I just found out my ex-wife lived on College Avenue – IN OAKLAND – with Thomas Pynchon. They lived in a big apartment building located next to ‘Ye Olde Hut’ where I did a lot of drinking with my friends, including Paul Drake who Mary Ann encouraged to take up acting. Paul claims he based his tough-guy persona on watching me drink, but I believe he is speaking of Richard Swartz who was a bodyguard for Dederich of Synanon. Richard held the world’s record to the fifty yard dash – on his hands!
Mary Ann did illustrations for a rare book about the Symbionese Liberation Army. Her best friend, Joan (who lived right off college) came home for Thanksgiving and found her whole family blown away by the Black Mau Maus. Her father was a CEO of Standard Oil. Patty Hurst was kidnapped from 2803 Benvenue, which is about ten blocks from the Hut. I thought Mary Ann and I were going to be Facebook friends, then she prohibited any more drama. Maybe I will get an Oscar someday – late in my life – when most of my peers are dead, leaving a thousand writers to guess what became of Pynchon? What about Patty? What us olde ones don’t realize, is, that every seven years you get a new generation, thus withholding information from them – is futile!
“Patty who? Pynchon? Doesn’t he own a chain of tiny drive-in coffee huts?”
I used to get shit-faced with Steve Kupka, who played saxophone for the Loading Zone, then for the Tower of Power. There is a strong Jazz element in both bands. Pynchon is a Jazz Lover. Did he drink at The Hut with his new bride who was married to David Seidler who won an Oscar for ‘The King’s Speech’ ?
I believe that is a portrait of David that Mary Ann Tharaldsen is holding up. There is a discussion about a movie coming out – and cashing in. I wondered why this classy dame bought a house in Oakland about a mile from the Hut. She never told me she and Tom lived in this building. She is sticking to her newfound Bohemian roots the Cornell Three have transplanted to my hometown. And Gertrude Stein said;
“There is no there – there!”
Looks like all the great writers have been “there” in the LEAVE US ALONE CITY.
Here is the ‘Cornell Cluster’.
Thomas Pynchon: Mary Ann Tharaldsen: Richard Farina: David Seidler: Jules Siegel.
What is truly profound, is that the Berkeley Experimental Arts Foundation was located up College about a half mile, just across the Oakland-Berkeley line in the Elmwood district where Jane Fonda lived. We’re talking about The College Avenue Renaissance’ made up of New Yorkers that went to Cornell. Did David live in this apartment building and drink at ‘The Hut’? Richard and Mimi Farina had something to do with Thomas heading north to visit his fellow alumni. David was the leader of the famous Cornell Riot of 58. He and Richard got detained along with twenty-six un-named Co-eds. Was Mary Ann one of them? I will ask.
Alas I have the solution for the disaster movie made in Pynchon’s name. There was real inherent vice going on in The Hut. The dude who shot my friend there, tried to shoot me. He went to school with Tom Hanks. Millions of folks claim they went to “The College of Hard Knocks” I think I will print up some degrees and sell them.
Even though I have twenty-nine years of sobriety, I suggest we go back to Oakland, and cozy up at the bar. How about another ‘Cheers’? My unfinished novel ‘The Gideon Computer’ begins at the Golden West Bar that was torn down after the earthquake. My friend, Nancy Hamren, suggested I author the history of the Hippies in 1986. I chose to write about the last hippie standing – in the future! (see review of Hut below)
The Hippie Movement got its start at the Berkeley Experimental Arts Foundation that is located near the Beauty Center. The Arts were meant to play a central roll until Kesey spoke the punch with LSD, and all one could focus on was the music. Artists now took a back seat to Musicians. Poster Art did well. Peter Max and my late sister, Christine Rosamond did well. Christine took up art in 1972 after seeing a painting I did of Rena Easton when I was a roommate of Peter Shapiro, the lead guitarist for the Loading Zone.
Here are the Four Amigos on a bridge in Venice, Keith Purvis, Peter Shapiro, Tim O’Connor, and myself. We lived in a large Victorian in Oakland. I was the artist in residence. These lads were at my wedding reception. Peter and Time provided the music. The group ‘Love’ is now titled the innovators of proto-punk. Bryan played at our wedding. Marilyn Reed made the dress my bride is wearing. She is married to Jazz Artist, Kenny Reed, and is a good friend of Les McCann. We can’t leave ‘Oakland Tommy’ swinging on a yardarm in Hollywood. We bring him home, bring him back – to Oakland! Come ye back to Ye Olde Hut!
