Sunday, December 28, 2008


by Jim Parks

Larry Smith's life changed forever on a morning in March, 1970, as he sat reading the competition in the editorial offices of a west coast newspaper and lit a filter-tipped Winston "Super King" to go with his coffee.

"Winston," the girl who sat next to him said with a grin. "Winston whom? Winston Smith or Churchill? Where's your blue boiler suit, old man?"

She murmured in her usual way. He wasn't at first sure if she was talking to him, or not.

She dressed and groomed herself the way most of the flashy young women in the business world were at the time. Bright colors and scarves in paisley, incredibly short skirts and no stockings over richly tanned, very muscular legs. Skier's legs, in her case. A dancer's legs.

"Your point is?"

"I just mean, well, like, from a marketing standpoint, they have chosen oxymoron, haven't they? Super King and Winston? A tobacco product produced in a former colony - highly addictive, of course, and exported solely for the purpose of taxation and profit because it serves no real useful pupose. After all, let's be plain. It just goes up in smoke."

She grinned again.

That's when it hit him, the feeling of altered perception of space and time. He could hardly fathom if it was noon or midnight, June or December. Colors faded to a dull shine, then burned brilliantly; sounds came and went, surging in volume and diminishing to a point of tinny irritation to the ear.

He'd been dosed.


He looked at his watch and became engrossed in the weave of the oxford cloth of his sleeve. After staring at it for maybe fifteen minutes, he roused himself when he heard her dialing the phone and calling for an ambulance.

"Mister Smith is having some sort of seizure. Yes, here on the second floor."

They had eaten breakfast together in the greasy spoon down the street. It couldn't have been the coffee. Hot liquids attacked the LSD, rendered it impotent. Must have been in the ice water.

He sighed.

She winked.

"Better luck next time, cowboy. Better living through chemistry, I always say."

While he waited, she slid an Army identification card across the desk. It said she was a Specialist 5 and words to that effect, had a different name than her by-line, naturally, and bore a mug shot of her with the same grin she had fixed on him.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Texas Long-haired Rifle Association

By Jim Parks

It took me a minute or two before I realized that Harry wasn't trying to pretend he didn't know me. He knew me once he got to where he could see me. The crowds passing by on Bourbon Street streamed around us on the narrow sidewalk. Some of the drunks shoved him and he struggled to remain standing.

He jerked his glasses off, tried to wipe them with a very shabby red bandana, and ever so carefully draped them back on his misshapen head. It was a head with a deep crater that ran the length of his part line on one side and there were wide, flat shiny scars that radiated out of a spot on his brow and through his hair on the other.

Harry’s glasses were bifocal, bent, smudged, chipped and sat askew on his head as if placed there by some absent-minded child with curls of greasy graying hair spilling over his eyes and the collar of his olive drab field jacket. He really was an absent-minded, childlike man wandering the streets of the Quarter like a stray dog, a piece of surplus war equipment. To me, he was a fellow Navy veteran, a shipmate.

He couldn't help the fact that as soon as he got a new pair of glasses, they would get all bent up when he went into a gran mal seizure. They usually got thrown off his head. When he took them off and tried to hold them in his hand, they got all bent up.

We gave each other the secret Texas Long-haired Rifle Association handshake.

"They leave this stuff out here all the time," he told me, grabbing a half-eaten hotdog in its little paper gondola and downing it in two gulps. "Can’t take it in the clubs with them." He meant the tourists in their child-like quest to see it all, to see more, to rush from place to place with dollars in their hands.

There you had it, as far as Harry was concerned. He was a child that had stayed too long at the fair, lost his way and could no longer find his way out of the maze, enraptured by the bright lights, the crowds, the odors, the noisy frivolity of the setting.

I asked him why didn't come around the Avenue uptown any more. Why he didn't come see his brothers, just stayed around that old lame tourist trap like that?

He ignored the questions, searching among the uprights of a little wrought iron fence. He found another half-eaten hot dog, this one with congealed chili on it.

He was like a scavenger fish on a reef eating the detritus of others’ feasting and disposing of the inedible.

He licked his fingertips in a dainty gesture that contrasted with his overall impression, that of a man so completely coated with the filth of the streets that you were sure he would have been unrecognizable to family and friends.

He downed a watery cola drink, ice and all, and placed the waxed paper cup in a convenient curbside waste basket that was emblazoned "Throw me somethin’, Mister," the traditional cry of the Mardi Gras parade spectators begging for the krewe members on the floats passing by to throw them beads and doubloons. It was decorated in the Orleans provincial Mardi Gras colors of purple, gold and that funny shade of green.

