3. short stories (while i was a student @ “Moo U” (colorawdough state Univ.)

Three  Short Stories

(CSU, having been the state’s “agricultural” college earlier (Colo. A & M Univ) was also affectionately known as “Moo U.)

            These three (stories, &/or experiences) all occurred while I lived in Fort Collins, either while attending or just after graduating from Colorado State University

            I was arrested and led away in handcuffs for shooting Hitler

            When a 4F draft status is “no problem”

            My five seconds of Hollywood Movie Stardom  

            First, the second.  During the initial heavy-duty Vietnam War years encompassing the later 1960’s, I had three friends who went into the military.  Larry joined the Navy, Roy H went into the Army, and Willy enlisted in the Air Force.

            And each of them, all three, summarized their lot:  “if my going into the military has accomplished any purpose whatsoever, let it be this:  to convince all my friends, all of you, to NOT go into the military.”  I, and all my remaining non-service cronies, took that passionate edict to heart.

            At first the path to deferments was somewhat well-marked and easy to follow.  College students got the student deferment, married guys had the married deferment, and I suppose psychopaths had the whacko deferment.  But as the ’60’s rolled towards the ’70’s, the need for meat for the sausage-making apparatus intensified, and it seemed the military was drafting just about anybody.  

            And we all collected stories about how people “got out.”  Frank Zappa allegedly filled the space between his buttocks with peanut-butter and when the “bend over” examination occurred, the attending military medical personnel looked, then stepped back — “what the heck is that?”

            “I don’t know,” Frank allegedly replied, taking a couple fingers, reaching back for a big gob, popping it in his mouth, “but it sure tastes good.”

            None of us were quite ready to go that route.  We heard other stories, some almost as bizarre, some routine.  There was a time when one could simply announce he was a homosexual.  After a while, that by itself would allegedly not disqualify a candidate.  I heard of someone who refused to poop for several days (I have NEVER been able to do that).  The morning of the pre-induction, this guy drank lots of coffee and possibly a laxative and was a “real mess” all during the pre-induction exam.

            But when our friend Dick Olson, unanimously acknowledged as the craziest of all of us, took the pre-induction AND PASSED — we were worried.

            “Long story short:”  when it came time for me to take the pre-induction in early 1969, I got the “psycho” deferment.  This merited a “1Y” draft status — to be considered for the military only in the event of a true major national emergency.  Back in those daze I figured that a ‘true’ and major national emergency would be as it sounds — something major, like the Armageddon itself.  So, in the words of a Frank Zappa song, I felt free, and could go “back to the alley, with all of my friends, still running free.”

            A few years later a change of draft status arrived unannounced and unexpected in the mail.  “4F.”  I was completely and totally un-draft-worthy.  The 4F meant “not to be considered for military service — ever.”

            Fast forward a few years, to 1977.  I had just graduated from college and was going to every college-sponsored “meet and greet” potential employers event.  My watered-down physics degree didn’t make much headway in all the interviews I had attended thus far.

            One particularly depressing day, I was dressed in a suit and interviewed with Tektronics — a company which made research equipment, mostly electronic measuring devices.  I had by-passed all hardcore and useful electronics courses when I switched majors from Physics to Physical Science a year before.

            After a brief introduction and summary by the visiting Tektronics recruitment staff, the interview got down to the ‘brass tacks.’  “What do you know about …?”  and “Have you worked with …?” and “Tell us what you’d do if this happened …” type questions.

            It wasn’t long before I felt like I was a village idiot looking for work in a series of villages each of which already had one.

            I was also reminded of a Monty Python sketch about the Cheese Shoppe.  A man is studying at the Library, stops, and decides he must have some cheese.  He saunters to the nearby Village Cheese Shoppe, stopping at the counter.  Again, after a brief introduction, it’s —

            “Do you have any roquefort?”

            “Fresh out.”

            “How about edam?”

            “Oh, it’s Tuesday, never have any on Tuesday.”

            “French Brie?”

            “Ah, delivery truck hasn’t brought it yet.”

            “Sharp cheddar, then?”

            “No, none right now.”

            After several dozen inquiries, asking for every cheese you’ve ever heard of, including many obscure ones like Siberian Yak’s Milk Curdled Sour and the like, the answer is the same.  Nope.  None.

            “This isn’t much of a cheese shoppe.”

            “Oh, best in these parts, sir.”

            To every question, many dozens of them, about my knowledge of electronic circuits and using equipment and how it all worked, I had to truthfully answer “no.”  Sometimes I’d pause a bit, trying to look like I was considering, and say “not much.”  I slunk out of the interview room, feeling two-foot tall.

            As luck (?) would have it, I encountered an acquaintance, Captain Jim Fulks, who was sitting at the Marines recruitment table in the Student Center foyer/entry.  I knew Captain Jim because of Roy H, who, in spite of his decade-earlier admonition to everyone NOT to go into the military, had gone back and was on temporary duty to recruit in the area.  I was “enlisted” to be on the Marines team during a series of ROTC challenge cross country running races.  It was implicitly understood during these events that I was a “guest” on the team, and it was hand’s off in regards serious solicitation.

