7th Grade: More Love, More Chaos, More Class

April 15, 2013

It was during 7th Grade that my wonderful class mate Gail M. got to witness me go through another spectacular crush with a unique view.  This time, my new crush was on her older sister Chris.  If anything, I will always look back on Gail with great fondness because she never got mad at me for having a crush on Chris.  She never seemed to get irritated or anything of the sort.  She was, in fact, well enough aware of the fact that she was just going to have to ride this thing out while looking on with a caring bemusement for both her sister and for me.  She knew that this was going to be a dismal failure on my part.  I mean, Chris was now starting High School and High School girls just did not go out with Grade School guys.  What made this twice as tough for me was that Chris, by any standard of the day, was a knockout.  She was a dreamy California blonde with the Dutch bob hair style that drove me crazy (and still does to this day).

There was one day that really stands out for me.  This is one of those moments that guys remember that is almost the equivalent of one you might see in one of those comedy movies where there’s one moment before the cruelty to the main character(s) happens where everything seems like it was straight out of a dream.

I was so used to seeing Chris in her salt & pepper uniforms  that St. Clare’s always made the kids wear that I never once stopped to envision her in any other clothes.  Well, Chris began going to Santa Clara High School wihich was only a few blocks down from us at St. Clare’s.  There was one time that Chris came walking into the schoolyard to drop something off for Gail.  It was Chris and she was not in her uniform.  She came into the yard looking like a dream.  What I specifically remember was that she wore a blouse with the buttons open quite a ways down.  It also appeared that she wasn’t wearing a bra.  When I laid eyes on her, I went completely slack-jawed.  It was straight out of The Simpsons.  I was just like Homer.  My head practically snapped back and I started my inner drool.  Ever since 5th Grade, Chris had always been on my radar, but the alarm never really went off.  This sight before me sent me into orbit.  The crush was launched and there was no looking back.

Poor Gail.  During the course of the year and even into the Summer of ’75 after school had let out for the year, I would occasionally pester Gail with advice on how to score with her sister.  Gail was so sweet.  She always used to say the same thing.  “Good luck with my sister”.  I swear to you.  Gail and Chris both deserve a medal for what they put up with when it came to me.  What eventually happened was that by the time the Summer of 75 was about midway through, I just gave up.  It got too frustrating to think she was even going to talk to me.  I even tried to call her on the phone and it just didin’t even work out.  In fact, I recall the time after I figured it wasn’t worth pursuing anymore.  I called up one last time and when she got on the phone, I hung up on her.  Oh well!

Gail still remained my friend and she still kept her her strong alliance with Donna, Lisa and Amy Y. while still keeping up with feeding me some occasional music talk.  Some traditions never seem to die.

It was in 7th Grade that tables turned on me and someone had a crush on me.  It would last ffrom 7th Grade and through 8th Grade.  Her name at the time (she changed it) was Imo.  She drove me insane.  Personally, I always thought there was a little something off about her.  That always put me on the defensive about her even before she started getting overt with her feelings towards me.  The other thing was that I was not attracted to her in any way.

I think the thing which drove me the most nuts about her was that she had this personality that was driven towards a ’50s-early ’60s mentality rather than the ’60s-’70s one most of the rest of us were carrying around as a badge of honor.  Although I used to watch the Happy Days t.v. show and enjoyed it for what it was.  She absolutely worshipped the show and made it a point to show off her Fonzie cred  at every opportunity she could get.  It was funny the first few times around and I let it slide at that.  But then she was doing it around everybody and that’s when I figured that she was somebody to avoid.

7th Grade was really weird in this regard.  I witnessed rejection and teasing on a fairly mass scale among us.  I saw John M. get mercilessly get teased and burned continually by June P. (whom he had a crush on) and June’s class pal, Anna V.  I gave it back big-time to Imo.  Donna used to give it to Alan (even though Donna had a crush on him through 8th Grade), etc.  The cruelty of our teenage years was beginning to set in and it manifested itself in topping on a daily basis the cruel things we could say to each other.

It started to spill over among us guys when we were playing sports on the asphalt playground of ours.  When we played touch football, we started bitiching a lot more over who was going to be the quarterback when we played.  We started making cutting remarks when we would line up guys in front of the chosen captains when we used to pick guys out for playing basketball.  I used to get picked near the last all of the time or even last because I’d get shit flicked at me for being small.  And I was a good playground player!  Hell, I was asked by Freddie to go out for the team that Fall.  Freddie was our basketball coach.

Strangely enough, even as our verbal sparring amongst ourselves got more rough, I cannot recall much of anybody intentionally trying to trip somebody onto the asphalt in order to hurt them.  It was kind of an unspoken thing among ourselves that you only did that when you genuinely hated somebody and really wanted to get back at them.  (I was to learn of this in the waning days of 8th Grade)

David and I were rolling along.  We were starting to go over to each other’s houses frequently.  David’s Dad was taking us to various sporting events.  Eveything was la-dee-da.

It was while my trips over to David’s house that my awareness of something I had never witnessed before was unfolding before my very eyes.  I was hanging out in a household where the two adults running the house were not married.  This was new to me.  What it did was create an opening in my fantasizing about Pam.  I really had it bad for her.

Something else new was going on.  From the time I started going over to David’s house to the very last time I was ever over there as a friend of his back in the Summer of ’79 (although I have to give you a hint that to call us friends during that Summer of ’79 would have been stretching it), there was a ritual that Gary and Pam used to do that drove me crazy.  Well, Gary and Pam had this habit during the weekends of going into their bedroom and locking the door for hours on end.  I swear to you, a bomb could have gone off (and trust me, all of us in that house, David, myself , Lisa, Tisa and Jason, Alan, Danny & Mike N. and others in the years I was there made enough noise at times that you would have thought one really had gone off) and they would not emerge from their inner sanctum.  By this time, I was mature enough (if one could loosely say so) to have figured out what they were doing in there and it killed me because of my thing for Pam.  It drove me to more sessions with December ’75 Playmate of the Month, Nanci Li Brandi in one of the bathrooms.  It was as if the cruelty of irony’s heavy hand was extending to me even when I wasn’t in school.  There would be another big example of this in 1978 over at David’s house too.

With the pending Bicentennial Celebration coming up the following year, there was this train going around the country which was a traveling exhibition of various American cultural phenomena.  We went to visit it after my Mom and I racked up this incredible amount of S & H green stamps to put our class way ahead of every other class.  The prize was a field trip.  I think I’ve written about this before, but the thing I was amazed by when we visited this train was that I saw Bob Lainer (then of the Detroit Pistons NBA basketball team) and his massive sized sneakers that were donated to this exhibit.  If I’m recalling correctly, he had the biggest feet in the United States.  He had something in the neighborhood of a Size 19 shoe.  I could have slept in those damned things.

In another one of those weird things that was a quirk in my mind, I found that I was already geared towards sentimentality.  At the end of the school year, I got some sheets of paper together, stapled them and made them into a makeshift year book of sorts.  I went around and had my classmates write comments and sign it.  I don’t know why I chose 7th Grade for this.  I knew I was going to do this when the end of 8th Grade rolled around.  And yes, people.  I still have it along with the actual autograph book I used for 8th Grade.  They are both two of my most essential prized possesions I own-they are especially indispensible in light of Mike M’s eventual suicide in 1983.

It was at some point in ’75 that I made the switch over to my new bedroom.  I had this bedroom all for myself.  My Grandfather switched over to the other end of the house to take over what used to be my oldest brother’s room.  My two brothers then moved in together to take over the bedroom that had been occupied by my Grandfather and myself.  This was the room where I started taking in FM radio in ever bigger doses (a post of which I will write about with much more detail).  I did a lot of Wintertime shortwave radio listening in there.  I occasionally did what I had been doing before and taking a small black & white t.v. in there to watch things.  It was also where my love of the Golden State Warriors really took off into the stratosphere.  I would do a lot of baseball listening in there during the Summer (even though I started splitting baseball game listening both outside and inside as well as watch it on t.v.).

It was a big thing for me to have my own room again.  I hadn’t had one all by myself since the ones I was in on Fir Acres up here in Eugene in the ’70-’72 period.  But there were some big differences with being in this new room by myself once again.  I was in this room during the period of time in the ’70s when I saw a decline in things -including my good times.  Like I have said repeatedly, it was the room where the line of delineation occurred.  This was the room where the ’70s were no longer the ’60s.  It was distinctly the ’70s now and the process of looking back was beginning even though I didn’t recognize that this was going on in media sources and in my own life yet.

7th Grade was also the last Grade that David and I would be together at school.  David decided to jump ship and go to St. Lawrence so that he could play basketball with my soon to be African-American friend Mike N. ( a center who was considered the best player in our league) along with the best guard in the league (Mike K.-I think it was Mike or Harold I can’t remember exactly which was his first name) and a great foward they had.  I will write a huge basketball post soon about my two seasons at St. Clare’s which was a comedy and tragedy unto itself.

I was happy that I had the upcoming Summer to myself.  My grades took a big leap in improvement which meant I didn’t have to go to Summer School.  With my love of basketball hitting in full fever, I wanted to get better.  David and I both decided we needed to enroll in the Rick Barry Basketball Camp up in Cotati, CA at the Cal State Sonoma campus (if I’m remembering correctly).  We had that to look forward to.  It was during this Summer of ’75 that I had two new Rolling Stones albums come out.  With the departure of Mick Taylor from the band, Jagger & Co. decided to release a hits package called Made In The Shade.  It got competition because their former manager, Allen Klein put out a strange compilation of unreleased tracks called Metamorphosis.  It was a collection of tracks from the ’60s from both the Jones & Taylor Eras.  Some tracks were not even full Rolling Stones tracks.  A few were of Jagger being accompanied by instruments and background vocalists added to the music tracking in ’75 as overdubs.

