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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Janis Joplin Leaves Big Brother and the Holding Company

'She grinned. “Yeah yeah, I’ll tell ya later. Let’s get to this interview first. I want to get it over with. I’ve waited long enough to say my piece.”
     I thought that her words were strange but I got up to get my new tape recorder, my pen, and my tablet. Before turning on the recorder, I said, “If there is something you want to say to me as a friend, just tell me and I’ll shut this thing off. If there’s something you want taken out of the interview after I type it up, once again, just say so.”
     “Thanks for that but I’m coming out with it all. Fuck ‘em if they don’t like it.”
     Once again, I had no idea what she was talking about or who, in particular, she was lashing out at, but I turned on the machine and began the interview. “I guess the question everyone wants an answer to is why did you, after two years with Big Brother, decide to go out on your own?”
     “Well, I’m not totally on my own. I took Sam with me.” She replied with a devilish gleam in her eye.
     I knew that Sam was the guitar player for the band, he had been with them since their pre-Janis days, but he and Janis were very close. Janis talked about him often and always with affection in her tone. “Sam left Big Brother and the Holding Company?” I asked, genuinely surprised.
     “Yeah, man! I mean, he doesn’t have anything against the band. There was no fighting or anything with Sam and the rest of the guys. I think he just did me a favor. He’s the greatest guy I know and he knew I needed help. Hell, he’s the only man I can count on.”
     I took all of this in before asking the obvious question. “Is there something going on between the two of you?”
     Her grin was beautiful and I thought sure she was about to tell me yes. “No, nothing like that. He’s just my best friend.”
     I nodded realizing we had gotten off of the topic. “So what made you leave the band, Janis?”
     Taking one of my cigarettes and lighting it up, she exhaled smoke and looked thoughtful, even sad, as she pondered her response. “It just aint no good for me anymore. I mean, we had some good fucking times, you know? But after Monterey shit just changed. The film really got in between the rest of the guys and me. They fucking resent me! When I first joined the band it was fun, all of it was fun. We drank together, we laughed, we talked out ideas, and we had a good fucking time. Now I’ve got assholes who are supposed to be my friends comparing me to Lassie and talking shit right on stage like you wouldn’t believe! It’s like Port Arthur all over again. I don’t understand why they turned against me so there’s nothing I can do to fix it. Why stay?”
     “One of the guys compared you to Lassie?” I was flabbergasted and a wave of anger washed over me. Janis liked to pretend like she was a hard ass but the rejection she had suffered in Texas had left the worst kind of mark on her mind and her self-esteem. For a member of the band to do that to her was nothing short of despicable.
     Smiling a sad smile she brushed it off with humor like everything else that hurt her. “Yeah. We’re both loud mouthed bitches, ya know? Anyway, it just wasn’t any good anymore. I know what they’re all saying about me. I’m nothing more than a whore who got lucky because of them. I’m just a cheap slut they turned into a star and then I kicked them to the curb. Same shit they’ve been saying for months, man. Maybe they’re right. Maybe I am just a slut with a voice who got lucky. Maybe no one would have found me if I hadn’t joined Big Brother but the way I see it, where would they be right now without me? They had been together for years and no one knew who the hell they were. Imagine their show at Monterey without me. You think it would have been as big? Do you think people would still be talking about it? Shit!” She was getting fired up with every word she spoke.
     “So there was just no going back? There was no way to fix the problems between all of you?” I asked.
     “Like I said, Lizzy, I don’t even know what they are. I’m done with all that. I’m moving on to my own thing.”
     This led into the second question that was on everyone’s minds. “Do you have plans for new music yet? Have you got a new band? What are your plans for your own thing?”
     Looking me straight in the eye she said with determination, “I’ve got a band I’m putting together. I’m making a new album as soon as I can. And I’ll tell you what, when that album comes out it is going to blow Cheap Thrills out of the fucking water!”
     “So your new plan now is to be bigger than Big Brother?” I questioned softly.
     “Not just Big Brother, honey. I want to be bigger than every one! I want to be the fucking best even if it kills me!”
     I felt a shiver go up my spine as I saw the truth of her words reflected in her eyes. She meant every word, alright, and that kind of determination in a woman like Janis could be a frightening thing. “Since Sam’s playing with you, why didn’t you bring him down with you? He could have gotten in on this too.”
     Looking away from me at last, she said, “He’s still doing damage control in Frisco. I swear, the way everyone is acting over this breakup you’d think we were the fucking Beatles! People are taking sides like people do and everyone is arguing about whether or not I had a right to leave the band. Sam keeps telling me that we’ve got to calm down the fans we’ve already got or we might as well not bother making an album because no one is going to be around to buy it. I keep telling Sam that at this point there are the band’s fans and there are mine. The people saying I had no right to up and quit the guys can stay with them. I don’t give a shit. I’ve still got plenty of people out there who came to those shows to see me and they are the people I’ll be making my album for. He’s also auditioning people for the new band. I had to get away from it all. My birthday’s in a couple of days so tomorrow I’m heading down to Mexico for a few days. I just need a break, you know?”
     I nodded my understanding. I could tell that all of this was having an effect on her. She looked tired and I could tell she had lost weight since the last time I saw her. I also noticed the long sleeves and bracelets covering her arms. I could guess what they were covering up.'