            “How’s it going Rosco?” cheerily intoned Capt. Fulks.

            I was straight-forward, open, regarding him as a friend.  After all, it’s therapeutic to discuss one’s problems with friends.  “Jim — I recently graduated and just finished a terrible job interview.  Things are not looking good.”

            Jim switched off the projector showing scenes of the Marines in action, used (probably not too successfully) to lure possible recruits to the table to talk shop.  “How about me buying a pitcher of beer at the Ramskellar and you tell me about it?” Slap on the shoulder.

            Actually, that sounded pretty good at the time.  Yes, I knew he’d discuss another job option, but I wasn’t worried.  I had two aces up my sleeve.

            We took a table in the Student Center Tavern, pitcher of beer between us.  At first we attracted a little attention.  Students at tables nearby gazed at the unlikely duo of Marine Captain in his bright dress uniform, and the long-haired depressed-looking slouch in the cheap suit.

            It wasn’t long before Capt. Jim asked the inevitable:  “Rosco, have you ever considered joining The World’s Finest?”

            “Jim, I can’t.  I’m too old.”

            “How old are you?”

            “I’m twenty-eight.”  I had read that the military wouldn’t consider anyone older than twenty-seven.

            Jim made a quick somewhat-veiled glance around at nearby tables.  I’m sure he didn’t want anyone to know The World’s Finest would compromise their lofty standards.  “Under our ‘Old Men in Good Shape Program’ we can recruit up to age thirty-five.”

            A couple beads of sweat broke out on my brow.  “Is that so?”  We talked a for a few minutes more.  “Okay, is there anything else which is a problem?”

            “Jim, I’ve got a 4F.”

            Another glance at nearby tables.  “Tell me about it.”

            “It was during VietNam …” was as far as I got.

            “VietNam era?  No problem.  We can easily make it go away.”

            I glanced at the imaginary watch on my bare wrist.  I told Captain Fulks I was late for my next appointment, got up and left.  I haven’t seen nor heard from him since.

            In later 1976 I was a Physics major at C.S.U.  My wife was working at some mundane vitality-sapping job with a bunch of lifeless zombies to pay the bills and concurrently put her husband through school.  I was at my desk, fulfilling homework requirements and feeling weighted-down by whatever I figured the oppressive demands of the quotidian sought to drain from my soul.  Like rainwater, my attention went from the textbooks to listlessly turning the pages of a C.S.U. general information booklet.  I flipped through the requirements for other degrees, and, lo and behold, there was a certificate I was well on the way to fulfilling which was somewhat similar (maybe only in name only) to that which I had two years yet to attain.  I could graduate with this other degree in one year.  I felt better already.

            Physical Science.  I already had the biology (a prior attempt at another major), all the math (hard-core physics mandated an additional four or so courses), most the miscellaneous requirements, except for two categories.  Humanities and upper-division courses.  

            I became an expert at upper-division humanities without prerequisites.  I believe I took all classes in that category that the university offered.

            History of Jazz.  Introduction to Formal Logic.  The Nature of Culture.  History of Ancient Israel (at least I had to, finally, read the entire “old testament”! among other things).  The only non-post-grad-level Linguistics course.  And Politics and the Environment.

            Politics and the Environment was intended to be somewhat ‘left-leaning,’ in that the professor who had always taught it was of the viewpoint that The Environment usually got screwed when coming up against Politics.  The first day of class, Professor Meeks took the lectern and made his introduction.  Apparently the usual teacher for this course was missing in some foreign country or something like that, so the university procured a last-minute stand-in.  And he announced that though he did not share the other teacher’s view of the environment needing some assistance in the fight with politics, he’d try to present the material as even-keeled as he could.

            He was an enthusiastic lecturer.  He’d pace back-and-forth on the stage (the venue for the class was a small auditorium) gesturing and debating points, usually smoking a cigarette, with a NO SMOKING sign high on the wall over-head.  He’d finish each smoke, looking down to crush the butt under his heel while maintaining his monologue.

            I’d look around at the three or so dozen other students, most of whom appeared to be in a trance, or between bouts of light sleep.  It seemed incongruous — no, not the smoking — that he’d be pontificating loudly, sometimes waving his arms to make a point, and we’d seem to be … well, so dead.

            One day I sat for coffee with him after class.  I mentioned the seemingly strange phenomenon of him lecturing enthusiastically, while most or all the class sat there quietly, as if in a stupor or something.  I said that I’d been considering doing something to liven up the class.  I had a starter’s pistol at home (used to start running races) and thought of staging a mock assassination as he lectured.  I am fairly sure that he was not adverse to this idea.

            THE VERY NEXT DAY the lecture topic was Politics and Overpopulation.  And, I had packed the aforesaid starter’s gun in my daypack.  Professor Meeks paced back and forth as usual, puffing on a cigarette every few sentences.  He progressed toward the scenario of a regime in a country deciding that having many more citizens would be an asset.  Out-number the neighbors, more bodies for the army.

