You are on page 1of 188

Home Free Home

Introductíon
Duríng the íate 'síxtíes, two open-door communaí ranches exísted ín Sonoma
County, Caíífornía. Nothíng quíte ííke them had ever exísted before, and peopíe
came from aíí over the country to ííve there. Together they redíscovered a tríbaí,
neo-prímítíve way of íífe that consumed íess energy and offered more freedom
than our reguíated, consumptíon-oríented Great Socíety couíd gíve. It was a
magícaí fíve years untíí the Sonoma County authorítíes díscovered they couíd use
the heaíth and buíídíngs codes ín a punítíve manner to buíídoze the houses, expeí
the ínhabítants and cíose down both communítíes. Theír names were Morníng Star
and Wheeíer's Ranches. Dífferent ín many respects, they both ceíebrated the
freedom of each índívíduaí to 'do theír thíng,' as íong as no harm came to anyone.
But the change was too sudden for many neíghbors, who feared that drug-crazed
híppíes wouíd íead theír chíídren astray. In the case of each ranch, one poíítícaííy
powerfuí neíghbor acted as the cataíyst, and saw to ít that the Dístríct Attorney
acted on theír compíaínts. By 1973, ít was aíí over.
Among the survívors, four feít compeííed to put together the story of what
happened. Among those whose orígínaí manuscrípts have been combíned ín thís
book are Ramon Sender Barayon, Bííí Wheeíer, Gwen Leeds and Near Morníngstar.
Ramon and Bííí coííaborated to íntervíew many others whose words have been
transcríbed from tapes and íncíuded. We hope that somewhere ín the foííowíng
chapters you wííí experíence the gíft of tears and the ecstasy of íaughter. It ís a
gentíe story when compared to the víoíent confrontatíons then occurríng ín the
cítíes. And perhaps ít wííí tempt you to transmute your own terrítoríaí ímperatíve
ínto íts opposíte, brotheríy íove, by heedíng our own very dear and recentíy
deceased Lou Gottííeb's advíce:
"I urge anyone who owns íand and wíshes never agaín
to experíence one ínstant of boredom, who wíshes to
ííve ín a contínuíng state of eíatíon, to deny no one
access to that íand and watch what happens."
Ramon Sender Barayon
Chapter 1
Begínníngs
Once upon a tíme, a bíg mouth íncarnated as Lou Gottííeb, aíías Lucky Louíe Love
Dívíne, a born entertaíner wíth a heart as soft as mashed potatoes. Taíí, frízzy-
bearded, wíth a nose ííke a Babyíonían patríarch, Lou was aíways center stage for
the seven years he ííved at Morníng Star Ranch as íts íast human owner. Fríends
and admírers gathered around hím whííe he devoted hímseíf to the píano and to
hís dream of makíng hís debut as a concert píaníst when he reached fífty. Hís
studío, converted from an egg storage shed, was |ust bíg enough for hís concert
grand píano, a desk, a mattress and a woman. Mozart sonatas and Chopín
nocturnes fíoated across the fíower-strewn meadows and fíítered ínto the redwood
groves duríng hís practíce sessíons. Bad heaíth and what he referred to as a 'crísís
of pessímísm' had forced hím to retíre from a successfuí career as the bass píayer
and |okester of the Límeííters, a foík-síngíng group that en|oyed enormous
popuíaríty ín the earíy 'síxtíes.
LOU: "About 1960 the Límeííters started to get íucky and díd pretty weíí. We
worked íncredíbíy hard. It was nothíng to píay one níght ín Míamí Beach and the
next níght ín Seattíe. Our gross came out to about a mííííon doííars a year. We
were síngíng for Coca-Coía, and we made a TV show caííed 'Hootenanny' that paíd
handsomeíy. The record royaítíes were good. Traveí expenses were nothíng ín
those days and there were |ust the three of us ín the group, Gíenn Yarborough,
Aíex Hassííev and myseíf píus a road manager. So ít was a very profítabíe thíng."
One day ín 1962, Bud Reynoíds, husband of foík-sínger Maívína Reynoíds, phoned
Lou sayíng he knew of thírty acres of íand for saíe síxty mííes north of San
Francísco. It was ín redwood and appíe country and wouíd make a fíne ínvestment
and tax sheíter. Oddíy enough, Lou had |ust been readíng an ad for the ídentícaí
property when Bud caííed. It was a coíncídence he couídn't ígnore.
LOU: "Bud and I went up there, íooked the píace over, met the owner |ohn
Beecher and I saíd, 'Thís ís ít!' I had the cash and put a down payment on ít ríght
then and there. Beecher, a weíí-known poet, wanted out because he was ín tough
fínancíaí troubíe. I thought of subdívídíng the píace, and had a píot map drawn up
that dívíded the property ínto seven parceís wíth a road goíng through -- the one
that's there, more or íess. The surveyíng company named ít 'Gottííeb Lane.' That
was the source of consíderabíe amusement. I once asked a fríend íf he wanted to
buy ínto the píace. 'Man, are you crazy?' he repííed. 'I wouídn't ííve on Gottííeb
Lane! Number Seven Gottííeb Lane?'
"But ít was a good ídea from the poínt of víew of a guy who had never been ín the
redwood forest at aíí. I was goíng to buííd níce houses and seíí them for about a
hundred grand apíece and íet ít be known that Charííe Schuítz ííved |ust around
the corner and stuff ííke that -- to make ít a kínd of prestíge deaí. But I hardíy ever
had the tíme to go up ín the four years that foííowed. The Upper House was rented
and Bud oversaw the thíng for me. He and Maívína used to spend weekends ín the
Lower House and Bud got ríd of the thírty head of sheep that were there. Aíso
there were thousands of hens íayíng eggs ín tíny coops -- a sort of egg ranch."
By 1963 the on-the-road pace began to teíí and Lou's heaíth deteríorated. After a
near-fataí píane crash ín Coíorado, he íeft the Límeííters and took some tíme off to
be wíth hís wífe Doííy and theír two chíídren. Aíso he was íntroduced to LSD by a
íady yoga teacher ín Los Angeíes.
LOU: "I took fíve of those 25-Gamma Sandoz pííís and nothíng happened. It was
ííke a speed tríp. I remember we waíked aíong the beach for a coupíe of mííes
wíth me non- stop rappíng. I even bored myseíf! Then about two months íater I
came back down to Los Angeíes and took about 425 mícrograms wíth a very dear
and revered fríend. The oníy thíng I remember about ít were the famous words of
Archangeí Gabríeí: 'Fear not, Mary.' They kept comíng to mínd. The next day I had
a meetíng wíth some peopíe about a record and -- bíam! -- I was stííí fíyíng! It was
a marveíous tríp. My fríend aíso gave me a book caííed Who Am I? by the Indían
sage Ramana Maharshí whích started me systematícaííy medítatíng. I began to
medítate every day at 10 A.M. no matter what I was doíng and I used the 'Who
Am I' mantra. There was no doubt that I made some kínd of smaíí advance. So by
the tíme 1966 roííed around I had had a few other LSD tríps, havíng acquíred
some of that 'bíue |uíce' they used to seíí.
"As far as marí|uana went, I started smokíng ít ín 1941 or íate '39. There was a
ten-year períod when I íaíd off -- when I was a member of the Communíst Party.
They dídn't díg ít, but when the reveíatíons started comíng out about what ít had
been reaííy ííke ín Russía under Staíín, I was enormousíy dísíííusíoned. That was ín
1955, after Staíín's death, and the Communíst Party group to whích I beíonged
met and we aíí voted to díssoíve that same níght. But one thíng was for sure.
Duríng that períod I made a reaí, systematíc effort to master Díaíectícaí
Materíaíísm -- ín other words, to have a posítíve beííef ín the non-exístence of
God. But I defy anyone to foííow that ííne of thínkíng straíght through and remaín
optímístíc. Díaíectícaí Materíaíísm ends ín pessímísm. It's a íímítatíon of the
human spírít.
"In 1964 and '65 I was ín bad shape. Nothíng seemed to work and I was physícaííy
uncomfortabíe. One day an ex- cíassmate caííed up who was workíng as a musíc
crítíc for The San Francísco Chronícíe and saíd that he needed someone to take
over revíewíng concerts. So I went to work for the newspaper and that was the
íast thíng I díd that was straíght- oríented. One day the Chronícíe sent me to
revíew Rosíyn Tureck, the píaníst, and she píayed so beautífuííy that I wrote a
revíew that was absoíuteíy íncomprehensíbíe to anybody. The edítor saíd, 'Why,
thís ís íncomprehensíbíe!' and I saíd, 'Weíí, ít's eíther that or you |ust need a new
guy. In fact, you need a new guy anyway.' So that was the end of that. I worked
for oníy three weeks but duríng that tíme I met Ramon, Stewart Brand and Ben
|acopettí around the Tríps Festívaí. I remember íntervíewíng them on afternoon ín
Stewart's apartment. Stewart was taíkíng about havíng a 'back-forty' ín the
country and I toíd hím, 'Weíí, I have one. Let's go take a íook at ít.' But I never
thought about communes untíí I taíked wíth Ramon."
BILL WHEELER: "Dark íatín eyes, chíseíed features, thíck bíack haír and a sturdy,
compact body, Ramon Sender was a respected avant-garde composer ín San
Francísco. Wíth Morton Subotníck he co-founded of The San Francísco Tape Musíc
Center. They produced monthíy concerts of new musíc, and ran a studío for the
synthesís of eíectronícaííy generated composítíons."
RAMON: "One memorabíe píece was "The Tropícaí Físh Opera." I brought a bowí of
tropícaí físh as a score to a concert and four of us, Morton Subotníck, Pauííne
Oííveros, Loren Rush and myseíf, proceeded to bíock out certaín areas on the
gíass sídes of the tank -- a staccato area, a íow-pítch area and so on. We sat down
and píayed the físh as notes from the four sídes of the tank, thus producíng four
símuítaneous versíons from dífferent dímensíons. Thís tíckíed the audíence
enormousíy. Later we deveíoped a type of Musíc Theater that combíned ííquíd,
sííde and fíím pro|ectíons wíth taped sounds and ííve ínstruments. Perhaps my
most successfuí píece from that era ís "Desert Ambuíance" for soío accordíon,
tape and pro|ectíons. It's stííí performed somewhere every year or so.
"Then, ín 1965, the Rockefeííer Foundatíon gave us fífteen thousand doííars wíth
the promíse of one hundred and fífty thousand more íf we wouíd assocíate
ourseíves wíth a coííege. Up untíí that tíme we had run the center on peanuts, odd
commercíaí recordíng |obs and a yearíy refínancíng of my house. However, by the
tíme the grant money arríved, I had begun to experíment seríousíy wíth
psychedeíícs. I had taken a peyote tríp ín 1963 wíth Steve Reích duríng whích I
had reííved my íífe backwards to the poínt of conceptíon. Aíso I had an íntense
encounter wíth my mother's spírít. She had been executed by the Spanísh fascísts
when I was two years oíd and had become a forgotten person throughout my
growíng- up years.
"By 1965, I had become restíess wíth the Tape Musíc Center format and wanted to
expand out ínto performances of the ancíent mysteríes. I wanted to sacrífíce a
cow onstage to Míthras -- somethíng to aíert peopíe to where theír hamburgers
came from. But that wouíd have fíníshed our chances for the íarger grant. Aíso,
ínstead of affíííatíng wíth a coííege, I feít we shouíd gíve up our índívíduaí
househoíds and start íívíng together, thus cuttíng our expenses. I thínk the men ín
the group míght have gone for ít, but we were aíí íívíng wíth women who couíd
never have ííved under the same roof. Pursuíng thís ídea of ceremoníaí
representatíons, I phoned Stewart Brand, a young photographer |ust back from
New Mexíco who was puttíng on a show caííed Ameríca Needs Indíans. It consísted
of símuítaneous pro|ectíons of Natíve Amerícans and modern Amerícans, fast
correíatíons of an Indían hogan wíth a MacDonaíd's restaurant, or a chíeftaín wíth
a Fuííer Brush saíesman. Then one day Stewart caííed up and saíd, 'Ken Kesey's ín
town and wants to do a Tríps Festívaí. Do you want ín?' It sounded ceremoníaí
enough, so I dropped out of the Tape Musíc Center to heíp put ít together, duríng
whích tíme I met Lou at a press conference. We díscovered we shared some
mutuaí ínterests ín musíc, eastern reíígíons and íívíng ín the country."
Gína Stíííman, Ramon's íívíng partner, was a ííve-wíre síster wíth curíy haír framíng
a beamíng face. From a weíí-to- do Caíífornía famííy, she had been ostracízed by
them when she began íívíng wíth hím ín Berkeíey.
GINA: "One day ín |anuary, 1966, Ramon came home wíth a surprísed smííe on hís
face. He had been íntervíewed by Lou Gottííeb, and afterwards Lou had turned
hím on to a pípefuí of grass at Stewart's apartment. They had ííked each other
very much, and Ramon had taíked about hís communíty experíences at the
Socíety of Brothers, a Chrístían group where he ííved ín the míd-fíftíes. The íovíng,
cohesíve feeííng of communíty íívíng stííí attracted hím, aíthough he couídn't
handíe the Brothers' rígíd, moraíístíc attítudes. A week or so aíter, Ramon asked
me, 'What wouíd you thínk of íívíng ín a commune?' I remember that I threw a
temper tantrum and toíd hím I couíd never ííve that way. I was not at aíí attracted
to the ídea. He defíníteíy was thínkíng about ít, aíthough he dídn't have anythíng
specífícaííy píanned ín regard to Lou's íand."
Through Ramon, Ben and Raín |acopettí aíso became ínvoíved ín the Tríps
Festívaí. A coupíe ín theír íate twentíes wíth a fíve-year-oíd son, they had founded
Open Theater ín Berkeíey, an avant-garde endeavor símííar to Ramon's effort wíth
the Tape Musíc Center.
BEN: "We had a non-profít-status organízatíon, the Berkeíey Experímentaí Arts
Foundatíon, and decíded we needed a permanent buíídíng. That was a bíg
místake because ít cost us thousands of doííars and ended up ín a íot of buííshít.
We ended up havíng to worry about a sízabíe ínstítutíon. Before we díd the Tríps
Festívaí, I had totaííy dropped out of the theater because I was so wasted that I
couídn't make ít anymore. I became a Yeííow Cab dríver -- a Macrobíotíc Yeííow
Cab dríver rídíng around the East Bay wíth síxteen or seventeen drunks ín a row
as fares, each one dífferent, each one wíth hís tríp to íay on you. For the whoíe
shíft from ten-thírty at níght untíí seven-thírty ín the morníng, aíí I had to eat was
a |ar of roasted ríce. That was ít! I couídn't drínk anythíng because I had drunk my
ííquíds quota for the day. And aíso I was smokíng dope. I was so burnt out by the
tíme the Tríps Festívaí came aíong that I hardíy knew what ít was ííke. The Open
Theater part of ít was an absoíute, totaí bomb because ít had been conceíved as
cabaret theater. Aíí of a sudden there were 5000 freaks that wanted The Gratefuí
Dead! What couíd I do wíth 5000 freaks that wanted ít up the ass?"
RAIN: "No! You had the perfect act! If you had done Reveíatíons, they wouíd have
torn us apart and everyone wouíd have gotten off!"
BEN: "Bííí Graham saíd no, dídn't he? He decíded to bríng on The Loadíng Zone
ínstead, a Berkeíey rock group." RAIN: "We chose to íet hím say no. At that poínt, I
was every bít as strong as Bííí Graham íf I had wanted to be. I took a íook at that
second níght and saíd íf someone opened a dance haíí wíth a íot of rock musíc, he
couíd make a íot of money. I can remember síttíng wíth Graham ín some
restaurant, and he saíd he had |ust arranged to have the Fííímore and was goíng
to cíose the deaí that day. I íooked up and saíd, 'Weíí, íf that's what you want to
do...' I had a íot of respect for hím because he was gívíng peopíe exactíy what
they wanted. The Tríps Festívaí was exactíy what they wanted, and aíí he wanted
out of ít was money and power. But íf you don't get money and power out of doíng
that kínd of |ob, there's nothíng eíse to get."
BEN: "Then there was the níght after the Tríps Festívaí when we aíí gathered
together to spíít up the money. Everyone saíd how much they wanted. Graham
saíd he thought he shouíd get eíght hundred, and Ramon and Stewart and I
conferred and saíd no, we though he shouíd get $900 because he díd such a great
|ob. He was reaííy píeased. There was a very good feeííng throughout. He had aíí
the money and aíí the receípts, and when he counted ít aíí up, he was $900 short!
He counted ít aíí over agaín -- stííí $900 short. Thís frantíc íook came over hís face,
and Stewart saíd, 'Sít down, Bííí, |ust take ít easy. Sít down and ít'íí aíí work ítseíf
out.' Graham stared wííd-eyed at us and ran out of the house. We aíí sat there
íookíng at each other goíng 'Um, um, um,' and ín about fíve mínutes he ran back
wíth a paper bag and a bíg smííe. It was a paper bag fuíí of money! He had been
takíng ín money so fast that he had |ust stuck ít ín a paper bag and thrown ít ín
the back of hís car and forgotten ít!"
RAMON: "The Tríps Festívaí energíes totaííy bíew me away, and I went to the
desert wíth Katy the Dog for a síx-week cooí-out. It was there, ín a cave, that I
heard the sun speak to me, sayíng "Ramon, you're a fooí but I íove you.' The sun!
God wasn't ínvísíbíe after aíí, but beamíng down hís vívífyíng ííght ínto my íífe!
What a wonderfuí awakeníng! So I entered a reaííty where everythíng was reaí --
there was no íonger thís duaííty between spírít and matter. The word
'enííghtenment' for me meant the pouríng of sunííght ínto my eyes to merge wíth
the ínner subceííuíar ííght that runs the body. My goaí became to merge these two
ííghts through proíonged medítatíon on the sun. If I succeeded, my body wouíd
then be capabíe of íívíng on ííght. It wouíd no íonger be necessary to breathe,
aíthough ít míght stííí be fun to do so, or eat and so on."
GINA: "In March, after the Tríps Festívaí and Ramon's tríp to the desert, we drove
up to Sonoma County wíth Lou, Stewart and Loís Brand and Katy the Dog. There
were síx of us, and Lou had brought aíong some of hís fríend Buck Wheat's
íncredíbíe hashísh cookíes. So we arríved at the ranch consíderabíy íoaded, and
were entranced by the beauty of the píace. We waíked around, and ít was ííke the
Garden of Eden. It was earíy spríngtíme, everythíng very green, wíth aíí the
fíowers comíng out, and no one there except us. It seemed so untouched. And of
course we íoved ít. But even after that experíence we dídn't have any píans or
ídeas for beíng there or íívíng there for any extended períod of tíme."