As I wrote this book I tried very hard to be as historically accurate as possible. However, there were a couple of times when I took some artistic liberties and the time period when Janis left Big Brother was one such example. In the book, she left in late '67 and sat down for this interview with Liz in early '68. In all actuality, Janis was with the band until late 1968. I have seen many many interviews with Janis, both with the band and solo, and I have heard the stories concerning the way certain members of the band treated her. I have also heard the way things changed among them after they went to the premier of The Monterey Pop Festival documentary and the guys realized that Janis was the focus of their set in the film. Simply put, she was resented. There were people loyal to the band that considered her leaving to be a huge betrayal to the men that were with her as she began her rise to the top. However, she had her reasons for parting ways and they had very little to do with any sort of desire to steal the limelight....She never had to do that. As soon as the world saw Monterey, the limelight was handed to her and the band's fate was sealed.

An Interview With Big Brother from 900 Nights:

Big Brother and the Holding Company- Piece of my Heart: 

Heroin Begins to Take Over the Hippie Scene *Contains Spoilers*

'He looked at me and said solemnly, “Cindy, Julie’s friend, was found dead in her apartment this morning. They are doing an autopsy on her tomorrow but I think it’s safe to say that she overdosed. I heard about it in the great halls of U.C.L.A. but I didn’t get a chance to talk to Julie before she left. She missed her last class so I guess she heard. She’s probably over at the beach.”
     I felt tears well up in my eyes and they were a surprise to me. No, I hadn’t exactly liked the girl but she had helped us get to California, she had let us stay with her, and she was only a year older than Julie and me. She did not deserve to be just another junkie found dead on her front room floor. “That’s terrible.” I said softly. She was by no means the only young person to suffer such a fate on Venice Beach and I was honestly sick to death with that fucking drug that was ruining so many lives. I decided then that there was only one thing to do. Quickly I got up and went to my room where my type writer sat, inviting me to plead my case to all of the people who read my words.
    I had to approach the subject with care. That much I knew. So many of my readers were probably in to heroin and I didn’t want to turn them off of the paper or the message I had for them. I didn’t want to be too preachy. But I couldn’t sit around and listen to another overdose announcement without knowing I had said something that might get through to someone, even if it was just one person. So I wrote the first article ever to appear in the paper, or any underground paper, against a drug. I didn’t give facts, I gave experiences. Relating to people on a personal level usually did more than spouting out Surgeon’s General style warnings. In the end, when I was satisfied, I put my initials on it and prayed that it wouldn’t hurt the paper because I told the truth.'

When it came to drugs with this book, I knew that Liz's experiences were going to be far more than my own. I have smoked pot. Everything else she did or her friends did in this book, I had to ask people about in order to attempt an accurate description of the high. Because of the scene she was in, her attitude was going to be far more laid back than my own. However, when it came to heroin and its destructive effects, I knew she would draw the line and she would grow to despise the very idea of the drug as it took over the scene and the lives of people she loved. It wasn't just rock stars that ended up victims of this drug. Every day there were people in flop houses that either OD'd or got a hold of bad stuff. It killed many then and today it continues to destroy and end lives. There seems to be a resurgence of the use of this drug that personally frightens me because there are few drugs out there that can destroy as completely as heroin. 

An article about the heroin "epidemic" of the late '60's from
The Heroin Epidemic of the 1960s:

During the 1960s, there were long-standing misconceptions about the potential scope of heroin's appeal were rocked as heroin and other drugs gained popularity among middle-class teens. These teens, many of whom were involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement in America, had grown mistrustful of the establishment and sought to defy its codes of behavior. Author Margaret O. Hyde notes that the reality of heroin abuse forced itself into the American psyche: [Heroin abuse] moved out of the slums and ghettos to infect the sons and daughters of well-to-do citizens of middle-class America. The alarm sounded across the country at that time did not emanate from concern about the long-standing drug abuse problems in racial ghettos, but rather was a result of "dope" reaching white youths in "good" neighborhoods.

Patterns of narcotic use dominant in the well-known drug communities . . . "rippled out" to other communities: Palo Alto, California; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Phoenix, Arizona; Grenell, Ohio; and Bar Harbor, Maine, are just a few. . . . Shocked, distraught, unbelieving parents who discovered that their son or daughter was a heroin addict demanded government and community response to deal with the crisis.

Investigations revealed that young, teen-age white boys and girls, just like the boys and girls in the slums, rob, steal, and prostitute themselves, or "hustle," on the streets to support drug habits of $25, $50, and even $150 a day. Heroin also became an increasing concern of the U.S. military throughout the Vietnam War as American military personnel stationed in Southeast Asia encountered heroin that was inexpensive, pure, and readily available from the nearby "Golden Triangle." Military officials eventually estimated that one out of every five U.S. soldiers had become addicted to the drug during their tour of duty in Vietnam.

By the decade's end, law enforcement and health officials estimated the number of heroin users in the United States to be in excess of 1 million.

In response to this startling statistic, President Richard M. Nixon declared a war on drugs in a statement to Congress, and urged them to pass a $370 million appropriations bill to fight the heroin epidemic. The bill led to the implementation of federal programs to educate the public, expand treatment opportunities, and strengthen drug traffic control.

Additionally, the military's new Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention instituted mandatory drug testing and required returning Vietnam War veterans who tested positive for the drug to undergo treatment.

In 1973 the number of heroin users finally began to subside and would be fewer than four hundred thousand by the decade's end. Hyde attributes this decline in use to "changing public attitude and increased financial support for education, research, and treatment, as well as a more balanced law enforcement approach toward the control of the distribution and supply of heroin."As heroin use diminished during the 1970s, however, cocaine use caught on with the American middle and upper classes, and its widespread popularity would eventually help widespread heroin use to reemerge. Cocaine use became increasingly accepted in society as a sign of social status and affluence during the 1970s, and media coverage of the drug's use among the rich and famous enhanced its glamorous image and legitimized its use in society. "For many Americans," explains Hyde, "cocaine became the symbol of fast-track living which lasted well into the 1980's. . . . In this period of liberalization, only the social consensus against heroin held firm, largely because . . . its use had long been associated with criminals and social outcasts." With its estimated 2.2 million users by the late 1980s, however, cocaine use also escalated to epidemic levels. Connotations of status began to fade as cocaine addiction wrought increasing havoc in the lives of users across the American socioeconomic spectrum—but particularly among crack cocaine users in the inner city. By the early 1990s, cocaine lost its standing as the nation's drug of choice, and the number of users significantly declined.