            “Now imagine that I am the dictator of your country.  I am not a democratically-elected leader, I have seized control through ruthless means.  And I appear on the national media and issue an edict:  YOU MUST HAVE MORE CHILDREN!  How would you REACT?”

            I’m sure he looked right at me.  “He’s calling my bluff!” I thought.  Professor Meeks repeated the ultimatum.  “You must have more children!  How would you react?”

            “Why, I’d shoot you,” I said as I stood, aiming the pistol at him and pulling the trigger.

            As expected, the class was not only stunned, and it’s safe to say everyone was awake.  The Professor did not miss more than half a beat.

            “That fellow would shoot me,” gesturing in my direction.  “What would the rest of you do?”

            “I’d complain and write to my congressman,” announced a girl.  A few other classmates joined in the discussion.  This was more group interaction by far than this class had ever had.  I thought my job was done, until the next day.

            I should not have continued to carry the pistol in my knapsack, but after class the following day several town and university officers were waiting for me to leave the room.  I was arrested, and led away in handcuffs.  After telling my story, more than once, ending up with the Chief of the University police, most of them thought that this circumstance was not only ironic, but a little silly.  Arrested for shooting Hitler.  The Chief was surprisingly human, and in spite of the uniform, very much like a normal open-minded reasonable person.     

I was called a few days later and told that the charges were dropped.  The CSU police had consulted with the County D.A.  Charges?  “Using a facsimile weapon in a manner intended to cause stress and alarm.”

            Oh, the things I do to help make class interesting.

            Ah yes, my five seconds of major Hollywood movie stardom.  Like the arrest-and-handcuffs incident, AND the “4F — No Problem” encounter, this episode also occurred while enrolled or just-after-having-graduated from C.S.U. in the later 1970’s.

            An announcement was published in the college newspaper.  It was a solicitation for people to fill up the basketball arena to play the part of a crowd watching college games.  We weren’t going to be paid, but the movie-producers would provide food, drinks (soda, mostly) and every hour there would be a drawing for prizes.  In an effort to keep most the crowd ’til the end, the big prize drawings were after our work was done.

            The movie was called “One on One” and centered on an athlete and his trials and tribulations.  Robby Benson played the main character.  We — me and thousands of my friends — were supposed to spend the entire day pretending to be the enthusiastic crowd rooting for the home team.

            The Robbie-character left Colorado to play for a Southern California university — loosely (?) modeled on UCLA.  We walked into Moby Arena and the usual Colorado state flags were replaced by the California Bear flag.  And — amusingly, since this was supposed to be warm and sunny California, we were instructed to hide our cold-weather hats, gloves, and coats.  No small feat for this cast of thousands.

            I just happened to be wearing my Western State track shirt — a red skin-tight garment with a big white flying “W” in front.  The mythical University, whose athletes wore cardinal uniforms, was named Western University.  During a scene in which Robbie and team were far, far ahead of the hapless visitors, we were supposed to look bored, and some of us were selected to get up and be seen leaving the game early.  I was singled out to leave, slowly, doing my best to appear unenthusiastic, as the camera followed me for a few seconds.  I’m sure it was because of my shirt.  Certainly helped with the cardinal California Western U image.

            And, therefore, my five (might have been four) seconds of being the main ‘actor’ in a Hollywood movie.  Ha!

3 Round-ups ?

3 Round-ups

Livestock retrieval?  Bringin’ in the cows ?

Well, one cow.  Whatever …

This past weekend I went on a road-bike ride.  Parked the car at the intersection of Kannah and Purdy Mesa Roads.  I hadn’t been on a ride in that area for a while and intended to do a short loop – go up Kannah, switchback up Purdy Mesa, then back down to the car.  I had barely gone a mile and was passing another ranch to my left.  Kannah Creek Road hugs the right edge of the valley, with the irrigated bottom-properties to my left, and Kannah Creek pretty much at the toe of the slope on the other side.  It was (and is) calving season, and I get a kick of seeing the cows with their newborns.  A man was bringing hay to the cows in the fenced-in field.  As I passed, I saw him get off the tractor to round-up a couple cattle outside of the fenced-in area, but still within his property’s gate.  I continued up the road, enjoying the mother-offspring pairs in the field.  About a quarter-mile further I startled a little brown calf out on the road along the fence.  I debated about continuing to ride, but within a half-minute decided to go back to inform the rancher of this.  As I turned, the calf started running away – fortunately back towards the ranch gate.  I rode just fast/slow enough to continue chasing it, hoping it would turn into the ranch-gate.  It did.  The rancher looked up, gave me a wave of appreciation, opened the gate, and presumably a mother-child re-union ensued shortly thereafter.

 

A few years ago I was up above the location mentioned previously, riding my mountain-bike up the dirt-&-gravel Land’s End Road.  I passed an open flat area where people frequently set up camp – usually hunters (must have been the autumnal season).  I saw a few people out among their tents and trailers, and it appeared they were looking for something.  They weren’t looking at the ground, but scanning about, so it probably wasn’t a lost wallet.