He had a simple story, simple enough for anyone from our side of the tracks to understand. He had gotten injured severely riding a "Patrol Boat - River," the Navy’s parlance for the PBR, a very rapid little fiberglass number with twin .50 caliber machine guns, plenty of rocket firepower, and the ability to stop in half its length or turn tail in the blink of an eye with its twin propulsion nozzles.

He received a small pension for what had happened to his head one sun-drenched afternoon in a Mekong River tributary as he toured Vietnam at government expense.

"I have the Veterans Administration send the money to a bank account for my ex-old lady and kid," he said proudly when anyone asked.

It had been like a cartoon, he would say. His war had been like a Technicolor movie only it had the logic of a cartoon, the kind that they used to show in matinees. Stuff like the Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner.

There were no heroics. He was lolling half asleep on the stern in the sun as the boat churned down the muddy brown stream. When she hit a mine, he got blown out over the water and he hit on his back. Just as he hit the water, a piece of the hull hit him in the head. In any other war, he wouldn’t have survived, but the medevac system, the Navy hospitals in Japan and California, and the medication enabled him to live in a perpetual state of fat Tuesday.

But nothing would stop the seizures. They came at any old time and he couldn't hide them.

No employer in his right mind would allow him to come on the job in that condition. It was just too dangerous in any industrial setting. In the service industry, it had a very negative impact on the company's image. It turned customers off.

When they found him beaten to death behind a dumpster near Canal Street - the result, they said, of a dispute over who could have a bag of unsold hamburgers left over at a fast food franchise - we of the Texas Longhaired Rifle Association went to the dime store and bought toy plastic rifles so we could drill over his grave in a lonely part of the Port Hudson National Cemetery a few miles north of Baton Rouge ninety miles west of the Big Easy.

We had all met in the neuro-psychiatric ward of the New Orleans VA Medical Center. All of our clique were from Texas, slumming in The Easy, hospitalized for one reason or the other in the ward where they treated nerve disorders and mental problems. Some, guys like Harry, had been long term residents of the domiciliary system because of their war wounds. President Reagan had cut the funding for those programs to the bone and they were now trying to make it in the normal world.

We had determined to keep our spirits up by getting little plastic toy guns at the dime store and drilling in the second line of the Mardi Gras parades, that raucous moving party that follows the parade from its starting point uptown to its terminus at the ballroom downtown.

Funny looking street bums in filthy war surplus clothing sporting fierce looking little black plastic toy rifles, we sent Harry off with a twenty-one gun salute and joyfully upraised middle fingers.

"You know why twenty-one guns?" Fred David, Jr. asked the question as we rode along in Shorty’s old four-door Chevy with the expired Texas license plates. He fingered a knot the size of a walnut on the side of his head.

No one answered.

"It’s because that’s what seventeen seventy-six adds up to. Twenty-one."

"Shut the fuck up, asshole." Shorty blew his nose and repeated himself. "I don’t want to hear it. Shut up."

He had one of those scars that start at about the eyebrows and streaks up and over the top of the head where a bullet hit his helmet and rocketed around inside its curved top.

He was crying softly.

He didn’t try to hide it.


by Jim Parks
100 words
(reposted from December 17, 2008)

Two tipoffs a kid wouldn't notice. We went to the cancer doctor. I was twelve.

Wearing a fedora and marching World War Two tall, he came out in fifteen minutes, grinning.

"Let's go to the zoo."

We didn't spend much time there.

"Place smells like cat piss."

For lunch, rye bread toasted, Spam fried, with mayonnaise. On the crackling radio, Eddie Fisher sang "Oh, My Papa."

He hugged me and cried.At the airport, he said, "No tattoos." I asked why.

Your grandmother wouldn't like it.


"Why? Can't be buried in an Orthodox cemetery."

"I'm not Jewish."

"So, convert."

Fire Opal

by Jim Parks
(reposted from December 2, 2008)

Maria could not get her breath in the humidity and vaporous stink of Nuevo Laredo's Guerrero Street. At ten a.m. the miasma of the Rio Grande, the sewers, the automotive exhaust and the press of thousands of bodies all around her gave her a headache.

They had sold her mother's fire opal, a piece that had come from deep in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Set in a beautiful silver bracelet, it was polished to the point that it shone alternately blue, green, yellow, and in certain light flashed fiery tints of red and orange.

It was the end of something, having to abandon her mother's treasure in a Guerrero Street jewelry shop for walking around money and enough to drive to Monterrey. She felt sick about it.

They could never go back to San Antonio after what had happened with Ricardo and the other rivals for the dominance of the gang her novio, Arturo, had led for years before they made their move on his house. They had only barely escaped with their lives. The memory of the rapid fire gunshots prickled her skin and the tissue behind her ears every time she thought about it. She could only shake her head and say "No. No no no no no!"

