The MOST Newsletter Spring 1999 Volume VI
Kathy Sweeney at Morning Star, - photo
f/ Morning Star Scrapbook
(Click on thumbnail for full picture)
Mark Andrews to Pam Hanna, 9/29/99: I was just banging
around and accidentally stumbled across your reply posted to the Digger
pages. To answer your question... I was well underaged and traveling
by and with an alias that is lost to time... Um... it's rather difficult
to explain who I was, internally it's difficult that is.
I "found" Morning Star New Mexico by way of Rod.
He was about 5'6" had really wavy blonde hair, wore a blue jacket with
gold buttons. Perhaps a bit of Sgt. Pepper's style clothing.
He invited me to come back to MSNM with him as I had nowhere to go and
was getting there fast. We met just outside of Amarillo, TX, while
hitching on RT 66. In about a couple of days we were at MS.
He brought me to the Kiva and I crashed for about forever. When I came
to I met Dave. Dave was generally called "Mumbles" (perhaps... Shepard
as well?) as this was all he would do most of the time. He acted like he
was on a continuous trip. One of the more memorable episodes was
when he attempted to cook dried beans. Dave heated the water for
about five minutes, threw in a handful of dried pinto beans and sat down
to watch them cook... for less than ten minutes. In no time at all
he was crunching his way through a plate of wet pinto beans. Dave
seemed to be a very sad case, I always wondered what ever happened to him
after I left.
After about a week to ten days I moved out to the
Professor's place. There I met Sue and Gary. This is also where
Rod used to stay when he was at MSNM. Sue was a blonde. About
5'8" and possessed a rounded and open face. She had a beauty mark
(I believe). Her smile was small but it shined mostly through her
eyes. She was also pregnant as I think about it. Gary was about
6'3" slender, straight brown hair, not the thickest beard in the world
but not wispy either. He wore gray slacks, brown boots... seems like
I remember a gray(ish) sport coat type of thing for a jacket.
About a month later we were joined by a biracial couple
and their baby. The only name I can remember without drugs or hypnosis
is his. He went by the alias "Throttle." He was in his late
thirties-early forties, curly dark hair, beard, about 5'-6". He could
be very intense, quick witted and, seemed to more worldly than most.
His wife was very kind and had an inner strength. (DAMN I want to
pull her name out of the air).
I met Andy once. Andy was in charge of the mules,
if I remember correctly. I woke him up after he had been partying all night.
I knocked on the wrong door after getting the wrong directions. It's
nearly thirty years later and I still remember him standing there in the
doorway with the wind whipping his blonde hair across his face, his wool
plaid shirt askew, and the ax in his upraised hand...
Jason had scored/harvested this enormous bag of cactus
for the Easter celebration... I got into a bit of that... Then
there was Byron. I have never appreciated anyone as much as I did
Byron. He fed me, got me stoned, let me sleep it off in his place
(part of the Plaza) and always had a kind word. I heard that he at
one time owned a "beanery" (that's what it was called in my presence) in
SF. Byron seemed to have his shit together more than most.
I can't for the life of me remember the alias I used...
perhaps Peter/Pete. That seems familiar. I was fifteen and arrived
in the last week of Jan '70. 6"-2" at about 110 lbs., carrying a duffle
bag. Dark brown hair (down to my ears... too long to get a job...
not long enough to be called a freak) beginning beard, acne, perhaps glasses.
There are long pauses in these spaces... I'm really
I wore a Denim vest.. a green and black Buffalo Plaid
outer jacket that was way too big for me... low shoes ( I remember the
snow and my socks, always wet) always hungry, no food stamps, ineligible,
After I moved to the Professor's hut, I didn't really
enter into the social life of the plaza. There seemed to be an air
of disdain and distrust for some reason towards the folks that didn't live
in the Plaza. There was a person that was tenting it on the side
of the road on the mesa. He drove a white Ford Falcon... it was a
1960 Falcon two-door. His name was Blaine (as I was told/remember)
and he lived in a white pup tent. Seems I remember someone telling
me he was a teacher.