A couple switch-backs later I’m feeling my usual borderline fatigue, eyes focused on the ground just ahead.  The road surface (hardly dusty due to recent-rain-congealed soil) was pretty optimal for maintaining and showing tracks — of vehicles, the occasional deer crossing the road, and horse hoof-prints with a snake-like line between the hoof-prints.  I put the proverbial two-&-two together, and deduced that a run-away horse had just been walking/trotting up the road, with the tether-rope dragging behind – as there were no vehicle marks more recent.  A turn or so later I saw the horse ahead, and somewhat surprisingly, did not startle him/her as I passed.  I got about 20 yards ahead, laid down the bike, and, again, was lucky that I was able to approach the horse without spooking it.  I grabbed the tether-rope and was able to lead it … where?  I was briefly overwhelmed by considerations as to how to go back down to the camp with the horse.  Abandon (hide) the bike?  Nah, I found a nearby wide spot on the road and securely tied the rope to a tree, but off the main roadway.

I then pedaled (coasted, actually) the half-mile or so down to the level meadow-y area and approached who seemed to be the “main man” of this temporary village.  In retrospect, I was just a little dismayed that he didn’t show even a semblance of appreciation – that this dirty sweat-soaked mountain-biker (of all incomprehensible personages, I suppose) would tell him that his horse had been (1) found, (2) tied-up, and (3) safe, about ½ mile up the road.

 

The year was either 1966 or ’67.  I was in high school, and, of course, living with the family in our house in Evergreen.  My mother’s sister, Babs, had come out from Florida to visit and stay with us for a week.  When it came time for her to leave, I was asked to drive Mom and Babs to the Denver airport.  Mom was going to reciprocate Babs’ visit and stay in Florida for the following week.  Evergreen is in the mountains not far from the big city and the airport was on the other side of Denver.

We went in my car.  The car was given to me by my grandfather, a 1956 Buick Century (special?) – it would be quite the classic collector’s item today.   I drove as safely and prudently as I could.  (Well, what do you expect? — my mother and my aunt.  Not my usual thrill-seeking moronic teenaged passengers).  I dropped both of them off at Stapleton (this was, as you might have surmised, many years before DIA).  Driving back home the 40+ miles, mostly along somewhat ‘back roads’ (this was a few years before the Interstates, and C-470) I felt … PARANOID.  I don’t think that werd (‘pear-annoyed’) was a commonly utilized vernacular back then … didn’t our present society become more-&-more paranoid during the psychedelic/marijuana-smoking era of the 1970’s?

Maybe this feeling was enhanced by the 6-pack of 3.2% Coors beer I had hidden in the car before the drive down.  Having seen Auntie Babs and my mom safely (?) off at the entrance to the airport, I opened the first can of beer to drive home.  Yeah, it had to have been in the summer, and it was hot, and I was thirsty.  I skirted what I (at that time) perceived to be the “main roads” so I could motor along noisily (& drinkingly) in my V-8 muscle car on more remote roads.

I gradually drove my circum(ad)venturous route around the north, and then west edge of the Denver metro area, until I could finally go up U.S. Hwy 40 towards home.  The paranoid feeling didn’t diminish at all – I wasn’t really doing anything wrong, nor driving too fast, and halted for most stop signs, but I continually worried that the police would stop me.

Back then the ‘shortcut-road’ to get to U.S. 40 to go up the mountains was an ill-advertised  gravel road between U.S. Hwy 6 to the US40 frontage road.  I knew that shortcut well.  Turning off from US6 onto the gravel road, I felt that I was finally free from whatever ghost or demon or unbenign spirit which had been haunting me.  I sped around a corner and had to stop in a hurry as there were four or so law-enforcement vehicles blocking the road!  I could hardly believe that the police had arranged such a large-scale ambush for me!  All the cars’ lights were flashing, and a couple policemen hurried over to my car.

“Could you park your car there?” one asked, pointing to a space between two of their vehicles.  I was, of course, stunned but quickly learned that a couple dozen horses had gotten out of a pasture further down the road – and were being herded towards us.  Our cars pretty much blocked the road between the fences on either side, and there was an open gate a few yards away.  I was asked/instructed to stand in an open space between two of the cars, and wave my arms to prevent any errant equines from slipping through.  A couple minutes later the herd came thundering toward us, followed by some cowboys on their horses.  As planned (and hoped-for) the runaways went through the gate, which was quickly closed, and our job was done.

One of the cops shook my hand and thanked me for being so quickly and surprisingly drafted for my involuntary public service.  Turned out to be an interesting and, sort of, fun day.