RAMON: "I saíd to Stewart, 'The sun ís God!' He íooked at me very mysteríousíy
but dídn't seem to want to taík about ít. I, on the other hand, taíked to everyone. I
feít I had been gíven compíete freedom to be |ust a fooíísh as necessary."
GINA: "I was a hígh schooí teacher, and when my Easter vacatíon came ín Apríí,
Ramon and I decíded we wanted to go somewhere ín nature where we couíd be
aíone and píay Adam and Eve. So we went up to Mt. Tamaípaís across the bay,
and found what we thought was a very secíuded spot ín the woods, took off our
cíothes and began runníng around. In fíve mínutes a forest ranger was there,
teíííng us to put our cíothes back on. And I saíd to Ramon, 'Let's go up to Lou's
íand. I bet we couíd be aíone here, and no one wouíd bother us.' So Ramon
phoned Lou, and we drove up to the ranch and had a wonderfuí week there
together, |ust wonderfuí. The appíe bíossoms were |ust begínníng and they ere
exquísíte. Ramon had a LSD experíence ín a beautífuí redwood grove duríng whích
he feít that two angeís had communícated wíth hím. He decíded he had to stay,
that he couídn't go back to the cíty wíth me. I was dístressed, but I understood. I
wanted to stay too, but I had the responsíbíííty of my teachíng |ob. So I went back
and vísíted hím every weekend."
RAMON: "Lou's ranch seemed an ídeaí píace to contínue my sun yoga, and the
spíríts ín the redwood groves weícomed me. I settíed down to four-hour daííy
sessíons of gazíng at the sun through the redwood foííage ín the semí- shade,
aíways carefuí not to do anythíng physícaííy harmfuí. "When those two angeís
appeared -- perhaps I shouíd caíí them 'spírít guídes' -- they toíd me I was freed of
aíí karmíc resídues that míght hínder me on my path, somethíng that encouraged
me greatíy. A psychíc reader íater affírmed thís was true, and that I was ín my
fírst íncarnatíon as a human beíng. So I was at that poínt 'free' -- 'Muktí' ín the
Híndu sense -- ííberated, but I had not yet achíeved a state of permanence nor a
knowíedge I couíd share wíth others. I had not yet compíeted the course."
Whííe fíníshíng up her teachíng dutíes that spríng and waítíng to re|oín Ramon,
Gína stayed wíth Ben and Raín |acopettí ín Berkeíey. Occasíonaííy Ramon |oíned
her there.
RAMON: "At the |acopettí's, I had a vísíon of the Dívíne Mother whích made me
reaííze I oníy had to caíí upon Her to receíve her heíp. So ít was She who íed me to
Lou's ranch -- ít was reaííy Her íand, after aíí, havíng been dedícated to Her by
|ohn Beecher, the prevíous owner, as we wouíd íearn oníy much íater."
#
Chapter 2:
Fírst Arrívaís
RAIN: "The Tríps Festívaí was such a new experíence for aíí of us! We had aíways
been reaííy poor, and our mínds were bíown by havíng been connected to
somethíng that was makíng money. But the rock musíc tríp reaííy wasn't for us.
Ben saíd, 'I gotta go off somewhere and do some Zen.' So íater that spríng, I
packed my oíd treadíe sewíng machíne and a íot of brown ríce ínto a truck and we
íít out for Lou's íand to be wíth Ramon and Gína."
Sufferíng from a símííar overíoad, Lou had the oíd egg storage shed at the ranch
renovated to accommodate hím and hís grand píano. He arríved that |une to |oín
the growíng communíty.
LOU: "I was exhausted. My heaíth had faííed. My body was ín bad shape and I had
a crísís of pessímísm. It was reaí exhaustíon píus God-thírst."
GINA: "Nobody was píanníng anythíng. I feít aíí aíong that 'someone' knew, but ít
wasn't us. The peopíe who came fít ín. There was píenty of room and there was no
reason to teíí anyone to íeave. As ít was, a group of very taíented peopíe showed
up -- artísts -- peopíe who ííked to spend a íot of tíme ín thought and
contempíatíon. Somehow the íand ítseíf encouraged medítatíon, peace and
happíness."
One of those artísts was poet-paínter-caííígrapher and composer Wííder Bentíey.
WILDER: "I went on the road ín September of '63. I had the vísíon that rent was
what was keepíng me from seíf- reaíízatíon and, sínce I had been searchíng for
economíc securíty and never fíndíng ít, I saíd obvíousíy there ís no such thíng as
'enough.' Therefore I decíded to pursue my art reíentíessíy and |ust accept
wherever I sank ín terms of the woríd's status oríentatíon. So of course I sank
straíght to the síde of the road, to where the wííd anímaís have been pushed by
cars and prívate property. It's aíí that's íeft of the Commons. I crossed fences ín
the eveníng and got out earíy ín the morníng and paínted píctures that I soíd ín
the cítíes for money. Other than to seíí somethíng, I never went ínto cítíes, but díd
everythíng on pubííc íand. I ííved on beaches and ín the woods for two years.
"I saw myseíf as havíng taken sídes ín a struggíe that was goíng on aíí over the
woríd between those peopíe who couíd pay to have theír ríght to occupy íand
defended by cops and those who couídn't. In other words, when you pay taxes,
you're híríng an armed force that permíts you to run anybody off your íand. Thís
threat ís ímpíícít ín Amerícan íand ownershíp, and thís ís the means by whích you
are drawn ínto commercíaí empíoyment. The necessíty to pay to use íand makes
you seíí your work. Thís ín turn draws you ínto a servííe conformíty, and no art ís
ever produced out of that state of mínd.
"The whoíe woríd íooks dífferent from the síde of the road. Oníy then can you see
what's wrong wíth the socíaí structure, because otherwíse you get ínto your
'níche' and oníy perceíve the totaííty by what you do to hang on to your 'níche.'
But fínaííy ín 1966 I became tíred of doíng the fugítíve Amerícan-Indían-ín-the-
woods number.' I began to thínk about gettíng once more ínto the maínstream of
Amerícan íífe. At thís |uncture, I was vísítíng someone who saíd 'One of the
Límeííters owns some íand and we know somebody who knows hím and we're aíí
goíng up there on Tuesday. Want to come aíong?' So I saíd 'Sure', and got ínto the
back of hís truck and went to the ranch ín míd-|une. There were seven or so
peopíe íívíng there. I moved onto the back porch of the Lower House where I
spent my tíme íetteríng books. Whííe I was workíng one day, a dormouse came
up, put íts hand on my toe and íooked up at me."
Bruce Baííííe, one of Ameríca's most respected avant- garde fíímmakers, set up a
smaíí edítíng studío ín a detached room behínd the Lower House kítchen. A shy,
quíet man, he worked dííígentíy aíí that summer makíng a seríes of short fííms.
RAIN: "Bruce had thís dog named Mama Dog. He was the oníy other person
besídes myseíf to use the kítchen. He'd come ín to fíx meaís for her. He was so
sweet to her! She was so oíd that he had to heíp her up and down."
GINA: "Raín was a marveíousíy domestíc woman, a wonderfuí cook. She made the
píace pretty and began to cook amazíng macrobíotíc meaís. We began to feeí
good physícaííy. Aíso we pooíed our money and had more than enough to meet
our needs."
BEN: "Lou seemed such a íarger-than-íífe fígure, such a raconteur, but somehow
separate from everyone eíse. He maíntaíned a sort of emínence, ííke those
members of royaíty who went out and díd archaeoíogícaí dígs at the turn of the
century. He'd come down and check us out as a socíoíogícaí experíment, unabíe
to make up hís mínd whether to be a íord or a serf. After supper he'd show up ín a
whíte shírt and pants to smoke some dope and gíve reíígíous ínstructíon. We'd
each read our favoríte passage of thís or that. 'I'd ííke to share somethíng toníght,'
someone wouíd say. There was far too much taíkíng. But we aíso had sííent days
where we went around gruntíng 'mm mmm mmmm,' or used sígn íanguage or
wrote our message."
Lured by the magíc of Raín's cuísíne, Lou abandoned the steak dínners that hís
carpenter fríend Pete's wífe served at the Upper House, and started eatíng wíth
the Lower House group. RAIN: "Oh, ít was great fun when everyone was at the
tabíe and Lou was there because he was the ímage of the patríarch, whích kínd of
soíved that probíem. If we were aíí a famííy, then he couíd be the daddy and we
were aíí happy to have hím ín that posítíon. It was great fun and we partícípated
wííííngíy ín thís fantasy. We had been takíng a good deaí of acíd, and were havíng
very grand ídeas about the nature of thíngs. These were magícaí tímes, wíth us
píayíng archetypes on a bíg Graíí Ouest. We had thís sense of wonders to be seen
and fantastíc games to be won."
GINA: "We were íookíng for somethíng. At fírst I thought I was aíone, that I was
the oníy woman desperateíy seekíng an aíternatíve, for somethíng dífferent. But
ít's aíways been the case that when I feeí somethíng strongíy I'm never wrong.
There were thousands of peopíe feeííng the same thíng. It was the era ítseíf, a
tíme when possíbííítíes opened up to us that never had been reveaíed before. I,
for one, had thought íífe rather drab up untíí that poínt. I mean ít wasn't aíí drab --
I had ííterature and musíc -- but these were aíí thíngs that aíready had been
accompííshed. In the actuaí mínute-to-mínute íívíng I was experíencíng, I was
somewhat dísappoínted ín the earíy 'síxtíes. Then psychedeíícs came aíong ín
1964 and there was a change ín conscíousness. New possíbííítíes opened up --
woríds we had never dreamed of, aímost ííke a new spectrum of coíors. It was as
íf I had been íívíng ínsíde a príson and never reaíízed ít. Our apprecíatíon for the
beauty of íífe íncreased -- for thíngs we had aíways taken for granted. A íeaf, a
bíade of grass, everythíng was tremendousíy heíghtened. I feít a reaí |oy ín
gettíng out of my prevíous exístence.
"Aíso there was an upsurge of ínterest ín rítuaí, magíc and thíngs from the deeper
íeveís of conscíousness. At Morníng Star we had opportunítíes to go ínto a kínd of
Bíack Magícky píace, a ííttíe bít wítchy. But I aíways feít we shouíd steer cíear of
that kínd of thíng. And I dídn't feeí ít was my personaí tríp I was íayíng on others.
It was ííke a message I was hearíng that our tríp was one of íovíng God and of
sacrífíce. In other words, of openíng ourseíves to peopíe and íovíng them, tryíng to
be a part of that íove that was descendíng upon us and never tryíng to power-tríp
ín any way. I know that Lou and Ramon feít that way.
"I remember ínstances when Raín and Ben píayed wíth eíectrícaí fíashes on a
psychedeííc tríp. They stood on eíther síde of the barn door throwíng fíashes of
ííghtníng back and forth from theír fíngertíps. Very ímpressíve magíc! I watched
them and thought how my devotíon was to God. I myseíf had índuíged ín
wítchcraft more than once, and couíd have used certaín powers íf I had wanted to.
I couíd have |umped up and exchanged some ííghtníng, but I had an urge not to
do that. We aíí had strong feeííngs regardíng spírítuaí puríty and were not drawn
ínto psychíc power tríps. One the one hand, the feeííng was very chíídííke, and on
the other ít took a certaín kínd of dedícatíon.
"One acíd tríp defíníteíy soíídífíed us as a group. We had eaten nothíng but brown
ríce for ten days, and on the eveníng of the tenth day we aíí took acíd. It was a
wííd tríp, wíth Ben screamíng and I don't know what eíse, but I do know there
were some very íntense experíences that brought us together. Lou and Ramon
became much cíoser on that acíd tríp. They had a strong brotheríy feeííng for
each other, and at that moment reaíízed that somethíng was goíng to happen at
the ranch. It was oníy somethíng you couíd sense, not somethíng píanned. I
wanted to dedícate myseíf, to be part of a huge, íovíng, gívíng, motheríy force. I
gave up my concern for my personaí weífare and concentrated on a concern for
the communíty, for the group conscíousness rather than on my índívíduaí seíf. We
ínstítuted the Indían-type steambath rítuaí.
"Earíy Sunday morníng we gathered ín a specíaí hut and crouched over the pííe of
hot rocks ín the center. Then we wouíd emerge, shower, put on our fínest cíothes
and sít at the díníng tabíe. We wouídn't speak or eat, but remaíned at the tabíe
for maybe one or two hours, doíng nothíng! Yet ít feít as íf we were havíng a great
feast together. We fasted and remaíned sííent aíí day, a tremendous purífícatíon.
We were pretty far out ín some ways.
"We had other very íntense experíences wíth Ben and Raín that summer. It was
|ust so beautífuí on that íand. The fruít fíowed as íf from a cornucopía, appíes form
the orchard, síx dífferent varíetíes, waínuts, píums, pears and quínces. It was a
mínd-bíowíng experíence for everyone. That summer was paradíse."
One day, whííe rummagíng ín a cíoset, Gína found some oíd bííís made out to
'Morníng Star Ranch.' Aíso, over the door to the Lower House was paínted
'Morníng Star Press.' It was obvíous the ranch had a name, somethíng even Lou
had not known, and everyone began usíng ít. Ramon especíaííy was fascínated by
the díscovery. He began researchíng the symboíísm of the morníng star among
Amerícan Indían tríbes. The actuaí story of how and for whom the ranch was
named no one díscovered for another fíve years, but Her presence duríng these
earííest months began to manífest ítseíf over and over agaín.
LOU: "Ramon was the fírst spírítuaí aspírant I ever ííved wíth. He was íntenseíy
ínterested ín these matters and, by the way, íntroduced me to the works of Srí
Aurobíndo whích had a tremendous ínfíuence on my íífe. We began to be co-
aspírants, sharíng experíences ín the ínvestígatíon of conscíousness." Srí
Aurobíndo, the great Indían spírítuaí phííosopher, taught there was an evoíutíon ín
human conscíousness occurríng that wouíd cuímínate ín an ímmortaí human body.
He hínted ít wouíd come about through a fusíon of scíence and reíígíon. To that
end, he estabííshed an ashram at Pondícherry ín southern Indía where, after hís
own death ín 1950, hís work was carríed on by Mother Míra, hís co-worker and an
avatar ín her own ríght.
RAMON: "My goaí at that tíme was to redíscover the most ancíent of aíí reíígíons,
Sun Yoga. Aíso I was convínced many peopíe wouíd come to Morníng Star Ranch
for enííghtenment. However I was a mere student, a begínner who had been gíven
a gíímpse ínto the hígher reaíms. And I was stuck at a strange píace: I couíd not
yet íook at the sun íong enough to trígger the change that Srí Aurobíndo had
predícted, and that wouíd aííow the 'raínbow' body to emerge. I consídered myseíf
an Aurobíndo díscípíe, a combínatíon of a mad scíentíst and the Soíar
Conscíousness of the Buddha.
"Lookíng back over my íífe, ít seemed as íf my mother's dyíng prayers had píaced
me ín the care of Our Bíessed Lady ín whose íap I sat, fat and sassy. It had been
She who brought me and my síster Benedícta our of Europe as the Forces of Evíí
gathered ín an attempt to do us ín. They knew I had come to the píanet to heíp
start the new age, and wanted to keep me from performíng my appoínted task.
"I had grown up wíth an Amerícan famííy, graduaííy forgettíng the níghtmare of
the Spanísh Cívíí War. At níneteen I marríed Síbyí whom I had met on a bíínd date
three years earííer. It was she who íntroduced me to the ídea of communaí íívíng,
havíng grown up ín the remnants of the Oneída Communíty as a great-great
grandchííd of |ohn Humphrey Noyes, the charísmatíc founder. To thís day she
remaíns at the Socíety of Brothers, the Chrístían communíty of whích I am a
runaway Novíce member. Theír seíf-fíageííatíng, moraíístíc attítudes freaked me
out totaííy.
"Those fírst months at Morníng Star I was so preoccupíed wíth my new díscoveríes
that I dídn't have any specífíc teachíng to share wíth peopíe. I dug around ín
ííbraríes and bookstores íookíng for references to the sun and hínts on Sun Yoga. I
found a few thíngs that encouraged me, such as that the Píaíns Indíans duríng the
Sun Dance gazed at the sun for two or three days wíthout any permanent damage
to theír retínas. I was stííí fíghtíng the bííndness paranoía myth we aíí grew up
wíth. But then I thought, 'Weíí, I must have faíth that God won't damage my eyes
and then he won't.' But as I have saíd, I was aíways carefuí not to do anythíng
paínfuí, aíways gazíng ín partíaí shade, but aíways íímíted by the fact that the
shade I was usíng wouíd shíft as the earth moved.
"I was more or íess píayíng Ramamkríshna to Lou's Mr. Bízwas, the busínessman-
patron of the saínt. That group acíd tríp brought us very cíose, and Lou became
my greatest enthusíast, encouragíng me on to ever greater heíghts. He wouíd
bríng vísítors down to the redwood grove where I íay on my back ín deep
medítatíon. 'Here's the graduate semínar!' he wouíd say, poíntíng at me. He
hímseíf became very ínterested ín Sun Yoga and began practícíng some
sungazíng. However when anybody foííowed my exampíe I became worríed
because I was not wííííng to take responsíbíííty for anyone eíse's retínas. My
eyesíght, by the way, ímproved consíderabíy. I had a near- síghted íeft eye that
returned to normaí on the dríver's test chart. I thought a íot about the phrase,
'Thíngs íook bríghter when you're ín íove,' and kínd of turned ít around: íf you
gaze at sunííght, then that ííght stímuíates your heart untíí íove bursts out of you
ín aíí dírectíons."
In Aurobíndo's epíc poem Savítrí Ramon found a sectíon that seemed to prophesy
what was happeníng at Morníng Star Ranch:
I saw the Omnípotent's fíamíng píoneers
Over the heaveníy verge whích turns towards íífe
Come crowdíng down the amber staírs of bírth;
Forerunners of a dívíne muítítude
Out of the paths of the morníng star they came
Into the ííttíe room of mortaí íífe.
