The MOST Newsletter Summer 1999 Volume VI #2
Writings by Tomas Diaz
Smoke Signals, 2/28/99
Writing a letter to warm a heart.
Sitting with a circle of friends, passing warm smiles and friendship.
Absorbing the color of your friends skin.
Understanding the world with a gentle touch.
Knowing that the friends around you care deeply.
Some moments in time are meant for picking fruit.
Some moments are for just sending a warm feeling.
We sit and look at the person across the circle,
the earth surrounds them with its aura.
Peace, badaba, gentle friendship,
The love generation, was this infatuation?
Was this infatuation on my part and a job of being good on your part,
something to be expected from the new underground generation?
The love that was generated because of this infatuation has carried me well into the nineties. Knowing that a person has love in their heart for you has changed me.
No matter what the situation, the stamp/inoculation of memories has maintained a high level for the love of life. Whether this is reciprocal it is not known.
My wish is that what love I give for life is absorbed by the life/being before me.
Continuing a cycle, continuing a life cycle.
Thank you, Jodi, for keeping a journal, I wish I had.
The Granny Dress: A Wheeler's Story Side Trip
by Jodi Mitchell -- 5/9/99
While living on the Berkeley streets I was 'the threadbare
kid', my attire acquired from the Peoples Park free box as needed. I made
a valiant attempt at shying away from vanity or anything too girlie or
frilly, but secretly, like the teenaged girl that I was, I pined away for
a beautiful handmade granny dress I saw hanging in a shop window at C J's
Garage. C J's housed some of those wonderful little hippie owned boutiques
made up of artsy-craftsy handmade goods: candles, clothes, beads and bells,
feathered earrings and the like. I went there often to gaze at the dress.
Soon a few of my boyfriends became aware of my desire. One in particular,
Bill Coggin, attempted to banter, barter, beg, or cajole the shop owner
into giving me the dress, to no avail. He wasn't interested in trading
for a Swiss army knife or an African thumb piano; he wanted cold, hard
cash, something we were rather short on!
Eventually poor dear Bill acquired his own private greystone suite at Santa Rita County Jail. He would write to me, "When I get out I'll buy you that dress, and we'll stroll down 'The Ave' together..."
Sadly, he was transferred to Vacaville, then Tracy, and the letters and the dress faded away.
I arrived at Wheeler's with nothing to wear but my blue overalls that I had painstakingly embroidered and patched, they were a work of art! Being a hale and hardy lass I was immediately enthused about the idea of running around naked and free! I stripped those suckers off and hung them from a tree branch. They promptly disappeared! I was rather peeved and upset that someone from the Ranch would rip me off, I had put so much work into those pants, plus I thought it was a dumb move on someones behalf to steal something so distinctly unique. Yet I never did see anyone wearing them and assumed they were taken by an outsider or tourist who were swarming everywhere that year. Hell, they could be hanging in the Smithsonian today for all I know!
I now had nothing to wear but my birthday suit! OK by me, but a few of the menfolk decided it wasn't quite proper and decided to take me to the Wheeler's Freestore. One of these men was Bruce, the man building the cabin below my tent site, and I can't remember who the other two dudes were, I just remember three big, rather gruff-looking guys in heavy work boots with roll-your-own cigarettes trudging along next to my bare-assed little self!
We got to the Freestore, I remember wading through straw and chickenshit or some such mess to get to it, but there hanging on a hook with my name written all over it was a beautiful little granny dress! It had delicate red and white flowers, an empire waist and little puffed sleeves! Bruce grabbed it off the hook and I slipped it over my head and my naked bod. It was made to order, just my size! The men stood back admiringly, they oo'ed and ah'ed making quite a fuss over me! There I stood, skinny and barefoot, ankle deep in chickenshit and straw, feeling like a Goddess in a granny dress.
I wore that dress for a long time to come. I wore it long after I left Wheeler's, I wore it throughout my pregnancy, I have a photo of myself wearing it, sitting under a tree in my West Virginia garden, holding my new baby boy, Moriah Wheeler.
I still pine for that dress today. I can still hear those men saying, "Oh, foxy mama... don't you look fine!"
A Green And Fertile Place -- 6/12/99
This story is dedicated to my son, Mitch Wheeler, and
to all the magnificent children conceived at The Ranch, as well as their
fathers wherever they may be.