There was also something from 1975 that has stayed with me all of these years that I’ll never forget what Bill R. told me.  It was during this year, while we were still friends, that he confided in me something while we were standing in a backyard somewhere.  I can’t recall if it was at his house or in another house in the neighborhood.  He told me this event took place either at his house , the house we were at when our conversation took place or somewhere else.  He told me that he got to see, with his own eyes, a girl walk outside in her backyard to lay down on a piece of lawn furniture and that she took her top off to sunbathe topless.  Bill said she never saw him.  I wasn’t jealous of this.  I was fascinated.  Bill had a huge smile on his face and I wished I could have seen this too.  In my mind, the streakers I had seen up to this point didn’t count as they had bags over their heads and running away at top speed.  When Bill was telling me this, I had no idea that this was also a hint of the things us guys were going through which was kind of taboo among us even though it was very natural.  Remember my last post where I wrote about discovering Playboy and Penthouse?  What we never knew was that the girls were way ahead of all of us guys in this respect.

As a sidebar of sorts when it comes to Bill.  The one thing he was really looking forward to during the Summer was that he was going to save his money to buy two things he wanted really badly.  One was that he wanted a copy of a book called The Enterprise Blueprint (a book of imagined schematics for the Star Trek U.SS. Enterprise) and a copy of the triple live album from Emerson Lake & Palmer-Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends…

Lastly, at least for this post, was something that I’ve always been shameful of over the years.  Why?  Because I was flicking shit to the both of them and they didn’t deserve it.  The brother & sister team of Kevin & Janet M. were the targets of our ridicule because of things which were not their fault.  Janet had an implement in her mouth which helped her tongue out to be able to speak clearly.  Kevin, on the other hand, was the low man on the totem pole in our class (along with Kevin D.).  He was lacking in all sorts of self-protective armor and we ripped him to shreds.  It was really disgusting what we did to him those last two years of school.  It really took off on it’s own in 7th Grade and in the aftermath of the famous 6th Grade Sex talk with Father Monaghan.  They both had this thing of saying “It’s just not fair!”.  And all of us, myself included, used to tell it back to their faces literally or do utterly mean-spirited imitations of the both of them saying it behind their backs.  You can just imagine the spins we put on it.

And when 8th Grade came around, it took on a whole new level amongst a good number of us and all hell broke loose.  That was when the war between Bill and I started.

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Note:  To my counselor and to my doctors-I am going to do two huge posts on two subjects before I launch into 8th Grade.  I need to do this overlapping because I want to give more of a better context of where I was in a cultural sense and also I want to show how sports provided another element to my personality.  One post will be on my two years playing basketball at St. Clare’s from 1975 & 1976. The other will cover the F.M. radio listening years from August of 1974 up to Labor Day of 1978.  It will help to pave the way for me to more comfortably tell my story about 8th Grade and then onto the two years I spent at Bellarmine College Prep.  I need to cover these two areas before I can fully dive into the likely Depression issues I started dealing with in 8th Grade on a greater level.

7th Grade-1974-1975: Friends, Loves & Chaos

April 8, 2013

During that Halloween of 1974, Bill R. and I got together over in my neighborhood and we made the rounds with the trick or treat thing.  It was such a peaceful time going on between us.  It was also the final Halloween that I could recall where I did actually go out and score candy from people in the neughborhood.  I recall that night.  I remember telling Bill the story of the previous Halloween where I got to walk around with Donna, Lisa and Donna’s Mom.  What a difference a year makes, right?

But Bill and I were really groovin’ along.  This was the year that we shared music information and then he did one of the nicest things ever.  He entrusted me with a few of his albums that he loaned me because he wanted me to be able to listen to them.  He loaned me his copies of McCartney & Wings-Band On The Run, Elton John-Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (which I amazingly had not picked up a copy yet and would not until the CD age-strangely enough) Pink Floyd-The Dark Side Of The Moon and possibly one or two others of which I don’t recall.  What ended up happening was that I had possession of those albums for a good chunk of the schoolyear and I made damn sure that I took good care of them all.

At the end of the schoolyear, late May to be exact, I got to go on a trip to the cabin near Santa Cruz that Bill’s parents had.  The trip turned out to be an odd one though it was very memorable.  We hung out together during that weekend, but we burned out on each other for some reason and we didn’t really talk much to each other.  I distinctly remember going over to a small market a short distance away from the cabin.  I did a fairly good amount of walking around the wooded area of the surrounding place by myself.  But the most memerable part of the trip was that my huge sudden interest in NBA basketball and my newfound love of the Golden State Warriors, which had started at the very beginning of the ’74-’75 campaign, was amply rewarded.  It was during this trip that I watched the final game of the NBA Championship where my Warriors won their first and only NBA Championship by sweeping the Washington Bullets in a 4-game sweep.  I watched almost that entire game alone.

I recall having a few awkward moments with him as we were all preparing to leave to go back home.  Very strangely though, once we all got into the car for the drive back, everything was back to complete normal.  We were all very talkative and had a gas.  I’ve always been very puzzled by this.  It may have been during this drive back that I had mentioned to Bill and his Dad that Bill had told me that news reporters go these call sheets from the police in which you could ecipher that code talk the police used when they were on their radios in their cars.  I always wanted to have one so that I could understand some of the talk I was hearing on my Radio Shack Astronaut 8 multiband radio I had.  and sure enough, Bill’s dad came through.  Bill handed me one of those yellow sheets with all of the call-signs of it at school one day.  I still have that thing buried somewhere in one of my boxes.  It helped out a lot when I used to listen to both police and fire calls.

In an earlier post when I was giving you a primer on 7th Grade, I mentioned another classmate of mine from St. Clare’s.  That was Chris R.  Bill and Chris are both example of what could have been had my own personal history had stayed a course instead of going off in a different direction.  My discovery of basketball helped to alter the course of my own personal history.  You see, Bill and Chris loved to play sports on the playground at school.  But Bill only went out for flag football.  In the case of Chris, I can’t even remember if he played football or any sports other than at the asphalt playground of ours at school.

And here’s where, after the period of 1968 to 1973, that David G., Danny H. & Alan M. entered the picture in my life and completely altered everything.  When I look back on this, I have my regrets.  However, there were some great benefits that came with my association with them.  It’s just that it would have a price with it.

Though I’ll never be able to prove this as it is a subjective point of view on my part, I am boldly saying that I was the glue that held this group of us together for a period from 1974-1979.  It would spill over from our having finished the final two years of St. Clare’s and into the full year of our Freshman Year in High School.  The focal point of the group of us was the friendship that developed between David G. and myself.

I may have said this in my 7th Grade primer post, but it bears repeating because it is so obvious to me in 20/20 hindsight.  The friendship between David and I was doomed to fail right from the start.  though David and I would develop a kind of musical repoire with each other, it was only because I made him aware of musical things.  It went with the territory with me and one had to accept it.  It was really the huge basketball jones that David and I both had at the very same time that accidentally made our worlds collide into one another.

To my classmates, I just want to say something.  Please don’t get me wrong.  David and I had some great times together.  It’s just that the course of time would reveal to me the disparity between our personalities.  I wasn’t going to be able to fully describe it in words, but I was aware, from a very early stage in this period that David was a little more shallow than I would have preferred while I was the one who had the too great expectations to have of him.  Basketball was the very core of our friendship.

I had another reason to want to stay friends with him and it wasn’t shallow on my part.  People might accuse me of being so in this particular case.  It was just my greatest personal tragedy that I believe I would ever play out and I pretty much kept it a secret from everybody-including David himself, his Dad, Danny & Alan and later on-our African-American friend Mike N.  Like I have mentioned elsewhere, Gary (David’s Dad) had a new girlfriend after his 2nd wife and him split up.  Her name was Pam.  From the moment on a very cold 1974 day earlier in the year (I believe) when I met her at my front door to pick me up and take me over to the G’s place on Serena, I didn’t just take a liking to her.  I actually fell in love with her upon first sight.  She was and is still the person I consider to be the most beautiful woman I have ever met.  It was the start of the greatest unrequited love I have ever felt for a woman.  It ran very deep and I kept it hidden from people.  I am still in love with her as of this very moment.  She has to have known all of these years, but we’ve never talked about it before.  Her beauty was the inspiration which kept me wanting to go back to see David even in times when I wasn’t particularly inspired to want to hang out with him because I just wasn’t getting much out of him.

To my counselor and to my doctors:  If you really want to know why Pam inspired me so deeply at first sight, then imagine the following.  Imagine that a blonde version of Ann Margret came walking up to your door and stood right there before you.  I am not exaggerating when I say this because Pam told me that she used to have people walk up to her and ask her if she was a sister of Ann Margret.  She had her young son, Jason (from a previous marriage), with her when I met her for that first time.

David and I’s friendship would take it’s course when we joined up the St. Clare’s basketball team.  I will do a separate post on my two seasons of playing basketball for St. Clare’s.  Trust me!  It’s a story that is about as screwball as it gets and is worthy of it’s own separate post.

1974-1975 was the year that my Dad and I bonded together more closely because of the BBC series The World At War (about WWII).  My interest in WWII history was deepening and I’m sure my Dad was pretty proud of me for it as he lived through it and nearly got sent to Normandy himself.  It was also the year where a new show, centered around African-Americans in Chicago, really affected me deeply because of one character in particular.  That show was Good Times.  When it debuted, it was the father character played by John Amos that really made a deep impression me.  I saw Black Pride in his character.  I saw the struggle in his character.  It was as if all of the music I had been hearing since 1970 was being played out through him.

This was also the year where, because of sports, especially basketball and football (primarily through the Oakland Raiders), that I really made the connection between African-American advancement and accomplishement being played out as it became intertwined with my love of all of the incredible Soul Music I had listened to.  And when Soul Music began to, in my opinion, die before my very ears just prior to Van McCoy’s “The Hustle” being released in May of ’75, my want of pulling for the underdog got transferred to the pro players I saw in all sports.  It had been buidling up in awareness for some time since I started getting interested in baseball back in the late ’60s.  but it really kicked in during this time period.

The culmination of this happened at a football game I witnessed on a cold December 1974 evening in Oakland in a game which took place between the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders.  What a night!  I was able to go with David because his Dad scored tickets with a friend of his (one of a seeming million he had because of being Mayor of Santa Clara).  We all travelled on a motor coach some guy owned.  The older people of the day did the usual thing of the day back then.  They’d all get a little loaded on the way up and it would turn into a party for them.