A Heroin Propaganda Video from 1969:

The Battle of Khe Sanh and Liz's Obsession with The News- Jan. 1968

     ' I will always remember 1968 as the year that the television truly invaded my home. It happened by accident, this addiction we all developed, like most of the addictions of the day. Shortly after we returned from New Haven, the day before classes resumed at U.C.L.A. I turned on the TV and I was shocked by what I saw and the words I heard. U.S. forces in Vietnam had launched an operation to locate enemy units around the marine base at Khe Sanh. The anchorman was predicting that this was going to turn into a battle the likes of which no one had seen in Vietnam. I gave a silent thanks to anyone listening that Eric had come home before any of it began. In all of my years covering Vietnam for the paper I had never spent much time watching the television reports on it. I should have stuck with that. Right after the announcement about this operation they went to a story involving Dr. Benjamin Spock, Reverend William Coffin of Yale and three others being indicted for conspiracy to violate draft law. And on and on it went with the current events to the point that my mind was racing.'
1968 was a year that will probably forever be remembered for all of the violence that took place inside those 12 months. Many newsworthy things occurred that year and it seemed fitting to have Liz develop a bit of an addiction to the news. What better place to start that addiction than with the Battle of Khe Sanh? 


The fighting around Khe Sanh began January 21, 1968 and concluded around April 8, 1968.

Battle of Khe Sanh Overview:

In the summer of 1967, American commanders learned of a build-up of People's Army of North Vietnam (PAVN) forces in the area around Khe Sanh in northwest South Vietnam. Responding to this, the Khe Sanh Combat Base (KSCB), located on a plateau in a valley of the same name, was reinforced by elements of the 26th Marine Regiment under Colonel David E. Lownds. Also, outposts on the surrounding hills were occupied by American forces. While KSCB possessed an air strip, its overland supply route was over the dilapidated Route 9 which led back the coast.
That fall, a supply convoy was ambushed by PAVN forces on Route 9. This was the last overland attempt to resupply Khe Sanh until the following April. Through December, PAVN troops were spotted in the area, but there was little fighting. With the increase in enemy activity a decision was needed regarding whether to further reinforce Khe Sanh or abandon the position. Assessing the situation, General William Westmoreland elected to increase the troop levels at KSCB.
Though he was supported by the commander of the III Marine Amphibious Force, Lieutenant General Robert E. Cushman, many Marine officers disagreed with the decision believing that Khe Sanh was not necessary to ongoing operations. In late December/early January, intelligence reported the arrival of the 325th, 324th, and 320th PAVN divisions within striking distance of KSCB. In response, additional Marines were moved to the base. On January 20, the PAVN defector alerted Lownds that an attack was imminent. At 12:30 AM on the 21st, Hill 861 was attacked by about 300 PAVN troops, while KSCB was heavily shelled.
While the attack was repulsed the PAVN soldiers did manage to breach the Marines' defenses. The attack also revealed the arrival of the 304th PAVN division in the area. To clear their flank, PAVN forces attacked and overran Laotian troops at Ban Houei Sane on January 23, forcing the survivors to flee to the US Special Forces camp at Lang Vei. During this time KSCB received its last reinforcements as additional Marines and the 37th Army of the Republic of Vietnam Ranger Battalion. Enduring several heavy bombardments, the defenders at Khe Sanh learned on January 29 that there would be no truce for the Tet holiday.
To support the defense of the base, which had been dubbed Operation Scotland, Westmoreland initiated Operation Niagara which called for the massive application of aerial firepower to the battle. Utilizing a variety of advanced sensors and forward air controllers, American aircraft began pounding PAVN positions around Khe Sanh. When the Tet Offensive commenced on January 30, the fighting around KSCB quieted. Fighting in the area resumed on February 7, when the camp at Lang Vei was overrun. Fleeing from the scene, the Special Forces units made their way to Khe Sanh.
Unable to resupply KSCB by land, American forces delivered needed materials by air, dodging an intense gauntlet of PAVN anti-aircraft fire. Ultimately tactics such as the "Super Gaggle," which involved the use of A-4 Skyhawk fighters to suppress ground fire, allowed helicopters to resupply the hilltop outposts, while drops from C-130s delivered goods to the main base. On the same night that Lang Vei was attacked, PAVN troops assaulted an observation post at KSCB. In the last week of February, fighting intensified as a Marine patrol was ambushed and several attacks were launched against the 37th ARVN's lines.
In March, intelligence began noticing an exodus of PAVN units from the vicinity of Khe Sanh. Despite this, shelling continued and the base's ammunition dump detonated for the second time during the campaign. Pressing out from KSCB, Marine patrols engaged the enemy on March 30, carried two PAVN trench lines. The next day Operation Scotland was ended and operational control of the area turned over to the 1st Air Cavalry Division for the execution of Operation Pegasus.
Designed to "break" the siege of Keh Sanh, Operation Pegasus called for elements of the 1st and 3rd Marine Regiments to attack up Route 9 towards Khe Sanh, while the 1st Air Cav moved by helicopter to seize key terrain features along the line of advance. As the Marines advanced, engineers would work to repair the road. This plan infuriated the Marines at KSCB as they did not believe they needed to be "rescued." Jumping off on April 1, Pegasus met little resistance as American forces moved west. The first major engagement occurred on April 6, when a day-long battle was fought with a PAVN blocking force. Fighting largely concluded with a three-day fight near Khe Sanh village. Troops linked up with the Marines at KSCB on April 8 and three days later Route 9 was declared open.


