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7 Magic Mountains, south of Las Vegas. Scott of the World photography.

The Case of the Missing Chums

Dosing Little Sister
by Jeb Harrison

We were freshly-milled teenagers in 1967, 12/13 years-old, watching the news about the hippies in the Haight and taking the occasional tour in the family wagon on the way home from the Giants game, stashing “Ramparts” magazine under the bed, smoking oregano. We were old enough to wonder what this “tune-in, turn-on, drop out” movement was all about, old enough to recognize that LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, and the countless varieties of uppers and downers did not seem to have the same effect on the hippies as the gin and tonics our parents were drinking; old enough to see that Vietnam was a travesty. Of course, we did our best to dress like The Monkees in our beads, paisleys, and rose-colored granny glasses. We started garage bands and covered “Light My Fire,” “Proud Mary,” “Hey Joe,” and “Susie-Q,” rolling leafy reefers from $10 lids of Columbian weed.  

I don’t recall many real hippies roaming the junior high campus at A.E. Kent, but I knew that many of my classmates had older siblings that were the real thing; tripped out longhairs with the thousand-yard stare, shuffling around barefoot and spouting bizarre visions. We might see them around town, or smell their pungent presence at a sleepover.

Then, some of our classmates started disappearing.

It wasn’t as if they showed up for school naked, or went on a bummer trip during P.E. They just stopped showing up altogether. We had heard about “freak outs” and “bad trips,” and had heard stories about hippies that quite literally fried their brains and were permanently disabled. The code word for such disappearances was “Napa,” shorthand for the state mental hospital up north. “What happened to Wendy Whitman?” someone might ask.

The disappearing school chums. Which way did they go, George? (courtesy of Volkswagen Sverige)

 

“Napa.” 

That one word told the story that we imagined had transpired. Older brother comes home for the weekend from the Haight with a baggie of goodies for little sister, and the next thing you know little sister is committed for life. Still, many of us disregarded these scare tactics. Yes, Wendy Whitman, Jerry Powell, Mike Jeremy and others might be vegetables, but look at all the fun the hippies  are having with their psychedelics, gyrating like a pit of St. Vitus vipers to the Farfisas and vibrato-laden guitars. There we were, “Too young to be hippies,” but still obsessed with Grace Slick, Pigpen, Country Joe, Timothy Leary, The Merry Pranksters and the Kool Aid Acid Test. Oh, how we longed for a shot of that Kool Aid, a chance to “break on through to the other side,” and ride “The Crystal Ship.” And some of us, a few years later, well after the bloom was off the hippie rose, managed to get our hands on some of the infamous Orange Sunshine and go tripping on Mt. Tam. (No stays in Napa, yet.)

Maybe someday I’ll try and track down some of the kids that “disappeared.” They probably just moved away, victims of the over-active imaginations of freshly-milled teenagers. It was, to quote the Airplane, a “Wylde Tyme.”

END

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW

The Drive Time Readerby Jeb Harrison

Audiobooks: Not the Latest, but Some of the Greatest

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Read by Lenny Henry

Readers of Neil Gaiman might assume that he has taken more than his fair share of acid. Or at least we might have assumed that if his books had come out in the early seventies. I mean, Gaiman's crazy universe of God Critters is just the thing a tripping hippie might conjure in a dark, incense-filled room under the smoky black lights, right?

It's interesting that Anansi Boys is listed as the second novel in Gaiman's "American Gods" series. Usually a follow-up amplifies whatever shock volume was established in the first novel, and American Gods (the novel, not the revisionist TV show) has plenty of outrageous, X-rated sex and violence. Anansi Boys, while keeping to the Critters as Gods theme, is almost like a YA version of American Gods: toned down in the sex and violence department, and just generally cuter than its predecessor. Even with Mr. Nansi and his sons as shapeshifting, storytelling spider-beings, it's still much lighter than American Gods, though equally mysterious.  

That's not to say Gaiman fans shouldn't listen to the audiobook. It's expertly narrated by Lenny Henry, who gives each character, human and Critter God, a distinctive voice. There are some wonderfully silly British accents, and, should you ever wonder what a half old-woman/half raptor sounds like, he made a pretty credible go at it. Still, this is Gaiman at his beastly-blendo best, which requires a pretty strong willingness to suspend disbelief and go with, well, an open, perhaps slightly twisted, mind, with or without a dose of Orange Sunshine. 

Note: The book debuted at number one on The New York Times Best Seller list, and won both the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Society Award in 2006. The audiobook was released in 2005, narrated by Lenny Henry.

