Explorers for Multiple Generations
There are myriad ways The Beatles impacted the world—but the most important to me is how their growth as artists matched their growth as human beings. The kind of person you become and the art you create are fully enmeshed in what unfolds in your life. In looking at The Beatles, we see this clearly, and this vision for what we can be and how we can grow as both artists and human beings has gone on and on in their example.
Elvis Presley, The Beatles, & Me
Remembering First Encounters
No, I’m not the one snapping this pic. supposedly taken in about 1960 (Actually photoshopped). I’d have been 12 years old then. But my first encounters with EP and the Beatles are as fresh in my mind today as they were in live, real time back when they occurred.
My first encounter with Elvis was sneaking-out after my bedtime to squat and cower in the hallway that led to the living room where I could see via a passageway through the kitchen to the Ed Sullivan Show on the big black and white TV.
It was Sept. 1956.
This was a dangerous move. While my father never laid a hand on me he had a withering critical tone towards his bizarre 8 year old only son. And bedtime was bedtime and there would be no discussion or debate about anything with him, especially not on the subject of my staying up and watching some white trash Teddy-boy from Tennessee wiggle his hips and make silly teenaged girls scream.
Still, much as I usually tried to avoid my dad’s wrath, I could not and would not miss the chance to see this cultural phenom appear for the first time ever national T.V. I’d heard his music on the a.m. radio and loved it. I HAD to see him.
His performance was one I’ve never forgotten.
As much as I loved Elvis in 1956, by the time he’d been drafted into the Army and given a haircut and come back you could already see the beginnings of the guy who’d end up in Vegas in a fringe white leather jump suit doing silly karate moves while singing Battle Hymn of the Republic to blue haired grannies slugging down multiple martinis.
By 1963, and that’s being generous in terms of the expanse of time, America had ruined Elvis. Because… ‘Merica, that’s just what we do.
But the excitement and power of that 1956 performance was never matched in my life and experience again until February 1964 when the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, that same iconic TV program.
By then I was old enough to sit in the living room with my family. And I was mesmerized, for the first time since that night I’d seen Elvis by what I was watching.
If my father hadn’t known quite what to do with me in 1956, it got much worse and more difficult for him once the Beatles took hold of my imagination and heart. My Dad had been a fighter pilot in WW2, stationed in the Pacific on an Aircraft carrier. He had won an Air Medal for flying Hellcats and shooting Japanese guys out of the sky.
Elvis had been weird enough for him, but when I, his pubescent, mama’s boy son, covered my bedroom walls with photos of the Beatles, their girly hair and soft boy smiles, I’m sure he was flummoxed. And when I insisted on growing my hair long — I’m sure my old man felt I’d gone insane. He likely thought that nothing short of drug-addled incomprehensible homosexuality awaited me.
I don’t think the word “disappointed” quite covers how terrified and confused my dad must have been by me and by my attachments. However, I don’t think our experiences, my dad’s and mine of one another and of the times, were in any way unique.
One of the most popular early family TV sitcoms was the Danny Thomas show, “Make Room for Daddy.” It ran on CBS first, then on ABC from 1953 through 1964. Of course this covered pre-Elvis to the Beatlemania explosion. On the Danny Thomas program was a kid, Danny’s son named Rusty.
In one episode, probably in the mid to late 1950’s Rusty wanted to change his name to Elvis Earp, thereby capturing the spirit of Elvis Presley and Hugh O'Brien's TV Wyatt Earp, another iconic cultural phenom. I found Rusty’s idea hilarious and quite appealing. I don’t think my father felt the same way I did.
The new movie Legend is coming out later this month about the life of Elvis Presley. It has a big job ahead of it. While the movies Yesterday and Ron Howard’s marvelous documentary about Beatlemania 8 Days a Week, captured the power, importance and impact that the Beatles had on our world and culture, my experience and memory is that Elvis Presley had a similar impact albeit during his briefer but still significant time.
In the end, I feel lucky to have lived during the reigns of both these kings of music and their existence as cultural icons.
Elvis Lennon-Harrison-McCartney-Star Trueman.
Sorry Dad, but a guy’s gotta be who he’s gotta be.
The Beatles Again & Rumi & Sanai & Me
If I had the time, juice, and power
If I had the time, juice and power to get it done, I’d write a novel or maybe a screenplay about the Beatles.
They’d all be still alive now, the “Fab Four” they once were but also as the grown men they became and finally, now, as the old men they’d all be if John hadn’t been murdered and George had never smoked (he died of cancer at age 58).
They’d all be together at all these different ages, and, of course, they’d be the stars of the story.