I remember that sanitation became a big factor in
the social scene. Direct memory -- some gent, very agitated, bellowing
about how, "... those assholes living out there take one step outside to
take a leak and two steps to take a shit... " He was yelling to an
assemblage before him. Evidentially there had been some new construction
of a latrine and nobody had thought to call on us to assist in construction
or to change our sanitation habits -- habits, by the way, that were being
unfairly painted. Not knowing what was going on and not being socially
aware. I was walking up behind him wondering to myself whom he was
speaking about. This was clarified by members of the crowd (perhaps
8-10 people) that began to laugh at the speaker and to point at me (or
vice versa). The speaker turned around and began to speak to me.
There are no more direct quotes from memory but the conversation was a
bit accusatory on both sides. Why didn't you blah blah blah.
Nobody said anything to us blah blah blah -- you know, the sort of crap
that MS was famous for, as I found out later.
I remember watching people trying to begin farming
corn. Being from a rural area, I knew right then that this community
was in dire straits as far as self-sustenance was concerned. No one
knew how to plow or even work a hoe. To see that young boy in my
memory broadcasting corn kernels like it was grass seed told me all I needed
to know. I offered to assist and to teach, but was invited to "...
do it this way or screw off... " because this is the was it was done.
It was obvious he had been watching too many Western movies.
I remember the sunsets... every night. I remember
being 6'-2" and weighing 98 pounds when I left. I learned to eat
anything that didn't stink. I remember feeling animosity from almost
every corner out there. From the locals, the commune members, the
police, the merchants.
I met the Professor once while on a trip into town.
Gary and I were walking about panhandling, and he and Gary met and began
to speak. I can't remember the conversation very well, actually not
much at all. The Professor was buying cases of cyclamate sweetener
for sale after the FDA banned it. "..This is gonna be worth a ton of cash...
the FDA is fulla shit... " I remember asking about work and being told
of a job filling radiators in VW's. Too bad. I'd worked on
VW's, and the joke didn't fly. The Professor had an acquaintance
with him. It's been so long that my mental images of him and his
friend are mixed up as to who was whom. Both wore black pants (jeans
maybe?) and darker colored shirts. One had a purple design on it
and I think one of them wore a beret. We probably spoke for all of
five minutes. Not bad for nearly thirty years!
Did I learn anything? Yes. I predicted
the fall of Socialist Communism by watching the interplay of life at the
commune. Realizing that all these people wanted to be there and they
knew how it was going to be when they got there and still it wasn't working
made me understand some of human nature's quirks.
I learned to embrace anarchy and chaos (on a theoretical
plane... someone has to mail the bills). Living there changed my
life. I see the world through a different eye than many. I
work hard to bring my experiences to the table everywhere I go. I
was introduced to pure charity and lived to realize it .
I've blathered on for quite a while and now I've begun
to pull the humanity out of my letter and sanitize it. That's really
not fair to you. I'll leave it alone and send it now...
Jason Orr, 11/2/98: Dear Hearts, having just now completed
reading my latest MOST issue -- thank you -- I was, indeed, a little sad
to hear of our Brother Nevada's passing. But, truthfully, I was mostly
happy to hear that he'd completed this much of his journey with us! A couple
of my favorite memories of Nevada -- both took place at the Well. If you
knew him, you knew that you could count on finding him there -- at least
once a day. (Hasn't "the well," the "watering hole," always been the one
place where all sentient beings come to meet and share Heaven's Blessings?)
One day, upon making my daily visit to said Well to
review the 'World According to Nevada,' I found him demonstrating his (triple)
Scorpio Powers to a young woman and child. Nevada was in the process of
showing us his Absolute Superiority and Dominion over a snake by "hypnotizing
him -- right before our eyes -- holding 'the lowly reptile' at eye level
(so he could "Dig those Baby-Blues). Nevada began a cold, calculated stare.
The snake responded by biting him on his nose and not letting go! Coaxing
Nevada to "Remain still!" and "Shut up!", it was John Butler who finally
managed to separate the two. We all laughed, especially Nevada.