David and I ended sitting in one end zone.  It was a Monday Night Football game being telecast across the nation.  It was a really rowdy situation to be sitting in and taking in for a first time.  This was my first NFL game I ever attended.  I will still never forget looking on in initial puzzlement as to why Raider fans were buying Dallas Cowboy pennants from vendors until I witnessed many people taking out their cigarrette lighters and setting them on fire as they waved them around in the cold night air.

And then something unexpected happened that will always stay with me forever.  I treasure it like it was a precious gift.  Imagine my complete and utter surprise when my great Soul hero, the one who set off my initial first huge Soul explosion, Marvin Gaye was introduced to the crowd to sing “The National Anthem”.  This was a huge goosebump inducing thrill for me.  This is when the whole concept of athletics, music and Black Pride coalesced into one.  It happened during these few quick minutes.  It was to be the one and only time I would ever see Marvin perform in person before my very eyes.  The version he did was a capella.  It was not like the one he would do just prior to his being murdered by his father back in 1984.

The game itself was incredible.  I saw all three legendary Raider quarterbacks play-Stabler, Lamonica and Blanda.  Blanda was the one who won the game for them.  When the game was over, I knew I was in Oakland.  In the parking lot after the game, the helicoptors were flying around with their searchlights on making sure everybody was cool down below.

1974-1975 was also the year where issues of how I felt about my looks came into play.  This was when Dr. Campisi (a man I admire so much for what he put up with me) began laying the train tracks in my mouth-the start of the wearing braces period which would last clear up to my moving up to Oregon.  I hated those gooddamned things and the headgear I used to have to wear at night.  As I was descending into the chaos of the chemical shit going on within me because of my teenage years taking a more firm hold of me with the passage of time as well as my being hearing impaired, it was not helping me to have to deal with this as well.  It created great problems for me for the rest of my time in Santa Clara and carried over into the very early time of my move back up to Eugene.

It was during the last part of 1974 that I spent what would be my final few months in the bedroom that I shared with my Grandfather.  Even with my hearing impairment, his snoring was keeping me up at night and affecting me at school.  Ironically, my grades went up in 7th Grade.  I have no idea if this was some kind of weird revenge I was enacting on my beloved Miss Johnson from the schoolyear before.  I don’t know.  It might be more accurate to say that I wanted the financial incentive my Dad was offering for better grades.  More money meant more records I could buy from The Record Factory, The Wherehouse or Tower.  I was still working on filling out the Rolling Stones albums I needed to get into my collection.

The only thing which is still hazy to me is when I finally told my Dad about Grampa’s snoring and told him something had to be done about it.  I told him it was affecting me at school and that I was going to school not particualrly well-rested.  I made my case to him about my grades and it didn’t take much convincing.  My Dad officially ordered that the switch be made.  I didn’t have any idea that my request created a further dividing line between the good memories of the ’72-’74 period of California with the more stressful memories of the ’75-’78 period.  It became the period of time I have frequently refer to as when the ’70s became weird and unlike the early to mid’70s period when it was still essentially the ’60s.  The only thing is that I can’t nail down exactly when the move occurred.  I’m guessing it happened during Easter break in ’75.  I know I spent the end of 7th Grade in there and started into the Summer of ’75.  I know this for certain.

During those last months in that bedroom, I can fondly remember really playing the More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies) package of The Rolling Stones a lot.  And between both the old bedroom and the new one which had been occupied soley by my brother Mike, I also practically wore out the grooves to the Exile On Main St. album from The Rolling Stones as well.  It was in reaction to Mick Taylor having left the band.  That album became a pacifier of sorts.  Once I moved into my new bedroom next to the swimming pool, I also really began to up the amount of times I was playing Taylor’s last album with the band-the It’s Only Rock N’ Roll album.

I also remember the last bits of AM radio listening in there where I went through a period of switching back over to listening to KFRC more than I did KLIV because of the changes I began to notice in music.  I will still never forget listening to KFRC broadcast a Beatles 10 Years special where they played every song of theirs in some kind of syndicated special.  There was even an advertisement for it in the papers.  As I have been typing this this evening, I have this great clear picture of me listening to KFRC in a darkened room (my old bedroom) and listening to America’s great single ” Tin Man” and being affected by listening to it.  I’ll do a post where I talk about the music from this period.

This was also the time period where the chaos of my teenage years needed an outlet.  It came in my form of what The Who would describe in “Pictures Of Lilly”.  The Big M.  Masturbation.  It was the secret everybody was keeping.  Well, except for me.  I would blow the lid off of it not terribly far off in time during this period and it would have repurcussion which would affect me during the entirety of 8th Grade and even when I went to Bellarmine for High School.

It started with advertisements of women who looked really sexy and worked it way from there.  And I might as well say it here before it gets lost in the shuffle in later posts.  It was in October of 1975 that I discovered Playboy Magazine in earnest.  This was to be my first nude girl in a magazine crush I would ever have.  This was back in the days when the newest issue of Playboy would come out almost two months ahead of the actual month of the magazine listed on the cover.  It was December ’75 issue.  The centerfold of that month was Nanci Li Brandi-a brunette.  I saw it over at David’s house.  I still remember this like it was yesterday.

The magazine had the cover ripped off and David was hiding it under his bed or in between the matress of his bed.  He had an 8-track player in his room with little speakers to keep himself entertained.  He had an album on that I loved and would eventually get a copy of on vinyl when I laid eyes on the magazine for the first time.  He was playing Bad Company’s second album Straight Shooter.  I looked at Nanci and I realized that I was now in love with two women in that house-Pam and Nanci Li Brandi.  Whenever I was over at David’s house, I’d run off for a bathroom break with the magazine in tow.  And you can guess what used to happen when I locked the bathroom door.  His Playboy’s got a lot of mileage with me over the next few years.  I would eventually have the honor of owning that December ’75 issue myself a year or so later when David let me have it and I snuck it into my house.

I developed some smarts I didn’t even know I had in me.  Over the course of the next few years, my brother Mike had a box he kept in his room that he shared with my oldest brother John.  This box was a small wooden box he had made so that he could hide stuff in it.  Whenever I happened to wak into his room, whether he was there or not, I got very curious about that box of his.  It had a lock on it.  I figured he had something to hide.  Deviousness came into play at this point in my life.  Over time, the more I looked at his box he had, the more I guessed that there may be magazines in it because it was just the right size to hold magazines in it.

I finally couldn’t take it anymore.  I had to figure out what was in the box.  This is where the smartness came into play that I didn’t know I had.  I noticed that the box had the lock on it and I knew I couldn’t get into it that way.  So, I turned the box to the opposite site and saw that the box had hinges on it that were in place with screws.  Ahhhhhh!  That’s the entry for me.  I immediately realized that I could get a screwdriver and unscrew the screws to take a look inside.  I chose a day when both John and Mike were not going to be home for a while one day.  A good while, that is.  That day finally arrived and the I got a screwdriver and then I got the box.  I went off to the bathroom that all three of us began to share and I went to work.  Like a little thief, I undid the hinges and then I found the booty.  He had a Penthouse Magazine in there (This story is taking place after I saw my first Playboy and may have occured in late ’75 or early ’76).  Oh man!  This was more clinical than Playboy.  And well, you can obviously guess what happened in the privacy of my time in there.  And then I’d screw the screws back into place and have the magazine sitting in between the exact place it was kept in the box and very carefully placed it right back in the exact spot of my brother’s room.  My brother John had a Playboy and a Hustler Magazine he tried to hide too.  They both did not remain unscathed from my lustful scrutiny.  And I chuckle about this.  My Dad once jokingly told me back then in the late ’70s that I had a mind like a thief.  Little did he know!

It was during my 7th Grade year that I began getting into a habit of doing something which I look back upon with a lot of sadness because I wish it would have turned out that way.  When there was a break in the action when I was on the playground at recess or at lunch, I would look across the street to the University of Santa Clara and would begin to imagine myself being there and looking back at my time at St. Clare’s.  This was a weird thing.  I don’t know why I was doing it.  It became a private ritual of mine.  I had a hard time imagining what the four year gap would be like when I was in High School.  I knew I was likely to eventually head to Bellarmine, but it wasn’t a 100% shoo-in at that point.  I had to have been developing some sense of sentiment being combined with what was likely my descent into depression.  My moods were becoming a deeper shade of blue by the passing days, but they usually weren’t showing much back in 7th Grade.  It really came out in 8th Grade.

There was one incident between my Mother and myself where the hinto of what was coming in the 8th came through.  I was in my new bedroom and I was listening to Exile On Main St. on my little stereo.  Mom came into my room for some reason.  And for no good reason, I got hot about her interrupting my session with Mick Taylor and Keith Richards and I told her to get out of my room.  She was looking at me like something was not right, but I still let her have it.  Leave!  Leave!  The descent had begun.

Winging It: A Spontaneous Post

March 24, 2013

I just don’t feel like writing a formal post today.  So, this time around, I’m just going to type in what comes into my mind.

It sure seems like I’ve had a lot on my slate lately.  It has to do with mostly health matters.  I have urinary surgery looming (as well as related procedures-including a cyst removal).  I also have a colonoscopy coming up which will also involve extra testing and sample taking to see if my IBS diagnosis was correct from 1995.  And then the big elephant in the room is the mitral valve leak that has caused my heart murmur for all of these years.

They say that medical science has improved and made such big strides over the past decade or so that a lot of surgeries and procedures are basically routine nowadays.  But anything having to do with the heart is major to me.

The start of my urinary procedure (and related stuff) was this past week and the exploratory didn’t go off the way my Urologist wanted it to, so now it looks like I’m going to be headed to Portland soon to have it done because there’s a doctor up there who is the only one in the state who can do the operation.

My oldest brother now finally knows about everything with my health.  I appreciated the call he gave to me.  I needed to know that I was not being a burden on my family.  Sadly though, even though he’s improving in his communicationg with me, he is still cheerleading too much.  He’s forgetting all of the related things that have gone with the health issues I’ve had to deal with over the years.  I just wish both of my brothers could even begin to even get a sliver of what it has been to walk a mile in my shoes on the social things all of these years.  I wish they could know how they themselves have adversely affected me.  My Mom had told me a week or 10 days ago how she was going to have the “have them treat you with more respect” talk with the both of them.  I really loved Mom for doing that.  But I just wish she had done this 30 years ago when my Dad had passed away.