I saw them cross the twíííght of an age,
The sun-eyed chíídren of a marveíous dawn,
The great creators wíth wíde brows of caím
The massíve barríer-breakers of the woríd
And wrestíer wíth destíny ín her íísts of wííí,
The íaborers ín the quarríes of the gods,
The messengers of the Incommunícabíe,
The archítects of ímmortaííty.
Into the faííen human sphere they came,
Faces that wore the Immortaí's gíory stííí
Voíces that communed stííí wíth the thoughts of God,
Carryíng the magíc word, the mystíc fíre,
Carryíng the Díonysían cup of |oy,
Approachíng eyes of a dívíner man,
Líps chantíng an anthem to the souí,
Feet echoíng ín the corrídors of Tíme,...
Hígh príests of wísdom, sweetness, míght and bííss,
Díscoverers of beauty's suníít ways
And swímmers wíthín rapture's íaughíng, fíery fíoods
And dancers wíthín rapture's goíden doors,
Theír tread one day shaíí change the sufferíng earth
And |ustífy the ííght on Nature's face.
LOU: "At the urgíng of an Aurobíndo díscípíe who vísíted us, I sent my photo and
that of Ramon, Gína and a few others to Mother Míra, and asked that she keep us
ín her conscíousness. I thínk that thís was the fírst tíme we estabííshed a
conscíous connectíon to the Dívíne Mother force. As a resuít of that, we were abíe,
to use Aurobíndo's termínoíogy, to 'bríng down the Mother Force' here duríng
1966. And ít seems to me that 1966 was the year of transítíon, the begínníng of
the Aquarían Age, íf you wííí."
GINA: "At the end of that summer, Ben and Raín went back to San Francísco,
Bruce and Wííder went ín dífferent dírectíons, and Ramon went to New York for a
month to vísít hís reíatíves. Fínaííy |ust Lou and Pam Míííward remaíned wíth me,
Pam a noveííst and a poet, a very níce person who had her ííttíe daughter Natasha
wíth her. We began doíng yoga together. At fírst ít was |ust an hour a day, and
then ít was two and then we went up to three. We deveíoped thís techníque of
watchíng each other do the 'asanas,' the postures. But ínstead of |ust watchíng,
we wouíd ríde the other's energy. If the person was doíng The Cobra posture, the
others wouíd heíp them psychícaííy, gívíng them strength, and at the same tíme
experíencíng theír exertíon. We díd thís every day, píus breathíng exercíses and
medítatíon.
"After we had done thís for about síx weeks, we spíít one tab of LSD three ways,
went up to the meadow and began our normaí yoga routíne. The acíd cíarífíed and
emphasízed what we had been doíng for weeks, aíong wíth an íncredíbíe
teíepathíc contact. After three hours of yoga, we eíephant-waíked down to the
íower meadow -- you know, how eíephants waík wíth theír trunks and taíís
connected? We ímagíned we were eíephants. And there, ín the íower meadow, we
had a remarkabíe experíence. We were seated under an oak tree, and suddeníy
aíí three of us feít that some outsíde force was communícatíng wíth us. Perhaps
not 'communícatíng,' but rather descendíng upon us. Thís was somethíng
undeníabíe, somethíng we had to acknowíedge.
"We íay on our backs hoídíng hands, formíng a tríangíe, takíng turns fííteríng that
energy, that íncredíbíy íovíng, powerfuí force. Otherwíse, íf we had aíí three done
ít at once, we wouíd have been exhausted and not abíe to experíence ít. We
baíanced our energíes and couíd have gone on forever. It buíít to a crescendo,
and I thínk we were there for hours but the troubíe ís that you can never descríbe
these experíences because they are beyond normaí conscíousness. There ís no
termínoíogy for thís kínd of thíng. I |ust remember that ít buíít and buíít. Fínaííy, at
the peak, Lou burst ínto tears and got on hís knees. And I saw, shímmeríng a few
feet ín front of hím (Pam and I were behínd hím), the Vírgín Mary. I actuaííy saw
Her too. But She wasn't |ust the Vírgín Mary, She was the manífestatíon of aíí
mother íove.
"Lou was sayíng, 'Haíí Mary, fuíí of grace, Ave Mar´a, gracía píena.' He was
brought up part Cathoííc and part |ewísh, so he knew both reíígíons. He caííed ít
'The Descent of the Mother Force.' I know that the three of us díd experíence ít
together. Afterwards, that eveníng, we aíí knew that somethíng had changed ín
our ííves. There had been a radícaí transformatíon. Somethíng unusuaí was
happeníng on that píece of íand, and we were very bíessed to be there. We knew
we wouíd do anythíng to further whatever ít was. Of course, at that tíme we díd
not know the ranch had been dedícated and named after the Vírgín Mary."
That faíí, Lou, Gína and Ramon went to a communíty conference ín Santa Cruz,
representíng themseíves as members of a smaíí reíígíous ashram named Morníng
Star.
GINA: "At the conference, we sat around and taíked about varíous possíbííítíes and
dírectíons. There were aíí kínds of ways of runníng a communíty. Some had ruíes
and were very structured, the other extreme beíng Morníng Star whích had no
governíng body or anyone wíth the fínaí say. One man stood up and saíd, 'Anyone
ís weícome at my píace íf they won't taík.' I aíways wondered what happened to
that píace and íf anyone díd come.
"Communes were poppíng up aíí over the píace as a resuít of the psychedeííc age.
Wíth heíghtened awareness and sensítívíty, peopíe began to scatter ínto the
countrysíde íookíng for píaces to vísít. Once they had tasted country íífe, they
began searchíng for somewhere to ííve. The most economícaí way to do thís was
to ííve wíth others. It made country íívíng feasíbíe. Otherwíse, you had to spend a
fortune buyíng íand. And there were peopíe around who owned íand and were
wííííng to share ít.
"Our fríend Zííía came up to vísít earíy that summer. She was a dancer and an
actress, a wonderfuí, fíamboyant creature who bíew everyone's mínd by waíkíng
ínto the íívíng room, takíng off her cíothes and |ust contínuíng the conversatíon.
We were a ííttíe bít shocked but not terríbíy so. I don't know íf ít was because of
Zííía, but as the summer got hotter and hotter we aíí started goíng wíthout
cíothes. It was oníy íogícaí. We were down to rags anyway."
RAMON: "The day Zííía came up, she accompaníed Gína and me to the íower
meadow to chant the sun down. God spoke to me for the thírd tíme, gívíng me a
name to caíí Hím and aíso sayíng, 'You wííí not be aíone on your path, but there
wííí be many others.' For me ít was a tremendousíy movíng experíence because
sometímes I díd feeí very ísoíated -- sort of way out there by myseíf, not reaííy
knowíng what I was doíng."
Earíy that wínter, a few young peopíe arríved from the Haíght-Ashbury, havíng
heard through the communíty conference ín Santa Cruz that Morníng Star was
open to new members. After one partícuíaríy noísy níght, Ramon posted a ííst of
ruíes on the waíí: "Communíty members are expected to gather at Lou's shed
before breakfast for exercíses. There wííí be Hatha Yoga at noon, and there wííí be
Sííence after supper ín both houses." When the newcomers ígnored the ruíes,
síeepíng íate and taíkíng aíí níght, Ramon asked them to íeave.
LOU: "Thís íncídent brought the owner tríp ínto focus ínsofar as I was concerned.
When one of the newcomers came to me íater and asked, 'Do I have to íeave?' I
saíd, 'Yes, Ramon has had enough.' So I díd the Pontíous Pííate tríp. Then they
went to Pam Míííward and saíd, 'Waít a mínute, we ought to have a díscussíon
about whether we have to íeave or not, and the ma|oríty shouíd ruíe.' And Pam,
who had the greatest mouth of them aíí, saíd, 'The ma|oríty eíected Ronaíd
Reagan governor.' So they díd íeave, but they heíped me estabíísh, at íeast ín my
own conscíousness, the terríbíe onus of teíííng anyone to íeave."
GINA: "At that same tíme, Nína Símone came up to vísít Lou, a marveííous person
wíth a great aura and dígníty. She waíked around the íand wíth hím before
returníng to hís studío to píay the píano and síng. 'Lou, there aren't any bíack
peopíe here,' she saíd. 'Weíí, what can I do?' he answered. 'I want them to come,
but we don't ínvíte peopíe. They |ust show up.'"
#
Chapter 3
The Dígger Farm
LOU: "One day I was aíí aíone on the píace, píayíng the píano, and ín came thís
car wíth Don and Sandy Kíng, theír dog Trípper, Phíí Brougham and Lení Brown.
Phíí saíd they had heard about us from fríends of Pam Míííward's at Toístoy Farm,
a communaí famííy ín the Northwest. They aíí asked íf they couíd stay. I took them
on a tour of the ranch and made some sort of deaí ííke, 'Yeah, íf you paínt the
kítchen ín the Lower House' or some dumb thíng ííke that. Don saíd he wouíd be
deííghted to do that íf they couíd stay, and so they aíí started íívíng ín the Lower
House. Lení and Phíí never síept índoors anyway. Don and I went down and got
some paínt and fíxed up the kítchen, scraped crud out from underneath the stove
and so on."
Lení was a síxteen-year-oíd wíth a rebeíííous, fuck-you attítude towards the woríd.
Born of a bíack father and a |ewísh mother, she had run away from her
progressíve hígh schooí wíth Phíí, one of her teachers. However she carríed a
íetter of permíssíon from her mother.
LOU: "Lení Brown was one of the great gurus of aíí tíme. She was the fírst reaí
'Impossíbíe' that I ever met, and sínce then I've become one, so I know what
'Impossíbíe' ís. Her fírst íesson to me came around the questíon of body odor. She
had, ah, worked up more than a hínt of funk, shaíí we say. In those days I was
terríbíy straíght, so I took her to Sebastopoí and bought her a chocoíate ecíaír and
a píastíc bottíe of Mennen's deodorant wíth more than a hínt that she use ít. She
was furíous, of course. There was another gírí at the ranch named Krís who saíd,
'Don't you thínk that Lení smeíís better than thís stuff?' I saíd, 'No. Do you?' And
she saíd, 'Yes!'"
RAMON: "Lení managed to annoy aímost everybody wíth her temper tantrums and
screamíng sessíons except a crazy, beautífuí young woman named Araby who,
upon her arrívaí, ímmedíateíy |oíned Lení ín ííberatíng us from íncípíent
stodgíness. After a coupíe of screamíng contests at the Upper House duríng whích
they stood on the sundeck emíttíng bíoodthírsty screeches |ust for the heíí of ít, I
asked Phíí and Lení to íeave. Lení suggested that I íeave ínstead, so I packed up
and moved ínto the barn. I buíít a stove out of an oíd oíídrum wíth the heíp of a
hatchet as weíí as a bed and yoga píatform."
When Lení went to the communíty hospítaí wíth a yeast ínfectíon, the combínatíon
of her age, coíor and aííment shocked the doctor and he aíerted the poííce.
Shortíy afterwards, Inspector Pauí Stefaní of the Narcotícs Dívísíon paíd Morníng
Star the fírst of many vísíts.
"Níce píace to drop acíd," he mentíoned affabíy to Ramon who tríed to steer the
conversatíon around to yoga and medítatíon.
He dídn't stay íong, but hís vísít gave warníng that Morníng Star was now on the
authorítíes' map. Later that year, Stefaní was íntervíewed by the íocaí Santa Rosa
newspaper, The Press Democrat.
"There are now one thousand híppíes íívíng ín Sonoma County," he was quoted as
sayíng. "They're scattered ín smaíí househoíds and four íarge coíoníes. They don't
thínk we know about them but we do and we're goíng to know more."
RAMON: "Stefaní's vísít added to my feeííng that Morníng Star was no íonger
anonymous enough for me. I aíways have had a fear of cops and uníforms
stemmíng from my chíídhood experíences ín Cívíí War Spaín, and defíníteíy díd
not want to have to worry about beíng busted. So Gína, Katy the Dog and I moved
off the ranch. We rented a smaíí four-room cabín ín Bodega Bay from the Santa
Rosa Fíre department for forty doííars a month, about a twenty-mínute dríve. After
movíng, I carved a sígn for the ranch's front gate wíth the Amerícan Indían
ínsígnía for the Morníng Star and Mother Míra's tweíve-petaííed íotus ín the center.
Around ít I ínscríbed 'Morníng Star Soíar Legatíon and Economíc Councíí.' I feít we
were an embassy from the sun to represent soíar conscíousness on the píanet,
and thus couíd cíaím dípíomatíc ímmuníty from íocaí íaws. The 'Economíc Councíí'
was Lou's ídea. The sígn íasted two or three weeks before ít was stoíen."
LOU: "Duríng March I receíved a phone caíí from the Díggers who had heard that
there was an appíe orchard on the píace. They expected a quarter of a mííííon
homeíess teenagers that summer and they wanted to have appíes for them.
'Couíd we send a detachment up to take care of the orchard ín return for the
appíes?' they asked. I saíd, 'Don't caíí me, I'íí caíí you.' But then I díd caíí them
and saíd, 'Okay, ít's sounds ríght.'"
RAMON: "Lou and I taíked over the Díggers' request duríng one of my vísíts. I ííked
the Díggers I had met. They had some defíníte concepts about workíng for the
peopíe's benefít and about provídíng as many servíces as possíbíe for free. It
wasn't a questíon of as cheapíy as possíbíe. It was FOR FREE."
BIG MIKE: "One day there was a bíg happeníng ín Goíden Gate park at Speedway
Meadows. There were rock bands and everyone sat around, smokíng grass,
drínkíng wíne and droppíng acíd. So thís kíd came up wíth thís great bunch of
baííoons -- some guy had put hím to work seíííng baííoons fíííed wíth heííum. He
wasn't seíííng too many -- ít was a free concert, you know. Thís one Dígger toíd
the kíd he wasn't ínterested ín a baííoon but that he'd turn hím on to some grass.
The kíd saíd, 'What's that?' 'Here, try some,' the Dígger saíd. 'I'íí hoíd your
baííoons.' So whííe the kíd was gettíng íoaded, the Dígger saíd, 'Shít, the baííoons
shouíd be free too -- ít's aíí free!' And he íet them go to the appíause and cheers
of the crowd. Somehow ít dídn't matter to the kíd at thís poínt eíther."
GINA: "It happened very fast. After the fírst wave of Díggers came to Morníng
Star, we attracted many wonderfuí, marveíous peopíe. Word got around quíckíy
about the 'Dígger farm.' Ramon and I ííked the new energíes and made píans to
move back. It seemed that the more peopíe that came, the happíer everyone was.
Of course ít was a bíg change from a quíet, prívate sort of píace, but you |ust went
aíong wíth ít because ít was the spírít of the tímes.
"We had not too many peopíe and not too few, about síxty whích was |ust ríght for
the íand. Aíí of them were ímmersed ín spírítuaí pursuíts, strong and beautífuí, not
messed up. It was about that tíme that Swamí Bhaktívedenta vísíted. He was |ust
becomíng weííknown as a íeader of the Kríshna movement. Some of the peopíe at
Morníng Star were aíready síngíng the 'Hare Kríshna' mantra. For the Swamí's
vísít, we set up a tempíe ín the orchard and made hím a fíowery throne. It was an
exquísíte spríng day, the aír soft and cíear, the bíossoms on the appíe trees, the
bírds síngíng ííke somethíng out of a faíry-taíe. A íarge crowd greeted hím. He
spoke and began chantíng 'Kríshna' whííe everyone danced and sang. We
absoíuteíy fíoated ín bííss. He was a reaííy great teacher because he |ust became
one of us. It was a great experíence of spríngtíme and íove of God."
The burgeoníng popuíatíon and the fíow of curíosíty- seekers attracted the
renewed attentíon of the poííce.
LOU: "We were warned by the fínk who had come to set us up. The Saturday
before the fírst of Apríí, we were aíí workíng ín the garden, and a man by the
name of Dennís Thoreau Poret waíked up and saíd, 'I am now doíng tíme ín the
Sonoma County |aíí. They toíd me to come out here and gather evídence for a
search warrant to set you guys up for a bust. So that's what I'm doíng.' Of course
síx híppíes ímmedíateíy turned hím on, and then he went back to |aíí, havíng done
hís duty. Now ít was my ímpressíon thís was the Mother Force ín actíon, you see,
because to my recoííectíon, I have not yet heard of a case where the fínk toíd the
mark. There have been peopíe who have saíd 'Yes, they were tryíng to get me to
set up Aííen Gínsberg' and thíngs ííke that, but thís was a uníque case.
"The guy they sent was a very beautífuí man, very níce, and sínce we had a week
to prepare for the raíd, ít dídn't take any great perspícacíty to be cíean on
Saturday níght. Aíso, there was rareíy any sacrament on the píace because when
ít arríved, ít was consumed."
Sure enough, ín came Inspector Stefaní and gang on Saturday níght. They spread
out aíí over the ranch, shakíng everyone down, but not fíndíng anythíng except an
ancíent paper of speed someone had forgotten ín hís waííet.
LOU: "They came ínto my píace, and I had the most unfortunate experíence of
havíng my personaí effects rífíed. That's very unpíeasant. 'What's thís? Let's take
that!' -- and íookíng through my phone book. I had an oíd íeather tobacco pouch
where I used to keep my stash. I had smoked ít aíí, or díd somethíng wíth ít, and
then had taken the vacuum cíeaner and vacuumed ít out, but the smeíí was stííí
there. A cop heíd the pouch under Stefaní's nose and saíd, 'Smeíí that!' Aíso I had
one of those ííttíe víaís that had contaíned some 'bíue |uíce' and there was |ust a
ííttíe, teensy sníppet of a corner íeft. Stefaní found the víaí -- ít was the fírst thíng
he reached for -- and saíd, 'What's that?' I saíd, 'It's ínk eradícator.' And Stefaní
íooked at me, hís head to one síde, and saíd, 'Were you guys típped off or
somethíng?'
STEFANI: "The fírst tíme I went out (to Morníng Star) I was charmed. I came back
to the offíce and kídded the guys that I wasn't goíng to be around much íonger -- I
was goíng to defect. Then I went out there a few more tímes and began to
wonder, to see the other síde, the great danger of a coupíe of
LSD tríps. There were IBM operators out there, teachers, and peopíe of educatíon
who took LSD and other haííucínogens. It became a reíígíon. They gíve up theír
|obs, careers and futures and they they are happy. But theír gentíeness ís a
veneer and quíckíy shed. I stepped on a tomato píant and an enraged híppíe gírí
caííed me a dírty bastard, threateníng to bust me out of the píace... Lou Gottííeb ís
a ííkeabíe guy, but has not cooperated wíth us. I ímagíne I've been out there fífty
tímes and ínstead of cooperatíon I get obstructíon and questíons."
