After the Monkees, the Mothers

I believe I’ve said this before. The truth is I was raised up in a very rural Orange County. Let’s say it was a simple environment. Sophistication was to be found elsewhere.

I was innocent, naturally insulated by my people’s lack of intellectual curiosity. I saw things in cinematic art, heard things in music that gave me the idea there was more out in the world. There were mysteries to pursue, big things to unravel, but they were vague, far off, ill-defined. Like Laurel Canyon.

After the Monkees and the Buffalo Springfield, I devoured the Doors, Cream, Jimi Hendrix and the Jefferson Airplane. I’d heard mind-boggling things from Blonde on Blonde over my little transistor radio. Bob Dylan wasn’t puppy cute but the music was arresting and so unique. The Sgt. Peppers album had been loosed upon the world.

It was 1967. I was 14.

I’d once spent the weekend with my adventurous friend, CG. She had Three brothers who toughened her up a bit. Her older brother, GG, was always pushing the boundaries. It sort of rubbed off and made her less girly.

She told her penticostal-observant parents that she and I would be spending the night at another friends house when in reality the plan was to go and spend the night by the water tower in the Anaheim Hills (before they were smothered with expensive homes). She and her friend, mostly guys, were going to drop acid. Woah. Okay.

They asked if I’d ever had any. I said no. Had I smoked pot? Not really. When I think of it now I was only 14 and that, in the summer of 1967, by only a few months. What were they thinking? They were thinking it was a new wild world and LSD would help you “break on through to the other side.”

They decided I should not take my first acid trip before I’d even smoked pot. I was left safe, sober and in my most familiar state, observing the action and imagining what it must be like.

Somebody had a radio.  The sage and brush around the water tower smelled so great as the night rolled on.  I heard “Light My Fire” and “Sunshine of Your Love” over and over. It was AM radio. There were FM stations I would soon discover that played the most intersting music, uninterrupted for hours on end. My dad, the rebellious Aquarian, turned me on to it.   

I watched the boys and CG frolic in the light of the moon. No one did anything destructive or improper. They just talked a bit and grooved on. The early morning light came.

One of the boys said I looked like Bob Dylan. My short slightly curly hair was messy, I guess.

It was probably the nicest thing a boy had ever said to me. They could be cruel I’d found but these guys were okay.

We got back to CG’s home later that morning and found that her parents had caught her in the lie! Disaster. I was sent home.

It had been a very benign foray into freedom but CG’s parents were trying hard to keep a pack of teens on the right path. It was 1967 and they were finding it quite a task.

There were people out there who might try to influence them.

“We want the world and we want it  . . . now.”

This historical photograph can be found at the Laurel Canyon Association’s web site.

 Back in the safety of my suburban cocoon I was able to listen to the music, read the rock mags and reflect on this new world unfolding before me.

Then I heard Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.

More tommorrow.


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