Return to Zabriskie Point












“Meanwhile Daria (Daria Halprin), “a sweet, pot-smoking post-teenybopper of decent inclinations,” is driving across the desert towards Phoenix in a 1950s era Buick automobile to meet her boss Lee, who may or may not also be her lover.”

When ‘Easy Rider’ came out, my kindred and friends said I look just like THE ACTOR, Dennis Hopper, who is some kind of hippie biker – only on film! Hopper marred THE ACTRESS, Daria Halprin, whose mother was a dancer and who runs a dance healing clinic called ‘Tamalpa Life/Art’ which may be near Mount Tamalpais where I camped with Rena – all alone. There was not one famous director to be seen. We took no direction. Rena’s beauty was not captured and put in a can. I got a real good close-up of her about sixteen hours a day. I can’t complain – really!

Daria starred in A MOVIE about radical hippies in revolt, called ‘Zabriskie Point’. It was an utter failure. I am an original hippie, who along with my hippie friends, did not go see this movie, because, it is a case of Art Imitating Life. We had no interest in paying money to go see FAKE PAID HIPSTERS imitating us, and, speak for us. We spent our extra money on drugs so we could alter our mind, get turned on – and have sex!

The other star of Zabriskie Point was a Mel Lyman devotee. Mark Frechette held up a bank with another Lyman Family member after he made his movie. He had real-life interests. Mel Lyman is my kindred who created a network of MUSicians, Actors, and Artists. He is in my family tree. He married Jessie Benton, a cousin of my ex-brother-in-law, Garth Benton who acted in movies, as did his first wife, Alli McBride.

If Rena had married me, then she would be kin to Mel Lyman, too. Rena was not an actress, but a young woman who experimented with drugs, went on a Road Trip to L.A. from Nebraska, then took another trip with me and two other hippies to Winnemucca in a 1950 Dodge. I flipped out in a town in the desert. What is going on out in the Mohave Desert while the cameras are rolling, went on between Rena and I in the wilds of California. We were – THE REAL DEAL!

Mel Lyman was kin to Philip Boileau whose women look like Darian, and my later Sister, Christine Rosamond Benton. This is quite a grouping of creative people, smitten by their Muse.

Most human being have come to believe nothing is real if it is not in the movies or on T.V. This is safe for them. They want real life filtered and scanned for any real danger, and any real sex. They also want money to empower them.

“Frechette was paid sixty thousand dollars for his work. He and Halprin took their cache of earnings to Fort Hill where it was turned over in full to The Lyman Family.”

Now, back to our very real home invasion in Roxbury that happened just down the street from Lyman Commune.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2013

On August 29, 1973, he and two members of the Fort Hill commune attempted to rob the New England Merchant’s Bank in the Fort Hill section of Roxbury, a poor neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. One of the members of the commune, Christopher “Herc” Thien, was killed by police and Frechette was arrested and sentenced to the minimum security state prison in Norfolk, Massachusetts. He died during an apparent weightlifting accident when a 150-pound bar fell on his neck, choking him to death. Prison officials did not suspect foul play; however, questions arose whether Frechette had been suffering from depression.[4] He was 27 years old.

In the 1970s, Halprin developed an interest in creative arts therapy. In 1978, she and her mother Anna founded the Tamalpa Institute [4] and developed the Halprin Process, an expressive arts approach for transformative healing that integrates movement/dance, visual arts, performance techniques and therapeutic practices. She has authored The Expressive Body in Life, Art and Therapy, Coming Alive: The Creative Expression Method, and was a contributing author to Foundations of Expressive Arts Therapy.
Filmography[edit source | editbeta]
Revolution (1968)
Zabriskie Point (1970)
The Jerusalem File (1972)

I have developed Tamalpa Life/Art© as a movement-based expressive arts practice, which combines dance, visual art, and creative writing to access the innate wisdom of the body and the transformative power of the imagination.

Participants may expect to work on issues connected to their burning questions , challenges, longings and life situations. Collective/archetypal themes that catalyze creative dialogues between body, imagination, emotion are explored.

Explorations are movement based, centered in the principles and practices of Expressive Arts Therapy, Integrative Dance, Somatic Movement Therapy and Gestalt Therapy.

