12 October 2021
KYAKs with Ken resumes on a monthly podcasting basis – tomorrow’s premeire will center around his blog –30 September 2021 – A MUST READ – A follow up in a podcast is being scheduled! Credentials
This will be live on newclevelandradio on youtube at 9am EDT and you will be able to stream it later in the day! https://www.youtube.com/c/NewClevelandRadio
11 October 2021 The Many Saints of Newark
Michael Gandolfini plays his father as a teenager growing up in the race-torn violent world of Newark in the 1970s. The movie will not appeal to everyone. It is raw and violent and women are regarded with love/hate and disdain. The racial overlay is mostly stereotypical and keeps to the tried and true formula of Italians using Blacks as fodder for the business enterprises, which is numbers and drugs.
For Sopranos fans this is a trip down memory lane with the characters being about twenty years younger. There are the gumbahs, the cannolis, and the soldiers, and the street riots. It is not a pretty time in Newark. There is growing violence between the five mob families. The young Gandolfini and his adored mentor, his uncle Dickie Moltisani, are the main focus of this look into the development of the future mob boss Tony Soprano.
The cars, the music, and the language are authentic. The only real known star is Ray Liotta who plays two brothers at different times in the movie. As a Soprano fan, I enjoyed seeing young Michael who has the tone and inflection of his father and even the sideways head tilt. The other family members are recognizable.
It’s not a great movie, but it works for Soprano fans if ya know what I mean.
5 October 2021 Papillon
I saw an online reference to Steve McQueen’s Papillon, the story of the escaped prisoner from French Guiana’s Devil’s Island. It was a fairly brutal movie whose guards had ultimate authority and the conditions on the Island drove men insane and suicidal. The prisoner Papillon studies the sea and plans to leap into it and use a monster wave for his escape.
The brutality on the Island was so sadistic that the only hope for survival came from the impossibility of escape. The sea was treacherous and strong, capable of thrashing anyone in its wake. The escapees would be crushed against the rocks with great force by the incoming waves.
Except that in the Spring and Fall there would be a massive rip current wave created every seventeen minutes. It started at the shore line and would gather great force and become a huge thirty foot wave headed straight out to sea. The timing had to be perfect, too early or too late a leap would be instant death. Papillion had to hit the water at the instant the force of the water reversed and would propel him on top of the ever growing tsunami wave. Then, without a raft, get swept up by the current and be taken away to hopefully land anywhere but French Guiana.
This wave, as any surfer knows, can be lethal. Its force can throw a body thirty feet in the air if you are in front of it when it breaks. The only possibility to survive is to be behind it, literally on top of the wave. I will tell you of my experience riding such a wave.
I was 29 years old and in the best shape of my life. The Army had trimmed me down to 180 lbs from my induction weight of 220 lbs. I lost another 10lbs after discharge by running five miles per day. I worked out with weights and had a strong upper body and muscular legs. My testosterone was unfortunately calling most of the shots. You know young men of a certain age are unstoppable, fearless, invinceable, and are also going to live forever or die today.
My buddy was a former lifeguard and now a powerful physical specimen. A weightlifter and runner. We competed against one another daily in everything, like young men do. We were in East Hampton, New York running our crazy summer house with nine bedrooms, and two sets of house guests, weekends a and b.
We went to run on the beach in Amagansett, on this very cloudy, foggy morning. When we arrived at the beach I saw something I had never before seen. A black flag, which meant the beach was closed. Usual warning flags are yellow advising caution. Red flas meant no swimming but beach presence was ok. Black flag said you can’t even be on the beach. There was no one to be seen. We started to run at the shore’s edge when we heard the rumble. It was the sound of waves crashing floudly far out in the water. Unusual, as waves break fairly close to shore. These were breaking way out, meaning the undertow was clearing out the low water, thereby creating shore conditions who knows how far out.
