“Devonshire downs in 1969…”

I picked up Patti at the airport today,

Sunday. She started her day in Berkeley visiting her 27 year old son. She came home early as her son ate something that made him ill. Patti seems to think it’s his live-in girlfriend’s attitude that contagiously made him ill. She planned to stay until Monday. Jet Blue delayed her flight up there by 4 hours. Corporate mistakes have a form of contagious as well. The mistakes tend to effect groups of people. Jet Blue gave the passengers credit for the delay inconvenience. Patti then parlayed the credit into returning early. The corporate contagion then spread to me as I had to pick her up Sunday instead of Monday afternoon. My plan had been to get busy and write for my writing class until these contagious events displaced my plans.

I am susceptible to contagious forces.

Most everything I know, value and eat are the result of being infected with some emotion touching advertised virus of celebrity urging. Even when it comes to the personal presentation of competing for mating privileges and companionship I have some well ingrained Mental Malware that has contagiously found it’s way into my psyche, wardrobe and expressions. I will take on the mood, mannerisms and lifestyle of any group I tend to hang out with. As a teen-ager it was the kids who smoked, screwed and ditched school and didn’t give a hoot much. This led to the Marine Corps to be a good American like John Wayne and defend democracy. Espirit DeCorps, that great, wonderful and well deserved pride of completing Marine Training, is certainly a contagious benefit. Then I realized I was under the thumbs of the politicians and military industrial greedy fear driven money-bags that want to keep wars happening.   I then got infected with the hippie, anti-war cynicism and distrust that comes from believing you’ve been lied to and used.  Rock Concerts, lynch mobs and political conventions are thousands of people contagiously infecting each other with the emotional fervor of contact highs, rampant sex, rage, love, defiance and sometimes peace.

My first Rock Concert was Jimi Hendrix, The Chambers Brothers and Three Dog Night at Devonshire downs in 1969. I had recently returned from Viet Nam and my good friend Randy owned a Musical Instrument Store in Hollywood. Guitars, Fenders, strung out music, cash registers, clinkers.

He invited me to his place for the week-end. We can do some acid, he invited. I went.

“Concert tonight”, “We can get backstage with Three Dog NIght”. Celebrate, Joy to the World, Drug Overdoses, Naked Young Women I said, “Sure” like I usually said to most any invitation.

We drove to his home and family. Had dinner. Visited. Listened to music.

Then he said, “Here, take this, it’s Orange Sunshine, it’ll take awhile to come on.”

“Sure”, I said and then lied, “I’ve done those before”

We were at his home in Calabasas. A small, 3 bedroom place where he lived with his wife and three year old child, Eric. It was 7:00 at night and his wife had left to take Eric to the babysitter. Randy and I were sitting around the dining table at one end of the living room/ dining room. The television was silently on the evening news. Judy Collins was singing on the stereo.   The waft of marijuana and hash smoke had gently covered the room. There were two candles burning. The couch was blue velour with oak plaques on the front of the armrests. The coffee table had two ashtrays, a current Life magazine, a bamboo bong and two opened beers on it. The dining table was still cluttered with dinner dishes and a sewing needle. We had started out the evening with some marijuana, beer and hash. Randy was a big guy. We played football together in High School. He was 6’2 and maybe 250 lbs. with long hippie hair. I still had my Marine Haircut and fitness.   Randy was living the rock and roll high living lifestyle. I had heard and read stories about LSD however I had never tried any. The anticipation of what might come was totally occupying my consciousness to the point of being unaware of anyone else in the room. In the popular jargon of the day, I was “tripping”.

Randy said, “Don’t trip out Jim, stay here with us. We’re gonna have fun tonight”. We then piled into his 1969 green Pontiac Cutlass and headed off to Devonshire Downs.   Everything was beginning to occur to me as happening in slow motion. Lights were beginning to stream.  Even the voices began to slow up to a strange drawl. Rock and Roll. We’re not in Kansas anymore.

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