I hereby make Thomas Pynchon an honorary member of the Loading Zone a.k.a. The Marbles. Then there are the Stackpoles who hung in Elmwood.
I’ve been thinking of going home again – to die! Maybe I will do some murals of Ye Olde Monster’ Mary Ann created, of Paul atop the roller coaster in ‘Sudden Impact’ and Paul impaled on a Unicorn, a fate many Republican leaders wish upon Donald Trump.
Clint Eastwood grew up in Oakland. We went to the same elementary school. Christine Wandel dated Peter Shapiro of the Loading Zone. She is close with Stefan Eins of Fashion Moda. We are talking about a New York Cluster. Add to this my favorite artist and dear friend, Amy Sargent of Walton New York, then you got a bad-ass crew of creative souls doing them Oakland Strokes!
Mary Ann found me living in a shack in the Fruitvale. She was blown away when she saw my drawings for Atlantis on my draft board. When I saw her life-size painting of her friend, Mimi Baez Farina, I hung it n the side of her house, like a banner. It was sitting under the stairs, getting ruined like her other works of art in a shed in Marine. I begged her to go rescue them, but, she refused. I know she wanted to be a Great Woman Artist, and believed she fell short. There should be an award for Dramatic Creative Women…..
Here is my wife-to-be facing down one of my parasites, Juan, who worked for the City of Oakland and deliberately dropped a slab of concrete on his foot so he could sue. This is almost like Fountainhead. I think this photo should be in the Smithsonian. Eat your heart out, Clint, she does your walk – better than you! This is a classic showdown!
Having majored in architecture, Mary Ann thought my hundred Atlantis drawings were worthy on a honorary degree. If the truth must be known, this was a one Bad-ass Oakland Woman! And, Tommy ‘Two Teeth’ couldn’t hang. But, hey! Everyone deserves a second chance. Let me know if your ready for a College Ave. reunion. You can come disguised as a Hobo, if you get my drift!
The California College of Arts and Crafts was at the Oakland end of College Avenue. Ken Kesey came to speak here with the Beat English Department that dovetails nicely with the Beat Cornell English Department, who are all but ghosts sitting around the fire at ‘Ye Olde Hut’.
I spent years wandering around LA’s skid Row and I’ve spent years in Oakland’s “Ye Old Hut”. No comparison when it comes to being treated like a human being or having some dignity. LA’s skid Row takes it in all categories. Quality of people, bathrooms, bartenders and intelligence quotient. “Ye Old Hut” only hardcore masochists with no self-esteem need apply. It’s basically a big Romper Room for the bartenders and their close personal friends. Even strung out and destitute I was offended by the stupidity inside this place. It took a long time but I finally grew up and I don’t miss now and never will miss the gang down at
“Ye Old Hut”.
I believe Thomas Pynchon wrote the above. Tommy ‘Two Teeth’ was known as Oakland’s Howard Hughes. I think I might have had a drink with this……crusty ole snob!
1967: A possible address for Thomas Pynchon: 5507 College Avenue Oakland, CA 94618
1967 Directory of Living Alumni, Cornell University
AB: Bachelor of Arts
BFA: Bachelor of Fine Arts
C: Civil Engineering Course
EP: Engineering Physics Course
Here is the testimonial of Alessandra Hart who co-founded BEAF:
“A small group of our friends decided to create the Berkeley Experimental Arts Foundation and we rented a space on College Avenue in Berkeley which we made into a theater, calling it Open Theater & Gallery. Pop Art was just coming in, Andy Warhol was experimenting with it on the East Coast. We opened with a pop art exhibit and a theater piece my husband, Roland Jacopetti, wrote.”
The Loading Zone played at the event these artists and filmmakers put on at the Open Theatre. Here is the missing link between artists and Psychedelic Music that was an intended to be a sideshow to a multimedia happening aimed at expanding your mind, with, or without LSD. We are talking about ART, that would soon be pushed aside, put on the back-burner while The People got it, that they were Art Pieces, living sculptures on a new and very fluid stage. The Muse was everywhere, and in, everyone. No one wanted to look at art anymore and grove on the artist, his or her………..TRIP! Five hundred people were now living galleries with ten million paintings flashing inside their minds every second. There were light shows, but, who gave a rat’s ass? Artists were being – humored!