Her back ached, her breasts throbbed and milk seeped through her bra and onto her dress in the heat. Sticky trails of sweat trickled down her sides and belly and behind her ears while soaking wet tendrils of her hair tickled her neck. She clung to Arturo's arm as they stumbled along the cracked and broken sidewalk.

Suddenly, two of the vatos locos from the San Antonio barrio where she and Arturo had lived all their lives stepped out of an alley and leveled sawed-off shotguns at them. She gripped Arturo's right arm as tightly as she could and screamed. Then he flung her to the curb and drew his automatic as the shotgun blast cut him in two with buckshot. She lay in the filthy gutter with its cigarette butts and trickles of putrid water running from air conditioners and the back doors of restaurants as one of the vatos stepped over and held the muzzle of the shotgun a foot from the back of her head. She heard him shuck a fresh cartridge into the chamber.

"Hail Mary, Mother of God, blessed art thou among women..."

Morningstar Ranch

For the Naked, Nameless, Homeless and Harmless,
Morningstar Ranch Was Home

By Jim Parks
(reposted from December 1, 2008)

Picture this.

A couple of uptight bureaucrats - you know the kind, good gray men with seniority, white shirts and ties, training, civil service status - have come to inspect the dwellings and sanitary facilities at an "open land" commune in sixties California.

As they approach the gate to the 31-acre property in the redwoods situated in the middle of apple orchards near Sonoma County's Russian River, they are met by a committee - most of whom are stark naked.

In fact, one man who never missed these confrontations was a tall black giant, his afro and ebony skin glistening in the California sun, white teeth glittering as he beamed at the officials with a huge grin, a nude white woman under each arm. Tied around his abnormally large male member there was always a pink ribbon done up in a fancy bow.

These confrontations persisted for years and they always began the same way. "Who is in charge here?" the bureaucrat, building inspector, health code enforcement officer or sheriff's department investigator would inquire.

No one seemed to be able to give a clear answer to the question. Now, it was a fair question, but it seemed it was always very difficult to answer.

It was like the scene in the Vietnam war movie "Apocalypse Now," an adaptation of a Joseph Conrad story that had nothing to do with Vietnam and everything to do with authority and power relationships.

"Hey, soldier, do you know who's in command here?"

The reply, cheeky and matter of fact and succinct, "Yeah."

The character had nothing further to say. Just, "Yeah."

They were in the middle of a firefight at a bridge head and he knew who was in charge there.


Vietnam. California. Berkeley. Communes. Universities, the military, corporations, powerful institutions of any kind. You name it.

People just kept on doing things to let the The Man know HE was no longer necessarily the one in charge.

The critics panned it, the politicians and pundits now deride it, but one thing is for certain, the era of free love, peace, social experimentation, alternative lifestyles - all these things that shook the American culture to its roots - just kept challenging that central concept in ways too numerous to define.

Dominance ranking, as the sociologists call it and measure it by such factors as disposable income and leisure time, was sliding and tipping disastrously, rather like an elegant sterling tea service on a gleaming teak table in a salon in a bounding, rolling yacht on an ocean in a snotty blow.

The Man kept asking the same question and he kept getting the same answer.

Do you know who's in charge here?


So this was a daily scene at the socially experimental Morningstar Ranch, a counterculture enclave that flourished near Occidental, California, situated in the apple orchards and redwood groves of Sonoma County's Russian River country, the neighborhood where the apples are grown, Luther Burbank developed the seedless grape, and some of the finest California varietal vintages are produced.

What was really proven? Quite a lot, really. Mostly, it was about power relations - who has it, who doesn't, and why.

Lou Gottlieb owned the ranch after he bought it from John Henry Beecher, grandson of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the abolitionist author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, whom President Abraham Lincoln claimed was "the little lady who started all the trouble."

Mr. Beecher lost his property when he lost his position as a teacher at San Francisco State University because he refused to sign a "loyalty" oath.

After amassing thousands of dollars in fines and court- ordered fees to bulldoze buildings ruled improperly constructed on his own property, Lou Gottlieb deeded the property to God. All this controversy wound up in the U.S. Ninth Circuit District Court of Appeals, which ruled that if God was named owner of real property on a quit claim deed, then there would be no recourse for the collection of property taxes.

Therefore, God has no property rights in the state of California.

It was a typical joke for the wise-cracking Gottlieb, who earned a Ph.D. in musicology at UC Berkeley and fronted the folk song trio, "The Limelighters" playing upright double bass on the weekly television program "Hootenany" after he arranged many of The Kingston Trio's hit songs.