Once when my son was a little boy I was in my room resting and heard a salesman come to the door. Mitch answered it. "Hello, is your father at home?" the salesman inquired. "There are no fathers here." Mitch replied emphatically, and promptly slammed the door.
In spite of "no fathers here," Mitch is a fine man of 27 years today, looking forward to having children of his own some day. I am confident he'll be a wonderful father.
It was a green and fertile place, my little pup tent sprouted there like a toadstool, camouflaged and insignificant, a wart on the face of the earth. I learned this lesson at Wheeler's, of my own insignificance in the vastness of Mother Nature, just a tiny speck of me out here in the universe. And this was good, I felt joyous with this knowledge. It was a different sort of insignificance than I had felt on the streets of Berkeley where I felt disenfranchised, alone and invisible. It was an insignificance where I felt I belonged, at long last, a part of the natural wonder of things, a part of an ecosystem, a family, a tribe, a home, a planet, a universe. "Hey, here I am, it's me!!"
I had a lantern but no kerosene, so after staring up at the beautiful star filled, moon filled sky I would go to bed as darkness fell. Too dark to read or do much else. I'd crawl into my embryonic like sleeping bag and lie awake awhile. On very quiet nights I could sometimes hear the ocean. I always heard flute playing off in the distance, and talking drums echoing back and forth in the night. I felt safe and comforted, hearing my fellow tribal members going about their nightly rituals. Their heartbeat like rhythms communicating to me on waves of sound from different parts of The Land.
Sound asleep one night I was startled awake by what sounded like a bear stomping through the woods. A lantern light flashed outside as somebody came near. "Hello, are you in there, man? It's Bruce. Hey, wake up!" I pulled open the tent flap and peered up at him, Bruce had a gallon jug of wine tilted up at the sky, his head thrown back, he was chugging down what little was left. Staggering drunk, words slurred, he said, "I was partying up at Tex's, I'm lost, man, can't find my place, can I crash here?" "I guess so." I said reluctantly as I made room for him. I did not resist when he climbed on top of me, it was over in minutes, Bruce passed out cold. At daybreak I shook him awake. Barely remembering the night before, he thanked me and strolled off.
HAPPY FATHERS DAY TO YOU ALL. I love you, Mitch.
Nice Tits, Josh/Cliff &Alicia 6/13/99
While living on the streets of Berkeley I had a wide
range of friends and benefactors; college students, married folks, people
with steady gigs and apartments. One of these couples was Kurt and Marsha
Schwartzkoph. They lived in a rental duplex in Berkeley and Kurt worked
as a mechanic. Marsha was an earth mama, always cooking and baking. Numerous
folks always traipsed through their pad. They also kept a plentiful supply
of acid which was distributed freely. They were good people and always
welcomed me into their home. I even attended their flower strewn wedding.
Eventually they moved away to San Francisco, to 570 Page Street to be exact,
down in the Fillmore district near the Zen center. Theirs was a very interesting
Some people from that band that did White Bird, remember that (?), lived there including that guy, what was his name something LaFlame. Were they The Incredible String Band? I think that was it. And an African American guy named James Thornhill. He had a daughter of his own and so treated me in a kindly paternal manner, running out to buy strawberry ice cream for me when ever I visited, handing me a full bowl and placing a little stool in front of his huge fish aquarium so I could relax in peace. He always had some fellows crashing there from Carlos Santana's band. I found these guys frightening, loaded on narcotics and lecherous. James was writing a book, and I want to say it was about unauthorized testing on either prisoners or G.I.s during the Viet Nam war -- some sort of illicit government testing -- but I'm not sure though.
Well, to make a long story short, Bruce also had an apartment in this building before he moved to Wheeler's, and thus we had mutual friends. He attended Gaskin's Monday Night class religiously, and although Wheeler's was not the scene he was searching for he bailed out and moved there after a giant oil spill in San Luis Obispo (?). He went there to rescue birds and was so disgusted by the carnage and mass ecocide that he fled to Wheeler's. Mitch Woods (of Rocket 88's fame), also hung out at Kurt and Marsha's, and came to visit both me and Bruce often at the Ranch. He was a fine and sweet and gentle friend. And this all leads up to my Josh/Cliff connection. Next to 570 Page Street was an old SF mansion, some folks lived there who I believe were affiliated with some sort of religious sect or something like that. In particular, was a young lush Swedish blonde woman who all the men drooled over. She was a masseuse by trade and I was completely shocked when she told me men often got erections when she massaged them.