I don’t know what the plot would be.
It wouldn’t be silly or pop or purely entertainment nor would it be documentary or a docudrama.
Like I said, I don’t know what it would be about other than the Beatles and how they changed the world individually and collectively.
But it wouldn’t be a story that is preachy and/or full of sycophantic worship shit.
It would certainly have elements of their creative genius; their inventive styles of making music/art and of course their strong personalities.
Maybe it would emphasize their honesty, their wit and courage and humor.
It would be about their humanity.
Yep, that’s it right there; it would show their humanity and be about the truth that only a time or two in my lifetime have any humans lived up to the hype of greatness that media and promo bullshit has promised about them.
Right in this spot, writing this, I got interrupted a few minutes ago for breakfast. And when Patti asked what I was working on, I was afraid to tell her another poem about the Beatles, again.
Another Beatles fan-rant/fixation, again.
In fact, I dressed up what I’d been doing with my morning a bit by admitting that while I had in fact been reading about the Beatles, I’d also spent time on Rumi, The 13th century poet.
I felt that this would give my morning’s effort a bit more intellectual heft.
After breakfast I came back to this, sitting here now, and realized, after all, it was true,
I HAD been reading Rumi and in fact I’d read his poem about Sanai, so I went back and read it again. Rumi wrote, “Someone says Sanai is dead. No small thing to say.”
I looked up Sanai. (I’d just looked up The Beatles a short while before).
For Rumi, Sanai was his Beatles.
And for me, The Beatles were my Sanai.
And so now my novel or screenplay that will never be written has two new characters (although they have wandered in from 700 years ago).
And certainly I have a theme, even if still lacking a plot.
Don’t look for a longer prose work, after all.
This writing will have to suffice because, like Rumi said of Sanai, and I’ll say of the Beatles,
“Silk must not be compared to striped canvas.”
Paul McCartney Played Here Last Night
I didn’t go, but I’m thrilled just the same
Dateline: Spokane WA. April, 29, 2022
Tickets were pricey but that wasn’t why I didn’t attend. I went to a Beatles concert in Seattle in 1964 and indeed, I treasure the memory, always have and always will. I already love Sir Paul as much as its safe to love any icon/celebrity (a person turned into a product, for good or ill.) There are actually people who love Donald Trump as deeply as I love the Beatles.
But here’s the thing: There isn’t a beautiful garden, a famous person, an amazing sight I’d pay more than $5 or walk across the street to experience.
This is how I want to be and how I am. Best of luck on your journey to find yourself. I can tell you from yada-yada-yada that you needn’t kill the Buddha if you meet him on the road, but you cannot think that doing so would be any different than him not killing you.
The Wisdom of George Harrison
Yeah, the Beatle’s guy
George Harrison said that when it’s time to die how many records you’ve made or songs you’ve written isn’t going to matter.
In fact, he claimed that many of the best songs he’d ever made, he never wrote down and never recorded. He was a Beatle, of course. He also said “Once you’ve taken acid 4 times, you’ve gotten all you’re going to get out of it.”
Come to think of it, I can’t come up with a single thing George Harrison ever said that wasn’t true and right and matching my thoughts about the world.
When I was 14 or so my elderly Aunt Nita asked me “Who’s your favorite Beatle?” And I answered without hesitation, “George.” Although back then, I didn’t know why this was true or if it even was true. Paul was charming. John witty. Ringo adorable. But now I have outlived George By several decades And it turns out, Whether I knew it or not, I’d told Aunt Nita the truth.
Why LSD Should Make a Huge Comeback
Ask the Beatles, ask Aldous Huxley, ask ME
The one time I leapt out of a perfectly good airplane from 3,000 feet above the ground (they call this madness Skydiving) I’d been going through a rough patch as they call it.
Many failures, flops and much heartbreak so jumping out of the airplane had a ‘what have I got to lose’ feel to it.
I recall that I’d wanted to take LSD to heighten the rush of it all but I decided not to at the last minute, chickening out.
On his deathbed Aldus Huxley, unable to speak from the larynx cancer that was killing him, jotted a note to his wife asking for a shot of Acid which she gave him with a follow-up dose A few hours later, just before he died.
Now THAT is some bawdy, brave new world kind of shit right there — that’s leaping from the plane sans the parachute and doing cartwheels and somersaults and laughing loudly all the way down.
At present we have external madness via our politics, and internally via our global pandemic — I’m not sure LSD can cure either, but it would certainly make our ride to the end more interesting.
One of the more frustrating and tumultuous “friendships” of my life, VERY off and on again, is with this guy who played drums in the HS R&R band (The Remnants) where I played guitar . . . 60 years ago.
