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The Aquarian Exposition

I post this on the 50th anniversary of Woodstock weekend. 3 Days of Peace and Music. Which in a weird way, came off as advertised.

Max Yasgur acknowledged that in a beautifully understated way in some local TV news footage. “The kids came for music and peace. And that’s what they did.”

Music and peace…and drugs. Lots of weed, hash and psychedelics. This was before the opioid epidemic,  before meth, before crack. More innocent times.

Yeah I was there. Managed to get to that big field on Saturday morning. Immediately got separated from my friend Barry. Dropped a lot of mescaline. Gave a bunch away. Smoked all manner of cannabis with some new friends. 450,000 of them. Nobody imagined there were that many hippies.

Spent the day sleeping in the sun (really), wandering around for some food (couldn’t find any) and stumbled upon an impromptu jam at the Hog Farm. Then saw Janis, Sly and The Who playing Tommy as the sun rose behind them.

Walked away when the big rains came on Sunday morning. Got a ride to the City from a few new friends. Didn’t see Hendrix. Hey almost nobody did. Look at the pictures.

We all had our bands in those days. And all our bands seemed to be at Woodstock. Except The Beatles, Stones and Dylan. Didn’t matter.

The poem below is a dedication to The Revolutionary Ensemble, one of my bands a few years later. On the downtown loft jazz scene, also replete with new friends.

Many of whom I see at memorials these days. The music lives on. Love live the music.

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The Revolutionary Ensemble

random thoughts on hearing
a recording of their last concert
14 years after it was performed

I

they were still great
still working their magic
visiting strange and wonderful places 

it brought back the 
sonic somatic and spiritual 
experience that was 
the Revolutionary Ensemble
in the 1970s

you’re riding along 
as they get deeper and deeper 
into a section
then you realize
they’ve taken the music 
somewhere else
and it’s like
how long have we been here?

Continue reading “The Revolutionary Ensemble”

Bobby Faust

We were having breakfast when I brought up Bobby. It was the last weekend of January 2019. The fifth anniversary of his death was days away. I’m a big anniversary guy. Not so much celebrating them as thinking about them. So I shared that I was thinking about Bobby with my dear friends Christine and Nancy.

At my suggestion, Bobby had gone into therapy with Christine. That was 2013. He was still bumming about his break up with Kim, the last love of his life, which had occurred many years before. I thought he could use a change of scene and a creative sympathetic ear. Besides, the therapy center was an easy walk from his house, even for a slow moving little guy. Bobby did a few months of weekly individual sessions with Christine, even went into a group for a while.

At breakfast, Christine was saying what a giving and honest person Bobby had been. “I thought it would be a good idea for him to share his struggles growing up as a dwarf. He said he didn’t want to do that, it would be laying a trip on the group.”

I said “Yeah, I was friends with the guy for almost fifty years and I recall him talking about that maybe once or twice. Stories about his parents taking him around to quack doctors. I feel for his folks. His father proposed to his mom, the local pizza place girl, promising her a piece of the American Dream. Which he delivered on, financially. But they have a child and the kid just won’t grow. It’s the mid-1950s. What are they to do? Hey, it’s not surprising he was an only child.”

“He was a weed dealer, right?” Nancy asked. Bobby was also reluctant to tell his group about that. He eventually did, and immediately got a couple of new customers. Christine said Bobby once asked her to leave the room for a minute so he could complete a transaction. Sounds like Bobby. Continue reading “Bobby Faust”

Tom the vet (january 2019)

he’s standing near the subway entrance
at 44th and 8th
a thin white man
medium height with bright eyes
dressed in slightly worn blue jeans
and a nice striped shirt
that he’s had on
for a few too many days

he’s underdressed for the mild winter day
holding a 5 by 8 piece of lined white paper
wants money no doubt
seems to be in his 30s
but you never can tell

he says his name is Tom and is a vet
i’m thinkin’ iraq war

as he speaks i notice his bad teeth
misaligned with maybe one missing
not quite the british look
more west virginia

he runs his script
like a ball rolling down a hill
bumping along
haltingly picking up steam

he occasionally points to the paper
which has letters and numbers
in several sizes shapes colors
and handwritten fonts

he lives in a vet shelter in new jersey
can stay there as long as he’s workin’
just lost his job
went to the city for a couple of interviews
thinks he maybe landed a gig in brooklyn
gotta get back to the shelter now

he says he got MS
from his mom
who had it before him
the disease usually skips
a generation
but didn’t in his case

he likes this corner we’re on
it’s as far from port authority as he can handle
but a straight shot down 8th avenue
to get back there

it’ll cost him twenty nine fifty to get home
nineteen fifty for one bus, ten dollars for another
he shows this to me
on the piece of paper
written proof

i hand him thirty bucks
his face lights up like a kid
who just got a case of candy

he asks where he can get
something cheap to eat
i point down 44th toward 9th
there’s a pizza place
right off the corner

he hesitates
says i don’t want to
lose this corner
i say it’s one block there
and one block back

as he slowly walks away
i notice his limp