Author Archive for SuzeeB

JUST THINKIN’ ABOUT JANIS & THE SUMMER OF LOVE

It’s the 50th anniversary of The Summer of Love and because I was there in Golden Gate Park, whose entrance opened like a rabbit hole at the end of Haight Street, I’m thinking about Janis Joplin this morning. I saw her with Big Brother and The Holding Company many times. But the first time I watched her do her thing on the back of a flatbed truck seems like the day before yesterday. Maybe even yesterday!

Here’s an excerpt from my book, Under A Tie Dye Sky, showing (as opposed to merely telling) you Janis. The following passage is written about the day I arrived in San Francisco, with flowers in my hair of course.

“Standing on the corner of Haight and Ashbury, I realized people were migrating in the same direction. “Hey, Kurt,” hailed a few passers by, “you coming down to The Panhandle? Happy Sunday, man. Janis is singin’!”

Janis belonged to a band named Big Brother and The Holding Company. My friend took my arm, to stop me from turning in circles. He led me down the street to that part of Golden Gate Park known as The Panhandle.

We entered the outskirts of a crowd staring up at the flat bed of a long truck. Looking for where the noise came from, I picked out a whirring generator next to the truck. As we walked closer, I turned my head to see what was on the improvised stage.

Under no circumstances will I forget my first look at Janis Joplin. She stood there in back of a microphone, a funky grand lady, small, but commanding. She wore a short scruffy blue jeans skirt with a peasant blouse hanging off one shoulder. Scores of bracelets encircled her wrists and arms, scores more necklaces around her neck. Her mop of hair had a life of its own. Long, frizzy, untethered, it moved and shook around her broad face. This mane was on a leave of absence from standard hair care.

Freedom drenched her persona. Freedom from what? From tired norms. From lies. From fear. From despair. Freedom from hate. Freed to find individuality, where truth, faith, hope, and Love stood a chance.

Grinning and jiving with the company, this outlandish Raggedy Ann became my new groundbreaking off–the–wall hero of girldom.

Love saturated the soft candied air in the globe. The congregation breathed it in and blew it into the open when Janis hit her first note. Somehow she gathered that Love and sang it out to us in a way that changed lives.

Janis, charitable to a fault, held nothing of herself back, saved nothing for some future rainy day.

I said Janis Joplin changed lives. Her willingness to give till she collapsed added new meaning to the concept of selfless generosity.

Of course I’d been exposed to selfless generosity in reading true stories and hearing about saints on earth like Mother Teresa and in the Bible. My mom and dad were my supreme examples in this world.

But Janis was visceral and in my face.

I stood in front of a living extreme, a real person in front of my eyes. I’d never seen anything like this before. Nothing even close. ACCESSIBLE, she let us enter her soul, as she reached into ours. Turning herself inside out, raw and vulnerable along with graciousness, she returned our overwhelming Love.”

OH, JANIS . . .

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THE SUMMER OF LOVE

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“There are moments in time when a word or thought has such power it changes history; a generation so involved in the moment it becomes unstoppable; a spiritual awakening so profound that its very conception shatters perceptions, halts the world and makes people from all nations take notice.”

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Love is in the air in San Francisco again, or perhaps it’s just the memory of a love long past.

The 50 year Golden Anniversary of the Summer of Love, the counterculture movement that transformed San Francisco’s international reputation, looms on the horizon.

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This is Jimi (you know, Hendrix!) in the Panhandle area of Golden Gate Park. Playing for free in front of a sea of flower children.

By photographer Jim Marshall.

Marshall captured images of rock-’n’-roll greats like Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead on San Francisco streets in 1967. But his collection also showcases everyday scenes in the Haight.

The city cops closed Haight Street so the Dead could play for us for free (of course!)

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Looking at this photo, I can smell the eucalyptus-scented air, and feel the insistent caress of pure bliss. Ecstasy and joy.

It was uncanny. It was beautiful. It was real.

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See these girls? Inspired and filled with hope. Can you tell?

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I spent plenty of days in the park doing just what these lovely loving ladies are doing. I’d fill a basket and skip off to distribute my flower chains to tourists, policemen and friends. But then, everyone was a friend in that Time Of All Times. There were no strangers.

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100,000 young people flocked to San Francisco that year, transforming the previously nondescript Haight-Ashbury neighborhood into the de facto counterculture capital of America.

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Local filmmaker Peter Coyote calls it “a heady experience from which I have never recovered. Sitting down to dinner with 20 people, making music every night.”

Drugs were a sacrament. A nod and a smile to another flower-child on the street meant something you couldn’t put a name to.

