Sunday, February 11, 2007

5.) The Hitchhiking Years: Stuck Inside Nebraska with the Denver Blues Again


It sometimes feels like the spirit of the 60s - the good part of it - went by just as fast as those motorcycles I saw that day in Illinois. Oh, there were definitely some positive changes that lasted, but it's understandable when you hear young people make fun of hippies. The actual trappings of the counter culture - the endless "far-outs" and other hippie phrases did become tedious quite quickly.

Frankly, I was sort of glad to be an outsider even back then - a guest from a faraway kingdom. I never felt like a hippie, although I did have long hair. Let's be fair: The philosophy had its moments, but the notion of world peace? Well, you saw what happened to that. You're living through it. And that "brother, let's share everything" sentiment? It was a nice thought, but every ne'er-do-well in the land, glommed onto it and rode it into the ground in around 10 minutes. Every scoundrel with the slightest bit of street hustler in him was taking advantage of the situation, rendering it useless. So, don't think for a second, that I was in some idealistic cloud during all this. Okay, maybe I was a little, but when you hitchhike, you're on high alert and this extended to my fellow brothers of the road.

See, the problem was that hitchhiking was not allowed on the freeway itself. The best you could do was move so far down an entrance ramp that they could see you from the main road and perhaps, stop anyway. Thus there were some premium stops - I guess they'd call them primo back then - and it was a definite bummer, dude, if you were hitching away and some new brethren came and took a spot right before you, where they could ensnare the first ride.

This happened to me in the vast hitchhiking tract of the Mid-West. See, back in 1972, I'm sure there were occasional individuals who were going to Iowa or Nebraska, but for the most part, the children of the rainbow gods were heading out to California. They weren't writing songs like, "If you're going to Omaha, Nebraska, be sure to wear flowers in your hair." So the result was the authorities in those areas, knew they had a group of people passing through - hippie stoners of every description - and it sort of ticked them off. At least that's how it felt to me.

So I was waiting on the side of the road on a ramp when these two hippie-types sort of cut in and established a spot around 10 yards nearer to the action. I'm sure this happens to fishermen, when someone crowds them along the bank. Naturally, my new buddies got a ride first and I could see them give a little wave and a grin as the car passed by me: "Later, dude." That was a prime example of what happened to the, "Brother, let's share" tenet of the hippie philosophy. It was a fine line between, "Sure, man, welcome to my stretch of the highway" to "Gee, I've been stuck here for hours and those two rascals just bogarted in and snared the ride."

But then, as with most things in those days, the situation just turned funny and ultimately pretty cool. How would they say it, "We were like bumming, man, but then everything became groovy once again." See, what happened, was that I eventually got a ride and after an hour or two I saw these guys by the side of the road, so I waved to them as I passed and they chuckled. Then it happened the other way and I started laughing as they went by. There was a bunch of us out there that day, and we were all leap-frogging each other across Iowa.

By now, I was much better at my decision making. I had plenty of time by the side of the road to ponder how to do this, and like most things - there's actually quite an art to it. I began to critique my fellow travelers: Deciding if they had a good approach or were making mistakes - not maximizing their chances. Maybe they wouldn't have a sign in an area where there was a couple of options, or they would be in a place where a driver would feel unsafe about stopping. A lot of time was spent hiking to the right spot. I walked a long way some days, and it was like a fisherman making the effort to go to the right hole on the river where the big fish were biting.

It was getting late as I approached Omaha and though I had a ride across the last part of Iowa, I asked to be let off when I got to a nice place to camp. Why deal with a city after nightfall and then the hassle of getting out of the city in the morning? Better to camp in Iowa and get started to Nebraska again really early, which is what I did. I remember the sunset. It gave me confidence because I was snuggled in safe for the night in a nice spot. When that happened, after a long day that included a lot of hiking, I'd take the boots off and get some of the best sleep I've ever gotten.

When the morning light started breaking, you'd be up and pulling on your pants and boots as fast as possible - it was often cold when you got out of the sleeping bag. You'd shake the dew off your ground tarp, and Space Blanket - a fancy high tech NASA product for keeping hot or cold - roll up your bag, and hurry in the coolness of the morning, to get back out there. I'd usually wait till I got stuck later to have breakfast, or dine with the ride, but this was a time not to be wasted. You could get away with things at that hour that would not work later in the day. A cop might just drive past when later he would stop. It was the hour of innocence, renewed hope, and trust.

By afternoon of that particular day, things would be much different. Things became tense and scary. I was trapped in Nebraska and nothing was happening. I was stuck dead in my tracks. I didn't see anybody else out there, and I wondered what had happened to my two hippie buddies - not to mention all the other hitchhikers in the state.

I realized I had to take a chance and get out on the freeway. There was no choice. I was in some kind of four-leaf freeway formation with ramps curving around over and around each other, but I was out on the main road, a sitting duck for the law, especially since they knew I was just passing through and had no actual interest in coming to Nebraska. I mean it's a nice enough state, but back then it had sort of an establishment vibe. At least it did that day.

I didn't put every little thing on the drawing of my travels that I made for my Mom, but this situation was different. It made the cut because it was unusally dramatic. Of my many encounters with the law during all this, this one stood out, which is why it's shown above. And I'm sure Mom was so proud.

What happened was a squad car came around, and I could tell I had been spotted, and that I was probably going to be arrested. Maybe I would just be warned, but who wanted to stick around and find out? I can't describe the exact move I made, but it involved running across one freeway and then ducking down between the two lanes and half-rolling down a hill, ending up on a road the officer had just left. Something like that. He could have stopped his car and chased me on foot, but I sensed that wasn't going to happen. It was like a chess move - he would have had to go down to the next exit, turn around, etc...He wasn't going to bother, especially since he'd still have to find me hiding in some bushes when he got back.

I proceeded to start hitchhiking again, but I was shaken. I mean, I wasn't in it to break the law, but sometimes situations occurred where you had to, or I'd still be stuck somewhere.

Here's where the situation turned fun again, and this - I must say - was a positive example of the 60s vibe that had lingered on into 1972. This classic old school bus came along, painted all weird, and psychedelic, and it pulled over. The driver of the bus was an earth mama-type, and in the back were not only my two buddies that I had been leapfrogging with down the freeway for two states, but a bunch of other hitchhikers I had seen along the way. Yes, folks, we had us a rolling little commune there, complete with wine, weed and song. There were a couple of acoustic guitars - I was a bass player back then so I didn't play - but after getting a good buzz on, a couple of the others were strumming guitars, and we were all singing and having a great time. Incidentally, this did not make the drawing for my mother.

Now, this sort of behavior may or may not sound like fun to you, but if you had been running from squad cars and feeling like you were moments from being arrested, it was a tremendous turn of events. What a relief. We also had a huge discussion where I picked these guys' brains for hitchhiking tips. I distinctly remember them warning me about the cops in Denver, which was where we were heading. File that comment away for the next post.

For now, we were happy, and having fun. Most importantly we were not standing on the side of the road, stuck in Nebraska. You can laugh all you want about the spirit of the 60s and hippies and all that, but on this particular day, it was really working for me.

2 Comments:

At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Thanks for the stories and can't wait for the next installment.

 
At 8:43 AM, Anonymous Tenskwatawa said...

It is ALL so GOOD that you are writing these manifestos. You keep hope and health alive in these dark days of death demonics. And you pass the torch of truth, and shine the light, to younger blogenerations.

Be more confident in the power of hippie Love. Where you get defensive against bluster that ideals are utopian impracticality, I almost lose your pulse, or you almost lose heart. The ambience affecting insults in the '70s, was not the real deal. In my personal experience at the time, and ever after in reflection, there was a distinct break at 1971, and the pure minded days were over. For example, Thanksgiving of 1970 was the last time someone tossed me a baggie with 1,000 hits of acid in it, and said, get back to me on this. That was the transaction: Here's the goods, get back to me.