We were intrigued and agreed to swim out and check out the sound. We wanted to know how big the waves were. Once we entered the water we knew immediately that something was very different. The small waves at our knees were strong enough to knock us down. We would have to run toward the waves and dive under them if we were to have any chance at all at getting in far enough to see what was making all that clatter.
We started to wonder just how far out they were. We were already fifteen minutes into the water and we still had knee length water. The sound still was far away. You have just so much energy and were continually monitoring our strength vs how much longer it would take to get there. Then the water got a little deeper and we now knew we had gone beyond the failsafe point. The waves were too close together to survive them attempting to return for this point in the water. We had to commit to the wave in order to get back to shore. In other words we were nuts. We didn’t know its size but it sounded very big.
The fog was thinner the further out we got. Then the sound increased and we finally saw it. It was bigger than any wave we had ever seen. Real Hawaii stuff. The timing would have to be precise. We would have to get caught up in the rip tide in order to propel us under and up the backside of the wave. As the wave begins to crest you have to literally swim for your life to climb up the wave to reach the spot just before the crest. Neither in front of or too far behind the crest is the goal. Because I am telling the story you know it turned out just right.
We were now a half mile out in the ocean and as we successfully scaled this thirty foot monster we rode on top of it as if we were in a boat. The danger was over for the most part. Now we just formed a spear-like formation as the wave broke about twenty times beneath us. We were cascading in rhythmic bumps as we headed toward shore and rode the wave for over one minute. At about 100 yards from shore we had the final break from the now eight foot wave.
We hit the sand fairly hard but now with the adrenaline pumping, we were able to get up and start to try to outrun the lesser waves or just give in to them, and take the mini ride for the final approach to the shore.
When we got out of the water there were a group of lifeguards on the beach who were screaming at us. They cursed us and called us idiots. But then they started to smile and started asking questions about what it was like. They were envious. They said there was a lifeguard boat out further than our wave and they spotted us on our assent. They radioed beach patrol to call for an ambulance, figuring we would require one.
The wave was a totally calming experience as we spent that minute doing nothing but feeling the power underneath us. It is difficult to describe the joy we felt as we let the wave do all the work getting us back to shore. Only danger in the final 25 yards is falling and getting caught up in another riptide as you wouldn’t have the strength to survive what it takes to do this challenge. We toasted Papillon as we knew what he went through.
Turned out to be a once in a lifetime experience, but you get to tell it for fifty years and counting.
30 September 2021 – A MUST READ – A follow up in a podcast is being scheduled!
There is a pecking order that exists in our world. We abide by the rules established by the government and who, with the citizenry, agreed on a system of merit and law… An example would be to say, let the following be true,
“This person, duly noted, is recognized as an expert and now licensed to conduct business.
It’s the blessing of the Big Kahuna.
The law of the land…Licenses, permits, shields all convey the same message, legal and official. Its Authority. The final say so. It’s where the buck stopped for Harry Truman, If you want to provide a professional service to the public, you have to be vetted. Fingerprinted, FBI background checked. Signed sealed and delivered.
So now we have all these rules of hierarchy. But a badge, for example, would end any argument. Civilized people live by communal rules. The courts settle final disputes. The person with the badge has the final word on the streets. The courts have their version on who has the final word.
When I was growing up, breaking the rules was never a thought for me. I followed the rules and I didn’t question the badge. But when Vietnam came along, those who represented Authority weren’t liked very much. Ask Nixon about that. Ask LBJ how much he loved the chanting everywhere he went. After being run down as a protester by Washington DC and NYC police on horseback, I knew that they no longer were protecting me they were clubbing me. Why? Because we, the people put them there. The official line for government representatives was that law and order were the top priority. They said the War is good and protesters are the enemy.
Now we see that the good guys weren’t necessarily the good guys, and the bad guys were just exercising their right to bring their grievances to the government. They weren’t the bad guys. That horrid war had to stop. No need to Billie club the public when it is their right to carry their signs.
