The upper level of the Charles Van Damme was occupied by Chris Roberts, an
artist with a vision so grand that he was considered insane even by much
of the waterfront population.  He wanted to turn the drydocks into not
only a haven for artists, but the world's largest sculpture.  His design
for the project was way beyond mere architecture, lotus-shaped and more
like a futuristic alien city you'd see on the cover of a science fiction

Roberts never came close to getting the necessary funding for the
drydocks, but he did manage to nearly complete a three-story sculpture on
a barge in Gate Five.  The "Madonna" was a gracefully curved, abstract
tower that became a tourist attraction and one of the most photographed
objects in Sausalito.  It burned down under mysterious circumstances in

A self-described "magnet for degenerates," Chris Roberts welcomed depraved
and outrageous characters into his home, day and night.  He considered
himself in the waterfront but not of it, and it sometimes seemed as if he
was letting the people he referred to as "sub-human comic strip
characters" hang around to help maintain his illusion of his own
superiority.  He hated all rock and roll music, especially the Redlegs,
preferring Broadway show music like "Oklahoma" and gentle bossa nova
tunes.  But he had no beef with us as individuals.

His wife was an actress named Laura Ash, who not only tolerated Chris's
hangers-on, but fed them when she wasn't in Los Angeles working in "B"
movies.  She and Chris had a vision of the Ark as a theater rather than a
rock and roll dance hall, and stirred up some interest for the idea with
their friends in Hollywood.

Two of these were Rip Torn and his wife, Geraldine Page.  They arrived at
Gate Six with their twin sons, set up camp in the Ark with Chris and
Laura, and for a while settled into the waterfront life.  Like Laura Ash,
Page was fond of feeding people, and huge dinners in the Ark became
regular events.  Rip, meanwhile, became an instant Redlegs fan and
regularly drank and took drugs with the band and the Truly Rank
Motherfuckers.  His willingness to inhale various powders earned him the
nickname "Rip Snort," and he seemed pleased when I Redlegged him.

Torn was a Nixon freak.  He had been obsessed with Tricky Dicky since the
early fifties, when as a young actor he had been blackballed as a result
of the McCarthy era communist purges in Hollywood.  At a private showing,
we saw a movie he produced in which he plays Shakespeare's "Richard the
Third" as Nixon.  Between footage of Vietnam atrocities and nuclear
explosions, Torn-as-Nixon slowly turns into a hideous werewolf-like

When the Redlegs set up a gig at Whitey Litchfield's Bermuda Palms in San
Rafael. Torn asked to be on the show.
"Yeah, sure," we said, "What will you do?"
"Just leave that to me," he said.

He didn't want his name used, so we listed him on the poster as "Elmore
Star," since "Elmore" is his real first name. The day of the dance, we
heard rumors that Torn had been up all night working on his act,
fashioning rubber prosthetic devices and practicing his Nixon voice.  He'd
also been to the Gate Three junkyards looking for props.

The Bermuda Palms was packed, and Flying Circus did the first set.  Then
it was time for the Mystery Guest.  Rip Torn walked on stage in full Nixon
costume, complete with rubber nose and jowls, pushing a shopping cart with
a World War II bomb in it.  He was met with equal amounts of cheers and
boos.  After muttering a few remarks about growing up in Whittier,
Nixon-Torn looked intently into the audience and asked,  "Do you like

A roar of approval went through the crowd and the floor in front of the
stage was suddenly filled with clean-cut all-American looking young men.
Torn looked straight at them and repeated the question.
"Do you like Dick?"
"YEAH!" shouted the young Republicans.
"Do you REALLY like Dick?"
"Well SAY it, then."
Torn raised his arms, but instead of the Nixon V-for-victory sign, he
extended the middle finger of each hand, holding them out in a double
"fuck you" salute and shouted:  "Well, then SUCK DICK, DICKSUCKERS!"

Apparently the clean-cut crowd neither appreciated the Nixon impression
nor did they like being called "dicksuckers."  They stormed the stage and
attacked the costumed actor.  In a second, mike stands were flying, amps
and drums were falling over as Marin County's nice young men pummeled and
thrashed at the grotesque figure of Richard Milhous Nixon.  The usual
waterfront "security force," led by Don Bradley, Dean Puchalski and Sam
Anderson, went into action and cleared the stage while Geraldine Page sat
calmly on the floor in front of the stage drinking white wine and eating
Sonoma jack cheese and French bread.


During Rip Torn's stay on the waterfront, he acted in a movie that Larry
Moyer was making, called "Harry's Movie."  There was a scene filmed in
Gate 5 that was supposed to be a typical waterfront party, outside on a
barge with the Redlegs playing.  In the scene, Torn, as Harry the
moviemaker, does some wild dancing with Margo St. James, the former
prostitute and founder of the San Francisco hookers' union called
C.O.Y.O.T.E.  (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics -- the name was John
Stephens' idea).  Margo was wearing a nun's habit and a large rubber
dildo.   This was not actually "typical" of waterfront parties but hey, it
was a movie, right? As far as I know, the film was never finished, perhaps
due to a self-fulfilling prophecy written into the script at the end,
where the "Harry" character is asked, "What about the movie?"  And Harry
says, "Fuck the movie."

The band played on, the cameras rolled until dark.  Naturally, the party
"scene" had become a real party and it took a while to wind down.  While
we were packing up the equipment, Gate 5 resident John Murphy volunteered
to bring it back to the Oakland for us in his rowboat.  There was nothing
unusual about this, we moved electrical gear by water all the time.
Murphy had a large and very stable river skiff which could easily carry
the stuff.  We would meet him at Gate 6.

Back at the Oakland, we waited for Murphy.  When he came into sight
rounding the Gate 5 pier everything seemed all right, but when he was
halfway from there to the pier where we stood, I could hear Murphy saying

"I can't believe this, I can't believe this is happening..."  As he came
into the range of light from the Oakland, I could see that something
wasn't right.  Murphy's skiff was sitting lower in the water than it
should.  "I can't believe this," he said again.  His boat was sinking.  By
the time he was almost to the pier, the skiff was completely sunk, Murphy
was standing waist-deep in the water, and drum cases and speaker cabinets
were floating all around him.  He threw his arms up in the air and
repeated, "I can't believe this." We got another boat and retrieved the

We were using Fender amplifiers, two Concert models for the guitars and a
Dual Showman for the bass.  Joe Tate, the techno-expert of the group,
suggested we get the amps into a hot shower right away to get rid of the
salt.  This we did in the Oakland shop shower, then borrowed a hair dryer
somewhere and blew the electronic innards dry.  We gave them all a healthy
squirt of WD-40 and let them sit overnight.  The next day, all the amps
worked as if nothing had happened.


Rip Torn on fame and fortune: "Every offer is a sandwich.  It's a big,
juicy, delicious-looking sandwich, but hidden in the middle, there's a
tiny dab of shit.  It's so small you don't even taste it.  So you eat the
sandwich, and it's good, but the next sandwich has just a little more shit
in it, and so on, until you're eating nothing but pure shit."

When Judy Stone reviewed "The Last Free Ride" in the San Francisco
Chronicle, she wrote, "The film stars Joe a prototype of the
free-wheeling young people who live in the idiosyncratic hulks and barges
along the waterfront...playing with his insanely self-destructive band..."
  That perspective was not arrived at solely from seeing the movie.  Word
was out in the business that we were crazy, and definitely dangerous.


Lee Houskeeper was a booking agent, or something like that, from Los
Angeles, who showed up with Bob Seal at the Oakland one night.  Seal was a
Georgia guitar player with a degree in English and a near-perfect singing
voice.  He was the vocalist I had hired for the demo back in the City, as
well as a friend of Joe Tate. Houskeeper listened to the band for awhile,
told us he was impressed, and said he could get us a record deal if we
signed a contract with him as personal manager.

The figure mentioned was $50,000, as an advance on royalties.  Houskeeper
produced a contract.  We read it carefully and saw in the fine print that
if we signed, we would technically be in debt to Lee Houskeeper for

Joe and I left the shop to write up a contract of our own as an
alternative.  It stated that "Lee Householder shall give the Redlegs one
million dollars in cash and expect nothing in return."
"His name is Houskeeper, Joe," I said.
"I know," he replied.

We showed it to Houskeeper and he acted very hurt, but said nothing when
we pointed out his fine print.  "But I had such a beautiful deal for you
guys," he whimpered, "You could make it big  and I could be your
"The only thing big about this is your assumption that we're naive enough
to go  for this bullshit," I said.

"FUCK a buncha bullshit,"  muttered Joe, turning on the bandsaw.  He
started cutting scrap lumber into stove-sized chunks, ramming the pieces
hard into the blade so the machine screamed and smoked.  Houskeeper looked
around, hoping for sympathy or reassurance.  Seal was struggling not to
laugh, but managed a neutral-looking shrug.  Houskeeper gathered his
papers and left.  On the way out he was still saying, "But it was such a
beautiful deal..."


Back in the Haight-Ashbury I had run into a musician friend from New York
who was recording with Country Joe McDonald.  He'd invited me to the
session at Pacific High Recording, where I got hired by haranguing
McDonald's wife, and then McDonald himself, about my ability to "play the
right thing" on any particular track.  It paid off.  I wound up playing
three dates for them, on the payroll of Vanguard records.

Re-entering the musical mainstream even for short periods was a strange
experience, an almost violent reality shift.  Despite McDonald's
reputation as an anti-war activist and all-around Berkeley radical, in the
studio he was polite, mild-mannered, and almost ploddingly professional in
his approach to recording.  Only two years earlier, I would have found
this scene interesting, even exciting.  Now, even this "radical" and the
musicians he worked with seemed ordinary.

However, at that point I still believed there was a place for me and the
Redlegs in the music business, and getting calls from McDonald's
management reinforced this notion.  Maybe he could help get the band a
recording deal...

I called him at home and asked if he'd listen to a tape of my band.  He
said he would.  He greeted me cordially at his house in Berkeley, and
offered me lunch, which I refused.  When I started talking about the
Redlegs, he seemed suddenly distracted, and countered with the information
that he was already producing a record for some band or other.  He never
listened to the tape.


George Daly, A & R head of Columbia Records for San Francisco, invited us
to their studios in the City to do some taping and discuss making an
album.  He was tall and thin with long dark curly hair, and dressed in a
green velvet suit.  The first thing he said when we arrived was, "I bet
you didn't think I looked like this," as if we had spent half the day
wondering about his appearance. As we set up the equipment, Daly walked
around the studio dropping famous names.  "Bob Dylan" this, "Taj Mahal"
that, looking at us, trying to measure our reactions.

When everything was ready, he sat in the control room and spoke through
the earphones we wore.
"Okay, let's try one."
We were eight or nine bars into "Sailor's Love Song" when Daly's voice
cut through the earphones,
We stopped.
"Okay, do it again just like you did the first time."
We did.
"Hold it, hold it.  Let's do it again."
And again, and again.
"Whoa, wait a minute, stop," he said.  "I know what's wrong now.  The
bass is out of tune."  Kim tuned the bass, and we finally got all the way
through the song.

Later on in the control room, Daly cornered me.  He suggested that our
bass player wasn't up to snuff and added, "I'm a bass player, you know."
"This is the band you asked for, this is the band you get," I replied.
Joey overheard this, walked over to Daly and looked him in the eye,
saying, "We like our bass player."
"Oh, he's a brilliant  bass player," said Daly.  He was getting nervous.

After another futile attempt to work under Daly's direction, we quit
playing and drank beer in the control room while the tape rolled.  Maggie
fell asleep on the floor.  Joe and I started talking about bands that sign
big recording contracts and become nothing but products, disposable
"acts,"  washed out and eviscerated by people just like George Daly, who
was now clearly shaken and pretending to make "important phone calls."

We packed up and left, secure in the knowledge that Columbia Records would
not be calling us again.


There was always someone or other wanting to promote, exploit, or
otherwise get their hooks into, that is to say, make money off the Redlegs
band.  Some were serious professional vultures, while others were
relatively inept dilettantes.  Or in 90's terms, wannabes.

Two such young men showed up at the Oakland one day.  Their names were
Bruce and Todd, or something like that.  They were collegiate in
appearance, relatively clean-cut.  The Redlegs band had "impressed" them,
they said, and with the two of them as our management team, "we could all
make a lot of money."  We agreed to meet at their office/residence in The
City and discuss a possible "arrangement."

The office/residence was an apartment in the Sunset district.  It
contained no evidence of previous dealings in the music business.  Bruce
and Todd served drinks and told us their ideas about booking and promoting
the band.  There was nothing new or interesting about any of it.