Lasting 77 days, the "siege" of Khe Sanh saw American and South Vietnamese forces suffer 703 killed, 2,642 wounded, and 7 missing. PAVN losses are not known with accuracy but are estimated at between 10,000-15,000 dead and wounded. Following the battle, Lownds' men were relieved and Westmoreland ordered the base occupied until he left Vietnam in June. His successor, General Creighton Abrams, not believing that retaining Khe Sanh was necessary, ordered the base destroyed and abandoned later that month. This decision earned the ire of the American press who questioned why Khe Sanh had to be defended in January but was no longer needed in July. Abrams' response was that military situation no longer dictated that it be held. To this day, it is unclear whether PAVN leadership in Hanoi intended to fight a decisive battle at Khe Sanh or if operations in the area were meant to distract Westmoreland in the weeks before the Tet Offensive.
A Map of the Battle of Khe Sanh Bombings:
Fighting a War:
A Memorial to the Men Who Fought and Died During the Battle:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Death of Otis Redding-December, 1967

'The nightly news was on and I made a move to turn it, not wanting to hear any more about the world, when the news anchor made an announcement that had my hand stopping on the dial. “We do have confirmation tonight of the death of R and B singer, Otis Redding. The twenty six year old singer was traveling to a show via a twin engine airplane when the plane crashed into Lake Monoma near Madison, Wisconsin. We go live now to the scene of this tragedy…”'
Otis was tragically killed in a plane crash when he was just twenty-six years old. Six months before his death he was playing at Monterey where Liz got to meet him. She had been a fan since he came out and she adored both the man and his music so when he died, she took it hard. But, because of the chaos going on around her, she had other things to do and this was moved aside so she could worry about her crazy life. I do not know if Otis's death would have been announced on the news like I wrote it but it seemed to work well for the story.
An Article On Otis's Life and Death:

9th September 1941 - 10th December 1967

Widely regarded as the single most influential male soul
artist of the 1960s, Otis Redding was an American artist in his prime when a
plane crash cut short his blossoming career on 10 December, 1967.
He is perhaps best-known for his hit single ‘(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay’ which topped music charts all over the globe and won two
Grammy Awards.
Although his career was relatively brief, Mr Redding’s catalogue of work at the time of his death was huge and record labels continued to release
material for decades after.
His name now synonymous with soul music, he was inducted
into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
Otis Ray Redding Junior was born on 9 September, 1941, in
Georgia, USA. He grew up singing in his local church choir and became something
of a neighbourhood celebrity after winning a Sunday night talent show 15 weeks
in a row.
Dropping out of Ballad Hudson High School in the 10th grade,
he began touring with blues guitarist Johnny Jenkins in 1960 and made his first
recordings that same year with his group ‘Otis and The Shooters’.
In 1962 Mr Redding recorded ‘These Arms of Mine’ with Volt
Records which became a minor hit. Further releases including ‘Mr Pitiful’ and
‘Respect’, as well as legendary live shows, slowly engendered a loyal following
and 1965’s ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)’ broke him into the
He wrote many of his own songs, unusual for the time, and
toured extensively with Booker T. and the M.G.’s during the mid-1960s,
particularly in Europe where he developed a greater initial fan-base than in
the USA.
1965 also saw further hits with ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’ and
‘My Girl’. His appearance at the influential Monterey International Pop Music
Festival that same year helped gain him widespread recognition as the voice of
Aretha Franklin had a hit in 1967 with the groundbreaking
‘Respect’, a song written and originally recorded by Redding.
He recorded his infamous hit ‘(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the
Bay only three days prior to his death. Although it ultimately became his
biggest hit, it actually marked a significant stylistic departure from most of
his other work.
Mr Redding’s death came on 10 December, 1967 when, along with
six members of his backing band ‘The Bar-Kays’, he was killed when their plane crashed
into Lake Manona in Wisconsin, USA. He was only 26.
At his funeral around a week later around 4,500 mourners crowded
Macon’s City Auditorium to pay tribute to a musical legend whose music lives on.
Four months after his death he would achieve his first ever
American number one with the previously recorded ‘(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the
The whistling at the end of the song was purportedly
improvised on the spot after Mr Redding forgot the words.
In 1999 he posthumously received the Grammy Lifetime
Achievement Award and 2002 saw the unveiling of a memorial statue in Macon’s
Gateway Park.