I was comfortable with the knowledge that politics would change those in power and different decisions would be made. And it did. We trade nicely now with communist Vietnam. To me that’s progress. Damn if that Domino theory didn’t scare up a hell of a lot of money though. It’s taken till now to have marijuana legalized. We wanted that fifty years ago.
We live off our military “war prepared” agenda. Didn’t somebody say “follow the money”? That’s where the big money is. When you are in the plane and arms selling a business, you need nice government contracts. Tony Soprano loved them. Everything needs to move on wheels, And if you’re driving the truck, well let us just say that truck could wind up anywhere if you know what I mean. Contract means work and production and as Tony said, “everybody gets paid.”
I didn’t need credentials when I took off to hitch the States back in the ’60s. Maybe I could earn some on the road, as I thought to myself when at 23, I hit the road. Over 7000 miles on the first trip across the USA. Turns out I did get some credentials. I shot a hellofa a pool game. I earned cash in every type of honky-tonk saloon and bar by telling people up front that I was probably gonna beat them. So when I did, they wouldn’t feel anything but respect for my game. Not everyone took the challenge, although when alcohol is involved, egos get hooked and talkers get loud. Beat me a whole bunch of talkers, I was looking for the players. Found them too. I learned not to talk around players.
But being credentialed shooting pool was not what I wanted. I wanted on my journey to meet the ghosts of Kerouac and sing the songs of folk and blues legends. I had Woody Guthrie in mind when I sat on porches in Missouri and Iowa talking to the locals. I wanted to feel Oklahoma’s red dirt under my feet. I wanted to ride a horse in Montana and gamble in Reno. I wanted to meet pretty girls and dance with them in local bars and big city hotspots in Texas. I wanted to talk with everybody. And I did all of that. So I took off again to see places I missed on the first trip. 8000 miles hitched this time. Three notebooks replaced two. Not yet satisfied, I saved the best one for last. Now at 29, experienced and confident, I set off to hitch Europe with a side trip to Morocco, and Marrakech. I took the Midnight Express from Casablanca.
Now we’re talking. I had lived in Europe from ages 24 to 26, so this was something of a homecoming. I had seen all of Western Europe except for Spain, so that was my first destination. It didn’t matter that I started Spain in Portugal.
It was in Albufeira that my second credentials appeared in the form of improvisational theatre. I had been with Norman Taffel’s Improv group next to the Performance Garage on Wooster St in SOHO. We finished our audience’s dreams on the floor, in front of the rickety risers. This one in Portugal was much more spontaneous. We had one volunteer tell us who their family was and then I would pick volunteers from the audience to play them with me. We made t funny and fresh. Some need elbow twisting. It was wildly popular and the cafe owner was more than happy with the increased business. I never saw a check for food or drink after that. Hip Europeans and Scandanavians being “in the now.” It was called Family Theatre. In my mind, it was easy to combine Carl Rogers and Jacob Moreno. I got known as the improv guy. So I had two non-official credentials but I still couldn’t make any real money.
I was staying with my NY Greenwich Village Cafe owner friends’ villa in the hills above the Mediterranean in Albufeira. Two other bar owners’ friends had a bigger one in Torremolinos, Spain. It’s nice to have friends who throw Euro Trash parties. This group partied all over the Algarve in Portugal and the Costa del Sol in Spain. They don’t credential you for having hung out with the spoiled rich when you don’t have a dime. But if they did, I would want to have the stage for a group skit near the buffet.
When I returned to Greenwich Village, it was time to get serious, I needed to make some money. My first real credential was my MS-SW degree from Columbia University. That got me my first job as a therapist in an Outpatient Psychiatric clinic. But I could not see patients privately. To do that it required an ACSW approval certification. It takes two years of approved supervision for that puppy. With the sticker in my possession, I could now see patients with my National Association of Clinical Social Workers membership, as they received insurance payments. I was on my way and could now identify myself as a psychiatric social worker in private practice. Made my first dollars above expenses.