Psychedelic Filmmaker, Ben Van Meter, is accused on the Village Voice of being on a – ego trip! Huh? I love seeing that world I took part in through the eyes of a fellow artist. We exist in real life, and not up on that Music Stage that keeps cranking out musical notes like bubbles in hope the players can get lucky and strike it rich.
Two days ago Peter Shapiro called me. We talked about the time he put on a happening in the backyard on Miles. He and Tim O’Connor wanted to celebrate my marriage to Mary Ann Tharaldsen. Peter invited Swami X to bless us, even conduct a second Hippie Wedding, but, he was a no-show.
Instead we got our Jewish neighbor, who we placed on a platform in between the Japanese arch I built in the center of an octagonal garden.
Peter told all his friends to bring a loaf of cheap whitebread as an offering to the Swami. Many brought flowers and placed them around Swami Swartz who did a great job doing a Swami-Rabbi with Vaudville Jesus routine. When we lined up to get our share of the loaves and a blessing, Swami Swartz bid us to kneel, hold out our hand, and then slap five pieces of Wonderbread into our palms.
In the background we had five beautiful young women doing Tai Chi in their white outfits. Their shadows were cast upon the doors of the old garage while multicolor dots of wonder opened new levels of wedded bliss and awareness.
When Stefen Eins came to the rescue of the Queen of the Wends, a creative hand was stretched across America. Chris was backstage for all the Zone’s events. For several months Stefan and I have talked about doing a Broadway Musical based upon the music of Love, and an aging Woodstock Nation. But, with the discoveries I have made in the last several days, we are looking at THE GENESIS of Psychedelic Rock Be-ins that connect to Warhol’s Factory and filmmakers.
What is truly astounding, Alessandra Hart, read from Revelations during these Mind Alterations. Consider the apocalyptic art of my ex-wife who was married to Thomas Pynchon, whose movie is due out in December. Pynchon is a One Man Band who might want to consider giving proceeds from ‘Inherent Vice’ to Bruce Baille so he can preserve this important film history.
“I also borrowed a white noise machine, which was supposed to help you meditate and get into other brain wave patterns. We also had taped layers of music, playing simultaneously, and added voice readings from the Book of Revelations from the Bible. It was a multimedia event. We called it “Revelations.”
The Open Theater in Berkeley is most famous for debuting Big Brother and The Holding Company, and for being one of the incubators of the Trips Festival, which we have covered elsewhere. Indeed, another blogger discovered a listing in the Oakland Tribune Theater section that listed one of (if not the) first advertisements for “Psychedelic Music” at the Open Theater. Following the lead of this blogger, I reviewed the Theater Sections of The Oakland Tribune for 1965 and 1966, and managed to piece together the brief, but interesting history of the organization. I apologize in advance for any serious Theater scholars who have stumbled across this, as my focus is more on the musical side of the venture.
The Oakland Tribune first mentions the Open Theater on July 21, 1965. Founders Ben and Rain Jacopetti had formed a group called the Berkeley Experimental Arts Foundation “for the presentation and study of new art forms and trends”. After opening on September 30, 1965, the Open Theater began presenting shows every weekend, and sometimes on weekdays as well. The first listing above (under the heading Little Theaters, from the Sunday, November 7, 1965 Tribune) was typical of their Fall 1965 offerings. There was new theater on Fridays and Saturdays, and on Sunday they had “Sunday Meeting,” a spontaneous meeting. Sometimes music was advertised, as presented by either Ian Underwood or The Jazz Mice, Underwood’s trio.
It was the Sunday Happenings that seemed to be one of the precursors to The Trips Festival. According to Charles Perry’s 1984 book Haight Ashbury: A History, there was apparently multi-media performances, with lights and nudity (too much nudity for San Francisco’s Broadway), music by Underwood and others, an Art Gallery featuring contemporary art, and so on. The bass player for the Jazz Mice was artist Tom Glass, known also as Ned Lamont, and a painting of a huge comic book-style painting of his graced the lobby.
In January, the open theater begins to shift somewhat more towards music. The second (split-up) entry is from the Sunday, January 9, 1966 edition of Oakland Tribune. The Sunday night happening is followed by an apparently musical performance by Day Wellington and The Poor Losers. The next weekend is January 14 and 15, when The Loading Zone and Big Brother make their debuts, in evenings of “rock and roll and theatrical improvisation”.
