Mo’ Music

Here’s the next memoir piece in the “music series.”  It’s set at around the same time as the previous piece, the late 60s.

“Incubator,” “context,” “environment” are all fancy words for the social interactivity that gives shape to your experience and development (more fancy words). When it comes to music, the ordinary word is “scene.”

Enough linguistic philosophy!

I hope you enjoy my remembrance of the scene I came out of.

PS…With the help of some of you, and the reach of Facebook, I reconnected with Gil Schwartz, the guy who taught me how to play lead guitar when we were teenagers. He’s a freelance jazz guitarist, arranger and educator in the NYC area. I’ll be going to one of his gigs soon. Thanks, mates!

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Introduction to Novel

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It’s easy
All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need
  The Beatles (1967)

Good morn or evening friends, this is your friendly announcer
I have serious news to pass on to everybody
What I’m about to say could mean the world’s disaster
Could change your joy and laughter to tears and pain
It’s that
Love’s in need of love today
Don’t delay, send yours in right away
   Stevie Wonder (1976)

These stories concern a mélange of characters who straddled the line between the dominant culture and the underground while trying to make their way in the 1970s. Geographically, the main action unfolds in New York, San Francisco and Honolulu. Our troupe pull together, come apart, make music, make love, philosophize, do business, even get involved in some intrigue. All their activity is lubricated with the inebriants of the time. We’re trying to be realistic here (whatever that might mean). Continue reading “Introduction to Novel”

Welcome to the Business, Part One

San Francisco, California
June, 1977

“This. Is some serious. Reefer. Man.” said Bear, his speech punctuated with quick inhalations. A long exhale followed, concluded by a cough. “You got it goin’ on, man. GOIN’ ON. You have. Honed. Your. Craft.” He laughed, rocking his 6’ 4”, 240-pound frame back and forth on the couch, and let out another cough. “Thank you, thank you, thank you. This weed is dangerous. Fucking dangerous. You have outdone yourself, Monster. And given your track record, that’s impressive.”

Bear and Monster went way back. They were both legendary characters in the burgeoning drug scene of eastern Queens in the late 1960s. The hirsute Bear, a Russian Jew by ancestry, hailed from Flushing. Monster, a rangy, wide-eyed light-skinned Black man with dreadlocks, was from Jamaica. Actually, both Jamaicas. He shuttled between the Trenchtown neighborhood in Kingston and the projects on Foch Boulevard throughout his teenage years. There was speculation that Monster was the first person to bring in Jamaican weed, which supplanted Mexican on the New York market in the early 70s. Monster wasn’t that guy, although he didn’t mind the esteem associated with the rumor. In point of fact, he had left for the West Coast in ‘69 and was cultivating cannabis on the island of Maui two years later. Continue reading “Welcome to the Business, Part One”