 

1-million-centimeter bike race @ 10,000-feet elevation — nude, under the fool moon

Little is actually known about Rosco Betunada and even less is factual. At the age of 15, Mr. B. incorporated a regimen of distance-running into his direction-less and futile life – and now, many years later, Mr. B’s life remains … Continue reading

The Purple-Assed-Baboon Blues Band

 

     The Purple-Assed-Baboon Blues Band briefly occupied a very small, unremarkable, and thus, almost completely forgettable niche in the Boulder (Colorawdough) music scene in the early 1970’s. The PABBB shared the stage with groups and individuals you may have actually heard of – John Fahey, Flash Cadillac, Tommy Bolin (then with “Energy”, and not with Zephyr (his previous band, nor James Gang later)), and could have opened for Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks.* We (yes, I was a member) also played (not necessarily “with” but either before or after or sometimes during) with several groups and individuals who, like the PABBB, have been relegated to the seemingly-almost-infinite back-tidewaters of anonymity.

Banned ? Naah h h h …

Whence originated the group name? A friend of mine, Tom Trask, in describing his frequent circumstances of alacrity, alarm, and, mostly, paranoia, would sometimes say that purple-assed baboons were the cause. That, he said, was a line from the book Naked Lunch (William Burroughs). Bill B, in his rambling narrative, thought he glimpsed the P-A B’s a time or three. Hmmm. I read N L a long time ago, and fortunately don’t remember more than 99% of it, including the P-A Bs. It was also Tom who would say that he was suffering from, had a diagnosable case of, “the blues” – the P-A B Blues. A real bad case of the blues. (More? on Tom T, laterrrr).**

The PABBB was … not so much ‘formed’ as coalesced sometime during 1970. Maybe the so-called formation occurred a year or two later, who cares? Picture (whether or not “if you will”) a bunch of counter-culture disaffected youths, poverty-stricken by design, sharing many similar inclinations (and, of course, dis-inclinations) hanging together. Seeing as how many counter-culture “heroes” were musicians, we aspired (and even if we weren’t exactly “aspiring”, perhaps it was sheer mimicry, which at the time we would have denied) and if not exactly earnest, went through the motions to, if not become, perhaps merely to emulate. That may be over-thinking it. Formation/coalescing of the PABBB did not involve much, if any, thinking. However, then, and was the case for much of my life, I and those with whom I associate, would rather entertain than be entertained. We’d rather “do” than be done to. (Granted, since retirement I’ve spent (and, yes, I know, will continue to spend) a lot of time being watched by “the tube.” So there’s less “doing” as I’ve aged, and more-and-seemingly-more “being subjected to”.) I digress …

The acknowledged leader and main-honcho was Cliff Athey (who often was known as Carngorn Cadaver) and the usual suspects, or cast of characters, were myself (known as The Rabid-Transient), Kevin Justice (just plain “Slum”), John Russell (“Huzz”), Erik Meyer (often known as “Dildo”), Shawn Perry (usually just “Shawn”), and Gary Adney (we never did come up with an alias which stuck). Now that I reflect on it (whatever “it” is, or was), Shawn was sometimes known as George Gorph (from Gorph Gorge, Georgia) and when Shawn was George G. I was Sherman O’Shaugnessy (Mr. Gorph’s side-kick). Like they say about “the hits” – in our case the aliases just kept on coming.

In-and-out of this collective rotated, or perhaps just oozed, the less-than-regular participants who(m) usually were anyone unfortunate enough to be hangin’ with the regulars. My brother (Ricardo Cabeza), John V Fleming, Roy A Johnson, Jeff Timms, Gary’s friend Woods, and even Richard (“Dick” in those daze) Olson. There were no girls nor women dumb nor crazy enough to have either considered nor been considered. Too bad. We deafeningly could have used the occasional tug of “reining in”.

Richard Olson, in retrospect, was probably a pseudo-pspiritual/ritual inspiration for the PABBB. Ever the mystic, an order-of-magnitude weirder than the next-weirdest of any of us, he was a painter and would often sign a completed work “D E O” – yes, Latin for “God” as he hadn’t become Richard yet, still a “Dick”, hence Dick E(dward, his middull name), Olson.***

I suppose you (or anyone) could imagine … the later ‘60’s and into the 70’s in a town like Boulder? The town was positively rampant with ‘counter-culture’ antics and such – and, in retrospect, may have always been and always will be. Anyhow, most everyone I knew then was frequently ‘under the influence’ and often, when under the influence, we’d try to be musicians. NOT being “under the influence” was a detriment, somehow. Yes, we thought we were so much better than we actually were due to “the influence.”

No, we were also NOT the standard 3 or so guitars with a trap-set drummer.

Saxophones, a trombone, conga drums, garage-door steel spring and sometimes other instruments were part of the repertoire. Especially kazoos. Kazoos were so endemic that one day, when driving us on an errand, Huzz patted his shirt pocket to check for something, realized he had no kazoo therein, looked briefly flummoxed, recovered, and proclaimed that this was “the kazoo-less adventure with the maniac at the wheel.” Kazoos cost only about 25¢ then and we endeavored to have a continual supply.

Oh-kay … what did we play? ‘Spontaneous situational’ is what I’d call whatever it was we were doing. Carngorn would try to get us “organized.” But usually everyone playing at once was mere chaos. “Usually”? Almost always. Discordant cacophony. ‘Organized’ meant that someone would do something really obvious, such as Huzz playing his saxophone upside down, which would indicate that we’d switch to the next song.