My oldest brother now knows about my Depression and Anxiety Disorder issues.  I am also in very dire need of getting new hearing aids as my ancient ones are cutting out on me everyday.

I also got rear-ended last week by an erratic female driver as I was coming back home for breakfast from an ultrasound before the attempted urinary procedure.  I now have to deal with the hassle of doing all of the insurance bullshit.

When I went into the sort of blackout on my computer when I moved from my last home to my current one back in October, I let things slide here at my blog.  During that time, some major musicians in my life have passed on and I’m feeling a little guilty for not having written about them yet.  In the interim, we’ve lost Ravi Shankar, Dave Brubeck, two members of the post-Kendricks/Ruffin Temptations who sang on “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone”, Alvin Lee of Ten Years After and Bobbie Smith of Spinners.  In the case of Smith, one only has to find my old posts of the great singles of the early ’70s to see my comments on Smith and Spinners to know how I feel about him and them.  I have commented on “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” before.  But I’m really going to neede to leave something here about Ravi Shankar, Dave Brubeck and Alvin Lee here at some point soon.

I’ve been out and about on all of these medical trips to doctors and around town to pick up Hendrix t-shirts on two different occasions lately.  When I see women as I’m walking around, eveything seems so unreal to me.  I walk around as if, to quote Van Morrison from Astral Weeks, “I’m nothing but a stranger in this world”.  I’ll walk around and nothing seems natural to me.

I hate the fact that my insurance won’t cover mental health costs.  My new primary, whom I thank God I’ve discovered, has been trying to line me up with counselors who are not mediocre, but I’ve been hitting a brick wall.  Each one of them can’t help me.

I did get to talk to one of the women who was on the list to be one of my counselors had things worked out on the insurance.  I told her about how my Psychologist in California back in ’77 & ’78 convinced me to have the Rhinoplasty and the chin implant and how the one I had up here in Oregon back in the ’90s told me that I was never going to make it with Western women and that I was only going to be able to get myself a mail-order bride from either Asia or from Russia.  She told me over the phone that she was shocked that two professionals would ever tell me such things.  So, I guess I’m getting the impression that I’ve been damaged by people who were supposed to help me.

All of these health things are pushing back my being able to get my next German shepherd or a Belgian shepherd (which I’ve never had).  I did, however, get to meet a woman working at the Urology place who is a German shepherd breeder.  She told me she’ll probably have a litter for the Fall.

I’ve got a Cowboy Junkies show to go to in Bend at the very end of next month.  I’ve never been to Bend before and I hope the drive there will be a cinch.  I’m also hoping that any talking between myself and Margo Timmins will go by a lot smoother and more natural than it did when I saw her in Portland two years ago (just prior to Sheba’s death).  What is most on my mind concerning the show is that no unforseen medical appointments come up to get in the way.  Otherwise, I’m going to end up having to e-mail the band and let them know I wouldn’t be able to make it.

My new primary doctor is fantastic.  I feel the most comfortable with him of any doctor I’ve had since my belly doctor.  In the interim, I’ve had three primary care physicians who failed me miserably.  My Mother is particularly angry that these people didn’t start finding out about and taking steps towards true help during each of their tenures while I was in their care.  It makes a big difference when a lab assistant taking an echocardiogram of your heart informs your doctor who sent you there to the heart place is known for being one that other doctors come to for advice and help.  That told me more than anything that I finally found the right one.

God!  I really hope I can get back to the Bay Area for a visit soon.  It’s been 15 years since I was last down there.  I’ve got to breath my air once again.  I’ve got to walk among the spirits.

I am continuing to be blunt when I talk to people.  I have made it a vow now to let any women know up front of what they will be taking on if they decide to become involved with me.  I just wish one would take the step to actually get into that kind of discussion with me.

I wish the weather would warm up.  I want to start walking around here and see what options I have for when I have a dog.  I haven’t wanted to go up into a wooded area because I’m afraid of getting my tennis shoes all muddy.

I have slowly been thinning people out of my Facebook page who have not been communicating with me.

I am greatly hoping somebody could come over and help me put up some of my big music posters here at my place soon.  I could use the help so that I don’t put a zillion holes in my wall.  I put up a door poster this week and it almost turned into a disaster because I had nobody to help me hold it up and minimize the lining up of the pins.

Well, that was my hour of spontaneity for today.  I realize that it made for dull reading, but I really want my doctors reading this as well as my friends (if I have a few left).  I’m not tagging this one.  This is for people who really should be seeing this one.  And yes, I still talk to Sheba in my thoughts all of the time.

Mick Taylor Leaves The Rolling Stones: How It Affected A Moment In My life

March 17, 2013

You know what I remember about that day?  I remember how very cold it was-even for the Bay Area.  I can’t pin down the exact day I found out, but it came either in the very last week of December of ’74 or in, literally, the very first couple of days in 1975.

There I was in 7th Grade.  The same intuitive feeling that things were not quite the same which I had felt during the late stages of the Summer of ’74 was still present.  I didn’t know that the feeling would grow ever larger.

I was doing something on that cold day which I rarely ever did in the Camino House.  I was hanging out in the formal dining room of our house.  That, in itself, wasn’t unusual.  What was was the sight of yours truely sitting on the carpet floor next to one of the huge windows facing out to our backyard.  It was very cold and yet I was strangely sitting on the floor.  Even I felt like it was something weird on my part.  I guess it was entirely appropriate.  My Mom came strolling in as she was just getting started on searching for me in the house.  She probably figured I was in my bedroom and not so close to the kitchen as to be sitting down on the carpet in the said living room.  She had a section of the San Jose Mercury in her hands.  She found me.

It was then that I got a tone of voice from her that bore similarity to when I would pick up from her that I was getting into trouble or had crossed some kind of line.  But the tone of her voice was the most ominous that I had ever heard come from her mouth in my entire life up to that point.  I still remember this like it was yesterday.  She said, “I found something in the paper you’re going to want to read.”  My already weird mood just from being on the floor became something of another degree altogether.  When Mom handed me the paper, I am almost 100% sure that the headline she pointed me to said “Guitarist Leaves The Stones”.  Uh oh!  This isn’t good.  And then I went into a case of musical shock.  It wasn’t a death, but it was a change.  It was a huge change in my eyes.  It was then that I read that Taylor had left The Rolling Stones, man.  My band!  My God!  This was just too much.  Since I made them my band back in ’72 just before I moved back down to Santa Clara, I had it locked in my mind that Taylor was in this for the long haul.  It’s that whole innocent belief that a kid has in thinking that his heroes will forever play their roles and stay locked in them.  Here was this young teenager in 7th Grade who was having cold water thrown into his face.  It was being thrown in at the single most strategic place that one could possibly hit me.  The changes I was beginning to feel within myself, the world around me and the bitterness of the cool of the day made my world stop.

It was not to be known by a lot of people that at the time of the newswire reports of Taylor’s departure, Taylor had been gone from the band since he told Jagger and Richards to their faces at a party in October (I believe) that he had decided to leave and then walked out of the party.

This event froze me.  I was noticing the changes going on in Soul music when I was listening to AM radio.  I was now listening to FM quite a bit and getting used to discovering different bands and learning about deeper catalog songs from artists I already knew and loved.  I was embarking on my newly found huge interest in NBA basketball and was also going to be playing it at St. Clare’s.  And I was feeling the deep internal changes going on within me as my body slowly gave in to the chaos of hormonal changes which come with growing up as a teenager.

So how did I react to all of this?  I continued listening to The Rolling Stones, of course.  During that Fall and as school had started, I was already giving myself huge doses of listening to the It’s Only Rock N’ Roll album.  But it felt incredibly strange how I started the start of school with Taylor as an active member of the band to then having to listen to the album with Taylor gone and my grasping to cope with it.  It became one of the quickest examples in my life of an album that started out as the latest progressive musical statement from my favorite band to becoming an attachment of sentiment which I held on for dear life.  My silent, almost fragile appearing guitar God, Mick Taylor, was gone with this latest album of which I was blown away by his work on “Time Waits For No One” and “‘Til The Next Goodbye”.  I loved his work on all of the tracks he appeared on, but it was those two which grew bigger and bigger with each passing day.

As I was discovering the Golden State Warriors at the very start of the season where they would eventually win their one and only NBA championship, “”Til The Next Goodbye” would become something larger than itself in my mind over the next few years and lived through the last half of my living in California.  There was always something about that song from the moment I first heard it.  From the day after I read of Taylor’s having left the band, it became my dark horse song from the Taylor Era.  It was the one I would champion as being the underrated one people should have appreciated more.  Because of Taylor’s departure, I have one enduring image of that song which burns inside of me like a forever candle which was lit and can never be extinguished.  There was one night in the bedroom that I moved into, which used to be occupied by my brother Mike, when I was listening to a Warrior game on the radio (with the late great Bill King calling the action behind the mic).  I had the first verion of the Nurf basketball hoop hanging over the inside part of my door.  I was listening to the action on the radio and shooting a layup when the song started playing in my head.  To this day, I have this dreamy vision of me in slow motion, living in ’70’s California and shooting a lay-up with the little almost fuzzy ball.  It is one of those crystal moments that can stop me in my tracks 40 years later.  When I think of what California meant to me or when I think of pivotal moments or even ask myself why such a thing would be important to me, it still stands out as one of those what I refer to now as “California moments”.  Sometimes they were perfectly logical for  having become implanted in my brain.  And there were others, many of which I will continue to site, which seemd to become implanted in me totally at random.  What I didn’t know then was that I was using my missing Mick Taylor as a member of my favorite band as a comforter to the descent which had just begun.  Whether this was the first signs of my depression kicking in or my having been given a God-given ability to be very self-aware of things going on around me (or at least a certain section of changes going on), I can’t be certain.  I can’t rule out, with the hindsight of years, that it may have been a combination of both.  I have this feeling that a lot of things in my life have been a lot like having had a hand in my face for all of these years.  Sometimes the hand covers your face and stays closed.  Sometimes the hand covers your face, but the fingers open up just enough so that you can peek out at things while still not having the whole entire picture before you.