Fave # 2: I approached the Well, where I could already
see Nevada and (that most beautiful man) John Butler locked into each other's
stare (I guess Nevada was thinking, "He won't bite!") Anyway, once fully
on the scene, I decided that both John and I were "on acid" and Nevada
on his usual mind-altering concoction -- Red Mountain. As many will recalled,
John B. could at times (most times) be pretty intense, and this was one
John expounded the virtues of LSD (among them, a substance
that enabled one to travel and maintain one's ability to walk while on
"Bullshit! Bullshit!" Nevada kept repeating to John
and me. I guess it was the "rodeo" reference again...
A few minutes or eons later (we were trippin''!),
John with those huge eyes of his looked long and hard at me and then asked,
"Do you know where Nevada is?"
"Nope," I replied.
"Do you know where Nevada is?" John repeated.
"I told you, no, I don't!
"Come here." John walked me back to the Well and pointed
down into its black depths.
"Well, that's where Nevada is!"
It seems that in his passionate fever over the superiority
of wine over psychedelics, Nevada had lost his balance and fallen into
the Well! Now LSD being a "kinder and gentler" drug, we held no grudges.
John had me hold the rope as he lowered himself into the Well to retrieve
Nevada. At this point Joe, who played the bamboo flute everywhere he went,
asked someone to hold his flute, which in itself was a huge display of
trust, and we began to haul John B. and Nevada back up.
On the way, I could hear Nevada complain about what
was taking so long, and John B. requesting that Nevada could help the situation
by remaining as still as possible and try to keep just one foot in the
bucket (as John had to have one of his in as well and Nevada was in no
condition to make the trip back up alone) and finally, most vitally, he
should 'Shut Up!"
Those are my favorite memories of the Brother with
the beautiful crystal-blue eyes. Peace, my Brother,
P.S. Due mostly to modesty, Willie B. and I never
spoke much of our lives before Wheeler's/Morning Star. However, anyone
interested will find entertaining and accurate accounts of the same in
Peter Coyote's book Sleeping Where I fall, indexed under 'Willie B Hart'
and separately, of course, under 'Jason Marc Alexander.'
Otto Osip Ochs, 10/98: I met Eddy (Nevada) about a
year and a half before I and he first came to Morning Star. I first saw
Nevada on the strip of beach called Aquatic Park in San Francisco. He and
others (including a heavy red wine-drinker named Red) sat around a fire
and told stories. Eddy, when pretty-much in another realm with the heat
and wine and loneliness, would tell his Rodeo stories and often end the
evening or night with reciting Poe's "Annabel Lee." Tears would come to
my face the way he recited its haunted longing for a dead lover.
Eddy often would stare at the tourists (with his intense,
incessant blue-green, green-blue eyes. Nevada, I and others slept under
the Yacht or Rowing club until one night the police and their dogs tousled
us out of sleep and took us to the S.F. drunk tank. I was only 19 or so,
and Eddy would protect me from the wildness of a drunk tank on a summer
night. The next morning the judge saw bare-footed men, and ordered someone
to find us some shoes. I remember the minute we were released and headed
back to Aquatic, Eddy threw his shoes into a trash can. His feet were severely
blistered. This was 1966 or so, before Nevada and I hitched a ride to the
Haight and found an attic apartment for five dollars a week.
In those days, I painted mythical paintings and had
taken a vow of silence (Meyer Baba's vow), and Eddy pretty-much allowed
me to be myself. He and others went off to the park and panhandled money
for rent, food and wine. As far as I know, Nevada mostly drank red wine,
in those days anyway. We found the Diggers and helped with some food gathering
and ate at the park. I soon begun to feel too uncomfortable with Nevada's
heavy drinking. One night he and I and Larry Nugent (someone else was driving
the VW bug) came back from the ocean and got in a bad car wreck inside
Golden Gate Park on a rainy night.
I lay in the attic apartment for weeks with a cut
face and swollen eyes. Larry and Nevada brought some San Francisco Bohemian-hippy
girls/angels over and they washed my face and clothes and brought food
and books. Soon after that, Larry and I took a Greyhound to New York and
I lost temporary touch with Eddy. We saw him again during the "famous"
summer of 1967 in the Haight. Soon after, in the fall of 67, I got a ride
to a place somebody mentioned called Morning Star and a man by the name
of Lou, Lou Gottlieb. I was on the streets and they were already getting
weird (hard drugs) and a place to rest up sounded good. I and others drove
up, passed the cross and parked by the Well. It was dark.