See Jeb's books at amazon.com/author/jebharrison

THERE'S NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO DIE. A 2019 noir/mystery/crime novel/comedy/satire by Bernard Meisler. 

"The best satire about Mill Valley since McFadden's, The Serial. Many have tried and many have failed, but Meisler hits Marin County's quirky nails smack in the head with his hard-boiled real estate agent's noir-cynicism. Filled with homages and insider snarks, I laughed on damn near every page. Meisler will either get Mill Valley's acclaim or he'll get run out of town." J. Macon King, publisher, MillValleyLit.

The novel takes place in Marin County, CA, 2008, just before the bubble burst. Once the home to the Grateful Dead, Gary Snyder and Sam Shepard, the newer demographic tends toward hedge fund managers, dotcom millionaires and trophy wives, where people, without any sense of irony, paste "Keep Tahoe Blue" bumper stickers on their gigantic SUVs. Despite widespread affluence, conspicuous consumption and a massive sense of entitlement, there is an undercurrent of fear among the residents—of a downturn causing them to lose it all, their kids drinking or taking drugs (or murdering an Italian policeman while on vacation in Europe), of falling behind their neighbors, of getting found out—behind every great fortune is a great crime. Marin Gothic. Available on Amazon and here https://sensitiveskinmagazine.com/sensitive-skin-books/

“THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO DIE is dark, twisted, and often hilarious. A fantastic mystery with comedic elements, this novel is perfect on every level. A must read.” —Tony DuShane, author of Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk and host of the long-running Drinks With Tony podcast.

“In the tradition of T.C. Boyle, Denis Johnson, and Don Winslow, Bernard Meisler dares to build his quirky, genre-stretching murder mystery around a deeply flawed protagonist. Fasten your seatbelt for a savage satire of America’s richest and weirdest locale in the era of late-stage capitalism.” —Dan Lyons, author of LAB RATS and DISRUPTED

Bernard Meisler is the Editor-in-chief of the edgy Sensitive Skin magazine, publisher of Sensitive Skin Books, and host of the Sensitive Skin podcast. He’s been published in Between C&D, Yeti, Gathering of the Tribes, The Atlantic, various Unbearables anthologies, and elsewhere.

 

Dragonfly Wings...Valkyrie’s Claws

by Drew Stofflet

They traveled from Mill Valley south on dragonflies’ wings.

Pulling into the train station in the middle of the old growth redwoods they met the torchbearer, the former kid. He has grown into his cloth. 

He was doing Valkyries business this day (in a good mood, much to our relief).

He came bearing a drinking horn, giving us a glimpse of fate and reincarnation, clawing open the sky, where Odin’s ravens Huginn (thought) and Muninn (mind) circled above, on their daily flight around the world. They are the eyes of the world. They watch over the living and the dead (the hanged and the slain) (the judged and the persecuted).

Odin’s wolves, Geri and Freki, and the “wolf-warrior-bands” (the Ulfheonar) prowl the perimeter, desirous, greedy, ne, audacious. Wanton. “Give us your soul.”  

Charon, Styx and Acheron journey across the river that runs between the hills, in the valley of this life and death, guiding this blessed transformation. Electricity from river eels is help on the way, as well as fate and reincarnation.  

Meanwhile, the sharpness of the sun’s rays are needles that pierce the heartspace. Respiration from locomotive breath sprays into the light like a dolphin’s spout.  

A train’s whistle sends shivers up and down our spines. Malachite crumbles. Shakti pop and the broken pieces are eyes like pinballs. Googly eyes. Googly-oogly eyes. More eyes of the world.  Communal convulsion.   

The train arrives, earth shaking. Headlights shed light. The train I ride. A passenger train, a spirit carrier.  The guidance of the dragonflies. Turtles and brakemen. Storytellers. Transformation. 

They walk along the kaleidoscopic path of humanity. Some forgot their clothes. 

Everyone waits for Gabriel’s trumpet. And the leaving train whistles. Though the end is untold, would they blow you safely home.  

END 

Drew Stofflet "Outro"

Drew illuminates his "Dragonfly Wings...Valkyrie’s Claws": In late September I attended the annual Santa Cruz Mountain Sol Fest, held in the Roaring Camp Railroad Yard under the giant redwoods in Felton, California. The musical lineup on the last day, Sunday, was largely focused on the music of the Grateful Dead, and more specifically, Jerry Garcia.  

