Acid Heroes: the Legends of LSD

July 24, 2014

The return of Blondie

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 6:18 pm
Photo: Blondie

Blondie.

Blondie, the 7-year-old feral cat, showed up out of the blue last night.  She looked in fine shape and seems to have survived quite well while I was gone for 10 months.  And I was surprised she came right up to me.  Usually she’s more wary.  She is the mostly completely feral of  my feral cats.   Definitely hungry, though.  Polished off a 16 ounce can of cat food and a can of chunk chicken.  And probably would’ve eaten more, except that bad-ass Moo Cat showed up and ran her off (they’ve been feuding for years).

I’m impressed by how well my feral cats are able to survive on their own.

In a way, my feral cats have the best of both worlds.  Unlike house-cats, they get to roam freely all day long, and indulge their cat-nature completely without human interference.  And unlike most feral cats, I gave them regular feedings for 6 years.

I some times think of my feral cats as Robo Cats.  They’re like the ultimate cats.  They are in incredibly good shape.   Unlike house-cats, who get fat and lazy, my feral cats get an incredible amount of exercise roaming wild in the hills.  On top of that,  for 6 years I fed them an incredible diet — mostly fresh meat and restaurant-quality food.  They are like professional athletes who have been doing intense, physical work-outs every day for years, along with maintaining an ultra-high protein diet.

It’s no wonder those ferals are such rugged survivors.

 

 

The Polka Dot Man

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 5:55 pm
 
Photo: Berkeley street people 1982.

The Polka Dot Man, 1982.

For whatever reason, Berkeley has always attracted it’s fair share of weird characters.   I often wonder why there are so many nutty people in Berkeley.   Is there something about Berkeley that drives people nuts?   Or is it that the nutty people are drawn to Berkeley for some reason?  Who knows.  I’m too nuts myself to figure that one out.

One of the many strange characters is a guy who was known for many years as the Polka Dot Man.  The Polka Dot Man has been bizarrely displaying himself on the Berkeley campus since the early 1980s.  He would sometimes go years without talking, like a deaf mute.  Often he’d sit unmoving for hours at a stretch in weird postures.  In a newspaper interview, he said he originally slipped into this catatonic state while tripping on LSD in a Texas jail.  He became fixated with the drain-hole of the urinal, staring at it for hours.  And that was how he got locked into the “polka dot” concept.  For years he wore a bizarre, clown-like costume covered with polka dots.

The Polka Dot Man existed in this weird mute-deaf-dumb catatonic state for many years.   Then one day he was sitting on the sidewalk in front of a building that happened to catch on fire.  This fireman started screaming at him: “GET UP!! GET UP!!!”  For some reason, the fireman yelling at him, ordering him to get up, pulled him out of his catatonic state.  He began talking normally to people again, and was relatively normal for several years after that.

The human mind is a peculiar thing.

 

The Polka Dot Man, 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

July 23, 2014

Old age

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 6:37 pm
Tags: , , ,

One of the first jobs I ever had was working as a dishwasher at a nursing home when I was 16.  The kitchen where we worked was on the first floor.  But once a day we had to take the elevator up to the fourth floor to get the cart full of dirty dishes.  The fourth floor was the lounge area where the old people hung out.

The first time I went up there it was a shock.  I had never really seen old people before.  And here was a whole room full of them.  And they mostly looked half-dead.   Like they were just sitting there waiting to die, and the wait was not going to be too long.

I remember this one old guy who sat around with his shirt off.  And he had this big lump on his chest.  It looked exactly as if he had swallowed an alarm clock and it was in his chest.  “That’s a pacemaker,” my co-worker told me.  This was 1973, of course.  Nowadays I’m told a pace-maker isn’t much bigger than a micro-chip.

And then there was Joey.  He couldn’t stand wearing his dentures.  So he’d hide them in his mashed potatoes.  We’d be washing the dishes and we’d regularly find them in the mashed potatoes.  “There’s Joey’s dentures again!’