Morrison Gets Arrested in New Haven- Dec. 9, 1967

I am posting part of the scene but not the entire night in jail and all of that. I am posting only the part where Jim is arrested and Liz goes to jail with him. If you want all of must buy the book. lol 
'I arrived in New Haven early in the morning of December ninth. The crisp, cold air assaulted my flesh and my senses as I waited for a taxi to pick me up. I had a map that Jack had given me and I was headed to a cheap motel close to The New Haven Arena so I could get a couple of hours sleep and walk to the show. I had butterflies in my stomach at the thought of seeing Jim Morrison in action once again. I wondered if he would be different on stage now that his name was well-known and the band had a reputation to live up to. I hated to think that he would commercialize himself but it seemed to happen to the best of artists. Still, I couldn’t imagine Morrison being anything but himself.
     After an hour spent getting ready I set off into the cold night for the concert with my purse that contained my recorder, a notebook, and two ink pens. I realized only once I was in the motel that I had forgotten my camera in L.A. It was something for Jack to bitch at me about and it was something I regretted. Still, I was intent on getting an interview. I had even tried to track down the hotel that the band was staying in without success. At that point, as I walked into the snowy night, I figured I would just have to go about getting my interview the old fashioned way. I would find the tour bus or the car that would take the band from the show and I would make sure I left the concert early enough to catch the guys as they were coming out.
     The show started out great. Jim was performing amazingly well and I was happy to see that little had changed in him since his days at The Whisky. His voice sounded great, he was moving around the stage like a madman, even scattering bits of his poetry throughout the songs. There were cops everywhere but this didn’t seem totally out of place. The Doors, and more importantly their fans, had a reputation for being wild and blatantly anti-establishment. Hell, let’s be honest, we were! Anyway, the band was doing When the Music’s Over, Jim shouting, “We want the world and we want it NOW!” to a decent sized crowd of us who felt the same way. Then, immediately after that song was finished, the first notes of Back Door Man and Jim’s primal scream cut through the old hockey rink. We all went into wild cheering, shouting along with the song because it was just that kind of tune, especially live. Then the instrumental part in the middle of the song began and Jim started to rap about an issue he had backstage concerning himself, a girl, and a “little man in a little blue suit with a little blue cap.”
     The speech has since been practically immortalized in books and in the 1991 Oliver Stone film, ‘The Doors’. For those of you who missed it, it seemed that Jim was “talking” to a girl back stage (when he emphasized it saying “We were just talking” I was among many who shouted, “Yeah, right!”) when a cop came in, gave him some trouble, and eventually ended up macing him. I was grinning through the whole speech and when he declared, “The world hates me! The whole fucking world hates me!” I laughed. It was amusing to me, this tale of his. Anyway, he got through with his speech and he launched back into the song for about half a minute before the lights in the auditorium came on and the music stopped.
      Jim blinked, a look of confusion set on his face, as he asked us, or rather them, why the lights were on. Of course, we had no answer and the cops apparently thought it was a rhetorical question because no one said a word. Then he asked if we wanted more music. We, of course, shouted yes and he began shouting at the cops to turn the lights off. We watched as Ray Manzarek got up from his organ to whisper something into Jim’s ear but whatever he said did not quiet the Lizard King, who continued to shout. That’s when things went from bad to worse for the God of Rock. 
     I will never forget the cops rushing the stage and Jim, calm as I had ever seen him, holding out the mic to an officer, telling him to say his thing. I thought it was amazing, this subtle yet blatant defiance. However, the New Haven police department was simply not amused. That’s when they grabbed him, obviously arresting him right on stage! I fled in a rush and I was out of the auditorium by the time the cop declared the show over. Eventually I caught up with the cops and I watched in horror as they beat the hell out of Jim Morrison. What did I think I was going to do about it? Hell, I had no idea. But I wasn’t the only one determined to somehow stop them. These two guys, photographers for Life I think, had caught the whole thing on film. As soon as Jim was tossed into a police car they arrested those guys and a couple of others. There I stood, more outraged than ever at what the establishment had done, and I shouted at the officer whose car Jim was in, “What the fuck do you think you are doing, man? What the hell is your problem?” That was it. With two sentences I bought my first trip to jail.
     “You had better watch that mouth, little girl, or you’ll be next!” The cop declared. It was supposed to be a warning but to me it was a challenge.
     “What? Are you going to beat me up? Take me to jail? Go for it! It would be a perfect ending to my shitty week, asshole!” I shouted back.
     Within seconds the cop was on me. I don’t think he had cuffs left so he just grabbed my hands with one arm, opened the door, and threw me in the car by my hair. I still had a little bit of a fight left in me and I punched the window, attempting to break the glass, just to see what the cop would do. All I broke, though, was my hand. “To think, I didn’t want to come to this fucking show!” I said sarcastically. Then I remembered whom I was sitting next to and I added, “Of course, if I had known I would be sharing a cop car with Jim Morrison…”
     “You definitely would have kept your ass at home?” Jim asked with a laugh. He looked like a wounded animal in the moonlight. His arms were behind his back, his clothes were a mess, and the bastards must have hurt his ribs or something because when he laughed he winced yet there was still a twinkle of defiance in his eyes.
     “No, I would’ve come but I would have brought more than twenty extra bucks with me and I would not have come alone! Oh, I can’t wait to make this fucking phone call! I would almost rather stay in jail!” I said with a giggle. I was sharing a cop car with Jim Morrison! No twenty one year old girl in 1967 could have honestly complained about that no matter the circumstances.'

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Doors: Strange Days (Full Album)

'Strange Days blew my mind every bit as much as the first album had. From the first notes of the title track to the last notes of ‘When the Music’s Over’ I sat on my living room floor in awe! To me, it was more than just the amazing tunes. It was the way it all seemed to fit the mood and the moment of the past year. It was sort of like, ‘Yeah, this is exactly what’s been happening!’ The second time I played it I made Brian and Julie sit down and listen and even Brian had to admit it was mind blowing. Needless to say, the review was a favorable one in which I encouraged all who read it to scrape up seven dollars and go purchase it immediately.'
Strange Days was the second album from The Doors and it was released in the fall of 1967, less than a year after their debut album dropped. Again, the music on this album continued to be new, innovative, and completely unique. Morrison and the gang continued to prove that when I came to putting a song together, no one did it quite like them.
Track 1: Strange Days
Track 2: You're Lost Little Girl
Track 3: Love me Two Times
Track 4: Unhappy Girl
Track 5: Horse Latitudes
Track 6: Moonlight Drive
Track 7: People Are Strange
Track 8: My Eyes Have Seen You
Track 9: I Can't See Your Face in My Mind