All of us, particularly Joe Tate, often became restless and claustrophobic
when "trapped" in small, sterile, box-like spaces such as city apartments.
  Even though we lived on small boats, they were not box-shaped or
symmetrical, and being on them was more like "camping" than staying

Joe was getting bored and I sensed that he was about to go into one of his
gross-out routines.  (He once got rid of a homosexual promoter-type by
reading heterosexual pornography out loud while the agent tried to sign us
to a contract.)

As Joe fidgeted, Maggie, Joey and Kim sat there with the two managers,
drinking up their booze, and I snooped around the apartment.  I found
nothing of interest until I opened the door to the hall closet.  There,
neatly wrapped and stacked, were about a hundred "bricks," or kilos of
marijuana.  So this was their game.  The motivation of the two managers
was now clear.  If they could get "in" with a rock & roll band by signing
on as management, the group's following would be a ready-made market for
their weed.

Joe's voice was getting louder and more offensive, and I knew we would be
leaving soon.  I grabbed one of the bricks and went back to the living
room, where Joe was now urinating out of Bruce and Todd's third story

"You guys won't be minding if I take one of these, will you?"  I asked,
holding the kilo up for all to see. The two managers, already shocked by
Joe's behavior, were quick to grasp my suggestion of blackmail and likely
glad I was taking only one brick.

"Let's say you're fronting this stuff to us, okay?" I said.  They nodded.

Bruce and Todd were as glad to see us go.  Needless to say, no contract
was signed, but all the pot smokers at Gate 6 got free bags of dope the
next day.


Keystone Korner was a jazz club, booking the big names like Monk and
Mingus until 1971, when the format was changed to rock.  The name was
derived from the club's location right across the street from a police

If they wanted rock and roll, they got it with the Redlegs.  The place
filled up with waterfront regulars, including Michael Woodstock and his
retinue of pot-smoking hippie followers.

We actually got the band set up right on time at nine o'clock, and the
instruments were in tune.  For once it seemed like nothing was going
wrong.  Everyone was up and dancing; we were playing really well.  I'd bet
there wasn't a recording device of any sort within a three block radius.

Near the end of the first song, the bar manager walked up to me, beckoning
with his forefinger.  Here it comes,  I thought.

"There's NO DANCING allowed here," he shouted in my ear, "You've got to

With a reasonably straight face and a decent attempt at a sincere tone of
voice, I made the announcement.  "The word from the management is NO

The crowd, still on their feet waiting for the next number, groaned and
hissed as they sat down.

"Who ever heard of a rock and roll club with no dancing?"  yelled Michael
Woodstock.  He had opened one of his bags and started rolling joints.

"Well, it looks like we've got one here," I said back into the mike.  Joe
was getting a cloudy look in his eye.  He didn't like this kind of
distraction.  "Now don't get excited," he said to the audience, "You heard
the rules."  He signalled to Joey and tore into "Reelin' and "Rockin'",
his favorite Chuck Berry song, emphasizing the words:  "I looked at my
watch and it was nine twenty-one, we're at a ROCK AND ROLL DANCE havin'
nothin' but fun..."    Instantly, the whole crowd was back up and at it.
Even the waitresses were dancing.

This time the manager waited until the song was over.  By now he had
recognized Joe as bandleader and spoke to him.
"Okay, everybody. No dancing allowed," Joe announced.
"BULLSHIT!  FUCKABUNCHA BULLSHIT!" shouted Penny Woodstock.  "We came
here to DANCE!"

I looked at Joe.  The cloudy look was gone, his eyes were very clear.
"This is already past the point of being just plain ridiculous," he said,
as Michael Woodstock passed a lit joint to the stage.

"There's been a request,"  I reminded him.  "Fuckabunchabullshit" was a
reference to our most raucous dance number; to many it was our signature

"Oh yeah, so there has."  He turned on the Vox distortion booster built
into his Fender telecaster and played an open A chord, setting off the
roaring buzz-saw sound that always drove the Redleg crowd into a frenzy,
and screamed into the microphone, "I GOT THE FUCKABUNCHABULLSHIT REDLEG

Everyone danced wildly now, hooting and howling and knocking over chairs.
"I  wake up in the mornin'  get my breakfast in bed, C'mere, honey, I want

The manager pushed his way to the stage and grabbed a mike, yelling into
it, "There is NO DANCING allowed here!  You MUST STOP DANCING.  It's
AGAINST the LAW to DANCE here.  I can smell MARIJUANA and the POLICE

Joe shoved him off the stage with his foot, sending him sprawling face
first on the dance floor.  The place HAD a dance floor.   "I can't stand
it when anybody messes with my equipment," he explained.

We packed up in record time and did not ask to get paid.  On the way out,
I was greeted by George Daly from Columbia Records, who had been standing
by the door the whole time (twenty minutes).  With a huge,
uncharacteristic grin, he said, "You guys are the best rock and roll band
I ever heard, but you're absolutely unrecordable."


The Redlegs may have been the only band ever to get the bum's rush,
physically ejected, from the Winterland Ballroom.  A converted ice show
and hockey arena, it was the big rock & roll venue in San Francisco,  Bill
Graham's logical progression from the Fillmore.

We got the gig by a fluke.  The Sun King had given us a Sansui stereo
amplifier, which we promptly put up for sale in the Classified Gazette for
money to buy Roy Cano's '47 Chevy panel truck.  The guy who answered the
ad asked why we were selling it.  When Joe told him we wanted to buy a
truck for our band, the guy asked what band it was.  He turned out to be
Jerry Pompili, the manager of Winterland.  Apparently he had heard of the
Redlegs, and offered us a date there.

He bought the stereo, too.  We used the money to buy the truck and named
it the Znarghmobile, after a Gahan Wilson cartoon in which a slimy green
outer space monster lands on Earth and says, as humans flee in panic, "One
small step for a Znargh, a giant stride for Znarghkind."

The Redlegs would be the suicide squad (warm-up band) for Commander Cody,
Buddy Miles, and the J. Geils Band, and be paid $100.  We arrived at
Winterland in the Znarghmobile and took our equipment in through the
backstage freight door.  Thirty or forty waterfront regulars were along
for the trip, giving the appearance of a big road crew.  They did help
carry the equipment--after all they got in free that way--but none of them
knew or cared about the technical end of things, and they all headed for
the backstage complimentary beer, kept in garbage cans everywhere.

We barely had time to tune up, let alone have a sound check.  There'd been
no such offer anyway, since we were only a local group with no record
deal.  This was during the time when rock and roll was becoming big
business.  Bill Graham was becoming as big a media star as the headliners
he booked, and his stagehands had no concern for some local band.  The
stage manager, who had given Joe some grief about tuning his guitar (it
was time to start...), introduced us by saying, less than
enthusiastically,  "Let's hear it for... Redlegs," not The Redlegs.  It
was the age of singular rather than plural names for bands, and few of
them used "The"-- Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, even our friends'
bands had names like Flying Circus and Contraband -- and the guy might
have thought he was doing us a favor, as if we didn't know who we were,
by making us sound sophisticated and up-to-date.  Of course he'd never
have said,  "...Rolling Stones" without "The."

Actually, we knew only too well who we were, and even though Joey and I
still sometimes entertained notions of commercial "success," it had been
obvious since the beginning that the Redlegs' destiny (and success) was
far from the mainstream music business that Winterland represented.  As I
mulled over these thoughts, Joe, as usual without counting off, started
playing "Do The Crunch."  We were in tune, but the Built-In Failure Factor
was taking effect.

As was always the case when playing someplace "important," we lacked the
spark, the crazed energy that caused such excitement when we felt
comfortable with our environment.  The kids in the audience didn't know
what to make of the band, mostly because they hadn't heard of us.

Near the end of the half-hour set, with Adam singing "Whole Lotta Shakin'
Goin' On," Joe made a stab at getting something going.  He tore a piece of
railing off the stage and jumped into the audience,  and started dancing
crazily among some surprised teenage girls.  This did not please the stage
manager, who saw not a symbolic breaking down of barriers, but vandalism.
  Adam jumped up and stood on the Steinway grand piano, stomping up and
down on the keyboard, waving his arm in the air.  Maggie, nine months
pregnant, danced wildly.  The audience was coming to life, too.  Joe's
move had gotten things started, but it was too late.  Stagehands were
running around in back of us, pointing and making the "cut" sign with
fingers across their throats, and when the song came to an end they had
our amps unplugged, in case we tried to keep going.

As Joe stood arguing with the stage manager, Joey and I packed the
equipment, figuring a quick exit would be best.  As we carried the first
pieces to the Znarghmobile, I remembered the forty or so people who had
come with us.  What had they been doing during our set?  Drinking all the
free beer, painting "The Redlegs" on the walls, and stealing hardware,
that's what.  The Winterland personnel were going nuts.  Joey, Maggie and
I got the Znarghmobile loaded up, and tried to find Joe and Kim but
couldn't.   It was getting ugly in there, and there was no point in
staying any longer.

As it turned out,  Joe had been given the old barroom heave-ho, picked up
and thrown out by two bouncers while the stage manager yelled, "You're
just a nasty little boy!"

We never heard from anyone connected with Bill Graham again.


It really seemed like our big break might have come when we got the call
from Ralph J. Gleason.  Gleason was one of the most respected jazz critics
in the world, and his write-ups on the San Francisco bands had been
instrumental in "legitimizing" rock music.  He was also an executive at
Fantasy/Prestige, the Berkeley record company which had been almost
exclusively a jazz label until it launched the career of Creedence
Clearwater Revival.  Apparently, they were looking for new and interesting
rock groups, and had already signed Clover, the country-rock band who
played at occasional Redlegs gigs.  Even after our unpleasant encounters
with Columbia Records and Bill Graham, I thought Gleason might understand
the Redlegs.

At Gleason's request, Joe gathered up photographs, posters and all the
published articles on the band he could find, including items from the
Sunday Chronicle and other newspapers, and Pete Retondo's story in San
Francisco magazine.   Our "press kit" packed in Joe's briefcase, we drove
over to Berkeley for the meeting.

Gleason, gray-haired, dressed in a tweed jacket and smoking a pipe,
resembled a college professor.  A secretary ushered us all into a
conference room and we seated ourselves at a long oak table.  Joe, who
knew Ralph from earlier days (the critic had written about Joe's sixties
band, Salvation) made introductions.  After the obligatory small talk,
Gleason pored over the publicity material.

Without expression he said, "Well, Joe, I had no idea you were out there
destroying the foundations of society."

At that statement, I felt a chill run down my back.  The memory was so
strong I had to fight back the sensation of being removed in time and
place to the Arizona desert a few years before, to the car I'd been riding
in while reading "How To Talk Dirty and Influence People" by Lenny Bruce.
The book contains a transcript of Bruce's San Francisco obscenity trial,
with testimony by Ralph J. Gleason.

The well known critic, jazz and rock authority, and champion of all that
is hip, had in effect told a judge, a representative of the establishment
if there ever was one, that Lenny Bruce was out to destroy the very system
that he, the judge in his black robe, symbolized.  It may never be certain
what Gleason's intentions were, but there can be little doubt that his
testimony didn't do much good for Lenny Bruce, and now he was saying the
exact same thing about the Redlegs.  Some of his pet groups, like
Jefferson Airplane, sang about things like revolution and breaking down
walls, but Gleason now had the distinct impression that the Redlegs were
doing them.   The irony of this was that we never even used the word
"revolution," or phrases like "power to the people."  This was the
language of humorless fist-raisers who liked violent confrontations with
police and made long droning speeches at demonstrations in Berkeley.  When
the Redlegs said "fuckabunchabullshit," it applied to the revolutionaries
as much as the cops.  They were all playing the same game, and we wanted
no part of it.  If we were a threat to society, it wasn't because we
challenged authority, but because we ignored it.  One instance in which
the waterfront was unable to ignore the establishment was the "houseboat
battle" of 1971.  It had turned into a violent confrontation, but what is
one expected to do when the police come to (illegally) attach a chain your
house and tow it away to be wrecked?

So the Redlegs were now famous for fighting the cops and the county
government, and even Ralph J. Gleason, the famous music critic and record
company bigwig was forgetting about the music and seeing us as dangerous
radicals.  But I had a different idea of what was dangerous.
Inadvertently or not,  Gleason's testimony -- destroying the foundations
upon which our society is built -- had helped convict Lenny Bruce of an
obscenity charge and was part of a chain of events leading to Bruce's
death. This thought was in my mind when Gleason started his little lecture
about how compromise was a necessity of success in life.  I began to
wonder exactly what kinds of behavioral and philosophical compromises it
would take for the Redlegs to become acceptable to the music business, and
how much of whatever it was that attracted them to us in the first place
would be left.