But the one I most remember was this spooky old lady.  She really looked haunted and haggard.  Her face was splotched with purple patches.  And she had these dark, sad eyes that bored into you.  And her bones seemed so fragile it seemed like she would crack apart if she fell down.  The worst thing was:  she would sneak up behind you and put her clammy, boney hand on your shoulder, stare you in the eye and implore in this pleading, desperate voice:  “HELP ME ESCAPE!    I’VE GOT TO GET OUT OF THIS PLACE!  THEY’RE TRYING TO KILL ME!  PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, HELP ME ESCAPE!”

My co-worker, who was also 16, was kind of a wise-guy.  He’d put his hands on her shoulders and say:  “All right, granny.  I’ll ride up here tonight on my motorcycle at the stroke of midnight.  I’ll honk my horn three times as my signal.  And you can sneak down the fire escape.  And then you can ride on the back of my chopper all the way to California.”

“OH THANK YOU, THANK YOU, YOUNG MAN!”

“Just make sure you have all your bags packed so we can make a quick getaway.”

“I WILL!  I WILL!”

The poor thing.  She was like a character out of a nightmare.

At the time, it never occurred to me that I would one day be an old man, too.  I mean, I had always been a young guy.  So I just assumed I would always be a young guy.  I was a young guy.  And they were the old guys.  The idea that I would wake up as an old man some day seemed preposterous.   Like waking up as a black woman or something.  But I guess that’s just how it works.

July 22, 2014

Morning with Moo Cat

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:14 pm
Tags: ,

 

Photo: A buncha' pictures of a feral cat for no particular reason.

Moo Cat showed up at my campsite at the crack of dawn. The first thing she always does is meow at me a couple times. This little croaking sound she makes. I think its her way of saying: “Hey! Its me. Are you happy to see me?” She’s usually a little tentative and wary when she approaches me…And I think its also to alert me: “Hey! I’m walking here. Don’t step on me, you klutz.” She knows I’m usually a little damaged when I wake up in the morning. …. And I suspect humans do look a little klutzy to cats, especially in the woods. Cats have excellent night vision while I’m staggering around blindly. And they’re graceful and agile in the hilly terrain while I can barely walk two feet. . . . But they’re always impressed at how adept I am with a can-opener. Especially at feeding time.

Photo: I always wonder when the cats do that close-their-eyes thing if its like they're meditating.  They're shutting out the world and looking inwards, plugging into that inner hum of the universe....  . .   Or maybe they're just sitting there thinking: "Man, my tummy is full.  This is great!"

I always wonder when the cats do that close-their-eyes thing if its like they’re meditating. They’re shutting out the world and looking inwards, plugging into that inner hum of the universe…. . . Or maybe they’re just sitting there thinking: “Man, my tummy is full. This is great!”

 

 

Photo: Moo Cat showed up at my campsite at the crack of dawn.  The first thing she always does is meow at me a couple times. This little croaking sound she makes.   I think its her way of saying:  "Hey!  Its me. Are you happy to see me?"  She's usually a little tentative and wary when she approaches me...And I think its also to alert me:  "Hey!  I'm walking here.  Don't step on me, you klutz."  She knows I'm usually a little damaged when I wake up in the morning. ....</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><p>And I suspect humans do look a little klutzy to cats, especially in the woods.  Cats have excellent night vision while I'm staggering around blindly.  And they're graceful and agile in the hilly terrain while I can barely walk two feet.  . . . But they're always impressed at how adept I am with a can-opener.  Especially at feeding time.

Moo Cat loves cheese. If I put out 4 different kinds of food, she always goes for the cheese first. I have no idea what you’re suppose to feed cats. So I let the cats decide. If they really like certain foods, thats what I feed them. They probably know whats best. Today I gave her a big chunk of cheddar cheese. Later, when I wasn’t looking, she snuck into my pack and pulled out the cheese. I do the basic wet and dry catfood bit. But I also feed them plenty of human food. Tunafish, chunk chicken, hot dogs. Especially when I was working the recycling job I would find tons of primo leftover restaurant food. I figured it was probably a good idea to expose their taste buds to a wide variety of foods in case they ever had to resort to dumpster-diving…..I’m told you shouldn’t give cats bread. Not because they can’t digest it. But because they dont brush their teeth and its bad for their teeth.