Track 10: When the Music's Over


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Protest on the Pentagon *Contains Spoilers*

On October 21st, 1967 100,000 people stormed into Washington D.C. for what would go down as one of the biggest anti-war protests during the Vietnam War. The Protest on the Pentagon was very nerve wracking for me to write. It is almost legendary at this point for both its size and the fact that despite all of those people and the many many ways it could have gone wrong and ended in violence, it remained mostly peaceful with only a few incidents of violence breaking out here and there. It has been immortalized in movies like Forrest Gump (Yes...THAT was why Jenny was in Washington that day....and yes...Abbie Hoffman is the guy with the American flag as a shirt that liked to say the F-word A LOT!) and the mini-series The 60's. So I not only had the task of doing it right and making it as accurate as I could using what I could read about it, I also had to try to do it in a way that made it unique to the book somehow and not just like all of the other recreations of it. I wasn't going to post the actual part because it is long, it does contain stuff you are not supposed to know until you read the words of Abbie Hoffman....FUCK EM'! :) If you plan to read the book and you don't wish to see the spoilers feel free to leave now or scroll down to where I am posting the news clip of that historic event:

     'The few weeks leading up to the protest on the Pentagon were the most hectic of my life. I won my bet with Professor Wilkins and I didn’t drop his class. In fact, as soon as I was able to open my mouth, I excelled in it. Listening to the more conservative right wing members of the class talk about supporting the war, opposing the idea of legalized abortions, and America’s battle to remain ‘moral’  in the face of ‘hippie communist combative techniques’  it was hard not blow up. But, just as the professor predicted, it was a new and challenging task and I learned a lot from it.
     In the middle of all the class related stuff I was frequently swamped by phone calls. As the date of the protest grew near my phone rang constantly, sometimes as late as three a.m. Abbie called often, Jerry sometimes as well, and the students from all over California rang in asking for more details. When I went to cover the Death of the Hippie ceremony in Frisco on the sixth of October Brian actually kept the phone off of the hook until I returned because he couldn’t deal with the constant ringing. Things were growing more chaotic with every passing day.
     One day Brian and Ross came in later than usual announcing, “We have something that will help a little with the transportation.”
     “Well, what is it?” I questioned.
     “That you will see the morning that we leave. Till then just trust us.” Brian replied. I couldn’t help but notice that Ross was beaming.
     “Have we decided yet when we are leaving?” Julie asked.
     “Well, it takes roughly forty hours to get there if we drive straight through. Switch off driving, sleep in the vehicle, pack food in a cooler…”
     “Piss out the window.” Ross offered with a laugh.
     “So I’m thinking we’ll have to leave early Thursday if we want to make it by Saturday morning.” We all nodded. Of course, at that moment the phone rang. Brian rolled his eyes dramatically. “I’ll be so fucking happy when this is over!” He announced, adding, “So I can change the damned phone number!”
      The day of our departure came at last. I woke up early Thursday morning, having packed one duffel bag and my type writer case the night before. I had no more finished making coffee when the phone rang. It was Ross telling me to wake Brian up because he was headed over with the “surprise”. Dutifully I did as he said. Only then did I have time to sit down and smoke a cigarette. “What are you doing sitting on your ass? You just never pull your weight with this shit.” Julie joked, sitting down beside of me. “You wanna flip a coin to see who gets the shower first?”
     “You go ahead but save some hot water. This might be our last shower for a couple of days.” I warned.
     I had just finished getting ready when Ross came in announcing, “Lizzy, Julie, please come out and view your surprise!”
     I walked outside and nearly shouted my excitement. There, in front of the house, sat a VW bus. The fucker was huge! It was used but in great shape. Its original green and white paint was like brand new. Upon the hood, however, someone had added a peace sign colored like the American flag. “I suggested adding a flower to it but asshole here said he would never let me live it down.” Ross smiled through that admission. I was suddenly so full of the loving spirit, I stood up on tip toe and planted a kiss on his cheek. Together we laughed. “See, Brian, you buy her jewelry once or twice a year but I bought her a bus. I could take her from you like that!” He snapped his fingers for emphasis.
     “Yeah, yeah.  You’re going to sell it as soon as we come back so don’t act like a hero! Are we going to get on the damned thing?”
     One right after another we piled in and I was surprised to see six people and Ginger already inside. “We also loaned out my car and Brian’s to eight kids who had no way to go. We would’ve found people for yours, too, if we thought they could get in the door.”
     “Let alone cross the state line.” Brian added with a grin.
     I smiled fighting back the urge to gush thanks at the men before me. “You two are really great. I could have done no better myself.”
     “Coming from the queen of doing it all, that really is a compliment.”
     We all had to decide on seating arrangements because, as it turned out, only Ross, Brian, Julie, and I actually had a driver’s license. We had to form a schedule. Starting out was Ross driving, Brian riding shotgun. Whenever he got tired Brian would take over with me riding shotgun and so on until we got to D.C. It was time saving and sometimes nerve wracking. I personally had never been behind the wheel of a van much less a bus but no one complained. No one dared. The strangest vibe had settled over us all and we were too busy grooving off it to bitch about anything.
     I was shocked to find that I was very excited about this protest. It began the night before we left and it only grew the closer we got to Washington. In my heart it didn’t feel the same as any protest I had attended in the past. I couldn’t put my finger on the thing that set it apart but I felt a strange sense of…importance. It was like this was going to be a bigger deal then the ones before it. This protest was going to make history. Because I felt so good I never entertained the idea that it might be negative, this huge event. It was Brian who looked at me as he drove and I sat beside him and said, “Liz, these things are rarely a big deal unless there’s violence. You know that. Maybe we are going into a situation where we are going to get our brains bashed in. I sort of hope this feeling of yours is wrong.”