Think "There's Going To Be A Meeting" and "It Takes A Worried Man (To Sing A Worried Song)."

Gottlieb had a concert grand he put in a hen house at the Morningstar Ranch. There, he played Brahms and other classical works. He meditated, did yoga and clowned while his sidekick, another musician named Ramón Sender Barayón, the son of Ramón J. Sender, the exiled Spanish novelist, played it straight.

Sender was literally born amid the sound of machine guns during "Red October," within close proximity of the opening battles of the Spanish Civil War, in 1934. His father, a native of Aragon, was a member of Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista, or P.O.U.M., the Trotskyist militia whose ranks were filled with international volunteers, including such literary luminaries as George Orwell, author of 1984. He worked as a journalist covering the revolution.

One of the party's founders later served as his literary agent in America after they had both reached New York.

One of Spain's great modern novelists, Sr. Sender wrote the novel Mr. Witt Among The Rebels, for which he won the prestigious Spanish National Prize for Literature in 1936. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970 for the body of his other work, including some which have been translated. They are Pro Patria, Seven Red Sundays Counterattack In Spain, Chronicle Of Dawn, The Sphere, Dark Wedding, and The Affable Hangman.

The Stalinist government of the Soviet Union controlled the funds and the supplies of the Republican effort to resist the Fascist forces commanded by Generalissimo Francisco Franco. During that conflict, the P.O.U.M. brigades found it increasingly difficult to find the means to resist the fascists. At one point, the Stalinists actually attacked the P.O.U.M. troops, though they were on the same side.

One night at the height of the war, a death squad jerked Ramon's mother Amparo out of a jail cell and frog marched her to a cemetery in her home town of Zamora in the province of Castile. There, paid fascist firing squad of assassins cut her down where she stood before a wall and buried her in a squalid grave after the local priest refused her absolution.

Sender, Sr., was able to get his two children, Ramón and Andrea, out of Spain. They eventually arrived in New York in 1939, stateless, homeless refugees because the senior Sender was on the run in Mexico, dodging the Stalinist operatives who were still hunting down and killing supporters of Leon Trotsky, as they had killed Trotsky himself in Mexico City in 1940.

Indeed, he considered the truth of the demise of his wife so sensitive that he took the secret to the grave in 1982 when he succumbed to a heart attack after a long career publishing his novels and teaching in various universities. It was only through meticulous research that Ramon Sender Barayón, his son, was able to piece together the truth of his mother's execution. He wrote "A Death In Zamora" and published it to respectable reviews in 2003.

Today, forty years after the open land experiment at Morningstar Ranch with Lou Gottlieb and such leading lights of the hippie movement as the Diggers, Sender sits in a bay window in a house high on a crazy hill on a sunny San Francisco street where fog comes pouring over a mountain on certain days. He roughs the tangled fur of his wiggly little dog, "Ricky Ricardo."

Asked how to lead and govern several hundred free spirits through gentle suggestion at the height of the psychedelic revolution, the Summer of Love, he readily responds, with no hesitation, "Buy a cow."

Buy a cow?

"Buy a cow."

Why buy a cow?

Near exasperation, Ramón Sender Barayón peers over the top of his half lens reading glasses and speaks very slowly, with the voice of experience, with exaggerated patience.

Because twice a day that cow needs to be milked. Everyone will come to watch or to get some milk or to socialize - or whatever. All you need to do to get their attention is to make sure the cow is doing fine, that everyone gets some milk, and you can communicate with them with no problem.

Here sits one of the earlist experimenters with electronic keyboards, or MOOG synthesizers, one of the organizers of the San Francisco Trips Festival of 1966, a joint venture composed of himself, Stewart Brand, Lou Gottlieb, Phil Graham, The Grateful Dead, Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, Big Brother and the Holding Company and many other bands as well as the signature light shows that later became the standard for rock concerts - all staged at the ILWU Longshoreman's Hall, all staged over a three-day period in January of 1966.

He is very obviously a Spaniard. You can see it in the flowing gray hair, the bushy eyebrows, the heavy beard, the exaggerated gestures when he speaks.

He insists that if I ever suddenly find myself situated on prime property in a garden state suddenly overrun by the homeless, helpless, naked and nameless, I should buy a cow.

It's the first lesson, he told me.

Well, it's a start.

Indeed, all good stories have a beginning. The middle of this story is another thing entirely. Some would say the demise of the ranch through the intervention of the bureaucracy and the court orders to bulldoze the property was the end of the story.

But that's not true.

The end, obviously, is nowhere in sight.

At least, not from where Ramón Sender Barayón and Señor Ricky Ricardo sit looking out that bay window on that crazy hill in San Francisco.