Photo: Moo Cat loves cheese.  If I put out 4 different kinds of food, she always goes for the cheese first.  I have no idea what you're suppose to feed cats.  So I let the cats decide.  If they really like certain foods, thats what I feed them.  They probably know whats best. Today I gave her a big chunk of cheddar cheese.  Later, when I wasn't looking, she snuck into my pack and pulled out the cheese.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><p> I do the basic wet and dry catfood bit.  But I also feed them plenty of human food.  Tunafish, chunk chicken, hot dogs.   Especially when I was working the recycling job I would find tons of primo leftover restaurant food.  I figured it was probably a good idea to expose their taste buds to a wide variety of foods in case they ever had to resort to dumpster-diving.....I'm told you shouldn't give cats bread.  Not because they can't digest it.  But because they dont brush their teeth and its bad for their teeth.

I don’t know what it is about a happy, purring cat that I find so reassuring. Its like “om” or something the way they purr. Like they’re emiting a vibration that balances the universe.

 
Photo: Thats the look Moo Cat gives me after she's been fed.  Like she's saying:  "Yeah.  Thats the way to do it!  Keep up the good work."

Thats the look Moo Cat gives me after she’s been fed. Like she’s saying: “Yeah. Thats the way to do it! Keep up the good work.”

Photo: I don't know what it is about a happy, purring cat that I find so reassuring.  Its like "om" or something the way they purr.  Like they're emiting a vibration that balances the universe.

A buncha’ pictures of a feral cat for no particular reason.

July 20, 2014

George and me singing “Downtown” after several pitchers of beer

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 10:47 pm
Click on picture to view video

July 19, 2014

Don’t Look Back

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:22 pm

“Don’t look back” (geddit?)

Back in 1979 I was 23 years-old and living in a little hotel room on 2nd and Folsom Street.  It was a flophouse, basically.  $17 a week rent, if you can believe it.  The building was the last remnant of the old San Francisco Skid Row on 2nd Street (the bums would eventually all migrate north to 6th Street).  I think Kerouac even wrote about it in Dharma Bums.  So I feel proud to have been a small part of the cultural history of San Francisco’s Skid Row district.

I’ve been saying for years, if they want to solve the homeless problem, one of the first things they need to do is start building thousands and thousands of flophouses.  Cheap, little rooms with a bed and a sink in them, and a bathroom down the hall.  Unfortunately, they’re a dying breed:  flophouses.  In fact, a couple months after I moved out of the one on 2nd Street, the phone company bought the building, paid off all the tenants a thousand bucks each to “re-locate” and then turned it into one more bland, humanoid, corporate office building.   The final gobbling of the old Skid Row to the Financial District.  And, as usual, my timing was poor (I could have used that thousand bucks).

Anyways, at the time I was madly in love with this beautiful, 19 year-old blonde stripper.  Well, actually, I barely knew her.  I was mostly in love with the idea of her.  I used to do that all the time when I was a young man.  I’d create this idealized image of some chick in my head and fall hopelessly in “unrequited love” with the image I had created.  If the love object happened to live 3,000 miles away, or hated my guts, I could keep these imaginary “unrequited love affairs” going for years at a stretch without having to worry about actually getting in a actual relationship (which I always knew would be even more painful, so it was very clever how I avoided that possibility).

Anyways, I was obsessed with this chick.  I’d describe my unrequited longing for her thusly:  I remember one time these street people were hanging out at the top of the Sproul Hall steps with their dog.  And the dog was just insanely in heat.  There was a female dog down below on the plaza, and the street dog kept straining at his leash, desperate to get to the bitch.  He was making all these howling, whining noises, his tongue hanging out, panting like a cartoon dog.  The owner did everything he could to distract the dog; tried to give it doggie treats, tried to pet him,  tried to force the dog’s face in the other direction of the bitch.  But nothing worked.  The dog kept straining against the leash with all its strength in a desperate, and even feverish, obsession.  That’s how I felt for most of my 20s and 30s.  This sort of overpowering obsessive sexual/romantic (the two were always confused in my head) drive with no relief. Like a dog in heat.  It wasn’t until I turned 50 where I could actually go 20 minutes at a stretch without thinking about sex (I’m either attaining new levels of maturity or just burning out, I’m never sure which).

So that was pretty much where I was at as I sat in my lonely skid row hotel room in 1979.   Obsessively longing for the unrequited Dream Girl of my dreams.