The weekend of January 21-22-23 was the Trips Festival, in which the Open Theater participated. They surely contributed some multi-media, and Ian Underwood’s Jazz Mice played the first night. On the Saturday night (January 22), Underwood and others presented an avant garde musical performance. The last day of the Trips Festival, however, the Open Theater has its Sunday Meeting as usual, although perhaps some of the regular participants may have been a little worse for wear.
The last clipping is from the Sunday January 23 edition of the Tribune, noting the Happening, and also upcoming musical events. They are
Thursday January 27, 1966
Ramon Charles McDarmaid and Don Buchla, Movies by Bruce Baille
Don Buchla had constructed the Thunder Machine for Ken Kesey’s Pranksters, a sort of electronic percussion device.
Friday, January 28, 1966
Performances by Congress of Wonders and Ned’s Mob, introducing new material.
Congress of Wonders were a comedy trio, also regulars at the Open Theater, who did hip comedy and performance art (they later released a few albums). Ned’s Mob are unknown to me.
Saturday, January 29, 1966
Rock and Roll dance featuring The Loading Zone
This would have been The Loading Zone’s third performance, to our knowledge, the first two having been two weeks earlier at the Open Theater (Jan 14) and then at the Trips Festival (either Jan 21 or 22). The Loading Zone was based in Oakland.
The Open Theater continued to present performances through early March. They presented a John Cage piece on February 4 and 5 (reviewed by the Tribune) and a few other shows. Ian Underwood was now mentioned as the Musical Director, and per the March 12, 1966 Tribune it appears that Ben and Rain Jacopetti had left, and the Open Theater was under new management. However, by the end of March the Open Theater had closed. Ian Underwood said the Theater group was looking for a different space, but it was not to be.
Alessandra Hart testimonial
But I’ll begin by telling you about myself and my experiences and evolution, starting from ’65 – ’66.
I was in an artists’ crowd. I was in my mid-20’s and we had a child. The Beatles were already a big thing and everyone’s hair was getting long, our clothes were casual and mostly we wore jeans.
I had created a kind of light show that was participatory and people came to our attic to experience it and “have their minds blown” – a kind of opening up that expanded one’s consciousness. We used light show techniques with an overhead projector, slide projectors, moving film, and I had convinced a Palo Alto scientist to lend me a new contraption they were experimenting with, a strobe light that flashed in a sequence that appears to stop action in movement if other lights are low or off. It turns out that if it synchronizes with certain brain patterns, it can stimulate an epileptic seizure, but that wasn’t known at the time.
I also borrowed a white noise machine, which was supposed to help you meditate and get into other brain wave patterns. We also had taped layers of music, playing simultaneously, and added voice readings from the Book of Revelations from the Bible. It was a multimedia event. We called it “Revelations.”
A small group of our friends decided to create the Berkeley Experimental Arts Foundation and we rented a space on College Avenue in Berkeley which we made into a theater, calling it Open Theater & Gallery. Pop Art was just coming in, Andy Warhol was experimenting with it on the East Coast. We opened with a pop art exhibit and a theater piece my husband, Roland Jacopetti, wrote: “The Hard Con, the Soft Con, and the Unvarnished Shuck” a kind of spoof on how we felt the older culture had “conned” the people.
This period of time was when the first bumper stickers that said “Question Authority” started to appear. We questioned EVERYTHING! We wanted to know the truth: the truth inside the truth! Not what we’ve been told but what we can experience directly and KNOW to be true!
Out there the scientists were getting ready to travel to the moon! They were taking care of the exploration of outer space – we were interested in “inner space.”
Soon other friends who were experimenting in their own fashions and we decided to “take our show on the road” so to speak. Bill Graham, was like an “impresario”. He brought you Woodstock later on. He was the manager of a small pantomime group called The Mime Troupe. Our Open Theater and the Mime Troupe were accustomed to small audiences of maybe 10 or 12 people, just to give you a sense of scale of the popularity of little theater at that time. Ben Van Meter was an experimental or “underground” film maker and was also working with overhead projections and light shows that happened in somebody’s garage. Stewart Brand later created the Whole Earth Catalog. He had a show he called “America Needs Indians.” Ramon Sender had an experimental music center he called the Tape Music Center.