The conversation had turned irretrievably away from music or recording,
and the Built-In Failure Factor was hovering like a dark cloud over the
conference table.  Clearly there would be no contracts signed here.  The
room was taking on a surreal air, as if either we or Gleason and the rest
of the Fantasy staff were from some alien world and no real communication
would be possible.

Gleason continued his talk, and I heard the word "life" come out of his
mouth again.  A bomb needed to be dropped to end this potential Big
Recording Deal that was turning into an indictment, and as Gleason looked
at me and uttered "," all I could think of was Lenny Bruce...
Gleason's testimony... Lenny in jail... Lenny dead.  I spoke.

"Well, Ralph, one thing we all know about life is that it leads to death."

The dark cloud above the table rumbled, drizzled a momentary cold silent
discomfort, and the conversation was over.  Gleason died a few months
after the meeting.  No one will ever know his real intention in the Lenny
Bruce testimony.  He might even have thought he was doing Lenny a service,
and maybe he was doing the Redlegs a favor by unintentionally driving us
away from the Music Business for the last time.  We never went back.

Bob McFee, in those days the lead guitar player for Flying Circus, told me
recently that Ralph Gleason once wrote about me in his column.  The
column, said Bob, compared him, McFee, to me and was a favorable writeup
for both of us.  I had never known that Gleason ever heard the Redlegs
play or that he had written anything about me or anyone else in the band.


Every once in a while, a face from the past appeared at the waterfront.
One of these was Willy Kavanna, former agent and manager of two bands I
had been in back east.  He was slick, and I was constantly impressed by
his ability to keep the bookings coming.  He weaseled us into big
"showcase" clubs by overwhelming the owners and promoters with impressive
lies and outrageous claims.  It was business as usual to him.

When he showed up at Gate Six, I figured Willy might recognize what the
band was about and be able to translate that into some big money bookings.
  I was wrong.  He booked us into a gay bar on Haight St. and it was a
disaster. After that, Willy cornered me.  At first, he went on and on
about how cute and beautiful my daughter Annie was.  But what he really
wanted was to ask what went wrong.

"What the hell's happened to you?" he asked.  "You used to be one of the
best.  You had a great future in the music business.  Important people
discussed your guitar playing.  This Redlegs band is nothing special.
What is it with you and them?"

I recalled for Willy a conversation I had had back in Boston.  A bunch of
musicians and hippies had been sitting around at a party, stoned and
talking, in typical sixties fashion, about the meaning of everything.  A
drummer for one of the bands had said something that really stuck with me:
"We're all in the process of finding our people."  And, by no particular
effort of my own, I told him, I had found mine.

"The Redlegs can't be measured by music-business standards.  If I had
heard this group a few years ago, I probably would have thought they
weren't any good, just like you do now, Willy.  But I was listening from a
very narrow perspective then, and things have changed.  Now, I see and
hear bands like we had back then and they seem two-dimensional.  I don't
give a shit about their hit records, it's their lives that are nowhere."


That prophetic line had been spoken by Bruce Hauser, a home-town friend of
mine, in Los Angeles when Joey the drummer and I were there trying to get
a band together.  Bruce had been the bass player in one of my teenage
bands, and quit to pursue the Big Time on the West Coast.  He thoroughly
believed in L.A. as the center of the musical world, and paid little
attention to anything happening outside of it except to say that he knew
of musicians who had "disappeared into northern California, never to be
heard from again."  If it wasn't being talked about in Los Angeles, it
didn't exist.


When I quit high school, there was only a month to go until graduation.
The 1964 yearbook had already been processed, so my picture was in there
even though I'd dropped out. I was one of those kids who didn't get
involved in school activities, so the only thing it said under the
yearbook picture was "good guitar player, will be the leader of his own
band someday." "Someday" was only a couple of months away, and I was out
of town and working as a guitar player by the start of the next school

A rock & roll musician was not a good thing to be in a small New England
town.  There'd been trouble with the police and I was happy to escape.  I
didn't say goodbye to anyone and there was no apparent interest in my
budding career.  However, someone back there must have been keeping track
because people from my high school began showing up at the oddest times
and places. Two of them even showed up on the Sausalito waterfront.

The first was a guy named John, who I didn't really know at all.  In high
school he looked like the Ray Bolger character in the black and white part
of "The Wizard of Oz," but now he was a hippie.  There he was in the Gate
6 parking lot, smiling and chattering as though we'd always been close
buddies, stoned out his of mind on weed, and all excited about it as if
he'd just started.  I can't say if marijuana "leads" to hard drugs or not,
because pot was not the first drug I used.  When I did, it became tedious
very quickly and I lost interest in it.  Brand new hippies having their
first pot revelations bored the hell out of me.  I wasn't crazy about
being reminded of my home town or high school, either, and here was
home-town high-school John at Gate 6, all goofy on weed.  He was carrying
a "bong," a device that resembled an oversized water pipe.  And he said,
"I have this bong."  That's all I can remember him saying, and he was
still saying it when I walked away:  "I have this bong..."

The other one was Bill Shortell, who had been my friend in grade school.
Our fathers drank together and told dirty jokes.  By high school, we
rarely saw each other and never hung out together.  I had become part of
the wrong crowd, thoroughly disreputable, and he was earnestly involved in
his studies and athletics.

I didn't recognize him.  He came onto the Oakland with a full beard,
calling me by name.  I had to ask him who he was.  Maybe it was the beard.
  He was rigged out like some kind of woodsman and the only thing missing
was an axe over his shoulder.

Shortell was one of eleven children.  This may explain the ease with which
he made himself at home in the Hot Molecule, a domicile which boasted
nearly 700 cubic feet of interior space, the rough equivalent of twelve
refrigerators.   We talked.  He was now some kind of social worker in
Chicago, probably ministered to people like me...  When the subject of
music came up, he grabbed Maggie's guitar and sang "Say There Mr. Railroad
Man." And with that, the subject was closed.  He didn't want to hear
about a rock and roll group that called itself "the worst band in the
world."  Which we did, as a play on words, a honky way of saying
"baddest." He announced that he was going hiking in the hills above

But he wasn't a total ascetic, in fact he developed a fascination with
Marcia Exotica, who was living in the wheelhouse of the Oakland.  He
called her "the widow," for reasons known only to him, but my guess was
that some sort of 19th-century cultural values were coming to the surface,
and it gave me the creeps.

"Maybe I'll marry the widow," he mused, as if all he had to do was pop the
question and she'd fall swooning into his arms...  He went hiking alone.

When he came down from the mountain, he said he was leaving. "Don't you
want to stick around and hear the worst band in the world?" I asked.
"We're playing tomorrow night."  He said no, and I thought I'd better let
him know the awful truth about the late nights and strange characters
around here, and give him something to report back home:  "Your old friend
is seriously involved in hard drugs."  He said nothing and walked away,
his knapsack on his back.


The band seemed to thrive on what we came to call "combat conditions."
When other groups fussed about inadequate or faulty sound systems, made
sure their hair was right, demanded top billing and polished their
instruments, the Redlegs took the path of least resistance, said
"Fuckabunchabullshit" and plowed through whatever obstacles there were to
get the job done.  This, along with a certain characteristic sound, was
why we were called the Heavy Duty Crunch Band.

We were hired to play an outdoor event in Mendocino County and things
started going wrong even before we left the Gate Six parking lot.  Gibbons
was carrying most of the equipment in his pickup truck.  The stuff was
nearly loaded, and so were most of the people running around getting ready
to go.  I was putting guitars in the truck when someone called me to check
on something else.  Leaning Kim's Danelectro bass guitar against the
tailgate, I walked away for just a second.  During that second, Gibbons
backed the truck out and ran over the instrument, breaking its neck in
two.  We managed to dig up another bass and hit the road.

The concert site at Albion Ridge was a field on somebody's farm at the end
of a long, dusty dirt road.  There was a huge stage piled with speaker
cabinets, and a small building erected about twenty yards in front,
housing the sound system control board and its operators.  Technicians
milled about, fiddling with wires and connections.

There was an odd feeling in the air.  Four or five hundred hippies were
wandering around, some of them carrying mason jars of dark liquid,
offering drinks to any takers.  The stuff turned out to be blackberry
juice spiked with LSD, and everyone on the ridge was drinking it.  A jar
came around to us.  I didn't want to get high on acid, but I didn't want
to be the only one who wasn't, either.  So I took the jar, which seemed to
be vibrating on its own, and drank a little.  Joey turned it down, but
when the jar was gone someone handed him a sheet of acid dots on paper,
and without hesitation he licked up the entire thing.

Meanwhile, a band had started playing.  They were called Climate, and
whether it was them, or the acid coming on, or both, something was
seriously wrong.  Their sound was a cacophony of confused noise.

"Sounds like a heap of garbage cans collapsing in an alley," remarked
Joey.  As far as I could tell, they were all playing out of tune and out
of tempo in different keys and rhythms, and totally unaware of it.

With the acid coming on stronger, the disjointed sound became more
exaggerated and unpleasant.  The lack of communication between the
musicians spread through the crowd, creating an atmosphere of tense
alienation all over the ridge.  No one danced.  People moved farther and
farther from the stage area, trying to escape the weirdness, but the sound
system was too good.  Climate was having some bad weather, and the storm
of sonic horror was inescapable.

When their set was finally over, psychic wreckage was everywhere.  Even
the sky had gone gray.  As the area buzzed with paranoia and desperation,
a bearded man dressed in combat fatigues walked on stage and grabbed a

"I have an announcement.  Listen, everyone, I have something very
important to say."   When he finally had the crowd's attention, his voice
raised in pitch and became more nasal as he made his declaration:
"There is an extremely high fire danger here today... and there is NO
WATER."  As the already paranoid crowd digested this information, we were
informed that it was time for the Redlegs to play.

As we got ready, Joey was having a hard time remembering how to set up his
drums and I wasn't having much luck getting my guitar in tune.  Joe wasn't
either, but I knew he wasn't going to let that bother him.  I knew that he
knew the important thing was get the ball rolling, overcome the oppressive
weirdness, and that he would do anything to accomplish that.  Beneath his
dispassionate exterior, Joe always had his finger on the psychic and
emotional pulse of the moment, the vibrations, and he knew that under
these conditions, to hesitate is definitely to be lost.  Joey got his
drums working and we started playing the intro to "Tonight Is A Love
Song." The situation definitely required some sort of optimism.  Joe sang
one note into the microphone and the entire sound system blew out.

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, a positive aspect of the
ever-present Built-in Failure Factor.  Without missing a beat, Joe plugged
the mike into the second channel of his guitar amp, a Fender Concert.
With a substantial reduction in sound quality, but no longer at the mercy
of the drug-befuddled sound crew, we continued.

Little by little, we pulled the instruments into tune.  The people who had
approached the bandstand hoping for relief began to get it and started
dancing.  By the end of the first song, most of the paranoia had
dissipated and the clouds were breaking.  The next number was also a "love
song," but a hard-rocking shuffle, and now the whole band locked into the
groove.  We had defeated the weirdness.  The clouds were gone from the
sky, and the sun was now going down at our backs, its previous harsh glare
giving way to a genuine golden glow.  The dancers were taking off their
clothes and swaying hypnotically with their hands in the air, facing the
sun and the band as if involved in some ancient mystic ritual. Eventually
the sound system came back on and we finished the set with proper sound
balance, although it was clear the real work had been done without it.

It was nearly dark when we got off.  Two pickup trucks full of beer
arrived, one of them possibly for putting out potential fires...  It
seemed our timing was perfect.

The next band was the Mendocino All-Stars, who were supposedly musicians
from different well-known groups who lived in the area, like Cat Mother
And The All Night Newsboys, the Sir Douglas Quintet, and who knows who
else.  But in those days I had no idea who was famous, and who was
supposed to be fabulous or important. Looking back, I see that this was
the healthiest possible way to be.   As a young guitar player back east, I
was always terribly intimidated by the presence of any "big shots" in the
audience and often choked because of their presence.  In the Redlegs I
learned to not give a shit about such things.  I eventually came to see
that the less in touch with mass media culture you are, the easier it was
to just relax and live, and "do your thing."

The beer, along with bottles of whiskey and tequila, and joints,  brought
everyone down to earth.  The All-Stars were a good dance band and a good
ol' rock & roll party was in full swing.  Our equipment packed up and
safe, we were ready to take in the real show.  These gigs never failed to
bring the freaks out of the woodwork, and this one was no exception.

The combination of LSD and alcohol brought very interesting behavior out
of people.  I found Old George, self-proclaimed king of the San Francisco
street population, ministering to a small group of budding derelicts.
George and I had something in common: he had a dog named Bad Boy and I had
a dog named Bad Dog.  As we discussed our canine companions, he would
occasionally take a second to advise one of his followers, "DON'T FUCK
UP."  His guttural, raspy voice gave this statement an air of undeniable
authority, and Old George maintained his street-regal air until the
"thaxophone" guy arrived.

