Monday, March 30, 2009

290309

'Saturn Twice' (continues)

After 'Saturn the second time' (Dallas, Texas, 1993), I needed to recover, and this took time (several years)! Luckily, I had friends. Additionally, there's always something 'good' in something 'bad.' And If 'very bad,' then 'very good!' Such turned out for me.

I first went to live with a woman named Garlene Parris out in Pecan Plantation, some 70-miles south of Ft. Worth (near Granbury). This is a white enclave of wealthy people, thus I didn't really belong. But, Garlene, and husband Ted, had this large house where I could live without paying any rent (I was broke!). I repaid them by doing outside chores (as Ted too feeble). Additionally, Garlene and I had been friends for years via Jack Favor (the old rodeo cowboy I've written about).

Garlene, is one of the most unique persons I've ever met! A world-champion 'trick rider' (her parents famous as such) by the time she was four-years old, she made a mistake of marrying 'Buster' (much later of course). He shot and killed their two daughters, before committing suicide. She overcame cancer and a host of other diseases! She took care (at home) her bed-ridden mother for years (before she died). She made money with two pet stores in Fort Worth. She was active in many causes! Garlene never met a person she didn't like, and loved many. Thus, she wa/is loved! The last time we were together (2000) she came to help me with a film festival in Cripple Creek, Colorado. She always paid her way, never asking for favors! Before that we'd had many experiences 'going down the road' together in Texas! I used to call her, 'a force of nature,' as having inhuman energy! I don't think I've ever met anyone quite like her! 'Unique' is an understatement!

And so I survived with Garlene and Ted's help! It wasn't easy! I'd just lost over $100,000U.S. via a business that not only failed, but was accused of fraud. In fact, we (the 'Colonel' and I) were accused of such during a TV interview (for all to see). I don't think I've been so depressed in my life (except, of course, the first time Saturn shattered my life in 1972). But they say, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!'

Along about the time I got help from another Texan, Bill Caruth. I'd met him in a strange way as we didn't 'travel' in the same 'circles' (conservative Christians). Somehow, and I don't remember how (maybe Jane Favor, Jack's daughter, would remember?) I was enlisted to help his Christian group. There were incensed that the TV series, 'Lonesome Dove,' based on a book by Larry McMurtry had distorted historical facts. This was ludicrous to me, but I went along with 'their program' as had nothing better to do at the time. They were angry that there was 'sex' and homosexuality graphically depicted in the series. For some reason I was sent to Lubbock, Texas, to scope out a convention having to do with God knows what...? I can't remember as only there for one day. But, what I do remember is Buddy Holly's ('Well, that'll be the day!') statue out in front the convention center.

They also got me involved with the J. Everetts Haley, 'center/museum' in Midland, Texas (Bush country). I forget now exactly what, maybe to produce a video about the man, and his book about Charles Goodnight, etc. They were going to 'set the record straight' about Charles Goodnight (Tommy Lee Jones depicted in the TV series ) and Oliver Loving (Robert Duvall). Not all that sex and homosexuality, but 'real' cowboy stuff!

Speaking of 'real cowboy stuff,' Bill invited me out to Big Bend, Texas, to accompany him and some friends on a shooting (not video but guns) expedition. Little did I know what I was getting into. What the hell, I went along for the ride (as I'm an 'experience junkie'). At the ranch there was a remote area where it was safe to shoot! One of Bill's friends was a gun dealer, and they'd brought an amazing collection of rifles and handguns. So, many rocks got 'killed!' I had brought a video camera and recorded them making a lot of noise. They wanted me to shoot the the guns as well, I guess to prove I was a real man they could trust! They had everything from the old M-1 U.S. Army rifle (which I'd fired many times in the Army), to the Swedish Army's weapon of choice, to the .45 cal. machine gun (old 'Tommy gun'). I'd never fired a machine gun before, so it was kinda fun. Also, I fired a .44 Magnum pistol, so powerful it blasted rocks in pieces!

Anyway, this was how I was introduced to Prude Ranch. I forget Mr. Prude's first name (maybe John?), but a nice guy who needed a video to promote the ranch. He hired me to produce one.

So, I returned from Dallas with equipment and stayed a month, 'shooting' a video about their guest ranch and the Environmental Program. During this time, I accompanied an 'Elderhostel Group' to the Stillwell complex/museum near Big Bend National Park. In the few hours the group was there I met Hallie Crawford Stillwell, the 92-year old matriarch of the family. I also met her daughter, 'Dadie.' It didn't take long to 'close a deal' with them for a book about the Stillwell family and a video about Hallie!

'Dadie' had two brothers, the oldest, 'Son,' and younger 'Guy.' 'Son,' huge and gangly, lived up in Alpine with his wife, Guy in the original ranch house, 7-miles north of the Store (I visited them twice). He held a 'Guiness Book of world Records!' Born in the old ranch house, it's the only one he'd ever lived in for 70-straight years! But, they would always drive down to the Store in the evenings. Interesting about Guy, the quintessential-looking cowboy, tall in the saddle, slim, and silent. He would somtimes utter, 'yep.' But, his wife never stopped talking!

So, I moved to the Stillwell complex, basically a store, gift shop, museum (next door) and a some trailers where they lived. After the ranching business soured Hallie, got the idea to open a store on the new highway (goes down to the Rio Grande River and Mexico). This ultimately became an RV Park, and a place where 'snow birds' spent the winter. I ended up spending almost two years there!

The Stillwell Store (and ranch)I discovered to be one of the most remote places in the U.S. We were 90 miles from Alpine, the closest good food market. Alpine is also the home of Sul Ross University, where I spend many hours in their Library. But, I loved being out in the desert and mountains, this a quiet refuge from my recent urban 'storm!' I became 'the weirdo in residence,' the deal, room and board, some petty cash for my work writing the book and 'shooting' the video.

Hallie and I became close friends, as another unique frontier woman a la 'Garlene' (or vice versa). Hallie had written an autobiography entitled, 'I'll Gather My Geese,' and was a local legend! She'd married into the Stillwell family and moved to this remote area of Texas when Pancho Villa was raiding across the Rio Grande (early part of the 20th Century). A bit of trivia... Her Crawford family had settled first in eastern Texas, where George W. Bush now has a ranch (Crawford, Texas, so named for Hallie's family).

I would work in the morning (researching, writing, etc.), have lunch with the Stillwell clan, and then spend the afternoons hiking miles in the desert mountains. I ended up with a half dozen 'hikes,' that I would rotate (there are but four directions). One, a short one (maybe only 1 mile round trip, I hiked to the top of a hill directly behind the Stillwell Store. Here I had a perch where I meditated. From here you could see many miles in all directions. One time I was there sitting quietly when a doe and fawn appeared below me, only ten meters distance. I observed them with interest as never so close. It was tender how 'mom' watched over 'baby,' occassionally her head jerking up, ears searching the distance, eyes darting about for any signs of predators, mostly man. But, they never knew I was there as down wind, and out of site (she never looked up). Eventually, the moved along and out of sight.

In the hundreds of times I hiked I never once saw a human being. I saw many animals, however! I saw a large buck deer bound over the highway, herds of javelina 'pigs,' (not technically). I once walked right into a group of them at night, this scaring the shit out of us both. They bolted! I 'awakened' two rattlesnakes in the course of many steps, but luckily they were slow and I was fast! Once I hiked to the top of Stillwell Mountain, and put a note in a bottle to prove I'd been there. This area is so dry, a 'wonderful' cactus-like plant called 'Lechuguilla' (of the Agave variety) is everywhere (you step, 'ouch!' ). It has long tough, 'leaves,' with sharp spikes at the end that can penetrate the strongest leather boot. Thus, by the time I returned to the Stillwell Store, my ankles were usually bleeding.

The night sky in that area is the most amazing I've ever experienced. It was so clear, with so little ambient light you could see billions of stars with the 'naked eye,' and even their color -- down to the horizons! I saw many man-made satellites crossing the starry sky. Planets were as plain as day. I got interested in astronomy and began to be able to identify constellations.

Part of making the Prude Ranch video had to do with visits to McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains. They had a Visitor Center, to accommodate guests. One night they'd set of a telescope to view Mars. But, for some unknown reason when I got to the head of the line, they had switched to Saturn (you could see the rings). Both times when I happened to be there with a group (from Prude Ranch) I saw Saturn through their telescope... twice! I ultimately knew what this meant, seeing Saturn twice! That it wouldn't' bother me again, that I had 'passed the test!' 'Know thyself!' the Oracle at Delphi instructed Socrates.

The title of this tome has to do with 'the return of Saturn:' "The first time Saturn comes back to meet your natal Saturn is in the late twenties. This is one of the most important times astrologically – a time of getting real with yourself and your mission in life. If you’ve been coasting on bravado and wishful thinking, Saturn will cause the foundation to dissolve beneath your feet. It can be a time of upheaval, stress, major re-evaluation and change." Note, this is exactly what happened to me, when I was fired from my job at ABC Sports! "And you get another chance to take stock when Saturn returns again in your late 50s." And again, this is exactly what happened to me in 1993, when I was 53-years of age (losing my company and with it my self-esteem). Ironically, the 'return of Saturn,' twice in one's life, is like the two 'major plot points' in a Syd Field 'three-act' screenplay. 'Plot points' are defined as events 'that hook into a story, and spin it in a new direction!' Thus, plot-points divide the drama into a 'three-act' play: The set up, the conflict, and the resolution. Such, has been my life!