Any description I might try to give of our friendship: break-ups, reconnections, re-break-ups would fail to adequately describe the pain and pleasure this relationship has caused me.
I’ve always been a writer.
He’s always (or for many years at least) taken photographs.
I went to college a lot to avoid working and became a social commentator of sorts, liberal/progressive.
He’s always been other things: a factotum, social commentator of sorts and conservative.
I’ve always been married (although these wives have been sequential).
He’s always been kind of loner (In any event, never married).
I’m much more of a dog guy.
He’s much more of a cat guy (Although he loves ALL animals, Apt living restricts him to small felines).
About his photographs; many of them, are powerful, haunting and unforgettable, at least for me.
Some of his images flash back into my consciousness at odd moments and grab my attention, like a phrase from an old Beatles song can do, gripping your mind and refusing to let go.
We are in one of our times of some contact now and he recently gave me permission to use his photos as illustrations for my writings here on Medium.
Knowing the history of our frenemy relationship, I’m not sure how long this ceasefire will last. I feel fairly sure that it won’t last forever.
Why We Need The Beatles’ Love Poems & Mine
Pop wisdom that has held up.
Recently, I had a tempest in a teapot-level nuclear event in an old friendship. Much of it was based on a single rather small incident, but it exploded as matters in fission often do. It informed and reminded me that given the state of current affairs, the nastiness of our culture generally, and my own rapidly deteriorating ego and existence (apparently they call this “aging” or in my case, “fuckin’ AGING”), I’d better get back to listening to my old Beatles albums on vinyl.
Writing needn’t always be angry unless you want it to be. Take the Beatles my favorite music always: Love, love, love, love, love, love, love!
In my last book of poems, while reading it before its final edit I noticed how disproportionately negative the majority of the poems were.
In my defense, a bunch of shit had happened: scary elections, the death of my sister-in-law, and myriad other bad things, but reading the sad poems, the angry poems, the poems of pain, hurt, disappointment, etc., made me realize that my next poems had to be about good shit: happiness, comfort, contentment, friendship and most of all love.
Love, love, love, Love, love, love, like the Beatles, circa 1963–1965.
“All you need is love,” which, regrettably, it turns out, is most assuredly NOT all you’re going to need much less all you’re going to get.
But, what the hell. Whatever we get is what we get and the better we are at looking for and grabbing onto and treasuring the love in our lives, the happier we’ll be. The fewer nasty, hurtful moments we create in our lives and the lives of others, the better off we’ll all be.
Don’t believe me? Just ask the Beatles.
Before the Beatles & I Made Acid Cool, there was Aldous Huxley
Christians aren’t the only people who need faith and hope, or who must deal with god’s charming sense of fun.
I like to think of Aldous Huxley standing a safe distance back from his California home watching it burn to the ground (This actually happened, the “home burning down” part).
I like to think of him watching all his manuscripts, awards, and honors, photographs of friends and family and famous colleagues, etc. All the reminders of his great and famous life turning to ashes right in front of him.
I like to think of him taking a long, slow drag off his cigarette, smiling slightly to himself.
Perhaps he was unaware in the moment that he only had a little time left to live, but whether that is true or not, I like to think of him thinking quietly to himself, “Well, this certainly solves a lot of problems.”
The Truth About LSD
The one time I leaped out of a perfectly good airplane from 3,000 feet above the ground . . . (they call this madness “skydiving”), I’d been going through a rough patch as they call it.
Many failures, flops, and much heartbreak, So jumping out of the airplane had a “what have I got to lose” feel to it.
I’d wanted to take LSD to heighten the rush of it all, but I decided not to at the last minute.
Let’s be honest here, I chickened out. After all, my favorite Beatle, George Harrison, had stated (unbeknownst to me at that time, but nonetheless true),
“Once you’ve taken LSD four times, you don’t need to take it anymore, you’ve got all you’re going to get out of it.”
I’d surpassed four times by the time I was nineteen years old. Still, dealing with the unlikely circumstance of my parachute NOT opening, it made sense that maybe being high on acid might not be the very best plan.
This brings us back to Aldous: On his deathbed, Aldous Huxley, unable to speak from the larynx cancer that was killing him, jotted a note to his wife asking for a shot of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, which she gave him.
Upon an additional request, she gave him a follow-up dose a few hours later, just before he died.
Now THAT is some bawdy, brave new world kind of shit right there.
That’s leaping from the plane.
Sans the parachute and doing cartwheels and somersaults and laughing loudly all the way down. You have one life and one death; Aldous and I believe you should make the best/most of each.