"Thaxophone" was a short, nerdy-looking man with a whiny voice and a lisp,
and seemed to be capable of saying only, "I wanna play a thaxophone.  Does
anybody have a thaxophone?"
"DON'T FUCK UP!" said George.
Thaxophone walked up to me and said,  "I wanna play a thaxophone.  Does
anybody have a thaxophone?"  I said nothing.
"DON'T FUCK UP!" repeated Old George.
"I wanna play a thaxophone.  Does anybody have a thaxophone?"
"You're FUCKING UP!" said Old George.  He was becoming irritated.
"I wanna play a thaxophone.  Does anybody have a Thaxophone?"
"Listen, boy, you're getting on my nerves.  Can't you see there ain't no
saxophone around here?  Now take a walk, and DON'T FUCK UP!"
"I wanna play a thaxophone.  Does anybody have a thaxophone?"
Old George, unable to take it any more, yelled in Thaxophone's face. "YOU
WANT A SAXOPHONE?  Here, I'll give you a saxophone.  Try THIS
motherfuckin' saxophone!"  He pulled out his dick and proceeded to
urinate on Thaxophone's shoes.  Incredibly, the little man said, "I wanna
to play a thaxophone.  Does anybody have a thaxophone?"

Old George kept pissing and moving forward, aiming higher and higher until
he had Thaxophone backing away, his pants dripping with George's urine.
Finally the would-be reed man turned and walked slowly away, muttering, "I
wanna play a thaxophone.  Does anybody have a thaxophone?"

The inevitable conga drumming rumbled in different corners of the field as
I wandered around and ran into Joe, and then Maggie.  We were discussing
the idea of leaving when we heard loud cursing and the sound of breaking
glass.  At a nearby trash barrel a tall gray-haired man, who looked like
he might have been a lawyer or accountant, was rocketing beer bottles into
the barrel with all his considerable drunken might.  Each time he broke a
bottle, he let loose a spate of imprecations.

"God DAMN fuckin' SHIT!  Dirty rotten BASTARDS! Stinking cunt-shit PISS!

When he had apparently broken enough bottles, he jumped into the barrel
and started violently jumping up and down on the glass, never breaking the
streak of curses.

"...KILL motherfuck-shit-whore-bastard!  UUGGGHHHHH!
Cocksuck-motherfuckin TURD!"

The "Mendocino Glass Crusher" moved from barrel to barrel repeating the
cycle and showed no sign of slowing down.  We laughed until it hurt, but
as marvelous as this entertainment was, we had a long drive back to
Sausalito.  Our forces gathered, we hit the highway south.


We were dosed with LSD fairly often.  It was in the punch, the wine, the
beer, maybe even the food.  Usually the dose was a mild one, well diluted
and not of much consequence.  Also, back then I didn't drink much, and one
or two glasses of beer or wine normally didn't contain enough acid to
bring about any great change.  Things and people would just seem silly or
absurd for a while.

The Marin County Heliport was about half a mile from Gate Six.  At the
time (1971) most of the upstairs space in the main building was rented out
to musical groups for rehearsal space.  Despite the presence of all these
musicians, there were never parties or happenings at the heliport.  The
Redlegs decided to do something about that.

One Sunday afternoon, we took a 100 ft. extension cord and some scrap
plywood and set up a makeshift stage in the empty field just north of the
main building.  With fifty or so waterfront regulars in attendance, we
just started playing, right there next to highway 101.  In a few hours the
crowd grew to three hundred or so and we played until dark with wine and
liquor flowing as if from an inexhaustible source.  No acid that first
day, or the next few Sundays.

For a while, every Sunday would be Heliport Day.  Word got around.  Free
rock and roll parties at the heliport.  Sometimes three or four hundred
people would show up, and amazingly, the police never came to shut us
down, probably because the heliport was on unincorporated land between
Sausalito and Mill Valley.

The last time we played at the heliport was the Night of the Big Acid
Dose.  We began around two in the afternoon.  It was a good day, the music
was good and the crowd big and happy.  More than the usual Red Mountain
found its way to the stage and we all drank liberally.  As the sun was
going down, I started to feel the first hints of electric acid hum.  Still
in the very early stages, I looked at Joey, the drummer.

"You feel it?"
"Yeah," he said, "I'm startin' to feel a little crazed."

We were used to this sort of thing, and kept on playing.  When the sun had
gone down, I got the first hint that this was going to be no ordinary
mild-dose acid trip.  Knowing perfectly well that the sun was down, I had
the distinct sensation of it rising behind my back, to the south.  I could
feel the warmth of sunshine and see the rays of light.  I was still "in
control," still had a "self," and was able to perceive the phenomenon with
some detachment.  As the sunlight effect grew, I began to play guitar with
a tropical feeling, and soon had a realistic visual sensation of being in
a saloon somewhere in the Pacific, with swinging doors, and palm trees and
the ocean outside.  (I hadn't yet been to Hawaii, and when I did get to
Maui eight years later, I found that the saloon in my vision was the bar
at the Pioneer Inn in Lahaina.)

My detachment was fading, but I do remember thinking, I know it's dark out
now and getting cold, yet the sun is there in the wrong part of the sky
and I can feel the heat.

The drug was coming on stronger now, the effect accelerating and building.
  The sun and saloon disappeared and I was back at the heliport at night.
Music was still playing, but I looked around and saw that Joey had
vanished and a black kid we knew named Tommy was playing the drums.  It
seemed he was playing ridiculously fast, very frantic.  In fact, I was the
only band member still on stage.  What had happened to them during my
tropical interlude?  The acid's acceleration was making me dizzy,
disoriented.   My guitar felt like a cardboard toy.  What the fuck am I
doing with this?   Dropping the instrument on the stage, I wandered into
the field.  I had to lay down, and did, right in a puddle.  It was raining
now, but none of that mattered.  There was no room to think about
anything.  My brain was surging, so busy filling up with acid that no
clear thought or perception, not even a decent hallucination had a chance
to form.

Eventually I recognized a familiar voice.  It was Saul Rouda, who
apparently had not been dosed too badly, saying, "All the heavy brain
damage cases come with me."  He herded me, along with four or five others,
into his red Volkswagen bug.  On the way back to Gate Six, he said, "Don't
worry, the band equipment is taken care of."  This made me dimly aware
that there were other band members in the car, but I can't remember who.
All this time the drug effect was still building rapidly, and I began to
grasp the enormity of the dose I had received.   This was far more LSD
than I had ever taken, or would have taken voluntarily.  There was time
for only a fleeting moment of fear.  The surge took hold again.

Somehow, with Saul's assistance, I wound up in the workshop on the
OAKLAND, our practice and storage room as well as workshop.  I lay down in
a pile of sawdust, glad to be in a safe place.  Anyone I encountered here
would be sympathetic, no one would try and mess with my mind.  Once I was
prone on the floor, I couldn't move and hadn't the slightest desire to do

The drug was still coming on but starting to smooth out when I became
aware of voices.  Joe and Kim were in the corner discussing fine points of
engineering .  This time they weren't talking about stepping a mast or
jacking up a hull.  They were seriously discussing how to best go about
moving Mt. Tamalpais.  I was able to turn my head in their direction once,
and saw Joe showing Kim a drawing of his idea for moving the mountain.
After that I couldn't roll my head from side to side or close my eyes.
The drug was now taking full effect, and there was no choice but to go
with it.  Any resistance at this point would have been futile and
dangerous.  Fighting it was how they went crazy.

I couldn't move my head, and my eyes were open, locked on one of the
rough-hewn planks in the ceiling.  The grain and knots in the wood began
to swirl and undulate, slowly at first.  People talk about seeing "colors"
and "patterns," things that "aren't there," on acid.   The appearance of
things and people changed when I was on LSD, but I never had the sensation
of seeing things that weren't there.  This wood was doing something.   It
was as if I had attained a different time-frame, was vibrating at some
other-worldly rate, like a movie camera running at three or four times
normal speed, making the film seem to run super-slow.  Only for me, the
wood was moving unusually fast.  It had always been moving this way, I was
just seeing it for the first time.  At first it swirled and moved side to
side, seemingly at random.  Then, patterns and figures formed.  Cave
paintings, runes, hieroglyphics, mystic symbols moved left to right across
the wood, slowly at first, then faster and faster, as if I were seeing all
of ancient history in few minutes.

Growing cold, aging, and dying.  This is it, I'm dead.  Although I
couldn't move my head, I had a field of vision somehow.  It didn't seem as
if I were out of my body, yet I could clearly see that it was now a
skeleton gathering dust and cobwebs.  There was no feeling of fear about
being dead.  After all, when you're dead, you're dead.

There was a new pulse of energy.  From my vaguely out-of-body yet not
out-of-body perspective, I could see something happening.   Muscles and
sinews, ligaments and tendons were forming on the bones.  Then skin, and
fur.  The fur faded and the skin remained.  It was a living body again.
Slowly, I got to my feet,  unfamiliar with physical being.  I felt very
old and slow and creaky.  My back wouldn't straighten up and my hands
wouldn't move like they should have.  They felt painful, arthritic.  I
looked at them;  they were black.  The palms were pink, the nails were
long and brittle.  All this was no surprise.  I was an old black man, and
that's just who I was.   At this point there was little if any awareness
of drugs or altered states.   It was what it was.  I spoke out loud, to no
one.  My voice was deep and resonant, like an old man's.  Of course.  I
WAS an old man.

At some point Buck Knight came in carrying a sheet of plywood and turned
on a bright electric light.   He was looking at me very strangely.
"Shee-it," I said in that deep, old black voice.
"Uh, how ya doin', man?" asked Buck.
"Shee-it.  I don't know.  You gonna cut that wood? Hey man, you're white."
"I know that.  I've always been white.  I was born white."
(I was seeing a white man as a white man for the first time.  He looked
washed-out, bleached, anemic.  I almost felt sorry for him.)

I wandered outside, onto the large deck where my little houseboat was tied
up next to the barge.  Even though I knew this was Sausalito, it seemed
like the Mississippi Delta, in the same way the sun had seemed to be out
back at the heliport.  Maggie was in the houseboat.  Her appearance was no
surprise; she had light skin but her features were definitely African, and
she seemed to have gained around fifty pounds.  I was an old black man and
she was my old fat black wife.  Whether she was "going along with the gag"
or having the same trip as I was didn't matter.  That's just how it was.

I picked up a guitar and played a blues figure.  It sounded like "Down,
down, down by the river,"  so I sang, "Down, down, down by the river." 
The words kept coming, from where I don't know, but they all fit, and all
made sense, from the basic river-mud reality of standing down by the river
to the infinite cycle of death and rebirth.  I been down, down, down by
the river...a thousand times or more....and every time I see it again...I
know I been there before....

This went on for some fifty to a hundred verses, and of course the paper I
wrote it on was lost immediately.  The old black man wrote it, but while
he was writing,  I came seeping back into the body as it changed back to a
young white one, and lost the paper.

The transition back to my "normal" self was pretty rocky.  Lots of short
circuits in the brain; little bolts of lightning, paranoia and headache.
Around this time (it was still dark out)  Joey the drummer came aboard
looking like a big rodent and said, "Do you have any cheese?  I gotta have
some cheese."  I gave him a slab of Monterey Jack which he munched
furiously, apologizing for his manners by saying, "God, I just can't help
myself."  I knew what he meant.

Penny Woodstock was the wife of Michael Woodstock, the hippie-mystic.
She's British, and could be outrageous when drunk, but when she and
Michael took acid together, they became supernatural beings, at least as
far as they and anyone within their immediate sphere of influence were
concerned.  They were always surrounded by young, impressionable runaways
and other hapless waifs, who worshipped them.  They weren't charlatans;
sometimes they really were supernatural beings, just as anyone who takes
enough drugs becomes a supernatural being at least once.

Amphetamine sometimes took me into extreme psychotic hyper-sensitivity;
paranoia isn't quite the right word.  One morning at the Dredge, without
sleep for three or four nights, I happened across Penny Woodstock and she
was in a rotten mood.  When I said something or other she didn't like, she
snapped, "You better not mess with me, Jeffrey.   Leave me alone or you'll
be sorry."  The vibes were pretty bad all around, and I believed her.  To
reach my boat, I had to cross the Kupreanov, a huge open tugboat hull,
with only deck beams to walk on.  Normally this was a snap, part of the
normal environment.  This time I slipped and fell into the hull, nearly
breaking my leg.  As I climbed back out, there was Penny, pointing her
bony finger and saying, "There's a warning for you, Jeffrey.  Don't forget
I'm a witch, and I could hurt you any time I wanted."  I didn't doubt her
a bit.