Taylor’s departure meant that I had to deal with the unknown.  What was going to happen to my band?  What direction were they going to take?  Who was going to replace him?

As 7th Grade rolled further on and when I was in the last waning times of my being in the old bedroom I shared with my Grandfather and up into the time when I moved into my brother’s room just across from it, I started going through this period where I played the living hell out of the Exile On Main St. album.  In fact, I recall during the part of ’75 and I was still in 7th Grade of just playing that album so frequently that I must have driven people crazy who were walking past my new bedroom.  By that time, I got into the habit of closing that bedroom door so that I could let the blasting zone originating from my little stereo go on.  As usual, I was still making the time to listen to Brian Jones Era /Decca material too.  During this time, More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies) and Exile On Main St. were just so huge in my life.  These two eras as well as listening to more and more FM music was helping me to cope with the changes I was hearing on AM and would help me when I started hearing Van McCoy’s “The Hustle”.

I remember, within the confines of a young boys’s head trying to imagine if Taylor was doing o.k. after he left.  I had no idea at the time that Taylor’s drug addictions would grow even worse after he left the Stones (and yet the irony is that one of the reasons he left was that he was saving his own life).  I would not hear from Mick Taylor again until either 1979 by chance on an interview on KSJO.  I will talk about that during another post because it follows a greater personal story from that specific year.

It may not seem like a big deal now, but it was huge to me back then.  His departure and the ensuing years created a legacy within myself and among a great many fans which grew into it’s own cottage industry over the years with great justification.  When you say The Taylor Era, you are saying something which covers a lot more ground than anybody but a Stones fan would know.  The timing of his departure was perfectly logical for the specific point in time I was going through.  It mirrored what the ’70s and my life was becoming.  The changes were happening whether I wanted them to or not.  Time would not stand still even for my sensitivity.

Getting Back Into It-Sorry For the Long Wait

March 3, 2013

Hello Everybody,

I am terribly sorry for the long delay.  I have not written a post over here since last year.  I moved once again.  On top of it, I just needed a break from leaving posts.

I just wanted to let all of you friends and out of curiosity onlookers know that I will start getting back into writing about my past as well as about all kinds of music stuff once again.  I do plan on keeping on throwing a few curves here and there too.

It has become more clear to me as to why I have taken on the task of leaving posts here (as well as the ones I left on my old blog).  You see, I am dealing with various health issues head-on.  I have found a primary doctor that I think I can finally fully trust.  As a result, I think it is going to help for me to be leaving posts for the various doctors I’m going to be dealing with for a while.  I will also likely be involved in some psychological help as part of the equation.

I want these people to know what has shaped me because they can use this information to help me.  Though I will not state here publicly, the word is already known to my primary doctor and will be known to other professionals that I need help in one area that requires out of the box thinking without their getting into trouble.

Lonliness and isolation issues, coupled with the health stuff, is not an easy thing to deal with.  This is my way of reaching out so that they can help me.  And for my friends and people who have known me over the years, this is also your chance to either help me or to come to a more clear understanding of why I’ve been either an open picture to you or a complete puzzle.

I think I’ll start back in once again by talking about late 1974 and then work my way to a few different tangents as time goes on.

Sheba has stayed with me in my every waking thought and I have still not gotten another German shepherd yet.  I hope to within a month or so (or a Belgian shepherd).  But my health matters may end up throwing another delay into the works.

My friends at Facebook know that I haven’t left, but I wanted to let people know over here that I’m back.  I’m sure there will be occasional delays as I go through this process of writing once again.  I just don’t believe they will be quite as long as this so-called “Sabbatical” was.

Why George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” And “Isn’t It A Pity” Loom So Large In My Life

September 29, 2012

I can’t keep this contained much longer.  This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for about a year.  It’s been going on for so many years though.  But it really took on a greater urgency and need when Sheba passed away and I came close to attempting suicide shortly thereafter.

     If some of you who know me think I’ve cracked, then you are going to have to fall by the wayside.  Those of you who know of my love of music and of the fine line I walk in balancing philosophies in an attempt to bring some balance into my own life will know that none of this is of particularly new thinking on my part.  There are those of you who know that I always try to see things and check things out as long as it doesn’t harm me or that I think is too way out there for me to handle. 

     All of what I’m about to tell you about is based on the foundation of my being a fan of George Harrsion and how he has helped to shape my philosophies in life.  It has only been since Sheba passed away that I am becoming more aware of the fact that I have begun merging elements of my Catholic upbringing with very rudimentary elements of Hinduism.  It’s become more obvious in my daily thought processes too.  For all I know, there could be elements of Buddhist and Daoist thinking hidden in all of this that I’m still unaware of.

     When I first heard this wonderfully soothing song coming out of the speakers of my parent’s station wagon while we were all going to visit Valley River Center in Eugene for the very first time as school started in the Fall of 1970, what was to become apparent to me as the years would go by was that this song was serving as my break to become aware of a spiritual point of view from people I respected versus having songs forced upon me by my virtue of being in the Catholic School system.  It was acceeptance over confrontation in the case of George Harrison.  It was that way when I first heard “Hey Jude” from The Beatles.  It was that way when I heard “Let It Be’ from The Beatles as well.  It was going to be that way when I heard spiritual references on Soul Music and other Rock artists. 

     The key ingredient for why Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” impacted me like it did was that it calmed me at a time when I had nobody to turn to other than my parents.  I had just moved up to Eugene from Santa Clara.  I could have just as well been living on the moon at this point.  I felt that isolated. 

     I could not get away from the All Things Must Pass album as both of my older brothers eventually had copies of the album in their collections.  The album was getting frequent play in the house on Fir Acres. 

     Over the years, I have come to believe that some things will silently grow in you as if an invisible foundation is being built for you to draw upon in later years.  My appreciation for Harrison’s early solo work kept going on.  Living In The Material World hit me with a big impact too. 

     And as I jump ahead to the past couple of years, I have begun to realize that all of the songs I have mentioned above as well as Paul Simon’s great single from 1972, “Mother And Child Reunion”, have built up something in me that has surfaced which makes sense to me now.  I am alone now in so much different ways than I was as a kid.  The impact of Sheba in my life has been so deep that her living and her dying has been a catharsis.  It has helped to solidy feelings I have been attempting to balance from attempting to undestand different perspectives and making them make sense in my own life. 

     When I have been listening to “My Sweet Lord” and “Isn’t It A Pity” on the radio, I am hit by a deep swell of emotion resulting from a blending of my Catholic upbringing with George’s personal interpretations of what he saw in Hindu philosopy.  The blend has become one I am comfortable with. 

     All of this had its origins in the fact that I noticed two distinctly different things between The Beatles “Let It Be” and Paul Simon’s “Mother And Child Reunion”.  They both affect me equally even though they have two basic things running seemingly contrary to the other. 

     So, on this point, I will say that the idea of Mother Mary really appeals to me.  I have spent so many years saying that I always dug the nuns more than the priests throughout my schooling.  And when Paul brings up his mother as we interpret it as being Mother Mary whispering those words of wisdom to us, I am comforted. 

     And then Paul Simon has says in “Mother And Child Reunion”  “I know they say Let It Be/But it just don’t work out that way/And a course of a lifetime runs over and over again”. 

     It has been a long conversation in my mind over these two philosophies.  George was the ex-Beatle who ended up on the side of Paul Simon’s conversation with us listeners.

     Here’s something else for you all to consider.  This became part of the equation as well.  In “My Sweet Lord”, George sings at one point “I really want to see you/Really want to be with you/Really want to see you Lord/But it takes so long my Lord”  and then he says essentially the same thing with one huge difference “But it won’t take long my Lord”.

     There was the debate about McCartney and Simon going on in my head.  And then there was what George said about taking so long and it won’t take long.  This is how I began to view that George was saying that Hindus believe that for the suffering (the suffering being us here on Earth), out time to be reunited with God is so long in our view of time.  With God, it is but a wink of an eye.  This is from God’s point of view.  In this case Krishna.  Since I grew up Catholic, I can easily envision Catholics thinking this way too without being Hindu. 

     As an adult, I have become even more aware of Harrsion’s “Isn’t It A Pity” from the same All Things Must Pass album.  We’re all hurting each other and look what it does.  And as all of these things have converged upon themselves in my mind, I have this image from Olivia Harrison’s book, Living In The Material World, that perfectly encapusulates the feeling I have about this convergence.  There is a photo in the book of Harrison down in one of his grottos where he is surrounded by Hindu icons as well as a statue of Jesus.  He was walking hand in hand with his own paradoxes and I have begun to even relaize with greater clarity that I am walking hand in hand with my own while, at the same time, feeling humbled by the fact that I seem to know less as I get older. 

     My love of animals is playing a big role in this.  Sheba’s dog demonstration of love, humilty and grace made it so plainly obvious.  I am imperfect and I will remain so.  Harrsion was imperfect and he said so in his documentary.  And I have become comfortable with a few things now.

     I am trying to reach God by listening to my music.  It’s taking so long for me to get back to God even though it’s a short time in his/her/ its eyes.  I am of the blief that some people get reincarnated.  I don’t believe all people get reincarnated.  I do believe in the Hindu idea that the best way to break the cycle of suffering is to be cremated.  God may still get you back into a body if he/she/it so chooses, but you have the ability to put forth to he/she/it that you wish to break the cycle.  I creamted Sheba so that she could be in harmony in Heaven while she waits for me and I will have the same done for myself.  I don’t want it to be so long on my part. 

     The stress of negative cycles has been largely on my mind throughout all of this spiritual thought.  I hate depression cycles.  I hate being the target of verbal cycles.  I hate being in isolation cycles.  I think when I considered suicide shortly after Sheba passed away, I was considering all of the cycles I wanted to break free of.  I am so glad she doesn’t have to witness these cycles even though she is with me somehow.  And it’s like I’ll always say from here on out, I can’t say that I’m totally free of  being out of the cycle of considering suicide.  But I believe I am stronger because I have considered these things from The Beatles, Paul Simon, George Harrison and so many other musicians. 