In the Big Bend area (of Texas) there are mystery 'lights' seen at night called, 'Magic Lights.' This is not a figment of some local's imagination, but a documented phenomenon. In fact, Bill Caruth drove us to one of the tourist 'viewing sites,' not far from Marfa (location of several 'Hollywood' movies including 'Giant'). But, I didn't see any that night.

I asked Hallie about them and she thought they were 'swamp gas' ignited by static electricity. Everybody in the Big Bend region had a theory, or a story about seeing them. Japanese television had been there making a news story out of such. I thought they might be the spirits of dead indians (as there had been a group up in Chisos Mountains). One time I was in the National Park with friend Jeff, viewing the full moon. And although I thought I might have seen one, it was nothing like what I experienced some months later.

One night, with Jeff back in Baltimore, 'Pardner,' his dog and I went to Stillwell Canyon, This is located some 7 miles north of the Store via the ranch road. I rode Jeff's bicycle with Pardner in tow (on a leash).

Not a deep nor wide, Stillwell Canyon, is long in length, some 20 miles going all the way down to the Rio Grande River. We had been driven down the canyon many miles in a jeep (one of the tourist attractions of the area). Dotted along the both sides are unexplored caves where ancient peoples lived. I've actually seen artifacts proving such, as had climbed up and entered several. Thus, I thought it would be interesting to be there alone on a full-moon night.

I built a fire that evening on the ledge of one of the caves. It was an interesting experience, almost transcendental in nature. I meditated, with Pardner content to be part our adventure (more subdued than usual).

I think we started back to the Store around ten o'clock, now night. But, the moon was so bright, I didn't need my flashlight. Nearing the Store, maybe one-mile south, I happen to look to my right (west), and there was a 'magic light,' a fuzzy ball of illumination moving along with us. People asked me 'How large was it?' and 'How far away?' Such is relative (as Einstein tried to point out), as to the distance, etc. I can only say it wasn't small, nor too big, and maybe 50 meters off the ground. It wasn't stationary but moved at the same slow speed we were. I thought to myself, 'Wow, this is one!' It was difficult to negotiate the bicycle and Pardner, but I looked at it several times over a few minutes. This fuzzy ball of light keeping up its steady pace with us. However, the next time I glanced to my right, I noticed it had changed directions and was coming right for us! Suddenly scared, I said to 'Pardner!' 'Let's get outta of here! And I cranked wildly down the road. When I looked again, it was gone! But, I had definitely seen a 'Magic Light!'

I had other metaphysical or transcendental things happen to me while living at the Stillwell Store (near Big Bend National Park).

I lived in an adobe building the Stillwells called the 'Wet Shack!' It was a guest room of sorts, small, with one door and two windows. I lived and worked in this room. One day I was at my desk writing, using my laptop computer. For some reason I looked to my right (maybe sensed something). There was a man standing only a few feet away, wearing a black suit! It scared me so much I jerked my head back! The door was locked, there was no way for anybody to enter the room without me knowing it. When my heart returned to near normal I looked back and 'he' was gone. Poltergeists don't like to scare you. Later I thought about 'who' this might have been? I first decided it must be my grandfather. Then it dawned on me it was one of the Stillwell men come to visit, as I'd learned so much about the family (all the way back to England). He was curious about who was writing about them. Had I not jerked away so scared, it might have had a conversation with 'him.'

Besides this ghost in the 'Wet Shack,' I've had two other experiences with embodied spirits in my lifetime. Both in China.

Another time in Big Bend I was driving up to Alpine in my Classic Ford Mustang. The Stillwell Store was some 7 miles off the U.S. highway to Big Bend National Park. Where the two highways joined was a stop sign. But, with so little traffic on the highway, we rarely bothered to even slow down. But, this day I stopped. There was a 'man' standing there alone. I thought how unusual... A 'man' standing waiting for somebody at this remote intersection. I didn't notice right off but he was dressed strangely too! He raised his hand as if needing a ride. I motioned him to come, and I reached to open the door. Note, I've always picked up hitchhikers.

The 'man' turned out to be an avatar! I wasn't sure in the beginning, but after awhile I began to understand. First of all, his story about being in the area. He said he'd been rafting down the Rio Grande River, but had no luggage like a backpack with him. His clothes more like a 'uniform' (a mustard color) than something you would wear rafting or hiking in the desert. But, what convinced me is what he told me. For one thing 'he' seemed to know all about me. He told me about my life, and what I needed to do now. It was unsetting! He also gave me advice, some authors to read. I drove him up to Marathon (40 miles) where he got out. He said he was catching a bus to somewhere... I didn't pursue, as I knew now he wasn't going anywhere, but was everywhere at once.

People ask me how I know he was an avatar. There are some things you just know, and don't have to explain or defend. I don't really care if anyone believes me or not! I've told this story many times about C.G. Jung, one of my intellectual mentors. How, when asked if he believed in God, he replied, 'I don't have to believe, I know!' You just know! I experienced a ghost, a 'Magic light' and an avatar in Big Bend! It was a watershed period in my life!

When I returned to Dallas, I had changed, and off in a better direction (to Mexico, with friend James Essary).

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Friday, March 27, 2009

270309

Called Religion!

Sybarites,
Androids,
Clones,
Drones,
The white-capped people,
Brain dead,
And all red!

All the same,
The game,
Called religion!

My 'cap' is best,
Than all the rest!
If you don't agree
We will kill your 'Thee!'

Sybarites,
Androids,
Clones,
Drones,
The white-capped people,
Brain dead,
And all red!

All the same,
The game,
Called religion!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

240309

'Saturn Twice!' (continues)

'The Wrecking Crew' at ABC Sports ('60s, early '70s) was aptly named, as we 'wrecked' many things, but mostly ourselves. It's amazing to me that the four original members (me, Geoff Mason, Don Ohlmeyer, and John Martin) are still alive (2009)! We took drinking, drugging, and partying seriously! The only other group who you might compare was the Hard Rock group 'Led Zeppelin!' Sex, drinking/drugs, and rock n' roll' we invented!

I'll never forget one party that started in the usual (harmless) way. We'd gone down to a bar called 'Channel Seven' for 'a drink.' After an hour or so, maybe dinner. By 10 O'Clock we were calling for limousines. Sometimes there were as many as six lined up outside on 54th St. 'Mother Mildred,' the office manager at the time, always took care of our 'business expenses!' She was very inventive.

This night we made the 'rounds' (we had favorite places to go like Mike Manuches, 'Toots Shors,' 'Elaines,' 'Jilly's' (a Mafia hang out where we'd meet Joe Namath), the Oak Room in the Plaza Hotel, P.J. Clarke's, the 'Ground Floor,' (at CBS) and... We also ate at the best restaurants in Manhattan: '21,' 'La Cote Basque,' 'Lutece.'

Manhattan, was like 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' for me in the '60s, exciting! 'Moon River, wider than a mile, I'm crossing you in style someday!' Actually, I did it under the Hudson (River) in a limo one day, delivering a videotape to New Jersey.

Along about 12 midnight the ability to function, however, slid from conscious to the unconscious... But, there were always women along to help navigate!

This night the 'ride' went a long way, all the way to the Bahamas! God knows how we ended up there, it could have been Hawaii!

I remember waking up the next morning (with a hangover), in bed with a naked woman whose name I couldn't remember, nor how we got there! I had to call 'the Mace,' and ask how this happened? Or, maybe the 'roles' were reversed, maybe it was he who called me. But, this was typical of our crazy behavior! One drink always led to many, and God knows what after a certain point!

I remember flying 'Birdie' from Portland, Oregon, to the Kahala Hilton in (Oahu) , Hawaii, where I was producing the 'Hawaiian Open.' We didn't care what things cost with Mother Mildred 'in our corner!' 'Birdie,' was 'Miss Portland,' and someone I'd met at a golf tournament in Portland (maybe a year earlier). We were kinda a 'couple' for awhile.

There were others... 'Sandy,' 'Pamela,'Jane,' 'Mary,' 'Tina,' a woman from Cincinnati, Ohio, and a Jewish woman whose parents lived in 'The Bronx.' Joyce, of course.

I remember the night Tina and I broke the bed at John's house in Vermont. Greek people make good lovers! No doubt, however, she's happy she didn't marry me, as I wasn't into having children.