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It began with a simple four-letter word. LOVE! In the 1960s this word became synonymous with a generation and a city called San Francisco. It was a concept, a belief deep in the hearts of all who were there (and those who wished they were).

Small communities of like-minded individuals and their “families” of communal creativity focused on poetry, art, folk music, jazz, and rock ’n roll, demanding to be free of societal restrictions, restraints and hang-ups.The message was clear – the world was uniting behind one principle and one thought. LOVE! and its affirmation of PEACE, COMPASSION and UNDERSTANDING.

The word was brought forth by musicians such as Arlo Guthrie, Peter Paul & Mary, Donovan, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane and many many more. It was carried on by English musicians like Eric Clapton, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones. The list is too long to attempt here.

Oh, but I have to add more, can’t help it. The Byrds, Cream, The Youngbloods, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Procol Harum, The Moody Blues, Van Morrison, The Chambers Brothers, Traffic, Scott McKenzie, The Mamas and The Papas, The Turtles. These are just a sampling. These were our prophets.

The international community was in awe of the explosion of creativity. All this started with that simple word, that simple thought: LOVE! And, a generation of freethinking people who were willing to stand up and be counted while proudly proclaiming their willingness to be different.

This period of change was commemorated by celebrating the SUMMER OF LOVE.

It Stood For:

• Our right to refuse to fight without judging those who did.

•Creativity, love and respect for all things. Our right to make a difference.

•Our right to think independently. Our willingness to share with others.

For me and I’d not hesitate to say for everyone in Haight Ashbury that summer, this was

THE album.

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I’ll be keeping track of the upcoming celebration plans. Not sure that I will go. I am afraid it could break my heart. Some things there are that cannot be duplicated. Honored, yeah, but not recreated. I gave it my best shot by writing my book, Under A Tie Dye Sky. You know, available at amazon.com and The Country Bookshelf on Main Street. This is a perfect time to visit my story, enter into the pages, time travel. I’ll take you there. Promise!

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Maybe this last picture does the best job of transporting me personally “home” to The Time Of All Times. Yes, I do believe this is the one.

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Love,

Suzee B

OUT WITH THE OLD & IN WITH THE NEW! YAHOOO!

What a year! But aren’t they all? I am blessed with heaven’s best, that’s about all I know and it’s more than enough to know. Wa-a-a-a-a-a-ay more than enough!

I am going to post the cover shots of my two published books one more time. Available on Amazon and The Country Bookshelf in Bozeman on Main Street. Am I beginning to sound like a broken record? To add to that sound, I’ll remind you it’s the only reason I ever started blogging in the first place. To talk about my writing projects. Then I will tell you my new news at the end.

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There. And if you should happen to read them, (more broken record coming up now) please try to leave a short review on Amazon. Did you know that as long as they have it for sale, you aren’t required to buy the book from them to be able to leave a comment?

Last but not least, please tell your friends about my books and don’t forget they can come in handy for giving as presents! Blah. Thank you for putting up with this annoying business of self-promotion.

Okay, my new news. I have a next book in mind and it will be a humdinger. Historical fiction involving mystery. If I can do it, it’s going to take my ALL. I expect it’ll take a number of years to write. Which means I will say goodbye for now. What better time to take my leave. The year is ending and it seems fitting for this blog to follow in its wake. I’ve had a blast meeting you here regularly and you guys have been encouraging, FUN, funny, inspirational and great sports. Besides leaving grand comments, you accepted my goofy writing assignments and entered contests and stuff. I’ll miss you, but the blog site will stay open and if you don’t unsubscribe . . . maybe I’ll feel the urge to check in with ya at some point and say hi. And tell you how my next book is coming along.

So I bid you adieu with loads of affection and gratitude for being my friends, my playmates! I’ll check the comments in hopes that you’ll show up one last time.

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2017! May it not only bring us amazing health and surprises, but also surpass our wildest hopes and dreams. A sweetheart of a treasured friend sends me pictures of these. Perfect last pic, right?

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LOVE,

Suzee B

P.S. If you want to stay in touch, just email me! suzee.branch@gmail.com

BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!!!

Just ask Miss Tinkerbell, my Bell, and she’ll vouch for me. It was minus 28.9 degrees when I took the pictures. Yes, to confirm, that’s below zero. She has a blankie on.

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GEARS GRINDING SLOWLY!

Ho! Ho! Ho! Concerning my children’s/adult’s book being available at The Country Bookshelf, 28 W. Main St., to buy for that one specially designated person (or more?). Well, as of today The Polka-Dotted Horse ain’t there yet. Humbug. The powers that be tell me to expect it there by December 16th. It’s such a grand bookstore that smells and feels just like an old fashioned real honest-to-goodness bookstore should. A picture, you know, is worth a thousand words. Right?

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