This account of a Redlegs gig was written by Penny Woodstock in the June
21, 1975 issue of the Garlic Press (waterfront newspaper):

"The most insane night I can remember (there were others I don't remember)
was the night the Redlegs played at the Old Mill in Mill Valley, about two
years ago.  The manager of the bar couldn't believe it when nearly two
hundred scruffy, waterlogged drunks showed up for the night.  His
waitresses fought through the crowd to get to the tables, only to find
when they got there that all the drinks had been taken.  This happened
over and over again.  He couldn't stop the people from dancing on the
tables, and outside on the pavement people were lying on the sidewalk
snogging and drinking themselves into an outrageous stupor.  As the band
played, [Toothless] Tom Woods played the bongo drums on top of the tallest
amplifier about two feet from the ceiling.  As the night came to a head
most of the tables and chairs got crushed and I vaguely remember some
squad cars arriving.  I think everyone had a good time that night.  Nobody
could possibly remember it as well as that bar manager.  I went around
there the next morning and heard him telling his regulars that it was the
biggest drawing for a group he ever had.  But he would never be able to
hire the Redlegs again."

What Penny did not hear the bar manager say was (he may not have known yet
himself) that as a direct result of the Redlegs' appearance, the Old Mill
bar, venerable Mill Valley landmark, would shut down forever, be sold and
turned into a proto-yuppie fern bar.

What I can remember is the huge crowd for such a small place, wild dancing
and destruction, and the "guest" appearances of two local "rock stars,"
David Clayton-Thomas of Blood Sweat and Tears, and John Cippolina of
Quicksilver Messenger Service.  All I can recall about Clayton-Thomas is
that at some point he was there in front of me with a microphone singing
some song, I have no idea what.

Cippolina had played in a band with Adam Fourman when they were in high
school, and now he was a famous guitar "hero" with a big group.  He came
into the bar and stood in front of the stage carefully surveying our
equipment.  He left and came back with a guitar, and an amplifier which he
knew would overpower everything we had.  After setting up this rig and
without exchanging a friendly greeting with anyone in the band, he began
playing not with but against the band, and at a greater decibel level.
The resulting tension may or may not have contributed to the destruction
of the bar.


I may never know how we got some of these gigs.  In the Garden of Earthly
Delights, we looked ordinary.  The place was full of big fat Hell's
Angels, pimply-faced greaseballs, spaced-out hippies, black and white drag
queens, and one thalidomide dwarf named Shorty.

The floor was covered with sawdust, and I noted the rugged construction of
the tables and chairs.  No one here was going to police the dance floor,
or tell the band to turn the volume down.

I went to the bar and ordered Jim Beam.  Next to me was Shorty, the
thalidomide dwarf.  He was three feet tall.  In place of arms he had
flippers at the shoulders, each with two or three rudimentary fingers.  He
wore a white T-shirt and loose fitting black shorts, and was barefooted.
He drank Budweiser in long neck bottles by getting a firm grip on the
bottle neck with his teeth and throwing his head back.

Shorty loved music.  His biggest complaint about his condition was that he
wished he could play the saxophone, but listening and dancing would have
to do.  He had long thick black hair and a full beard.  Nowhere in the
movies or anywhere else had I seen a dwarf or midget who was a hippie, or
freak.  Jeremy, halfway to the Green Slime stage, joined us at the bar.
He struck up a conversation with Shorty, and I went to help set up band
After the first set I ran into Jeremy again.  He looked shaky.
"I went in to take a leak,"  he said, "And Shorty was right in front of
me. He turned and looked up at me and I thought, Jesus, he's gonna ask me
to HOLD it for him."
The Green Slime grimace stretched across his face as his eyes rolled
slowly toward the ceiling and back.
"But then he just got himself over the toilet with his knee up, and let
go out the bottom of his shorts.  He did pretty good, really.  Hardly got
any on him."

The room was thick with marijuana smoke and the reek of spilled beer.
People came and went in small groups, going here for line of coke and
there for a balloon of heroin.  Jack the Fluke, returning from one of
these forays, told me excitedly how he had gone upstairs to get high, and
met a girl who gave him a blow job in her Volkswagen.  He was particularly
eager to explain about the "spermatozoa getting all over the seat," as if
to clarify that fat men had some too.  The climax of the evening came when
a blond hippie girl began screaming obscenities and making threatening
gestures at the band.  She picked up a heavy glass beer mug and hurled it
at the stage, narrowly missing Maggie's head.  In seconds a riot erupted,
a classic barroom brawl with fists and furniture flying.  As the
waterfront heavies like Sam Anderson and Dean Puchalski dealt with the
fracas, we made our escape before the police came.


The worst drug of all was PCP, or Angel Dust. It caused the heaviest brain
damage, and made more people into basket cases than the rest of them put
together.  PCP was believed to be the dope they put in those darts to stun
elephants.  A few c.c.'s of this stuff could drop a charging bull
rhinoceros in his tracks, and there were human beings taking it for kicks.
I had taken PCP before and hated it. My brain had felt like melting
plastic.  It was the one drug I would never have taken again voluntarily.

Twelve-string Pete from Down the Street, a waterfront regular and PCP
brain damage case, drowned in a swimming pool in San Rafael.  No one
doubted that Pete believed he could breathe under water.

There was never a lack of bizarre characters on the waterfront.  When
Chris Roberts declared himself a "magnet for degenerates," he was taking
more than his share of credit, but they were there all right, and usually
tolerated.  It was almost impossible to be ostracized from Gate 6.

When Jim Shocker moved onto Dino Valenti's houseboat nobody paid much
attention.  He looked like a musician--always carrying a guitar case, long
hair, stylish clothes, and platform shoes.  He tried very hard to sound
hip.  If anyone said hello, he'd respond with, "What it is," or "Heavy
times, bro'." Nobody paid much attention.

He knew I played guitar with the Redlegs, and started inviting me over to
look at his instruments. There was always at least one really fine guitar
at his place.  He didn't play very well, but as a guitar owner he was
great.  I saw him on the dock one afternoon, carrying another guitar
case. "Hey bro', what it is.  You gotta check out this guitar, man.  It's
a Gibson J-200.  Natural wood.  Really bad axe.  Heavy times, man."

It was a nice guitar all right.  I played it a little and gave it back.
He was pleased that I liked it, and poured me a glass of brandy.

"You gotta hear this record, man, listen to the words.  It's really
heavy." He put on an Elton John song called "Levon."  It was something
about a guy who called his child "Jesus."  That must have been the heavy
part, but I didn't care for the song much, and got up to leave.

"That's not really my cup of tea, Jim," I said, "But I like the guitar.
Thanks for the drink. I'll see you later."

"Wait a minute, bro', you wanna get high?  I've got some pure coke here.
How 'bout a couple of lines?"

"Why not?"  He laid out two huge lines on the table and handed me a straw.
  I should have known something was wrong when he didn't take some first
for himself.  Cocaine people always took some first, and usually the
bigger line.

I snorted up the powder, finished the drink, and woke up six hours later
in a puddle in the parking lot.  It was raining.  Someone was leaning over
me, shaking my arms.

"Jesus Christ, I thought you were dead.  What happened?"
"Who's that?" I asked. My voice was an octave higher than usual, as if I
had inhaled helium, and I couldn't see anything.
"Jack?  Jack the Fluke?"
"Jesus Christ, yes. Jack the Fluke. What the fuck happened to you?"
"Where are we, Jack? What happened to Jim?" I squeaked.
My mouth tasted like rubber, the air smelled like rubber, and I sounded
like Donald Duck.
"The parking lot.  Jim who?" said Jack.  He was dragging me by the
armpits, and I felt the gravel turn to wood under me.
"Rubber Duck," I said. "Rubber Duck, rubby duck, Rub-ber Duck."  I felt
like oily jello being squeezed through subterranean rubber tubes.
"Jim who? Who the fuck is Jim? What's this rubber duck shit?"
"I thought he was dead," Jack was saying to somebody. "I think he's gone
I was on the couch in the Oakland  shop. The lights were on and I could
see, but everything was black and white and two-dimensional, like TV.
"Rubber Duck," I said in my helium duck-voice. "Not coke. PCP.  Rubber
Duck.  Dosed with Rubber Duck. Jim Shocker."
"Hey, Blind Jeff Dead Boy. What happened?" It was Joey.
"Jim Shocker," I said.  "Elephant tranquilizer. Said it was coke. Are you
all right?  Is Maggie all right?"   Somehow I thought everyone else had
been dosed too. My squeaky voice sounded like it was coming from
somewhere else.
"Elephant Tranquilizer?  That creep."

Eventually I was able to relate that I had taken the drug in Shocker's
place and been found by Jack the Fluke in the parking lot. I had no memory
beyond sniffing the powder and getting dizzy in the houseboat.

The squeaky voice faded in a few hours but the rubber sensations and
disorientation stayed for two or three days, and I was able to walk around
in four.  Jim Shocker was gone, moved out with no forwarding address.
Nobody ever mentioned what happened to him and I never asked.

"Rubber Duck" caught on as a nickname for PCP, but it's a deceptively
benign-sounding term.  I wouldn't recommend it to a rhinoceros.


Tom Anderson had been something of a big-shot on the Sausalito waterfront
in the late 60's. He ran a boat yard and marine railway.  Fishermen and
tugboat captains hauled out their boats at Anderson's.  It was Real Man
stuff, and Tom Anderson did it all proudly, in a Real Man way.  Before
leaving for parts unknown, he made a movie.  It was called "The
E-Wreck-Ta-Cator," about a man who builds a machine whose sole purpose is
to self-destruct.  Written and produced by Tom Anderson, the film starred
Tom Anderson as the crazed builder of the machine.  In my pre-waterfront
days, I had met Anderson briefly in San Francisco when I happened into a
gig playing guitar on his movie soundtrack, but hadn't really paid much
attention to him.

In 1973 word came around that Tom Anderson was coming back.  Everyone was
talking about it. The amount of hubbub surrounding this rumor puzzled me.
What was the big deal?  I found out when he roared into Gate Six is his
overpowered tugboat, throwing up a wake that nearly capsized half the
houseboats.  Tom Anderson was an egomaniac, so full of himself that his
face was red and shiny, the skin drawn tight like an overinflated balloon.
  I hadn't seen this at the recording session because he was out of his
element there.

Joe Tate, the unofficial "boss" of Gate Six, felt it necessary to go out
in his boat to "greet" Anderson.  The encounter was tense and blustery,
like two dogs snarling and snapping at each other.  What everyone besides
me knew was that Anderson would try and seat himself as top dog no matter
what it took.

The first move Anderson made was to buy the Oakland.   He evicted
everyone, built a fence around the deck, and played ponderous Wagnerian
opera records at peak volume while standing on his deck like a Laird of
the Manor.  He wondered why nobody liked him.

Steve Webber, a new arrival who was acting as the band's equipment manager
and sound engineer, made a heroic attempt to deal with Anderson.  First,
he tried to goad him into a fistfight by tearing down part of the fence.
Anderson responded very calmly by calling the police, who arrested Webber
and took him downtown.   While Steve was in jail, graffiti appeared around
Gate 6:  "Free Steve Webber."  This, combined with his sharp eye for a
bargain earned him the name "Free Steve."

When Free Steve was released, he wasn't through with Tom.  Anderson had
made the mistake of publicly admitting that he had a "thing" about fecal
matter; he couldn't even tolerate changing his own child's diaper.  Armed
with this information, Free Steve took it upon himself to pack Anderson's
sewer outlet pipe with concrete.  When his toilet backed up, Anderson said
nothing, held his breath and managed to fix the pipe.

"What's the matter with you people?"  he asked me one day.  What he meant,
but didn't say, was Why aren't you all bowing and scraping at my feet?
Don't you realize you're in the presence of royalty?

I tried to explain that we were a cooperative community, interdependent,
and had achieved a certain symbiosis, a harmony of existence.  There was
no room for a king.

"What it comes down to Tom, in street language, is this:  Everything is
everything, everything is one.  But you think you are everything, and
one else around here knows you are not."
He said, "I can't accept that."
Less than a week later, Tom Anderson killed himself with a .32 caliber


Sgt. Bill was a rare cop.   He used to park his cruiser in a vacant lot
near one of our illegally-placed landing docks, and watch the boats go by.
  I first met him under very unpleasant circumstances, at a wake we were
having for a recently drowned year-old child.

We had taken a barge to Schoonmaker beach and run it aground purposely.
The Schoonmaker property was not technically a public beach, but at the
time nobody bothered people who came and left by boat.  Dean had a
generator on the barge and we used it to power the electric band

A barbecue fire was roaring on the beach, we had three kegs of beer and
gallons of Red Mountain, and the sorrow over the child's death was being
exorcised.  It was a great relief to everyone to be partying after the
period of mourning.