I'd met Jane C. at Channel Seven one night and fell madly in lust. On our first 'date,' I took her to La Cote Basque, a restaurant where there were no prices on the menus (If you were concerned about it, you shouldn't be there). That night was unique as when departing we 'danced through' a group negotiating the revolving door in, while we were rotating out. I managed to knock or trip a short man down in the process. But, before I could assist or apologize a group descended and helped him inside, a tall, thin woman following. He was Aristole Onassis, and she was... Well, you know who! I didn't realize it at the time, but Jane did! Parked at the curb was their limo. Knowing the group would be in the restaurant for at least two hours, I dangled a $100-dollar bill in front of the uniformed driver, 'Want to make a quick buck? They're going to be in there a while, and you'll be back in time. Just drive us out to New Jersey!' Jane just couldn't get over that she was sitting where Jacky had (the seat was still warm)! Years later we happened to meet in Channel Seven (different name by then), and remembered...

Joyce and I had a relationship that lasted eleven years! I just didn't want to get married again!

Geoff will remember a picnic we had at West Point! What was her name? She had spit in my face in Miami. She made up for it this day as brought such food and drink, laid out on linen, crystal champagne glasses, and Dehaviland porcelain plates! Besides that, Dom Perignon champagne. It was, no doubt, the most amazing picnic I've ever supped. And for other reason too. After the football game, driving back to N.Y.C., Sandy and I made love in the woods!

Ever get a 'blow job,' for one hundred miles? Coming back from Roger's house in the Poconos, I did! What was her name...? You should have seen the look on the toll-taker's face at one gate where I had to stop. But, she didn't! Luckily, I'd covered her with her fur coat! I stroked the bobbing head in my lap and then offering an explanation to the dumbstruck woman, 'A polecat!' Then treating such as a pet, 'Nice kitty! Nice kitty!'

Another time, a different woman... I had gone to the U.K. to survey a golf course up near Blackpool. I'd made a date with a Playboy bunny I 'saw' whenever I was in London. This was the same day, as the distances not so great, and the task easy. 'One high, one low,' as Mac would point out. Afterwards driving back to Manchester to catch a commercial flight I got lost! The time slipped away... I left the rental car at the door with the engine running. By the time I got to the gate, the flight was closed! Worse, there were no more flights! They suggested a hotel for the night. They didn't understand... I wasn't going to miss my date with Carriane (her name). But, what to do, how to get back to London in time? I was wandering around the airport bereft, when I saw a sign, 'Charter flights!' Needless to say, I flew back in a Piper Aztec (big two-engine private aircraft), and I arrived only slightly late for our date! The cost of this charter flight was horrendous, something like 280 'pounds' in 1968, but Mildred took care of it.

We who worked for ABC Sports during the 'Mother Mildred' era should erect a monument to her! She loved opera! I remember taking her to 'La Boeme,' at Lincoln Center, she 'mouthing' the libretto. I fell asleep halfway through.

'Those were the days my friends, we thought they'd never end!' But, like everything else (in life) they did! And thank God for such, as we barely survived them!

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Monday, March 23, 2009

230309

'Saturn Twice' (continues)

My time in C.S., U.S.A. lasted four years. I was back in the land of the 'almost free and the not-so brave,' to work at a job and contribute to my Social Security account. This I did. In the process I met many people, some lifelong friends.

Through an office connection I made a friend in Denver who had/has some of the best 'dope' I've ever smoked. It was also the most expensive, obscenely so ($100 U.S. for a quarter ounce or 7 grams). But, for it it only took 'one hit,' before I was feeling like I wanted to. So, this stuff went a long way. T.T. would drive us up to Denver, where we'd first purchase and smoke, and then spend the day having lunch at his favorite French Restaurant. I have many fond memories of these lovely days. Smoking marijuana, for me at least, is a wonderful thing!

I had had a long and unpleasant history with alcohol (like father, like son). I'll never forget the first time I become intoxicated, this when we were driving out to Old Tucson with mentor Chuck Giles (one class older) -- circa 1958). He handed me a can of malt liquor. After drinking it I started laughing, and had one of the best outings with the boys that I could remember. It was, however, a bad omen. I became a binger, drinking myself into oblivion, most of the time hardly remembering what crazy things I'd done. Many times I got lost, many times I almost killed myself, or others. I was really, in retrospect, trying to kill myself. I didn't realize the guilt about my mother was consuming me!

I remember one particular episode (besides the 747 incident). We (ABC Sports) were in Pensacola, Florida, for the U.S.G.A.'s 'Women's Open Gold Championship.' I rented a house out on an Island you reached via a long bridge (or viaduct). We'd invited all of our secretaries down to Pensacola in a way of thanking them for a year of loyal work. We had a party where they were staying at some fancy hotel. It was a pool party and barbeque. Ah, there's a way to get girls to undress!

I departed the party 'blitzed' and shouldn't have been driving. I had rented a Lincoln Towncar. I was playing loud music on the stereo, oblivious to much. I turned onto the two-lane bridge, which must have been at least two-miles in length. I remember seeing the red-line of the speedometer crawl across the faster I went, until it filled the entire speedometer. I remember coming off the bridge at such a speed a bump sent the entire Lincoln in the air. it wasn't long afterwards I saw flashing red lights in the rearview mirror, hearing a siren. I pulled over and stopped. I'll never forget what the cop said, 'Congratulations! You just set a new bridge record! I clocked you at 110 miles-per hour!' Of course, he made me get out and gave me the usual sobriety test which, of course, I failed.

He arrested me and drove me back to the police station in town. During which I sobered up fast, and spun a story about the party, ABC, secretaries, the U.S.G.A. Golf, and everything else I thought would work. He turned out to be a good guy.

At the station he had them bring me coffee while we talked. He was, in fact, trying to sober me up. I could hear wailing and moaning coming from the upstairs drunk tank. Every so minutes, I'd walk 'the line' for the officer to see if I was sober. I think I was there a couple hours before he released me. Then he drove me back to the Lincoln. By then, of course, I was sober enough to drive. But, driving back to my beach house I had horrible thoughts of how it might have gone. I could see the headlines in the local paper, 'ABC producer arrested for drunk driving!' But, I wasn't destined for such, or to die. I wanted to suffer, and you have to be alive to suffer!

Pensacola was, that July, the hottest on record! I don't know how the women golfers played in such humidity. By the time I had walked from the parking lot to 'the trucks' (mobile TV units) I was drenched. We spent most of our free time in some water, whether it was the pool (with the secretaries) or the Gulf of Mexico. One day T.J., and I swam way out to a sand bar and back.

We were 'on the air' on Sunday (only) for the final round. Everything was O.K., until we started hearing reports of a building storm. It wasn't long afterwards that there was lightening and thunder. They suspended play. Then something happened I think a first in network broadcasting history, and probably has never been repeated. Lightening hit our power pole, sending current through the system, all the way through the camera cables and cameramen operating them. Several were knocked off their posts, sprawling on the ground. They immediately ran for cover.

We, in the control truck, were plunged into darkness, at least momentarily until the generators kicked in! I turned to Mac Hemion who was directing! He said, 'Call Chuck!' Chuck Howard (our immediate boss) ordered us to stay on the air (thinking of the commercial revenue). But, how, as we had but two pictures from stationary cameras and no action? 'The Show must go on!' and it did thanks to Jim McKay and Bud Palmer who had the courage to stay up at their announce positions, while the storm continued to blow through. I think it was one of the strangest (and most boring) telecasts I ever produced. I don't even remember who 'won!'

At another golf event in Jacksonville, Florida (lots of crazy things happened to me in Florida). We'd been in the bar drinking of course, 'The Wrecking Crew.' I'd rented the fastest car possible, a Ford Mustang maybe. We decided to race back to the hotel. We ran to the parking lot and blasted off like in drag racing! I remember at an intersection, a flashing red light (meant to stop). But, I was going too fast! I tried to downshift along with applying the brakes. But, I rammed it into reverse (automatic transmission) by mistake. Luckily, this killed the engine. I thought I'd blown the transmission, but car engineers must have considered dummies like me. The car drifted to a stop, and almost immediately a cop was there. He gave me a ticket, but I remember what he said, 'Ramming it into reverse like that, probably saved your life! Now, slow down!'

All I could think of is, I lost the race! And damn, I was still alive!

I'm a failed suicide!

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

210309 (Vernal Equinox)

'Saturn Twice!' (continues)

I was in Colorado Springs because it's the 'gateway' to Cripple Creek (my goal). I would have preferred to live in Boulder, more 'hip;' more my kind of community than 'Focus on the Family' conservative Christian 'C.S.' (I call it for 'Chicken Shit' for short). C.S. is the home of the U.S. Olympic Committee/training facility, the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association, Broadmoor Hotel/Resort, and deep inside Cheyenne Mountain the 'Doomsday room!.' What was I doing in C.S.? I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to such! The only thing that saved me was discovering Manitou Springs, a hip mountain community a few miles west of C.S. and near Pike's Peak.

I remember I was in C.S. years ago, this circa. 1967, for ABC Sports. We, Chet Forte and I, were there producing coverage of the Men's Amateur Golf Championship (at the Broadmoor golf course). I was the 'P.A.' (production assistant) Chet was the producer. I remember him walking around the golf course with a portable radio stuck to his ear. He was addicted to betting on sporting events, and of course was listening for the results. He hated golf, an Italian guy from New Jersey, a basketball player at Columbia University. I remember hardly anything about my time in C.S., or this golf event, except for the Broadmoor Hotel. It's posh, and we lived there like royalty!

