Following our Rapid City gig was one long-assed boring drive to San Francisco. We took turns driving straight through making as few stops as possible. We were all beat from the tour at that point. The daylong drive was a chance to catch up on sleep when you weren’t driving. I was driving on a Wisconsin learner’s permit, which wasn’t really legal in any other state, but I knew I could play dumb to any cops that might pull me over. We didn’t get stopped.
I had never seen mountains before. New Orleans is below sea level and Duluth is nothing more than a hill. I wondered how the small towns in the Rockies got there. Who were the people that decided to stop and make a settlement in these remote locations?
We stopped briefly in Reno to lose money in slot machines. I was beginning to wonder why we decided to drive to San Francisco. We were travelling 2,200 miles across country essentially to play one gig, a small festival near San Jose. We were getting paid $2,000 for that one gig and we knew that we’d pick up other work while we were there, but my ass was getting mighty sore and we had all run out of things to talk about days before.
Basically, I was feeling homesick. I had tossed away my girlfriend to go on this trip. Why did I do that? I flipped through a flurry of self-doubt and a little self-loathing until finally pulling out of it. I realized that I ended the relationship with Patty because it was time. We were tired of each other, no longer felt the great joy of being together, and had settled into a rut, a drunken rut, at that. The ultimatum that Patty issued was her way of saying I’m breaking up with you. I was sure that she had found somebody else already. I didn’t really care. I was not jealous, which was strange since I was still incredibly insecure. I missed Patty. I missed Buster. I missed my dad.
I broke out of my funk when Ted Anderson announced that we were a mere 200 miles from San Francisco. That news brightened our day. Four more hours of driving, at most, and we would be standing at our destination: the intersection of Haight and Ashbury. Those last four hours went by fairly quickly. Daylight broke from the East revealing a new landscape to ponder. We passed through absurd changes in terrain from green mountains to the desert wasteland called Sacramento that remained arid until we passed over that final hill that leads to San Francisco. There it was, blessed San Francisco, the Promised Land for beatniks like us.
The exhilaration of arriving in the Bay Area washed away the fatigue of the tour. We were in San Francisco. I was viewing my second ocean, the Pacific, and there was the Golden Gate Bridge shimmering in the morning sun. The colourful architecture spread across the rolling hills of a great seaport looked to me like New Orleans with hills.
We were all so very excited, suddenly jabbering like mad with Tim leading the pack. San Francisco was more beautiful than any of us had imagined. We stopped at a gas station to pick up a free map of the city streets, plotted our course, and ambled over toward the intersection of Haight and Ashbury.
As we drew neat The Haight, as that district (neighborhood) is called, we saw hippies everywhere, swarms of them scurrying up and down the tilted streets. We stood out like festering thumbs on a fingerless hand, particularly me with my butch haircut. My compatriots appeared as though they’d been bleached white and dressed like railroad workers, but at least they had fairly long hair.
Hippies offered us drugs at every turn. “Want some weed, man. Wait, you’re not a narc are you?” Narc was short for narcotics agent, a policeman specializing in drug crimes. Pot was illegal. LSD had just been made illegal yet it was still available everywhere. Every type of drug was available: uppers, downers, sideways, all there for the asking.
Day-glo splashed everywhere: signs, posters, buildings, store fronts, in every direction. The hippies all seemed passive, full of love. Make love, not war. Now, that was a slogan I could get behind. Free love was another concept I could surely embrace.
Hippies offered us food, too. Hippies sat on sidewalks playing guitar and singing Dylan. Hippies, hippies everywhere. And everywhere the smell of patchouli. Head shops selling posters, mod threads, hip records, and drug paraphernalia – about one per block, sometimes more.
And cold! It was nearly July and I was chilled so badly that I ran back to the van and grabbed a Navy P coat that was strangely hip for some odd reason. I remembered Mark Twain’s famous quote, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Now, I knew what old Sam Clemmons was talking about.
My cousin Rock quickly made friends with a hippie girl who invited us all back to her pad. She called it a pad, which to me meant that the hippies hadn’t strayed too far from their beatnik roots. The chicks pad was a large house with mattresses and pillows covering nearly every inch of every floor.
“Where are you guys from?” hippie girl asked.
“Duluth, Minnesota,” Rock answered.
“Oh cool, that’s where Bob Dylan’s from. Do you know him? What’s he like, I mean, really?” asked hippie girl.
“Um, no, ma’am,” Rock replied with his Elvis Presley influence showing. “We’ve never met him. He left Duluth years ago.”
“Oh,” she said, clearly disappointed.
There was a smorgasbord of braless hippie girls available for the taking. Hippie girl dragged Rock off to a private room to ball leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves. Jack Ghostly abstained from intimate fraternization, as usual. But not me, I dove into the deep end of the pool of hippy chick boobies.
“I’m Magnolia,” said a pretty thing dressed in nothing but a sun dress.
“I’m Armond,” I said.
“Mescaline,” said Magnolia as she handed me a tab of paper. I suspected that her name wasn’t really Magnolia, but a moniker she donned for her hippie life.
“What does it do?” I asked.
“It sets you free, man, opens your mind, and your spirit,” Magnolia replied as she rocked back and forth.
“Yeah, man, like mushrooms only a little different. Take it, man, you’ll love it. It’s all about love, man.” She was beginning to “man” me to death so I chewed up the tab and swallowed. Fifteen minutes later I was “tripping balls” as the expression goes. It was a good thing I had taken the mushroom and peyote trip prior to this experience or I would have freaked out.