Someone somewhere complained about the loud music, and the cops showed up,
twenty or thirty of them in full riot costume.  Emotions were running high
that day.  A number of people were immediately ready to take the cops on,
and started cursing and throwing bottles at them.  I got on the mike and
convinced my friends to cool it, then jumped down onto the beach and
walked over to the head cop, Sgt. Bill.  This was not his first time at a
Redlegs party, and he looked almost scared.  I had never really spoken
with him before.

"Jesus, you guys," he said, looking ludicrous in his riot helmet. "Can't
you just not play so loud, so we don't have to go through this bullshit?"

"Look, Sergeant," I said.  "This isn't any regular party.  See that woman
over there?  And the guy she's with?  Their baby died two weeks ago.  He
drowned.  Maybe you can understand how important it is for these people to
get their feelings out.  We've all got kids and we all live on the water.
Do you get what I'm saying? We don't want trouble any more than you do."

"Well, can't you PLEASE make the music quieter?"  He was nearly in tears.
"They'll have my ass if there's another complaint.  Jesus.  Their BABY
died?"  The cops left and didn't return.  Maybe we really did turn the
volume down.

After that I started seeing him parked in the vacant lot near the Dredge.
At first I just said hello, but after a while we started talking.  With
drugs and paraphernalia in my pocket, and a knife on my belt, I would sit
in the police car with him and talk about life on the water, and rock &
roll music.  Once, we had a conversation about whether a knife is a weapon
or a tool.  He was trained to consider it a weapon.  Sailors as well as
hunters, loggers and so forth carry knives openly.  The blades are
indispensable tools, necessary in everyday life.  If a line gets fouled
around your leg and there's an anchor attached to it that was just thrown
overboard, you better be quick and your knife better be sharp.  The
sergeant saw my point.

He was an authority on '5O's music.  Once he demonstrated a subtle
syncopated inflection that Ricky Nelson used in "Be Bop Baby."  Sgt. Bill
had a good singing voice, and a real feeling for music.

The last time I saw him, Salty and I were walking along the old railroad
tracks by the Gerhardt sheet metal factory.  It was four in the morning.
We were checking dumpsters and Goodwill boxes on our way to the 7-11 for
junk food.  Just walking down the road minding our own business, you might
say, when two cop cars drove up to us with their lights flashing.  Sgt.
Bill was driving one of them.

"Oh, no, not YOU guys."
"Yep, us guys, Bill.  What's going on?"
"A burglar alarm went off in the Gerhardt building.  You guys been poking
around in there?"
"No, man, come on.  We're goin' to the 7-11 for burritos.  We didn't hear
any alarm, and we just walked past the joint."
I was telling the truth, and he believed it.
"You guys wait here," he said, "I'll check out the building.  Stick
around, there's something I want to show you."
After determining that the alarm had been false, the cop in the second
cruiser drove away and Sgt. Bill returned as promised.  He opened the
passenger door and said, "Get in."  I got in front, Salty in back.
"Here, look at this," Sgt. Bill said.  He produced a few typewritten
sheets of paper.
"What is it?"
"It's a poem I got from a guy in San Quentin,  in for murdering his
girlfriend, or his whore.  He's a pimp.  It's fantastic.  Read it."

It was a long, involved epic poem of drugs, madness, and murder, written
in the darkest, nastiest, cruelest, most hard-edged inner city ghetto
language I had ever heard.  Thoroughly unpleasant and frightening, yet
perversely fascinating.  The narrator was a pimp with a monstrous cocaine
habit and all the cold, violent insanity that goes with it.  It told of
the whore not being able to get enough money for his drugs, the pimp
cursing and threatening, eventually beating her until she was dead.

"Read it out loud," said the Sergeant,  "The last part."
Salty had been silent the whole time, but when I read the last part, he
said, "Jesus..."
The whore was dead but the pimp's rage was not satisfied.  He took out a
knife and hacked away at the body and finally "Cut the bitch's head off
and kicked it out the door."
At this last part Sgt. Bill was beside himself.  He was genuinely worked
up, loving it.
"God, that's FANTASTIC," he said.  "Read it again."
Salty was staring hard at the Sergeant.  So was I.
I read it again and the Sergeant started sweating and hooting out loud,
almost in convulsions.
"Yeah, yeah," he shouted, "That's great, wow!"
"Hey, we gotta get some burritos," said Salty.  Salty was a bizarre guy,
but this was getting too weird even for him.
"Yeah, right," I said.  "Hey Bill, uh, thanks for letting me read the
poem.  We need something to eat."
Sgt. Bill composed himself and said, "Okay guys.  Stay out of trouble, huh?"


Znargh -- from "Zharghmobile." Eventually came to mean anything ugly
and/or dangerous, particularly submerged marine wreckage or other
navigational hazards.  "Watch out for that znargh, dead ahead."

Douchenozzleowitzski, BombachurchBukowski -- poem (titled "Bottom Job On
Nightmare Beach") reflecting several waterfront colloquialisms of the
period, Reggae rhetoric and important literary influences.  Done in bottom
paint on the "Happiness."  The word "douchebag," introduced to the local
jargon as a catch-all term by Jim Gibbons, enjoyed a period of great
notoriety, with at least as many meanings and semantic variations as
"fuck."  "Nozzle" took on multiple meanings as well, and the compound
"douchenozzle" enjoyed various interpretations.  "Owitzski" came from the
practice of combining various Jewish and Polish name suffixes.  Taken past
the edge of silliness, this (pre-political correctness) syllable-wrenching
produced such utterances as "Gold-Silver-Baum-Bloom-Stein-Berg-Owitz-ski."
Goldie, a Jew from New Jersey, took particular delight in this.
"Bombachurch" is from a Bob Marley and the Wailers song.  "...And I feel
like bombing a church...Now that you know the preacher is lying."
"Bukowski" should need no explanation.

"I am a hoo-hah of the hoo-hah, but my old lady is of the other
persuasion" -- Green Slime's explanation of the difficulties stemming from
being brought up Catholic and marrying a Jewish woman.  This statement was
made one Thanksgiving to the befuddlement of a couple who were someone's
outside friends and making their first visit to the waterfront, and was

Shit-pie Doodle -- Janice Speck's term for twinkies, ding-dongs and the like.

"Stinking pathetic ghoul music" -- My comment on a Bobby Goldsboro song.

"What loco motive got me on this train of thought?"  -- Dredge

"Inability to concentrate on long-range goals is a lower middle class
syndrome" -- Buck Knight said it; he probably read it somewhere.  It
certainly applied to me.

Buck Bubbles and his Biodegradable Booze Band --  There were no musicians
in the group, and Gibbons was the drummer.  They wrote a song about serial
killer Juan Corona, to the tune of "Wolverton Mountain":

They say don't go to Yuba City
If you're lookin' for a job
'Cause Juan Corona has a sharp machete
And he's workin' for Beezlebub

"Physical Ed, smells like he's dead, like a coat he got from a bum."  --
Kathy Ash's ode to Joey Crunch's cousin,

Eddie Crash  -- So called for his tendency to pass out instantly when
drunk, even when walking, for instance on a narrow plank across water.  He
took some good tumbles and splashes.  Also known as Ed the Bed.

Wowie Zowie Zorcho Zingbop  --  According to Joe Tate, what it felt like
to be high on mescaline in those days.

"Wonderful" Russell Grisham --  a Krishna groupie.  Not actually one of
those people chanting in robes, he liked the idea of it but apparently
didn't want to get really involved.   So he built his houseboat to look
like the Taj Mahal, with a little white dome, and followed the Krishnas
around and argued their case to anyone who would listen.  A devotee of the
devotees.   Achieved his fifteen minutes of fame in the San Francisco
Chronicle front-page photo of tense confrontation between him and a Marin
County sheriff when his houseboat was towed to the heliport for
"abatement" -- the famous gun and knife shot.

Mr. Joy -- Parking lot weirdo who walked around bent over like a
hunchback, looking up sideways at people and saying, with a miserably
pained expression, "My name is John O' Connor and I bring joy."  Once
attacked Captain Garbage with a propane tank.

"Every creep has an asshole, but not every asshole has a creep." -- Jack
the Fluke on the difference an asshole and a creep.

"I don't know nothin' about the law except how to get in trouble." --
Brian "Beppo" Petersen on legal matters.

"I feel bad when I win and worse when I lose"  --  "Free" Steve Webber, a
US Navy veteran, on poker.


He was only person I ever knew who went around calling everyone "brother"
and really meant it.  "Brother" Martin had all the characteristics of a
religious pilgrim without belonging to any order or discipline, a "seeker"
in the true sense.  The problem was, he wasn't finding the answers and it
frustrated him.  Eventually, Brother Martin tried more and stronger drugs,
including Rubber Duck, apparently to no avail.  As his behavior became
more and more unorthodox, people said he was crazy, and Brother Martin
went on the Sausalito waterfront's growing list of tolerated borderline or
outright lunatics.

But like any "crazy" or "psychotic" person, Martin had some clear insights
into many human problems and contradictions.  A gentle man, he sincerely
wondered about the institution of marriage.  His own wife had driven him
away by having overt affairs with a number of different men.  Rather than
curse her or them, Martin stood back and examined the wisdom of rigid
lifetime commitment, and not surprisingly found it lacking.  Brother
Martin was also troubled by money, and how it took over people's lives.
When I discussed these matters with him, he didn't seem crazy at all.

The band was playing one night at Saul Rouda's movie studio at the old
Bob's Boatyard by the Napa Street Pier.  It was a typical Redlegs party,
with everybody dancing and drunk or high on something, and utterly
unpredictable.  The first surprise that night was the arrival of June
Pointer, who asked to sing with the band.

"What do you want to sing?" I asked her, having never heard a single
Pointer Sisters record.

"Wang Dang Doodle." She was tipping and teetering, and sort of giggling.
This wasn't the first party she's been to that night.
How's it go?"

"You know, Wang Dang Doodle..."

I didn't know.  I looked at Kim, and he didn't know.  Joey didn't know.
Joe was out somewhere, but was I sure he didn't know.  So she just started
singing. We found the key and faked it.  Years later I heard the record
and laughed because it only had one chord, so I figure it must have been
all right.

After June dissolved into the crowd, we began another song and Brother
Martin appeared in front of the band.  He had an intense look in his eye,
and he was staring right at me.  As the band played on, he kept the
intense eye-to-eye contact going and reached into his pocket.  First, he
pulled out a twenty dollar bill.  Next, a Bic lighter.  I was getting
interested now.

"Go ahead,  I yelled over the music.  "Go for it."

Martin shook his head.

"Do it, Martin!  Burn it up!"

He shook his head again, but kept holding out the money and lighter.  I
pointed at myself and he nodded.  He wanted me to do it.  First, he gave
me the bill, indicating that I could just keep it if I wanted, but
something felt important about this, something bigger than a mere twenty
dollars.  But why didn't he just burn the twenty himself?  Martin held out
the lighter.  I turned to Joey and Kim and motioned them to keep playing.

With the bill in my left hand, the lighter in my right, the bass and drums
churning away and Brother Martin standing there like a mad soothsayer, I
lit the money and held it until only a burning corner remained in my hand.
  It fell to the floor, I stomped it out and that was it.

Or was it?  Brother Martin continued to suffer under the strain of
day-to-day mundane life, finding nothing to encourage his quest for
meaning.  Less than a year after the money burning incident he jumped off
the Golden Gate Bridge, going down in the records as number six hundred

It wasn't long after Martin's death that I started getting strange phone
calls from back east.  The calls came in at the stern apartment of the
Oakland, which was odd in itself.  The place was occupied at the time by
Jack Hurley.  Jack had authored his own deck of tarot cards, and he and
his wife, Rae,  were into some occult and esoteric activities that would
have been cause for much suspicion outside the waterfront, or a lynching
outside of California.  Hurley had predicted some sort of major event in
my life.  It was never made clear how or why the calls came to his place.

The first call was from Bob Shearer, who had been the singer in my first
rock and roll band back in Unionville, Connecticut.  He told me a
detective was looking for me.  The search had started at my ten-year high
school reunion.  No one there had known where I was, but my former
classmates suggested the detective look up Shearer.

Shearer suggested I call a certain reporter from the Hartford Courant, who
was also involved in the search, but he also advised me to be careful if I
was involved with drugs or any other illegal activities.  Which of course
I was.  So I told him to give Hurley's number to the reporter and she
could call me if it was that big a deal.