Jason regrowing his dreads, on vacation in Mexico,
(Click on thumbnail for full picture)
Some people were sitting around a fire. Somebody said
hello and asked if we had some smokes. I slept in the old apple orchard
that night and woke up the next morning and took a cold shower by the old
chicken coops. Somebody had rigged a hose up high enough to take a shower
with. That evening I found myself standing in a circle holding hands, and
suddenly a tall man with thick black hair and an unforgettable grin said
a prayer and we ate brown rice, salad, and macrobiotic bread. That is the
first time I saw Lou, and it felt very good to be around people who were
naked and kind and didn't ask you why you weren't working or what you are
going to do with your life.
The first few days I just walked around a lot, spent
much time by the creek and waited to see the moon rise. Later I read a
lot and, of course, sat by Lou's place and listened to him expound. I remember
the day an Italian News crew came up and Lou faced the camera and did his
"guru" thing, his black hair combed back, that grin, and the rope belt
around his lose blue trousers. Many stories, maybe too many. Nevada came
up shortly and hung around the drinkers, at first by the creek and then
at the "upper" house. I don't remember Eddy ever coming into the "lower"
house. It was hard being around Eddy and the heavy drinkers and much intense
talk, etc. Nevertheless, Eddy (Nevada) was a good man. He cared. I think
we all cared, cared about God, open land, love and rapping and some listening.
One evening all of us got dressed up (hippie regalia)
with the best we had. I don't remember trying to dress differently, I just
tried to clean up my Salvation Army store clothes. Lou wore his hair in
a pony tail and his corduroy suit (brown, I think) and he wore some kind-of
print tie. David Pratt, the painter, and his wife Penny were there and
Michael Morrissey and others. Lou spoke to a women's group or such. He
spoke elegantly and expounded, but he told the truth. I remember walking
with Lou and others to a midnight mass on Christmas eve. I think it was
in Occidental -- it has been over thirty years now. We listened to the
priest speak about not clinging to material goods, and he spoke of Christ.
It was a nice walk back, and Lou talked and we listened and there was a
near or full moon among the pines, and the crisp night air felt good.
Sometimes Lou left the land, and went down to L.A.
to make a movie or to go on some speaking engagement. When he was gone
there was always a threat of violence. Hells Angels or some would-be cycle
gang came up one night and frightened us and the women. Some things, in
that regard, I won't talk about. The cops coming up in the morning and
seeing us standing there naked (men and women) is/was violating enough.
Anyhow, Lou was not around and I knew he was off trying to gather in some
money to keep things going. I'm not sure if he was playing at all with
the Limeliters at that time.
I did see Lou twice, long after the spring of 68,
in Fresno in 1974 or '75. I was living in Fresno and heard that the Limeliters
would be in concert. The last time I saw him was at the Fresno Convention
Center. He was with Glen and Alec and Lou's son, Tony. Tony was playing
back-up guitar for the Liters. After the concert, I walked with Lou to
the Hilton. We talked about Morning Star. One thing I do remember that
he said was that someday the Morning Star Commune would rise again. Maybe
we were both feeling homesick.
I left Morning Star in the Spring of 68, shortly after
Don King, his wife, Larry and Pam, Michael Morrissey, myself and others,
ended up in the Santa Rosa County jail for 11 or 12 or more days, being
charged with trespassing. The Judge finally dismissed the charges. You
probably remember some of that, Ramon. Michael Morrissey (Madhudvisa Das)
and I were sitting in the "lower house" kitchen one night and there was
some brown rice that Michael was preparing. I was sitting on the floor
and talking to Michael. That day or the day before, the police came and
served Lou a warrant. "Everybody leave or we will be back in the morning
with the Paddy Wagon!"