The people who lived at Morningstar Ranch scattered like seeds before a whirlwind. Many of them perished on the streets from where they had come. There are many horror stories involving the retribution of gang wars, political assassination, drug overdoses and outright death by exposure and disease.

Others have thrived in places far and wide, most of them "on the land" at other communes in the west.

Sender continues to chronicle all that in an evolving e-book he calls "Home Free Home."

Very interesting reading, it may be found in "The Digger Archives" at:

The Diggers were an almost mythical commune of people who tended to the needs of the burned out hippies during the Summer of Love. They gleaned produce and scored fish and meat from vendors who were willing to share. They printed instant newspapers on an old multilith in the back of a newspaper delivery van and distributed them to people hungry for information.

And they gardened.

Morningstar was one of the places where they maintained thriving gardens, the produce of which they hauled into San Francisco to feed starving hippies from everywhere who had arrived without a clue as to what they would do next, where their next meal was coming from, or where to go when their luck ran out.

What were some of the lessons learned?

First of all, what of the revolutionary idea propagated by Lou Gottlieb, an ex-member of the American Communist Party, that all should work in harmony in "removing the Territorial Imperative from the human heart"?

Lou Gottlieb called it LATWNID, or "land access to which no one is denied."

Ramón Sender remembers events this way. There were many fits and starts, legal hassles and emotional public meetings. "Anyway, the fact is that from the first get-go we terrified a whole lot of people."


Because, according to one popular definition of the concept by Robert Ardrey, the playwright turned anthropologist, who proposed the notion of human territorial aggression in "The Territorial Imperative," published in the 1960s, humans, like animals, are compelled by instinct to possess and defend territory they believe belongs exclusively to them...Territory enhances an animal's prestige and improves chances for survival. It was his idea that this dynamic drives human aggression.

Gottlieb sought an experimental solution to this thing of human aggression. He saw it as a problem, and that generated a lot of fear, according to his sidekick, Ramón Sender.

The fears all that generated in the minds of the neighbors fell along several well-worn lines.

First, they saw the free land movement "...corrupting our children, which I would rephrase (as) 'offering the younger generation an alternative to the Consensus Reality rat race.'"

Secondly, hippies running around naked, gardening, meditating and making babies they saw as "lowering real estate values."

Parenthetically, according to Sender, "...actually it's the value of the dollar decreasing..."

Neighbors perceived "an increase of crime in the area, including mostly burglary and trespassing."

They suspected "Cultivation of illegal substances such as marijuana, and probably some of the more paranoid thought we were cooking meth."

They feared "The spread of sexually transmitted diseases into the population, along with hepatitis. "'Dirty Hippies' was considered one word."

What lesson did Ramon Sender learn when Gottlieb deeded the property to God?

No one knows who instigated the move. A woman friend of his interrupted his morning meditation to tell him about Lou's problems with the law, the magnitude of his legal fees and court costs.

It wouldn't have been a bad idea to deed Morningstar to God.

Within a few weeks, that's what Lou Gottlieb did.

Later, he learned that John Henry Beecher had already deeded the property to The Goddess "because he was a member of the Catholic lay order of the Third Order of St. Dominic which occasionally met on the property. "They consecrated the ranch to the Holy Mother and named it after her, 'Morning Star.'"

Many people had seen a mysterious vision, the figure of the "Divine Mother," strolling through the trees from time to time, he recalls.

Ironically, that may have offered a legal avenue to certification as a tax-exempt and religious enclave community, according to Sender.

"...Lou discovered unfortunately too late to help with the appeal of the deed to God, that under Islamic law, it is possible to deed real property to Allah. It's caled a 'waqf.'...Whether Islamic law could have any standing in an American court would be interesting to research, but it seems to me that it could be argued that, under the First Amendment, Lou could, if he converted to Islam, make a waqf of Morning Star to Allah."

Finally, did the ultimate defeat of the community because of non-compliance with building codes spell success for the principles of freedom?

"Or do you mean 'spell defeat for the principles of freedom'? I think that's you intended to say," said Ramón. "ABSOLUTELY NOT! Okay, so Morning Star was a disaster in the sense that it could never have become a viable community, at least at that time and place, because it was too close to neighbors and too anarchistic in its basic Digger philosophical thrust to have ever organized itself into a self-supporting enterprise. I personally viewed Morning Star as an alternate society shrine where people came to be healed, just like at Lourdes. Other than live-in staff, there only should've been been visitors who stayed as long as necessary and then moved on, taking their healing and the message with them. And many did just that."

Many a young man or woman who had abandoned their lives somewhere in America and come to the Haight to see what would happen wound up totally zonked on psychdelics or other drugs and were basically wandering around stray and at loose ends, incapable of caring for themselves.