     These things were in my thoughts the last couple of years that she was alive and they only came together so very clearly to me when she passed on. 

     I lost her and then two days later, I witnessed the terrible tragedy of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.  I have thought of all of the animals I have seen killed over the years and the passing of my animal pals that I have loved so much.  And then there was the passing of Sheba who affected me like no other.  All of this and the study of these philosophical ideas from musicians I like has been helpful to me as I deal with something that I believe has not been diagnosed to go along with my Depression and Anxiety Disorder.  I honestly believe that I am sufferening from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well. 

     If somebody, whether it’s a friend or some lady that I hope to meet one fo these times, where my spiritual views lie, I would tell them that I walk a line between my Catholic upbringing and Eastern philosophies.  I would also tell them that some very rudimentary Hindu philosophy has been in my life in a unique blend.  Music, Beatles, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Paul Simon, Soul Music, Catholicism, Hinduism, Daoism, I Ching, Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King.  It’s all there.  That’s me.  Jimi Hendrix-“Music Is My Religion”, John Coltrane-reaching for God while breaking boundaries.  It’s all of who I am as a spiritual person.  Even the vain.  It’s all there.  I can’t live as a hypocrite.  And if the Catholics I grew with aren’t happy about it, then they will just have to make their peace with it.

     You see, people.  “Isn’t it a pity/how we break each other’s hearts?”  It’s all about fighting whatever cycles we are in.  Can you become closer to me?

In Great Appreciation: Scott McKenzie

September 1, 2012

     Scott McKenzie’s one big hit single, “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)”, was literally one of the first songs I can recall consciously hearing coming out of a transistor radio as the music was being fed to my left ear back in the ’60s when I was living on Franklin Street down in Santa Clara. 

     Even at such a tender young age back then (and I had to have been listening to this in ’67 or else as it was still getting airplay into 1968), it was an easy song to understand.  I honestly think that the song subconsciously set the tone in my mind for becoming at least an armchair hippie-if not a full practicing one in my very limited definition and understanding of what it was to be one.  There were to be steps along the way which would help me to define the worldview I would develop as I got older. 

     I have known about McKenzie’s association with The Mamas and the Pappas for years.  And I know that John Phillips actually wrote the song itself.  But what I feel really fortunate in is that I was too young at the time the song came out to know of the rivalry going on between San Francisco and Los Angeles bands.  It was a point of contention among San Francisco bands that an L.A. guy wrote the song.  People went so far as to say that it was an advertisement for the Summer of Love in ’67.  For those of you who do not know and have never visited the Bay Area, it is pretty well-known common knowledge among people who were old enough and lived through the times that the actual Summer of Love that they considered to be the big opening was actually the Summer of ’66 and not ’67.  By ’67, people were beginning to see the cracks showing in the dream.  Harder drugs were beginning to seep into Haight-Ashbury from outside sources looking to make a killing on the vulnerability producing a lot of naive people who trusted strangers. 

     Scott McKenzie sang to me a song of which I could hold onto.  The song gave lift to the spirits I could feel whenever I ventured into San Francisco and still feel everytime I visit there.  The song still opens up the doors of the history of that era if one opens up their hearts when they are there as you walk around. 

     It was all about forward progression.  That was why he sang about “people in motion”.  I am not embarrassed by the song.  I am proud to wear it as one of my own since I’m originally from the Bay Area.  I’m not going to hold it against the late John Phillips that he wrote the song.  I’m just glad that it came into existence.  It makes me reach out for the better things that should be here and are not always commonly seen clearly enough in the cruelty of our day to day living and as we march forward in time.  We are so much further away from that special time of the ’60s which produced a cultural explosion as a result of a lot of tension going on and the rapid changes we were all undergoing.  I’m glad Scott gave us a song to remind of where I come from and where I need to go.  It’s still relevant today.

Note:  I will be very busy over the next month and a half.  I will try to leave posts here occasionally during that time period.  They may be shorter as my time is really being taken up with some important things.  Once that time has passed, I should back into the swing of things and write longer posts.

An Apology & A Primer On 7th Grade

August 12, 2012

     I am sorry it has taken me quite a while to get back to writing again here.  I have a big event coming up in my life shortly and it has taken up a bit of space in my thinking.  Things may really slow down here for a while starting next month at some point.  And then things will pick up again later. 

     I am also once again thinking of seriously writing about other periods in my life and not staying in a linear fashion.  Over the last couple of weeks, I have been thinking about things which have been jumping out at me and hitting me with a wave of sorts.  I will continue writing about things and pick up where I left off, but I will also jump to other times as well.  I’m just worried though that the context of why these things were important to me will be lost as a result of not staying in a linear writing mode.

     I do want to start in on 7th Grade even though I have a few straggles of loose ends which need to be tied up before I jump out of 1974 completely in my writing. 

     When I look back on 7th Grade, I think of it as being the least eventful year on the schoolground of all of the years I spent at St. Claire’s.  And yet, I’ve come to think that the relative ease of 7th Grade was the veritable calm before the storm of 8th Grade.  I can definitely say that was the case for me.  I started showing the signs of the storm at home, but not in class or on the playgrounds.  It was likely the case for many of us in class except that we were staying quiet about it because our body chemistries were keeping us all in private confusion. 

     One thing that I did notice from the ’74-’75 period was that all of us guys were pretty much getting along o.k.  But when there were times where some stormy weather arose amongst ourselves, our sniping got more cruel in nature.  Among us guys, the testosterone levels were beginning to fluctuate and occasionally flare to new highs. 

     Academically, it was a puzzle.  It was to be this way clear through to 8th Grade as well because we were being taught by a new teacher.  It was Mrs. Wills.  We found out early in the ballgame that Mrs. Wills wasn’t Catholic like us.  She was a Mormon from Utah who was teaching in a Catholic School.  It served to not only puzzle me, it also served to puzzle my parents as well.  To this day, my Mom and I still kind of shake our heads and wonder how she ended up there.  The only thing I can figure was that the teacher openings in the South Bay Area must have been pretty slim at the time and that she needed to grab something so that she could make some money.  She got stuck with us for two years.  And I can tell you straight away that we likely made her feel like she was being grossly underpaid by the time we got to 8th Grade and the sparks started to fly.  God knows!  I did a major job of contributing my fair share to keeping her and everybody on their toes.  Trust me!  For those of you who weren’t there, I have the stories to back it up.  For those classmates of mine who were there, you likely remember all too well. 

     In general, as as 7th Grade was concerned, there were more stories I remember from when I wasn’t at school than when I was there.  But it wasn’t a total loss as far as dullness was concerned. 

     I remember one particular incident within a matter of days of our starting school which has always stayed with me even though I’ll never remember the name of the kid who was involved in the incident because I put it out of my mind as soon as the damn thing was over with.  It was the morning.  I had just arrived to get ready to start another day of class.  I remember that I was talking to somebody or a few people and minding my own business when this younger kid from either 5th or 6th Grade comes walking up to me out of seemingly nowhere.  He was smaller in height than myself, but I knew there was something wrong with the picture the moment I made eye contact with this kid.  For starters, this guy had a look of craziness in his eyes I had never personally witnessed before.  The clincher for me that I had to prepare myself to be very careful of this kid was that, in one of his hands, he was carrying an ice-pick.  It wasn’t one of your Mom and Dad’s little rinky-dink ice picks that they keep in the kitchen at home.  It was one of those picks that the ice guys use to chip blocks off from their delivery trucks, etc.  In other words, it wasn’t small.  He walked up to me, interrupted my conversation I was having, and yelled at me “I am going to kill you!”  That was my cue.  I had to react.  I was one of the fastest runners in the entire school.  I took off like a shot and started running around the perimeter of the yard.  I may have screamed so that I could get some attention drawn to this kid.  As I was running,  he was running after me with the pick in his hand.  It was raised up.  I kept running.  I ran at least one full lap around the entire yard.  That I remember or certain.  I periodically checked to see how far back the kid was and I noticed that he wasn’t terribly close to me.  But he was still running after me with the ax still raised.  I kept running.  At one point, I did notice that kids in the yard knew something was up and that a few of them were running off to go find some teachers or adults.

     I don’t know if it was somewhere in the late part of my second jaunt around the yard or if there was a third lap, but somebody (an adult) came to my rescue and nailed the kid.  He got stopped and the ax was taken out of his hand.  That was when I stopped and figured I had my fill of P.E. for the day. 

     I don’t know.   Mrs. Wills would ask me about what happened, but I think Mrs. Schellene was the Principle during my year in 7th Grade and she was the one who launched the investigation about what happened.  She was not Meanie Schellene then after this particular adventure.  She was absolutely concerned about what happened.  After I told her about what happened, Helen got a hold of the kid’s parents and then she got a hold of my Dad.

     The latter part was what the kid’s Dad would later regret the most (in all likelihood).  Once the kid’s Dad and my Dad were assembled in the office, the meeting was held.  The kid was suspended from school.  And then my Dad (I later found out either from my Mom or from Helen) basically told the guy that if his kid got near me again, that he was going to get his good friend, the Chief of Police, involved and that he would also personally pay a visit to him and take matters into his own hand. 

     For the rest of the year (and for the rest of my residency at St. Claire’s), I never saw the kid again.  He had been warned not to even broach coming near me again.  I’ll never know whether this kid was play-acting or if he really did go looney on me.  It’s one of those mysteries that’ll never have an answer for as long as I’m around on this Earth. 

     Another thing about 7th Grade that I remember was we spent a good chunk of the year with all of the classes competing against each other in an S & H Green Stamps competition with the winner getting a day off and a field trip out of the deal.  My dear Mother had been saving this incredible ungodly amount of Green Stamps and we used them towards this competition.  As a result, my 7th Grade class, in no small part due to my Mom, absolutely crushed all of the other classes in the compeption and we ended up winning.  We got to go to the Freedom Train exhibit when it stopped in San Jose.  This is where, among other things, I witnessed the great Detroit Pistons center Bob Lanier’s equally unworldly sized tennis shoes.  I can still remember my great buddy, Donna C., pretending to be serious when she said to me “You better help us us win…or else!”  And then she started laughing. 