Chet Helms was finding himself, but he had begun to work with other musicians and he arranged for his group, the Family Dog (which I think is where Janis Joplin started out, I’m not sure), Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane, and the early group who evolved into The Grateful Dead to play rock ‘n roll. We were going to perform our “Revelations”. Somebody got a big trampoline and the Olympic athlete, later novelist and spiritual author Dan Milman performed on it with the strobe light trained on him. Stewart knew Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a popular novel at the moment. Ken showed up with his busload of Merry Pranksters who had been on the road with something they called The Acid Test.
Together we rented the Longshoreman’s Hall, a large hall in the San Francisco port area, and planned a big multi-dimensional, multi-media three-day event we called The Trips Festival. A “trip” was anything that surprised you, opened your mind, or brought you unexpected delight or illumination. It was set for January of 1966. As it turned out, it was a bigger “trip” than any of us could have imagined.
Just before the event while we were getting the last things in place, maybe half an hour before ticket sales were to begin, Bill Graham who was taking care of the money, went outside to see that everything was right there. He came back in, wildly waving his arms, eyes big, and he said, “They’re lined up around the building out there, waiting to get in!” None of us had experienced crowds like that before, and we were more than a little wide-eyed. Thousands of people attended in those three days.
Unknown to me, Ken Kesey had spiked the punch with his “Acid Test” formula and many people had taken the test. It very quickly became apparent that while all our theatrical “trips” were certainly interesting enough, that the music was the thing that actually held the energy. It could provide the people a means of self-expression and the possibility to work out their various energies in a positive mode, while still interacting with other people. It was the unifying element; essential. Bill Graham understood this so immediately that before the three days were over, he had gone out to find a big hall to rent on a regular basis. He tied up the Fillmore which became THE place to hear this kind of music. Later the Avalon Ballroom also opened. The Rock scene was born!
The Trips Festival was the first time any of these people had come together in a place where they realized there were others like them who were interested in the exploration of the same kinds of things. The alienated and small cliques of friends were suddenly part of a culture that could create change! Everyone was filled with excitement and possibility.
In time this event became credited with opening the gateway to the 60’s, to the Rock and Roll era, to the San Francisco counter-culture scene. In 2008, last fall, there was a documentary that premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival called simply “The Trips Festival”. It includes original footage of film taken in ’66 at the Trips Festival and interviews with people who were responsible for creating it. There’s a short image of me looking very hip, a black and white photo from the time. Women were kept in the background in those days. We’d never allow it now, but the film kept to that custom. It’s an hour-long regular DVD and can be purchased from its maker through the website of the same title.
In 1965, California College of Arts and Crafts student, Larry Keenan was asked by his teacher, poet and playwright, Michael McClure if he would like to photograph a group of his friends. Asking McClure whom his friends were Keenan was amazed when he listed names that included Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Bruce Conner, Neal Cassady and Ken Kesey. Keenan had studied the works of these groundbreaking poets, writers and artists and recognized the significance of this opportunity.
Twenty-one years old, Keenan spent over a year photographing the Beats in their homes and with their family and friends. He began documenting the last days of the Beat Generation with a borrowed 35mm camera using mostly Tri-X film push processed with available light and no tripod. Hhttp://mcclure-manzarek.com/dev/wp-admin/upload.phpe cleverly made an enlarger from an old slide projector to print his work.
During this time, Larry was living at home and his parents (who didn’t share his respect for the Beats) presented certain obstacles for him, but he continued to persevere. For instance, as he was leaving the house to photograph the McClure, Dylan and Ginsberg, North Beach image for Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde album cover, his parents determined he could only borrow the family car to drive to San Francisco after he mowed the lawn of their stately Alameda home. Keenan says, “The entire time I was mowing the lawn, with the loud power mower and gas smell, I was trying to center myself knowing I was about to document some very important events.” On this day he shot The Last Gathering of Beat Poets and Artists at City Lights. Ironically, these two photographs are some of Keenan’s most noted Beat images.
A former high school classmate of Larry’s, Jim Morrison of The Doors, fostered his natural instinct of being able to distinguish talent at an early age. He was very aware of his good fortune being able to photograph the Beats under the auspices of McClure and Ginsberg. Keenan’s innate understanding of the historical value of the images has provided the general public not only with a unique chronology and reportage of this era, but also with a timeless rendering of the spirit of the Beat poets and artists. Much of this work, shown at the Whitney Museum in New York, Walker Art Center of Minneapolis and the M.H. de Young Museum in San Francisco, in the exhibit Beat Culture and the New America: 1950-1965 and in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery show Rebels: Beat Artists and Poets, are the icon images that represent these exhibitions.