The Diggers picked them up, brought them to the ranch, and they spent their first night under a tree sleeping while the condensation dripped on them. In the morning, they found a communal stove in the middle of a meadow where people were preparing some sort of breakfast of oatmeal or soup. As the days went by, they scored canvas or sheet plastic and made a lean-to, then found a way to build a little structure. Some helped out with the gardening. Others went on runs with the Diggers to score food, lumber, anything that could be used to help build the community.

At one point the three septic tanks on the 31-acre place were streaming effluent downhill on the surface of the ground. It all served to madden the public officials and the neighbors. There were issues of public health and safety to consider.

But wasn't that exactly the point, according to Gottlieb and Sender, the two seeming radicals who dared to beg the question?

At some point, faced with their confrontational style, one had to ask oneself, what, exactly is radical and what is conservative?

Every night an estimated 88,000 people bed down on the streets of Los Angeles. They have no home other than the sidewalks, alleys, public parks, vacant houses and homeless shelters.

"If pot's allowed as 'medical marijuana,' then living on the land and building your own simple dwelling should be considered 'medical voluntary poverty' or some-such. And I'd love to find some expert willing to testify to the salubrious effect of not having to pay money to live on some slice of Mother Earth," said Ramón Sender Barayón.

Every so often, he and The Rev. Keenan C. Kelsey. Pastor, Noe Valley Ministry where Ramón retired as the Administrative director of the Ministry and Community Center, submitted a proposal to the San Francisco Mayor and County Board of Supervisors that would allow a triage of homeless by the Social Services Department.

"Proposal: If a person wants to camp out in nature, offer them a 'nature camp' where they can build themselves a lean- to in a hospitable climate (not too cold, not too hot) grow their food, raise some chickens, learn some crafts, and wait for their soul to regenerate. The basic axiom is that Nature is the Greatest Healer."

Where would they do this? On part of the sixteen million acres contolled by the Bureau of Land Management or by The State of California.

"Lumber, livestock, water, gardening equipment and food stamps would be provided."

The triage would be determined by the Department of Social Services's placement in one of three groups.

"Group 1) Willing to be trained and employed. These would remain in the city.

"Group 2) Physically or mentally disabled or drug-addicted, These would be placed in treatment centers, but many of the so-called mentally disabled would benefit by being placed in Group 3.

"Group 3) Unwilling to be trained but willing to 'return to nature' under minimum supervision, following the time-out center therapeutic concepts of R. D. Lang, et. al...Group 3 Program Participants would be encouraged to build their own living quarters - in the 1960s, on the so-called 'open door hippy enclaves,' we found this to be a very important aspect of the rehabilitation program. The participants would be encouraged to create a self-sufficient homestead. The basic model somewhat parallels The Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930's. These TOIN Camps (Time Out In Nature Camps), scattered through isolated areas of the state, would also provide on-site volunteer fire fighting teams during the fire season. "Why don't you take your TOIN (Time Out In Nature)?" could become a catch phrase.

Under the doctrine of LATWIDN, or, that is, Gottlieb's notion of Land Access To Which Is Denied No One, the core idea is to move people onto the huge amount of land that is not in use. Nine-tenths of the nation's population lives on about one tenth of its land mass.

The people of America are now bottled up as never before, according to Ramón Sender Barayón.

At first, people arrived in outlaw fashion by being transported from Europe against their will. Later, the huge amounts of vacant land on the North American continent beckoned when people found it hard to fit in or they were starved out of their villages to make a convenient labor pool in the industrial cities.

Today, the marginal are left to wander the streets until they die.

Image 1 - Credit unknown
Image 2 - Lou Gottlieb, taken by ?
Image 3 - Ramón Sender Barayón, taken by ?
Image 4 - Diggers Free Store Window, taken by ?
Image 5 - Credit Unknown
Image 6 - Credit Unknown
Image 7 - Credit Unknown
Image 8 - "Mujer Pegada, 1985," by Manuel Neri, b. 1930
Image 9 - Ramón Sender Barayón, taken by ?
Image 10 - Credit Unknown
Image 11 - Credit Unknown

If any of these images are your brilliant original work, please e-mail

Blues for Mizmoon

by Jim Parks
(repost from November 2008)

She wrote something hard and scratchy, a she cat with the blues wearing a red slip, something worthy of a woman's worst wrist-cutting moods.

Billie’s ghost lolled in the doorway.

"Pluck the flowers, cultivate the thistles, make them bleed a bit to hear your eight bars, sugar.

They deserve it."

Quiet. So quiet you could hear the St. Charles Avenue streetcar go by two blocks away.