     7th Grade was also the year where I began to make my great boast about starting a Rock and Roll band and how we were going to play a gig at the gym across the street.  One of my other great buddies, Lisa L., told me that she knew I was going to do some Stones songs and that she was volunterring to do Merry Clayton’s part during “Gimme Shelter” (I’m laughing as I’m typing this).  It was a given that this was one of the ones I was going to do.  There were two problems with this scenario.  I never did get this band together because my Summer School friend from Wilson, Jim R., never did get back together to continue our friendship.  And the other one was that, at this point, I could hardly figure out a word Jagger was singing in the song.  My version of the song would have been the greatest pig Latin translation of the song ever assembled.  And it would have been sung by an out of tune young teenager who sounded like a Turkey vulture when he sang.  And shit, man!  I’m 50 years old now and I still don’t know all of the words to the song even though I now know most of them.  You know what?  It was times like this that my buddy Gail M. (her of her hot sister fame), would look upon me with some sympathy and give me points for my enthusiasm by way of her eyes instead of saying it out loud.  I guess the start of her laugh and the slight shaking of her head was what always gave it away. 

     I have misplaced my picture of our class from 7th Grade.  It is the only one that I don’t know where it is.  I hope I find it one of these times.  But we had at least one pleasant new addition to our wild and crazy class.  That addition came in the form of Maggie W.  To this day, I still don’t know why I didn’t go ahead and have a full-out crush on her because she had everything going for her.  She was cute and she had the kind of laid-back hippie-chick vibe that I really dug.  Man, she slid right in among us and made herself at home.  As far as I know, there was no awkward transition period for her to have to go through.  Maybe she was just as nuts as we were and that’s why she fit in so quickly.  The thing I remember about her so much is that she would always say “See you later, alligator” anytime we were saying goodbye to each other.  She was just so cool. 

     As far as my grades were concerned, 7th Grade was where I made a rebound from the relaxed rebellion of 6th Grade with Sue Johnson.  My memory gets really foggy on this part.  But I think Sue stayed on and taught at least this one more year at St. Claire’s.  I still cannot recall if she was there when I got to 8th Grade.  I’m only mentioning this because the change in classes seemed to bring about this huge uncrossable chasm between Susan and myself.  From the day I started 7th Grade, I don’t believe I ever spoke to her again.  This strikes me as being so strange.  I still don’t understand why I miss her the most of all of the teachers I knew from back then. 

     Along with Mrs. Wills, we had Sister Nancy and Miss Kokes teaching us.  For some reason, we never really pushed Sister Nancy too hard.  I always got the impression about Sister Nancy was that she knew the score.  We were there to get any particular class over with and that she was there to teach us and get it over with as well.  As far as I was concerned, she was cool.  I would love to talk to her now (if she’s still alive) and ask why she left the Order and what her take on us and our times we lived through are.  I have a lot of thoughts I’d like to share with her about all of that. 

     And then there was the all too-innocent Miss Kokes.  If I could tell you the number of times us guys got away with murder in that class, you’d probably think we were all due prison sentences for the shit we got away with.  Her classes were our daily snore-fests.  I hate to say it like that, but it’s the truth.  John P, Danny H., Alan M. David G. and some of the girls came up with some classic one-iners during her class.  A ton of those one-liners had a lot of sarcastic sharp bite to them that flew completely over her head.  I’ll still never forget one class where I was sitting up front (because of my hearing impairment and the fact that I was still a year away from getting my first hearing aid) and half-sleeping through one of her lectures again when I noticed that a little spider was dangling on a web right in front of her face.  I remember having fun watching it for a little bit before I finally decided to take pity on her, interrupt her talking to us, and told her to stay still while I nailed the spider and the web and moved it out of the way.  After that, we all settled back in again and fell half-asleep again. 

     On a more melancholy note, 7th Grade was the last full year in which I got to enjoy my frienship with Bill R. before the big brouhaha erupted in 8th Grade between us.  I will give a strikingly candid reason for why we began to resemble King Kong vs. Godzilla in 8th Grade.  It was a part of discovery and growing up and thenhaving the complications of being teenagers collide with the confusion to create an ungly brew.  When I tell the stories about Bill and I in 7th Grade, you’ll know why I’m so fond of the memories I carry.  For right now, I can say that I still remember numerous times on the playground where Bill and I would exchange music information and impressions to each other as well as movie tidbits to go with the mutual love of Star Trek we had.

     7th Grade was also the time when Chris R. and I really hit it off.  He also had a huge love of Star Trek.  Between him and Billy, they both reinforced and refined my love of Star Trek greatly.  I will forever be in their debt for this.  Chris was the person who allowed me into the world of Bruce Lee because I was hearing about him and seeing occasional clips of him on television from time to time.  The guy intrigued me.  Plus, he had passed away in 1973 and people were still talking about him.  Well, Chris and I went to see a Bruce Lee movie together and it really stuck with me.  I’ve been privately hooked on Bruce Lee since then.  Again, thank you Chris. 

     I must say something further about Chris.  His mother was such a sweet and wonderful lady to be around.  I really dig her tremendously.  I wish I had gotten to know her better.  It is one of the great tragedies in my life that Chris and I never really continued much into 8th Grade and beyond.  Our friendship met a minor tragic end of sorts that I will talk about later. 

     Wow!  I’m looking at this post right now and I have come to the realization that this is not just a primer on my time in 7th Grade.  I’ve covered a lot more ground than I realized.  I have a lot more to cover in the ’74-’75 period-plus I need to go over some earlier ’74 ground which I didn’t cover yet.  I still plan on jumping around in time too.

Late August 1974: Night Of The Dancing Lights

July 26, 2012

     Of all of the evenings I have lived through my life, this is the one which stands above all others.  The effect of this moment in time influences me in a continual wave.  It is unexplainable.  I can only hint as to what I think it meant and to what it really was.  It is only speculation on my part.  I’ll never know why this feeling hit me like it did and what its purpose was for entering my life until I die. 

     I made it through nursery school.  I made it through kindergarten.  I was to eventually to graduate from St. Claire’s, Marist, Lane Community College and then the University of Oregon.  I remember all of these things as steps in my life.  But in late August of 1974, I graduated from something and it was the biggest graduation I’ve ever had.  It eclipsed all others  to come in time. 

     I am convinced that on this incredibly hot night, I graduated from my childhood and was walking into my teenage years in a ceremony of peace that I have never felt with such power and intensely deep serenity of which I did that evening. 

     Let me set this up for all of you.  On the evening that this private event took place, it was likely the hottest day of the Summer.  It was one of those days where being in the swimming pool didn’t really cool you down much.  You just had to bear through it. 

     I was done eating dinner.  I decided to go and do my usual radio listening instead of listening to an album or doing some shortwave radio listening.  I just wanted to head to Grandpa and mine’s room and just veg out because the day was so damned hot.  In my bedroom, I had my windows open so that I could get some air going in a hopeful cross-breeze.  I knew that I was going to leave my door open tonight.  I figured that my second oldest brother would likely be opening the vents up and the windows in his room so that he could let air in.  It turns out that he did.  He threw open the wood shutters of the windows open and tried to get some evening ventilation going.  He left the door to his room open.

     Evening had finally fallen.  Darkness was finally arriving.  When I went over to walk into my bedroom, I noticed that something was going on.  I strolled into my second oldest brother’s room and looked out the window and saw a sight that made me feel very comfortable.  John and Mike had George Migs over that evening and they were about to hit the pool themselves to cool off.  Knowing that George was there was just so special.  He was my favorite of my brother’s friends.  The calming influence of his gentleness introduced the evening at hand for me to step into with full immersion. 

     The swimming pool lights were on.  I saw my brothers and George start diving into the pool and having a grand time.  As I was there for a bit looking at all of this, I saw that they were taking turns coming out of the pool and then diving so that they could make huge waves.  Chainsaw, my little first dog, was getting all excited watching this.  I can see him still.  At one point, he tried sniffing George’s head and George swatted a small bit of water at him to get him to quit doing it.  And after I had my fill of this peaceful scene, I made my exit from my brother’s room and strode into my bedroom.

     I got my pillow for my head and threw it down on the floor, arranged the little speakers of my mini-stereo just right for the directional pointing into my left ear and proceeded to lay down (as per my usual).  I turned on the radio and dialed in to KSJO-FM San Jose.  A little bit of time passed and I was just relaxing.  But something was divinely present because the peace I was feeling was deepening as I listened to the music in the darkness.  I began to notice that there were lights in my room other than the light emanating from the dials of my radio and the stereo unit itself.  That was when I noticed it. 

     The pool lights.  It was the pool lights.  Whites and blues dancing across my ceiling.  They were travelling from the pool area, into my brothers room and upon his ceiling, across the small hallway that separated our bedrooms and then managed to dance across the ceiling of my bedroom above my head.  Though I was in complete awareness of this, I became completely entranced by the lights.  I don’t have any idea of how long all of this took to germinate, but my big moment was coming. 

     Everybody graduates from their ceremonies with the organ playing the graduating song that is played at eveery graduation in this country ad naseum.  But my graduation started with a different song.  The peace descended on me with full force.  I felt like I was both connected to the peace which surrounded me.  At the same time, I felt like I was not connected to anything at all.  This was the first time I ever felt the power of some kind of greater metaphysical force helping me to transition into a state of relaxation that was nothing like I had ever felt before. 

     My graduation song that KSJO began to play was “Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” by Elton John from the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album.  During the entire length of the song, the song, sounds of the song, the dancing lights above me and the feeling of tranquility that I was feeling intertwined themselves within me into a perfect spiral as I was got deeper into allowing myself to get lost in the dancing pool lights above me. 