It’s a well-known fact:  there’s no cure for a broken heart.  Even the Bee Gees couldn’t solve that one.  The only relief I would get from my Tales-of-Brave-Ulysses torment (“His naked eyes were tortured by the Sirens sweetly singing” and all that crap) was when a particularly sappy and romantic love song would come on the radio.  I think they practically invented that whole genre of pop songs for that purpose.  You latch onto one of those torch songs and it’s like the only surrogate for the doomed romance.  Offers a little solace, at least.  I remember the band Boston had just released their new hit single, “Don’t Look Back,”  and that song perfectly fit the bill.  I spent hours and hours sitting there in my hotel room,  mindlessly and obsessively turning the dial on all the channels of my radio in the hopes of getting that song.  I was relentless.  About once an hour I would get a score.  I’d sit there listening to the song.  It placated my heart somehow.  The worst thing was when I hit the song, but I just caught the last 10 seconds of the end.  Damn!  Just missed it.  What can I say:  It was my special song.

“Don’t Look Back” was kind of hard rock, but it also had Beatle-esque harmonies and soaring guitar melodies.  So it was perfect romantic fodder.  The message of the song “Don’t Look Back” was, well, don’t look back.   Don’t waste your time bogged down with memories of the past.  Face your bright and bold new future.  So it was all up-lifting and shit.

I’d find out later, the lead singer of Boston also played in a Beatles cover band as a side project.  So he added some of that romantic Beatles thing to the music. And he’d eventually commit suicide.  Which is weird.  Back then I thought all them rock stars had it made, had tons of money and adoring fans and actually had real relationships with real women and didn’t sit in little hotel rooms listening to corny songs on the radio.   Looks can be deceiving.

Every now and then the song “Don’t Look Back” comes on the radio nowadays.  And it always takes me back to that little hotel room on 2nd Street back in 1979, and spinning the dial on my radio in the hopes of hearing that song.  So, of course, every time I hear “Don’t Look Back” I’m looking back.  I swear to God, sometimes I can’t do anything right.

 

July 15, 2014

Still Moo Cat after all these years

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 11:22 pm

Photo: The return of Moo Cat.  Swiss cheese and chunk chicken for breakfast.

Moo Cat was waiting for me for the third morning in a row, sitting about 30 yards up the hill.   Except this time she trotted down the hill while I was putting the cat-food in the cat-food dish.   Then she stopped a couple feet away from me and began pacing back and forth, meowing constantly at me.  It sounded like she was crying or that she was distressed.  Or maybe it was her way of saying hello to me.  Who knows.  Cats are hard to read.  They’re such spooky creatures.  But I could tell if I made a move towards her, she’d run.

So I stepped across the creek and laid on the ground, like I’d done a thousand times before.  Moo Cat polished off the swiss cheese first, then she devoured the chunk chicken.  Then when she was done eating she jumped across the creek and came over to check me out.   She circled around me several times, like she was still afraid to get too close to me or she couldn’t make up her mind if I was safe.  She probably hadn’t been touched by another human in 10 months.  Finally she let me give her a little pat on the top of her head.  And it was like the dam had broken.  She started jumping all over me, rubbing against me and purring so loud she started making these clucking sounds like a chicken.  She even got so excited she bit me on the hand, breaking a few drops of blood, just like old times.  Ha ha.  I swear that cat is half nuts.

I left a couple more cans of chunk chicken in the cat-food dish, and then headed back off towards civilization (so-called).  Still no sign of Blondie, Mick and Keef.  Wonder if they’re gone for good.

July 14, 2014

Welcome back to the streets

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:06 pm

 

Photo: Sad.  A tragedy. Of epic proportions.  An empty pitcher of beer. At one point in time and space, filled to the brim with alcoholic beverages.  But now reduced to an empty vessel.  Weep we must in the face of life's eternal tragedies.
 

I had waaaaay too much to drink yesterday.  I guess because I was nervous about being back in Berkeley, and being back on the streets.  So I way over-did it.