Daria Halprin was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the daughter of San Francisco-based landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and choreographer Anna Halprin,[1] who, in the 1950s, was one of the Western pioneers of using dance as a healing art. Like her mother, Halprin studied dance, and in the mid 1960s, began acting in film.
Acting career[edit source | editbeta]
In 1968, she appeared in Revolution, a documentary by Jack O’Connell. Shot mainly in San Francisco, the film exposed the thriving counterculture movement and featured a series of interviews with that city’s hippie residents.
Subsequently, Halprin was chosen by Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni for the lead in his second English-language feature, Zabriskie Point.[2] The film, released in 1970, was a statement on the burgeoning violence in America and the growing rift between the establishment and the counterculture as interpreted through a European sensibility. Following release of the film, with her Zabriskie Point co-star Mark Frechette, Halprin briefly joined self-styled guru Mel Lyman, a former member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, and his 100-member commune, before fleeing due to the severity of cult life.[3]

In 1972, Halprin appeared in her third and final movie, John Flynn’s thriller The Jerusalem File, in a major role alongside Nicol Williamson and Donald Pleasence. Also in 1972, she married actor/director Dennis Hopper. The marriage produced one child, Ruthanna Hopper, before the couple divorced in 1976.

Revolution is a documentary film by Jack O’Connell made in San Francisco in 1967. It was subsequently revived with added reminiscences.
Although most interviewees are not named some of them have been identified, such as Kurt Hirschhorn, Frank Jordan, Cecil Williams and Herb Caen[1]
Daria Halprin appears in the film as herself.[2]

The soundtrack features Ace of Cups, Country Joe and the Fish, Steve Miller Band, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Mother Earth, and Dan Hicks.

Zabriskie Point /zəˈbrɪskiː/ is a 1970 film by Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, widely noted at the time for its setting in the late 1960s counterculture of the United States. Some of the film’s scenes were shot on location at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley.

This was the second of three English-language films Antonioni had been contracted to direct for producer Carlo Ponti and to be distributed by MGM. The other two films were Blowup (1966) and The Passenger (1975).
Zabriskie Point was an overwhelming commercial failure[2] and panned by most critics upon release.[3] It has, however, achieved somewhat of a cult status and is noted for its cinematography, use of music and direction.[citation

The film opens with a documentary-like scene in which white and black students argue about an impending student strike. Mark (Mark Frechette) leaves the meeting after saying he is “willing to die, but not of boredom” for the cause, which draws criticism from the young white radicals. Following a mass arrest at the campus protest, Mark visits a police station hoping to bail his roommate out of jail. He is told to wait but goes to the lock-up area, asks further about bail for his roommate, is rebuffed, calls out to the arrested students and faculty and is arrested himself. He gives his name as Karl Marx, which a duty officer types as “Carl Marx.” After he is released from jail, Mark and another friend buy firearms from a Los Angeles gun shop, saying they need them for “self defense” to “protect our women.”

Meanwhile Daria (Daria Halprin), “a sweet, pot-smoking post-teenybopper of decent inclinations,”[4] is driving across the desert towards Phoenix in a 1950s era Buick automobile to meet her boss Lee, who may or may not also be her lover. Along the way Daria is searching for a man who works with “emotionally disturbed” children from Los Angeles. She finds the young boys near a roadhouse in the Mojave desert, but they tease, taunt and grab at her, boldly asking for ‘a piece of ass’, to which she asks in reply, ‘are you sure you’d know what to do with it?’ Daria flees in her car. While filling its radiator with water, she is spied from the air by Mark, who buzzes her car and then flies only fifteen feet over Daria as she lies face down in the sand and throws a nightie out of the window of the plane for her to pick up. Daria grows from upset to curious and smiling during this sequence.

