Author Archive for SuzeeB

MY MOMMY

Last week, September 21st marked twelve years since Mommy left this world. But she has never left ME. She never will. In sorting through my memories of her, searching for one to share, I settled on this one. Do you recall marble cake?

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As a child I went to what was called “day camp” at the YWCA in Moline, Illinois, my home town. We took sack lunches our moms sent with us. At one of those lunchtimes, I opened my sack to find a bologna sandwich spread with Miracle Whip on Wonder bread, a carton of Orange Ade, a straw, and a thick slice of marble cake.

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When growing up (which doesn’t seem to have happened even yet), it was difficult to think of my mom as an actual person. Ya know what I mean? That she was human with a sense of humor, someone who could make a joke or come up with a sort of spoof. She was an adult and a mother and that was that. Daddy was different, he was funny and loved being funny to the point of repeating jokes then and there if he got a laugh! But that’s another story.

So the day when I commenced eating my piece of marble cake and came across a big bulls eye marble inside, it was earth-shattering. My mom had actually played a silly trick on me!

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Unforgettable, obviously. As the years flew by, she seldom shared her girlish side. I think she saw her mother-role as a part to play responsibly, hoping to teach me how to act and behave as a lady. That sort of never came to pass. She loves me anyway!

FARE THEE WELL 50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE SUMMER OF LOVE

In two days, summer will officially end taking with it the already fading memories of The Summer of Love. That summer feels long lost, I guess because it is. But the music which guided us remains. In my book, Under A Tie Dye Sky I described the prophetic power and teaching of that music. In bidding The Time of all Times farewell, in watching it become more ghostlike with each passing year, I am moved to show photos of those ballrooms that showcased our music. These ballrooms were holy places, sacred halls where our bands provided passage into spiritual regions through invisible doors.

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Now, to name some of the bands and solo artists that grooved their way through our ballrooms. I saw nearly all the ones listed below. Sigh . . .

  1. The Ace of Cups
  2. The Band
  3. Big Brother and The Holding Company
  4. Elvin Bishop
  5. Michael Bloomfield
  6. James Brown
  7. Buffalo Springfield
  8. Butterfield Blues Band
  9. The Blues Project
  10. Byrds
  11. The Charlatans
  12. The Chambers Brothers
  13. Country Joe and The Fish
  14. Cream
  15. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
  16. Doobie Brothers
  17. Doors
  18. Grateful Dead
  19. Jimi Hendrix
  20. John Lee Hooker
  21. Lightning Hopkins
  22. Howlin’ Wolf
  23. It’s a Beautiful Day
  24. Jefferson Airplane
  25. Albert King
  26. B.B. King
  27. Chuck Berry
  28. Loading Zone
  29. Love
  30. John Mayall
  31. Buddy Miles
  32. Steve Miller
  33. Moby Grape
  34. Wilson Pickett
  35. Procol Harem
  36. Quicksilver Messenger Service
  37. Otis Redding
  38. Roland Kirk
  39. Buddy Rich
  40. Miles Davis
  41. Boz Skaggs
  42. Sons of Champlin
  43. Steppenwolf
  44. Taj Mahal
  45. Ten Years After
  46. Ike and Tina Turner
  47. Little Richard (OH MY!!)
  48. Johnny Winter
  49. Sly and The Family Stone
  50. Muddy Waters
  51. Youngbloods
  52. Thirteenth Floor Elevators
  53. Richie Havens
  54. Santana
  55. Arlo Guthrie
  56. Mountain

Do you remember some of them? Most of them? Have I left any out?

At other venues throughout the years, I also got to see The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, The Who, Paul Revere and The Raiders, The Stones, Led Zepplin, and even the king himself, Elvis Presley.

I wish I could’ve seen Donovan, Leonard Cohen, Queen and The Moody Blues. Well, the list of “Wished-I-Could-Haves” would take up too much room.

Wear your LOVE like heaven.

XO

THE EPIC-CENTER! . . . JUNE 21 1967!

One more look at the Time Of All Times. This is the 50th anniversary, after all. In the spirit of that time, just to let you know and tell your friends, my book, “Under A Tie Dye Sky”, about The Summer of Love will be free as a Kindle ebook at amazon.com from June 20th through June 24th. Don’t forget it’s also in paperback at The Country Bookshelf on Main Street in Bozeman and also on Amazon.

The following is a very special chapter from my book. XOXO! And tomorrow marks exactly 50 years ago.

SUMMER SOLSTICE 

Speedway Meadows in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco couldn’t have been a better place to celebrate the solstice.

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As the bands belonged to us, we belonged to them. Here are names of some who gave us their offering that day: Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and The Holding Company, The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Mad River.

These were legendary groups.

That day I saw the Airplane’s female singer, Grace Slick, and Janis hugging each other before the Airplane started to play.

Red Mountain wine, swill in green glass gallon jugs, provided a cheap means to stay hydrated. Slung a certain way over the shoulder tilted the jug at just the right angle to line up with your mouth. This made guzzling effortless. Passed around the crowd along with joints, thousands of us sat on the ground, peaceful little monks purring in unison due to a pleasant buzz provided by the wine and grass. Like gifted creatures, we danced in the tall eucalyptus trees surrounding the meadow.

Besotted by Summer Solstice, this astrological event geared us up for the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. June 21 1967 was the Summer of Love’s apex.

Quicksilver Messenger Service sang spiritual words to feed our souls: “Oh God, pride of man, broken in the dust again…shout a warning unto the nation that the sword of God is raised…you bow unto your God of gold, your pride shall be a shame.” They go on to sing about god restoring the earth at last. Now, realize this song was not being sung by a Christian band. Many of ‘our own’ bands sang what was named Acid Rock.

Earlier, I did my best to try and explain the far–reaching effects of dropping acid. I described how taking an acid trip opened a door into another dimension. For me and lots of us, it was a highway to god. Straight to god, no passing ‘Go’ where, if there was a Jesus, he’d be sure to camp, excited for visitors. From tidbits I’d heard in my Sunday School days, I figured that ‘Go’ would be a suitable site for J.C. to linger, being the go–between god and man and all.

The Desiderata, found pinned to most walls and taped to glass windows of store fronts, declared what could be considered our rallying call of metaphysical pursuit, our mission statement. “Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there is in silence.” It goes on to give glory to god, and for circling sheep like me (baaa), kept my thoughts rounded up. I bleated anxiously along toward the fold. Of course, I couldn’t have defined how or why, yet I so knew Love made its home around there somewhere taking care of those stupid sheep.

Summer Solstice, a tribute to our impossible Dream. We tried to “reach the unreachable stars.” I will forever believe that, indeed, “the world was better for this.”

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Today, when I close my eyes and go back to June 21 1967, I see dancers in the trees and smell the strong scent of eucalyptus. I see rag–tag singers on flatbed trucks and hear holy music. I see a congregation of radiant multicolored worshipers and listen in to gentle voices speaking our language of Love. I smell ocean and incense. I taste sourdough bread. My fingers sink into short soft grass, differentiating the smooth small petals of dwarfed daisies, so plentiful they’re like ground cover. I see faces shining with a fine wonder, too innocent for this world.

There ends the chapter. But one more thing . . .

P.S. I Love You.

 

 

 

 

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

SUMMER OF LOVE PROCLAMATION-1967

“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

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