The legendary student demonstration of May 23, 1958, which made its way into Been Down So Long. Photos from the Cornell Daily Sun. The students charged were Richard Fariña ’59, Kirkpatrick Sale ’58, David Seidler ’59, Robert Perry ’59, and Peter Wheelwright ’61. Fariña only played a peripheral role in the demonstration, but he thought that getting expelled would make a more dramatic exit from Cornell than simply dropping out.
Cornell Daily Sun
Thursday, May 29, 1958, p. 1.
“MJB Paroles Farina, Sale on Riot Charge; Leders See Malott.”
A headline article in Cornell’s campus newspaper reports: “In decisions handed down yesterday by the Men’s Judiciary Board, J. Kirk Sale ’58 and Richard Farina ’59 were given Paroles for their actions in last weekend’s demonstrations.” There are a couple of other related articles, one reporting that 36 women were reprimanded for “intentional violation of the Women’s Student Goverment Association’s rules on closing hours Friday evening,” and another reporting on a meeting of student leaders with the University President to discuss “current student-Administration problems.”
Cornell Alumni News
June 15, 1958. Vol. 60, no. 18. p. 621-623.
“Students Protest University Relations; President Promises Conference Group.”
Details events of the riot and briefly mentions Fariña’s suspension and four other students.
Jules Siegel (October 21, 1935 – November 17, 2012) was a writer and graphic designer whose work has appeared over the years in Playboy, Best American Short Stories, Library of America‘s Writing Los Angeles, and many other publications. He occasionally contributed book reviews to the San Francisco Chronicle, and he administered newsroom-l, an email discussion list for journalists. He died suddenly, of a heart attack, at age 77.
His articles about Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan, Thomas Pynchon and other prominent Americans were primary (and often unique) sources of information based on his personal acquaintance and extensive direct interviews with the subjects. “Goodbye Surfing, Hello God!” has been anthologized several times (most recently in The Rock History Reader by Theo Cateforis) and is used as a primary source in every book about Brian Wilson’s struggle to complete Smile, his “teenage symphony to God.”
Siegel attended Cornell University with Pynchon during the 1953–54 term and graduated from Hunter College with a degree in English and philosophy in 1959. He was involved in politics, working for both the Nixon and Kennedy campaigns. He began working as a journalist in 1964. He lived and worked in Mexico, beginning in 1981 (moving to Cancún in 1983), where he was a witness of the Hurricane Gilbert landfall . He was also active in the field of book art. Three of his works are in the Artists Books Collection of the Museum of Modern Art. His books and calligraphic journals were exhibited at Franklin Furnace in 1978. Ample material on his life and works can be found in the links below.
When Brian Wilson released his solo, non-Beach Boys version of Smile in 2004, David Leaf wrote in the linear notes that Jules’s story “just might be the touchstone story in the creation of the ‘Smile’ fantasia.” Indeed, anyone who writes about this era of The Beach Boys uses Jules’s story as a foundational text. After all, Jules was there at the creation, spending two months with Wilson at home and in the studio. A few hours after I spoke to Jules for the first time, he recorded himself reading “Goodbye Surfing, Hello God!” so the audio could be included as part of e-publisher The Atavist’s re-release of the story as an e-book. A week later, a few hours before Jules and I had our second phone conversation, the e-book was released, and an excerpt was posted on the Rolling Stone website.
Buchla Series 100 (1963/1966–1969)
Buchla formed his electronic music equipment company, Buchla and Associates, in 1962 in Berkeley, California. Buchla was commissioned by avant garde music composers Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender, both of the San Francisco Tape Music Center, to create an electronic instrument for live performance. Under a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation Buchla completed his first modular synthesizer in 1963. The result was the Buchla Series 100, which he began selling in 1966. Buchla’s synthesizers experimented in control interfaces, such as touch-sensitive plates. In 1969 the Series 100 was sold to CBS, who soon after dropped the line, not seeing the synthesizer market as a profitable area.
