Thursday, June 22, 2017


- the Jazz Loft, pt.11, 1967 -
I managed to stave off starvation,
and death too, actually. It all ended
up pretty easy. I was living mostly on
25 cent knishes, corn muffins, coffee,
and Orange Julius  -  which was some 
oddball orange juice and whatever
concoction made from some sort of
mix or powder blended with an egg.
I don't know. There was a skinny, little
Orange Julius place on my side of
8th street (the even-numbered side),
where all the hippies and runaways 
seemed always to hang out. Not much
was ever spoken, just mostly weird 
and vacant stares. I think the point 
was, 'do you have any money you 
can give me? Or drugs? Or needles?
Or sex, perhaps for money?' That's
how it went. Frankly, these people
were beyond contempt because they
were such total losers. I'd bet, now, 
50 years later, more than a third of 
them almost have to be dead  -  whether
from neglect (their own), ignorance,
mistake, or disaster. One of the outrages
was that a lot of these kids just plain
had it good, at home  -  big deal places
in Connecticut or Long Island or
Massachusetts. There was a certain type
of hippie slummer who sort of just 
expected  -  having come from money
and the 'upbringing' that gets you  -  to
have things done for his or her self. 
That simple. There are some people
who come to mind, even today, who
exemplify, and exemplified, that same
'privilege' thing, which came from
big-deal towns and breeding  -  like 
Carly Simon, and Loudon Wainwright,
Rufus Wainwright  (though he's much 
younger), the McGarrigle girls; there
was a bunch of them. In the Studio 
School too. You could tell such privilege
anywhere. I'd always be worrying
about a quarter. They ate quarters by 
the dozen, and for snacks too.
One of the things that was annoying,
that made you want to pop these hippie 
guys from money, was that their girlfriends
were always somehow so beautiful, all
things perfect. Hippie clothes, all that
peasant dress stuff, rings and gypsy crap.
These guys never cared. By contrast, I 
was a constant and filthy mess. One thing
to remember  -  maybe I can get it across  -
about 1967, was the absence of things a
lot of today's frilly crowd just takes for
granted. The simplest stuff  -  it was all
foreign and unheard of. Like today, every
half-wit hipster is walking around with a
morning yoga mat, yoga clothes and yoga
footwear. You go to most anywhere  -  
Bryant Park or other places, and in the 
good weather months there are like 60 
people, gathered together, doing a 
morning session, meditation, chanting, 
etc. That was unheard of. Gay people?
Same thing, mostly just kept hidden. 
Hippie culture helped break all that a 
little, but, whatever  -  it was still the
dark ages. Bicycles. Same thing. No 
one  rode a bicycle, citywide, in 1967. 
Well, I did, but I was an aberration and
an anamoly anywhere. Now there are
endless rows of Citibike rentables 
everywhere, their racks having taken 
away about 2 billion parking spots 
on the city. Tough for cars now. 
Pedestrian right-of-way crap all over
the place. It's lie polite kiss-me first
anarchy wherever you go. Totally
different. Going up to the jazz loft,
even then, was like going back even 
farther in time, more like the natural, 
black, slick 1940's. Nothing had changed
and that's just how these guys acted and
lived. And their women too.
I didn't have much a grasp of any of this,
but if you look back, maybe a documentary
or something, and see how people like
Miles Davis (mostly, him), Thelonius Monk,
Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, say, acted
and carried themselves, that's an idea of what
I'm saying. Before it all broke out into the
later bedlam it became  - black rights, the
various power movements, Black Muslims, 
and the rest. They were the Sainted Quiet.
Jut doing their music work, strongly
indebted to each other amid communal
recognitions of the unspoken. A few 
years later, someone like, say, Miles Davis,
exemplified a complete other spectrum of
personal enrichment and confidence. It was
a startling transformation  -  from the silent,
passive punch bag of second-class, to the
high-power, righteous (and right) stammer 
of deliverance. The hippies had this weird
white-people thing going on about peacock
feathers : they were really long-stemmed, so
to speak, and had that colorful little eye thing,
a circular round blaze, with intense color.
Those feathers became some sort of hippie 
icon; they were sold everywhere, and turned
up everywhere too. For blacks  -  not the jazz
guys, of course, who couldn't have cared less,
but for black hippies, who somehow always
seemed to be older, taller, almost dignified
gay black guys, the thing was  -  or so it 
seemed  - to have an afghan hound. They
were always walking these tall, long-haired
dogs, striking in coloration and finesse.
So many of them, in fact, it quickly
became cliched and boring.

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