The next step was to get professional organization sponsorship. I was a group therapist and loved it. I joined the American Group Psychotherapy Assn, a powerful well-respected organization run by Psychiatrists. I worked hard and finally made it to their Institute where at their yearly Conference I led group therapy workshops for group therapists. After a while, I ran their top-level group for therapists with 10 years of experience.
But my real love turned out to be family therapy. I was accepted into the Family Therapy program ran by Salvador Minuchin, the Argentinian psychiatrist of world renown. The Program was at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic at Children’s Hospital. It was a two-year externship and in the end, I was given the Certificate in Family Therapy. Now on a roll, I waited for two more years before I was eligible to sit for the NJ Family Therapy licensing exam. Once I passed the Exam I was issued a New Jersey license to practice Family Therapy. I was now a field instructor for Columbia and Yeshiva Universities in their Graduate Social Work Program. I convinced Yeshiva University to put Family Therapy in their curriculum and taught their very first class of Graduate students in Family Therapy Theory. My next step up the ladder was to be on the Board of the New Jersey Division of the National American Family Therapy Assn. I had made it to President-Elect.
With all these certificates and memberships, it filled my office wall. I was able to have a full career and was still seeing patients and supervising in my 75th year when I decided to write and paint.
Never thought I would wind up the credential guy, but shooting pool is still fun, and being improv in the moment never got old.
16 September 2021
Random Thoughts on Atonement Day – It is Yom Kippur and I am fasting. I am hungry. My mind is telling me that I am doing the right thing. A small gesture of sacrifice for being able to have most of what I want every day.
I strive harder today to be more forgiving of others. Not doing so well with that one. It’s hard to understand how the selfishness of others that causes others pain is to be forgiven. I know that the idea is to forgive, for they know not what they do.
When I see anti-vaxxers proclaiming their “right” to be stupid and selfish, it just makes me feel more for the others whom they put at risk. Now I am supposed to roll past that and do a Gandhi. Lots of luck. I want to yell at them, but that is my lesser self-talking. My higher self wants to lead the way to their eventual understanding that they are part of a bigger community called humanity, where the individual I is not as important as the collective whole. Today especially, thinking of others is prime. The betterment of us all. Nice concept but when I am hungry and angry, it’s a hell of a lot harder.
We keep struggling to get past this pandemic and people are hurting due to closed businesses etc. What I struggle with is that the cure is right in front of us and about 60% of us are doing what is necessary. The others who are slowing us down with their half-baked scientific knowledge and primal fears are my struggle today. How do I just accept that it is their right? My idea is that you can only have that right in your own home. But once you leave your door and venture outside, you are now part of “others” and different rules apply. You now affect others by your choices, and in my opinion, if you put others’ health at risk, you no longer can claim your “right.”
I also am having difficulty with the culture of lying. So many people today believe what Trump says. Current thinking is they are 30% of us. It is scary to believe that they can believe that what Q-anon says. Satan-worshiping cannibals and child molesters are plotting to take over? Aren’t there medications for those thoughts?
Now every time a Republican loses an election, they want you to believe it’s because it’s rigged against them? Since when can’t you just lose an election? The election system in the USA has stood the test of time as honest and true. Now the lying has created doubt in his lemming followers. I am furious at the destruction to democracy that this one man has caused. How do I get past this today?
The answer sadly for me is I can’t. I believe in truth and honesty. Shouldn’t we all?
It is not just a matter of opinion, There are facts. Truth. Things provable, like vaccines which prevent death. The world is so much more divided since the emergence of the right-wing. How do we say ok they are part of us when they don’t want to integrate and join in constructive dialog? I am angry, frustrated and don’t feel very good about my ability to be more compassionate. Seems they have forced me to pick between their right to their beliefs or the others they hurt with those beliefs. I don’t want that choice today.
