fall, 1973 -- a fundamental high-water mark
The first fall term of college was, in hind-sight, a veritable "high water mark" of my life, even though, as the Joni Mitchell song sings, "don't it always go to show that you don't know what you've got til it's gone?" This was in part because for the first time i was truly "on my own" in a place where no one already "knew me". Thus i was able to discover my own self in a way never before imagined. i felt very high thru the whole fall even though i was getting stoned (even tried out "drunk" but didn't find that very interesting at all) less than half the time.
The biggest "waves" i "rode" were taking a Survey of English Literature course by a wonderful teacher, Joseph Crocker, that went from Beowulf to Milton, and being Steve's best man at his wedding to Ashley Perdue. Although he was an older man, Joseph Crocker was very enthusiastic and had an ebullient manner of talking about all the different writers in a way that made them come alive for me as never before. Steve was working on his masters thesis in English at that time and his own interests also inspired mine.
i bebember getting caught up in my English studies so much that, when we had a test about half way thru the term and my marks were good except for one part that showed i was weak in reading comprehension, i started right then to try and read a lot more books to better my comprehension skills. i started with Tolkiens's The Hobbit which i bebembered enjoying so much when Mah'mon read it at bedtime when i was young. i became re-enchanted with this world of Bilbo Baggins. When finished, i immediately got hold of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and ate it up. i loved letting my imagination run wild thinking about dwarves, ents, wizards and the like.
Participation in my oldest brother's wedding on the weekend before Thanksgiving -- as no less than his best man -- was the highest the water rose that fall. Everything except the dinner itself took place in his and Ashley's new home in Bolinas, the Red House. It was a very special afternoon and was crescendo'd that evening downtown at the Gibson house where about 30 of us sat at a long table while the Champagne and wine flowed freely and everyone was very, very enlivened. i felt an overwhelming surge thruout that afternoon and evening that everyone and everything in my uni verse was right and true and complete. A deeply magical time that day and night was.
Up in both Corvallis and then Eugene i found it very engaging inside to get buzzed, and go find a piano in some public place -- a dorm or an eatery like Mama's Home Fried Truckstop -- and hammer out boo'ghee, blues, and some rock'a'du. Piano playing-wise, i'd max'd out with the Beatles, picking out the piano-rich tunes like "Lovely Rita," "Martha My Dear," and "Lady Madonna," and music appreciation-wise had gotten heavily into present-day Frank Zappa thanks to Ok, particularly Roxy and Elsewhere and One Size Fits All. (i'd dug Freak Out when it originally came out, but it was not until this period that i filled in the gaps from then to the high-water mark of the likes of "Village of the Sun," and "Pygmy Twylyte.") But even with that, i still felt a hunger for something with a richer texture and depth.
The day i discovered Oscar Peterson's singing hands ushered me into an apprehension of the uni verse of "jazz" appreciation that has never stopped expanding (altho in the past 3+ years the current pulse is towards a massive exploration of Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Brahms, Sibelius, Prokofiev, Chopin, Glenn Gould, Schubert, and Schumann). i found and drank deeply of Duke Ellington's autobiography Music Is My Mistress (And She Plays Second Fiddle To No One) which was a fabulous intro to ALL the people "in the biz" since Duke knew and worked with everyone. His trio and quartet recordings on Pablo, some Horace Silver and Monk all were clearly audible now. My ear had been able to make the jump into aural hyperspace.
Just before i went to Saudi that summer, in his 5-row "chopped" skool bus, George Hutto and i drove out to the LONG sand-spit just south of Florence. We engaged in the "breaking of bread" sacrament with peyote there on the edge of the world. This sentiment was not without a heightened literal facet: as far as one cood see the coast extended north and south in a straight line, the massive "furrow" of dune behind us mirrored the "180° stretching to infinity", a powerful, steady, non-gusting wind blew directly from the west, and the magnificent sky full of clouds and ample spaces between them for SOL to bless us with its radiance. The steady, relentless wind complemented the crashing surf on very fine-grained sand, and we were astonished by Gaia's sand-painting tapestries employing dark (possibly oil-stained) and light sand tones to fashion ineffable manifestations of out-of-time beauty. By evening time, George went inward inside the bus, while i marched up and down amongst the dunes thruout the night examining my existence and sentience at that threshold moment of the journey joined in this human overcoat on the eve of flying to the other side of the world. Among other awarenesses i felt as if i was also simultaneously existent off-world, watching from afar this dune-traversing being, filled and overflowing with the illumination and understanding,This one: so much good in this one; so much to be done with this one.