     “I’m telling you, Bri, it’s not like that!” I protested with conviction. The two of us had lost a coin toss that made us the grave yard shift drivers for a second night and the bus was silent around us as everyone slept. I smiled to myself for no reason at all except that I felt peaceful and happy. “It’s not like that at all. Watch and see.”
     None of us had even an inkling of how many people would show up. We figured the number would be somewhere near ten thousand, twenty thousand at the most. We never imagined we would see somewhere between one hundred and one hundred and fifty thousand people on and around the Pentagon that weekend. All of us had come together and united for the same cause. Preach peace, end the war, and go home, if possible, without any bloodshed. Because we got there just in time we considered ourselves very lucky that we found three vacant rooms at a cheap motel that wasn’t too far from the Lincoln Memorial where we were all to meet for the kick off rally. Julie and I had just enough time to shower and get ready but we went all out with our makeup and our clothes. Elephant bell bottoms, peasant shirts, denim and fur jackets decorated with patches and pins, and of course, our trademark headbands. These were our every day clothes at the time but they also felt like our suits of armor. We couldn’t save the world until we were properly put together.
     To avoid traffic we opted to walk the few blocks to the memorial. We soon realized that we were not the only demonstrators who thought of that as groups of “our kind” flooded the sidewalks, sticking out like sore thumbs in the otherwise conservative city. All of us were headed to the same place. It was another show of unity. Just as we caught sight of our destination a girl came up to me and asked in a sweet high pitched voice, “You got any flowers, mama?” I shook my head no and she smiled. Extending a bunch of fresh, fragrant flowers from a basket on her arm, she handed them to me as a man beside of her put a crown of daisies on my head. “Spread the word. Flower power!” She then threw up a peace sign and walked on.
     I noticed that others were doing the same, passing out daisies mostly. Flower power, peace, love, love, love! Those were the messages to be spread that day. Smiling behind me at a bewildered Brian I cried out, “See, I told ya!”
     “The day hasn’t started yet, Elizabeth! Just keep walking.” He proclaimed, eyeing me with annoyance as I handed him a daisy. “This won’t exactly protect you from being clubbed, you know.”
     Laughing, I replied in a sing song fashion, “Flower power, peace, and love….Anything is possible!”
     At the Lincoln Memorial thousands were already gathered. Ginsberg was there surrounded by people sitting cross legged and chanting, “Om.” Music was being played. I spotted Abbie and, as I walked around, I saw a group of Black Panthers. About a half an hour later people began making speeches about the injustice of the war and the desperate need to “Stop the war machine from turning!” Suddenly there was a call to anyone present with their draft cards to burn their “death warrants”. All around us guys no older than me began torching their numbers. “Now, let’s go stop this fucking war!” Someone shouted. Just like that we gathered in formation and began marching from the Lincoln Memorial across the Potomac River to our final destination, the Pentagon itself. “1,2,3,4 We don’t want your fucking war!” We all shouted as we walked, passion ringing in our cries. When we reached the lower parking lot that we had to pass through to get to the steps, Abbie and his friends were there trying to “levitate” the building with chants of “Out demons, out!” Around them people were banging on bells, cymbals, drums, even beer cans. It was quite the spectacle from the looks of it but I only caught a glimpse as I charged on.
     It was then that I realized I had somehow reached the front of the long line of people. None of my companions were with me. I thought of stopping to wait but something made me go forward. We charged up a higher parking lot and we found ourselves directly in front of the Pentagon’s main entrance. Blocking our way were the great men of the eighty second Airborne Division, flown in to protect the building from the crazed hippie invasion. We stood there before them in lines, chanting, talking, and even offering them flowers. Then we sat down at their feet as middle-aged marshals started coming toward us armed with tear gas. Although the tear gas was a discomfort I wasn’t really prepared for I decided that nothing short of arrest or serious injury was moving me from where I sat. 
     I sat there in the very first row rapping with people around me and trying to talk to the young soldiers for about an hour before I heard a familiar Massachusetts accent call out, “Liz!” followed by, “She’s way the fuck up there, guys! Let’s go get her!”
     Abbie, his wife Anita, Ross, Julie, and Brian began charging up the steps to me. I smiled, thrilled that they were ok. I hated to be separated from my group at protests because you never knew when and where trouble would break out. I could tell by the look on Brian’s face as he squeezed in next to me that he had been worried as well. “Christ, Lizzy, why did you take off like that? I couldn’t find you anywhere! I finally met up with Abbie and Anita and all we could smell was fucking tear gas…”
     “How’d you like that?” Abbie asked, adding with a laugh, “I fucking hate that shit!”
     “It’s better than the fire hoses!” Brian replied. I was shocked by that statement and the smile on his face.
     “Got that shit right!” Abbie agreed.
     I could only look from one to the other wondering what I was missing. “Quite a turn out we had today, huh?” Anita asked with a beaming smile. I had never met her before but I instantly liked her.
     “I know. Pretty fucking amazing. We all worked hard but, man, it really fucking came together!”
     “Yeah it did.” I agreed, taking Brian’s hand.
      For a while we all sat around observing. Then Abbie and I got into a discussion about the hippies. “See, you’re a hippie but you have the same mind set of us beats.”
     “How’s that?” I asked, intrigued.
     “Man, it’s like…take work for instance. The kids doing the hippie thing now want this free society where no one gets off their asses to do anything, dig? But that’s not fucking possible unless we somehow get all of society to go along with it. As it stands now, if no one does anything to support themselves in a society how in the fuck can a society work? Those of us that were sort of beat, we didn’t believe in working a nine to five every day job but we did things in the movement to make money. Like you and your paper. I even had a paper myself once. Did you know that?”
