Welcome to the seventh edition of Fellow Book Benders, a free monthly online newsletter about the ridiculous truth and historical tidbits of San Francisco and the Russian River. Can you spy a glimmer of your yesteryear from these tales? Hold on tight for a slippery ride down memory lane.
A True Story(or so I've been told):
Janice Joplin never thought much of herself, just some chick from Port Arthur with an acne problem and not too much talent. She was the girl nominated as the "ugliest man on campus" while at the University of Texas. When she joined Big Brother & the Holding Company, drummer Dave Getz remembered her as having a bottomless hole in her gut that she forever tried to fill with men, women, whisky and drugs.
One afternoon in 1967, after posing naked for an album cover in the Haight Ashbury bedroom of Big Brother, Janis donned her usual gypsy queen attire--a frilly gown of lace and velvet with many colorful necklaces. She slugged down a couple of Dexedrine caps with a half-pint of Jack Daniels before answering the doorbell.
Terry Hallinan said hello and introduced his date. Janice eyed the bosomy woman and flashed her a grin. A devious scheme began to churn inside Janice's head. As a distraction, Janice convinced Terry to sample some smack. She excused herself, went to the bathroom and drew water from the toilet into her uncapped syringe and mixed it with a dose of heroin. No time for a sterile cooker; no time for heating the concoction and letting it cool; no time to even wash her hands. Janice was feeling amorous.
She hurried back to the living room and without an alcohol swab of Hallinan's vein, Janice tied two condoms together and wrapped the makeshift tourniquet around her guest's upper arm. He pumped his fist to pop out a vein. She injected the used needle close to the wrist but the vein collapsed. Working her way up, Janice found a juicy spot along the same bluish track. The plunger was pushed in and then pulled back until drawing blood. She released the condom-tie and injected slowly.
Hallinan's eyes immediately rolled upward. He collapsed to the floor. The large breasted woman was frantic, thinking her date was nearing death. But Janice simply started to undress her while Hallinan sprawled unconscious at their feet.
"Aren't we naughty girls?" Janice giggled as she led the curvaceous beauty to the back bedroom. Only after they had finished with each other did Janis revive Hallinan with a cold towel.
Girls will be girls!
The Haight Ashbury:
Sun rays pushed their way thru the wisps of fog, which hovered above the lawn of Hippie Hill in San Francisco. During the Summer of Love, protestors, musicians and young people came together to take in the sweet smells. Pass the joint and celebrate, for there was much to be thankful for. On any one day in ’67, you might visit the knoll at the east end of Golden Gate Park and spy Charles Manson wooing a pretty young thing or Captain Trips playing with The Dead or Peter Coyote recruiting troops for his anarchist Diggers.
Drum circles, swirls of smoke and dancing were common scenes, everyone connecting with each other and the universe, dropping acid, throwing out smiles. You might even look up toward the Janis Joplin Tree and catch a wild-eyed girl with her guitar. Hippie Hill and drugs were synonymous, soulmates to the bitter end. Back in the day, many hallucinogens were new on the scene, uncatalogued by government agencies and, therefore, legal and sold openly in headshops without threat of arrest.
The following year the Human Be-In was announced as a gathering of tribes to protest a new California law banning the use of the psychedelic drug LSD. January 14th, 1967, also announced the upcoming Summer of Love. Timothy Leary set the tone for that afternoon with his famous phrase “Turn on, tune in, drop out”. Poets like Allen Ginsberg and Michael McClure took the podium. Dick Gregory, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Jerry Rubin were in attendance, lending their satirical wit to the festival. Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janice Joplin, and The Grateful Dead all performed. Underground chemists provided large quantities of “White Lightning” to the gathering masses.
The Hells Angels and the Summer of Love would appear to have been at opposite ends of the spectrum, right? Sonny Barger and his fellow bikers considered themselves caretakers of the Haight Ashbury when heaven kissed the earth. In 1967 one hundred thousand kids, Vietnam Vets, drop-outs and curiosity seekers descended upon the neighborhood. The deluge was overwhelming and the Angels lent a hand. They provided free security for concerts in Golden Gate Park and elsewhere (such as at Altamont Speedway, which went horribly twisted, but that’s another story). They aided Huckleberry House with the corralling of wayward children. The Diggers enlisted the Angel’s help with the distribution of free food, clothing and medical services. But this turned out to be a smoke screen for their real agenda: cornering the local drug market. Others wanted to cash in as well.
