Flaskaland
Sunday, December 12, 2010
 
And The Beat Goes On

I read a Counterbalance describing the first few notes of Purple Haze.

http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/134037-jimi-hendrix/

The internet can be so strange. Once upon a time, this article "The Hashbury is the Capital of the Hippies" (NY Times magazine, 1967) is posted in entirety at a place appropriately called Ugly Flashbacks (a site which otherwise is entirely in Russian, I think).

Not much to report first hand from my side as I only ventured across the Bay into that world a few times, and my short time in the Haight Ashbury was much earlier (1963) long after what was left of the beatniks had straggled over from North Beach (where the original Anxious Asp was once located and whose jukebox played Shirley Ellis's "Nitty Gritty" many, many times each evening) into the Haight's (where the Anxious Asp eventually relocated) crappy lowrent apartments, I mean historic Victorian lofts of such breathtaking vintage that even the woolen carpets had decayed from age, with wainscotting heavily layered by many coats of paint, and high ceilings that dispelled any chance of heat.

And the walks in the park then could be good, because that year the sun would come out at least once in awhile, and stumbling across a statue of Vivaldi in a hidden glade was cause for wonder, or more wondrous yet the discovery of the solarium, which was dazzling dressed out in many coats of super-gloss white enamel though sometimes too brilliant in the direct sun, and which occasionally made me laugh (especially when thinking of the one caricatured by Heinrich Kley).

I wasn't anywhere near the Haight Ashbury. And in 1967, my connection with music was tenuous, but the underground radio station poured generously for me each night. There were just a few trips to record stores for me, and hearing the new imported lp by a guy named Jimi Hendrix. I didn't hear that on the radio or not just yet. I was lured into the back room of The Store by a friend teasing and asking me, "Are you experienced?"

So I clinked through the wooden beaded curtain into the sanctum sanctorum where he played that whole Experience album, newly arrived from England and pressed on a different sort of vinyl you could tell by the heft and feel, and both sides, on a turntable. There was a jukebox in that room, too, but needing repair the machine only lit up when it was plugged in -- so he plugged it in, and that was our version of a light show I guess. The music was unusual, and unique enough that I knew I needed to be more comfortable for an extended listen, and so sank farther back into the battered itchy mohair chair and listened all the way through. And he flipped the disc over and played the other side and had to go out and wait on customers and such. I realized I was already running a bit late to make it all the way to campus for class, so I left. And though I didn't rush out anywhere to buy the record, I did stop back in a few days to inquire if he had it handy, which he didn't, as the record was so precious to him he didn't want to risk leaving it at the store or carrying it in on a regular basis. (So I heard it on the radio after that).

The Store (a most generic name for the time) was a for-profit place of unique ephemera, semi-antiques, cultural artifacts, kitsch, and collectibles on Telegraph that as I recall a guyPeter (Berg) was running.  (Not to be confused with his namesake across the Bay, of the Mime Troupe and the Diggers, and the Diggers Free Stores). The Store isn't mentioned too much in the more official versions and literature that is currently handed down and received, or maybe I'll hedge and suggest perhaps I'm not remembering correctly myself. (And I kind of doubt the latter, as I know the lady named Mary Moore who said she told him he should be doing something like that, and as she was busy and struggling at the time, she was a bit miffed she had given that golden notion away; but this digression has a happy ending because she went on to open a wonderful establishment herself, a club called Mandrake's).

Anyway, it wasn't he, that big bear of a man with beads over wooly turtleneck (who sometimes was tardy depositing money into the bank and so people who sold him the kooky trinkets suffered through the indignity of a rubber check drawn on his account, but to be fair he tried to pay most people in cash from the register) who played the Jimi Hendrix record for me. But a handsome, well-groomed fellow I knew from Los Angeles who was in the area to study the fine art of printing and bookmaking who has since gone on to fashion for the true effete many books of poetry and art, some of which you might recognize. His name was Wesley Tanner. He later went to work and shared studio space with David Lance Goines (who as it turned out was the guy I used to sit near in a classical archaeology class before he went outside one fateful day to gain unexpected notoriety in the beginnings of the Free Speech Movement.)

So 1967 was like that, although this is just what I'm remembering at the moment.
 




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