It had  been a perfect first day back in Berkeley.  There was a Sunday street fair on Telegraph.  The street was blocked off and bands were playing and people were dancing in the streets.  So there was a festive atmosphere in the air, as if perfectly staged for my welcome-home party.    I bought a big pitcher of Racer 5 at Pappy’s sports bar, took a window seat, and watched all the faces parade by. Many of which culled up memories from all the by-gone years.    I put on my headphones and turned on the radio.  And as if by magic, the third song they played was “Paco Bell,”  my all-time favorite classical song, and a song with a hundred Berkeley memories attached to it.  If my life was a movie (which it is in a way) I’ve always said I wanted “Paco Bell” as the theme song.  So it was perfect synchronicity.   I took it as an omen that everything in my life had fallen perfectly into place, and that everything would be fine from now on.  I even started crying from all the emotions.

I went to People’s Park and the lawn was bright green and beautiful and the sky was pure blue and nobody in the Park was getting beat up or acting weird.  For once. So it was a perfect day.  I sat on my old, favorite bench in the back of the Park by the playground, and quietly nursed my forty as the sun set and the sky grew dark.

There was a large crowd of people hanging at Hate Camp with good old Hate Man.  He always liked to be surrounded by a court, with him lying regally under his blankets in the very center of it, of course.

“Fuck you, Hate Man,” I said with a smile as I approached him.  “Sell me a cigarette?”

“Virginia Slim?”

“Yeah.  This is my first cigarette in 7 months.”

“You’re kidding?”  said Hate Man.  He could hardly grasp the concept of not smoking.

It was around midnight by the time I made my way to my campsite up in the hills.  I sort of glided effortlessly in that state of inebriated grace, marveling at how everything in my life had fallen perfectly into place.

And then everything went to hell.  It was pitch dark in the woods and I couldn’t find where I had stashed my sleepingbag!   Stashing your sleepingbag in the woods is a subtle art.  For it has to be concealed enough that people won’t be able to see it in the daylight.  And yet it has to be accessible enough that you can find it in the dark.  Which seemed like a simple enough task earlier in the day when I had stashed it.  Just walk past the three trees, make a left at the shrub,  make a right turn at the second clump and there it would be hidden under a big pile of branches.

Except that the combination of my drunkenness and the near ink-dark blindness of the woods completely bewildered me.  Any step in any direction would cause me to completely lose any sense of where I was.  After banging my head on several tree branches and scratching the hell out of my hands on various thorn bushes I began to realize the hopelessness of my situation.  After much pointless thrashing I finally conceded defeat and curled up on the hard, cold ground wearing nothing but my shirt-sleeves (I had cleverly stashed my nice warm jacket with my sleeping bag).    I tossed and turned and shivered all night long.  Every now and then I would catch 20 minutes of grog-like sleep, only to quickly wake up again and start the whole miserable routine all over again.  It was a loooong night.

Finally, as the alcohol slowly wore off, I was able to get my ball-bearings and track down the whereabouts of my sleeping bag.  As I put on my jacket and crawled into the bag it was the most comfortable feeling I had experienced in years.  AAAHHHH!  It was like going from sleeping on a block of ice, to sleeping on a heavenly cloud.  I caught about an hour of solid sleep before the sun came up.

But that’s what happens when you’ve been off the streets for awhile.  You get soft, and you let your guard down.  But “the streets” is like a harsh and demanding dominatrix who swiftly and ruthlessly doles out her rewards and punishments.  Like a slap in the face that says:  “WAKE UP, STUPID!!  PAY ATTENTION!!”

Now it’s my second day back on the streets.  And believe me, my guard is getting back up.

July 13, 2014

Back in the land of Feral Cats

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 9:45 pm

Got into Berkeley at 8 in the evening.  I had been living in the middle of the desert in a small town in Arizona for the last 10 months.   As I got off the bus at Telegraph and Haste my plan was to hide away for a couple days and ease my way back into the scene. But Hoody Dave was panhandling on the corner across the street and he immediately spotted me when I tried to sneak by him.

“Ace!  Ace!  Long time no see, bro!”  called out Hoody Dave.

“Yeah.  Yeah.  Good to see ya’, Hoody.  It’s like welcome back to Berkeley!” I said.

“You want some food?”  said Hoody, holding out a to-go container of restaurant left-overs.

“Nah.  I just got into town.  I’m rushing all over the place trying to take care of stuff.”

The street scene grapevine is an amazing thing.  Within an hour everyone in town will know I’m back.  Bunch of fucking blabber mouths. Ha ha.