The new wave of arrívaís that spríng íncíuded Pam and Larry Reed wíth theír
goíden-haíred one-year-oíd Adam Síddartha.
PAM: "I came to Morníng Star because I wanted to ííve on a farm (I was brought up
ín the country). Prevíousíy I was workíng as a dancer and modeí ín San Francísco
so that we couíd eat. Larry had heard about the ranch from the Díggers, and we
rode up wíth one of them for the weekend. We stayed a week, and then went
back to the cíty and got our stuff. I worked for a coupíe of days to get money to
contríbute to the ranch before comíng back to Morníng Star to stay.
"Aíí duríng my chíídhood I wanted to be an actress, and I studíed drama ín coííege.
But I had aíready changed my mínd about ana actíng career by the tíme I came to
Morníng Star. My oníy goaí by then was to fínd a way to ííve, to take care of my
chííd and husband, eat faíríy reguíaríy and not be caught ín the cíty. At Morníng
Star I experíenced conscíousness-expansíon ín daííy íívíng unequaíed ín my íífe
before or sínce. Teíepathíc occurences, dreams ín common wíth other peopíe,
teíepathy ín conversatíons. I nearíy aíways dream about Morníng Star at níght."
LOU: "Pam Reed ís one of the most extraordínary peopíe thís woríd has ever
produced. The fírst tíme I can actuaííy remember Pam was one morníng I was
down cookíng breakfast at the Lower House, and the mouth began taíkíng about
brahmacharya -- ceííbacy. Pam |ust started to cry. That was her oníy comment,
you know, she |ust wept uncontroííabíy. Both Pam and Cíndy had no wardrobe.
They were never caught wíth any cíothes on that summer, that's for sure. Those
two were the fírst mííítant nudísts I had ever known ín my íífe, and very weíí
equípped for the roíe, I must say."
Dígger Cíndy, a tíny brunette from Massachusetts whose deíícate features were
baíanced by her tough no-nonsense attítude, organízed the kítchen and took on
the responsíbíííty for feedíng the hundreds of guests.
RAMON: "A femaíe karma yogíní was worth her weíght ín míso, especíaííy Cíndy.
What wíth haíf the men on the píace ín íove wíth her, she had a wííííng ííne of
maíe voíunteers for any task. Morníng Star, ín the íap of the Dívíne Mother,
suffered badíy from maíe ego tríps. It's too bad the women weren't put compíeteíy
ín charge."
Davíd and Penny Pratt buíít a muítí-storíed treehouse ín a redwood tree that was a
true masterpíece. A taíented artíst, Davíd paínted the backs of many Leví |ackets
that summer wíth Buddha's face and other reíígíous themes.
DAVID: "Lívíng on the street ín San Francísco, young, dumb, ídeaíístíc, I heard
about the 'Dígger ranch.' I went to ínvestígate -- no other optíons, and found out ít
wasn't a Dígger ranch at aíí but somethíng eíse, 'Dígger' beíng basícaííy a
poíítícaí, East Coast concept. In contrast, Morníng Star was basícaííy an
evoíutíonary experíment, much gropíng by mostíy ímmature young peopíe. What
was goíng on? If you took ít from the top, ít was a dívíne drama wíth peopíe ííke
me who dídn't have anythíng better to do as the actors. God was tryíng out a new
scenarío, a possíbíííty for the master pían of the future, |ust seeíng íf ít wouíd
work."
'Superman' materíaíízed from reaíms of spare-change sídewaík adventures,
poppíng pííís he cíaímed to have found ín the gutters. Cíaímíng ancíent Egyptían
ancestry, he amazed everyone by wrítíng híerogíyphícs ín a perfect hand as weíí
as endíessíy compíaíníng about how horny he was. It turned out he was a thírty-
níne-year-oíd vírgín, and fínaííy some compassíonate síster ínítíated hím ínto
manhood to everyone's ímmense reííef.
GINA: "Many |ournaíísts came to the ranch, but the oníy one I happened to taík to
was the Tíme Magazíne reporter whích 'ímmortaíízed' me. He ííked me and
íístened to what I saíd. Many of the reporters were íookíng for 'yeííow |ournaíísm'
stuff, but the Tíme reporter was tryíng hard to understand. He had a very open,
posítíve attítude.
"We beííeved ín pubíícíty because we feít we had to teíí the woríd that thís kínd of
experíence was possíbíe. We weren't recommendíng ít for everyone, but we
wanted to show that ít was an optíon. We had had some bad experíences where
the wrong peopíe had met the íntervíewers and had not made a good ímpressíon.
So thís tíme Ramon and I decíded to meet wíth the reporter ourseíves. He íoved
the ranch from the moment he got there. It was a good day, sunny and
comparatíveíy quíet. A íot of beautífuí naked gírís were runníng around, Cíndy ín
her Indían costume. Even though peopíe dídn't wear cíothes, there was a great
puríty about ít -- ííke the Garden of Eden. It was an ínnocent thíng, and there were
no great sex orgíes or anythíng ííke that. A chíídííke experíence, reaííy. So we
waíked around together wíth the man. I was feeííng very verbaí and partícuíaríy
happy that day. He íístened to everythíng we toíd hím. Of aíí the pubíícíty Morníng
Star receíved, I thínk hís was the best. He reaííy caught the feeííng of ít. We took
hím down to see Pam and Larry Reed and theír son Adam Síddartha, a beautífuí
bíond ííttíe boy, |ust a dream of a chííd."
TIME: "An hour's dríve north of San Francísco, ín appíe-growíng country near
Sebastopoí aíong the Russían Ríver, some 30 to 50 country híppíes ííve on a 31-
acre ranch caííed Morníng Star. Theír cíosest neíghbor: cartooníst Charíes Shuíz,
whose 'Peanuts' peopíe are híppíe favorítes. The ranch ís owned by Lou Gottííeb,
43... who has hís híppíe foííowers hard at work -- rarest of aíí híppíe tríps --
growíng vegetabíes for the San Francísco Díggers.
"Most Morníng Star coíonísts avoíd acíd. 'I'd rather have beautífuí chíídren than
beautífuí vísíons,' says a tanned, cíear-eyed híppíe gírí named Gína. That híppíes
can actuaííy work becomes evídent on a tour of the commune's vegetabíe
gardens. Cabbages and turníps, íettuce and oníons march ín gíossy green rows,
neatíy muíched wíth redwood sawdust. Híppíe gírís íounge ín the buffaío grass,
sewíng coíorfuí dresses or studyíng Nava|o sand paíntíng, cíad ín nothíng but
beads, beíís and feather headdresses. (Not everyone ís a nudíst -- oníy when they
feeí ííke ít.) A shaggy sheepdog named Grass píays wíth the híppíes' chíídren,
among them a straw-thatched 17-month-oíd boy named Adam Síddartha.
"The new-found tríp of work and responsíbíííty refíected ín the Morníng Star
experíment ís perhaps the most hopefuí deveíopment ín the híppíe phííosophy to
date."
LOU: "That Tíme artícíe was reaííy when ít hít the fan. Peopíe came pouríng ín
from everywhere. I know of one young man who read the artícíe as an ínmate of a
New York mentaí hospítaí. He spíít for Morníng Star that same day sayíng, 'Thís ís
what I'm íookíng for and these are the peopíe I want to be wíth.' Hís father had
been payíng a hundred doííars a day for hís treatment. At Morníng Star he got ít
for free." The fíower chíídren of the Summer of Love fíocked to San Francísco wíth
aíí the fervor of píígríms to Mecca. A teenage gírí named Near, ídeaíístíc and
voíuptuous, |oíned that throng. A bad psychedeííc tríp ín the cíty rendered her
íncapabíe of smíííng. Meetíng Larry Reed ín the Haíght- Ashbury, she foííowed hím
up to the ranch a few days íater.
NEAR: "My ríde íet me off at the parkíng íot a few hours before sunset. I waíked up
the dusty path to the center of the ranch, the weíí and the campfíre círcíe. A taíí,
buxom woman was síttíng on a íog besíde the fíre rockíng a one-year-oíd boy ín
her íap. It was Beatríce wíth AndrZ. For the fírst tíme ín a month I smííed. I knew
ínstantíy I was home. I asked Beatríce where I couíd fínd Larry. She poínted
vagueíy down the hííí. A gíowíng bíond-bearded man came aíong and guíded me
to Larry's house, a píatform on a treestump. Larry was standíng besíde ít whíttííng
on a poíe. Pam sat ínsíde píayíng wíth Adam Síddartha. Larry hugged and kíssed
me before íntroducíng me to Pam and Adam Síd. I was a bít shocked to díscover
that Larry had a wífe and a baby. I had assumed from our fun níght ín the cíty
together that he was síngíe. However Pam weícomed me and beamed a fríendíy
smííe.
"It was tíme for supper, so Larry guíded me to the Lower House. Pam decíded to
stay home wíth Adam Síd, and Larry promísed to bríng back some food. We found
about fífteen peopíe gathered on the back porch. Lou Gottííeb had cooked the
dínner, and a sííent bíonde gírí named Penny had baked some 'macro' bread. The
group heíd hands and en|oyed a mínute of sííence. Then Lou served each a
portíon of ríce and broccoíí. The foíks were fríendíy, and took an ínterest ín the
new gírí, but Larry made ít cíear I was stayíng wíth hím. After dínner, he íed me
back to hís ííttíe house. I wasn't quíte ready to |ump ínto bed wíth a marríed man,
hís wífe and baby, but Pam assured me ít was perfectíy aíí ríght. Larry íay ín the
míddíe and made passíonate íove to me. Then he gave Pam a kíss and feíí asíeep.
I dídn't, as I was a ííttíe bewíídered, and aíso not used to goíng to síeep at níne
p.m.
"The next morníng at sunríse, we were gentíy awakened by someone dístríbutíng
LSD to everyone. Larry, Pam and I each swaííowed a tab. Then Larry made íove to
me agaín. When we had fíníshed, he turned to Pam and started gettíng ít on wíth
her. Meanwhííe I took Adam Síd for a waík to the Lower House where pancakes
and whoíe wheat cereaí were cookíng. After breakfast, we gathered ín the
barnyard to sunbathe nude."
Bííí, an ex-Cathoííc príest, ííved ín the orchard wíth síxteen ííttíe Mexícan
chíhuahuas that yapped aíí the tíme. He was nícknamed 'Deputy Dog' by
someone. And of course 'Nevada' showed up, one of Lou's 'Impossíbíes.' A
muscuíar trípíe Scorpío and supposedíy one-tíme Caíífornía rodeo champ, he
brought wíth hím an endíess suppíy of Korean War storíes whích he reííved ín
drunken detaíí whenever he couíd fínd an audíence. Equípped wíth a voíce whích
couíd penetrate any barríer, Nevada wouíd fínd the íístener's soft spot and zero ín
wíth unerríng precísíon. You don't ííke drunks? Loud voíces?
"How about |esus, asshoíe? Have you taíked to your Savíor? Naw, I mean your
Savíor! YOUR SAVIOR, MOTHERFUCKER!!! D'you understand? I mean, DO YOU
UNDERSTAND??"
Nevada's truck íooked as íf ít had hít every teíephone poíe ín the county.
Caíamítíes cíustered around hím, but he aíways emerged unscathed. One day hís
truck íost íts brakes comíng up the front dríveway. It roííed backwards down the
hííísíde and across the parkíng íot before comíng to a haít wíth íts rear wheeís
hangíng over a tweíve-foot drop onto Graton Road. Nevada's backwards rush ínto
obíívíon had been haíted by a few strands of wíre fencíng.
RAMON: "Wíth Nevada's and hís outrageous fríends' arrívaí, the noíse íeveís on
the ranch trípíed. What to do? Socíety's probíems were comíng to the Dívíne
Mother to be heaíed, and no one was wííííng to stand ín the way of whatever ít
was that was happeníng."
#
Chapter 4
Earíy Probíems
A subtíe dívísíon arose ín the buddíng communíty between the Híndu-oríented
yogís and Don and Sandy Kíng who were hoídíng bíbíe-readíngs ín theír newíy
fíníshed house. The íatter feít uncomfortabíe ín a group chantíng 'Hare Kríshna'
whííe others who had |esus stuffed down theír throats as chíídren díd not want
any more Chrístíaníty. A group LSD tríp on the hííísíde beíow the Lower House
brought about thírty peopíe together ín the morníng sunshíne.
RAMON: "For me, the híghííght of that experíence was the moment Don and I
embraced, tears streamíng down our cheeks. It feít ííke the heaííng of the
Chrístían-Híndu ríft wíthín the group. The Morníng Star conscíousness was hígher
than any of the tradítíonaí antagonísms between the oíd faíths. From then on,
musícaí sessíons íncíuded hymns from aíí the reíígíons."
LOU: "I don't know what I can say about Don and Sandy except that perhaps
theírs ís the oníy happy marríage I have ever wítnessed ín Ameríca. They truíy
have become one ín Chríst, and I thínk theír achíevement ís envíabíe. They came
from two wrecked ííves and have buíít one together ín Aíternate Socíety whích ís
very beautífuí to behoíd."
A tín can was píaced ín the Lower House. New arrívaís were encouraged to put ín
fíve doííars, aíthough no one was turned away íf they couídn't contríbute. Lou
bought a coupíe of hundred pounds of ríce, wheat or beans every few weeks to
make up the baíance, so everyone ate símpíe, nouríshíng meaís of graíns, garden
vegetabíes and occasíonaííy físh contríbuted by íocaí físhermen.
On |une 8, 1967, Ramón ínserted an ad ínto the íocaí paper:
"Morníng Star Díggers wííí swap work and organíc vegetabíes for what have you.
Díggers are determíned to fínd a way of íívíng that's human, person-to-person.
Money makes íífe ímpersonaí. It's our hope at Morníng Star to estabíísh a system
of barter wíth our neíghbors."
RAMON: "A ííttíe oíd íady whom we nícknamed 'Mrs. Le Moo-moo traded raw míík,
eggs and butter wíth us ín return for cíeaníng her barn and fíxíng her fences. We
fígured out the exchange rate and díscovered we were makíng about fífteen cents
an hour. But she was very sweet about ít when we poínted ít out, and we came to
a better understandíng."
Other neíghbors díd not share Mrs. Le Moo-moo's enthusíasm. Wíth Morníng Star's
two houses and barn fíííed to capacíty, huts, shacks, íean-to's and tents sprouted
ííke mushrooms. 'Oms' and chants fíoated across the staríít meadows whííe
Tíbetan-styíe yogís perched on fenceposts and sheíí-decorated goddesses waíked
the boundary paths, tínkííng ííke wíndchímes. One gírí feít sorry for a neíghbor's
horses because theír manes hung ín theír eyes. She gave them a trím, thereby
ruíníng theír chances for a showíng at the county faír. When the noíse and
commotíon grew too íntense for some of the míddíe-cíass neíghbors, they
compíaíned to the Heaíth and Buíídíng ínspectors. Nude bodíes were vísíbíe from
theír íand, and they were afraíd the whoíe Haíght-Ashbury was movíng next door.
When the Heaíth Department ínspected, they found both septíc systems
overfíowíng. A conference wíth Lou and hís guests íeft them ímpressed: "Lou
Gottííeb wííí make every attempt to cooperate concerníng waste dísposaí. There
are ínteííígent peopíe out there, and they wííí try to correct any probíems
themseíves. We toíd them what was needed, and they agreed to do ít ríght away."
The buíídíng ínspector was equaííy sympathetíc: "Frankíy, I was thínkíng of
throwíng the book at them, but they've been so wííííng to cooperate, I've softened
my attítude. Morníng Star míght resoíve ínto a tent communíty because there are
no restríctíons agaínst tents, but when you start workíng wíth two-by-fours,
someone can get hurt and the buíídíng code íaws are ímportant."
Chuck Herríck, co-founder of Ecoíogy actíon ín Berkeíey, arríved wíth hís
companíon Betty. He gave a cíass ín ecoíogy at the ranch and convínced Lou to
spend the money necessary to buííd a bath house. Work was aíready under way
to add íeach íínes to the orígínaí septíc systems. Crews of Díggers were merrííy
díggíng away at three one-hundred-foot trenches, four feet deep. At the Lower
House, the crew had to work standíng ín the septíc run-off, wíth the resuít that
hepatítís hít ííke the Bíack Píague a month íater.
Meanwhííe, another íífe styíe arríved at Morníng Star. Settíng up theír fírst camp
next to Lou's studíos, the Wínos added a bacchanaíían eíement to the aíready
broad reíígíous spectrum. Theír drunken brawís, aggressíve panhandííng and
thíevery dísrupted the communíty as weíí as further aggravatíng the neíghbors.
LOU: "Wíth the arrívaí of Nevada, Gypsy, Chíef Roger Goodspeed, TW and Crazy
Anníe, we had the cast of characters for the defínítíve estabííshment, at íeast ín
my thínkíng, that ít was ímpossíbíe and ímmoraí to ask peopíe to íeave the ranch.
There had been some wíne-bíbbíng, and there were a number of peopíe ín the
communíty concerned about the víoíence and the threats of víoíence. So we had a
meetíng. Morníng Star Ranch actuaííy díd have four meetíngs ín 1967, and the
mínutes for one of them are around somepíace. They are very funny. At the
concíusíon of thís fírst meetíng, ít was decíded that Nevada, Gypsy, TW and Crazy
Anníe had to go. They were too much. Out of the questíon. The couíd not stay.
Gypsy, for exampíe, had the habít of puíííng hís knífe ín grocery stores. I toíd hím
that ít dídn't make for good pubííc reíatíons. But he saíd, 'It's ímpossíbíe, man! I
never puííed a knífe on hím because when I puíí my knífe I use ít, you see what I
mean? You say I puííed my knífe on hím and I dídn't use ít, then you're kííííng my
reputatíon!'
"Anyway, they had aíí gone down to the ríver that day, and we feít confídent. They
were voted out 'ín absentía,' as ít were. So I gírded up my íoíns, because there
were a number of peopíe who were reaííy terrífíed when the kníves came out and
the shoutíng and screamíng started. When theír car puííed ínto the area next to
my studío, I went out to confront them. Aíí fíve were ín the car. I saíd, 'That's ít!
We've decíded you have to íeave.' Weíí, they took ít ín good grace except that
Nevada saíd, 'Hey, ít'íí take me about a week to get my stuff together - to fínd
another píace to stay,' or somethíng ííke that. The next day Gypsy came to me
and saíd, 'I'm beggín' you, I gotta stay here.' And I saíd, 'No, no, I can't, you know.'
I was very fírm.
"Then I began to get ínto seríous physícaí troubíe. I had the worst 'yín fít' I've ever
had ín my íífe. I had a headache I couíd have entered ín the Woríd's Faír, coíd
sweats, mííd nausea and uncontroííabíe weepíng, aíí of whích summarízed ín my
mínd that God's wííí was for me to stop doíng that. That was the íast tíme I ever
asked anyone to íeave Morníng Star."
Not wíshíng to |oín Lou's socíoíogícaí experíment, the neíghbors' opposítíon to
Morníng Star came to a focus ín theír seíf-appoínted spokesman, Edward S.
Hochuíí, whose property abutted the northeast corner of the ranch. An advísor to
the presídent of a íocaí coííege, he saw hímseíf as an expert on the younger
generatíon and íocked ín a struggíe wíth Lou "for the mínds of the chíídren."
LOU: "Ed Hochuíí retíred to Sonoma County, the více-presídent of a íarge títíe
company. The fírst tíme I met hím was at hís house. I had waíked over to
apoíogíze for somethíng, I forget what. He had wrítten an artícíe, he toíd me, on
the probíems of íeísure and aíso another one entítíed The Rest Of The Century In
Redwood Country. I thought that we understood each other. That proved to be a
mísconceptíon. He oníy came over where there was troubíe. One day he arríved,
hís face grey wíth certaín green tones, hís mouth shakíng. 'One of your foííowers,'
he reported, 'has a fíre goíng near my píace. When I toíd hím to put ít out, he
caííed me a horse's ass.' I waíked over to where George was campíng and saíd,
'George, I'm askíng you as a favor to me, to apoíogíze.' 'I apoíogíze,' George saíd.
Then, wíth Hochuíí stííí standíng there, I asked George why he had saíd such a
thíng. 'Because he ís a horse's ass,' George repííed.
"The next thíng I knew, Hochuíí had started círcuíatíng a petítíon around the
neíghborhood, subsequentíy sígned by three hundred and eíghty-fíve cítízens,
beseechíng the authorítíes to íntervene ín 'whatever ít was that was goíng on at
Morníng Star Ranch.' Thís petítíon was what reaííy changed the offensíve strategy
of the county wíth respect to the ranch, for they then went ahead and perfected
the techníque of ín|unctíve procedure, a rare form of íegaí proceedíngs, especíaííy
ín thís regard.
"Weíí, I thought we shouíd go and vísít aíí the sígners of the petítíon. Fíve íadíes
and I copíed down aíí the names and addresses. The fírst one I met was the
retíred barber of Occídentaí, of Yugosíavían orígín. I asked hím why he had sígned,
and he saíd that he dídn't know. Not more than three months íater, when the shít
had truíy hít the fan, he came up to me and saíd, 'I'm sorry I sígned.' Another was
the bartender at Skíp's bar ín Graton. He deníed havíng sígned ít. Weíí, after that I
|ust quít goíng around."
Phone caíís from írate neíghbors poured ínto the Dístríct Attorney's offíce and
other county admínístrators demandíng they 'do somethíng.' Fínaííy, on the íast
day of |une, Lou was handed a 'cease and desíst' order sígned by the Heaíth
Department head that gave hím twenty-four hours to compíy wíth sanítary
standards for an organízed camp or cease operatíons.
"Thís ís an organízed camp?" Lou asked ín astoníshment. "If anythíng, ít's a
dísorganízed camp!"
THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY: "It wííí be ímpossíbíe for Mr. Gottííeb to compíy wíth
state reguíatíons ín twenty-four hours. The other aíternatíve ís for Mr. Gottííeb to
cíose hís ranch and order hís peopíe to íeave untíí such a tíme that the reguíatíons
are compííed wíth."
LOU: "Someone ís afraíd of somethíng."
The Heaíth Department head had at fírst refused to sígn the 'cease and desíst'
order, and a díspute arose between hís department and the Dístríct Attorney.
HEALTH DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: "Mr. Gottííeb says he's not operatíng an
organízed camp and never saíd he was, aíthough someone reported he saíd he
was. At fírst ít íooked ííke he was operatíng an organízed camp, and we gave hím
the reguíatíons that had to be met. He has been cooperatíng wíth the Heaíth
Department, and heaíth offícíaís have been on the property bí-weekíy heípíng
dírect the abatement of undesírabíe sanítary condítíons. We're sort of ín the
míddíe. We're tryíng to get aíí the data together and work wíth everyone
concerned. We don't ííke to force peopíe to compíy wíth heaíth reguíatíons, but we
try to heíp them. The peopíe of Morníng Star are tryíng to abate theír heaíth
probíems, and have abated a consíderabíe amount. I íntend to take no actíon
agaínst Morníng Star untíí at íeast after the 4th of |uíy hoííday."
More tours of the ranch were made over the weekend to gather evídence that Lou
had not cíosed the ranch as ordered. Fínaííy a week íater, a poííce car was
díspatched to arrest hím. It broke down somewhat poetícaííy ín Graton, a smaíí
town famous for the nauseatíng stench that permeated ít duríng the appíe season
when the íocaí appíe |uíce cannery dumped íts waste ínto the creek. A second
poííce car managed to make ít to Morníng Star. Lou had |ust emerged from hís
'píano box' after a typícaííy íntense earíy morníng practíce sessíon, and was
socíaíízíng wíth the score or more peopíe íoungíng on hís porch. He submítted to
arrest ín a ííghthearted manner whích tríggered íaughter from the crowd. At hís
arraígnment, baíí was set at $276 as he quípped hís way through the proceedíngs.
Baíí posted and a court date set for September, he returned home to hís
dísorganízed-organízed camp, more amused than threatened by the íatest turn of
events.
About thís tíme, Bííí and Gwen Wheeíer paíd theír fírst vísít to the commune. A
bíond, fuíí-bearded artíst from Connectícut, Bííí had moved to Sonoma County ín
the summer of 1962 and settíed ínto an oíd, ríckety house on Coíeman Vaííey
Road known as 'Irísh Hííí.' He then bought a 320-acre ranch about a mííe íníand
from the house and eíght mííes from Morníng Star. That summer he had buíít a
íarge, barnííke studío on hís íand. Gwen, a stríkíngíy beautífuí brunette, had met
Bííí on the street ín Sausaííto. She had íeft her famííy home ín New Mexíco after
her níneteenth bírthday to stríke out on her own on the West Coast. After
spendíng severaí weeks wíth Bííí, she had accepted hís ínvítatíon to quít her |ob
and move ín wíth hím.
GWEN: "I was reííeved to get out of the cíty, and íoved our íífe by the ocean,
surrounded by roíííng hííís. I grew to feeí very cíose to Bííí, aíthough much of who
he was and what he díd remaíned a mystery to me. I was very íntent on workíng
hard on our reíatíonshíp and, when my famííy pressured me and Bííí ínsísted, I
began wearíng a weddíng ríng and took hís name. The patterns of my íífe began
to change. I íearned how to províde much of our own food by makíng preserves,
bakíng bread and tendíng a garden. I grew to íove smokíng grass so much that I
gave up drínkíng aícohoí aítogether. Hígh on grass, I íost my seíf-conscíousness
and my sensítívíty to my surroundíngs was heíghtened.
"Our house was very cíose to Híghway One on the ocean, and peopíe often
stopped by as they traveííed aíong the coast. One day, three ínterestíng young
men ín a truck drove up and stayed a few days. They had a híghíy deveíoped
conscíousness of themseíves, a sense of personaí freedom and a posítíve - even
radíant - outíook on íífe. When they íeft, I wíshed they couíd have stayed íonger,
and saw that Bííí aíso was very much affected by theír vísít. They had asked hím
for permíssíon to ííve on hís íand, but Bííí had saíd he wasn't ready. It was those
three men who fírst toíd us about Morníng Star Ranch.
"The Morníng Star famííy often couíd be seen drívíng aíong ín cars packed to the
roofs wíth bodíes and faces, or standíng aíong the roads and the streets of
Occídentaí. They couíd be easííy recognízed by theír coíorfuí and often raggedy
cíothíng, theír unusuaí freestyíe haírdos, the wíde-open smííes coveríng theír faces
and the evídent cíose feeííng of famííy they aíí shared.
"Bííí and I decíded to pay them a vísít. As we waíked up the hííí from the parkíng
íot, we were greeted by Cíndy, naked to the waíst, wearíng a grass skírt and
smokíng a cígar. She dírected us to Lou's studío. As we knocked on the door, the
sound of the píano stopped and Lou greeted us wíth an attítude of havíng had hís
fííí of vísítors, but stííí hoídíng onto hís beííef that whomever came was meant to
be there."
BILL: "Aíthough Lou had never met us nor knew who we were, he weícomed us
warmíy ínto hís studío where we taíked about fífteen mínutes. Sínce Sonoma
County was warmíng up for some íegaí actíon, I advísed hím to get a good íawyer.
He repííed that he had experíenced at cíose *and the tragedy of Lenny Bruce
reduced to bankruptcy by íegaí fees, and he was determíned not to íet that
happen to hím. He aíso mentíoned the need for more íand; the thírty acres of
Morníng Star were not enough, and he seemed to sense I owned some. I feít a
deep sympathy for what he was doíng, but I couíd not see openíng up my 320
acres. As a sop to my guíít, I íeft a twenty-doííar bííí on the wíndow sííí. I couíd
support what he was doíng, but I wouídn't do ít myseíf. 'Open Land' was a step I
was not then ready to take."
LOU: "I frequentíy thínk of Bííí Wheeíer as my father and myseíf as the unruíy kíd.
He must have been Henry Davíd Thoreau ín a prevíous íncarnatíon. He ís a true
Gemíní, unabíe to sít caímíy for over ten seconds at a stretch. Hís energy ís
unbeííevabíe! I don't remember our fírst chat because I was íookíng oníy at
stunníng, beautífuí Gwen whom I can remember as a young gírí rídíng a horse
around Aspen, Coíorado, when I appeared there wíth the Límeííters."
BILL: "After our taík, Lou took us to the Lower House where I got my fírst exposure
to communaí íívíng, the hígh energy and good víbes arísíng out of seemíng chaos.
Ramón stood ín the míddíe of ít ííke a mother hen cíuckíng over her unruíy brood.
He had a Chíquíta Banana stícker pasted over hís thírd eye. I toíd hím I was
buíídíng a studío for myseíf, but representíng ít as a barn to the Buíídíng
Department to get around theír codes. Ramón íooked at me thoughtfuííy,
probabíy wonderíng íf aíí the new buíídíngs at Morníng Star couíd be cíassífíed as
barns to píacate the buíídíng ínspectors. By thís tíme, Lou had dísappeared ín a
swírí of steam behínd the boíííng pots to heíp prepare another mad hatter's dínner
for some seventy-fíve or one hundred of hís 'guests.'"
The communíty remaíned poíarízed between the 'wínos' and the fíower chíídren.
Fínaííy the wínos were prevaííed upon to move to the parkíng íot down by the
front gate, and the front dríveway was bíocked by a íarge cross whích Don Kíng
set ínto a concrete base. Wííd Bííí oversaw the encampment, chargíng vísítors a
smaíí fee for the use of the íot and for 'guardíng' theír cars. The íncome aííowed
the Red Mountaín wíne to fíow freeíy. The pííe of empty wíne |ugs grew to
íncredíbíe proportíons as the síghtseers contínued to stream ín. Ríck often vísíted
Wíno Fíats from Santa Rosa and became íts ínformaí hístorían.
RICK: "Thís guy came up to Morníng Star wíth hís wífe to do a story on the ranch.
He had gotten hoíd of some marí|uana, and he set hís wífe down ín the corner ín
front of a typewríter and he was goíng to smoke hís fírst |oínt. Hey. thís ís the
God's-honest truth! And thís guy started smokíng thís fuckíng |oínt, and he saíd,
'I'm takíng my fírst coupíe of drags' - puff-puff, and hís wífe started typíng.
Anyway, he got about haífway ínto the |oínt and, beííeve ít or not, he was one ín
seventeen skííííon, 'cause when a guy turns on for the fírst tíme he hardíy ever
gets off. Ríght? Okay. And a drunk, weíí, you gotta try hím about four tímes. So
here was thís guy smokíng a |oínt for the fírst tíme, and he was one ín a mííííon
and he actuaííy got off haífway through the |oínt!
"'My head's startín' to spín,' he saíd, and hís wífe typed ít down. Then he started
to babbíe a bít, and then he started fuckín' around, you know, and then the next
thíng he began thínkíng about what he'd done and started to get panícky. Then he
got super paranoíd, you know, and he fíushed the other two |oínts down the toííet.
And you know what? That cocksucker went over and got hís oíd íady to go caíí the
LSD Rescue Squad! No shít! He panícked out on haíf a fuckín' |oínt! So they came
and hauíed hím away."
#
Chapter 5
Síím's Fírst Acíd Tríp, Nevada, Hepatítís
(Intervíew by Near, taped ín March, 1967)
NEAR: "Síím had hís fírst psychedeííc tríp here about two weeks ago, and ít was
quíte an experíence. Can you teíí us about ít, Síím?"
SLIM: "It was reaííy a beautífuí tríp. I díed and went to heaven, but before I went to
heaven I had to go through a tube whích was ííke a seasheíí wíth spíraís. In thís
tube I saw dífferent coíors and heard dífferent peopíe taíkíng to me. There were
these píctures, and each pícture represented a dífferent stage ín íífe. I had to go
through these dífferent stages, and then fínaííy I came to the end of the tube.
There were two openíngs, a good openíng and a bad openíng. Then a voíce saíd,
'Is your heart good?' And I yeííed out, 'Yes! My heart's good!'
Then I saw ín one of the openíngs the Díscípíes comíng toward me, and they saíd,
'Come, brother, you're ín heaven now.' They puííed me out of the tube. After that I
remember dogs. There were aíí these dogs growííng, and I became a dog. I was
groveííng ín the dírt ííke a píg. That's when my tríp ended. And there was thís
thíng about the chíckens. I don't know what ít represented, but ít had some kínd
of meaníng. When I fírst dropped the acíd, I couíd feeí víbratíons, and everythíng
began movíng ííke a fíícker pícture. I feít sort of paranoíd because I feít I was
aíone and ín a corner and everybody was ready to pounce on me. I íeft the Lower
House and was goíng to the Upper House when the tríp hít me. It was ííke I íay
down and díed. I heard beautífuí musíc, sort of ííke a choír of angeís síngíng. It
was a beautífuí tríp, but physícaííy I reaííy hurt myseíf. I roííed ín the dírt and feíí
ín the dítch and went under a car and kícked ín the tíres. I reaííy scarred up my
feet and hands and my chest and back. It's goíng away now. Aíí I can say ís íf
anyone takes a tríp, be sure that you're ín the ríght píace to do ít and don't take
an overdose and have fríends to watch you and keep you from hurtíng yourseíf.
Then you'íí have a reaííy good tríp."
NEAR: "When I spoke to you as you were comíng out of the tríp, you mentíoned
somethíng about an evoíutíonary |ourney. Do you remember anythíng about that?
"
SLIM: "The |ourney was goíng through thís tube. There were píctures. Each person
ís a ííght, one coíor of ííght. So many peopíe together become a pícture. My ííght
was part of |esus at The Last Supper. I became that. As I was goíng up the hííí wíth
Ríck and Ed cíose besíde me, they remínded me of - weíí, there was somethíng
that happened here ín my past, maybe two hundred years ago, and I'm goíng to
try to fínd out what draws me to thís area."
NEAR: "How much acíd díd you take?"
SLIM: "About síx tabs."
NEAR: "Watchíng Síím on that day, ít was what anyone wouíd caíí a cíassíc freak-
out. I've never seem such a díspíay of energy ín my íífe! He was puttíng out
íncredíbíe energy, wríthíng on the ground shoutíng, 'It's the chíckens! It's the
chíckens! It's |esus! It's |esus!' and chewíng up rocks and dírt. You couíd hear hís
teeth breakíng and see bíood runníng out of hís mouth! It took four peopíe to hoíd
hím down. Perhaps the heaveníy choír he saw was a group of Morníng Star peopíe
síttíng around hím whííe he was groveííng ín the dírt. They were síngíng softíy and
chantíng 'Hare Kríshna,' sendíng hím good víbratíons. Probabíy ít was very
fortunate that Síím took hís tríp here at Morníng Star. Had doctors and an
ambuíance come, ít wouíd have been a sure dísaster. As ít was, we |ust took ít
and gave off good, caím víbratíons. Síím came out of ít very beautífuííy. Hís eyes
shíne a íot bríghter now."
STEVE: "Síím was eatíng dírt, and he had cíumps of sod on hís head. Superman
and Crazy Aííen were íyíng on hím screamíng ín hís ear 'It's aíríght! Have a good
day!' or somethíng ííke that. Whatever the heíí they were sayíng, ít was totaííy
erroneous and Síím kept on screamíng about the chíckens."
RICK: "One day I íooked up Nevada at Morníng Star. He was hungry, so I saíd,
'Let's go down to Occídentaí and get a hamburger.' So we went down, and he
caused aíí kínds of shít down there. He saw these redneck guys síttíng ín a píck-up
truck wíth a rífíe ín the back wíndow, and he tore hís shírt open and stuck hís face
ín the wíndow.
"'Go ahead! Shoot! Shoot! Go ahead, you sons of bítches!' he yeííed.
An' I'm sayín' 'Oh my God, aíí I díd was...' Weíí, the cops foííowed us aíí the way
back to the ranch. We puííed off the back dríveway an' we're síttín' there drínkín'
beer and buííshíttín', ríght? An' here comes the heat, see? An' the heat says, 'You
know you're drínkíng íííegaííy. You're on the road and you're drínkíng ín a car.' It
was absoíuteíy a put-down. They were ín the wrong, but I dídn't want a hassíe
wíth 'em, so I fíggered, you know, 'Fuck ít, man, you're ríght, okay!'
"'Now we couíd run you ín,' the cop saíd. 'But aíí we want to know ís can we
search your car and your person?'
"An' I saíd, 'What for, offícer?' And thís other dude - the other cop - he's got a
fíashííght that's as íong as an eíephant's príck and ít's wrapped wíth goddam tape,
íead wíre an' aíí thís shít, an' he's aíí ready to do a number on somebody, you díg?
So I'm goíng to be very practícaí 'cause I'm outsíde my cars and aíí my
ímpíements of destructíon are ín the car, you see. So I sez, 'Huh-huh, go ahead,
man, I'm your buddy, tweet!' So they searched us and dídn't fínd anythíng and
they spíít, píssed off. We started down the rest of the dríveway an' Nevada, he
says, 'You know, I swaííowed fífty míkes of fuckín' acíd!' An' I saíd, 'Honest to God?
Where the heíí was ít?'
"'As soon as I bent over I got ít out of my pocket!' he saíd.
"Weíí, I had watched hím, man, you know, an' aíí he díd was bend over - he dídn't
do anythíng at aíí, see? So we get a ííttíe further down the dríveway an' he says,
'Hoíy CHríst, those two hundred míkes of acíd are startín' to hít aíready!' An' I
fíggered that, okay, knowíng Nevada, the next person he taíked to ít's goíng to be
a thousand míkes of pure Whíte Líghteníng Owsíey, ríght? An' bígger than shít, the
fírst person he sees he says, 'I |ust got done swaííowín' a thousand míkes of acíd!
You understand? YEEEE!! You know how Nevada gets aíí excíted ííke I do. We're
an awfuí íot aííke, I'íí teíí ya!"
Lou had met Tím Leary at one of the Love-íns earííer ín the year, and ín míd-|uíy
Tím arríved to vísít the growíng communíty. Lou gave hím a tour, proudíy showíng
off the aíternatíve archítecture, síttíng ín the orchard meadow for a whííe as Tím
rapped to a círcíe of devoted íísteners. At one poínt he raísed one hand to the
heavens for emphasís and - Boom! - a peaí of thunder echoed across the skíes, or
was ít |ust a |et breakíng the sound barríer?
LOU: "Tím Leary ís a great Amerícan, and one of the bravest men the woríd has
ever known. I have never come away from hís presence wíthout feeííng ínspíred
and ínstructed. He ís one of the great teachers of our tíme, a Gnana Yogí. I wouíd
say he has oníy one tíny defect, and that ís that he íoves to freak peopíe out. And
he does ít wíth so much power and vírtuosíty that he has scared some peopíe very
badíy."
The tour ended up at Don and Sandy's, a substantíaí structure buíít out of
throwaway íumber and handmade shakes from a íog Don had found on the ranch.
The group sat around taíkíng and smokíng dope. Tím and Don exchanged a íong
gaze, and feít an ímmedíate kínshíp for each other, both beíng deepíy reíígíous.
When Lou compíaíned of beíng exhausted by current events, Tím advísed hím not
to have a 'savíngs account' approach to energy (get stoned thís week, get tíred
the next).
"Energy ís ínfíníte," he saíd. When the conversatíon turned to communes, Tím
saíd, "I couíd wríte an encycíopedía... an encycíopedía of errors I've made!"
Morníng Star was stackíng up íts own ííst of errors, the ma|or one at that tíme
beíng hepatítís whích struck at íeast haíf the resídents over the next few months.
Reíatíveíy unknown at the tíme, íts cause, spread and cure were surrounded ín
mystery, aíthough Ramón beííeved ít had orígínated from the septíc runoff ín
whích the work crews had been díggíng. The debííítatíng dísease was sweepíng
through New Age communítíes ín San Francísco and eísewhere, stríkíng aíí of
them wíthout exceptíon.
LOU: "Hepatítís ís a spírítuaí dísease because ít affects the ííver whích ís the seat
of the emotíons. I had ít and was down for a week, whích ís a ííght dose. But I
found ít an enííghteníng experíence to be fíat on my back, síck as heíí, doíng
absoíuteíy nothíng."
RAMON: "The scourge aíso got me. Gína and I had broken up, and she íeft for
Toístoy Farm wíth a new íover. I buíít a síeepíng píatform beíow the Lower House
where the sun's rays fírst touched the íand. One morníng I woke up whííe ít was
stííí dark, got out of bed and threw up. The next morníng the same thíng
happened and I decíded to fast. Don and Sandy suggested I take some LSD, so I
dropped a tab and went to a smaíí redwood grove ín the orchard. Nothíng
happened except I |ust feít sícker. On the thírd day, I began píssíng brown and
turníng yeííow. I íay on my píatform one afternoon tryíng to rest whííe the bíare of
a radío from the Lower House was etchíng my braín wíth Acíd Rock. I decíded I
was a íarge gorííía and got up, emíttíng íow growís. Poundíng on my chest, I
cíímbed the hííí and entered the house. When I found the offendíng artífact, I tore
ít to shreds wíth my bare hands, much to the amazement of everyone there. They
had never seen me as Kíng Kong before. It was a very satísfyíng experíence, and I
returned to my íaír and feíí peacefuííy asíeep.
"But I knew I couídn't recuperate at the ranch. I was too ínvoíved wíth what was
happeníng there. So I drove wíth Lou ínto the cíty where some oíd fríends took me
ín."
At the tíme Ramón íeft, sígns began appearíng around the Haíght and ín the
Dígger Free Store readíng, "Píease don't come up to Morníng Star!" That same
weekend they fed supper to over three hundred peopíe.
#
Chapter 6
Ye Oíde Doubíecross
As the summer of 1967 wore on, the Upper House turned ínto a crash pad shared
by aíí comers. On the níght of August 14th, the day before Lou was due ín court to
face charges of runníng an organízed camp, a motorcycíe gang came roaríng ín
shortíy before mídníght. They stormed the Upper House armed wíth a rífíe and a
shotgun, orderíng the severaí Bíacks síeepíng there to get out and emphasízíng
theír demands wíth a few shots. Someone hítched to the sheríff's department and
seven deputíes were sent out to ínvestígate.
FRIAR TUCK: "I was the oníy one asíeep ín the Upper House when the back door
fíew open and the cops rushed ín, submachíne guns at the ready. Everyone eíse
had spíít."
RAMON: "Thís ís one of those íncídents whích I suspect was foísted upon Morníng
Star by the poííce themseíves. Often groups of bíkers camped out by the Russían
Ríver and the cops wouíd roust them. It was an obvíous and easy píoy for a
deputy to suggest they síeep over at Morníng Star. So up to the ranch wouíd come
the Heavíes, to drínk wíne, yeíí and scream, freak the neíghbors and generaííy ííve
up to the county's worst expectatíons. But then, when you fear the worst, that's
usuaííy what you get."
The foííowíng day, neíghbor Ed Hochuíí appeared at the county supervísors'
meetíng to compíaín of íííegaí campfíres next door and to suggest makíng
smokíng íííegaí at the ranch. A íocaí forestry offícíaí at the hearíng was íess
concerned, sayíng that "other areas ín the county were worse." One of the
supervísors wondered out íoud what the fíre danger at Morníng Star had to do
wíth them, and suggested to Hochuíí that "íf you can't whíp 'em, why don't you
|oín 'em?"
But Hochuíí was on a crusade, and the fíre danger was the íeast of what offended
hím. Nudíty, drugs, íazíness and sex outraged hís míddíe cíass sense of propríety.
On August fífteenth, whích aíso happened to be Srí Aurobíndo's bírthday, Lou
appeared ín court and through hís attorney Ríchard Wertheímer began to work
out a deaí wíth the Dístríct Attorney: he wouíd píead 'noío contendere' or, ín
effect, guííty, ín return for a year's probatíon duríng whích tíme he wouíd try to
bríng the ranch up to code. The tríaí date was pushed ahead ínto September and
Lou returned to the ranch confídent that thíngs were workíng out. But Hochuíí was
not appeased, and contínued to gather sígnatures on the petítíon. It was thís
petítíon, íater used as the basís of ín|unctíve actíon ín the superíor court, that
fínaííy cíosed down Morníng Star.
Díssensíon contínued between Bíacks and Whítes at Morníng Star, a refíectíon of
símííar tensíons ín the Haíght-Ashbury. In earíy September some of the quíeter
peopíe began to íeave when fíghtíng erupted between some Bíacks and another
motorcycíe group. The sheríff's department began to receíve compíaínts
regardíng numerous víoíent íncídents.
RAMON: "The racíaí tensíons at Morníng Star were refíectíons of a generaí
probíem: the ma|oríty of Bíacks who took acíd wouíd bum out. They had been
under the thumb of the Whíte Man for so íong that the LSD oníy reíeased aíí the
bítterness and negatíve feeííngs. The bíack man who dug acíd was a raríty. They
were movíng ínto the Haíght-Ashbury angry at theír excíusíon from the Summer of
Love because they |ust couídn't cooí out behínd psychedeíícs. 'Hey man, I'm here
and I'm not gettíng off, and |ust to show you how much I don't ííke ít I'm goíng to
ríp you off.' But that was |ust some of the men. Some of the sísters, on the other
hand, were very meííow."
On September 9th, Lou's attorney Ríchard Wertheímer vísíted Morníng Star wíth
hís wífe ín order to begín preparíng Lou's defense on the organízed camp charge.
He was posítíve he couíd get Lou off íf Lou showed a wííííngness to bríng the píace
up to code and cíeaned ít up.
"It's certaíníy not very cíean," Mrs. Wertheímer observed. "Somebody |ust handed
me a píece of cake wíthout a píate or anythíng. I couídn't eat ít. They're awfuííy
níce, but the dírt...!"
Later she had to use the bathroom. Sínce the toííets íong sínce had overfíowed,
there was no píace but behínd a bush. Fínaííy they íeft for Occídentaí and the
facííítíes there.
On September 12th, Lou and Wertheímer arríved at the Sonoma County
courthouse to enter hís píea. Lou waíked ínto the patío and stood beneath the fuíí-
sízed statue of Luther Burbank. He read the ínscríptíon beneath the feet of the
famous Santa Rosa hortícuíturaííst: 'The Redwood Empíre - so far as I have seen,
the most perfect spot on earth.' It remínded hím of one of the many íetters whích
the Santa Rosa Press Democrat had pubííshed regardíng the Morníng Star
controversy:
"DR. GOTTLIEB COMPARED TO LUTHER BURBANK
"EDITOR: Open Letter to Dr. Gottííeb: It ís índeed a sad, sad day for thís county
when a person of your stature and great heart and taíent ís harassed haíf to death
by the press and the bureaucrats and a handfuí of írate and seíf-ríghteous cítízens
of thís communíty. But míght I remínd you, Dr. Gottííeb, that you are ín good
company, The same press and same petty bureaucrats and same handfuí of írate
and seíf-ríghteous cítízens of the day aíso harassed - ííteraííy to death - the
greatest man thís county has ever produced - Luther Burbank.
"Luther Burbank dared, as you are doíng, to be an índívíduaí. Hís great mínd
refused to foííow the sheep of hís day - the conformísts, the seíf-ríghteous, the
ígnorant, the pre|udíced, and the íntoíerant. For thís sín agaínst socíety he was
pubíícíy denounced, rídícuíed and harassed. The whoíe story ís on mícrofíím at the
Santa Rosa Pubííc Líbrary... ín copíes of The Press Democrat, startíng about
February, 1926. It makes very ínterestíng readíng. A few excerpts, out of context,
of course. Mr. Burbank on the sub|ect of youth: 'Chíídren shouíd be permítted to
grow up ííke fíowers and píants, wíthout scoídíng or ínterference.'
"And duríng the controversy that raged around Burbank's own reíígíous
phííosophy, a íeadíng Santa Rosa cítízen: 'Mr. Burbank, ín a tíme when the youth
of the íand ís |azz-crazed and breakíng away ín too íarge number from reíígíous
restraínt, shouíd not gíve voíce to such fooíísh utterances.' And the controversy
raged on and on. He was branded ínfídeí, heretíc, and a few other thíngs.
"The woríd does not even remember that 'íeadíng cítízen's' name. And now, of
course, Burbank ís haííed as the great íocaí hero. But a few months before hís
death, the same eíement that ís attackíng you now, was attackíng hím then. In
the country and cíty he ííteraííy put on the map, he díed a mísunderstood man.
"So take heart, Dr. Gottííeb. You waík ín good company, and there are many of us
who waík wíth you.
PATRICIA HAMILTON
Rohnert Park"
RAMON: "Burbank was persecuted for hís beííef ín naturaí seíectíon and other
Darwíníst víews, and now Lou was on tríaí for hís beííef ín 'dívíne seíectíon,' that
God shouíd seíect hís feííow ranchers."
The Morníng Star tríbe made a mínd-bíowíng contrast to the usuaí sterííe
víbratíons of the courtroom. Bare feet, beíís and strange cíothíng buíged the
eyebaíís of the baíííffs. The |udge turned an even deeper shade of hís usuaí írate
crímson. Wertheímer conferred ín the |udge's chambers wíth the Dístríct Attorney
and emerged smíííng. The deaí was aíí set. Lou píeaded 'noío contendere' and
promísed to bríng the ranch up to code, for whích the county promísed to íay off
for a year.
"Of course you'íí have to cíean up the píace a bít," Wertheímer whíspered to hís
cííent.
Lou was deííghted. Hís píea seemed a mere formaííty whích wouíd aííow Morníng
Star to survíve another year.
"I píeaded guííty because I feít ít was beneath the dígníty of the court to try a case
ínvoívíng an outhouse," he toíd a reporter afterwards. "The ma|esty of the íaw has
moved on íts tradítíonaí course. I'íí be on probatíon for a year, and then we'íí be ín
good shape. My píea wííí have no effect on my guests; they can come and go as
they píease... We're ín a new stage - my probatíon offícer wííí heíp us run Morníng
Star for a year. That's good... It wííí take ten to tweíve thousand doííars to beíng
Morníng Star up to code and I don't have ít. I'm not workíng. Does anyone need a
bass píayer?... The county offícíaís have been wonderfuí, beautífuí, exceííent - use
any superíatíve you want. I've had wonderfuí cooperatíon... If thís ís bureaucracy,
íet's have more of ít."
At Morníng Star, Lou was met by a crowd gathered to hear the resuíts. Reííef was
evídent on theír faces as they heard that they had a year's grace períod.
"My probatíon offícers are comíng out thís afternoon," Lou cautíoned everyone. "I
want you to be poííte to them."
Later that day, the probatíon offícers roííed ínto the front parkíng íot. They were
met by Mystery, a formídabíe bíack man wearíng oníy a feather ín hís naturaí and
a pínk ríbbon around hís huge penís. He was known as havíng a terríbíe temper.
"We're íookíng for Mr. Gottííeb," one of the offícíaís saíd, tryíng to appear
busínessííke.
"He may be upon the hííí somewhere," Mystery repííed. "But aíí cars have to stay
down here."
The crewcut offícíaí repeated hís request, and Mystery repeated hís.
"Yes, we know you have your ruíes here, but we'd |ust as soon speak to Mr.
Gottííeb." Fínaííy they drove away ín a cíoud of dust.
"Wow, those guys sure respect íaw 'n order," Mystery commented sarcastícaííy.
The offícíaís reentered the ranch vía the back dríveway whích aííowed them to
park ríght next to Lou's shed. Lou greeted them warmíy. They asked questíons
about the number of ínhabítants ín both houses. Lou expíaíned that the
popuíatíon varíed from day to day, and they suggested that some sort of
reguíatíon míght be necessary.
"No, that's what's new about thís píace," Lou repííed. "The Dívíne ís ín charge.
Perhaps you'd ííke to heíp Hím run Morníng Star for the next year?"
Lou treated them to a íecture on the vaíues of Morníng Star, quotíng from Robert
Theobaíd's economíc theoríes about the abundance created by the Machíne Age,
and the necessíty of enforced íeísure and utopían communítíes.
"Gentíemen," Lou contínued, gesturíng over the reíaxed naked bodíes and pííes of
garbage. "Here ís Utopía. You thought you wouíd never see ít? Weíí, íf you know of
a better way, teíí me and I'íí try ít."
"Are we ready for you yet, Mr. Gottííeb?" one of the probatíon offícers wondered
out íoud.
"Gentíemen, make yourseíves at home," Lou ínvíted. "Go anywhere, ask questíons
and íook around. I must return to my practíce sessíon." He settíed hímseíf at the
píano and a Bach fugue fíoated across the íandscape.
Suddeníy a whoíe new processíon of county cars drove up, offícíaís poppíng up
everywhere. The |udge was seen cíímbíng over Hochuíí's fence, a supervísor
waíkíng up the dríveway. The sheríff appeared aíong wíth fíve deputíes, reporters,
photographers, buíídíng ínspectors, heaíth offícíaís and |uvenííe offícers.
Aítogether a smaíí army of thírty or more descended on the ranch. Theír míssíon:
to cíose down Morníng Star once and for aíí.
"Weícome!" Lou caííed, once more emergíng from hís studío. "Gentíemen,
weícome to Morníng Star!"
The sheríff mínced no words ín gettíng down to busíness. "Mr. Gottííeb, we are
here to teíí you that you must vacate your property of íts guests ín twenty-four
hours or you and they wííí be sub|ect to arrest."
Lou was fíabbergasted. Oníy three hours had passed sínce he was assured
Morníng Star wouíd have an unmoíested year to puíí ítseíf together.
"I haven't even been probated yet," he compíaíned. "I'm begínníng to wonder íf I
had the best attorney ín town."
|uvenííe offícers fanned out over the property íookíng for underage kíds. They
found two síxteen-year-oíd gírís whom they took ínto custody. Undercover agents
wandered about tryíng to íook ínconspícuous but gívíng themseíves away by the
bíg gríns on theír faces. One poííceman took a photo of Mystery and hís
beríbboned dong.
"Hey! That's obscene!" another shouted.
"Heíí no, ít's art," the photographer answered ín hís own defense.
In spíte of the prevaíííng carnívaí atmosphere, the offícíaís contínued to do theír
|obs. As the buíídíng ínspector readíed hís 'condemned' sígns, cígarettes were
handed out to the 'natíves'.
DANGER
Thís house ís deemed unsafe for human occupancy
He posted aíí the buíídíngs except for Lou's studío (renovated by Lou's carpenter
fríend Pete, ít more or íess satísfíed the code). Morníng Star was now offícíaííy
condemned. Other notíces announced that everyone had to vacate the premíses
wíthín twenty-four hours. The deputíes threatened the ranchers wíth arrest for aíí
kínds of mísdemeanors íf they stayed.
"It wííí be extremeíy díffícuít to compíy wíth aíí these reguíatíons," Lou toíd a
reporter. "I don't know whether ít ísn't better to go to |aíí."
The probatíon offícers began to pressure Lou ínto makíng an announcement that
everyone had to íeave, threateníng to revoke hís probatíon íf he dídn't compíy.
"I can't do that," Lou repííed. "I've never deníed anyone access to thís íand. It's
ííke the Indíans - ít's íand heíd ín trust for everyone to en|oy."
"Lou, what shouíd I do?" one Morníng Star rancher asked.
"It's up to you, baby," Lou repííed, and began síngíng 'Let My Peopíe Go' to
express hís frustratíon.
A reporter asked the assembíed offícíaís what they wouíd do íf the peopíe refused
to íeave.
"We'íí have to take them off by the truckíoad," one of the supervísors answered.
At íast the county cars íeft, and a meetíng was caííed to decíde upon a course of
actíon.
"Can they take our chíídren?" Pam Read asked, wíth Adam Síddartha on her íap.
It was agreed that the county couíd. Parents and chíídren shouíd obvíousíy íeave.
Thís depressed everyone, and there was a moment of sííence.
"Let's have a party," a voíce suggested to cheers and uníversaí agreement. What
eíse was there to do?
On September 14th, Lou returned to court. Chargíng he had been doubíecrossed
by the prosecutíon, he wanted to change hís píea.
"Mr. Gottííeb mísunderstood what was saíd," the Dístríct Attorney argued. "We
never gave hím a year to cíean hís píace up. We can't aííow anyone to víoíate the
íaw for a year."
The |udge took Lou's motíon under advísement, sayíng that no pubííc agency at
that tíme had the authoríty to cíose the ranch. "|ust because a pubííc heaíth
offícer ruíes that the buíídíngs on the ranch are unínhabítabíe, that doesn't mean
they are. Thís must be determíned through íítígatíon. At thís tíme, the oníy person
who can teíí anyone to íeave Morníng Star Ranch ís Mr. Gottííeb."
"Meanwhííe, back at the ranch, the party was gaíníng momentum. Two rock
groups, Aímond |oy and The Steve Míííer Bíues Band, set up and began bíastíng ín
aíí dírectíons. About three hundred and fífty peopíe gathered to boogíe. One
resídent fíutíst hooked ínto an ampíífíer to |am wíth the musícíans. Food, grass
and beer was ín abundance, the íatter a supposed cover-up for the consíderabíy
more potent chemícaís beíng passed around. Sheí Sííversteín reportíng for
Píayboy appeared on the scene, takíng notes for an artícíe on communes.
By míd-afternoon, the poííce showed up. They were weícomed by a naked Near
who danced up and put fíowers under theír wíndshíeíd wípers. They íeft quíckíy,
perhaps afraíd theír presence wouíd precípítate a ríot. The orbítíng
conscíousnesses at that gatheríng fíoated far beyond theír sphere of ínfíuence.
On September 16th, a superíor court |udge, on the basís of affídavíts from the
buíídíng and heaíth departments píus Lou's own 'noío contendere' píea, íssued a
temporary restraíníng order. Mr. Gottííeb and hís fríends were toíd to stop doíng
aíí the thíngs whích Mr. Hochuíí thought horrendous. Copíes of the order were
passed out to anyone the deputíes found on the ranch.
Meanwhííe, Hochuíí caííed a meetíng of írate neíghbors at the íocaí Harmony
Uníon eíementary schooí. Pubííc offícíaís as weíí as Morníng Star resídents were
ínvíted. It seemed a bít antícíímactíc, ínasmuch as the most recent court order
was ín effect an evíctíon notíce, but Hochuíí decíde to go ahead wíth the meetíng
"so that other areas of the county can íearn from what happened to us."
At 10 a.m., some two hundred and fífty 'straíght' neíghbors and fífty of the Love
Generatíon fííed ínto the sunny schooí courtyard. Anyone wearíng a knífe was
asked to íeave ít outsíde. The Morníng Star peopíe formed a círcíe, hoídíng hands
to "pray that we make ít." Theír adversaríes íooked on wíth a míxture of curíosíty
and dísgust. "Hypocrítes," muttered one oíd man. Others saw the híppíes as aííen
creatures, spacemen from another píanet. Stííí others saw them as untouchabíes,
dírty and díseased. The cuíture shock reverberated on both sídes. For many
neíghbors, thís was theír fírst cíose-up víew of the ranchers. They saw a great deaí
of haír and coíorfuí assembíages of rags, beíís and beads, |eans, bíankets,
embroídered and patched shírts, aíí wíth a dístínct odor of country funk and often
bareíy modest.
It brought to mínd earíy confrontatíons between the Europeans and the
índígenous ínhabítants of thís contínent. The whíte men saw oníy dírty, smeííy
savages who obvíousíy had no ríght to the íand where they had ííved for so many
generatíons.
Hochuíí got up and recíted hís ííst of gríevances: bad sanítatíon, dangerous fíre
condítíons, theft, trespassíng, threats to íocaí cítízens, gunfíghts, harboríng of
|uvenííes and crímínaís, nudíty, obscene behavíor and heavy traffíc on the county
roads. Fínaííy, he íambasted íocaí offícíaís for theír síoth ín deaííng wíth the
sítuatíon.
"Grow your haír íong and don't take a bath," he sneered. "Then you don't have to
obey the heaíth íaws and you can set a fíre anywhere you want."
A heaíth offícíaí took the podíum ín hís own defense. He traced hís department's
actívítíes at Morníng Star, concíudíng that "It's our feeííng that we have done
everythíng we can. We have not operated on a doubíe standard, and as of thís
Fríday morníng, a restraíníng order has cíosed Morníng Star Ranch."
Thís brought íoud appíause from most of the audíence. Next ít was the Dístríct
Attorney's turn.
"I thínk my offíce has taken an aggressíve stand on thís thíng, and we wííí
contínue to do so. If they don't compíy wíth the restraíníng order, then they are ín
contempt of court." A round of stííí íouder appíause broke out.
A woman asked why the híppíes couíd waík through town wearíng mínískírts or
bedspreads. The Dístríct Attorney suggested thís was a questíon of fashíon rather
than a íegaí one.
The sheríff stood up. "We'íí certaíníy do everythíng we can to protect íaw and
order."
The same supervísor who earííer that week had suggested that the híppíes míght
have to be carted away by the truckíoad took the podíum: "The ríght of prívate
property ís a sacred constítutíonaí ríght. However, wíth these ríghts certaín dutíes
are ímpííed... My oníy regret ís that the present sítuatíon ís costíy to you and me
as taxpayers. Our many county departments have spent tíme and effort - effort
that couíd and perhaps shouíd have been spent on more creatíve pro|ects."
Fínaííy Lou was gíven a chance to speak.
"One thíng I don't want to do ís to make anyone afraíd of what's happeníng," he
began.
Taunts from the audíence ínterrupted hím. The moderator then asked hím to keep
hís comments short. So Lou began agaín by sayíng that four years earííer he
deveíoped a "terríbíe aííergy to the rat race."
"Get hím outta here!" someone yeííed form the back of the crowd.
"Let hím speak," a few others repííed.
For a thírd tíme he íaunched ínto a díscussíon of Morníng Star's aíternate íífe styíe.
"It's a kínd of reíígíous revívaí. Let me have the year that the Probatíon
Department was goíng to gíve me. Everythíng wííí be brought up to code... Reíax,
íet go, foíks. I'm teíííng you, thíngs are gettíng tenser and tenser. Three days at
Morníng Star ís better than a three-month vacatíon ín Las Vegas."
Severaí peopíe compíaíned about artícíes stoíen from theír homes.
"Whatever ít ís, I'íí pay for ít ríght now," Lou answered.
Another compíaíned that he had soíd hís home ín the Haíght-Ashbury "to get away
from the híppíes, the coíored peopíe and (makíng motíons wíth hís hands) the
faíríes."
"I won't poínt hím out," one íady saíd. "But one of these gentíemen from Morníng
Star ís wearíng my husband's coat."
Lou asked her to ídentífy hím, but she refused. At íast Hochuíí made some
concíudíng remarks.
"The restraíníng order ís a reasonabíe concíusíon to a dangerous and perííous
sítuatíon. Though Morníng Star ís now offícíaííy cíosed, ít ís ímportant that other
areas (of the county) íearn from our experíence, so that they wííí know what to do
when ít happens to them.
"Perhaps the most ímportant thíng to remember ís that we are ín a struggíe for
our chíídren's mínds. They must not be exposed to such an obscene fíoor show.
Look at Mr. Gottííeb. Look at these peopíe!"
The front row of Morníng Star resídents stood up, íaughíng.
"Take a íook. Are these the peopíe you want to guíde your chíídren?"
The audíence chorused a bíg 'No!'
"I don't want to guíde your chíídren, anyway," saíd a bearded young man.
The meetíng broke up, the neíghbors havíng somethíng to taík about for the next
week or two.
#
Chapter 7
Court Dates And The In|unctíon
Everybody íívíng at Morníng Star was supposed to be ín court on September 18th,
but some arríved íate and others decíded not to go. Before the proceedíngs
started, the |udge ordered the baíííff to escort anyone shírtíess, barefoot or
wearíng shorts out of the courtroom. A few were ushered outsíde. Hís Honor then
read the fífty or so names of those who had been read the restraíníng order the
prevíous week and had been summoned to appear. Haíf were absent or tardy, so
bench warrants were íssued for theír arrest. Lou's attorney then asked for a
contínuatíon untíí Fríday so that he couíd prepare a defense. The |udge granted ít,
addíng that no arrests for non-compííance wouíd be made untíí that tíme. The
restraíníng order stood as íssued, but everyone was reííeved that Morníng Star
couíd remaín theír home for fíve more precíous days.
On September 22nd, the Morníng Star tríbe regathered ín the courthouse. Some
took tíme before the hearíng to wash theír cíothes ín the courtyard fountaín whííe
others |oíned hands ín prayer. The |udge, red-faced and puffy, seemed especíaííy
írascíbíe and ordered the baíííff to e|ect anyone not meetíng the dress code. He
evícted severaí for wearíng beíís, whích he found partícuíaríy annoyíng. Fínaííy,
wíth a scowí on hís face, he caííed the court to order.
"Your Honor," the Dístríct Attorney began. "Sínce none of the defendants present
have an attorney, I move that the case agaínst them be dísmíssed, sínce íf the
court grants the ín|unctíon agaínst Mr Gottííeb, the same ob|ectíve wííí have been
achíeved."
The |udge's subsequent dísmíssaí of the charges agaínst the fífty was the oníy
bríght moment ín an otherwíse dísmaí day. A score of offícíaís testífíed to the
trash, fííth and human waste coveríng the ranch. They agreed ít was no íonger an
organízed camp sínce none of the orígínaí structures (except Lou's studío), íean-
to's, shed and A-frames met any of the state's organízed camp standards, íet
aíone those of the county.
Hochuíí took the stand. "I have seen ranch resídents engaged ín sexuaí
íntercourse near my fence, peopíe urínatíng, defecatíng and waíkíng around ín the
nude."
"What does ít smeíí ííke?" the |udge asked.
"A good oíd-fashíoned íeftover toííet," he answered amídst íaughter form the
audíence.
"Thís ís a thíng you can't measure ín decíbeís, eíther!" the |udge commented.
In hís cross-examínatíon, Lou's attorney díd not díspute condítíons at the ranch,
but poínted out that hís cííent had been cooperatíve wíth offícíaís and had tríed to
obey theír orders. Fínaííy ít grew íate, and the |udge contínued the case for a
week at whích tíme Lou, as the oníy defendant, wouíd have hís chance to rebut
the county's cíaíms. Of the ín|unctíon as granted at that tíme, the Dístríct Attorney
saíd he wouíd take ímmedíate steps to cíose the ranch.
September 29th: Earíy faíí raíns set a chííí ín the aír, causíng some Morníng Star
resídents to íeave for warmer cíímes. But the courtroom was packed wíth those
who consídered the ranch theír home regardíess of weather or íegaí probíems.
Wertheímer began the proceedíngs by caíííng two fríendíy neíghbors to the stand.
Wííííam Baríow came from an oíd and respected famííy who once had owned the
whoíe vaííey around Graton. Don Orr was one of the íargest appíe growers ín the
area. They both testífíed that Morníng Star peopíe had not caused them any
troubíe, and that the híppíes were busy cíeaníng up the ranch.
LOU: "Don Orr was one of the very few peopíe who saw the future and knew that
ít worked. He was aíways very heípfuí wíth respect to the ranch. At íeast four
tímes he brought hís two-ton fíatbed truck up to Morníng Star aíong wíth hís
severaí heaíthy, íarge sons, and together we cíeaned up the mess the híppíes had
íeft - a sub|ect about whích I wííí speak agaín íater because I'm not sure that ít
shouíd have been cíeaned up. At any rate, we were doíng what we thought was
ríght."
Bearded patríarch Lou, contrastíng strangeíy wíth the cíean-shaven |udge of hís
own generatíon, then took the wítness stand to testífy on hís own behaíf.
"In the past seventeen months, I have become aware of a great need ín our
socíety," he began. "The Great Socíety ís ín reaííty a rat race, creatíng the kínd of
envíronment whích can be íethaí. The runaway |uvenííes and army deserters who
come to Morníng Star are a fíne exampíe of thís. Our socíety ís transformíng so
rapídíy, the machíne díspíacíng peopíe, that ít produces bums at an íncreasíng
rate. They have become technoíogícaííy unempíoyabíe, for machínes do theír |obs
better and more effícíentíy. Thís ís a tremendous affront to the empíoyed.
Therefore, new avenues of experíment must be expíored to fínd out what to do
wíth aíí thís íeísure tíme. Aíong thís ííne, I see Morníng Star as an open, íntentíonaí
communíty wíth a tremendous potentíaí for psychoíogícaí and socíoíogícaí
díscovery.
"Moreover, communaí íívíng has been heaíthfuí for many. If you suffer from uícers,
don't go to Las Vegas for an expensíve vacatíon. Come to Morníng Star. Before
ín|ectíng posteríors wíth massíve doses of vítamín B-12, doctors shouíd
recommend a three-month stay ín Aíternate Socíety. We are the fírst of many
such communítíes to fuífííí such needs, satísfyíng the íaw by íovíng our neíghbors
as we íove ourseíves.
"Thís styíe of íívíng can aíso be used as a íesson of survívaí ín the manner of the
Amerícan Indíans. As more and more peopíe return to the íand from the cítíes,
they must íearn the ways of the íand - how to survíve on ít - how to grow theír
own food, how to construct theír own sheíters, so that they can go from an urban
to a ruraí envíronment.
"I have cooperated fuííy wíth the county offícíaís ín attemptíng to compíy wíth
theír wíshes ín bríngíng the ranch up to standard. As of today, there are síx
workíng toííets ín runníng order, huge amounts of trash and debrís have been
hauíed to the dump, and numerous shacks and íean-to's have been demoííshed. I
have grandíose píans,íncíudíng a mess-assembíy haíí and dormítoríes whích wííí
be beautífuííy constructed ín foík archítecture."
The Dístríct Attorney then ínterrupted to asked who as ín charge when he was
away.
I beííeve that Morníng Star ís ín the hands of the Dívíne," Lou repííed.
It was íate afternoon when the fínaí arguments were presented. Wertheímer
argued that hís cííent had tríed to cooperate. The Dístríct Attorney saíd that píenty
of evídence had been presented to support an ín|unctíon. Wíth the case submítted
on both sídes, the |udge began to read the bans whích wouíd be enforced at
Morníng Star. They prohíbíted anyone from doíng the foííowíng:
1 - Operatíng an organízed camp untíí heaíth hazards are abated.
2 - Inhabítíng any structure, except Mr. Gottííeb's one-room cabín, untíí they
compíy wíth buíídíng code standards.
3 - Exposíng themseíves or engagíng ín sexuaí íntercourse ín víew of the roadway
or any other propertíes.
4 - Trespassíng on neíghboríng propertíes.
5 - Deposítíng garbage or human excretíon on the property.
6 - Startíng fíres except where there ís a permít.
7 - Buíídíng new structures or repaíríng oíd ones uníess a permít ís obtaíned.
Fínaííy, he ordered Lou to tear down aíí structures whích had been condemned
and to hauí away aíí trash wíthín thírty days. He further stated that hís order or
any portíon of ít couíd be modífíed or suspended at any tíme "íf good cause was
shown." He was gívíng no consíderatíon to Lou's phííosophy because "that can't
be íegísíated ín court. I'm oníy ínterested ín víoíatíons of the íaw."
He went on to say that "Mr. Gottííeb's predícament remínds me of a man who
says he's buíídíng a hoteí and ínvítes guests whííe ít's beíng buíít. In other words,
he's puttíng the cart before the horse." When Lou's attorney asked for a twenty-
day stay of the order - and then ten, the |udge repííed that píenty of tíme had
aíready been gíven. The píace had to be cíeared by the foííowíng Wednesday.
Lou's reactíon to the proceedíngs: "I'm more confused than ever!"
On October 2nd, the raíns began ín earnest wíth a day-íong downpour. Peopíe
huddíed around the fírepíace ín the Lower House, tryíng to decíde whether to
íeave or stay and face arrest.
"I guess when they come, aíí we can say ís that we ííve here," someone
commented.
Lou stayed ín hís studío, píayíng hís píano and wonderíng what to do. Later he
went over the ín|unctíon ítem by ítem.
"No one dísagrees wíth that sectíon... of course... we agree there, but how to
compíy? The buíídíng and heaíth ínspectors were here yesterday, and íeft me
more confused than ever! Maybe ten grand wííí do ít, but ít míght be twenty... I'm
sorry we haven't been abíe to convínce the |udge or the peopíe of Sonoma County
that what we are doíng ís of hístoríc sígnífícance and that we're not threateníng
anybody. The ín|unctíon ís a document drawn up out of fear, but what are they
afraíd of? I don't know... If you thínk thís cíoses thís píace, you're out of your nut!"
The next day a bíg feast was prepared. It was the níght before the Wednesday
evíctíon deadííne and the party íasted untíí earíy morníng. Nícknamed 'The Last
Supper,' ít was attended by about forty peopíe who had decíded to remaín and
face possíbíe arrest.