In about 15 more minutes I felt that I could no longer sit upright so I lay down and watched the melting walls that surrounded me. The Doors Strange Days album started playing. It could have been just in my head, except that it was loud and distorted. Magnolia moved in time-lapse images with a wide smile. I was smiling back, couldn’t control my grinning from ear to ear.
“Isn’t it beautiful, man,” Magnolia said or maybe she just thought it at me. “I love this album.” Hey, she was talking and the album really was playing. I regained strength after the first rush passed and sat back up.
“It is beautiful. You are beautiful,” I said. Oh-oh, my hormones were kicking into full gear. I leaned forward extending a hand to touch her face, but I fell way short nearly nose-diving into the mattress.
Magnolia laughed, “You’re funny. Wanna ball, man.”
“More than anything,” I replied.
“Follow me,” she said as she grabbed both of my hands in an attempt to pull me up.
Legs, what happened to my legs? I had them when I came in. Oh yeah, stand was the command that needed to be sent. My sizzling brain sent the command and, much to my surprise, I stood up, but too fast and nearly toppled us both over. Walk was the next command. I was out of breath. Oh yeah, I forgot to breathe. Breathe, man, breathe. The stairs appeared to rise as high as Mount Everest. All I wanted to do was mount Magnolia. We ascended the stairs slowly and finally we were in a bedroom with an actual bed. We fell onto a down comforter that swallowed us whole. The room was dark except for the florescent stars and planets pasted to the ceiling that were set aglow by black light.
We made out while Magnolia disrobed me. “You are ready to go aren’t you? You have a beautiful cock, man.”
Her words made no sense to me. What was she talking about? I wondered and watched as Magnolia pulled the sun dress over her head. She wore no other garments. I liked the easy access mentality of this chick. We balled for what seemed like an eternity. I had learned to concentrate on not releasing, suppressing the urge to explode from the groin, but now I had the opposite problem. No matter how much I tried, despite the beautiful bouncing boobies above me, I just couldn’t let go. Magnolia wasn’t complaining. In fact, her reaction was quite the opposite.
“You are amazing,” she said, or maybe it was that planet on the left that was talking to me. What was its name? The one with the rings. What was its name? Oh yeah, Saturn. Or, was it Jupiter. No wonder I couldn’t let go, my brain had lost contact with all body parts below my neck.
She eventually collapsed on top of me saying, “I need a break. You have to be on top for awhile.”
Again, the words didn’t register. What? You want me to do what? On top? Where, the roof? On top of what? She flipped us both over like a flapjack and suddenly I was on top. Oh, that’s what she meant. Finally, I was able to concentrate on the sex we were having. No more distracting galaxies, just beautiful boobies and a face painted in day-glo ecstasy. Still, there was no explosion, close, but not popping off. Her eyebrows were uneven and one ear seemed larger than the other. And her eyes weren’t the same colour, either. We banged and banged and balled and balled until the motion seemed purposeless, yet still fun. She was saying something, no, screaming it. A thought entered: Perhaps I should listen in case she’s distressed. Then, left just as quickly.
“Yes, there, right there, right fucking there. Oh fuck, yes…” and on and on. Ok, she had nothing important to impart. Now, where was I? Oh yeah, trying to launch my little Ensigns. No, they were seaman, that’s who I was trying launch, but their boat was stuck on something. Her hair looks weird, blond with different colour blond roots, darker, maybe even black at one time. But the carpet was the same colour. Did she die the drapes and the carpet? Must have, no other explanation seems… Wait, she has nine piercings in her left ear and only seven in her right, or did I lose count somewhere.
Eventually, I felt pressure building below until boom, the big explosion occurred and Magnolia’s eyes rolled back like she was trying to look through the top of her skull. Her legs were clamped tight around my lower back as she rocked back and forth with diminishing vigor until she stopped and gasped for air. I fell over deep into the bed when her legs finally relaxed.
She lay next to me for a period of minutes panting and saying, “Oh man, oh man, oh man…” I felt like I wanted to sleep but couldn’t. Every molecule in my body was vibrating. I could feel the hair growing on my scalp, individually.
Magnolia rose from the bed, went to the door, and called out, “Petunia, come in here. You’ve got to try this. It’s the most incredible thing.” Or was I just imagining that?
Petunia entered, looked at me lying on my back and gasped. Magnolia instructed her to, “Climb on and ride him like a bucking bronco. Hold on, you’re in for a long ride.” With that Magnolia exited.
Petunia sat beside me and grasped my favourite toy delicately with tiny fingers. Petunia was a petite girl, maybe even sub-petite. She wore a teddy (I think that’s what the garment is called). It was sheer and I could see puffy little nipples through the fabric. I could see the stitching in the fabric that partially occluded the nipples. In the blink of an eye her teddy was off and she was climbing aboard my good ship’s lollipop. This ride lasted even longer. I was more distracted. The neatly manicured patch of grass around her box was blond, but her head had black hair that looked natural. Wow, California girls were neat.
Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys entered my head singing, “I wish they all could be California girls.”
In my first twenty hours in San Francisco I got stoned, tripped balls, saw millions of colourful objects that probably weren’t there, and balled until I was raw.
I couldn’t wait for day two.