What a difference 33 years makes! In C.S on E. Platte Avenue, I was near living like a bum!

I began my survival in C.S. by searching for jobs. I was running out of money. I remember taking day jobs via some temporary agency. One was being a monitor for some class test. One, was being a part of a mock jury, as they were testing responses (they wanted our opinions). I think I got paid something like $20-50U.S. per day. I remember one was stocking the shelves of a store like Home Depot.

One day I saw an AD as a census taker (year 2000). But, a test was required. So, one afternoon I cranked back out on highway #24 to a community 20 miles east of C.S., and to a school where the test was administered. I don't do well on tests (except one in my life time), and I managed to fuck this one up by confusing the sample page with the real one, but no way to correct as too late when I figured out what I'd done wrong. I remember cranking back to the motel in falling snow (it snows mostly during the Spring in this area of Colorado). Later I took the Census test again, and did much better, but never was selected. I'm probably too stupid to count people for $10U.S. an hour, or whatever they were paying. Or, I wasn't destined to (as I hate all governments).

A lot of interesting things happened to me in C.S., that first year. I got to know the city well by riding my bicycle everywhere. One afternoon I cycled down (south) to one of the Universities in C.S. (I forget the name, maybe Southern Colorado University). A Chinese man (professor) was speaking about the 'Year of the Dragon,' and I was interested of course (being a 'Dragon' myself). In addition, they usually serve refreshments, and this is how I sustained myself, instead of spending money on food. Usually at these kinds of speaking engagements the refreshments were fruit punch and cookies.

When I first lived in Portland, Oregon (circa 1978) I survived by attending parties (uninvited and a total stranger). I rarely left the buffet table/bar eating and drinking more than my share (someone might have noticed). I discovered if you dress appropriately you can 'crash' parties, particularly at Christmas time, as they are woe to challenge you. Of course, you have to concoct some story as to how you are connected to the host. But, usually guests, into holiday spirit(s), could care less! In fact, I made several friends (contacts) this way, that became useful later. 'When the going gets tough, the tough get creative!'

That evening in C.S. at the University I learned that the year 2000 was very important for Dragon-born people! I took notes. This is what I learned: Chinese astrology is the divination of the future, and based on astronomy, and the ancient Chinese philosophy of Confucius, Lao-tse (actually 'Zi') and the 'I Ching.' In particular, based on the sexa-genary cycle of 60 years since Shang Dynasty (1766-1050 BC). This cycle has been constructed from two smaller cycles: the 10-heavenly stems (the five elements (in their yin and yang forms: fire, earth, metal, water and wood) and the 12-earthly branches (zodiac). It was a way of keep track time and events (before clocks, computers and the Internet). More than 3,000 years ago, Chinese people invented the 10-Heavenly Stems and 12-Earthly Branches for chronological purposes. These signs are used to designate the hours, days, months and years. However, since most people at that time were illiterate, the signs were difficult to remember. Later, to make things easier to memorize, people used animals to symbolize the 12-Earthly Branches. The animals in order are: mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon (not really an animal), snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. I, being born in an '0' year (1940), am a 'dragon.'

I'm also Sagittarius in Western Astrology. What does it all mean, astrology, eastern or western? That there's no such thing as an 'objective world.' We create our worlds from our minds. For example, my first ex-wife Cathy, wouldn't do anything without checking the 'Ephemeris' first. A Naturopathic Doctor she based much of her diagnosis of a patient on astrology. She's one of the smartest persons I've ever know. Also, my second ex-wife Gail maybe even smarter (both from the Northwestern part of the U.S.). For example they were both smart enough to divorce me (not much of a husband)!

I remember way back when circa, 1967, the ABC Sports group used to hangout at a bar called 'Channel Seven' (name of the ABC affiliate in N.Y.C.). This was right below us at 1330 Sixth Avenue on W. 55th Street, and across from the Warwick Hotel. I don't know how it happened, but someone I met there drew my horoscope and wrote an interpretation. I wish I could remember this woman's name, as an avatar in my life. I kept the written interpretation for years, but since lost like all material things. But, I remember what it predicted about me... That I would have difficulty in the beginning (of my life), but it would all pay off in the end. And that's exactly what has happened. So, if you ask me if I 'believe' in astrology, I cite my own story as proof of its efficacy (or worth). There is no such thing as 'objectivity.' If you think it works, it works! If you don't think it works, it doesn't for you.

I was fortunate in many ways that first year in C.S. (2000)! Besides day jobs I discovered a U.S. government program to help retirees financially. They paid you to work for non-profit organizations. I was lucky to be assigned to work for one that was basically an employment agency. It was associated with a large Christian Church. I think I got paid something like $3U.S. per hour, and only 20 hours per week. But, this $ 240U.S. per month helped. The 'work,' if you can call it that was easy, and I spent much of my time online looking for something better myself.

Along about this time I discovered an AD in 'Nickel ADs,' for a room to rent in a house. I went to see it and discovered a lovely situation. The wooden house, sat perched on a hill overlooking downtown C.S. You had to drive (in my case ride) through a restaurant parking lot to get to the house. It had a hot tub outside. I was way out of my element financially, but I thought we (the landlady and I) might trade out services, as she needed help with her business. It was all too enticing so I said yes and moved into the new guest room (below). It was ideal as separate from her house above. But, the deal was only until she found someone who could pay her price. I was paying $400U.S. per month (couldn't afford really). It wasn't long until she rented it and I had to move into a bedroom upstairs on the top floor (a part of her actual house). So, suddenly we were sharing the same space, like her bathroom. Immediately, she made me feel uncomfortable. I didn't clean her stove in the kitchen well enough. You know how it goes. I didn't last long there.

I had, by chance, cranked out to 'Old Colorado City,' the 'historic' part of C.S. and met the local gadfly, called 'The Colonel!' I don't know how we met, but he was instantly interested in me for my media background. When I didn't come through promoting him, I was dropped like a 'hot potato!' But, he led me to something that turned out to be a very fortuitous situation. The building where he had an office (2502 W. Colorado Avenue) had a small room to rent (for only $100U.S. per month). I grabbed it, and ended up living there (nobody ever knew) for four years. The room was so small I had to sleep in a chair. During this time I bathed at various people's houses under some pretext. I made it work, and saved thousands of dollars in rent. Additionally, I met several life-long friends who had offices/businesses in that building.

Another fortuitous thing happened. I happened to see an AD for 'acting teacher.' Perfect I thought, even though I had no experience teaching acting. What I did have was an impressive resume. I'll never forget Vitek (the 'owner' at the time) and his story. He was originally from Czechoslovakia, had married an American woman from Denver. He'd gone into business with a man in Denver who owned the John Robert Powers Agency there. They had just opened another in C.S., and needed teachers, or 'coaches' as they called them. When Vitek, with little experience in the entertainment industry, read my resume his smile got wider. He hired me on the spot. I think the salary was something like $15U.S. per hour, and classes were 2 hours (so $30U.S. per class).

I went 'home' elated on one hand, but on the other... How to pull this off, as I had never taught acting in my life. I immediately went to the library, and checked out all the books I had read 25-years prior, when I'd studied acting with Lee Strasberg. If you can 'talk the talk,' people think you know. Of course, I'd dropped a few key words in the interview with Vitek -- I knew enough about 'Method' acting, I just hadn't taught it before (in a formal classroom situation).

In the beginning I had only one student, a young woman. I wish I could remember her name...? Later she married, moved to Texas, and of course had a baby. 90% percent of the people I ended up teaching (hundreds) in the four years at John Robert Powers (C.S.), they never attempted an acting career. What I really ended up teaching was, 'life,' and how to live it successfully! I became a huge success in a job I created! Starting out with nothing and building to where I was the 'Dean' of the 'Acting Department' by the time I departed. When I left there I was making $25U.S. per hour, and the job had become so easy as 'second nature.' Best of all, it was fun! Remember in life, if you don't risk anything, there is little reward!

Living in the office at 2502, and making reasonable money, life became good in C.S. And that first summer I cranked up to Cripple Creek to complete what I had begin in New York City, eight months prior: retracing my Hutchison family's migration west. I had the address of the house where my father was born in 1902. I decided to go up the old mining-railroad bed, now a dirt road. It starts easily enough (paved) with a wonderful view of C.S., but then it becomes like you would expect (mostly gravel) with several unlit tunnels. The most challenging stretch is at the very top where the grade becomes extreme. But, if you can make 'the top,' it turns out relatively flat and 'easy' for the final 20 miles. I think the total distance is something like forty miles from OCC ('Old Colorado City') to Cripple Creek. It's a wonderful bicycle ride actually and possible to do in one day. You finally reach a paved highway, the left leading to Victor, the right to Cripple Creek. So, I turned right and followed the highway up a hill and then down into historic Cripple Creek.

I had been to Cripple Creek as a child with my family, this in the pre-gambling days (1950s). Now, I was there 50-years later, over the July 4th holiday. I camped out in an RV park that was bursting with tourists. But, I was the only one who'd come on a bicycle and pitched a tent (smoking marijuana inside). It was kinda a neat place, however, with an old house as headquarters.