Once we organized an opening act to our otherwise opening act. “Jay & The American.” (Yes, this was a spoof on a real band playing nation-wide in those daze – Jay & The Americans). I, being Jay, was Jay, Shawn (resplendent in hard-hat with red/white/&blue flag shirt) was “the American,” and John Fleming was ‘nobody’ – as his job was just to blow up balloons. I played the balloon – letting the escaping air make squeaking sounds into the microphone. John would hand me the next inflated balloon and go to work on providing the next. Shawn accompanied by scraping a spoon across a garage-door steel-spring (like playing a “guiro”). While I was focusing the escaping-balloon-air squeaking into the mike, Shawn provided percussion and croaked statements usually with the words “Atlantic City.”

What few pseudo-organized songs (or “pieces”) we tried to play were mostly … um, ‘composed’ may not be an accurate word, but come-up-with by Carngorn.   (I’ve got the) “Charlie Manson Hippie-Murder Fear” was a favorite. Dark, yes. And “Down in the West Texas Panhandle my Oil-Well Dried Up” which did have a semblance of rhythm – actual melodies as such were practically non-existent when we were playing. And we knew most the words to all the Frank Zappa / Mothers of Invention songs. THAT gave us a lot more ammunition, so to speak, when doing a show.

And … we weren’t always the PABBB. We’d change our name! Herb Coffee & the TV Trio was an occasional moniker. Pharleigh Phitt & the Crystal-City Combo. Carngorn came up with “Horse Hangie” spur-of-the-moment when it was obvious at Tulagi’s open-mike night they didn’t want to endure the PABBB again. Carngorn said the name occurred to him while defecating just prior. And “next up … Horse Hangie”!

In actuality, as I so far have emphasized, during those daze we rarely were (real musicians) but we didn’t care and enjoyed trying to play music anyway. We all believed we were beholden to The Mothers of Invention. Most (all?) their early albums seemed to be mostly cacophony, occasionally coalescing into something structured, then cacophony, then …   And I believe I remember/speak for all of us when I say that we thought there was a (remote) chance we too, would become as (in)famous as the Mothers …

John Fahey was at the time, very-well-known – for his extended guitar-solos, taking a melody and playing with it (so to speak) in interesting intricate fashions. My friends and I owned some of his albums. Anyhow, after the PABBB played before Mr. F came on, the rest of my ‘mates left shortly thereafter. I, alone among the PABBB, stayed to listen to his entire performance. At his intermission, he went off-stage, mostly to avoid the more-avid fans who would certainly try his patience. I happened to be in the same area, and I think we both decided to go out on the balcony at the same time for some “fresh air.” Cold, fresh air. It was the middle of winter, and the temp could have been well below freezing. We talked a while, rambled on, mostly. The semblance of conversation changed to outright free-associating about nothing and everything when we discovered that the door was locked from the inside, and no other way in nor down. So, we continued our rambling ”free-association” … until the Tulagi’s staff, looking for Mr. Fahey to play his second set, opened the porch door on a hunch, since they had looked everywhere else, and we stumbled in from out of the cold. It took about 15 minutes while playing before his fingers thawed out enough to exhibit his usual seamless flowing instrumentals.

*Chuck Morris, manager/operator/head honcho of Tulagi’s (music club on The Hill) called the day of DH&THL’s show at his club to ask if we could, on such short notice, show up and be the opening-act. I was the only one of us in town that day. And, sadly, declined. Frequently since then I thought that, if given such a chance again, I would have said “Yes!” and gone out to round up whoever I could coerce to be the band. Didn’t matter if they could actually play an instrument or not — none of us really could (at that time) anyway. See “Jay & The American”.

**Tom Trask. I knew him from middle- and high-school, and we both ended up in Boulder as University students. I dropped out, as did he. I was ‘exploring’, experimenting? experiencing the world of psychedelia – greatly hastening my departure from the world of academia. Tom was experiencing that realm more so than I, in fact, he was so heavily into it that he served as a warning sign to the rest of us. “Don’t go there.” He became a heroin addict, hence the “frequent circumstances of alacrity, alarm, and paranoia” – involving, I suppose, the part which purple-posteriored baboons would play in his life.

***Look up (‘google’) “Richard Olson artist New Mexico” – use same search terms on Facebook. He has definitely “made it” with his art, whereas the PABBB regulars, well… didn’t, and haven’t. Gary A. and I have tried, and continue to try to be viable musicians – however Erik “Bamboo Coyote” Meyer definitely has “made it” as a musician. ‘google’ Tropical Coyotes, Ft. Collins, CO.

