A lotta freaks

Watched an old Dick Cavett show from August 1969 and the Jefferson Airplane, fresh from Woodstock, were fierce. The discombobulation of going from a festival bigger than Buffalo and back to Manhattan by helicopter as they came off the acid was noticeable only for a few minutes and by the time Grace sang motherfucker on national television all was well again. David Crosby and Stephen Stills showed up mudspattered and David talked and talked (coming up on the crowd by helicopter, he said, was like viewing the Macedonian army, the acid in his brain turning the vast throng of hippies into invincible hoplites and horsemen of Alexander the Great….) Stills was mostly mute, as if still overwhelmed but when handed a guitar played brilliantly and I remembered it was he and not Mike Bloomfield on Super Session’s Season of The Witch (another of those free form FM standard long since purged from Classic Rock radio). Joni Mitchell, clean and windblown from the canyon and kicking herself for not going (her manager said go on Cavett instead….amazing how many idiot managers kept their bands off the bill, booking them elsewhere) sounded great but sang too many songs, but then I’ve never been a fan. (It’s a minority opinion, I know….) The Airplane hit the studio stage again with a very tough Somebody To Love, Jorma’s lead stinging and psychedelically hostile, followed by a hard jamming Other Side Of This Life, and as the studio audience began breaking out in frantically groovy dancing Cavett waved the camera off and the credits rolled and the Airplane just got fiercer and fiercer and who knows how long they played past the commercials.

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Joni Mitchell

The angriest hate mail I ever got while writing my jazz column for the LA Weekly was from an old hippie from the canyon who thought I’d slighted Joni Mitchell. Well I had, actually, a little, but that was too much for him. He raged, he fulminated, he would have kicked my punk rock ass. He gave me a long lesson in Joni Mitchelldom. Unfortunately I didn’t save any of the emails, which came to probably a thousand words, beautiful things really, so goddamn angry, but I do remember he called me a young whippersnapper. I didn’t dare tell him I was more of a late middle aged whippersnapper. No, I was nice, said I felt shame, and promised to listen to Court and Spark.

I lied, of course. Once a whippersnapper, always a whippersnapper.

Cass, Joni, Judy, Joan and young whippersnapper.

Cass, Joni, Judy, Joan and young whippersnapper.

Circle Game

(2013)

Celebration At Big Sur…I saw that movie. Think I was in high school. It was mondo hippie, that flick, all incense and folk music and babies spinning prayer wheels. I remember Stephen Stills sucker punched a communist. Then he said the answer is to love everybody. You love everybody then you don’t sucker punch communists. Those were complicated times. Joan sang a Dylan tune, and Joni sang where she’d never been, and Judy sang a Circle Game. Oh Happy Day went round and round and round.

celebration-at-big-sur cropped

Somebody asked me about the baby in the picture with Judy, Joni, Joan and Cass. I had no idea. I hadn’t even noticed there was a baby. But Stewart Brand tells me–well, the Stewart Brand hologram, since he is no longer with us–told me the baby was the product of all four of them. It was a group conception at a Love In and they named her Aquarius and everyone shared in its nurturing and caring and loving and diapering and she is now 44 years old and owns a high tech company that has an app that can turn GMO’s into pure love and save the planet and the whales and walk around naked at Burning Man and recite the Whole Earth Catalog from memory and made the Stewart Brand hologram that told me that the baby was a group conception at a Love In and they named her Aquarius and everyone shared in its nurturing and caring and loving and diapering and she is now 44 years old and owns a high tech company that has an app that can turn GMO’s into pure love and save the planet and the whales and walk around naked at Burning Man and recite the Whole Earth Catalog from memory and made the Stewart Brand hologram that told me that the baby was a group conception at a Love In and they named her Aquarius and everyone shared in its nurturing and caring and loving and diapering and she is now 44 years old and owns a high tech company that has an app that can turn GMO’s into pure love and save the planet and the whales and walk around naked at Burning Man and recite the Whole Earth Catalog from memory and made the Stewart Brand hologram that told me this.

Dude, I said, Escher. Way Escher.

Stewart looked at me without blinking.

Celebration At Big Sur…I saw that movie. Think I was in high school. It was mondo hippie, that flick, all incense and folk music and babies spinning  prayer wheels. I remember Stephen Stills sucker punched a communist. Then said the answer is to love everybody. You love everybody then you don’t sucker punch communists. Those were complicated times. Joan sang a Dylan tune, and Joni sang where she’d never been, and Judy sang a Circle Game. Oh Happy Day went round and round and round.