     “No.” I replied honestly.
     “Yep. Called it Drum. Anyway, can you dig what I’m saying?”
     “I do. I mean, I think we need things like The Free Stores to get people started, sort of help them out when they first come to the city. But then the kids have to take responsibilities for themselves. You can write and make money. You can draw, you can act, you can sing on a fucking street corner but you have to do something!”
     “Exactly, man, exactly! Man, this is really great to be talking to you this way! See, you really GET IT!”
     Our conversation was then cut short. Night had come and the television crews and photographers had retired for the night. Seeing that there was no one around to capture the moment, the paratroopers came forward carrying weapons (which were actually unloaded but we didn’t know that) and sheathed bayonets forming a wedge in our sit-in. It looked as if they were attempting to split the group in half. Federal marshals then came in and began pulling people through the line of troops beating the hell out of the people and arresting them. This was all happening about forty feet in front of where we all sat, just watching, still determined not to move. “If they come this way,” Brian whispered, “don’t get in the way. I’ll make sure they don’t get you or Julie but you’ve got to stay out of the damned way!”
     “You want me to watch them beat the hell out of you and take you to jail without doing anything? You’re crazy, Brian!” I responded.
     Someone was on a bullhorn telling us all to leave. “Getting arrested and beat up is Bourgeois politics. It’s a selfish and indulgent personal catharsis. Focus on the real war abroad!”
     “Why? You fucking chicken shit, focus on the real war going on right here, right fucking now!” Abbie shouted.
    “ This is every bit as real and dangerous as the so called ‘real’ war abroad!” I yelled.
     The point? Unless we were dragged away we were going nowhere! Most people felt the same way because few got up and left. Things eventually calmed down. The marshals left leaving only us and the soldiers once more. At one point people from the city started bringing us all food and joints. All of this was passed around as we sang songs and talked. At one point, after hitting a couple of joints, I turned around and saw three young men in uniform sitting directly behind me. “Do you want to hit this?” I asked, offering them the joint. “No one will know.” I assured them but none of the three accepted. As I looked at them I thought of Eric. They were so young! And they were probably terrified! I felt compelled to talk to them. “I have a cousin in Vietnam right now. He was eighteen when he went over. He’s twenty now. He’s coming home in December and I really can’t wait. Is that where you three are headed?”
     None of them spoke but I could tell it was. The look in their eyes was a triple appearance of a lamb going to slaughter. “He sends me letters all the time, you know, telling me everything that’s happening with him. He was so young when he went. He had never held a gun in his life. And he’s doing just fine. You men will be alright. Don’t be afraid by all you hear and all you see on the news. You’ll all be just fine.”
     “We’re soldiers, ma’am. We’re not afraid to serve our country and we’re not afraid to die for it. It’s our duty.” The cat closest to me said.
     I smiled at him. “You are all patriots. So am I. All of us are. That’s why we’re here. You’re not afraid to serve your country? Well, I’m not afraid to stand up for those who are serving their country. I don’t think it’s right, this war. All we want is to make sure brave men like you and your friends get to come home alive and as soon as possible. That’s all we want. All politics aside, all personal conflicts aside, I am here for all of you because each and every one of you deserve better than this! My theory on all this is that I am for the soldiers but I’m against the war, you dig?”
     None of them spoke but I hoped they got my message. It was from my heart. As I looked around I saw others realizing for the first time that the soldiers around us were our age or younger. Then a chant of, “Join us, we love you!” went up all around. In that moment I felt at one with everyone around me. I smiled, feeling a sense of peace and unity. We all huddled together, demonstrator and soldier alike, on the stairs of the Pentagon that chilly October night and we once more began to sing. Everything was absolutely perfect at that moment.
     At some point during the night we all fell asleep and when I woke up the next morning with the bright sunshine on my face I felt amazing. Brian was awake at my side. Most people had cleared off the steps and were either leaving or wondering around.  “I’m really glad we came.” He said when he realized I was awake. “This really was beautiful.”
     “It was, wasn’t it?” I took one last look at what I could see from the height of the top step. “Where’s our gang? If we’re going to make it back in time to go to class on Tuesday we’d better be getting out of here.”
     I didn’t want to leave at that moment. After we found everyone we came with I hesitated in saying my goodbyes to Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman. Both Abbie and Anita hugged me; Abbie told me once more that I had helped to make it all possible. I felt an amazing wave of pride at that. Taking one last look around, we then set off wishing everyone around us luck.
     That night as I drove with everyone asleep around me I thought of the four page article I had typed up earlier. I imagined the pictures I had entrusted Julie to take and the way it would all look for November’s issue. The event had totally exceeded my expectations. It was more than I could have ever dreamed of. That made the tears that sprang to my eyes all the more perplexing to me. I wondered if it was normal to feel such a deep, painful loneliness after what I had just experienced. Did everyone else feel it too? The feeling that nothing in our world would ever be that perfect again? What could possibly top the events of the past year? The answer seemed painfully clear. Nothing. There’s nowhere to go from the top but down and we had all been sitting on the moon all that year. The only question then was where the hell are we going to go from here?'

And here was how the news saw it:
And here are some pictures just to entertain you:
                           And last but not least...perhaps the most famous moment of the protest: