By Kyle K. Mann
Greetings, readers. Today I’m going to start something that I’ve never seen or heard of… Write and publish a journal with exactly 40 years between it. Tailored for the website Gonzo Today .com, I should emphatically express my deep gratitude to the editors there, who have encouraged me to launch this project.
This being 2015, the younger me was just getting off the ground as a daily journal keeper in that strange year of 1975. The Vietnam War was about to be lost, Nixon was gone, and the grotesque yet fun era of the mid 70’s was in full swing. It was party time. But I wanted to keep a record, inspired by Hunter Thompson and Jack Kerouac, and a host of science fiction writers including Jack Vance and Robert Silverberg. So I began to write, and it became a habit.
40 years later, I look back on these entries, scrawled in print into empty journal books with a variety of skipping pens and blunt pencils, with a mix of quizzical humor and occasional horror. I had made sporadic entries from 1972 to 1974, a period largely spent on the Big Island and Maui, but the following launched a nearly daily excursion into an ongoing look at my mad life at age 23. Drugs were commonplace and often required, and I smoked pot and took acid with the best of them.
Indeed, LSD had fascinated me from age 15, when it was still legal. It, and other psychedelic substances like mushrooms and mescaline, illuminated my life with bursts of meaning, color and hope. At this point in my life I had given up any pretense of being normal. I had little money, no car and no home. Yet women, and men, found me of interest. I was as happy as I have ever been in this world.
Some of the people portrayed in the 1970’s journal are dead, even long dead. Others live on, like me, into this Sci-Fi Future we have helped create, or at least tolerate. The dead won’t mind if I portray them with real names attached. The living will have different names, and, I hope, will not take umbrage. But this all happened, from my point of view.
Certainly, I never expected to live this long back then. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to. Yet here we survivors are, pushing through Middle towards Old Age. What I hope to accomplish is a kind of dialog between both versions of me.
The first period of daily writing is incoherent at times, but then gradually steadies down. The one year period from April 13, 1975 to mid April, 1976 tells of my experiences shuttling back and forth, often by thumb, from Marin to Los Angeles Counties in California, at which point something inexplicable happened between this crazy kid and a female I’ll call Deja Tjader. In some ways, I’m still trying to explain it to myself. After that, the madness was total.
And so, with your indulgence, it begins. I was visiting “White,” my long-time friend who let me crash at his tiny house while he stayed with his girlfriend. White, now dead for a number of years, attended Cal Arts, an art college of some note, and which I had visited for the first time. I met numerous wonderful people, including White’s neighbors, Ab Nazarene and Mary Catalina.
My mind thoroughly blown by the freedom of the Cal Arts community, I faced having to hitchhike home 400 miles to Marin. We now fade back, back… to 40 years ago today.
April 13, 1975 10:30 AM Val Verde:
Woke up with a slight weed-over, before nine in White’s bed. Now, Mary Catalina’s solid grapefruit and raisin-oatmeal breakfast riding comfortably inside, I stand at the junction (thanks to Mary) of Highway 126 & Chiquito Canyon and Far Out! a cat in a pickup just stopped and handed me what appears to be a joint of Gold Columbo!
A good omen. Except – I’ve been standing here a while now & no ride yet. And the weather is ominously foggy towards the ocean…
—–8 MILES LATER now standing in front of Mr. White’s “Local Oranges” store. Rode here with David – crazed, Cal Arts tuba player. We proceeded to get wasted on the gold… Bought 3 oranges here at 11 cents a lb. from TL White in person. “They’re home grown – right off the tree,” he asserts. Pack of hogs just blasted by. Still looks foggy towards the coast.
I’m impressively stoned.
And it’s been tough warding off permagrin in the face of oncoming traffic.
1:00 – Santa Barbara. After a pleasant ride here with a VW driving surfer, I’m mired in Hitchhikers Row. Woops. Got a ride to SLO with option to Stockton…. [End of entry]
Ok. It ain’t much, but it was the start. What I didn’t mention was that I had met a beautiful young flautist named Aralee Hambro, and that there was an immediate mutual attraction between us. It was to grow stronger as the days and weeks went by. And the strange thing is, I stayed in casual contact with her for 20 years, but we lost touch in 1995. I wondered what happened.
Imagine my dismay when I found out, only last week, that Aralee died of cancer that very year! My dear dark haired curly headed joyous laughing big smiling babe, I’m so sorry. How could it be that you have been gone for 2 decades?
I take a deep breath. No time for that now. Time to wrap this up and blast it off to the Gonzo Editors. And then get some sleep, because tomorrow is another work day on a TV show, on location in downtown L.A. I’ll be up at the beastly hour of 5:15 AM for big day on the set. Adieu, all, until the next exciting entry…