GLIMPSES into varying degrees of unfathomable/weirdnesses/gateweighs to/from other parts of the multiverse(s)

( Good-bye, again)   The! Existential Pteradactyl ~   (Jan. 1985).  hard as it is not to believe, things are probably (so it, as usual, seems to me) as crazy or crazier than ever.  I should, i really should, refrain … Continue reading

EvilPorkyWheels

yeah, rite. weir knot kiddeeng, hear.  there IS a/an evilporkywheels.  this’ll be XXXplay-end, shortly. If there is a town named EvilPorkyWheels, it is prawblee sum-wear in You-taw. My Uncle Evil-P-W lives there, and as a deputy sheriff, occasionally has to … Continue reading

(It) COULD HAVE BEEN THE BAT – PHONE

(IT) COULD HAVE BEEN THE BAT PHONE Betty and I more-or-less collapsed into the hot tub a coupla/3 daze ago.  The Day After It Snowed.  We had partaken of what a long-lost friend labeled as the essential elements of the … Continue reading

the CURSE OF MY FATHER

CURSE OF MY FATHER

“You will NEVER get a good job,” Dad expounded.  Then, thundering, with pointed index finger quavering in my direction, “YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT!”

“Dad, I don’t care.”  I stuck to my Principles then.  We’d had arguments, but rarely as emotional as this.  He, too, had his principles. 

He rarely talked about it, but we were all aware of his service in WW2.  He had been awarded the Purple Heart and had the scars to prove it.  He had fought in the “good fight” — a war with clear and unambiguous intent.  But this was different …

He became aware of my intent to “fail” the U.S. Military Draft pre-induction physical exam.  I was going for a “psycho” deferment.  The year was 1969.  The height, or depth, of the Viet-Nam quagmire.  Hell no, I wasn’t going to go. 

Before the military sunk its clutches into you, there was an Induction Physical, sort of a foregone conclusion that if you were there to be checked and probed and not-too-seriously questioned, you were on the train to boot camp shortly.  The Pre-Induction physical was a preliminary to the Induction, where only the most unacceptable candidates would be identified and not pursued any further.

During that time (“Viet Nam War”), and presumably during similar periods of national crisis, all young men had to register for the Draft.  One had to register upon turning the age of 18, and I could accomplish this at my high school! 

This was a couple years before the unpleasant discussion with Dad.  When I came home from school and announced that I registered for the Draft, my parents were surprised.  “What?!”  One never expects the Spanish Inquisition.  But even then, the thought of their little boy slogging through the swamps of SouthEast Asia seemed very, very remote.

Every young man was eligible for “the call” unless you had a deferment status.  As long as a boy was in school (be it high-school or college), this qualified for a deferment.  After a couple more years, this weasel-way out no longer qualified as a “get out of the meat-grinder” card and one needed a more stringent excuse, I mean deferment.  “Hardship cases” were becoming increasingly more difficult to qualify for.

Three of my good buddies had gone into different branches of the military.  Larry was in the Navy.  Willie joined the Air Force.  Roy H was an Army guy, and all of them wrote all their friends expressing the same sentiment – “If my going into the military has served any purpose whatsoever, let it be this.  I passionately and sincerely implore all my friends to NOT DO THIS!” and I and all the Friends heeded their call. 

I lived in an attic in Boulder with (it varied) between 3 to more than 5 of my friends.  Only one of us was in College, so he didn’t have the specter of the Draft breathing down his neck, just yet.  The rest of us not only were under the influence of psychedelics much of the time, occasionally engaging in minimum-wage employment, but were continually aware of the however-many-hundread-pound-simian outside the room.  That is probably one reason we drifted in and out of altered reality states so much.

Reverend Bob somehow could not and did not “fail” the pre- (and later induction physical, the one without a “Pre”-fix) and slipped into Canada – yes, one of the (in)famous Canadian Draft-Dodgers.  I kept in touch with him for almost ten years and wonder where and how and what he is today.

Richard Olson (we knew him as “Dick”, but he has shed his past and his reprobate un-inspired un-enlightened former friends and is achieving some measure of fame as an artist (and mystic, so his bio implies) in New Mexico) also astonishingly did not FAIL the Induction physical and some of us accompanied him to our secret mountain camping spot where he was to hide while the U.S. Military Gestapo/Brain Police searched for him.  He hunkered down in the camp-site several days, and one night snuck back to the Attic.  The Gestapo/Brain Police never came for him. 

One of many mysteries of the era.  If Dick, our high-end calibration-standard of day-to-day psycho-ness, PASSed muster, what hope was there for the rest of us? 

But when my turn came up, I had already learned.  You had to convince the officials, the humor-less government drones conducting the evaluation that you WERE NOT FIT nor appropriate military material.

The Attic-dwellers heard many stories.  Frank Zappa was alleged to have filled his, uh, space between the buttocks with peanut butter.  When the time came for the “bend over and spread” exam, the examiner is alleged to, well, have gotten pretty disgusted.

“What the hell is that?!”

“I don’t know,” Frank (is alleged to have) said, taking a finger and gouging out a big chunk.  Putting it into his mouth he said “but it sure tastes good.”

Legend has it that Mr. Zappa’s performance qualified him as a dismissal from those deemed fit to become part of the military.  And that wasn’t the only story …

My sister had a friend named Chris who told a story of a friend of his who somehow could tell his body (and his body obeyed) to NOT TAKE A SHIT FOR A WEEK.  (I never could come close to that, but …)  Said friend of Chris’ followed this regimen until the morning of the Pre-Induction.  He woke up, drank several cups of coffee, took ex-lax, and during the day’s proceedings had, among other more-minor embarrassments, several “explosions.”