There were already a large number of people by Lou's
place with their children, belongings and two or three cars. I'm not sure
why Michael was cooking the rice, because we had planned to go back to
the city that evening. The rice's pleasing aroma pervaded the emotional
chaos and I just told Michael that I was not going anywhere. He was stirring
the rice or something and slowly looked at me and said, "If you're not
going, I'm not going." He told mc to watch the rice and walked out. He
apparently walked to Lou's and told the group there that Otto was not going
and he was not going. I did not do much. I just did not want to leave the
land and what I had found at Morning Star.
Michael came back a bit later and said that Don and
Sandy King were not going either, and Larry and Pam had changed their mind
too. That was it! In the morning, the wagon came and we found ourselves
in the Santa Rosa County jail. We fasted for some days, and the two men
in the next cell were overjoyed, to say the least, became we kept giving
them our breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don King kept us together spiritually
by reading the bible. There was one guard, I don't remember his name, who
listened to us and had compassion. After the days served the judge let
us go on the condition that we would not return to Morning Star, but of
course we did. Soon after, though, it really was over for me. Needless
to say, a great emptiness struck us. Michael and I joined the Hare Krishna
Temple on Frederick Street. Tom (Tamal Krishna Das) joined a bit later,
and perhaps others from the land. I know that Lou suffered much during
that time because of the $500-a-day fine from the judge and other turmoil.
Lou seemed strong, but I know it was painful for him. Lou, I know it was
tough. Thanks a lot for everything, Lou!!! I do remember helping Lou and
a handful of others wheeling dirt, a lot of dirt, out of the cellar from
the upper house. I don't remember why, some health code trip, I guess.
Thanks Lou, we all erred at times and tried to do right. Thank You, Lou!!!
Thank you for reading this, Ramon!
Bruce Baillie, 10/7/98: Morning Starlings, about time
to say 'hello!' thirty-three years later. I'll try to search the archives
here for some 1966 Morning Star photos to enclose. Reading Vol. V #1, a
few notes before nap: hepatitis from Morning Star days has limited me these
30+ years -- hard to explain the daily lows to neighbors, but still functioning.
Nine-year-old daughter Wind and ten-month-old "Wally
Walloo" and wife Lorie. Working on my last film these days, a few hours
at a time. Sent a one-minute 35 mm piece, partly shot in the Philippines,
to Vienna as an October trailer running in Austrian theaters at this moment.
The Morning Star footage: never completed as a film,
but will show somewhere in NYC this winter -- all the original people.
Ramon phoned a few years back re a copy of same -- still available -- don't
know what print costs are -- try Monoco Lab, S.F. Too poor here to contribute
lab costs -- we just manage food costs.
Recalling the lovely watercolor Wilder Bentley did
for Uncle Lou -- watched him paint it from some summer dry grass near Lou's
shed. Wonder what happened to this painting? I have found of Wilder's paintings
and a silver ring. He was/is a great genius artist! Recall too his chicken
coop shed with laundry line and a complete wardrobe drying -- 2 or 3 shirts,
same for shorts and socks. He carried all his tools on his back; used to
observe newcomers from the city, saying they could not stay longer than
1 - 3 days before going to town "to spend their filthy lucre." He would
phone me at my folks' in Berkeley in transit between "Up North and Hopi,"
saying he had just done one hour's yoga, "which should hold me till I get
through San Leandro!"
Our early days' evenings were always spent together
-- perhaps four of us after supper by the great fireplace listening to
Uncle Lou read. I had a tarp and buffalo robe out west of the central scene
in the woods. My dog Mamma and I would walk without a "torch" all the way
in darkness, having identified a particular tree for turning left off the
path. This tree's top could be seen, lonely, against most any night sky.
I had a kerosene lamp and sleeping bag there, and a few supplies. One night
a ghost appeared out there from behind a tree! I recall my body leaping
into a rigid sitting position as the ghost appeared and disappeared. It
was the spirit of a young Canyon, CA, friend of mine who had committed
suicide a few years prior.
I learned a great deal there, a wonderful gift to
my life. Ramon told me -- my ego -- one day, "You know, you really don't
know yourself yet," -- which of course was quite true.
And I remember, later, Ramon's return from the Southwest
-- the montañas above a great desert plain -- his face forever altered
-- colored -- by Light.