His striking body of cinematic work includes such masterpieces as Quick Billy, To Parsifal, Mass For The Dakota Sioux, Castro Street, and the lovely motion pictures Valentin de las Sierras, Roslyn Romance, and Tung, among many others.
Pynchon himself almost never talked about his parents, especially in his earlier years. But one afternoon in the mid-sixties, he and his then-girlfriend, Mary Ann Tharaldsen, were driving through Big Sur when she complained of nausea. She wanted to stop at a bar and have a shot to settle her stomach. According to Tharaldsen, he exploded, telling her he would not tolerate midday drinking. When she asked why, he told her he’d seen his mother, after drinking, accidentally puncture his father’s eye with a clothespin. It was the only time, says Tharaldsen, who lived with him, that he ever mentioned his family. “He was disconnected from them,” she says. “There seems to have been something not good there.”
Two of Pynchon’s Cornell friends, his future girlfriend Tharaldsen and her then-husband, David Seidler, had moved to Seattle and encouraged Pynchon to join them. Tharaldsen says Pynchon arrived “depressed—very down.” She worked for Boeing, and hooked him up with a job writing technical copy for their in-house guide, Bomarc Service News.
What finally smoked him out was Richard Fariña’s wedding to Mimi Baez, sister of the famous folk singer. In August, Pynchon took a bus up the California coast to serve as his friend’s best man. Remembering the visit soon after, Fariña portrayed Pynchon with his head buried in Scientific American before eventually “coming to life with the tacos.” Pynchon later wrote to Mimi that Fariña teased him about his “anti-photograph Thing … what’s the matter, you afraid people are going to stick pins; pour aqua regia? So how could I tell him yeah, yeah right, you got it.”
After Fariña’s wedding, Pynchon went up to Berkeley, where he met up with Tharaldsen and Seidler. For years, Pynchon trackers have wondered about Tharaldsen, listed as married to Pynchon in a 1966–67 alumni directory. The real story is not of a secret marriage but a distressing divorce—hers from Seidler. Pynchon and Tharaldsen quickly fell in love, and when Pynchon went back to Mexico City shortly after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Tharaldsen soon followed.
In Mexico, Tharaldsen says, Pynchon wrote all night, slept all day, and kept mostly to himself. When he didn’t write, he read—mainly Latin American writers like Jorge Luis Borges, a big influence on his second novel, The Crying of Lot 49. (He also translated Julio Cortázar’s short story “Axolotl.”) His odd writing habits persisted throughout his life; later, when he was in the throes of a chapter, he’d live off junk food (and sometimes pot). He’d cover the windows with black sheets, never answer the door, and avoid anything that smelled of obligation. He often worked on multiple books at once—three or four in the mid-sixties—and a friend remembers him bringing up the subject of 1997’s Mason & Dixon in 1970.
Tharaldsen grew bored of the routine. Soon they moved to Houston, then to Manhattan Beach. Tharaldsen, a painter, did a portrait of Pynchon with a pig on his shoulder, referencing a pig figurine he’d always carry in his pocket, talking to it on the street or at the movies. (He still identified closely with the animals, collecting swine paraphernalia and even signing a note to friends with a drawing of a pig.) Once Tharaldsen painted a man with massive teeth devouring a burger, which she titled Bottomless, Unfillable Nothingness. Pynchon thought it was him, and hated it. Tharaldsen insists it wasn’t, but their friend Mary Beal isn’t so sure. “I know she regarded him as devouring people. I think in the sense that he—well, I shouldn’t say this, because all writers do it. Writers use people.”
Tharaldsen hated L.A., and decided to go back to school in Berkeley. “I thought they were unserious sort of beach people—lazy bums! But Tom didn’t care because he was inside all day and writing all night.” At the moment, eager to break with his publisher, Lippincott (and rejoin Cork Smith, since departed to Viking), he saw Lot 49 as a quickie “potboiler” meant to break his option with the house—forcing them to either reject it, liberating him, or pay him $10,000. They paid him, defying his own low opinion of it. In his introduction to Slow Learner, a later collection of his early stories, he’d write that with Lot 49, “I seem to have forgotten most of what I thought I’d learned up till then.” Now it’s required reading in college courses, a gateway drug to the serious stuff. Which, of course, was his next book: Gravity’s Rainbow.