So I will wait till the sun goes down, eat my meal, thank god for providing it and then ask him to just forgive me because I am failing at this forgiveness thing.
9 September 2021
Jean Paul Belmondo
I was a bit unprepared for the torrent of thought and emotion that was released in me after I heard of the death of my French New Wave role model. In the ’60s when French movies were made by the likes of Truffaut, Goddard, and Resnais, the wildly popular “in the now” cinema presented an entirely different Existential world of detached weirdos and comic faux pas. “Slice of life” features without a moral point of view were seen from different country’s film directors, with their unique point of view.
Welcome to the European ’60s. Seems old hat now. But then it was challenging the societal norms of the day. Kids worldwide were leaving their parental homes for travel and adventure. “Experience” meant many things and all the Arts now had a focus. Characters portrayed without any other point of view, but for themselves, They were in seemingly every film.
Some of the hype during that phase was led by Jean Paul Belmondo, whose character was quirky, funny, poignant, and yet broken. His movies portrayed “the cool” Belmondo with a Gaulios hanging from his lip. To this very day, I regret my young man wanting to be his phase… I smoked those Gauloise in France and leaned up against buildings with one hanging from my mouth. I sat at the Parisian cafes a lal Belmondo style. My mother swore I had lost my mind when I tried to live that way. Unfortunately, I learned from her that she was right. But I had ten years of full experiential bliss, trying to figure out if the Free Spirited generation really had something, or were they just… lost.
The Belmondo movie star status was a surprise to many. He had an oversize mouth and a strong, too big nose for a leading man. But he had “cool” and there was an entire generation of people living during the festive ’60s that wanted no ties, nothing that inhibited the joie de vie of living free, and Jean Paul represented that person for most of his career.
His death at 88 was a jolt for me. He had represented so much of what I was to become with my Family Theatre days of leading spontaneous theatre bits in the Algarve in Portugal in the summer. It was Belmondo and Theatre of the Absurd joined at the hip for the Europeans on holiday in Portugal. They were the jet setters from all over Europe with some Americans thrown in.
Everyone there absolutely reveled in spontaneous events in theatre, music, and film. The world of Party had a home in the Costa del Sol and the Riviera. We went to Cannes for the Film Festival and jaunted over to Monte Carlo for the Casino and Disco world. When back in New York I waited each week for my French “Cahiers du Cinema” to arrive every Friday. That with the Village Voice’s film reviews made for my choices each week. The New York hip Arts scene at the time was dominated by La Mama, the Filmore and eventually CBGB’s, and the Andy Warhol phenomena. Be ins dominated page Six. Vogue was everywhere. The Stones partied upstairs at Max’s Kansas City. The Electric Circus went all night on St. Marks’s place.
Jean Paul Belmondo never made great films but he was a niche actor that just never went away. Glad he lived a long life. He eventually got married and raised a family. He had a lot of fun along the way. Jean Paul, you sent me out there to find what I wanted, and it opened so many doors, and for that I thank you. One can go down many wrong roads before one finds the right one. I sure did.
July 9, 2021
If there is one other country, other than Somalia or Afghanistan that is more ungovernable than Haiti, I don’t know of it. For decades Haiti has been plagued by dictators, corruption throughout the entire political social system, gang rule, and violence. In the past decade over ten billion dollars has been sent to Haiti with no visible results. Election voting in the 11 million population is less than ten percent. Those elected are beholding to gangs and lifelong corruption politics. Self-servers rule. The people starve and poverty continues at all time levels. The devastation of the 2010 earthquake can still be seen. There just is not any infrastructure that works on a consistent basis. It is tribal and gang rule that controls Somalia and Afghanistan as well as Haiti. Why gangs? When parents can’t provide security and a path for their children, the outcome is to go to the streets for it. That’s where the rules are different, and survival depends on joining to fight one’s enemies (competitors for survival). When those in power are supported by gang or tribal rule, it forces the us vs. them mentality thereby fragmenting the social wellness of all the population. Therefore, little negotiation is possible. Chaos remains imbedded in values and reputation. Trust of leaders is minimal as the basis of their power is suppression. And on and on it goes. We here in the USA are at the first stages of mob rule with the us vs them mentality being seen in political speeches and hate group rankings. Jan 6th was the first attempt at insurrection by mob mentality. In Haiti voter suppression and corruption are key to maintaining power and if you listen closely to the fringe right in the USA, they are saying the same things. Except the fringe right now has a voice from the ex-president of the USA, an extremely dangerous circumstance. Be careful when you see an angry mob flouting an American flag. They are not for democracy; they are for mob rule.