The first thing I get was cycle around the hilly town. I wanted to find the street and where my father had been born in the Camden Hutchison house. I discovered that gambling had brought 'prosperity' to some, and the former 'ghost town,' now much different. I discovered a wonderful old hotel, the 'St. Nicholas,' originally the hospital. It had one of the coziest bars I've ever. So on July 4th, I had a beer, and then sat on their lawn and watching the town's fireworks display. Of course, I couldn't afford to stay in one of their rooms ($150U.S. per night), but if you act a certain way, with panache, you can get away with much. I'm sure the staff thought I was a guest in the hotel.

You can generally eat for less in a casino restaurant, and I found one I liked. I ended up eating most of my meals there. The trick is never to gamble, but I think I put a few quarters in a slot machine. I'll never forget the sound in those casinos, almost nauseating!

I discovered the Country Museum, and an Einstein quote on the wall which has stuck in my memory all these years ('Imagination is more important than knowledge!' - by they hadn't credited him).

I rode the little narrow gauge RR, in honor of my grandfather. It's disappointing, however, as just goes out a mile or so, and then returns. It should go all the way to Victor!

I visited one of the old and famous 'whore houses,' converted into a museum.

One day I cranked to Victor where Winfied Scott Stratton had struck it rich with his Independence mine. Of course, my grandfather Camden didn't do as well, so he moved the family back to Springfield, Missouri.

My last day there I made my pilgrimage to 102 Crystal Street, the address of the house where my father had been born. You could figure out where the house might have been a hundred years ago. Now, it's a vacant lot! Maybe I should have bought the lot and built a house on it...? Instead I tied one of my Tibetan Buddhist khatas around a surveyor's stake (there was some construction going on at the site) and tried to remember my father. This act concluded my quest, 'saying hello' to all my ancestors, and paying respects to my father! 'Colorado Rocky Mountain high!' sang John Denver, 'I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky!'

A year later I returned to Cripple Creek to work on what might have been a film festival. Another great story, as my friend Garlene Parris came all the way from Texas to help!

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

21a0309

Three girls on skates!

Three girls on skates;
Dates,
Helping each other!
Toys now,
Boys later
Come children on skates!

Creation - destruction!
Cycles!
Risking, reaching, teaching,
Creating!

A wall falls killing,
At the same time
Allowing passage!

Destruction - creation!
Cycles!

Three girls on skates!

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Friday, March 20, 2009

190309

Saturn Twice (continues)

I'm in the Chongqing Airport (China), listening to J.S.Bach (on my Macbook)! I can assure you, no one in this airport, or maybe the entire city of Chongqing (a mere ten million people) has ever heard of Maestro Bach.

On the other hand, I can tell you it's happening in China! China is rising while the rest of the world is sinking (in 2009)! The only thing China needs is social development, freedom of thought, and it will soar like an eagle! That's coming in the next 20 years! So, maybe 'free market' capitalism isn't such a good idea after all (human nature as such)!

In the meantime, where was I...? In Springfield, Missouri, January, 2000. This city, a hiatus, as I cycled my way across America, retracing the steps of my Hutchison family as they moved west (from Martin's Creek, Pennsylvania). My ultimate goal was Cripple Creek, Colorado, where my father was born in 1902. Springfield, Missouri, was about halfway, and where most of my Hutchison family relatives lived and my parents are buried.

Besides visiting my parents graves, there was also another task! My favorite aunt Mabel (Jim' s mother), who we called 'Fritz,' had died. I wanted to visit her grave also. A simple, but blight spirit she was always defending me to the rest of the family. The last time I saw her alive was when the family had a reunion in Springfield. At the time she was living in an 'assisted-living' facility. She died at the age of 96!

Because Uncle Jim (Jimmy's father) had served in WWI, she was buried in the National Cemetery. It was no small task to find her grave, as thousands all the same, only a ground-level marker identifying the deceased. The first time I went there, even with a map, I failed to find her grave. I had to enlist Jim (Jimmy, her son), to find it ultimately, so he went with me one day.

There are some people in your life that add, not subtract, from your being. 'Fritz' was one that added to mine, although as an adult I hardly ever saw her. She would, however, write to me (in longhand and on paper). So, my dear 'Fritz,' Mabel, wherever you are in the cosmos, know that you touched one little life. I'm remembering you at this very moment! 'Oh, death, where is thy sting? Oh, grave, where is thy victory?'

After completed what were my goals in Springfield, besides cycling around with cousin Bob, I had to continue my ride west. It wasn't easy leaving the comfort of Jim's house. I knew what I faced: a 800 miles of flat, cold, nothing. I remember somebody in Springfield had warned me, 'It's all uphill to the Rockies!' But, Jim, being who he is insisted that I take the bus, handing me a prepaid ticket -- how could I argue! He drove me to the Greyhound Bus Terminal, my bicycle back in a box.

It was day time, this sitting trip, and I watched the rolling hills of northwest Missouri glide by of the window. I also remember, for some strange reason, a rest stop at a MacDonald's and the plastic life-size statue of Ronald MacDonald smiling at me! Maybe it was 'Fritz' wishing me a safe journey.

At Kansas City, I got off the bus, and traded my ticket to Denver for a much-needed cash refund. I never told Jim.

From there I remember little, except the flat expanse of Kansas. Endless miles of fields, farms, and small towns with bad restaurants. Would you believe there's a 'Norway, Kansas?' But, the guy was wrong, it's not all 'uphill' but rolling hills of a little up and a little down. It was pretty easy going except for the wind. A few times it 'rained' snow flurries. But, luckily no ice. I think the winter of '99-'00, one of the mildest in years -- lucky for me (for the year 2000 auspicious because a Dragon Year). The year 2000 was good to me, but I'll get to that later!

I do remember Kansas for another reason. My first wife, Cathy and I, were driving east across Kansas in 1963, when stopped by a flood. It was night and suddenly a police road block loomed (flashing red lights). There were a line of vehicles parked in the lane, and we wondered why. I remember walking to the front of the line, where the highway disappeared underwater (could see with my flashlight). Seems there had been a huge rain storm that day, and the highway was underwater for miles. What to do? Find a way around it. So, we took back roads, ending up in some tiny burgh where we spent the night (we were on our way to Ft. Gorgon, Georgia). It's strange what you remember...

On this trip I made a point of going through Hutchinson, Kansas. I was curious about it as maybe a connection with our Hutchison family. The Hutchisons are basically from Scotland (MacDonell Clan), but if you add an 'n' they are from England. I had to detour way south to visit Hutchinson, K., but I thought I should, as a close 'name sake.' Note, most of the time our family name 'Hutchison' is misspelled with an extra 'n.'

Turns out Hutchinson, Kansas is a city of grain elevators and salt mines! C.C. Hutchinson was an Indian Agent and founded the, God knows why, community at where the Santa Fe RR and the Arkansas River cross. Reason enough I guess. But, one interesting thing... These salt mines now used as storage for 'Hollywood' movies, a trivia question: Where are the 'masters' (original negatives) of the following movies are stored, 'The Wizard of Oz (1939), Gone with the Wind (1939), and Star Wars, (1977) among many others? You guessed it! Of course, 'The Wizard of Oz' belongs there!

I headed west on highway, #50, the highway I remember most cycling across Kansas. I wanted to go up to Monument Rocks, but too far out of the way (north).

On a bicycle the shortest distance is a straight line! Averaging around 60 to 100 miles per day is enough for someone my age (60-years old at the time), as this takes at least 10 hours depending on the terrain and weather. You're 'out there' in the elements and that's why I like it. I hate traveling in 'air-conditioned boxes on wheels' (I call them), where everything is at your fingertips. I like the 'struggle out there,' the wind in my face!

On clear morning I saw them from highway #94, The Rocky Mountains (the 'Front Range' so named). A beautiful site as they were covered with snow. I suddenly felt at home! I've never been a flat-lander or low-lander. I'm a mountain man, born to get 'high' one way or another! As a boy I was once inspired by Irving Stone's 'Men to Match My Mountains.' He took his title, however, from the poem 'The Coming American' by Sam Walter Foss [1858-1911]: "Bring me men to match my mountains, Bring me men to match my plains, Men with empires in their purpose, And new eras in their brains.' The words are inspiring even now! It's amazing how a few words can change your way of thinking; inspire you.

Yes, 'In the beginning was the word' (according to the Christian Bible). But, in the end is the 'no-word' (silence)! So, I suggest you make 'friends' with it now.

I forget what day exactly I crossed the State line into Colorado, sometime early February and still chilly. From there on highway #94, the terrain looking like Kansas. But, in the distance the mountains loomed to match me! There up in there was where my father was born, and the end of my quest.

Highway #94, runs into #24 and is actually downhill into Colorado Springs. It turns into a major east-west street, Platte Avenue. This is the old way to drive into the city, thus many old and cheap motels ($100U.S. per week). I forget the name of mine, but turquoise in color and an empty swimming pool. This was my introduction to Colorado Springs! I used to walk to Walmarts nearby, buy coffee and a donut for little in the MacDonalds inside. Pretty depressing!