“How often does this happen?” the examiners asked.

“Oh, maybe three or so times a week” Mr. Potty-Problem replied.  He too, was not invited back to try further to get into the Army.

There was the sad story of a guy who drank a couple hundred bottles of Coca-Cola during the two or three days before his test.  He exhibited strange symptoms and I’m sure his blood-test turned out ‘un-ordinary.’  (Or, I can’t help but insert that famous line from Young Frankenstein, “Abby somebody.”)  And said rumored Coke-over-dose guy continued to have adverse health effects a long time after.

It used to be that if one announced that he was a homosexual, THAT dis-qualified you.  Heck, if you said that you’d taken LSD – that was a sure-fire ticket to the coveted Looney Deferment.  In earlier times “flat feet” or a deviated septum might not buy a ticket on the train to Boot Camp.

But at the height of Viet Nam, it seemed they were taking just about anybody.

The Denizens of the Attic found out from friends, acquaintances, and the rumor mill that saying you were “queer” or had taken LSD up to a few dozen times no longer was an abrupt end to the Induction proceedings.  Heck, when I went in I said I’d taken LSD 80 (eighty!) times and though the questioner looked a little bit dismayed (and I think he looked a little impressed), it was obvious he’d heard worse.  And told them (and I) to continue down the hall to the next room.  (By the way, I exaggerated on that claim, and most others).

It came to pass that the Attic Denizens gained minor recognition as a sympathetic ear and abode of consultation for those about to make the Bus Trip to Denver to be Poked, Prodded, Given written ‘tests’ and ‘questionnaires’, Scrutinized, Donating Blood (and other) Samples for the Good of The Nation (BT2D2BPPTQSB4GON).  Earnest (especially since the situation was dire) young men dropped by a few times a week.  Whoever was home in the Attic would invariably sit down, listen, suggest whatever might work and everyone would brainstorm to come up with new ideas.

My time came to put my foot where the money was, or demonstrate the Preach of the practicing I/we had been doing.  May, 1969 (I don’t remember the exact date.  I’m somewhat sure of the month, though).  I received the letter to take the BT2D2BPPTQSB4GON.

I dropped by my parent’s house and Dad must have gotten wind of my intent.  The conversation we had ended with the Pronouncement at the beginning of this story. 

Long story, short:  some day I might write the details (such as I remember) of the proceedings of the Pre-Induction Physical.  One of the high- (low?) lights was that as the day progressed, I forgot I had a melted chocolate candy bar in my back pocket, and started to slip my hand into the pocket and then wipe the sweat off my face.  (I didn’t know what I looked like ‘til I glanced at my reflection in a window after leaving the exam building).

Needless to say, I succeeded, I mean, flunked the test.  I got a notice of “1Y” draft-classification in the mail shortly afterward.  1Y meant “available only in the event of national emergency.”  So, you see, the military was practically taking practically everybody.

Several, many, years later I talked to Dad about what I felt was his curse regarding my future.  He didn’t mean it – that is, cast a witch’s spell on his own son, I knew that then, but he BELIEVED in certain things about America.  Stepping up to perform military service was integral, part of being American.  And he believed that there was some sort of “system“ (he must have thought that there was a primitive pre-cursor of the NSA) keeping track of everybody – and if one failed to heed to call to honor, well, THAT would be on one’s “record” – and, among other things, disqualify one from working in any branch of the government.

Trouble was (and still is), basically that’s all I’ve ever been able to work for.  I humorously told him that yes, indeed, he had put a curse on my work-future.  I felt I had never really had “a good job.”  And a large part of that failure in my work history was that I seemingly was only able to work for the government.

1969:  dishwasher in the student cafeteria for state-funded college (WSC).

(1970 – 1973 didn’t work for the government!  Mostly construction carpentry and dishwashing.  Oh: a few months microfilming insurance policies for John Hancock in Boston.  I was promoted to supervisor!)

1973 – 1975:  real-estate appraiser for Gunnison County Assessor.

1975 – 1977:  as part of college student-aid, truck-driver, machine-shop assistant and parts-fabricator for Colorado State University.

1976 – 1977:  temporary seasonal mail-man and package-sorter for USPS (back when it was a government agency).  Brief stint sorting mail while laid-off from DOE in 1996.

1977:  forest-fire fighting and search-and-rescue crew, under auspices of Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.

 (1978 – 1979:  detour into oilfield services in private sector.  Laid off during bust after the boom-cycle ended.)

1979 – 1998:  subcontract engineering tech, later technical writer/editor, for U.S. Department of Energy.

1998 – 2016:  Inspector (9 years) then Engineer for Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission.

My father has been ‘gone’ a dozen years now.  But he always had a good sense of fun and funniness, and when we talked about this – my so-called work history, it was obvious he saw the humor in that.