The reporter called the next day. She was very excited and admitted that
getting me on the phone meant a scoop for her.  I was the object of a
national search.  She wouldn't give me all the details, but did tell me my
grandmother had died and left me a sizable inheritance.  I authorized her
to give the phone number to the detective who called almost immediately.
He drilled me with questions about my personal life and got some long-lost
relatives in on a conference call.  When the relatives were satisfied with
who I was, the detective told me the amount of the inheritance was

Somewhere between the time of the phone calls and the arrival of the
check, I was struck with a vision of Brother Martin and the twenty dollar
bill.  No one in the pragmatic world of scientific cause-and-effect would
swallow this for a second, but there are times when you know something
intuitively.  And what I knew at that moment was that I had been given a
twenty dollar bill by a "crazy" man who had clear and disturbing visions,
I had burned the bill ceremoniously at his insistence, he had committed
suicide in the most grandiose manner possible, dying in the water on which
my home floated, and shortly thereafter I had received messages, at the
home of a known psychic, telling me I had inherited twenty thousand
dollars.  As for the inheritance itself, I'll just say that it came at the
worst possible time, and I made no sound investments.


"Oh yeah, listen to THIS," I said to the happy carolers after enduring
their versions of two or three traditional Christmas songs:

"On the last say of Christmas my true love gave to me
Twelve bummers humming
Eleven lepers leaping
Ten hookers hitching
Nine toms a-peeping
Eight maidens mooing
Seven schwantzes schtupping
Six beasts a-baying
Five moldy things
Four falling turds
Three drenched hens
Two dirty gloves
And a narc hiding in a bare tree."

"That's UGLY," said the bespectacled little girl as the rest of the roving
singers looked at me in horror.

It was the Christmas I'd like to forget, solid evidence of my descent into
the dark side of the drug experience.  I'd been up on crank for two or
three nights and couldn't find any more, but there was some MDA around.
On the way back from getting the MDA I ran into April the groupie/junkie,
who had some meth and agreed to trade some with me.

She invited me to dinner; naturally I declined, not being hungry at all
and anxious to get on with getting off.  Even in the drug world, there's a
certain amount of decorum involved, and I waited as she started cooking.
We did the trade and I decided to mix the speed with the MDA, mixing them
in the spoon and shooting them up together.  The combination multiplied
the effects of both, and my body and brain were instantly surging with
electric heat.

I talked rapidly and crazily at April as she ate her pork chops, potatoes
and gravy.  After all, the polite thing was to stay until she got high,
too.  She finished the meal and wasted no time preparing her injection.
When the dope hit her she began talking in the same manic fashion.
Suddenly she said, "Excuse me."  Casually, she stepped outside and
vomited.  It was one of those long, singing, gurgling high-powered
projections she had become famous for.  This was my cue to leave, not that
vomiting was socially unacceptable. I had other reasons for not wanting to
hang around, not the least of which was that she might want to have sex,
and puking could have been considered a breach of decorum if it came to
that.  Besides, it was Christmas Eve and I had some things to do.

For me, no amount of objectivity, cynicism or protest can completely
overcome what we know as the "spirit of Christmas."  No matter how hard I
may fight it, a twinge of sentiment gets me sooner or later in the season.

Michael Young once remarked, "I go places where they're eating spaghetti
with no meat in the sauce but they see the dope and out comes the money."
The people he was talking about weren't vegetarians, they thought of a
meal as incomplete without meat but were always ready to sacrifice
nutrition for drugs...

I had sacrificed Christmas for drugs this time.  That particular
combination of drugs created a sensation of excitement, well-being, and a
strange warmth all through my body, and the comedown the next morning was
a disastrous feeling of depression, existential horror and cold.  I lay
all day under every blanket in the boat, shivering, being rude to
Christmas visitors, and feeling all the guilt over Christmas that I'd
laughed at and shrugged off the night before.

Drugs were getting to be not so wonderful.


The band began to degenerate, for the usual reasons and probably more.

Drugs...  Remember, this was the end of the sixties.  Everyone was having
a good old time, smoking pot and drinking beer.  Everyone in the band had
taken LSD, and had some form of "transforming," or "mind-expanding" trip.
(I use those terms cautiously.  There are no words adequate to describe
the psychedelic experience.)

Joey Brennan, the drummer, was probably the best musician in the Redlegs
band.  Drums were his only instrument, but he was better and more musical
at them than any drummer I or anyone else in the Redlegs had ever worked
with.  After Joe Tate bought the Richmond, it began to consume more and
more of his energy.  His playing began to suffer and this troubled -- no,
disgusted -- Joey.  What also bothered Joey, and me as well, was that Joe
Tate seemed to be developing a chronic case of "something to prove,"
competing with other men on the waterfront to see who could complete the
biggest, baddest boat project, getting involved in some kind of machismo

"I came here to play music and I don't give a shit about boats," was
Joey's statement on the matter.  We might have seen this as an indication
that Joey had no intention of going on the "big" boat trip and that it was
therefore ultimately doomed, but by then no one was seeing, or really
wanted to see, the situation clearly.

Joey started protesting.  If Tate was playing badly or out of tune, Joey
would get off his drum stool and move Joe's amplifier, pointing the
speakers away so he wouldn't have to hear so much of it.  But the more
significant sign of Joey's dissatisfaction was his increasing use of
heroin.  This coincided with my own use of methamphetamine.  Thus Joey and
I, the musical partners that had come to California together with a
musical dream and realized it, began to drift apart. On our trip from L.A.
to San Francisco, we had picked up a pair of hitchhikers, a young man and
woman.  The woman was a speed freak and the man was a downer-head who
lived on barbiturates, or narcotics when he could get them.  During their
ride with us they argued constantly, each belittling the other's choice of
drugs.  This had been a long-standing joke with Joey and me, and now it
was happening to us.

Maggie dealt with all this by continuing to write her own songs and do her
various art projects, and Kim, like always, didn't seem to care much one
way or the other.

One reasonably certain sign that a musical group is past its peak and
beginning the disintegration process is the addition of new members.
(There's a metaphor for economic growth here somewhere...)  Along with
increasing drug problems and the deteriorating big-boat situation, the
band's musical direction was changing.

Joe's early musical and performance influences in his home town of St.
Louis, besides his mother's hellfire and brimstone Pentecostal tent
revivals, had been rhythm & blues musicians like Chuck Berry and Ike
Turner. Some of his own songs reflected these, but he'd also listened to
softer, more melodic stuff like Brazilian jazz as well as classical and
folk music, and to me, his most interesting stuff was the eclectic mix of
all these styles in combination with the "psychedelic," folk-rock,
"California" sound that came from just being there.  The Redlegs' sound,
at best, was all this with a bit of salt water and sail canvas added.

But now Joe was defaulting to his roots.  The "big, California" sound I
liked so much was giving way to choppier beats and more mundane lyrics.
We played more R&B songs; Joe seemed to want a sound like Ike & Tina
Turner's.  To this end three female backup singers were recruited.  They
would be called the "Bagettes," named partly for San Francisco's famous
sourdough bread loaves (baguettes), but also for other, shall we say more
colorful, uses of the word "bag."

The Bagettes were Cici Wilcoxon, Francine Lowenberg and Carol Joy Harris.
Cici was a waterfront regular who maintained an outside solo career in
music and theater.  Francine was a bona fide "valley girl," a recent
arrival from the south who had taken up with our part-time piano player,
Adam.  She could sing a bitchin' version of "Angel Baby."  Carol Joy was
also new on the scene.  She was by conventional standards the best singer
of the trio and sang with two or three different groups.  For all their
respective talent, however, the Bagettes did not sound like the Ikettes.

We had fairly well stopped playing the best of our music, and in other
ways, little by little, cooperation between us all was fading.  Joe was
bothered by Joey's refusal to get involved with the Richmond.  After all,
it was supposed to be for the band.  But Joey saw Tate's dedication to the
boat as abandonment of any meaningful commitment to music, and it was the
drummer's keen intention to do whatever it took advance his own musical
evolution, and if possible, career.  At one point he joined another group,
called Bonewhite.  This caught Tate's attention.  He and I drove to their
rehearsal space in San Anselmo and listened to them.  To us, it seemed
like a joke. It sounded as if they were writing their arrangements around
Joey's drumming style and if he stopped playing, the rest of them would
fall helplessly to the floor.  Besides, in those days, most activities
being conducted on land by landlubbers seemed to me shallow, colorless,
two-dimensional.  "Reality-lite."  (After you've been bailing a leaking
boat with a five gallon bucket for a few hours, or sailed in a storm fully
expecting not to survive, it's difficult to sympathize with someone who's
upset over a stain on the carpet or complaining of the sniffles).  But
after we "rescued" Joey back from the land of the half-dead, he continued
his descent into the Land of the Living Dead, or the "Enchantress" --
heroin.  Towards the end, our gigs became nightmares of misplaced
priorities.  Joey had to have dope, I had to have speed.  Joe liked drugs
but didn't need them; his larger weakness was girls.  Kim, who didn't care
much for the hard drugs, could occasionally drink himself senseless.  And
Maggie, for her part, dabbled in all the drugs but tried to maintain a
relentlessly positive attitude toward the whole scene.  For this, I
ridiculed her as a "Pollyanna."

The honeymoon was over, way over.

Joey  tried going into drug detox but made the mistake of going with Fat
Pat. Together, they gobbled all the valiums in the place and scored a bag
the minute the came out.

The great drummer, Joey "Crunch" Brennan was a Gemini and true to all the
astrological clichés, had two personalities and was often terribly
indecisive.  He even wrote a song about himself, called "Mama Get the

Mama get the hammer, there's a fly on Junior's head
Sister get the zip-gun, in case it isn't dead
Poor little Junior was born with two heads
Stick him in the closet, stand him on his heads...

...Junior gets sad and filled with despair
For all the people with only one head to wear...

But there came a moment when Joey made a decision.  In order to get off
heroin and save his own life, he would have to return to New York and put
himself in the care of his strict Irish immigrant mother.  Once this
decision was made, it could not be reversed.  He quit the band.


When Joey left I'd been up for three days on speed, and on the way to the
airport I polished off a pint of Jack Daniels. I was in that alternate
reality called "amphetamine psychosis," or "paranoid schizophrenia."  At
the time I considered this a normal state of mind.

Joey's departure meant the end of the band, for real, and it was difficult
for me to accept this fact.  Most of my identity was invested in the band
-- far more, I think, than the rest of them.  I was hanging on by a frayed

Inside the United terminal I went to take a leak and caught my reflection
in the mirror.  The image I saw looked like it belonged in a strait
jacket.  Sunglasses became an immediate, desperate necessity.  I had money
but it seemed like the natural thing to steal them, so I found the right
kind and boosted them, not more than two feet away from a San Mateo County
sheriff.  I didn't know he was there until he tapped me on the shoulder.

"Where are you going with those glasses?"
"How about if I just put them back?"
"Do you have I.D.?"  I looked. I didn't.
"Too bad. That means I have to put you under arrest."

I didn't get a chance to say good-bye to Joey.  In the airport substation,
the cop told me to empty my pockets.  Out came the comb, cigarettes,
wallet, a few crumpled bills, and the short plastic straw with the bag of
white powder rolled up inside.
"Now this intrigues me," he said, rolling the straw between his thumb and
forefinger.  "What is it?"
"Methedrine," I replied, "You know, speed, crystal."
"You mean like bennies or diet pills?"
"Yeah, but this is methamphetamine hydrochloride,  it's highly refined,
the best."
"I see.  And what do you do, take a sniff of this when you want a little
"That's right."

He signalled to another, younger cop, who grabbed my arms and pushed up my
sleeves, exposing several fresh puncture marks.  He nearly spit.  "When
was the last time you shot up ?"

If there had been any levity in the room, it was gone now.  I kept quiet.
Now I was in a league with murderers and child molesters. They booked and
handcuffed me, and shoved me into a squad car next to a wimpy-looking
businessman whose crime had been telling a hijack joke  in the airport.

At the San Mateo County Jail in Redwood City, I made my phone call, to
Maggie.   I was so deranged, I kept referring to the cop who busted me as
my friend .   He stood next to me, laughing.
In the corridor on the way to the holding cell, a strip-search was in
progress.  A tall, thin dark-haired man, obviously crazed on coke or
speed, was spread-eagled against the wall naked, as a rubber-gloved cop
poked a metal rod up his ass.  I resolved never to hide anything up mine.

I heard a voice, a vaguely familiar voice.  The voice was coming from the
holding cell.   It was singing, "It had to be you..."

As I neared the cell, I saw the Sun King.  He shouted my name and started
singing.  "Jeffrey, Jeffrey!  It had to be yooouu......."

The other prisoners, who were sitting far away from him as possible,
turned and looked at me.  Here was no doubt the craziest, most repulsive
individual possible, a jailhouse nightmare who had alienated every
low-life criminal and fiend in the place, and he was greeting me like a
lost brother.  I might have opted for a strip-search.

