This is a wild one. I hope I can keep it together to get the point across. I heed my previous admonitions of fair play. But the story has some celebrity to it, so it has to be true to how I heard the various elements. In this regard, once again I am reporting on life being lived.
As opposed to living it.
In 1962, Howard E. Scott and Harold Brown formed a group called The Creators in Long Beach, California. Within a few years, they had added Charles Miller, Morris “B. B.” Dickerson and Lonnie Jordan to the lineup. Lee Oskar and Papa Dee Allen later joined as well. They all shared a love of diverse styles of music, which they had absorbed living in the racially-mixed Los Angeles ghettos. The Creators recorded several singles on Dore Records while working with Tjay Contrelli, a saxophonist from the band Love. In 1968, the Creators became Nightshift (named because Brown worked nights at a steel yard) and started performing with Deacon Jones, a football player and singer.
The original War was conceived by record producer Jerry Goldstein (“My Boyfriend’s Back“, “Hang on Sloopy“, “I Want Candy“) and singer Eric Burdon (ex-lead singer of the British band the Animals). In 1969, Goldstein saw musicians who would eventually become War playing at the Rag Doll in North Hollywood, backing Deacon Jones, and he was attracted to the band’s sound. Jordan claimed that the band’s goal was to spread a message of brotherhood and harmony, using instruments and voices to speak out against racism, hunger, gangs, crimes, and turf Lowriders, and promote hope and the spirit of brotherhood.
Their show at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London on September 18, 1970 is historically notable for being the final public performance of Jimi Hendrix, who joined them onstage for the last 35 minutes of Burdon & War’s 2nd set; a day later he was dead.
ON BALANCE I THINK LIFE is both thrust upon us and stolen from us. The human perspective on death being one of some measure less than finality to so many of so many faiths that see so little else eye-to-eye, the likelihood for statements of faith, even hare-brained, late-life or both may occur. Here, in the interest of full disclosure I preface with the caveat that if in the throes of realizing cessation of life is imminent, a man screams “Jesus Christ”
it’s probably merely an exclamation
My good friend and customer prefers his isolation of living alone. He speaks of having traveled the world in regular respite from his work, but rarely do the relationships that accompanied his travels, specifically the women, work their way into the retelling. He is more focused on his adventures and relating to me having lived a substantial if not somewhat dharmic existence in search of his truths from Tibet to Cape d’antibe. Pictured here, the cape. Tony Soprano once refered to the resort at France’ sunny southern bend as “Captain Teeg’s”. That man had class.
My friend always uses phraseology when discussing such moments in his relative youth that harkens to Bill Murray’s Phil Connors in Groundhog Day. Phil reasons that if one must live a single day over and over through eternity…
THAT was a pretty good day
My friend speaks of both outrage and helplessness at the great measure of poverty he witnessed all over the planet. He is not morally bankrupt; he compels himself to acknowledge his skimming the line ethically to try to help poor along his travels and equally comfortably dine aboard vessels and in settings that put the human race to shame in their selfish abandonment of the needy in favor of ownership of ostentatious wealth. But he considered it great fortune to be born into means, be marginally successful in his work and able to see the many places he traveled. Now in his mid-60′s, he urges me to find life to again be something that I relish, and get my ass in gear on it.
quit my belly achin’. enjoy lunch
The only recent tales of my good friend that were disturbing didn’t seem related at first. I drove it around the block, though. Although he never speaks of personal relations with women, he has worked for many head of household women with whom he maintains years of working and social interaction. Occasionally, as happens these days, a long-time customer of his will be offended at my friend defending his somewhat liberal politics. Recently he lost touch with a woman for whom he has greatly enjoyed working. She has been so pleased with his work over the years, but when he stood up to her statements of belief, she really laid a number on him. He hadn’t had contact with her since the incident in mid-summer.
It gets worse. In the past few days, he was telling me of socializing with a mutual friend of the woman who is so very incensed at him. This other woman, another customer of my friend and highly successful in world banking, had come to him very excited to get a project started and found my friend had been laid up most of the past month with a work injury, a pinched nerve and related distress, barely leaving his boat and using some heavy medications, a true indication of his distress. He is a tough guy, self-sustaining and with a strong will and even temperament. The use of medications and people Rolffin His Body Up in physical therapy are sure signs he endured until sensibly succumbing to treatment options. She was saddened not to be able to book my buddy’s time immediately, but they are friends going way back, as I stated, so like any good relation she was more concerned about his ongoing recovery than her finish carpentry. They planned a dinner, but first she had already scheduled a lunch with their mutual friend.