March 19, 2021
Thoughts about Robert Aaron Long
First of all these killings are not part of the media-fueled Asian hate campaign, we are reading about. This guy was psychologically a sex addict due to his compulsiveness of acting on his sexual needs. Every one of us has to learn how to control and properly channel these impulses. But what if you felt the Devil was making you feel it? You could start down a path that you can’t recover from. His inability to channel his normal sexual feelings and urges led him down a path where he eventually tried to eliminate the source of his attraction. If you were a food addict instead, it’s like having to take out every McDonald’s. The problem was being a Baptist which forbids sexual expression. His guilt in his inability to live up to an impossible religious standard made him try to control the environment around him as he knew he could no longer control the urges.
That’s what’s wrong with beliefs that try to suppress urges rather than channel them. This poor sob was living a nightmare that he could not control. So when he finally snaps his mind tells him if he eliminates what is attracting him, then he will no longer have the urge. No, it would just transfer. He killed whoever he was attracted to, it has nothing to do with hate or Asians. If they were Eskimos or Peruvians, it would have made no difference. They were his sexual outlets and that’s what made them the targets He was suffering from self-hatred and loathing.
We see it every day in a therapist’s office. Anxious people trying to control others so they don’t get anxious. Don’t get daddy upset, he’ll drink. Don’t say that, you’ll get hit. The misinformation here is that they blame the victim rather than control their anxiety or impulses. He could have been counseled successfully and it would have prevented the killing of 8 innocent people. Maybe he had an underlying psychosis which linked up with his sexual addiction. I don’t know his specifics but I can tell it’s not about Asians. If it were he could have taken out the nail salon or the Hung Fat restaurant, on his way to the massage parlor.
Don’t buy into the media campaign. There might be people who have trouble with Asians, but everybody has somebody they think is lousing up the country. It’s the people who think that way that is the problem.
February 25, 2021
Going to have my say. I have been playing or watching baseball for 74 yrs. I know the game. Why do they keep f’n with the ball? A few years ago regular pop flies carried for homers. Now they are playing around with the stitches and inner core. Why keep stats if a pop fly one year is a homer the next? Leave the damn ball alone. Plus they keep moving the outfield fences or raising and lowering them. Play with the same ball and leave the bats alone as well. Tradition? They never heard of it. Shame on them.
January 15, 2021
How did we ever get this fuckin’ crazy?
Yesterday the newly elected Republican House Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene from the newly flipped state of Georgia, caused a ruckus when she refused to wear a face mask at her swearing-in ceremony. Then later she released a post wearing a face mask that read Trump Won. She went on to say that on her first day in office, she will introduce an article of impeachment against Joe Biden on his first day in office. She believes that he was abusing his power by letting a foreign government (Ukraine) steal the election that Trump won by a landslide.
She is a far right-wing Q-ANON member, who believe there is a deep state conspiracy of satan worshiping cannibalistic pedophiles who are running a global sex trafficking ring and are plotting against Donald Trump. Trump according to them is planning a day of reckoning, known as “The Storm” when thousands of members of the cabal will be arrested. I am not making this stuff up. Sounds like stories I heard in the emergency room when the cops brought in naked people who ran down the city streets spouting paranoid craziness. Now they are representatives of the Republican Party of Georgia.