How many years on the road living out of the VW beetle,
seats removed? I filmed Selma in the 1970s, the mid-Sixties' riots, Mexico
to BC, the Blackfoot in North Montana, etc.. Japan, the Philippines ("The
Place of the Crocodiles" south of Manila where my intestines were permanently
done in by outraged bacteria -- 'dientomeba fragilis.'
The film I made at Morning Star, Castro Street, now
resides in the U.S. Library of Congress list of national treasures alongside
the jokes of Will Rogers and now, Bob Hope. A gift from all of us.
Anyhow, I wanted to finally send a few notes, hopefully
photos, and a greeting. You're all gorgeous!
Bruce Baillie with son Wally - Camano Island, 1998
(Click on thumbnail for full picture)
Tomas Diaz, 9/11/98: I have always tried to paint, the
imagination is there, but the skill, smooth glide and grace are lacking.
I guess the same can be said for my writing, but I do not need to clean
my keyboard very often with turpentine. Two thoughts have come into my
mind this morning -- little things are sometimes amazing. The first thought
(these are really paintings in my mind) that we will put on canvas, will
start in the morning. A red and grey morning, fog coming off the Ohio river,
the sun trying to poke through the red and grey. These colors are the warm
reds and warm greys of morning. The fog coming off the water is drifting
slowly. We have the background, now for the action.
Sunday morning at Lock and Dam #50 on the Ohio river.
The western world is in bed. The young boys are delivering the Sunday paper.
We are still in the same picture mentioned above? I am working the midnight
shift on the lockwall. I have blown the horn once, which is the signal
to depart the chamber. The vessel in the chamber is the paddle steam wheeler
"The Delta Queen." She is painted white with gold trim, the Eagle is gold,
and the paddle wheel is red. She steams out of the chamber into the morning
fog playing ragtime music on her calliope, her paddle wheel raising more
fog, her amber night lights sparkle in the morning light of red and grey.
She disappears into the pink fog, into the eastern skies, I can still hear
"Camp town Races..... do da, do da."
The next picture I saw this morning is not clear in
my mind now. It was there this morning the thoughts pictured clearly. Avant
garde comes close, whatever that means. I see deep blue water at sea in
chaos, white caps throwing objects about, the black sky filled with flying
objects. I see a stair case. The upper step is the deep blue sea in chaos.
The lower step is calm blue-green pool of water. You can see a green lily
pad floating at the edge of the canvas. Objects falling into this pool
below, leave a ripple like rain drops. The objects from the upper pool
are falling over the edge. Violence from above is falling into the peace
below. The lower pool absorbs all calmly. The top picture is true, sometimes
you wish you had a camera with you on the job. I have not figured out the
bottom picture yet.
A Preconceived Notion - 9/24/98
I look at all the pictures of us thirty years ago
and think we have changed quite a lot. The way we look today is a far cry
from what others perceive us to be. Thirty years ago, Laurel and I looked
like we did not belong in Kentucky. My apologies for those of you that
I may deceive, but Laurel and I still look like we do not belong in Kentucky.
I look like a plump Mexican that loves beans and tortillas. My hair sticking
out of a baseball cap that does not lay flat or curl. A porcupine comes
to mind. My mustache looks like a black and tan pup. I may give you a description
of Laurel, but my life is short enough as it is. I will say that I love
her dearly and that she does not play tennis anymore. A preconceived notion.
Recently at work I locked a covered john boat down
bound in the chamber. On board was a beautiful lady with camping gear on
the small craft. She had a companion driving the boat, but I never saw
him/her. I could see that this lady was on an adventure of her very own.
She yelled to me that she was on her way to Cairo, IL, which is quite a
task in a john boat. That is an adventure on this river. You sleep out
at night with the mosquitoes and mud, with strange noises along the Ohio
river bank, towboats rumbling along and shining their spotlights everywhere.
I waved her into the chamber as a matter of fact, like a librarian checks
in a story book. Another boat/story book to lock, each of many lockings
in a day, with their own story book. I said as a matter of fact that I
locked her down. She was proud of her adventure and she was letting me
If we ever meet again I will try not to prejudge anyone
by not seeing. My apologies for those of you that I may deceive into thinking
that I am a preconceived notion.
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