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Month: August 2017 (page 2 of 2)

“Tu abuela en mole!” which, loosely translated…


…means “Your grandmother should be turned into sauce!”

 

All in all, the meeting was not that different from our present-time meetings about Sanctuary City status.  So, I guess we should bring back that expression and hurl it at the Council Members who listen with the very same defiante demeanor as the sheriff who conducted this one so long ago.

Of course, this is just an important topic… surely it’s that Harrison headline that has had your attention.  And, quite frankly, that article is one of our favorites… especially its photo of George reading ‘last’ week’s LA Free Press!  We’ll post it here for you tomorrow and, too, we’ll post that Cheetah ad for the James Brown Revue on our LAFPMusic Facebook Page.  With regard to it, as we are just now working on a project for the Santa Monica History Museum about the Cheetah, we’ll throw in some additional tidbits on the club and the acts that they hosted.

Art Kunkin: Free Press Founder Lives with Purpose


RW Klarin shares his book of poetry with LA Free Press Founder, Art Kunkin

Returning to my favorite quick getaway recharge town in the Mojave Desert, Yucca Valley, I discovered a long-shuttered coffee lounge reopened. Minor structural and decor changes have occurred but its essential classic 40s architecture remains.  Pleasantly surprised after missing it for over a year, I bought my coffee and quiche and went outside to enjoy the warm desert air.

The day began with running into the annual Memorial Day parade on the main street, starring soldiers from the nearby 29 Palms Marine base. Slightly peeved at the delay, I did my ritual walk of the labyrinth at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, then I saluted the seven directions at the medicine wheel and I drove to the intersection of 29 Palms Highway and Pioneertown Road. I intended to drive home the long way through Landers and eventually to Deep Creek Hot Springs for a long hike. But my tentative plan ran into a greater purpose.

Seeing a small man in his 80’s in deep concentration on a book by L. Ron Hubbard, I shouted his name and introduced myself. For the next two hours we had a wide ranging, up to date conversation. This man is an iconic figure of the Sixties and legendary to my generation that came of age in Los Angeles in that Era.

Art Kunkin published and edited one of the first and the most successful ‘alternative’ newspapers in the 60’s and 70’s, the Los Angeles Free Press. His influence as a promoter of the emerging hippie/radical culture can’t be overstated. If you aspired to hipness at all (and what high school kid didn’t back then) his weekly was required reading. In it, I learned about the anti-war movement, protests in Berkeley, love-ins, Hair (the musical), concerts, and marijuana. I read poetry by Charles Bukowski, media criticism by Harlan Ellison, and excerpts from the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg. In those pre-Internet days, access to current affairs was limited to the nine TV stations, the L.A. Times, and the throw- away papers. The excitement and tumult of the times was spread by newspapers such as the Freep, as it was affectionately known by its fans. The Free Press announced the ‘revolution.’ By the late Sixties, its weekly circulation reached over 100,000. The only other source of radical information was Mort Sahl expounding leftist politics and interviews on local KHJ TV.

Craving more of this exciting and new culture, occasionally my buddies and I would make the 45-minute drive to Fairfax Ave in Hollywood and visit the Free Press bookstore. It stocked many hard to find items in 1967, candles, incense, radical books, black-light posters, beads, and bongs. When the crack in 1960’s suburban-conformity widened and became an outright fissure in America, the Free Press and others like it were the harbingers as Dylan had foretold in Times They Are a Changin.’ Too young to participate in the cultural and political tempests on the college campuses, we looked to Art Kunkin let us ‘know what time  it was.’

Meeting this iconic and influential figure of the Sixties reinforced my view that the mature stage of life offers the chance to renew and revive the spirit of our youth. The Sixties generation had great hopes for real, significant change in our society. We know how that all turned out. My long ago optimism for social change got a boost talking with Kunkin. He is still in the vanguard. He spoke at length about his latest project, a technology for living up to 200 years of age. At the time he was 83 (now 89), and well versed on the latest advances in media and uses the Internet for disseminating his investigations of ancient alchemical teachings for life extension. The techniques can be read in detail on his website and in his weekly column (back then) in the The Desert Star. Not one to rest on his laurels, he is an exemplar of life-long growth, courage, and service.

As I left, Kunkin gave me a useful tip: meditate on the attributes of those that inspire you. Art Kunkin influenced me from afar in my youth and now inspires me in person in my elder phase. He represents forward thinking that is not bound by age.