The first day back on “the streets” is always a total shock for the mind and senses.  It’s like being thrown into the deep end of a pool full of sharks.  Course, after two days it’ll feel like I had never left.

It was crucial that I get to my campsite in the Berkeley hill before dark, and there was only a half-hour of light left.   The last thing I wanted to do was to try and set up my campsite in the pitch dark.  For one thing,  I wanted to make sure  there weren’t any strange people camping there, and there weren’t any weird scenes going on. But first I had to get some food for my feral cats.  I popped into Walgreens. They didn’t sell cat-food, so instead I  got 20 bucks worth of tuna, pink salmon and Vienna sausages.  I figured the scent of the pink salmon should draw any feral cats within a mile.

I made it to my campsite with 5 minutes of daylight to spare.  Set up my stuff and had a pleasant night sleep.

In the morning the first thing I did was set out the cat food.  It’s a moment I had been both dreading and looking forward to for 10 months.  I had been feeding them feral cats for the last 6 years, some of them since they were kittens.  So they were pretty dependent on me.  I wondered if they had survived in my absence.  Would my four feral cats still even be there?  Had they died?  Or would they show up half-starved with their ribs showing?  Or would they even remember me?  10 months is like 10 years in the life-cycle of a feral cat.

I had dreamed about my feral cats constantly during the 10 months I was gone.  They were always fat and well-fed in my dreams, and the dreams usually involved me feeding them, while they scurried around my ankles.  But this was real life not a dream.
.
I knelt down and opened up a can of food with my can-opener. A ritual I had performed a couple thousand times.  But before I had even got the food into the dish I looked up over my shoulder and there was a cat, sitting about 30 yards up the hill, watching me.  A black cat.  Is that Moo Cat?!  It’s like she had been sitting there for ten months just waiting for me.  Actually, she was probably waiting to come down and get a drink at the little pool of water in the creek that had, much to my surprise, survived the California Drought of 2004 that I had heard so much about.

Moo Cat was my favorite of the feral cats.  Well, actually, they were all my favorites.  I  never used to believe it when Mothers would say:  “I loved all my children equally.”  But maybe it’s true, because all those cats were my favorite.  But Moo Cat was a special favorite.  Because she was so neurotic and high-strung.  The most emotionally volatile and unstable and needy of all the cats.  Guess I could relate.  “Agro Moo Cat” I used to call her.

I dumped all the food in the dish. Then I stepped across the creek and laid down on the ground, pretending to ignore Moo Cat.  I knew if I made one move towards her, she’d probably sprint up the hill.   Cats have that strange mixture of extreme caution and extreme curiousity that is usually warring in the cat psyche.  Almost immediately Moo Cat trotted down the hill and started going at the food.  That showed she still recognized me.  Because if it had been any other human she would’ve been gone like a shot.  Moo Cat worked at the food for 20 minutes non-stop, eating quickly and methodically.  Only pausing regularly to stare over shoulder as if on the look out for any predator that might try to take her food.  Occassionally she’d glance over at me, give me a funny look, as if she was trying to process whatever goes on in a cat’s memory.  I called out once, “Big fat cat.  You big fat cat.”  Which is how I used to always address her.  Just to remind her who I was.  From a distance she looked in good shape, fairly well-fed, just like she had 10 months ago.  Mostly she went for the Vienna sausages.  Which was symbolic.  Because that’s what I had first fed her when she was a four-month old kitten and first being weaned from mom’s teat.  Her mother, Blondie, would daintily take the sausages in her mouth and troop up to her secret nest to feed them to her kittens.

The moment of truth was when Moo Cat finished eating.  Would she trot over and say hello to me, like she’d done a thousand times before?   Instead, she sauntered back up the hill 30 yards, and did her usual post-feeding grooming ritual from a safe distance.  Which I could understand.  She probably wanted to factor this new and sudden information before making any commitment.  You know how cats are.

Suddenly Moo Cat darted up the hill and disappeared. Had I startled her?  No.  Turned out a hiker was approaching which is why she dashed.  Cats make great watch dogs.  They always alert me if somebody is coming, at least 30 seconds before they arrive.