     I’ll never know if the late Sister Regina Marie and John Perry were somehow involved in all of this.  I don’t know if this was the night that the innocence of of my childhood was being passed over to the depression I was going to begin to feel as a teenager.  I don’t know if this was the night that the ’68-’74 period that I’ve told you all about was where it all ended.  There was to be an event in either the very last week of December 1974 or the very first couple of days of January 1975 which might actually have been the final seal to that period of which I hold so dearly. 

     There would still be great times and some incredible music to listen to clear through when I would leave Santa Clara on Labor Day of 1978.  On this night, however, a paradigm shift occurred.  The great times were to become tempered by the not so great times with slowly increasing increments.  The music was to begin to swing in a pendulum-like fashion.  The ratio of AM singles that I got into was going to begin to make a slow drop over time.  My dependence on FM was going to go through greater proportions and take me on some very unexpectedly deep emotional rides as the tumult of my teenage years were so settle in and become the norm.  The quality of the music I was so used to hearing on AM was to begin a slow process of diminishment even though it didn’t leave entirely while I was still living in Santa Clara.  

     On this night, I was alive.  But it was the closest thing I’ve ever felt towards the feeling that I was released from everything and every worry I could ever have.

     It was only until well after the fact that some sadness was to befall me in thinking about this night while I was still living down there.  It was the last night that I got to visually see George Migs during the rest of the time that I lived in Santa Clara.  There was a time a couple of years later where my Mom told me that George came over to see if John was around, but I wasn’t home to catch him and talk to him once again.  I was at school when it happened.  I did not see George again (and his brother Jay) until Christmas Day of 1996 when I was attempting to live back in Santa Clara again for a 5 month spell.  After this night, I was only days away from starting 7th Grade.

August 1974: I Discover FM Radio & A Few More Big Songs

July 13, 2012

     I discovered FM radio as a result of a lie that my second oldest brother laid on me as I was lying down on the floor of my bedroom and doing some of my usual AM radio listening.  The Summer heat had really been taking off and was working on reaching skin-peeling proportions. 

     When you don’t expect one of your older brothers to walk into your room, it can be a little unsettling.  When your brother just happens to have almost finished growing into his just under 6 feet 5 inch frame, it can make a tiny, skinny, under 100 lb. guy feel akin to what a tiny plant-eater from the Jurrasic Age felt when a Tyrannosaurus Rex walks into your view.  In other words, it can be a little frightening. 

     So, I’m looking up at him from  the floor and feeling like there’s this great distance between us even though he was right there in my presence.  Also, I’m pretty sure my eyes were as wide as saucers to boot.  Suddenly, he bent down right next to where I was laying down, reaches over the dials on my little system and switches my radio over from AM to the FM band.  As he was doing this, he told me, “Listen to this, they’re going to play some Stones in 5 minutes.”  And then he walked out of my room.  Hell, I can’t remember if I even saw him again that evening. 

     And so there I was.  I was excited that I was going to hear some Rolling Stones music.  But a weird thing was happening.  Five minutes went by and I heard no Rolling Stones music.  I figured that it was o.k. and to just wait a little bit more and then it would come on.  15 minutes went by-no Stones.  A half an hour goes by-no Stones.  And then an hour goes by-and still no Stones. 

     That station my brother switched me to was KSJO.  And in the interim, I began my journey into hearing deep catalog cuts from artists I already liked and started picking up on bands  from the past and the present that I was going to love and also begin having more connect the dots moments with.

     I have no idea as to why my brother chose this particular time to switch me over.  There are a number of possibilities.  He may not have liked the fact that I had a tendency to leave my door open and play the music too loudly.  I used to sing along to the music.  And since this was the in the days before I got my first hearing aid, my singing was considered beautiful if you liked the sound of turkey vultures singing.  Singing in key was not my specialty at the time.  So, he may have gotten tired of that too.  He might have been hearing what was emanating out of my room and didn’t like some of the music he was hearing and decided that he was going to be my taste bearer.  For all I know, he could just have been irratated over something and decided to do something as a reaction to it.  I was the only person he could likely have a safe reaction to. 

     Well, it all doesn’t matter what the reasons were for why he did this.  It’s because the timing of this was absolutely perfect.  He got pissed and switched me over right when I would have wanted to get switched over.  The AM side of the dial was going to start the process of changing.  I was to start hearing a slow increase in Disco music and the number of great singles from other artists was going to start a very gradual decrease in the number of singles I was going to like.  And in 1975 and 1976, a strange thing was going to start happening once again.  There were going to be spurts where KFRC and KYA were going to start playing really old (for back then) singles.  The Beatles
“Got To Get You Into My Life” was going to eventually get released and get big airplay even though they broke up back in ’70.  I also remember that in ’75 or ’76 that “Light My Fire” from The Doors was going to make a big comeback on those two stations too.  AM was beginning the process of looking back as the playlists eventually got tighter in a slow squeeze.  FM was going to be my last big radio adventure.  There was still enough time to soak in and enjoy the progressive free-form radio jocks and learn from them.   

     In the Summer of ’74, Paul McCartney was huge because of the Band On The Run album really dominating the airwaves.  And within that first hour of listening to KSJO that evening, I started into the deeper cuts on Band On The Run.  Within a few days, there were two songs of his that were absolute staples because of the frequency of my hearing these tracks.  “Bluebird” and “Let Me Roll It” became just as familiar to me as the “Band On The Run”and “Helen Wheels” singles I was hearing on AM. 

     And I have to say this about “Let Me Roll It”.  First of all, what a God Almighty cool song!  I thought I died and went to Heaven when I heard it for the first time.  Over the next year, even when McCartney released Wings At The Speed Of Sound and Venus And Mars, this song got heavy airplay for a very simple reason.  I think it was the South Bay stoner anthem for the ages.  I was still young and I just liked the attitude of sharing in in the song.  But you could just feel the California vibe connecting itself to this song in such an easy way.  Also, during this very early time of FM listening, I also heard “Mrs. Vandebuilt” being played every so often too. 

     As a result of my brother’s opening the door to FM for me, I was to get bold and start looking around for other stations.  Between that and the newspaper listings, I would find myself discovering KOME, KSAN, KYA-FM, KFJC-Los Altos Hills and KARA.  Over time and some posts, I will tell you of the discoveries that I made during the ’70s on the FM band when I was still living in Santa Clara.

     I did not stop listening to AM.  I continued on.  It was still a great majority staple of mine.  The percentage of AM to FM listening was going to eventually get to the even point in ’75 and into part of ’76.  But by the Summer of ’76, the pendulum swung to majority FM listening over AM for me.

     As that August of ’74 kept building up to a heat infested crescendo, Summer School at Wilson finally ended.  But I had this terribly nagging feeling that I kept to myself that some kind of ending was happening.  I didn’t know what it was nor could I define it.  I kept all of this to myself.  There were two songs which were released around this time that were climbing high into the charts that definitely made me feel this way.  One was “The Air That I Breath” from The Hollies.  The other was “Radar Love” from Golden Earring.

     The nagging feeling I have described to you in posts concerning the Summer of ’74 reached its apex when I began to hear “The Air That I Breath”.  I felt as if I was standing on top of a mountain peak of sorts and that I was looking down on all of my moments I held dear to me that I had been feeling since I was in a state of real awareness since 1968. 

     I was saying goodbye to something, but I didn’t know what it was.  It was a feeling that overcame me.  And with the benefit of hindsight now, I can only figure to guess that I was passing the torch on from my childhood to my teenage years.  And in the first time that I’ve ever really revealed this to anybody, these last few weeks may have been the last few weeks where I was possibly chemically happy.  The roots of my anxiety disorder and likely Depression was to begin to take shape as the Summer turned into Fall.  Remember that I had told you that during Summer School, my blue moods were beginning to take on a deeper hue-especially when I was thinking about girls. 

     So, with “The Air That I Breath”, I felt like I was on this majestic summit.  The lyrics were conveying what was, in my mind, my own hippie sense of what I was aiming for.  I wanted a girl to love and feel that airy about it.  The harmonies were just so dreamy and I soaked it in.  My attitude was that I could easily love.  Hey man, I was walking cool.  To love is to be cool.  That was my thinking.  And that soaring lead guitar!  It just took me higher.  I would not find out until many years later that Eric Clapton was a huge fan of the song specifically because of the guitar.  But the radio was starting to change without my knowing it.  And on a personal note, I was coming down off of the summit that was breathtaking and  I was going down to a flat plateau before the start of the climb which still has not ended for me yet.  It’s now 2012.

     “Radar Love” from Golden Earring.  There are so many single words I identified with it when I heard it back then and I still use those very words thinking about it now.  Retro, Modern, shortwave , Jimi, cool.  This song is so appropriate in that it was one of the very last songs I heard before I made my switchover to FM.  It was the combination of two of the words above, modern and retro, that reflected the literal and symbolic reference points of my life to the past and the then current present which made it so.  And as this song was climbing up the charts and my brother made his fateful foray into my bedroom to change the stations on me, I was locked into a history which I can only guess was meant for me.  I was so lucky though.  I loved the song when I started out hearing the single edit on AM.  Within days of my discovery of FM, I got to hear the unedited album version from Moontan.  As a result, I started to develop an opinion, a sharp one, right away.  I made the decision that I loved the album versions of these singles, dammit!  I wasn’t going to tolerate these single edits and feel cheated ever again.  Every once in a while, when I was listening to AM, somebody ( likely for ratings) would play the album length version and I’d be more satisfied.

     I noticed immediately the combination of retro and progressive which I took to be the direction that music was going to go into.  Well, at least I got it this song.  One of my old copies of The Rolling Stone Record guide says that it sounds like Golden Earring being like Kraftwerk.  All I knew when I heard it was that it was the most unique combination of harkening back and going into forward progression that I had ever heard.  1974 felt like modern times when I heard it back then.  I think of it as ancient history that I wish I could be back in today.   

     It was all about the radio.  “Radar Love” was perfectly suited to me.  I got the radio in so many different ways.  How it tied in to getting home to that love of yours (which I hadn’t found and was on my search) and all of the culture and meaning within it hit me with a big impact. 

     In my next post, I will write about the night which stays in my mind above all else from ’74.  It was an incredible night of the most powerful and all-encompassing personal moment by myself I’ve ever experienced in my life.