg introduced Swami Bhaktivedanta on stage. He was the guy who introduced the Hara Khrisna movement to the West. The two of them chanted Hare Krishna together for a while, and clicked their little bells and Om-ed it. I thought “Hmmmm… is there something in this?”. It was interesting. I’ve still got the poster for that night in a box under my bed along with a lot of other remnants of that life.

Well, it turned out there was something in it. There was macrobiotic food and colon cleansing and kundalini force for the masses and Esalen Human Potential Seminars, Khrisna Consciousness with extra child abuse for no charge, The Children of God, Werner Erhard, transcendental levitation and the whole soggy descent into dopey earnest astrological unreason that has plagued the rest of the twentieth century. Thanks a lot, Allen. Thanks a lot, Chet, for letting that fakir onstage.

Hmm, I seem to be wandering off here. Just to wrap up the obvious, the hard beat Sixties I had entered as a seventeen year old kid were over. Playland would be closed and ripped down in 1972. The Family Dog was going broke. And the soft and goushy, it’s-all-about-me Seventies were on us. Help! Run!

Photo 1: Playland’s End. September 24, 1972. Photo by Patrushka.
Photo 2: Site of Playland today. Photo by Patrushka.

Famous People I Never Knew #2: Janis Joplin

(Here’s Janis as a normal person, shot by my friend Herb Greene about 1966 and rights owned by him.)
In the Fall of 1966 I was living with a bunch of freaks at 626 Clayton Street, about four doors up from the circus that was San Francisco’s Haight Street. I didn’t actually want to go to the circus everyday. But Haight Street was home. All my friends were there and where else would I go?

I’d walk down to the corner to get a sandwich or a bran muffin or something and get engulfed in a sea of strangers, kids from LA and Vermont and all points in between, spare-changing like I’d done just a few years before and looking bedraggled and innocent, foolish as lambs.

Where was my nice Haight Street of the year before when you could walk in the red neon fog at midnight and see maybe two or three other freaks on the street? Where I knew everybody and everybody I knew was cool? Where nobody was checking if it was true smoking dried banana peels could get you high.

“Hey, Donovan said so, man…”

The Diggers, a radical, anarchical, poetical offshoot of the San Francisco Mime Troop, were already beginning to give away free food in the Golden Gate Park Panhandle just to bless the sixteen year old runaways a little bit. Somebody had to.

The Pondering Pig is not a cynical pig but he was beginning to wish the newspapers would stop writing about hippies all the time.

And the Summer of Love was still nine months away. Gad!

I split the Clayton Street flat’s rent with Melanie Kinkead (I use her real name because I hope someday she will read this and write back, “Here I am – I’m OK!”) — I loved Lanie, so sweet and sad and vulnerable. She affected the ultra-feminine side of hippie dress, with frills and flounces, hair in a tumble of curls, masses of eye shadow, miniskirts with white tights and and possibly even Mary Jane shoes. Or I may be hallucinating here – my memory doesn’t really extend to Lanie da Kink’s shoes. In any case, think Mary Pickford circa 1915. Mel was the daughter of a San Francisco travel writer and PR guy. Robin and his wife didn’t know what to make of their ultrafeminine (can a heterosexual girl be described as effeminate?) daughter. Once they invited me to their swank Pacific Heights flat for dinner and to discuss what could possibly make her tick. I hadn’t a clue either. I just loved her like a big dumb older brother. Just not enough to protect her from her fate.

Besides Lanie, we split the rent with Diane W., who was already exploring the joy of putting crystal amphetamine in her arm; Alice, a pleasant plump stranger with a big dog; and some kids in the front – I had no idea who they were — Teens from LA who were here to drop acid in large quantities and wear striped bell-bottoms. Well, it takes all kinds. I think Way Out Willy and his dog Arthur lived there too.

Alice’s major weakness was she let her big black lab shit in the hallway or kitchen or wherever the dog happened to be and then let the dogshit lie on the floor for days until somebody, usually Melanie, cleaned it up. Taking a dog for a walk involved walking, which was often physically impossible.

Kvetch kvetch – what’s a little dogshit? “Peace, man. Don’t be so uptight.”

I think my trouble was I was getting older, and, at 24, I had seen a lot. I had decided to finish school and, with Revolver spilling sitar notes full volume down the hall, I was trying to write a paper on William Wordsworth or somebody. I burned Japanese incense all day and covered the doorway to my room with an Indian print bedspread. I had a daughter lived up the street with her mom. I was hoping to get back together with Linda if we could just stop fighting continuously and every minute.

I thought literary criticism was the world’s most stupid activity but a great introduction into the absurdity of life, – hey, just read the book! But I did tend to prefer the company of Will Wordsworth to the kids in the front.

So I wasn’t in, like a totally psychedelic place, dig?

Groan. But sometimes Haight Street was still cool. It wasn’t the Summer of Love yet and I still could run into cool people whenever I walked out. I suddenly remember talking to Phil Lesh like that one night, so excited about his new life with the Grateful Dead and just boiling over with enthusiasm. Or Chet Helms walking up the street handing out posters for whomever was appearing at the Avalon that weekend and we’d talk briefly about his split with Bill Graham or something.

Or like Janis Joplin. One day I was standing in line at the Hibernia Bank around the corner on Haight Street and there was Janis standing in line a couple of people ahead of me. She was carrying a bag of groceries. I had no impulse to run up saying “Oh Miss Joplin, I just love your ultimate forever take on Take it, Take Another Little Piece of My Heart Now Bay-bay.” Although I did, and do. I was cool. Cool people stayed cool. It was still just a normal day, even though Big Brother was already the hottest attraction at the Avalon because of her. We were still all just young people sorting out our lives and her way led to an exploding burnout nova death. Bah, humbug. I’d rather remember her standing in line at the bank with her little bag of groceries and all the future ahead.

I was cool but when I got back to the pad, I still said to Melanie, “Hey Mel, guess who was standing in line at the bank with me today – Janis Joplin!”

When I Was Twenty in San Francisco

Golden Gate Park.
August, 1962

There’s a guy going to interview me tonight for his book on San Francisco rock impresario Chet Helms. I think the main reason he wants to talk with me is that I’m still here with memory intact. And I knew Chet back at the beginning – 1962, 1963.

So I’ve been digging around in the backfiles of my mind today turning over events of forty years ago when I was twenty years old in North Beach, twenty-two years old in the Haight-Ashbury, married to Linda Lovely, baby on the way and in my arms.

I can walk down the hallways – look in every room. I can tell you what Allen Cohen was wearing the day Laurie Sarlat blew through the front door of 1736 Page Street into our lives – but I can’t tell anyone what any of it meant. Just a collection of images in my mind, some clear, some fuzzy.

Why do I bother? Because I gotta pay my debts, I guess. I wish I knew.

The writer will be calling from California at 7:30 tonight. I’ll let you know.