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”

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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”

The Supplicant

As I step forward, I glance at the six other people who comprise our standing semi-circle, four on my right, two on my left. We are positioned evenly, about three feet from each other. We had been told to dress in formal garb, as befits members of the academy. The three other men are adorned in tuxedos with peak lapels. The women are dressed in gray peg leg jersey jumpsuits. (This is formal attire?). I am wearing straight leg black jeans and a flowing white silk shirt with a few random streaks of color, like Jackson Pollack was just getting started on a canvass. (Not exactly black tie on my part, I suppose.)

I don’t recall putting on these clothes. I was sitting in the dressing room, looking like the other penguin males and, the next thing I know, I am standing alongside my fellow petitioners in garments that look like they were acquired at Mary Quant’s King’s Road boutique in the early 1960s. Continue reading “The Supplicant”