Garcia’s lifetime friend, sidekick and bandmate Bob Weir graced the stage with many of his longtime musical friends, including the Golden Gate Wingmen, and his own new three-piece band called The Wolf Brothers.  

A certain drama transpired on stage that day, invoking the images I am trying to depict in my piece. I would say it was powerful, potent and “different”, because I have been participating in these ecstatic group events for more than thirty years. Something was happening in a heightened, focused and profound way on this day; from hawks circling high above, to masses of dragonflies flitting above the heads in the crowd, low-bent golden sunbeams, and extremely Grateful Dead-esque train imagery. More specifically, all of the music Mr. Weir guided that day seemed to be from the great songbook of Garcia and his prolific musical collaborator Robert Hunter, rather than his own compositions (that he formed with his own partner-in-crime John Perry Barlow). All of this could seemingly add up to just another day on the lawn, listening en masse to this beautiful music. But the music on this day seemed to come from a higher place-much higher-as Weir visibly shook his head in a convulsive manner and led the crowd as one through the same energy trance at the end of the show. 

The train whistled and took all of the revelers back down the mountain; I shook and shivered through the night, wondering, processing and questioning the “what” and “why” of all of this. I knew there was something bigger. When I returned home to Marin the following night I received a text from an old friend and bandmate stating that Robert Hunter, the Dead’s literary source and sorcerer (along with Barlow) had passed, which brought some answers to what I had witnessed and felt. END

Drew Stofflet is a lifelong reader and writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. A professional wine, food and travel writer, his weekly column “Wine Reveals Truth” has appeared in the Aspen Daily News (Colorado) since 2008. Drew is also a lifestyle, food, travel and wine contributor for Sensi Magazine and SensiMag.com. An avid mountain biker, personal chef, wine sommelier, musician, dancer, yoga practitioner, and adventuring world traveler, Drew lives with his Australian Shepherd high on a hill in Lagunitas, California.

 

Artist Marcy Levine

Lower left: "Who Knows?" $600 18"x24" Acrylic on Wood Panel. For more Marcy art - see below.

 

The “Vine of Souls” by Tony Balbin
Ayahuasca has exploded in popularity over the last few years, slowly making its way to the mainstream.
Ayahuasca is a South American tea containing the potent psychedelic chemical N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which is a human neurotransmitter. The ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) is combined with the leaves from the shrub Psychotria viridis (or other DMT containing plants) to create the tea. Ayahuasca is the name given to the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and also the foul-tasting tea.

The word ‘ayahuasca’ translates to ‘vine of death’ or ‘vine of souls’. This powerful tea induces intense hallucinations and introspection. The entire ayahuasca experience lasts for approximately 8 hours, with the strongest effects lasting 1-3 hours. Vomiting and occasionally diarrhea, which the natives call ‘la purga’ (the purge), are considered part of the experience. This purging process is medically beneficial, as it clears the body of worms and other parasites.

This is where the Shaman comes into play. If the group is the symphony, the Shaman is the conductor. They’re able to manage the energy in yourself, in your peers, and in the room itself all in real time. This is why picking the right Shaman is so important.  You’re placing a certain degree of your well-being in their hands. If you’ve chosen the right one, you’ll witness some incredible things. They’ll help navigate the group throughout the eye of Ayahuasca’s storm.

So, it’s not just Ayahuasca that makes the experience.  It’s Ayahuasca, alongside your peers, your facilitators, your Shaman, and being in the heart of the jungle that makes the experience so special.  

(Excerpted from 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before My First Ayahuasca Experience by Tony Balbin, the founder of www.Warrior.do)

 

Abri in Ayahuasca Land
by Abri Holden, Mindfulness Coach

Abri comes out of the jungle.

This was my first week back to work from a two-week trip in the jungle of Peru for a meditation and ayahuasca (plant medicine) retreat. Six ayahuasca ceremonies with 24 strangers who by the end felt like family. We laughed, cried, danced, sang, and I personally, experienced profound healing on every level (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual). As I left the jungle and my plane touched down at home, I thought, “How does one return to grocery shopping and bills after experiencing something like this? How will I take experiencing love with such universality, intimacy with nature in such detail, and rawness of healing with such depth and reconcile it with errands to Target? How does one re-enter post-retreat?”

It’s hard to describe what two weeks in the Peruvian jungle with six plant medicine ceremonies feels like. I have a feeling the lessons will continue to unfold for a while, but for now, here is what I can share:

raw. no hiding. letting go of my agenda. surrendering to healing. shaking loose. inside feelings, emotions, and stories fully exposed. facing fear. resistance. acceptance. curiosity. integration circles. common humanity. awareness of how pain is passed. generational and family healing. backwards. forwards. the interconnectedness of all species.