"What do you do!?" I asked in amazement.
"I keep a silver spoon in the freezer," she said. "You just tap it with the spoon and it goes right down," she added nonchalantly.
I was horrified and have not yet tried this to see if it works. I envied her sexual confidence, which only intensified my own sexual awkwardness! Somehow she and I became good friends, and she too often visited me at the Ranch, a trail of Wheeler's menfolk behind her! I usually disliked and mistrusted women like her, but as our friendship grew I realized how terribly lonely and unhappy she was in the role she was cast.
Her place in the city had a very luxurious bathroom and stall shower, she was the only person not repulsed and appalled by my chronic state of head lice. My hair was so long, and so thick, and so uncombable that I couldn't rid myself of those suckers for long. And, so, I Quelled up in her shower often enough, she generously provided the medication I could not afford myself, as well as shampoos and conditioners and her own combs and brushes. She would always say, "Feel free to use my electric curlers!" This was so sweet of her, but I couldn't imagine going back to Wheeler's with a massive head of curls!
So, you say, what's this got to do with Josh/Cliff?! Well, folks, I met him first visiting this woman at her mansion as well as another wonderful woman who lived there who had a terrible spastic disease that contorted her body grotesquely. I met him here before the Ranch.
One day, shortly after I moved in with Bruce on the Knoll, Josh/Cliff found his way down to my place. "Is Bruce your old man?" he asked. He was the first person to ask me this, and I wasn't quite sure how to reply. "Yeah," I said, "I guess he is."
"Too bad, then." Josh/Cliff replied as he dejectedly did a U-turn and Charlie Chaplain'd his way back up the Zen Trail!
I never knew what day of the week it was, so Helene and then after they arrived, Nasu and Eddie would always come down to my place to let me know if it was feast/sauna day. There was a drought that year and Rod would often (without warning) cut off the water supply, thus the only way to keep clean was to take a sweat. One day on my way up to the Top of the Land I noticed a long line of woman, they were standing naked, lined up facing front--wards shoulder to shoulder. Josh/Cliff and a few other guys were walking back and forth rubbing their chins and surveying these women intently. I can remember one of these woman, does anyone remember her name? She had long auburn hair and hazel eyes and was very pregnant that summer of '71. Her old man had painted green vines and leaves round and round on her huge belly. It looked beautiful. He was the guy who had the horseshit shower, went naked all year round and always ran everywhere he went. He insisted she do the same, and he forced her to take a vow of silence throughout the pregnancy so they would have a "higher" baby. She and I became friends and managed to communicate with hand signals and eye contact.
Anyway, she was in this lineup which I chose to ignore as I marched on naked to the sauna. Josh/Cliff broke ranks and came running over to me, he grabbed my arm and yanked it straight up in the air as if I were the champ, Muhammed Ali. "The winner!" He yelled. All of the women glanced my way.
"What'd I win?" I inquired.
"You just won the Nicest Tits contest." He replied. And so it was, I had the nicest tits at Wheeler's Ranch. I didn't know whether to flee or thank him, so I quickly proceeded on to the sweat lodge. The sauna was practically empty, most folks had moved on, but it was still plenty hot as I settled in for a long, blissful sweat. As I was about to reach a state of samadhi someone came stomping down and threw open the door flap. There stood a fuming Alicia Bay Laurel. "Are you Jodi?" She demanded.
"Well, yes," I answered demurely, "I am."
"What sign are you?" She demanded.
"Capricorn," I answered.
"No, No, I mean what is your Venus in?"
"Scorpio." I replied in a barely audible voice.
"Well, that explains it then." she said. "And by the way, I'm Alicia."
She threw the door flap back down and stomped off. I decided to keep my distance from Josh/Cliff after that. I never saw Alicia again, except back home again in West Virginia watching her on my parents TV!
I still cherish her book and have my original tattered copy. One of my son, Mitch's favorite childhood books was 'Sylvie Sunflower.' He loved that book and colored all of the pictures outside of the lines (as Alicia permitted!) He's a great artist today!
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