Everyone who got to the 'counterculture' after 1970, missed it. I was up to Woodstock, for instance, I was on the Jersey shore that summer. By the next year, you missed it, 1970 was like Altamont or something. And all the post-1970 come-late's thought they had arrived, and talk a lot about how long the spell extended, "...to '73." "No, it was '74." "No, I remember in '75." And the same talkers say how bogus Peace and Love was.

Listen to me: Peace and Love is not bogus. It is the value in life. When you get high on Peace and Love, everything Pentagon and all their Fear Flinging In-Your-Face, is all so laughable, because you see right into them they are empty, void of Peace and Love, and they have no life in their ideas and no idea of life. Like the poster of the hippie putting flowers in the barrel of the soldier's 'weapon' -- the one that looks ridiculous is the soldier, and his appeal to the Ego Gods for self-worth and validation in some uniform and mindless uniformity. The military-industrial suppression and attack on mind-improving psychotropics, was as widely wickedly successful at traumatizing the massmind with phony FEAR of "drugs," (though 'drugs' includes coffee and Pepsi and aspirin and all which you are supposed to not think about), as the same offbreeds were successful traumatizing the massmind with phony 9/11 FEAR of "religious fanatics," (though 'religious fanatics' includes Ku Klux Klan, Reverend Moon's moonies, Baptist damaged bigots, Pat Robertson to Dubya Bush and all which you are supposed to not think about). The authoritarian-deranged, who didn't like being laughed at for their stupid self-seriousness by imitation, started in to scare the bejeebers out of everyone about "drugs," about 1959. Early on, the media eradicated education of the differences in the different pharmacologies. Fear by "drugs terror" really got steamrollering by 1964 -- that was the whole 'scandal' significance in the sensationalism of The Beatles - USA events (wink, wink, 'long hair' = 'drugs' = 'crime' and probably unAmerican and maybe even communist), the decade's undertones which you don't hear in the music, and you can't fathom by reading about those years and 'seeing the movie.'

It was the psychoactive's mind expansion versus the controlfreaks grip on the little microculture they grew up in and anchored their sanity by belligerence in, (which is insanity). The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in push-and-shove of Yankee versus Southern politics, went through to passage as much for anything as for the fact that the resistance absolutely just deflated and laid down in the face of the very simple, spiritual, mindful, Peace and Love 'argument' that said, It is the right thing to do, and it is just. No one argued case law for it in Congress, the debates were case of heart. Even the stupidest bigot in creation recognizes truth in Peace and Love when it seriously meets you in the flesh, face to face, and says to you, what have you got against Love, and Peace? When a pastor stands in the flesh, and speaks right out loving-faced, and says, "I Have A Dream, a vision, an hallucination, a revelation, that one day all humankind can live in Love and Peace;" well, there is no comeback against that truth, no argument against it except to show you are a bigot, all that the military-industrial stunted sect can do, like J. Edgar Hoover did to Martin Luther King, and CIA did to JFK and RFK, is injustly murder the truth talker. To understand the power and impact of the 'counterculture' of the '60s, and why it didn't extend into the '70s, you have to know that in context, the psychoactive agents were and are the biggest threat since the Pentagon was invented, to expose in anybody's mind those hollow lies that military is necessary. And by 1970, what eucharist factories they had not put out of business, those that remained, they co-opted by imitating but with poison in the recipe. 1970 was such a total cut-off point it was like a scheduled departure, and the freedom all admired most, just caught the last train for the coast, the day the music died.