At 60, 70, 80 and more, life can be a journey of exploration, growth, and service. Looking at habits and comforts in my life and remembering the excitement of youth, my big take-away was never stop learning and when you learn something, share it. The second lesson of the day was to trust my intuition because it knows where I need to go. Although I missed my hike to Deep Creek Hot Springs, the synchronistic stop at the coffee lounge was, as we used to say, right on time.

Now, more than fifty years since the Free Press began, the clarion call of societal tension has amped up, and there’s a show-down of opposing values and interests.  Back in the day, the main fissures were civil rights (for blacks and other minorities, women, gays) and the futile war in Vietnam.  What have we learned?  What wisdom can we offer as the circle comes around again?

The above piece is from my chronicle of my reinvention, Living the Dream Deferred, published 2015.  Art Kunkin still lives and  pursues life-extension in Joshua Tree, CA.  A new interview will be forthcoming in September, 2017.

Army at War with Leaflets



Oh, sure… it was easy to pick the to-be-featured story… the Detroit Riots, right there on our Front Page (50 years ago). But you saw it splashed all over the (TV) news last week, right? Now, Why is that? Well, in the olden days we might be a week behind – this story did not happen in our backyard, and we weren’t a daily. Nevertheless, Los Angelinos often found, with regard to both local and national news, the ‘real’ story in our pages first (as the LA Times mostly carried the ‘mainstream message’).
That said, today we’ll bring you the ‘other’ news (again a message that you wouldn’t have likely found in the more common metropolitan papers, certainly not one that would have been promoted – in order to spread the word, favorably – on their front pages). Please read and enjoy the Front Page promoted ‘Peace Leafleters Bug Army – -Prevent Inductions’.
And, still, the entire ‘DETROIT -REVOLUTION IN THE REVOLUTION’ article is under the ‘A Unique Perspective’ Tab (under the ‘Revolutionary Vibes’ Topic) elsewhere on this website. Even before you find it, though, because, as the old adage goes – a picture is worth a thousand words (and captions help 😊) the ‘integrated band of looters’ lets you know that this telling is not going to be as one-sided as many others.
We’re also putting up another 3 pages on the ‘Diggers’ – under the ‘A Unique Perspective’ Tab (this article, though, is under the ‘Social Injustice’ Topic). The Diggers were a San Francisco phenomenon – some say they brought Utopia, hippies recognized it as freelandia+; the Diggers have a ‘free’ store.. clothes, household appliances, and such, they serve meals at other locations, arrange free ‘housing’ (couches on which to crash, transportation, etc. and etc.
Here’s a quote from one of those San Franciscans, “In San Francisco you just don’t need any money at all anymore.” (And with regard to the Utopian end… ‘the same cat told the Free Press “All of what you need is yours as a matter of right.”)
By April of ‘this’ year, they had set up an LA office, and as our article reports, “they founded a “Love Force” to communicate with all parties…and their to-date statistics are pretty impressive: they have “crashed” 4,872 people, fed up to 700 people a day (perhaps 10,000 meals so far), placed about 200 into jobs, helped about 150 runaways return home. What’s the future they have in mind? And your thoughts about what occurred? Over at the ‘A Unique Perspective’ Tab under which this article is filed, you not only have the chance to say, you’ve the opportunity to become a Contributing Writer for the Los Angeles Free Press. Check it out!

Old Songs, Young Souls, & a Final Flight for the Airplane


Santa Monica Pier Twilight Concerts

“Take another whiff of fresh air,” the gray-bearded bear of a man whispered from the stage. An authentic, original San Francisco hippie, David Freiberg (first of Quicksilver Messenger Service) again fronted the 21st century version of a rock institution on a late summer evening in 2015. The usual motley crowd of several hundred free entertainment seekers milled around the Santa Monica Pier, while the classic guitar riffs of an old Jefferson Airplane tune cut through the cacophony of chatter.  Almost 50 years since the Summer of Love in San Francisco, their original incarnation proclaimed, ‘When the truth is found to be lies.’ Well the truth of 2015 is that they are a mere shadow of the Airplane. But those riffs were just enough to provoke grins of recognition between me and an old friend from college days at Berkeley. He made a special pilgrimage to LA to see the last surviving member of the iconic group that epitomized the San Francisco hippie sound in the sixties. Known back in the day under the pseudonym of Jack, he is one of those rare Boomers who, now in our later days,  listens to current music as well as the classics.

Unfortunately, on that balmy Santa Monica night, after two songs the small guy, with wispy blonde hair who played those distinctive licks disappeared from the stage. The music continued, but Paul Kantner couldn’t, he’d made an appearance, but that was about it—a recent heart attack had taken its toll. Sadly, Kantner died in early 2016 at the age of 74 after another heart attack.
After Kantner left, the band consisting of four young musicians and Freiberg, carried on with the classic tunes. Although they were essentially a tribute band, competently covering the old songs, when I closed my eyes I heard Grace Slick singing White Rabbit and Miracles. Those old songs evoked the vibe, like a time-tunnel to the mood, spirit, excitement, and freedom, of the original hippie times. Like an invisible virus, music from our formative years rummages around in the memory banks and finds the young soul that lurks deep within the ever-aging mind and body. A remembrance, more than nostalgia, it’s like a secret, authentic self that is hiding in a closet coming out for a cameo.

Paul Kantner and the Jefferson Starship

Oldies music is not new, but the attitude about it is. In 1969, I attended a concert at the Fillmore in San Francisco, Sha Na Na came on and drove us young hippies wild with their fifties cover songs. In those days, a heavy dose of camp and sarcasm fueled our enthusiasm. We thought we had evolved so much that oldies music from ten years before was corny and hilarious.  That doesn’t happen now with oldies music. Now, even millennials like and respect music from the sixties and seventies. The generation gap that was so glaring back in the day has closed. That night on the Santa Monica Pier all ages swayed to the classic rock of Starship/ Airplane. Cruising through the time-tunnel, I recalled a free concert I saw by Jefferson Airplane at the Los Angeles’ Griffith Park/ Elysian  Park area in 1969. The impromptu show happened because somehow a planned concert at a real venue was cancelled by ‘The Man.’ The word spread through the hippie underground, mostly via the Los Angeles Free Press. A crowd of thousands appeared, peace and love permeated the scene, without a sign of ‘The Man’ seen. Radical politics of the time inspired their new album, Volunteers, and the kids shouted out in unison with lyrics that confronted the ‘System’ like ‘Up against the wall motherfuckers’ and ‘We can be together.’

Grace Slick and Paul Kantner ‘Volunteers’ era

For us Boomers the music was often more than entertainment, our lives organized around it. It was our social media where we shared political views, clothing and artistic styles, in addition to entertainment. Even today, fifty years later, those same performers and songs resuscitate the old spirit of community, justice, and freedom. Well-proven neuro-science states that our minds are still forming into the mid-to late twenties, so it makes sense that the imprints we experience at that age stay with and continue to excite us.

My friends and associates, except for the few hard-core music aficionados like Jack, listen to the old music from our formative twenties. Especially, the original bands like the Who, Stones, or Starship, who replicate the originals with new players. At the 2015 New Orleans Jazz Fest, the Who’s two remaining original members, Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey performed the classics like ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again,’ with gusto, but what blew me away was how the replacement drummer (Zake Starkey, son of Ringo Starr) didn’t miss one of Keith Moon’s original licks.

The author catches the Who at New Orleans Jazz Fest, 2015

Experiencing tribute or classic bands (even with one original member like the Starship) opens that deep mine of soul, freedom, and adventure hidden by the passage of the decades. It still resides inside us somewhere and the old music can bust out of the miasma of sameness and into freshness and spontaneity. After getting drunk on this strange elixir from the past, something wakes up in me and I want to ‘bang a gong, get it on.’ Who hasn’t felt that from a cherished oldie? Novelty through discovery and adventure feed the soul, but the old music satisfies in a way that new can’t. Like a fine pair of old jeans and tennis shoes and scratchy 45s, they’re well loved, like an old friend, it awakens the spirit of youth regardless of who is playing it.

Sadly, Paul Kantner didn’t return to the stage that night at the Pier, but his daughter by Grace Slick, China Kantner sang harmony on Somebody to Love. The lineage received due honor. Paul Kantner reportedly never renounced his Summer of Love principles of peace, love, and a positive future. A stalwart icon of the hippie movement, his vision lives on in the music of the Airplane/ Starship and in the souls of the older ‘kids’ who took a breath of that fresh air of a utopian generation.

[Ed.’s Note:  In his first book of essays, Living the Dream Deferred, RW Klarin explored the uncharted domain for Baby Boomers– -retirement. Combining a journalist’s eye for detail with a teacher’s need to learn, he invited readers into the inner and outer journey of his reinvention.
His new project is an exploration of the Sixties counterculture influence on our world. As he visits significant, though not always famous places and persons of that tumultuous period, in this column, each Wednesday, we will join him as he recalls their past in the ‘era of the hippie’, assesses their present state, and talks with us about what it might mean for our future.]

 

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