I Often Forget
Friday. Another day, up early and so to breakfast early giving me time to read the papers and return before the parking meters kicked in. Evidently the local city council is passing or has passed an extension to the time the meters are active, from six in the evening to eight, increasing the rate from one-fifty to two dollars an hour. For a world worried about deflation it doesn't seem to have reached us here in Oakland yet.
Still, the day starts well. A spot in the upper gums and teeth has been acting up, aching actually, but aching in a skinned the knee sort of a way, nothing that slops over into a scattered head or an out of balance horizon. This is good. I've been creeping up on the idea lately that things seem to be shaping up, how I may be shaping up. No complaints. Maybe just the power of positive thinking. Maybe the power of an actual improvement. Stranger things have happened.
It is Friday, the day to anticipate and contemplate a coming weekend. There's an underground comix retrospective opening this evening in San Francisco that I may or may not attend even though I know most of the artists who's work will be displayed. I suspect I'll find a way to crap out, just as I crapped out on Harrington's last night. Old fart that I am. But the trip over would be easy enough, the location near the Civic Center BART station. It will be light. The walk to the show will be short. But, I don't know, I'll be there or I won't. All this excitement brings out the hermit in me on a Friday (and every other day of the week). I would like to hear what's happening, see who's still standing. Couldn't hurt. Bring a camera. Take a picture. Shut the fuck up.
You're talking about a time that ended for you thirty years ago.
That period seems like a not all that well remembered story in a book. It's up there on my book shelves somewhere sitting between Wind in the Willows and Lost in Gonzo-Banana Land. An interesting ten years in San Francisco, but then I'd guess your thirties are usually an interesting ten year period wherever you lived. How do you compare them? Some people are married and in the middle of raising children. Some people are just catching their wave and heading for whatever beach that may lie ahead. I knew people who were building business careers on foundations they'd laid at the age of twelve, others who were drinking themselves into oblivion for whatever reason at eight hundred miles an hour and a much larger bunch in between who had no idea where they were going, but they were making good time. It was fun.
What brought that on? Well, the art show this evening. That and the notice from Amazon that a book I ordered in December of 2008 will finally be arriving tomorrow: Gilbert Shelton's The Freak Brothers Omnibus which contains every Freak Brothers and Fat Freddie's Cat comic strip he ever penned. I have most of the early stuff published in the seventies, but there was no way to pass up a collection that undoubtedly contains later strips that I've never seen.
Gilbert has lived in France (from my understanding) these last many decades and I have no idea what he's been drawing or where he's been published in these intervening years. Robert Crumb has similarly lived in France since the seventies (or sometime around that time), but I see one of his autobiographical pieces occasionally in The New Yorker and have some vague sense of what he's been up to since then. Wilson still has the same phone number today he had when I first met him. Blew my little mind when I learned that, it did. So I guess today is remember the seventies day, here in Oakland.
Hmm. As I'm writing this I'm realizing I undoubtedly will attend this thing. Too many connections and stories are coming back now to cop out. The Freak Brother's characters were all based on real people, two of whom I knew, one of whom reasonably well and they were part of a much broader group of long haired Texans out of Austin who helped define one not small part of the San Francisco freak culture during that period: the music scene through Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, Cat Mother, Mother Earth and the rock promoter Chet Helms (The Family Dog); FM radio through KSAN and Bob and Bonnie Simmons, the entire fucking underground press with all of its various connections to pretty much everyone from Kesey to W. Gravy and anyone else who was up to anything of interest then (and came to the parties we used to throw at the old Rip Off Press). So hmm. As in hmm.
Later. A bus trip downtown, a two o'clock lunch at Happy Burrito Number #2, a walk back about halfway to the apartment before snagging a bus for the rest of the way home to find the mail had arrived along with The Freak Brothers Omnibus, here a day early. So I read some of the strips I'd missed. And some I remembered well. My, my.
So you're going to catch the art show?
Well, you know, Mexican food for lunch. True, a baby burrito, nothing too hellacious, but it does make you drowsy, particularly after you've spent an hour or so reading old Freak Brother's comic strips. And, I don't know, those trains go under water you know. I mean way under water. It springs a leak and your dead. Floating on the bottom dead. And your cameras get quite wet underwater unless you remember to bring a zip lock bag. Which I often forget. I often forget.