I think McMurphy knew better than we did that our tough looks were all show, because he still wasn't able to get a real laugh out of anybody. Maybe he couldn't understand why we weren't able to laugh yet, but he knew you can't really be strong until you see a funny side to things. In fact, he worked so hard at pointing out the funny side of things that I was wondering a little if maybe he was blind to the other side, if maybe he wasn't able to see what it was that parched laughter deep inside your stomach. - (from One Flew Over Cuckoo's Nest)
Always comes the moment when it's time to take the Prankster circus further on toward Edge City. And always at this point some good souls are startled. Kesey can remember them all, people who thought he was great so long as his fantasy coincided with theirs. But every time he pushed on further -- and he always pushed on further -- they became confused and resentful. - (Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test)
And one day the King's most loyal servant came into the royal chambers and said, "Your Majesty, all of the kingdom's wheat has been infested with a fungus that turns the people crazy when they eat it!" The King sadly contemplated this news then replied, "If we are going to be able to understand the people, then you and I must consume the fungus and become crazy too. But before we partake of the grain, let us make a mark on each other's forehead so that later, when we see one another, we will know that we chose to become insane, while everybody else is just crazy." - (Ken Kesey's Twister)
One of these days you're going to have a visitation. You're going to be walking down the street and across the street you're going to see God standing over there on the corner motioning to you saying, 'Come here, come to me.' And you will know it's God, there will be no doubt in your mind -- he has slitty little eyes like Buddha, and he's got a long nice beard and blood on his hands. He's got a big Charlton Heston jaw like Moses, he's stacked like Venus, and he has a great jeweled scimitar like Mohammad. And God will tell you to come to him and sing his praises. And he will promise that if you do, all the muses that ever visited Shakespeare will fly in your ear and out of your mouth like golden pennies. It's the job of the writer in America to say, 'Fuck you God, fuck you and the Old Testament you rode in on, fuck you.' The job of the writer is to kiss no ass, no matter how big and holy and white and tempting and powerful. - (Kesey's Advice to Young Writers)
Ken Babbs, Zane, The Merry Pranksters, Skypilots, Hog Farmers, et al, had a great idea for commemorating September llth. They suggested taking a book you think has mind-expanding properties and leaving it somewhere in a public place where someone might find it and take it home to read. They even provided a little marker that you could print off their webpage and stick in the book so people would know to take it home and not leave it at a lost and found or something. The concept is that an occasion that is a real bummer, like remembering the horrors of September 11, may be alleviated in a positive way by people sharing books that would give each other a more enlightened and hopeful view of life.
Well, it was just whimsical enough an idea to convince me to try it, but then of course that posed the question of what book I should leave out for discovery. I'm not normally one for parting with books. I still have some I've had from childhood and my whole place is messy with books tucked in every cranny while my shelves are ready to collapse with the weight of them. Yet whenever I try to throw any of them away I get all nostalgic and remember the circumstances behind how I first read the book and the people and the places associated with it, some of them gone forever, and the next thing you know I feel like I'm betraying old friends and decide I can't throw the books away.
But this was for a good cause and besides I wasn't really throwing the book away. I was sharing it with a stranger who may need a kindly dose of consciousness raising on a sad anniversary. So not knowing who this stranger might be, or what his tastes are, I decided to go with the Norton Anthology of American Literature, a big fat doorstopper of a book with gossamer thin pages from my own college days, a book predating the revised politically correct version. None of the evil Dead White Males were censored from this edition to be replaced by inferior talents elevated by virtue of having neither a penis nor white skin. I figure that until the day when sanity returns to academia and the Dead White Males are returned to their rightful pedestals, than those of us left who still know the true masterpieces should share them with others.
So sure enough early on the morning of September 11 I went to the benches in front of St. Brigid's Roman Catholic Church in downtown Amherst and placed the big fat anthology with all the writings of the Dead White Males in it, and the Prankster/Skypilot marker with the picture of Ken Babbs on it sticking out the top and I put it on the bench and walked away.
When I came by about four o'clock that afternoon the book was gone without a trace. Now I wish I had sort of lurked around awhile, somewhere out of view, to see who took my book. Oh well, whoever you are, I hope you're enjoying it.
by Shel Silverstein
There once was a boy named Gimmesome Roy.
He was nothing like me or you.
'Cause laying back and getting high was all he cared to do.
As a kid, he sat in the cellar,
sniffing airplane glue.
And then he smoked bananas --
which was then the thing to do.
He tried aspirin in Coca-Cola,
breathed helium on the sly,
And his life was just one endless search to find that perfect high.
But grass just made him want to lay back
and eat chocolate-chip pizza all night,
And the great things he wrote while he was stoned
looked like shit in the morning light.
And speed just made him rap all day,
reds just laid him back,
And Cocaine Rose was sweet to his nose,
but the price nearly broke his back.
He tried PCP and THC,
but they didn't quite do the trick,
And poppers nearly blew his heart and mushrooms made him sick.
Acid made him see the light,
but he couldn't remember it long.
And hashish was just a little too weak,
and smack was a lot too strong,
And Quaaludes made him stumble,
and booze just made him cry,
Till he heard of a cat named Baba Phats who knew of the perfect high.
Now, Baba Phats was a hermit cat who lived up in Nepal,
High on a craggy mountaintop,
up a sheer and icy wall.
"But hell," says Roy, "I'm a healthy boy,
and I'll crawl or climb or fly,
But I'll find that guru who'll give me the clue as to what's the perfect high."
So out and off goes Gimmesome Roy to the land that knows no time,
Up a trail no man could conquer to a cliff no man could climb.