They later meet at the desert shack of an old man, where Mark asks her for a lift so he can buy gasoline for the airplane. The two then wander to Zabriskie Point where they make love and the site’s geological formations seem to come alive in a dusty orgy performed by The Open Theater.[5]

The Harvard area had nurtured a nineteen fifties bohemian culture that eventually fostered folk luminaries like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, bands such as The Lovin Spoonful and The Chambers Brothers, and a wealth of other underground notables. In 1961 Fritz Richmond was the focal point of this burgeoning scene, the leader of a small folk band making the rounds of Boston coffeehouses. Richmond was described by his peers, with only the slightest tinge of irony, as “the foremost washtub bassist in the world.” A few years later the obscure musician would join the West Coast hippie movement and leave a lasting influence on the counterculture as a whole. Roger McGuin of The Byrds says it was Richmond who popularized “the granny glasses look,” eventually appropriated by Jerry Garcia, John Lennon and legions of conforming flower children. Richmond’s band The Hoppers also profoundly affected a frequent New England coffeehouse patron named Jim Kweskin.

In the late sixties Mark Frechette was panhandling and picking up odd jobs around Boston, living the typical life of a late sixties drop-out. He stumbled across a copy of Avatar. Frechette was instantly captivated by the musings of Mel Lyman and wanted to join his controversial community. Frechette contacted Mel enthusiastically hoping to join, but Lyman dismissed him, interpreting Mark as just another run-of-the-mill hippie. Lyman only accepted those into his fold that he felt could advance his own cause and Frechette did not qualify.
Daria Halprin was a flower child spotted by filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni in the documentary Revolution, a profile of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury scene. Antonioni would cast her in his new film Zabriskie Point after he was seduced by what he called her “earth-child quality.” A casting director spotted Mark Frechette, legend goes, in a heated argument at a bus stop. When Lyman heard through the grapevine that Frechette had been cast in a major motion picture, suddenly his attitude toward the aloof teenager changed. He could now use Frechette to further the goals of The Lyman Family. Frechette explained that when Lyman finally accepted him into the Fort Hill fold, “There was humming in my ears … I mean the whole damn room was humming.” Frechette was smitten with Lyman and an instant convert to the vague Lyman commandments. Frechette did his best to convince co-star Halprin of Mel’s greatness. It appeared to have an effect. Daria Halprin said at the time, “I had a vision about Mel … for about twenty four hours I was just having visions about Fort Hill, all the way in California, and I had never been.” Frechette did not have the same degree of success with Antonioni, whom he was hounding daily to read the teachings of Mel Lyman. Frechette would leave copies of Avatar in Antonioni’s trailer day after day.

Zabriskie Point was highly anticipated thanks to a series of reports about the troubled shoot. Frechette publicly asserted that the director’s depiction of the American counterculture would be “a big lie and totally alien.” Antonioni found himself hounded by both state and federal officials when word got out that the film might be an indictment of “the American way of life.” The government felt that the famous director was preparing a glorification of hippiedom, drug taking and cop killing. They decided he should be stopped. When the wife of leading Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver was cast in a scene, the government felt the need to do something about it. They charged Antonioni with violating the Mann Act, claiming he was bringing underage girls across state lines for immoral purposes.
Grand Jury Probes Movie Orgy Scene. That’s what readers of the Los Angeles Times saw glaring out at them on June 23, 1969. Antonioni was brought up on charges that he had violated the Mann Act. The 1910 statute was often used to prosecute men copulating with underage girls – although the majority of the time it was used for trumped-up political means. Charles Chaplin and Chuck Berry had been among the law’s most famous victims. Scholars agree that Chaplin was hounded because of his socialist sympathies while Berry was a victim of sheer racism. Now the set of Zabriskie Point suffered a similar blow. The accusations stemmed from a scene featuring dust-covered actors from The Open Theatre. Antonioni had purchased ad space in the press asking for hundreds of extras to take part in a simulated mass-love-making session – perking the ears of the Justice Department. No actual sex occurred and no state lines were crossed, but it created a convenient way to harass a man they felt was going to have a negative impact on a vulnerable American image, one that was suffering from the public relations disaster of Vietnam. Despite the harassment, the film shoot survived.

Frechette was paid sixty thousand dollars for his work. He and Halprin took their cache of earnings to Fort Hill where it was turned over in full to The Lyman Family. The Lyman Family now consisted of approximately one hundred people, most of whom took gigs in the outside world as waiters, baristas or other odd jobs helping to finance the Lyman Family trust. The money was then invested in real estate or construction ventures that helped create an elaborate empire – a legacy of assets that remains to this day.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to Return to Zabriskie Point

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

    I will continue to use Lara as my Muse. He poem lays down the Path of Chaos that many are bid to take.

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