An Oakland mobster by the name of Papa Al and his sidekick, Teddybear, tried to muscle in on the action at the Free Clinic in the Haight during that fateful summer. Papa Al insisted on using the facility to sell his wares, mostly speed and other amphetamines. Dr. Smith, founder of the medical outlet, called Sonny Barger when push came to shove. The outlaw biker soon reached an "understanding" with Papa Al.
I couldn’t resist and have used these characters as well as the famous music producer, Bill Graham, as key pieces for my next novel,Don’t Stop the Music.
Terence Hallinan was the son of Vince Hallinan who ran for President on the Progressive Party ticket and also supported the Soviet Union during the Red Scare. Terence resorted to fisticuffs as a young man to solve his problems. He became a ward of the court and the juvenile system banned him from Marin County. Later as a lawyer he defended serial killer Juan Corona, SLA member Patti Hearst, and Mitchell Brothers porn empire heir James Mitchell. Timothy Leary was a psychologist who taught at Harvard in the early sixties. He believed that LSD possessed therapeutic value and conducted several authorized experiments while at the Ivy League school. During the next fifteen years, he was arrested enough times to see the inside of 36 different prisons worldwide. President Richard Nixon once labeled Leary as "the most dangerous man in America."
The Human Be-In was a gathering to defend the counterculture ideals of the sixties such as communal living, mind expansion through psychedelics, and the questioning of authority. The event's name was a playful spinoff of the sit-ins that were happening around the country to protest segregation. Soon every happening was an "-in" of some sort. Rowan and Martin's t.v. show Laugh-In came on the air followed by the "Yip-In" (N.Y.'s Grand Central Terminal), the "Love-In" (Malibu Canyon), and the "Bed-In" (Amsterdam). All started in '68.
Charles Manson was a thirty-two-year-old ex-con when he drifted into the Haight after being released from McNeil Island Penitentiary. The son of a teenage prostitute, he was another lost soul who blended right in with the runaways, mangled Viet Vets and other casualties of life. Manson had a way about him, preaching love, sounding like God. Women soon flocked to him and the entourage set up a nest at 636 Cole St. near the Free Clinic. More on Charles Manson in a future newsletter when he is accused of murder along the banks of the Russian River.
Dr. David Smith and Peter Coyote's Diggers started the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic. The "Doc" paid for the lease out of his own pocket and scavenged furniture and medical equipment from S.F.'s General Hospital. When mobster Papa Al threatened to take over the practice, the Doc refused to cooperate and started packing a gun. Papa Al put out a contract on the good doctor. Dr. Smith turned to the Hell's Angels for help. The club's leader, Sonny Barger, told the mobster, "You're David Smith's insurance policy. If anything happens to him--if he's hit by a car walking across the street--you're dead." The contract on Dr. Smith was lifted and Papa Al disappeared from the Haight.
Ken Kesey was the author of Sometimes a Great Notion and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Following these commercial successes, he moved to La Honda along the San Francisco peninsula and began experimenting with psychedelics. He hosted many an acid-test party, which were frequented by a variety of regulars who became known as the Merry Pranksters. It is at one of this revelries where Sonny Barger of the Hells Angels met Owsley Stanley, the sound man for The Grateful Dead and renowned LSD chemist. Sonny convinced Owsley that the Angels should be the sole distributor of the hallucinogen in the Haight.
Perhaps you have a story of your own you would like to share with Fellow Book Benders. Go to www.johnmccarty.org and click on "Contact" and tell all. The taller the tale, the more majestic.
Ifyou have enjoyed reading one of my novels, a short review with Amazon http://www.amazon.com would be appreciated. As Red Skelton used to say, "Good night and may God bless."
EVENT ALERT: Meet me at my booth at the Cazadero Craft Faire this Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Cazadero Fire Hall from 10a.m. until 4pm.
In December, we'll explore the Vietnam War: the soldier, the draft dodger and the protestor. Stay tuned. For more information on any of my past novels as well as Don't Stop the Music, you can go to http://www.johnmccarty.org.