But then it occurred to me:  Moo Cat had been hanging at Blondie’s old nesting territory. Cats are very territorial.  What had happened to Blondie?  The beautiful white feral cat.  Was she dead? Or had Moo Cat run her off.  Moo Cat used to constantly feud with Blondie.  Trying to run her off the cat food dish.  But it never got serious.  Probably because there was always plenty of food to go around.  But in my absence, with the food supply much more scarce,  maybe Moo Cat had run her off.  People have this image of cats as “cute little kitties.”  And they are.  Even feral cats.  But in the deep dark woods, in the land of feral cats, it can be a brutal struggle for survival.  It’s every-cat-for-himself..  And they can get nasty, them cats.

Still, it was great to see Moo Cat.

I spent about an hour loitering around my old campsite.  Everything was pretty much the same as I left it, aside from a fair amount of litter scattered around the grounds.  I spent  a half hour picking it up. Not so much out of goody-goody motive.  But more like an archeologist searching for clues.  The litter gave me a good sense of who had been lurking at my campsitr while I was gone.  And I also noticed this.  When I bent over to pick up the litter I noticed my back was aching in ways that it hadn’t ached 10 months ago.  It occurred to me:  Living on the streets can wear you down.  But in-doors living can make you soft, too.. . . And this too:  I spotted a full can of ice cold beer nestled among the litter. I considered this a gift from the gods for my cleaning job, as well as an omen of welcome.

A young deer suddenly darted across my campsite — another good sign that people hadn’t been around much.  And then one of them wild turkeys sauntered across the woods,  with two little turklets following behind her.  I threw a couple rocks in the general direction of the turkeys to run them off.  I’ve hated those turkeys ever since I stepped into some turkey shit in my bare-feet.  Plus they try to steal the leftover catfood, On top of that, the bastards look and sound like goons.

I dumped out the rest of the catfood into the catfood dish, in the hopes of attracting the other cats.   Then I packed up my camping gear and headed back down the trail.  I wonder if Blondie and the two twins Mick and Keef are still around.  Not to mention Tom, the feral tomcat.

Well, I’m back in Berkeley.

Photo: "Its about time that human came back and fed me!"
 

 

July 9, 2014

The Rialto Theater 1976

Filed under: Backwords from Ace — Ace Backwords @ 8:31 pm

Rialto Theatre Berkeley November 1972

Some people on Facebook were talking about the old Rialto Theater on Gilman Street in Berkeley.  Brought back an odd memory.  I think I went to the Rialto Theater in 1976.  I had just moved to Berkeley so I was never really sure where I was.  But I have a distinct memory of being in that area.  It was sort of my “Welcome to Berkeley” party which is why I remember it so distinctly.  My best friend at the time was a total movie buff (that great moment when the new UC Theater schedule came out which he would study religiously).

Anyways, the movie at the Rialto was a low-budget film of The Committee doing their live comedy sketches.  The Committee was an obscure San Francisco comedy troupe made up of a bunch of ’60s hippies and hipsters, basically.  And considered very hip and influential.  One of the first of the Saturday Night Live type groups. The first to do that kind of drug humor and sex humor and leftist politics humor that seemed so “underground” back then, so cutting-edge and daring,  but now of course is the norm.  I remember one of the members was the guy who later played “Jerry the dentist” on the Bob Newhart Show and he was young with sort of a frizzed-out hippie afro.

I was 19, had just moved to California, and was trying to piece together the mystery of what had happened in the Bay Area culture in “the ’60s” and seeing what was still left of it 6 year later in 1976. Berkeley as mecca of the ’60s counterculture was what had drawn me to the town in the first place.  Like a lot people.  Me and my friends were tripping on acid at the time as we watched The Committee movie, so all the joke were hysterical and had a profundity that was probably being manufactured more in the ether of our minds than by what was on the screen.  And the inside of the theater kept reminding me of being in an airplane hangar for some reason (we were ready for take-off, that’s for sure).  But my strongest memory is looking over at my friend sitting next to me, and he’s got this beaming smile on his face, and he’s illuminated by that sort of flickering surreal black-and-white lighting you get inside a movie theater, and his legs seemed abnormally long — like they were growing or something — as he sat there in his chair.  One of those images that gets imprinted in your brain on acid.   It’s weird the stuff you remember.

 

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