Further information coming from the police and FBI reveals that many of the invaders of Congress were Q-Anon members. Not only are they delusional but they are armed and dangerous. And who is their hero? None other than the savior Donald Trump. We all know how moral, Christian and caring he is.
Is it possible that we have lost all ability to see paranoid delusions? They are a real condition and many people are now in locked wards receiving medication for saying similar things. But when a President lies daily and blames honest media for years, this is what you get. Loose fringed people who have sex, politics, and religion all tied together with one of the most dishonest people whoever reached the political summit of America. They believe he won the election and no amount of fact-checking from Republican and Democratic officials can change their belief. It will be interesting to see how she does in Congress. If she gains any kind of power you will know that reality has lost its way and the inmates are now running the asylum. My bet is Trump will be arrested before he can save them from the cabal. But don’t worry, Don Jr. and Ivanka will save us.
January 1, 2021
Mushroom and the Jefferson Airplane house
I first met him in the Army Stockade in Mannheim, Germany. Mushroom had been the company clerk for an Army unit stationed in Paris. He had enlisted because he felt he needed more discipline. For that extra year of service, he got to pick his post. He chose Paris. He was living with his wife and newborn son in an apartment near his office work station in central Paris. He loved it. Cafes and great food.
He was as he called it “living the high life.” Then Charles de Gaulle threw the American Army out of France and Mushroom was reassigned to Worms, Germany. He was now the company clerk for a field unit that was guarding a missile silo in the ground. He was living in a military compound for married NCO’s, and it was nowhere near a town. He was angry, feeling cheated, and was miserably bored. He filed for a transfer but it was denied. He had two months left on his first year of service and demanded they honor his choice of the post request. They refused and said he would be credited 2 months service at the end of his 3 years tour. He was now livid and started acting out in his job as company clerk. He misfiled papers, sent requests to the wrong office. He screwed up the company payroll. He was warned and disciplined with fines. But when he loused up the company commander’s vacation request and reimbursement pay, he was given an article 15 and sent to jail to await trial.
So Mushroom arrives at the Stockade in Mannheim and like all new inmates, has to have a psychiatric mental status examination. You need to be legally competent to stand trial, just like in the civilian world. My job is to do those evaluations. Mushroom comes into my office with a big grin on his face. He starts with “Are you the guy who can get me out of the Army?” I tell him my job is to evaluate his sanity to stand trial. “ Well they have a section 8 for misfits don’t they”? I said that’s only after your trial if you are found sane. “What?” If you are not found sane you will be transferred to a psychiatric facility for treatment and will be reevaluated later for trial. “No I don’t want that, just will waste my time.” Long story short, Mushroom was sane, super smart, and had a personality disorder but well within legal guidelines. He knew what he was doing and it was all aimed at getting him kicked out of the Army.
I liked the guy. He was quick-witted and funny. After I got to know him better and he trusted me, he told me he was a “head”. Meaning that he loved to smoke hashish and he sold “shrooms.” They were LSD laced mushrooms, and that was his nickname. Mushroom.
There are a few subcategories for the Army to rid itself of people who fall somewhere between crazy and criminal. He was neither. The Army’s choice was to either to keep him on the payroll, which included his wife and son, or just quietly discharge him without making the severe life long choice of a dishonorable discharge. Eventually, that’s what happened, I wrote in my report that I thought he would continue to be disruptive with acting out behavior and that continued incarceration would neither benefit him nor the Army. The psychiatrist agreed with me and Mushroom was separated from the Army under general conditions not conducive to military service standards.
After we were both out of the Army and back in the States, I got a call from a mutual friend who told me Mushroom was coming to NY and wants to see me. So I met him. He’s now a flower child selling psychedelic art. He’s using dayglo paint, the rage at the time. Still selling mushrooms and making more money that way than with his “art”. His child was now five years old, and just for info purposes, his initials were LSD. Tells you everything right there. We had lots of laughs together, but I made sure not to back his financial schemes about mushrooms.