Somewhere on the little park on Coliseum Street she could hear a female cat screaming at her lover.

Her image in the speckled old mirror peered back at her out of red rimmed eyes.

She picked up the spoon with the handle bent back on itself, shook the smack out of the little baggie Murphy had brought her earlier and lit her Zippo under the water she had drawn up in a cap of a Coke bottle and squirted in the spoon.

It cooked, turned brown, brown as shit, bubbled, cooled. She put a cotton ball over it and drew it up in the syringe. Tied off her upper left arm with a piece of latex surgical tubing Murphy had scored for her.

"That’s why they call it shit," he’d said her first time. The abscess had gotten worse where she had missed the vein a week before. It throbbed.

She thumped her arm, found the vein and slid the needle in, found blood, plunged the handle with her thumb and slipped the tubing off her arm.

Warm. So warm in the pit of her stomach and flowing out through the nerves of her arms and legs, under her tits and over her shoulders to center under her ears and around her eyes.

She nodded, nodded off, her forehead resting on an emaciated knee crossed over the other.

Her heart slowed, her gorge rose and she toppled sideways off the stool before the dressing table.

Billie’s ghost strode over and took her by the hand. There were blisters on her first two fingers from trying to hold the spoon over the flame of the Zippo.

"You poor hootchie, had it going for awhile." She grabbed the piece of note paper, folded it and thrust it into her bra.

They floated away, through the screen door and out over the courtyard.

"Murphy will..."

"Fuck Murphy, honey. He never was no good for you, anyway."

They disappeared into the air.

# # #

Outside on the red brick walls of the place next door, moonlight and the harsh amber street lamps projected swaying, clawing outlines in shadows and shapes - hydrangeas, pyrocanthas magnolias, azaleas, jasmines - they all looked like monsters and witches posing and posturing in the night.

Murphy stroked on up Prytania Street, bouncing and weaving like a boxer on the balls of his feet the way he hit his bars on the tenor, feeling the pavement and the shock of its contact all the way through his frame. He wore his sunglasses and a stingy brim porkpie hat over a top coat in the late night cold. The rumpled sharkskin suit let the sharp March winds through its creases and seams. The tails of the topcoat streamed out behind him in the wind. Murphy was field hand big and strong; his hands were splayed and calloused, easily able to span the keys of the tenor. His barrel chest filled the big horn with wind and his massive shoulders bore its weight on the neck strap easily, as if it was a toy, something he’d found in a box somewhere just waiting for that one special dude to come play with it.

Murphy was in a hurry to get back to the pad. They’d been away for a couple of weeks, he in Parish Prison and she - Mizmoon - in the detox unit at the infirmary in Charity Hospital. They’d both been very sick. Then, when he got out, he found her back at the crib off Coliseum, clean, crying and trying to heal up the abscessed lesion on her left arm. He doctored her with epsom salt baths, antibiotics and clean bandages.

They had worked a scam on a square at the Hilton. Murphy, his street name because he was adept at the game, had beat a fool for his American Express card. He’d told a lame, a little business guy from Detroit he had met in a jazz gin mill, that he could score him some hash down a dark side street in the Quarter and socked him in the back of the head with a padlock wrapped in tape inside a sock. It made a sick little thud when it hit him.

They’d checked into a room in the hotel, then he’d done a cash advance number to get enough to pay the bell captain off.

Just like clockwork, the mark, another horndick daddy’o from the expense account business world, had arrived in the room. Mizmoon had phoned for a half pint of whiskey. Murphy showed up shortly after, screaming his outrage at finding this poindexter with his "old lady," brandishing a .38 and bitch slapping the guy around with his other hand.

The man gave up all he had, his eyes flashing wildly from side to side like a steer driven before a herd to slaughter, and it was more than two thousand dollars. It was enough to get his horn out of the pawn shop, pay the rent on the place, and score her a little taste to get her over feeling so sick while he went downtown to get a stash. They could live.

Meanwhile, the mark fled into the night with the cooperation of the house detective and the bell captain. After all, they were trying to help him keep from getting involved in a scandal. He’d hidden his face and eyes when they put him in a taxi at the service entrance in an alley behind the hotel.

His first split down at the shotgun house off Elysian Fields made him sick, so sick the world turned into an old black and white television doing horizontal flips in a nightmare motel world and getting fuzzy while he nodded on a couch filthy with animal hair and food stains. A dog licked his face.

It was amazing, but the heavily muscled two hundred-fifty pound man could do nothing about a twenty pound dog licking his face.

"Go ‘way. Get th’fuck ‘way f’m me, mothafucka’," Murphy said, lolling on the couch and making half-hearted attempts to backhand the dog.