For fourteen years he tries that cliff,
then back down again he slides
Then sits -- and cries -- and climbs again,
pursuing the perfect high.
He's grinding his teeth, he's coughing blood,
he's aching and shaking and weak,
As starving and sore and bleeding and tore,
he reaches the mountain peak.
And his eyes blink red like a snow-blind wolf,
and he snarls the snarl of a rat,
As there in perfect repose and wearing no clothes --
sits the godlike Baba Phats.
"What's happening, Phats?" says Roy with joy,
"I've come to state my biz.
I hear you're hip to the perfect trip.
Please tell me what it is.
For you can see," says Roy to he,
"that I'm about to die,
So for my last ride, Fats,
how can I achieve the perfect high?"
"Well, dog my cats!" says Baba Phats.
"Here's one more burnt-out soul,
Who's looking for some alchemist to turn his trip to gold.
But you won't find it in no dealer's stash,
or on no druggist's shelf.
Son, if you would seek the perfect high --
find it in yourself."
"Why, you jive motherfucker!" screamed Gimmesome Roy,
"I've climbed through rain and sleet,
I've lost three fingers off my hands and four toes off my feet!
I've braved the lair of the polar bear and tasted the maggot's kiss.
Now, you tell me the high is in myself. What kind of shit is this?
My ears 'fore they froze off," says Roy, "had heard all kind of crap,
But I didn't climb for fourteen years to listen to that sophomore rap.
And I didn't crawl up here to hear that the high is on the natch,
So you tell me where the real stuff is or I'll kill your guru ass!"
"Ok, OK," says Baba Phats, "you're forcing it out of me.
There is a land beyond the sun that's known as Zaboli.
A wretched land of stone and sand where snakes and buzzards scream,
And in this devil's garden blooms the mystic Tzu-Tzu tree.
And every ten years it blooms one flower as white as the Key West sky,
And he who eats of the Tzu-Tzu flower will know the perfect high.
For the rush comes on like a tidal wave
and it hits like the blazing sun.
And the high, it lasts a lifetime
and the down don't ever come.
But the Zaboli land is ruled by a giant who stands twelve cubits high.
With eyes of red in his hundred heads, he waits for the passers-by.
And you must slay the red-eyed giant, and swim the River of Slime,
Where the mucous beasts, they wait to feast on those who journey by.
And if you survive the giant and the beasts and swim that slimy sea,
There's a blood-drinking witch who sharpens her teeth
as she guards that Tzu-Tzu tree."
"To hell with your witches and giants," laughs Roy.
"To hell with the beasts of the sea.
As long as the Tzu-Tzu flower blooms,
some hope still blooms for me."
And with tears of joy in his snow-blind eye, Roy slips the guru a five,
Then back down the icy mountain he crawls, pursuing that perfect high.
"Well, that is that," says Baba Phats, sitting back down on his stone,
Facing another thousand years of talking to God alone.
"It seems, Lord," says Phats, "it's always the same,
old men or bright-eyed youth,
It's always easier to sell them some shit
than it is to give them the truth."
Former Northampton City Councilor and beloved curmudgeon Mike Kirby has released his sixth installment chronicling the Hamp banking scandals, focusing on a car business that may not be all it appears to be:
It was September 12, l997. Richard Egbert, lawyer for Irving Labovitz, had Mike Smith, former chief of commercial lending at Heritage Bank, on the stand. His intent that day, as it was most days, was to undercut Smith’s credibility. This day the spotlight was on the relationship between Smith and Northampton businessman Matthew Pitoniak. Pitoniak helped him get his condo in the Virgin Islands, and a grateful Mike Smith had made Matthew Pitoniak a millionaire virtually overnight, funneling money to trusts with winsome names out of “Lord of the Rings” such as Rivendell, Treebeard and Quickbeam.
He got $700,000 to acquire Splash Car Wash in Springfield, $610,000 for 180-182 Main Street, $1.1 million for Fitzwillys, $950,000 for 492 Pleasant Street, and $490,000 to acquire 19 Fulton Avenue. The last loan in this string enabled Matthew Pitoniak and Edmund Komansky (Quickbeam Realty Trust) to construct the building where the Northampton Pro-Lube facility is today.
According to the papers, Mike Smith was now managing an auto shop, earning about $250 a week and living up over the garage. An innocent juror or newspaper reader like me would probably think that this new career of his reflected credit on him. Bank executive starts life over again managing a garage. Puts past behind him, goes straight. Shows contrition for his sins, gets back to his working class roots.
Read the latest installment in this epic work of citizen journalism by clicking here:
There's also an interesting new blog about the old Paramount Building in Springfield.
The Paramount Theater was purchased in the summer of 1999. The Theater hadn't been opened for years, employed no one, and paid no taxes. We made a huge investment, saved a local landmark, employed over 150 people, and paid approximately $220,000 in back taxes to the city of Springfield. The Hippodrome opened in December of 2000 after a year of renovations.
Check it out by clicking here.
I see that the Munson Hall Annex at UMass is fenced off and headed for demolition.
Unlike Munson Hall proper, the annex has no real architechtural or historic significance. Still, I feel a little sad when I see anything associated with my own time at UMass disappear.
Elsewhere on campus there have been small improvements made since the students left for the summer. They finally took down that ugly fence that was up while the Grad Research Center was being painted and are shown here removing the bushes and high grass that had grown behind it.
The grounds crew ripped out all that unattractive shrubbery in front of the Student Union and replaced it with lovely rows of roses.
In downtown Amherst the Black Sheep Deli has a fancy new chalkboard sign.
And Motown Bernie got himself a scooter to putter between panhandling spots.
Amherst bluesman Damon Reeves playing at home.