He started babbling at me right away, and I did my best to ignore him and
keep looking at the floor.  Luckily for me, he was next in line for

One of the men in the cell kept complaining indignantly, insisting
repeatedly to no one in particular,  "There's been a MISTAKE.  I don't
know why I'm HERE.  I want to know WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.  I don't
BELONG here." As he paced and strutted around the cell in a mighty attempt
to preserve his dignity, I wondered where he thought he did belong.  In a
luxury suite surrounded by beautiful women?  Pitching in the World Series?
  In the White House, maybe?

Right next to the holding cell there was a metal cabinet.  One cop was
constantly opening and closing its doors, and there was the constant sound
of metal banging on metal.  On closer scrutiny, I discovered that the
cabinet was full of restraint gear:  handcuffs, leg irons, billy clubs,
blackjacks, metal rods...and there was something funny about the cop. He
wasn't actually doing anything with the stuff except fondling it.  Every
few minutes he'd come back to the cabinet, open the doors, and pick up an
item.  He'd get a faraway gleam in his eye and stroke the pain-inflicting
objects.  He took a set of handcuffs and rubbed them up and down his
cheek, like a child with a teddy bear.

After dinner, a bowl of glutinous slime, my name was called and I was
processed -- fingerprints, photograph, orange jumpsuit and rubber
flip-flop slippers.  I sat in a cell with the other newly-costumed
inmates, engaged in the inevitable "What Are You In For?" discussion.  I
was on safe ground here; my response of "drugs and shoplifting" was
greeted amiably.  The guy next to me did a pantomime of shooting dope and
looked at me questioningly.  I showed him my arms, and he grinned his

After a while we were escorted to our assigned cells.  Mine was
overcrowded and the only place to rest was the floor.  There was a cement
picnic table in the cell, with a  poker game in progress.  The table was
covered with packs of cigarettes, serious loot in the slam.

Two young black athletic types jogged in place, running up the walls,
counting every step, determined to stay in shape.  There was a TV in one
corner, and several white men were watching a German prison movie.

I was starting to come down, and things looked grim, but I was struck by
one thing: nowhere had I seen such careful, painstaking good manners .
Every single man in that cell was the picture of courtesy.  There were no
indignant men here.

At ten o'clock the lights went out.  The poker game had ended and I
stretched out under the cement table, falling into a twitchy amphetamine
sleep. The bell rang at six in the morning.  My pounding headache reminded
me that I was not only crashing from speed, but hung over from whiskey.
We were marched into the main hall for breakfast, watery, bitter coffee
and a bowl of cream of wheat with a definite taste of diesel fuel.  I was
sitting there trying to eat when the Sun King found me.

"Good morning, Jeffrey,"  he said, his eyes bulging out bigger than golf
balls.  "I'm happy.  GOD, I'm HAPPY.  All men are stars, and all stars are
connected, and that's why I'm so HAPPY."
He started singing in that horrible Johnny Mathis vibrato.
"Wanderlust, boom boom boom BOOM boom boom...."
I gave him the iciest glare I could dredge up, and he quieted down.
"I've got a present for you," he said, and reached into his jumpsuit.  He
pulled out a pouch of Bull Durham and some rolling papers.
"Where did you get THAT?"
"I stole it from a guy in my cell."
"Jesus CHRIST!"
I looked around, fully expecting a furious, snarling monster to appear
and murder the Sun King and me with one blow.  In his utterly
irreparable, out-of-this-world insanity, the Sun King had committed the
worst in-house sin.  NOBODY stole a man's tobacco in jail.
"Give it back," I told him.
"I can't.  He'd kill me.  They all think I'm CRAZY."
It was too late.  He left the pouch on the table and walked away,
singing.  "It had to be yoouuuu...."

I stuffed the Bull Durham into my pocket and slouched back to the cell,
trying to be invisible.  The prisoners were waiting their turns at the
toilet in the corner.  Once again, impeccable courtesy was the thing, but
the air and noises in the room could only be compared to an Interstate
truck stop men's room at peak morning rush.  To keep from gagging,
everyone smoked heavily and breathed through his mouth.

At nine o'clock, the trusties came around calling names.  It was time for
court.  We were taken into a corridor and chained together in groups of
six.  To my horror, I saw the Sun King being led to my group. To my wonder
and amazement, he didn't mention the Bull Durham.  He didn't even speak to
me.  He just stared at the ceiling chanting, "I'm  happy, I'm just an
orange on a tree, I have no mind."

We rode to the courthouse in a green school bus and were put in another
holding cell.  A man in a suit stuck his head into the room and asked,
"Does anyone in here want a Public Defender?" He was greeted with total
silence.  When he was halfway out the door I snapped out of it and said,
"Yeah, I do."

He sat me down in a cubicle and explained that since there was no previous
record, I could plead guilty to shoplifting, and the "narco beef" would be
dropped.  I would get off with a suspended sentence and summary probation,
which meant I didn't have to report to anyone.  I wondered aloud why none
of the other prisoners had opted for a P.D.

"Those guys are going back to the joint,"  he said.  "They're resigned to
it.  Totally institutionalized.  By the way, if you don't get busted in
San Mateo County for eighteen months, your record will be wiped."


The waterfront, as Joey the drummer sometimes described it, was free,
freaky and loose. The only laws in effect were the laws of nature and
physics.  You can't thumb your nose at a 6O mile-an-hour wind or deny the
necessity of fixing a hole in a sinking boat, but the boundaries of human
behavior, morality and conventional wisdom were tested, pushed and
stretched in all directions.

One of my first revelations there was small but significant:  Nothing
horrible will happen if your socks don't match.  In high school I would
have skipped a day rather than show up with different color socks on.  How
much time and energy had I wasted in the past worrying about such trivial

That little realization opened up a world of questions about everyday
things normally taken for granted, assumed to be correct.  When, with a
little scrutiny, the seeming validity of much of what I had learned
growing up in America fell apart like a cheap suitcase, I began to
understand why: a great deal of "normal" human behavior was based on fear,
and most of the fear was based on bullshit.

There were the little fears, like someone might make fun of you if your
socks don't match.  And there were the big fears, like if you go sailing
in rough weather you might be capsized and drown.  Or if you take LSD you
might go crazy and "never come back." On the waterfront, people regularly
confronted such fears, deliberately or not.

These largely unavoidable confrontations were great equalizers, and
functioned wonderfully as population control.  Those who couldn't handle
the combination of immediate everyday survival and lack of official
authority figures didn't last long, and usually retreated to the  normal
world to take comfort in the safety of conventional bullshit like the
importance of matching socks.

In the movie "King Of Hearts," a small French town is evacuated during
World War II.  The only people left are the inmates of the insane asylum,
who escape and enter the empty town.  They gravitate naturally to
different environments.  One man finds the barbershop and starts giving
haircuts.  Another winds up in the circus and immediately retrains the
animals.  Likewise the grocer, the prostitute, musicians, etc.  It turns
out they weren't crazy at all, they had been punished for being

The waterfront was the first place I had ever seen where you weren't
punished for being yourself.  No wonder outsiders likened it to an insane
asylum.  For one thing, no one was ever told "no."  Artistic expression
was never called frivolous or silly.  It was encouraged because it was
necessary.  When Joey said, "If I couldn't play the drums, I'd probably
kill somebody," he wasn't kidding.  If he started playing them in the
middle of the night, no one told him to stop.  Instead, other insomniac
musicians usually showed up with their instruments.  In the world of
mandatory matching socks, this sort of thing isn't allowed.

The old "Brown House" was located at the edge of the parking lot near the
Oakland pier.  It was a sort of community center where we had dinners,
poker games, and such.  One day I found a can of beige paint and a ladder,
and painted a huge cartoon brain with a cartoon dagger sticking into it on
the side of the Brown House.  Under the brain I painted the words "Brane
Damage." I spelled "Brain" that way purposely. No one thought any of it
even a bit odd.  No one was offended.  The only comment I got was from
Mary Winn, who said, "You spelled 'damage' wrong."

My only other attempt at art in the paint medium was on the roof of the
Hot Molecule.  The SFO helicopter flew directly over our houseboat several
times a day.  To express my aggravation with the noise, I painted a
whirling helicopter rotor on one half of the roof, and on the other half,
the words "Fuck You."


It was Joanie, of Fat Pat and Joanie, that said this when she greeted me
at the door of the pilot house on the roof of the Oakland.  She and Fat
Pat were junkies, openly and unapologetically addicted to heroin.  They
had glass syringes kept in velvet-lined cases, just like Sherlock Holmes.
A big shipment of junk had arrived in town, and I was invited to share the

The room was full of people in various stages of preparing and shooting
dope, and unlike many such scenes the mood here was light, almost a party
atmosphere; there was more than enough heroin to go around and it had been

Most heavy drug addicts maintain a surprisingly clear insight into their
condition, and Joanie's "living dead" greeting was humor based on truth.
Her eyes were ringed with wide, dark circles and her skin was that
grey-green color that the drug crowd called an indoor tan.  Looking around
the room, one could easily have described everyone there as zombies.

I used one of the glass syringes.  The dope was good and in a few seconds
I felt fine, very nice.  If I looked like a corpse too, it didn't matter.
Why worry about what other people think?

Everyone hears about the horrors of drugs, especially junk, but while its
eventual negative effects are very bad, its good side is very good.  Just
like that, it wipes away your physical discomforts and leaves you feeling
warm all over.  What it also does is dissolve all your neuroses and
worries, leaving you with a mind clear of bullshit.

I went downstairs to the shop and plunked around on the piano, working out
an arrangement for Joe's latest song, "A Matter of Time."  Maggie came in
and we worked on vocal backgrounds.  Joanie and Fat Pat, big Redlegs fans,
came downstairs.  They were in jolly spirits and wanted to sing a song.
Why not, we said, and they did:

Well, I don't like the way you comb your hair
I don't like the way you act so square
Every time you're here you make me feel like shit
Baby you're just gonna have to split

Fuck you I hate you, split, baby
Fuck you I hate you, split, baby
Fuck you I hate you, split, baby
Ain't no jive you're leavin' dead or alive

A few years later and a few miles farther down the drug road, I really did
look like a cadaver when I had a visit from Bill Hall, the perennial
candidate for mayor of Mill Valley and secretary-treasurer of the Gypsy
Jokers motorcycle club.  Hall was regarded as somewhat eccentric, perhaps
due to the fact that he kept a working slot machine in his living room and
slept in a coffin. He and his girlfriend Caroline were on their way to a
party and dressed in all black.  With his greased black hair and gaunt
features, he looked like a smiling vampire.  Caroline in her black velvet
dress was the image of Morticia Addams.

They wanted to invite me to the party, but I just been through an
agonizing paranoid session in the mirror and felt it would best not to go
anywhere.  I didn't mention this, but they sensed it.  Spontaneously, in
unison, they said, "Come on with us.  You're looking really good today."
I had been a week with hardly any sleep or food, could have starred in a
walking-corpse movie with no makeup, and these two ghoulish-looking
figures were telling me how wonderful I looked.

How much further could it all go?

. . . .



Most everybody on the waterfront was apolitical, at least until the shit
hit the fan on our own doorstep. In the early "good old" days we had a
single token political guy.  He was from Berkeley, and he was our pet
Communist.  It was comical but sometimes annoying to see him parading
around in his army fatigues, chanting "Power to the People,"  "We Must
Unite Against the Oppressors" and such, because at the time we had a
beautifully spontaneous, completely unself-conscious, natural anarchy
going.  This guy was right in the middle of it and couldn't see it,
because we weren't militant.  In time he exposed himself, literally and
figuratively.  Every time the band played, he threw off his clothes and
cavorted obstreperously through the crowds, his fist raised, yelling
slogans and demanding "More! More!" from the band.  He was the first
Militant Naked Person I'd ever seen.  At one time or another, everyone on
the waterfront was a thief, including the Communist, but he didn't steal
things.  He "Liberated them for The People," and "The People" was always

The waterfront was Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll, but it was also Boats,
Seamanship and Survival. There was no inclination for such foolishness as
political posturing or getting a job.  If California fell into the sea or
the Russians took over or the Plague broke out, all we had to do was untie
our lines and sail into the sunset.  Nobody actually said these things; it
wasn't necessary.   We felt that way and we all knew it.

When landlubbers came to visit, you could see the fear in their eyes. 
You could see how demonstrably clumsy they were when they walked on the
docks or came aboard your boat.  I know because I arrived there awkward
and fearful.   The waterfront created a frightening picture for the
average person in TV-watching America, where incompetence, mediocrity and
fear are encouraged and rewarded with the reassurance that you are just
like everybody else.

. . .