I knew no person in Colorado Springs when I arrived! I had no job or prospects of one! I had little money! But, where there's a will there's a way! My name should have been 'Will!'

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

130309

'Saturn Twice! (continues)

Have you ever visited the place where you were born, where you came out of your mother's body to face the world?

I was born at the St. Louis Maternity Hospital, at 1821 hours, December 11th, 1940. The population of St. Louis in 1940 was 816,048 (I was one of those?). God only knows what the 'feeling' was back then, as we (the U.S.) were on the verge of a major war (WWII).

My father was the manager of the St. Louis Country Club at the time (at 38-years of age, with family; too old for military service). I think it was here that I was perched on Cary Grant's lap (for a picture). Archie Leach, his real name, was there for some publicity event. I think this is how I got the 'show biz' bug!

My first actual memories are with my father 'downtown,' at some 'square' (actually I remember a circle with Lion heads) where we witnessed the Anheiser-Busch beer wagon pulled by the Clydesdale horses.

It felt so strange to be there in St. Louis as an adult, 60-years later (January, 2000). I found it depressing for some reason -- maybe my own family history!

I remember visiting St. Louis sometime in the 1980s, a suburb actually, Baldwin (way west of downtown). This where my ex-secretary Judy Furchek (Peace) lived with her new husband. It's crazy to remember all of this, our affair... Oh, Judy, where are you now?

All across the country, from N.Y.C. to Colorado Springs I headed to the pubic library first. This to check my email. And I found great ones in Missouri, particularly Springfield (best in the world, 'The Library Center'). But, the one in western St. Louis (?) impressive too.

From there I cycled trying to find our old house (where I was brought home from the hospital) on Warson Road. I discovered an upscale neighborhood (2000). I think I had the address, but never came close, or maybe I was right on top of it. Things have a way changing over time.

I started east towards downtown, in search now of the hospital where I was born. I don't know how I found it, as it has been swallowed up by the Barnes-Washington University School of medicine.

I parked/locked my laden bicycle and went inside. After explaining to a nurse why I was there she directed me to the sixth floor (Maternity). I rode the elevator and walked around the hall way, nurses and orderlies assuming I was a grandfather there for the birth of a grandchild. I heard shrieks and cries, screaming women and babies. I didn't stay long, as an eyrie feeling came over me.

Outside, I stood in front of the building and burst into tears! Here was where my mother have given birth to me, her pain for me. Not only the pain of giving birth, but the pain of her life! So much emotion poured out of me I was drained by the time I got back on my bicycle. You can get to the point where you feel nothing. I cranked like a machine.

I managed, somehow, to find what is now the center of St. Louis, maybe the remains of the 'square'/circle (now a park) where I had watch the Clydesdale horses with my father sixty-years prior. The 'Gateway Arch,' looms over it. I didn't go up into this twisted ribbon of steel, however. I think it cost too much money, and what would I see... What amazed me about downtown St. Louis was the lack of people. The streets were deserted! The population of the city down to around 300,000, but the suburbs something like one million mostly white people ('white flight').

I decided to take the Greyhound bus west to Springfield, where my Hutchison relatives live, and my parents are buried. I wanted to get out of St. Louis as quickly as possible. I found a box, and packed my bicycle in it; got on a bus exhausted. We drove all night, and I slept well (I sleep better in moving vehicles than in a stationery bed).

We arrived in Springfield, before daybreak, and I slept in a chair in the waiting room until late enough to call Jim, my cousin. Jim is older than me, as his father, an uncle, was the second in the line of three boys (of my grand parents). My father was the youngest, therefore I'm the youngest.

He picked me up at the bus station, and drove me to their (his wife Janice at the time) house. I didn't recognize anything, as hadn't been there for years. I think the last time I was in Springfield was when we had a family reunion, and drove around to all the Hutchison and Dalrymple (my mother's maiden name) sites of interest.

Jim and Janice, the salt of the earth, so far as hosts, parents, and relatives go! I put my bicycle in their garage, and moved into their basement floor (actually a split-level house), and I looked out upon their backyard. The trees bereft of leaves and their sorrowful looks mirrored my own feelings.

I remember our dinners together. They were as homey as an Andrew Wyeth painting! It was simple, but wonderful food. We even drank wine, toasting each other. It was comfortable being there, yet their lives so different from mine. They'd lived in that house as long as I can remember. The houses I've lived in too numerous to mention (or remember)! It was so comfortable I was 'on edge,' conflicted between the known and unknown. I was 'connected' to Springfield yet felt like an outsider! My depression returned in the mornings, as gray as the skies. I guess I knew I didn't belong, a leaf sailing over a rock wall, a rolling stone that had gathered no moss. They had put down solid roots. I was a feather blowing in the wind, a bum on a bicycle!

Jim, is about as nice a guy as you'll find anywhere in the world. I suppose he's had his moments, but he's the most even tempered and kind person in the Hutchison family. I don't really know all of their kids, but there are many as Janice was Catholic, and they had a big family. Now, there are grand children, maybe even great grand children. God knows what they will think if they ever read this.

I was in Springfield for about a week. I first found and fell in love with their library, a new-age concept, part Starbucks, part Internet Cafe. They called it 'The Library Center.' I cranked there everyday, a five-mile ride from Jim and Janice's house (on the east side of Springfield). After getting online, I would eat in their little Cafe (a cup of coffee and a bran muffin).

When you don't have a lot of money you find ways to conserve, like buying food in a market, avoiding restaurants. I think I paid for one Italian lunch while I was in Springfield.

We had visited Springfield summers (1940s), my parents annual trip 'home.' I remember Elm and Walnut Streets where they lived, the big deciduous trees that hovered over them in the summer. My grandparent's houses so close to the center of the town we walked to my Uncle Charlie's drugstore (for ice creams sodas). Now, I couldn't find anything.

The cemetery where my parents are buried is called Maple Park. I found it on the map just south of 'downtown' or 'city center.'

I'd never been to my parent's graves before. I hadn't even gone to their funerals. I think we had a memorial service for my father in Tucson, Arizona. I didn't know how to deal with the loss of my parents. No one, including them, had ever prepared me (the American way of death and dying). But, now I was going to make up for it, as I'd brought with me Tibetan Buddhist 'khatas,' (white votive scarfs) blessed by the Dalai Lama. I'd carried them with me all the way from Kathmandu, Nepal.

So, one day I cranked there to Maple Park. It was a cold January day. Then via a map from the caretaker I found the Dalrymple plot. Ironically, as in life, my father and mother's graves are at opposite ends of the plot. I stood there trying to remember them, the happier times... I asked that they forgive me, for not being a very good son! I started crying. I feel to my knees as all the repressed feelings erupted. I sobbed, my tears falling like rain on the ground. When I recovered I tied the khatas around each of the headstones and walked away (forever). 'Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh, grave, where is thy victory?'

My mother's spirit has never left me! Never! From the time of her death until this very moment I feel her near!

When my mother died I suddenly felt relieved and happy! At the same time conflicted with guilt as I 'knew' I shouldn't feel 'happy,' but sad! Or, that's what I'd seen in the movies (when people had died). This guilt, the way I'd treated my mother, drove me to drink. Not the social kind, but 'binge' drinking until unconscious! It was a way of escaping, of course. I didn't understand it at the time. I didn't understand that I was punishing myself (horrible hangovers). I didn't understand that this was 'slow suicide,' that unconsciously I wanted to die, to end my life! And I came pretty close! I am a failed suicide!

Being born, trying to die... Such is the nature of modernity, 'modern' times, where you're racing along so fast you don't have time to connect with what's really vital for mental health: A sense of yourself, an understanding of sex, birth, and death. A sense of how you fit into the 'scheme of things' (the unknown).

Religion was no help to me concerning my parent's premature deaths (I was only 19-21 years old at the time). Alcohol was!

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

100309

'Saturn Twice!' (continues)

The last word my father ever spoke was, 'Mary,' to his wife!

I, and my sisters three, were born into a typical middle-class American family. Although, I must say my father was 'different.' I'll never forget how he painted our patio walls in Tucson, Arizona (circa., 1948). Of course, there were three sides (the house the fourth). But, instead of painting the walls the usual white, or maybe brown, each was a different bright color: red, blue, green and/or maybe yellow! It was our 'rainbow patio!'

My mother should have never married him, as total opposites (although, of course, opposites attract). He was a 'ladies man,' a drinker, gambler, and otherwise unconventional. He dropped out of high school, and taking a job as a telegraph operator for a RR company. They say children are more like their grand parents, than their parents, so I've always wanted to know more about my great grandfather.

My mother had been raised in conservative Springfield, Missouri, a family of some local prominence. They sent her to to a Catholic high school in Springfield because they thought a public high school was too wild. After high school she was sent to a ladies' finishing school near Atlanta, called Bernau. She met and fell in love with a student at Georgia Tech. His name was David. She would have married him (we think), had he not died (in an accident).

'Fred' (my father... I have the same name) came along one day (after she was back in Springfield) and 'swept her (Mary) off her feet.' I think it wasn't long after meeting that they were married. I can only image what her parents thought about their marriage!

They knew each other exactly six weeks before they eloped to Columbia, Missouri. For their honeymoon, they drove on unpaved roads (it was 1929) across the USA to California where Fred had a job managing a restaurant in San Francisco. They stayed at the St. Francis Hotel.

One night when Fred was at work, and Mary answered a knock came at the door. She opened it coming face to face with a red-headed woman pointing a gun at her! The woman screamed 'I'm going to kill you for stealing my boyfriend!' About that time Fred showed up and saved the day!

I remember pictures of my Fred and Mary on their honeymoon (1928) looking like 'Bonnie and Clyde,' as my father was into weapons (pistols in this case). My father went from being a telegraph operator to working in restaurants and hotels, country clubs, and ultimately got into real estate. I think he worked in the Brown Palace in Denver, Colorado, and the St. Francis, in San Francisco, at sometime in his 'career.' My mother stayed home to raise four children (born over a period of 13 years).

The first ten years of my life (1940 - 1950) seemed ideal (in retrospect). We never went without much, although we moved a great deal. Not only from house to house, but State to State, city to city. By the time I graduated from high school in Tucson, Arizona, we'd moved too many times. When my father informed me they were moving back to California, I put my foot down, and said, 'Not me!' I moved in with my close friend Kirk Young (his family), keeping my dog Rex, and graduating with my group from Catalina High School.

But, my high school years, both in California (El Segundo) and Tucson, were less than ideal, as my parent's marriage deteriorated. Because my father wasn't at home much my mother began to drink. It's difficult for children to deal with 'drunk' parents, and I ended up hating her for it. She couldn't drive, so it was always me that had to take her shopping (which I didn't like).

We always idealized our father versus our mother, as mom was always there disciplining us. Dad came sweeping in with gifts, no doubt feeling guilty, so he got our admiration, not my mother. Now, in retrospect, it was my mother that was the 'heroine' of the family, always there to take care of us! I remember only one bit of advice my father gave me, but I remember many things my mother said to me. God rest her sweet soul!

My father reached the pinnacle of his 'career,' at the Portuguese Bend Club, 30-miles south of Los Angeles. We had moved to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, after Redondo Beach, and West Covina. This in the days of few freeways and little smog (circa early 1950s). Besides being 'Club Manager' , he started selling lots in the area as a real estate broker. This when the Peninsula was a vast wasteland (few homes).

My father began making a lot of money for the first time in his life! So much so in fact, he built us a house (at 92 Narcissus Drive: intersection of Narcissus and Peppertree). It was a large U-shaped house, with a 'picture window' in the living room (view of Santa Catalina Island). I used to hike up into the hills above us. I had my own room beyond the kitchen. We had a lawn, and I had my own basketball court and golf green. My father even had a 'bomb shelter' built (the Ruskies where going to bomb us) I used as a 'club house,' although dark and damp. Across the street was a vacant lot with some eucalyptus trees where I built a tree house. One day the owner came and was upset (hadn't asked permission). I'll never forget his exact words, 'Who gave you permission to pull off this little caper?' I had to tear it down! It was a harbinger of things to come...

I don't know if my father got rich, but Christmas was bountiful. Santa Claus came down our chimney laden with gifts beyond lists. Even my mother had moments of happiness. We thought we had 'arrived!' This was the 'American Dream' fulfilled!

And then one day it began... First we couldn't close the casement windows. Next we started seeing cracks in our sidewalks. Then there were cracks in the walls, and the plumbing was affected. It got worse. We started asking around. Were we the only ones? Other homes were being affected in the same way! What the hell was going on? I guess you could call it a 'slow earthquake!' I was too young (fifteen-years old) to understand the repercussions. I escaped by riding my ten-speed bike to Marineland (of the Pacific), an aquarium, newly opened.

Things got worse, I could see it on my parents faces. Our house started falling down around us. It was weird! For years nobody knew. The couple down the street started jacking up their house as the hill sunk beneath it. They had been building it on their weekends for years and weren't going to give up!

Many houses were affected in the area. The real estate deals my father had made began to 'crumble' like the houses. The money began to slow, and finally stopped. He started drinking heavily! Our 'American Dream,' turned into a nightmare!

I don't know how long it was between the time we first discovered something was wrong, until the time when we had to move out (maybe a year?) My parents, along with other residents in the area, refused to believe that their lives were being 'washed to the sea!' Nobody knew exactly, even the geologists brought in, what was the cause of such (a 1/2 mile strip of land moving toward the Pacific Ocean 1-2 inches per day). All I remember is having to sell our $23,000-dollar house for $500, and moving back to Tucson, Arizona. I don't think my father ever recovered from it! All his real estate deals were nullified. All the money he had imagined in his bank account suddenly vanished like smoke.

Now, if you go to where our house was, there's a very deep ravine! The last time I was there I could make out the remains of our brick fireplace some thirty-feet down -- we had built our house right on a fault! I haven't been there since, so have no idea what it's like now, if that strip of land is still making it's way to the Pacific Ocean. Or, if the neighbor's house is now 'jacked up' a hundred feet!

Ultimately, it was discovered that the Country of Los Angeles, by building Crewshaw Boulevard all the way to the Pacific Ocean (over the hill and down to Portuguese Bend), had triggered this movement with a series of explosions (blasting). Seems, according to geologists, there are two layers of diatomaceous earth ('down there'), and by nature, this is 'slippery stuff.' So, the explosions, had caused the top layer to start sliding over the bottom layer.

Eventually there was a 'class action' law suit, the owners winning against the County. Unfortunately, we (as a family) weren't a part of it for reasons I've never understood. So, we got nothing out of the entire episode, nothing but grief and sorrow!

Back in Tucson, things went from bad to worse. My father basically couldn't hold a job. I don't think he gave a shit whether he lived or died! Eventually he just disappeared! I remember my mother telling me. I and my younger sister were the only ones still living at home at the time. I must have been a freshman at the University and working full time at KVOA/4, a TV station. I can't remember how I felt about this (I was drinking too)...I thought maybe I was living a movie story, as it all seemed so unfair. My mother was trying to hold things together for my younger sister and I, mostly my sister as by now I was almost out the door.

One day my mother came to me, as she'd found out where my father was living (back in California). She knew the woman (Virginia) he was living with (in Pacific Grove, next door to Monterey). She wanted to go there and rescue him, or maybe to confront him and Virginia. She wanted me to drive her there.

I don't remember driving there. But, I remember all the rest! We checked into a motel. She had the address. She wouldn't go, but wanted me to. I'm not sure why. Maybe... Who knows... I went one day, not knowing what to expect. But, I can tell you the next 'sequence' of events, the most poignant of my life!

I knocked on the door. My father opened it! He didn't recognize me as so far gone from alcohol abuse. I started crying! Virginia recognized me and rescued the situation. She explained I was his son. He suddenly acted like he knew. I didn't know what to say, or how to act (too young to deal with this kind of trauma). Again, Virginia helped. I told her I was with Mary, and she was in a motel nearby. I never stopped crying the entire time I was there. Here was my 'hero,' my father reduced to a gurgling mass of stupidity! He couldn't survive much time without sucking on a wine bottle. It was simply too much for me to endure.

I returned to the motel, tears streaming, completely bereft of any sense of what had happened. It is probably the worst thing that can ever happen to a son (a daughter), to see your father destroyed right before your eyes! My mother wanted to know everything... I couldn't tell her he'd never even mentioned her name. All I could manage was that he was alive. We cried together, as she loved him still!

We spent the next week trying to coax my father to leave Virginia, and come with us. She helped, along with my sister Sally, who lived in Hermosa Beach, California with her husband Pete. She was pregnant at the time, but insisted we bring my father 'home!' Finally, he relented.

The drive from Pacific Grove to Southern California was memorable! We had to stop at every liquor store he caught sight of and buy another gallon of rot-gut wine! He was pathetic by now!

I remember the last time I saw my father alive lying in bed at my sister's house. I was departing to return to school and job in Arizona. He said, 'Be careful! I'll see you back in Tucson!' I didn't know he was terminal! He died not too long afterwards of cirrhosis of the liver! He had committed suicide the slow, painful way!

At the same time my mother was dying of breast cancer (what a metaphor)! Sounds like an Ingmar Bergman movie when I think about it. She'd had had a radical mastotomy, and was taking radiation treatments (when they didn't know what they were doing). No wonder she took to drinking, the pain must have been unbearable! I wasn't much help to her as trying to avoid the trauma. I just couldn't deal with it. I think in some ways I blamed my mother for my father's demise. I was mean to her! When she died I was secretly glad!

I was free of both of them finally, of their traumatic marriage and all the suffering which had befallen our family. I would leave it behind! I thought... Little did I know how all of this would affect me, almost destroying my life as well!

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Our Duty to Share! (dedicated to Marilyn)

Beauty is pleasing,
Easing the pain;
'Tweaking' the brain!
Different for 'everywon,'
Never quite done
As always on the run!

Beauty pleases,
Seizes the moment,
Eases the pain,
A treasure trove
Of pleasure!

Sometimes visual,
Sometimes aural,
Sometimes tactile!
This 'thing'
Called 'beauty,'
Our duty to share!

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

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'Saturn Twice' (continued)

Continuing westward from Akron, Ohio I managed Indianapolis in three days. We had lived there when I was a child. Later, I covered the 'Indy 500' Race for ABC Sports in Indianapolis.

The only things I remember about Indianapolis as a four-year old child, was asparagus growing in our backyard, and a ghost in an abandoned house where we (a group of neighborhood children) played.

The only things I remember about the 'Indy 500,' Race (when 29-years old, covering it for ABC), was driving on the wrong side of the street (against traffic) to get there on time, and 'Gasoline Alley.'

Funny how some memories 'stick,' while others fade.

I 'broke down' (chain) in Indiana and had to take the bus to Peoria, Illinois. I had a friend (Mitch Renner) living with his father in Peoria. He'd invited me to visit. His father picked me up at the bus terminal, which ironically, is a part of the airport terminal in Peoria. I stayed with them Christmas and New Year's. It was a lovely respite.

The Renners lived north from downtown in a middle-class neighborhood, at the end of a dead end street. I parked 'Ms. Fiets' in their garage, and slept in their guest bedroom. They had a Christmas tree in the living room. On Christmas, we went out to dinner at a restaurant that was near a University (thus 'hip' with the things to eat Mitch and I might choose). Mr. Renner paid.

I'd never been in Peoria before, but discovered it to be an interesting mid-western town on the Iliinois River. Once I had a new chain I cycled everywhere. I remember one very cold day cycling around the area with a large group of locals, this organized by one of the bicycle shops. This on the east side of the Illinois River.

While in Peoria I discovered that the comedian, Richard Pryor had been born there. Then I remembered my ex-boss at KVOA/4 (Tucson, Arizona), Fred Vance was from Peoria. And what's the old show biz saying about Peoria? 'If it plays in Peoria...' Meaning Peoria is the most typical of American cities, and if they understand it there, it will be understood everywhere in the U.S.

I remember New Year's Eve (2000) was the big worry about 'Y2K,' or 'Millennium bug' (had to do with computer dates represented by only 2 digits, and what to do when going from 99 to 00? Actually little went wrong!). Also, there was a big worldwide TV spectacular ABC produced that 'old iron hands' Goodman directed (knew him in the old days in the graphics trailer on golf telecasts). I think that's how I brought in the New Millennium,' watching Roger's work in Peoria, Illinois.

Earlier I'd cycled downtown having been invited by Mr. Renner to a party. But, I remember being outside, hearing the band, noise, etc., and deciding against it. Thus, I cycled back to their empty house and turned on the TV.

Then on the 3rd of January, I loaded up my bicycle, bid the Renners goodbye, and headed south to Decatur, Illinois, as the next Hutchison homestead. It was a gloomy day, raining in the afternoon. I remember stopping somewhere and asking some women if I was on the right highway to Decatur. I stayed for coffee. I think it took all day to get there to Decatur. But, I remember having enough daylight to find a motel. I was dangerously short of 'dinero,' and had to ask for a 'transfusion' from old friend Hank Nadler. I think he begrudgingly wired me 'another' $100U.S. But, listen to this story! Trust me, he'd done his part earlier when I was living in Nepal.

One day in Kathmandu, Nepal, I received an email message from Hank (home in Englewood, New Jersey). He wrote a question, and I'll never forget his exact words, 'Could you use an extra $10,000 dollars?' How does one respond to this...? I think I had little money at the time. Trust me, I didn't wait too long to respond, we figured out how to get the money into my account in the U.S. There was some problem, but I can't remember exactly what it was. He had had this money in cash in his washing machine in the basement of his house. I don't know what the deal was exactly, but I didn't pry! It was all too strange! Ever had someone deposit $10K U.S. into your bank account, no strings attached, and requiring nothing of you (it wasn't a loan, but a gift!). Thus, Hank Nadler shall always remain high on my list of loyal friends (had known him from my ABC Sports days)!

Decatur, in southeastern Illinois... I remember the library and a bicycle shop nearby. But, where I needed to go was Mount Zion, a 'city' (suburb now) about 15 miles southeast of Decatur. This is where my great grandfather had had a farm. One day I cranked out there around a lake. I had information where the farm might have been (200 years prior). Now, of course, impossible to locate exactly, but I think I came close.

The next day, I struck out for Jerseyville, a town where my grandfather had married my grandmother.

Jerseyville is southwest of Decatur, and not that far from St. Louis where I was born. This was the first place where I knew something about my own family history. My grandfather had married, then lost his first wife, only to marry a Leftwich. This was my grandmother we called her 'Hutchie!' Camden Robert, his given name, worked for the Illinois-Central RR, and the reason for living in Jerseyville. This must have been circa. 1880...

The old RR station had been torn down, of course, but I tried to find it, a 'detective' solving a mystery. But, I knew I'd walked in my grandfather's footsteps, as they said the new one had been built over the old one.

Also, I went looking in the cemetery for some evidence of Camden's first wife, or any Hutchisons, but found nothing.

Jerseyville, Illinois... I remember having my picture taken in front of the library there (see at www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery/ Other than that, I remember the motel was inexpensive. But, not much else It seemed to have only one main street (north - south).

From there I cranked to St. Louis, Missouri. I remember stopping at a coffee shop on the Illinois side and asking for directions. A woman suggested a shortcut, a bike path, that went along beside the Mississippi River. It was some of the best riding of the trip, conjuring up thoughts of Mark Twain, 'Tom Sawyer, and Huckleberry Finn.' I crossed both Rivers on a huge bridge, thinking how muddy the Missouri River was... I ended up on the 'beltway' highway surrounding St. Louis, but far in the north. I knew I had to get to the southwestern part of St. Louis, as that's where we'd lived when I was born. At the time, 1940, my parents were living on Warson Road in a I community called La Due. Sally, my older sister, would know for sure?

I remember lots of traffic on this highway. By the time I got to the west side of the metropolitan area, the sun was beginning to set. I happened to have noticed a motel on the other side, but how to get there, on one of these 'limited access highways.' I had to continue miles before able to cross, and then had to pedal back. But, the motel was good (I could wheel Ms. Fiets right into my room on the ground floor) and reasonably priced. I think I stayed there for two nights.

I was in St. Louis, Missouri, in quest of the hospital where I was born.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

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Capitalism is based on exploitation of resources. Be it, people or the earth and/or the sky! Is this good? Well, it's what we have at the moment, and maybe not so good. This, in light of the current (2009) suffering as created by us (the capitalistic system). But, what should replace? I don't know! I don't have a Universal substitute, or maybe it is 'uni-versal.'

My ideas have to do with the in-dividual. That any change for the better involves us, and not 'them.' That change for the better must come from us, in-dividually, first. From the in-side, not the out-side.

The reason that we avoid such is that it means facing the 'truth,' that 'We have met the enemy and he is us!' It means not projecting wrong doing on the outside to some 'object' (like 'them'), but assuming it's subjective, and taking the responsibility ourselves for whatever has gone wrong. That the answers lie within ME, and not YOU/THEM! That it's 'me' that needs to change, not YOU/THEM. 'You/Them' have to change on their own, in their own good time!

I know personally, we're at the very beginning of human development, even though the 'homo sapian,' has been upright on the earth for at least 1.5 million years. We develop slowly, if not at all. This may be our 'fatal flaw!'

This is why in our 'short' time we have been here we have 'created' saviors (religions), as we know intuitively that we cannot save ourselves! But, is that true? No, I don't believe we can't save ourselves. But, to do so requires 'metanoia,' and it appears this happens only over eons of time (if at all).

What would substitute for capitalism? 'communism,' in its pure form. The reason 'Communism' hasn't worked it's always corrupted by human nature as, 'Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely!' You only need to have lived awhile and read history to understand this!

communism in its purest form is just more 'sharing.' It means less exploitation, or exploitation with a heart.

The Native Americans knew how to treat and kill animals, so they might live. The way we treat and kill animals now is heartless, brutal, and creates the opposite of what we need: safe, delicious food, or a loyal pet. The American woman should have known not to feed her pet chimpanzee, Xanax!

We just need to be more heartful, and less headful in our 'exploitation' of resources!

Maybe the 'new' system should be called, Heartfulism! Maybe, 'Metanoia-ism,' Or, better yet, you come up with a name! It can't be just a word, or name, however, it must be lived! And this requires that we ALL change!

I have as my 'signature' on my email messages (by another author): 'Change before you have to!' Now, we're having to change in a painful way! But, wouldn't it have been easier, better, if we'd been able to see this coming and adjust before we 'hit the wall' going 100-miles/kilmeters per hour?

Learn to anticipate (in yourself) when you're going in a 'wrong direction,' and correct your 'course' before you have to! It's much less painful! Additionally, it sets a good example for others to follow!

We can save ourselves if we become more aware and develop our own consciousness!

Use the following as a 'chant' or prayer, koan, or mantra (from Deepak Chopra):

I am no doubt!
I am no fear!
I am consciousness!
I am potential!

F.A. Hutchison
from China

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