 

phoenix rising. spreading wings. past lives. future visions. warrior spirit. yes >no>clarity. waking up. night time skies. milky way. bugs. decay. boundaries. forgiveness. reconstructive surgery. conflict. the quest to become oneself. speaking up. feminine rising. friendship. blessings. neon green. dancing into the light. native knowing. hand to the sky. true north. connection. feeling the earth. knowing our worth. barefoot.

 

climate concern. systemic oppression. hands on heart. stone in hand. taking refuge. finding safety in this body. may all beings be safe and protected. saints. guides. buddhas and bodhisattvas. changing shapes. weaving together. co-creation. sacred vows. the deep call. a pinch of self-love. standing together. the one family tree.

 

metta >may all beings be happy and free.

 

just this. just this. just this. 

thank you, thank you, pachamama

 

This week, I found out about re-entry. With warnings to colleagues and friends about my continued sensitivity, I had made it through the first few days with minor hiccups. And then, there was Thursday. I realized I had made a mistake at work. This mistake had impacted someone that I care deeply for and look up to as a mentor and friend. Ugh. It was as if my heart dropped into my stomach and the world came to a halt. I wanted to curl up into a ball with no plans to re-emerge.

Just one week prior, I had found my inner warrior and rose like a phoenix during a retreat ceremony, but somehow that inner resilience that I had learned while on retreat had disappeared back in the real world.I didn’t want to be back to reality, I wanted to stay in the jungle and not have to deal with all this. I kept telling her that I needed to pick up and leave. That I need to leave and go on a five-month retreat to really “learn about myself.”

She said, “I don’t think you need to go anywhere but where you are.” I could feel my whole body pause, exhale, and let out a deep sigh of relief. It took a friend to calm me down and assure me: The wisdom is right here in this moment.

I am reminded of the Chinese Zen story, “The small retreat is in the wilderness, the medium retreat is in the city, and the great retreat is in the emperor’s court.” Meaning, that it’s easy to go on retreat and have insights and live the practice, but it’s the day-to-day moments of real life where the practice is tested and the insights are tried on for size. It’s where the real practice comes in. The grocery store, conversations with colleagues, waiting in line, making mistakes, opening bills. It’s how we bring mindful awareness not just to the cushion, but also to each moment of the day, whether we’re in the jungle or at the DMV.

Meditation teacher Jack Kornfield has a more humorous way to explain it: “After the ecstasy, the laundry.”

End

 

Abri works at Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), a mindfulness non-profit born at Google and based on neuroscience doing teacher development. For more of Abri - Coaching and experiences for leaders seeking wisdom + aliveness - see www.wisdomwithin.one

 

More art by Marcy Levine

 

"Live Wire" $400 15"x15" Acrylic on Wood

 

Artist Marcy Levine

About Artist Marcy Levine: After 40 years as a psychotherapist, I have redirected that creativity to the practice of art. I have rewired from an intense thinking process to an intense non-thinking one. Psychotherapy and art are both cerebral and intuitive.

I paint mostly on wood, building up layers of paint, which allows me to sand and scrape as I search for the design which resonates as true and authentic for me.  I am an excavator, an explorer. I want to discover what is underneath the layers. My painting is that process of excavation, just as psychotherapy was. Now I excavate the layers of paint that I have placed on the panel. 

My wish is for you to have an experience of depth, for that reflects who you are, who I am, who we all are. https://marcylevine.com/

 

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Credits:

Jimi Hendrix images by Monika Dannemann.

Abbey Road ad mockup by Volkswagen Sverige.*

Side images and photo by Scott Roberts - ScottOfTheWorld.com, instagram.com/ScottOfTheWorld

Walkyrien (c. 1905) by Emil Doepler.

Purple dragonfly by K.L. Newman.

Stacy Levine art photos and headshot by Peter Levine.

Author photos, this issue, from the authors.

Uncredited photos by J. Macon King.

* Volkswagen Sweden has taken the unusual step of "fixing" the Abbey Road album cover so the VW Beetle in the background is parked properly. It's for laughs, but it's also to promote the automaker's Park Assist technology.

 

© MillValleyLit. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material without permission is strictly prohibited.

All writing, submissions, and comments are the views of the respective authors and interviewees do not necessarily reflect the views of MillValleyLit or Editorial staff.