It had been a little while since he’d gotten down and the dope hit him hard. It happened that way sometimes. His resistance was down after kicking cold turkey in the cell at Orleans Parish Prison, his bowels squirting and his nose running while he scratched at imaginary bugs on his skin and had cold chills and hot sweats.

Stoned out, he drifted in and out of remembering scenes with Mizmoon. The way she used to look at him on the bandstand while he played his breaks in her blues tunes.

He’d gone for coffee one night with a crowd in Chicago, rapping away the hours before dawn in the diner after gigging in a South side club, and they’d found out they were both river trash - he from Cincinnati, she from Paducah.

River trash. It was a feeling, a pose against the world, a remembrance of when people and things moved by water, the flow of the rivers.

He really dug her looks, curly red hair and freckles, a big rack, blue-blue big eyes and a little girl laugh. But when he heard her sing, he flipped. It was a fey little lady voice that would suddenly turn hard and mean, then hurt and wild by turns, moaning, screaming, outraged, placating, babyish and purely sexual with each turn in tone and timbre.

"Where’d you get that?" he’d asked her one day in a crummy little hotel room in the Loop after an el train had passed clattering by.

"Get what?" She was hanging up her stockings on the shower rod and she looked at him over a naked shoulder with an evil angel tattooed on its back side.

"That. That song you were just singing."

"Oh, that." That little girl laugh. "I just wrote it, just now, while we were screwing."

"While we were screwing."

"Yeah, while we were screwing." She giggled.

She had screamed his name, called him a whore dog, a fuckin’ tramp, a lowlife fool, told him to sock it to her, to hurt her with his "thing." She clawed at the skin of his back, beat her little fists against his chest, slapped at his face, then demanded more and more.

He liked to make love to her while she still wore her stockings and a garter belt, her glorious femininity spilling out of bra, blouse, skirt, shoes, jewelry. She was just right for the part and dressed for it, too.

She sang it again and it was solid. In fact, it was dynamite. He did an arrangement, fiddling around the piano in an old church, and they did it that Sunday afternoon at an open jam in a club where he gigged a lot during the week. The cats got into it. In fact, the dude running the session started getting guys up to join in and they did chorus after chorus of the tune. When they were finished, everyone in the joint was on their feet, shouting.

They both felt that glory train people feel sometimes, that thing that’s actually bigger and better than anything a dude or dudette has to offer alone. It pulses and pushes and takes over, and in the total rush it leaves a trail of psychic joy and total immersion in the beat, the harmony and the rhythm and realization that it is something that actually brings the people together as one big being before it is over.

When it’s over, it isn’t really over.

There is an afterglow. There’s an obsession that one can get it back, that glory train feelng. People will do almost anything to get it, keep it, get it back again.

They had been looking for it ever since, holding on to each other through one junkie scrape after the next and they drifted on down to New Orleans, gigging, scamming, hustling - looking for that last chance union with God, with the divine. Looking everywhere, in the music, in time, the river, the sound of marching feet, the tones of horns and singers and the cadence of drummers, cooking smells, and spicy sauces.

He swung up the stairway, sprung the screen door and half kicked it in, all the while talking to her in soft tones.

"Yo, honey, I got the stuff and wait until you get a taste. We can get right and stay that way. You know what? I want to work on that new song you wrote just before I got busted? You know, the one about how I looked the first time you saw me blowing my horn and...

"He saw her in the mirror first, stretched out on her back with spit drooling down out of her mouth and her eyes rolled back in her head. It wasn’t really her, was it?

Mizmoon in her red slip with filmy, milky blue dead eyes looking way up over and behind her forehead at a spot on the ceiling where there was nothing, really, to look at.

He grabbed her up and tried to make her stand. Threw her on the bed, slapped her face, raked his knuckles down her breastbone, breathed air into her mouth while he pinched her nostrils, massaged her heart through her chest, pushing down on the ribcage with all his might.

All he heard or felt were some hideous bowel sounds from this cadaver, this body that was once her and now would never be her again.

Mizmoon was no more. He grabbed his horn, threw a few things in a plastic bag, some shirts and socks, a toothbrush and razor and got all the way down the stairs before the shock wore off and he started to cry.

By the time he caught the St. Charles Avenue trolley, he was starting to get over the panic of the thing that had just happened, that he had just discovered. After all, it could have been him and he couldn’t afford to get caught with a dead girl in his room, not the way things had been going, certainly not with what had just gone down - the Murphy game on the mark, the AmericanExpress card, the dope in his pocket he couldn’t afford to lose.

He jumped the first thing northbound. Memphis would do for starters.

© Jim Parks 2004