So that's why it appeared to you that the "notion of world peace ... was a nice thought," but ne'er-do-wells and hustlers crash the fun, "rendering it useless." No, it's never useless, Bill. You and me are ne'er-do-wells and everyone's a hustler, and whether we render Peace and Love useless or meaningful depends on us as weak or strong for it, since the idea, the nice thought, is the most powerful mental comprehension in humankind. The notion of world peace was over in the '60s witch-hunt on psychotropics, and by the time you got 'your freedom' the mind-control enslavers had the upper hand using military poison. You blame it on your being in the wrong place, overseas. But most of those who lived in the States missed it, too, crouched indoors in fear in front of mighty press propaganda. You weren't in the wrong place, you were in the wrong time. The right time was when the psychoactive psychodelics were around.

There was still good acid -- meaning clean and unadultered -- as late as 1980 that I know of, (MIT), and ever there's the magic mycological, and anytime you get some, you learn and witness Peace and Love extends beyond the '60s and it can be anywhere and seen everywhere. The key insight you seem to miss, Bill, is that the "drugs" are important consciousness development -- a good thing -- going through the doors of perception. All the propaganda lies piled on top of this information makes it easy to miss the insight -- it's a chicken-egg thing, too, that only personal one-to-one can break: When you take the eucharist you see the lies; but first you have to see that what you're told is real is lies, before you're brave enough to take the 'anti-dote.'

The thing to see by flip-of-mind -- you read it here -- is that the psychotropics are good, and good for you, and good for society, and the kind of "good" that it's about IS: The same 'good' as religion's doorways to spirituality. Just as the catholics prescribe a thimbleful of wine, to get out of your mind, about once a year; so I prescribe a touch of magic mushroom, to get out of your mind, about once a year, for the mental health of our society. That's right: Prescribe psychotropics. Make life better. Yeah, world peace is a nice as a 'notion,' but world peace is a heck of a lot nicer, and rewarding, and worthwhile, as a 'life' ... got any?

Mushroom drug creates mystical experience: study, Last Updated: July 10, 2006 -- People who took an illegal drug made from mushrooms reported profound mystical experiences that led to behaviour changes lasting for weeks — all part of an experiment that recalls the psychedelic '60s. Many of the 36 volunteers rated their reaction to a single dose of the drug, called psilocybin, as one of the most meaningful or spiritually significant experiences of their lives. Some compared it to the birth of a child or the death of a parent.

This just in: Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance, October 16, 2006 -- Objectives This double-blind study evaluated the acute and longer-term psychological effects of a high dose of psilocybin relative to a comparison compound administered under comfortable, supportive conditions...
Results Psilocybin produced a range of acute perceptual changes, subjective experiences, and labile moods including anxiety. Psilocybin also increased measures of mystical experience. At 2 months, the volunteers rated the psilocybin experience as having substantial personal meaning and spiritual significance and attributed to the experience sustained positive changes in attitudes and behavior consistent with changes rated by community observers.

MAPS -- December 7, 2006. The Chronicle of Higher Education published the article "Researchers Explore New Visions for Hallucinogens." This article describes the current renaissance in psychedelic research, particularly Dr. Francisco Moreno's recently-published Heffter- and MAPS-sponsored study evaluating psilocybin as treatment for OCD. The article also discusses the recent psilocybin/mystical experience study at John Hopkins, and Dr. Charles Grob's ongoing Heffter' sponsored study at UCLA evaluating psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy as treatment for individuals with anxiety disorders secondary to advanced-stage cancer.

[NB: Those same 'anxiety disorders,' from the same brain regions, (constricted in fear of death), are also exhibited in 'Rightist' and 'conservative' political thought and behaviors -- the iso-selfish-ego-stunted bubble of controlfreaks can be repaired and remedied with doses of psilocybin.]

Entheogens and the Future of Religion, - by Robert Forte (Editor) -- This is a work of responsible advocacy. Forte and his dozen principal contributors seek the wide acceptance, including legalization and mature practice, of "entheogens" -- "god spawning" psychoactive substances (LSD, mescalin [sic], etc.) that are deemed especially suited for use on designated or readily identifiable sacramental occasions.

 

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