The following year I had hitched cross country for the second time and found myself in San Francisco. I called Mushroom. He was over the top excited. Said it was perfect timing as he needed me to be his “business agent” in name only, as he had a meeting coming up at the Jefferson Airplane house.
“What? You are going to the Airplane house?”
“Absolutely, I have a meeting with Jorma and Jack Cassidy.”
The Jefferson Airplane band was as big as the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. They were the American answer to what was called the British Invasion. The Airplane house was considered as sacred as Mecca, by the rock n’ roll Hippie community. The ultimate hip center of San Francisco’s rock scene. They were the stars of Bill Graham’s Fillmore East and West. It was hard to believe that Mushroom would actually get an invite to go there. He said they accepted his request for a meet to see his designs for their next album cover. The Beatles had just done Sgt Pepper and the Stones just released Magical Mystery Tour. Mush said his dayglo cover, seen under a blue light would blow everyone’s mind. The Airplane liked the idea.
So I would be there to keep Mush focused as his excitement and A. D. D. Could derail a serious conversation. I agreed to go, this was going to be epic. Security was very tight. Sure enough, our names were on the guest list. Once inside the house, we saw rock n’ roll photos of all the top bands of the day which were autographed and plastered over multiple rooms. This was like being in Graceland during Elvis’ reign. We were led upstairs to sit on a big leather couch. We watched the inner circle of the real rock star world walk by. First was Jorma Kaukonen who said hi and told us we would meet in about 10 minutes. Next Jack Cassidy walked by holding his guitar. Down the hall, we saw Grace Slick being followed by what looked like reporters. We tried to not look like star-struck tourists. But we were, and I then told Mush we had to stop gawking and stay focused that we had a legit business meeting.
Jorma came out and said ok come on in. Inside Marty Balin was there as well. They asked us to make our presentation. Mush did pretty well. He opened the portfolio and passed around the dayglo covers which looked like a kindergartner’s doodles. Mush said “ You can’t evaluate these unless you see it under a blue light. Jorma said, “ok follow me.” We went down the hall and not only did they have a blue light, but they also had a blue lightroom. When we walked in Mushroom’s drawings burst into life. Wow said Jorma. He liked them, so did Jack. We walked back to the meeting room.
They had the business agent in the room and he said, he had doubts about how to promote the concept. The record stores don’t have blue lights and without the light, it just doesn’t work. Mush said people know about blue light and it’s still a cool idea. There was disagreement among the Airplane and they asked us to step outside while they debated the issue.
Back on the sofa, we were cautiously optimistic. Mush was sure that they would agree to do the cover. I had more doubts as I said this is a business decision and not an artistic one. When they emerged they said no decision would be made now as they had to get all band members to see it in the blue room and the business people would have to do more research as this was a totally new concept, and said they would get back to us. Mush left his portfolio with them. They said feel free to see the house with any room that had an open door. We were floating. We meandered about looking at all the framed gold and platinum albums on the wall. We even saw Jan Wenner from RollingStone magazine talking to some Airplane staffers. We felt really good and left there on a high note.
It took a week for Mushroom to hear that they decided against doing the project. Mush called and asked for another meeting to discuss doing Airplane 3×5 cards, keychains, and a book of dayglo band pics. To my utter shock, they agreed and we went back to meeting number two. This was a poorly thrown together proposal as it was mainly ideas without the product itself. Mush had some drawings of the band members on 3×5 cards and his idea for a book, but only Jack was at the meeting and now there were three business people. We were thanked but they said they were looking at different ideas. This time they walked us out after giving Mush his portfolio.
In the months to come, we saw Jefferson Airplane dayglo tee shirts hit the market. After all, was said and done, we agreed that Mushroom had taken us to the mountain top, he never got the financial deal, but we could tell one hell of a story.