Should, You Try LSD?
Hamlet had it easy, “To be or not to be . . .” is an easier question than what kind of human should you be? How great should your risks be?
Should you take LSD?
Should you if you haven’t ever?
Who can answer that?
All I can say is that my life wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t taken it, and the life I likely would have had wouldn’t have been the life I’ve loved, and the life I feel has made a difference in the world.
Now, the Manson gang/family clearly had a different result than I did.
But most everyone has different results than most everyone else with acid.
So, should you try it?
For a decade and a half, I stood in front of audiences of teens and was often asked, “Did you ever take drugs?”
I dodged the question, and answered in many ways, sometimes cleverly, often awkwardly, trying not to encourage kids but not wanting to lie.
So now, once and for all, should you take LSD?
My answer is simple; just because it worked for me, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.
So, should you?
Yeah, you should. Maybe…
or… maybe not…
Hey Fellow Christian Lovebirds
FREE RANGE EGO & SOUL UPDATE
Blond Closely Tracked by Spirit of Yoko Ono: And could this be the reason she (the blond) looks so kinda pouty? Patti and I watch a lot of True Crime shows...A LOT...
okay, maybe too fuckin’ many.
Still, you gotta be careful in life and in death for that matter and of course, in photo poses...
This is my view anyway, and Patti thinks so too: otherwise, why her clever and oh-so-careful disguise that time in that Vegas gift shop? pic by me Patti disguised as well hidden dirty blond
The point here is that one can never be too careful with the ghosts of celebs and wannabe celebs (Like fat boy Steve Bannon tap dancing his way, while clearly channeling John Candy, to a two-year prison stint as I type this)?
And as the spirit of Yoko fights off unfair accusations that she broke up the Beatles while she was mostly just keeping her eye on Patti or Debbie Harry or Peggy Lipton, or Michelle Phillips or maybe even Marylin Monroe, or some other blond or dirty blond. You can never be too careful, ask Joe DiMaggio or any brunette, dead or alive.
Paul McCartney & Mick Jagger Debate Relative Greatness, While Keith Richards Laughs
Could this be real? What have they got to argue about?
The title for this piece came from recent headlines. Two great artists arguing over who is the best. The subtitle is all my own thing Arguing about the Beatles or Rolling Stones and who are greater has always struck me as absurd. The entire issue and seeing the headline reminded me of a conversation I once had with an artist, a painter, who told me: “There’s always an exit in my work… A place to escape.” She was a doctor’s wife, rich, attractive talented and smart. She let me use one of her paintings, a fragment of it as a cover for a book
And as we talked about our work her pain became clear to me I could see what she meant — In each of her paintings: the small alley the doorway box the light moment in the dark or its opposite — But escape what? I wondered. Then I thought about myself, and now I think about Paul and Mick and I consider. Why be coy or act stupid — It doesn’t matter who you are sometimes the urge to Escape all of it, the desperate need to escape it all feels almost overwhelming. Escape what? How about: The longing stares of those we love disappointed in our falling short at loving them in return . . . enough. The hurt, simple or complex, or both — Heartbreaks un-avoided and those not avoidable — Always an exit, a corridor to escape the pain we feel the pain we cause, and from those hallowed moments, both the moments we recognize and those invisible to us — (“What’d I say… What? What? What’d I do?”) Light and darkness, there are always exits. The Buddhists say we have two doors, the one we come in through (birth) and the one we go out of (death). Trouble is, maybe it really is that simple. I mean, what if they’re right? We dress up in wedding gowns, silk ties, corsages and French scents — We attend costumes balls, go to work in three piece suits, we buy the newest athletic shoes, cell phones, confectionary delights, flat screens, plasma screens Plasma vials, doggy treats, everything, everywhere, all the time… Fresh flowers for the table, a frozen turkey in the sink all of it. All of this all the while knowing, or at least suspecting, that there are only these two doors, one entrance and one exit. But stop a second seriously STOP. There is no ‘we’ in all of this — There is an ‘I’ and there is a you’. You and I, Paul, Mick, Keith we all have it within ourselves together, maybe but almost certainly within me and within you and within each soul the capacity to own our entrances and our exits, not the first (our births), usually not the last (our deaths), but all of those entrances and exits in between. Entrances are always lovely except for when they aren’t, but for now let’s look at exits. So much loss, so much to try and forget or remember or both. So much to learn and to unlearn as I exit. “There is always an exit in my work — a place to escape.” Yes, perhaps for you. But maybe not so much for me. Yes, there are always exits. But for me it turns out, there aren’t always escapes. Maybe not for Paul or Mick either, maybe not even for Keith.