On the evening of Tuesday, April 12, lucky Cornell filmgoers were treated to a screening of the Academy Award winning filmThe King’s Speech, sponsored by Cornell Cinema. The film was introduced and followed by Cornell alum David Seidler ’59, the film’s screenwriter and winner of the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. After watching the film, audience members had the opportunity to hear Seidler speak about his childhood stutter, his career in Hollywood and, of course, his own experiences at Cornell. Seidler also shared several amusing anecdotes about his time as a Cornellian, as well as surprising encounters he had during the production of the film.
After going to college at Cornell, where he was friends with Thomas Pynchon, Seidler got the writing bug. His first job was in New York, writing translations for dubbed Japanese monster movies. He got work on a 1960s TV series called “Adventures of the Seaspray,” which was shot in the South Pacific. Seidler ended up in Fiji, serving as a political advisor to the country’s prime minister.
While the Psychedelic 60’s were certainly about Jimi Hendrix getting experienced, The Jefferson Airplane flying high, Dylan getting stoned, The Chambers Brothers getting psychedelicized, and The Beatles doing everything possible … it was little bands like the Loading Zone who were the mainstay of dozens of live shows, opening relentlessly for everyone, developing and evolving with a style that walked right out of R&B and Soul, infusing rock sensibilities and changing the course of music for anyone who ever heard the band.
On the east coast we had The Paul Butterfield Blues Band blossoming with total disregard for every genre around them, merging bits of everything, while simultaneously on the west coast, the Loading Zone, first introduced as The Marbles, were developing along the same lines … and sadly the two never colliding for a night of splendor; though many of us dreamed.
The Marbles broke up almost as soon as they come together, but not before setting in motion the Family Dog’s [a concert promotion company] first venue at the historic Longshoreman’s Hall, opening the doors for the underground shows that would become the stuff of legend. The Marbles initial lineup as of 1965 included Ray Greenleaf [drums], Steve Dowler [rhythm guitar], Pete Shapiro [guitar], and David Dougdale [bass]. By 1966 to the fall of 1967 the group expanded and changed, channeling original Marble members Pete Shapiro and Steve Dowler, while adding Paul Fauerson [organ & vocals, late of the jazz and soul combo Tom Paul Trio], George Newcom [drums] and Bob Kridle [bass], developing a larger full bodied sound where they psychedelicized the music, inspired extensive jams, and opening the window for bands like Cold Blood, Tower of Power, and Sly and The Family Stone to do their thing.
By the fall of 1967 to the spring of 1968 the band evolved yet again, still with original members Pete Shapiro and Steve Dowler, along with Paul Fauerson, George Newcom, Bob Kridle, and adding Pat O’Hara [trombone & vocals], Todd Anderson [tenor sax & vocals], and for a short time Susie Levin delivering vocals that were sheer magic. It was here with Susie Levin that the Loading Zone saw the first hints of greatness, being snapped up by RCA, notably for their female singer, and delivered an album that was far below what the band presented at any venue, on any given night.
In January of 1969 the band evolved yet again, becoming nearly huge, still with Pete Shapiro, Steve Dowler, Paul Fauerso [who would shortly leave to lend his talents to The Beach Boys], George Newcom, Bob Kridle, Todd Anderson, adding Steve “Doc” Kupka [baritone sax], who left in August or September to join the Motowns, and Linda Tillery [vocals]. But again the Loading Zone could not keep their female singer who was scooped up by CBS records and producer Al Kooper, where as “Sweet Linda Devine,” she delivered an album with a very different sound than that of the Loading Zone.
By the summer of Woodstock the band had both evolved and de-evolved, adding Mike Eggleston [bass], George Marsh [drums], Steve Busfield [guitar, and can be heard playing with Norman Greenbaum on “Spirit In The Sky”], and Ron Taormina [tenor sax]. The band kept breaking up and reforming, though without the original influences of Pete Shapiro and Steve Dowler. Late into 2005 almost original member Paul Fauerson, along with Mike Eggleston and George Marsh would for an alliance that continues to this day, where the band still delivers original productions and musical history. The Loading Zone’s performances were rich and diverse, riveted and infused with psychedelic soul, more diverse than The Chambers Brothers and Sly Stone. Sadly their initial outing was dismissed as hippie wanna-be’s, and even with the enthusiastic response of fans they did little, claiming to have never made a thin dime.
Regardless … this and their other excursions on wax are not to me missed, as the Loading Zone will connect dots, link bands, and deliver an infectious sound that once heard, will never be forgotten.