When they had dinner later, his friend was just delightful. They are fans of exotic food and gastronomically quite daring; the hours at the restaurant flew by and they caught up on each other. He really is a conversationalist at heart, my friend, as I witness regularly. His friend was delighted to hear him agree to calendar the work when he returns. They had a memorable evening. He told me later of the chat his woman friend broached as they were walking to the car.
She simply isn’t a gossip, so it began hesitantly, but she asked him of what had happened to their mutual friend, the woman so upset at my friend. The friend asked this as they walked to the car, my friend hobbling as he does. He told me he asked her, what did she mean? was something wrong with their mutual friend? As he is also not one to gossip, it was all he could do to describe the incident without couching it in some bias of favorable fashion, so being who he is, he simply told her the woman had been insufferable regarding political differences.
His friend replied that the woman had ALWAYS been insufferable about politics.
Her concerns had been somewhat allayed, she related to him, by her observation of his physical condition, range of motion and ability to be ambulatory, i.e. accompanying her to dinner. Her worrisome question was rooted in when he had told her on the phone of his injury, she later had mentioned it to their mutual friend of his misfortune at suffering the injury. She related their friend’s eyes brightened and that she blurted suddenly that she had prayed fervently since their strenuous disagreement that my friend suffer an injury. And that she prevailed, to her mind, in that Her God had answered her prayer and proven my friend a heathen.
My buddy takes such things in stride. He won’t succumb, I don’t think, to allowing the taint of such hatreds, once again calling upon a God for one’s own righteous indignation, to let him lose sight of his larger purpose. Nor discount that his good friend with whom he had enjoyed such succulent feast as is life was untainted as well, once assured of my friend’s being in the midst of recovery and having expressed alarm and concern for their mutual friend’s lost faith.
cuz on balance, it had been a pretty good day
The final destination none of us know. So it is smart to enjoy and celebrate each day. It is difficult to see people turned away from healthy relations; even more perplexing is the idea one would use the supposed belief in the power and might and sheer love of a higher being they worship… to pray for a former friend’s injury. Worse, to state it openly to a mutual friend. But one never knows. One certainly can’t tell by appearances.
So I was ready, then. One more story for (and of) the road. My friend spoke of the sixties. He believes it was the summer of 1968, as timelines of those events remain etched in most Americans minds. It’s kinda where the wheels came off this whole thing.
In his final story he was traveling with friends down the California coast, down Big Sur and the like, our most Westernmost contiguous state’s craggy, merciless coast between San Fran’ and L.A. It was summer and the coastal hippie towns were brimming with happy people. At some towns, whole buses of hippies would pull up, share in the bountiful communities or ad hoc celebrations and parties, then move on in a few hours. Traveling in this fashion, the youth of that era found a sense of connectiveness with others of all disparate backgrounds and walks of life. They yearned for these new experiences.
A bus pulled up. It was much like the other buses; out poured the sway of beautiful young women. Much like the rest, they moved among the crowd. My friend watched and exchanged pleasantries. The girls were different from the typical hippie free spirits he had encountered in his time on the road. They seemed abrupt, and stealth in their pocketing of food beyond what they might immediately eat. They didn’t interact and mingle with the people already there, at least at first. After a while, upon moving closer, my friend was introduced to some of them by the tallish man, who called himself Tex.
He relates the story in this fashion, but was fairly clueless at the time. A year or so later, a friend who had been traveling with him and witnessed the afternoon sent him press clippings. He wasn’t as surprised as one might think. He had seen the group move in, take what they wanted, add some new travelers to their troupe, and off they had gone. Before his story ended, I came to understand about the ebb and flow of life, that ya’ gotta take the good days and enjoy them to their fullest. Ya’ gotta take with a grain of salt the bad days, the bad ways, the bad people for want of another term, who might wish or even invoke or inflict pain and suffering into your one and only measly life. I came to understand the nature of evil a little better. I yearn to exorcise this sad mentality from my beliefs and actions.
“This is Susie,” Tex began.
“The little one is Squeaky.”
As Tex spoke, down the steps of the old school bus came a small man, dirty despite the pastiche of the setting, the multi-colored Earth Bus and the pristine, even bucolic surroundings at the edge of the expansive sea.
they can’t all be good ones