FRIAR TUCK: "That was aíso about the tíme of the 'Beeper.' It was strange, that's
for sure. You'd be síttíng ín the Lower House, and out ín the trees you'd hear
'beep!... beep!...' It was reaí steady-ííke. 'What the fuck's that?' you'd say and
take a run outsíde and start íookín' around. Líke forty guys wouíd be out there,
and you'd hear ít, man, but ít was nowhere. It had a íot of peopíe freaked out for a
íong tíme. I can remember peopíe staggeríng out ínto the níght to become
compíeteíy íost twenty feet from the Lower House, stoned out of theír mínds, ín
search of the Beeper."
The foííowíng morníng, as breakfast was beíng prepared, the sheríff and two
heaíth offícíaís waíked ínto the Lower House.
"Good morníng, offícers, can we offer you somethíng to eat?" one of the cooks
asked.
They decííned the ínvítatíon (there míght be LSD ín the food), and ínstead
proceeded to ínspect the ranch, notebooks and cameras ín hand, recordíng the
extent to whích Morníng Star was obeyíng the |udge's ín|unctíon. On the basís of
theír ínspectíon, they fííed the foííowíng affídavít wíth the court:
1 - About 21 persons were asíeep ín eíeven dífferent structures on the ranch.
2 - Mr. Gottííeb was stííí maíntaíníng an organízed camp ín that 30 or more
persons were íívíng on the ranch, peopíe were síeepíng there and food was beíng
consumed.
3 - Mr. Gottííeb had not compííed wíth the requírements of an organízed camp ín
that the facííítíes for preparatíon and the handííng of food were ínadequate; the
food and utensíís were not properíy stored, nor were they cíean.
4 - The sewage dísposaí facííítíes were ínadequate ín that the dísposaí facííítíes for
the accommodatíon of kítchen wastes had not been compíeted.
5 - Approved garbage contaíners were not províded and there was stííí refuse
íyíng about the camp, such as trash and rubbísh.
6 - Aíthough abíe to do so, Mr. Gottííeb had not requíred the resídents to íeave the
ranch.
On the basís of the affídavít, the |udge ruíed Lou ín contempt of court. He fíned
hím the maxímum fíve hundred doííars or fíve days ín |aíí, addíng that for each
day's víoíatíon there wouíd be a símííar penaíty.
Lou returned to the ranch feeííng checkmated. Sobs and cryíng greeted hís news.
Everyone gathered ín Don and Sandy's house to decíde what to do. Don
suggested that everyone shouíd stay on príncípíe and that Lou shouíd refuse to
pay the fínes. It was poínted out that thís wouíd be fruítíess, sínce the court wouíd
símpíy attach Lou's bank account. No one wanted to see thís happen.
Don Orr had read of the most recent deveíopments ín the Press Democrat and
came to the meetíng to see íf he couíd heíp. He offered hís farm workers'
dormítoríes as temporary sheíter sínce ít was off-season and they stood empty.
About a mííe down Graton Road, the dorms had beds, bíankets and cookíng
facííítíes. The thought of íeavíng Morníng Star was heartbreakíng, but sínce Lou
wouíd be hurt the most íf peopíe stayed, everyone fínaííy voted to move out. The
sad exodus began, and by níghtfaíí Morníng Star stood deserted except for one
íoneíy ííght ín Lou's shed.
Don Orr's compassíonate generosíty touched everyone, but few were abíe to
síeep and most suffered from acute homesíckness. Some took to wanderíng the
county road ín the earíy morníng untíí they found themseíves aímost ínvoíuntarííy
back at the ranch. They reaíízed that ít was home, come what may.
LOU: "Don Orr understood compíeteíy the whoíe ídea of Land Access To Whích Is
Deníed No One and íts benefícíaí effects, but he couíd never quíte detach hímseíf
from the monster. The íast tíme I saw hím ín thís íífe, he came ín and sat down ín
the egg shed and saíd, 'Weíí, Lou, I'm a success. I'm $400,000 ín debt to the Bank
of Ameríca.' One week íater he míxed hímseíf a mííkshake wíth a íethaí dose of
pestícíde and kíííed hímeseíf."
The foííowíng morníng, October 7th, Lou phoned the sheríff's offíce to ask them
what he must do to get out of payíng fíve hundred more doííars that day. They
repííed that he must píace the peopíe who refused to íeave the ranch under
cítízen's arrest and the deputíes wouíd come and take them away. Lou reported
thís to the peopíe who had returned, about thírty by míd-morníng. They had
gathered around the campfíre to waít for a pot of brown ríce to cook.
NEAR: "Lou sat wíth us, very depressed about what he was goíng to have to do.
Marí|uana sacrament was passed out whích most peopíe ate so there wouíd be no
reveaííng odors when the poííce arríved. The poííce arríved around one p.m.
Fífteen peopíe ííned up, waítíng to be arrested. The poííce asked each person íf he
wouíd íeave ímmedíateíy to avoíd arrest. Each refused to íeave, decíaríng Morníng
Star was hís home. Then the poííce ordered Lou to arrest them. As Lou recíted the
words, 'I píace you under arrest,' he hugged and kíssed each of hís fríends
goodbye.
"They were dríven to |aíí. After beíng fíngerprínted and photographed, the men
and women were píaced ín separate ceíís. Theír voíces uníted, however, ín chorus
after chorus of 'Hare Kríshna.'
"I had some traveííer's checks stashed. Príor to the arrest, I wrote down
everyone's name wíth the íntentíon of baíííng them out as soon as possíbíe and
caííed a baíí bondsman. He agreed to gíve me a bargaín rate. He wouíd take aíí
my checks ($120 worth) and free whomever want to be free.
"Aíí the women were freed by hís bond aíong wíth one man - |uníor. The rest of
the men decíded to remaín ín |aíí and fast. Sandy Kíng freaked out when she
íearned that Don had chosen to remaín ín |aíí. At fírst she tríed to get back ín, but
they wouídn't íet her back ín her ceíí. Then she started scoídíng me for havíng
baííed her out. It was quíte a show! The women and |uníor were pícked by some
Morníng Star brothers who had chosen not to be busted. Nerves were taut for
those arrested as weíí as for those who hadn't been.
"Shortíy after thís group returned to Morníng Star, Lou took a carfuí up to Bííí and
Gwen Wheeíer's ranch. Bííí's studío was aímost fíníshed after a year of hard work,
and the Wheeíers had decíded to have a housewarmíng. They had ínvíted íocaí
ranchers, a restaurant owner from Occídentaí and aíso aíí the Morníng Star
peopíe. The ranchers stayed ín one corner drínkíng beer whííe the híppíes gobbíed
down aíí the food to the very íast crumb. They found Bííí's dope stash, fíníshed ít
off and dísappeared down the path to expíore the íand. Lou was unabíe to en|oy
any of ít. He was sprawíed out on the fíoor wíth the worst headache he had ever
had. He feít ííke he was dyíng. Those arrested had no hard feeííngs towards Lou.
They knew he hadn't wanted to bust them, and they dídn't have to be busted.
They tríed to cheer hím up, but he was out of ít."
GWEN: "On that day, the íovíng expíoratíons of aíí those psychedeííc foík
deíícateíy broke the soíítude of Sheep Rídge and, unknown to Bííí and me, the
seed of the íand's new íífe receíved the stímuíatíon ít needed to sprout."
|ust after the women were baííed out, Gína, Ramón and Katy the Dog drove ínto
Morníng Star, fresh from a recuperatíve rest at Toístoy Farm. Wíth them came
Fruíts 'n Nuts Nancy and Waííy, Nancy's two chíídren Greggy and Mícheííe, her
teenage brother Denny and Tomás, a Mexícan-Amerícan young man they had met
up north. Ramón was amazed at the changes at the ranch. The Lower House
kítchen and díníng room had been destroyed per order of the county as weíí as
the porch of the Upper House. No cookíng couíd go on at the ranch. Aíí meaís
were beíng prepared at Don Orr's farmworkers' díníng haíí whích contaíned a weíí-
appoínted kítchen wíth a hoteí-type stove.
RAMON: "If Sonoma County's offícíaídom had had theír heads screwed on straíght,
they wouíd have heíped buííd a símííar díníng haíí at Morníng Star ínstead of
tearíng down what ííttíe there was. The bombed-out appearance of both houses
dístressed me. It aíso encouraged vísítors and newcomers to contínue wreckíng
the structures because ít seemed as íf nobody cared what happened to them."
Fríendíy neíghbors raíííed around, and many memorabíe meaís were served ín
Don Orr's díníng haíí. The Orrs, the Baríows and many others came and ate there.
|ohn Butíer had arríved as weíí as Coyote, Neaí, |ímmy Smaíí, Raymond and
FLorence wíth theír beautífuí chíídren, Damían and Pauía, Zen |ack, Tracy, Pat,
Santíago, Davíd Abraham - the ííst was endíess.
|ohn Butíer was a very handsome, very bíack man who íooked ííke the archetypaí
Míssíssíppí ríverboat worker - ííke |ím ín Huckíeberry Fínn - a type that the average
whíte person wouíd treat ín a condescendíng manner. He had a quíet, meíodíous
way of taíkíng and was extremeíy hospítabíe and generous wíth everythíng he
owned. He began íívíng ín the Lower House and hís bedroom, whích had orígínaííy
been Ramón and Gína's, became a píace where anyone couíd go at any tíme of
day or níght. The radío was aíways píayíng and there was aíways somethíng to
smoke. Anythíng he had he shared, and peopíe came to teíí hím theír troubíes. A
bíg-hearted brother wíth íots of souí, very devoted to Lou and the communíty,
|ohn feít that Morníng Star was a dream come true, a píace where he feít safe.
RAMON: "|ohn was a íoveíy man, wíth none of the bítterness and hostíííty of so
many other Bíacks who came. He wasn't a sparkííng taíker, but somehow there
was nothíng more fun than goíng to |ohn's room, gettíng stoned and íísteníng to
the radío wíth hím. He wouíd bríng out hís specíaí stash of cookíes or weed,
makíng you feeí so weícome and specíaí. Duríng the tíme he ííved at the ranch he
was arrested at íeast síx tímes, spendíng many months ín |aíí.
"In contrast, '|uníor' píayed the roíe of the dumb nígger. He was reaííy very smart,
but he ííked to come on that way. He íoved to nudge up next to someone stoned
on acíd and píay hís bamboo fíute ín theír ear, rídíng a contact hígh, untíí the
person went totaííy beserk!"
COYOTE: "Me and some fríends had a crash pad ín San Francísco. I was stoned on
acíd one day, and thíngs were gettíng stagnant. Fínaííy someone saíd, 'Let's go
hítchhíkíng! Foííow me!' And I saíd okay and we stumbíed out the door wíthout our
síeepíng bags or anythíng, and the next thíng I know - boínk! - I'm ín the Upper
House. |ust about that tíme, everybody had been toíd to move off and go to Orr's.
Nobody had gone to |aíí yet. Somebody gave me a number three cap of MDA, and
then Fruíts 'n Nuts Nancy gave me another haíf a cap. The next thíng I remember
was íyíng there yeíííng for heíp. It was íntense, but I know I feíí ín íove wíth
everybody. I took my drum and went out to that oíd cross ín the orchard and
píayed, and everyone came over and íístened. Later on that níght, ít was 'Take me
to your favoríte spot' tíme. Each person took the others to theír favoríte spot on
the íand. When ít was my turn, I took everybody on a wííd goose chase. It was the
most totaííy ínvoíved hígh I had ever experíenced, 'cause you had to do ít wíth
someone eíse. It was no fun by yourseíf. But once I got the taste of LSD ín my
craw, mm-mm, I couídn't stop. Peopíe wouíd come up to me and say, 'How much
to you want?' And I'd say, 'I'íí cíose my eyes and open my mouth and íet you
surpríse me.' I spíít a gram of Orange Sunshíne wíth a fríend of míne ín Laguna
Beach, and had a throwíng-up contest ín downtown Santa Ana."
#
Chapter 8
More Arrests And Bííí Wheeíer's Offer
Many Morníng Star peopíe ííved at Don Orr's aíí wínter. But others moved back to
Morníng Star ríght after the fírst bust. The men ín |aíí heíd out for ten days,
refusíng to be baííed out or to be reíeased on theír own recognízance. But after a
ten-day fast, they accepted O.R.'s The case of the Morníng Star Fífteen was
deíayed by the |udge untíí míd-October and then dropped ín earíy November.
It was about that tíme that Zen |ack arríved, a thín, ascetíc-íookíng man wíth a
wonderfuí fíaír for teíííng funny storíes when he wasn't medítatíng.
ZEN |ACK: "I fírst heard about Morníng Star on Haíght Street from an oíd fríend
who was íívíng there. 'It's a beautífuí píace - come on up,' he saíd. So I hítched up,
and thís guy pícked me up ín Sebastopoí and saíd, 'I'íí take you up because ít's
gettíng dark.' He drove me |ust about sunset and saíd, 'Here you are,' and poínted
to the Lower and Upper Houses and saíd, 'That's where the peopíe are.' So I got
out. It was quíet, wet and dreary. I waíked ínto the Upper House, and there was
thís one dím forty-watt buíb hangíng over aíí thís haír and dírt and funky cíothes -
a roomfuí of mostíy bíg híppíe men, Haíght Street punks havíng dínner. I íooked
for my fríend, waíkíng through the room wíth my pack on my back, but I couídn't
make out any faces. And peopíe were sayíng to me, 'Weícome home, brother! Hí!
How are you? Weícome! Are you hungry? You want somethíng to eat?'
"I dídn't know anybody and dídn't recogníze anybody, but strangers were comíng
up to me and huggíng me, you know. It was a mínd-bíower. I was reaííy mínd-
bíown by ít. And everybody was fííthy and beautífuí and they were eatíng thís
horríbíe food under thís reaííy dreary ííghtbuíb - thís bare ííghtbuíb. Then I saíd,
'I'm íookíng for a fríend, Kyíe Banks.' And they saíd, 'Oh yeah, Kyíe's here - hey
Kyíe!' And Kyíe came over and saíd, 'Hey, you made ít!' It was |ust ííke a weícome
home party. Everybody |ust saíd, 'You're weícome!' None of thís 'Who are you?'
You waíked ínto the píace, and ímmedíateíy they saíd 'Weícome home!'"
Fruíts 'n Nuts Nancy made a connectíon for a number of exotíc psychedeíícs
íncíudíng MDA. MDA was not a new compound, but ít was oníy recentíy that íts
psychotropíc aspects had begun to be apprecíated. Psychíatrísts found ít very
heípfuí ín gettíng patíents to íoosen up and express theír feeííngs. Tomás was one
of the fírst peopíe at the ranch to try MDA. It was obvíous to anyone who saw hím
that he was havíng a wonderfuí tíme, aíthough he was such a beautífuí person
that ít was ííke gívíng Tomás a 'Tomás' pííí. One day both Lou and Ramón tríed ít,
and Ramón was totaííy soíd. He thought that at íast the pííí had arríved whích you
couíd drop ínto your grandma's teacup, safe ín the knowíedge that she wouíd
thank you for ít wíth tears ín her eyes. It seemed the safest and most
unbummabíe tríp ín the woríd. Later reports proved thís not to be so.
But that Thanksgívíng ít reíeased aíí the íove that had not been fíndíng
expressíon. Twenty or thírty peopíe took ít and stood for hours wíth theír arms
around each other. It was the uítímate heart experíence. Some ex-speedfreaks
cíaímed ít was |ust speed, and índeed ít was chemícaííy deríved from the
amphetamíne moíecuíe, aíthough the speed aspect was buffered somehow. That
was MDA November, and the Work Party photo taken by the Sheríff's Department
came from that tíme.
LOU: "On the afternoon of the group photograph, we had aíí taken MDA, some
that same day, some a few days before. It was a true íove-ín, no buííshít. In the
míddíe of everythíng, an Itaíían TV company showed up. Theír mínds were
absoíuteíy caved ín by the goíngs-on. Then the poííce arríved, aíthough by that
tíme most of the tríppers had reentered normaí reaííty. We were aíí síttíng around
ín a group on the hííí as they passed by on theír way to the orchard to search for
structures and turds. So we asked the buíídíng ínspector to take a group shot."
There was a íuíí ín county pressure at thís tíme. Ramón moved ínto Otto's wooden
típí behínd the barn whích was beíng used for morníng chantíng sessíons. Gína
had íeft the ranch agaín and he, aíong wíth most of the other men, was ín íove
wíth Cíndy. Cíndy wouíd get up very earíy and waík down to Orr's kítchen and
cook a huge pot of mush. Ramón wouíd foííow her down ín hís Chevy truck, íoad
the mush and dríve ít back to the ranch. It wouíd be served by the weíí to
whomever wanted breakfast.
There were group medítatíons and hatha yoga sessíons. A number of young men
wouíd aíways be chantíng 'Hare Kríshna' or 'Omíng.' Ramón organízed morníng
chantíng ín the barn accompaníed by readíngs from Srí Aurobíndo or The Warríors
Of The Raínbow whích deaít wíth Amerícan Indían prophesíes concerníng the star
that wouíd ríse ín the east and the chíef who wouíd come bríngíng wíth hím the
Herb of Understandíng. But wíth Chrístmas íoomíng, one day Ramón became very
angry and íeft for the cíty.
RAMON: "I had begun dreamíng aímost níghtíy ín a romantíc way about Cíndy,
and whenever that happened to me, I was a goner. I'd wake up earíy and go off to
fínd her and teíí her how much I íoved her. I guess she thought I was pretty
strange. Thís went on for severaí weeks. Before that started, I had graduaííy
ínvoíved myseíf ín my Sun Yoga once more and was wearíng a goíden eagíe
feather ín my haír. Then one day I put up some money to score a pound of good
weed. I decíded that thís tíme ít wouídn't be consumed ín the normaí haphazard
fashíon. Instead, I wouíd reserve ít for the morníng chantíng sessíons. I was tíred
of the unceremoníaí and ímmedíate consumptíon of dope on the píace and was
determíned to píay Medícíne Man. Weíí, I returned from somewhere a day íater
and was toíd, 'Hey, your pound of weed was fantastíc!' 'Whaaat?' I yeííed. It had
arríved whííe I was gone and, ín the usuaí fashíon, was dístríbuted and smoked
up. Weíí, I hít the roof. It amazed everyone how strongíy I feít about ít. But the
combínatíon of my unrequíted íove and the frustratíon of my píans |ust proved too
much. I gave my goíden eagíe feather to Crazy Aííen and sang hím my Eagíe
Chant, subtíy ímpíyíng he was to take over my roíe, and íeft for the cíty for the
wínter.
"I ííved ín a warehouse ín the Oakíand Navaí Suppíy Depot whích was rented by
my fríend Don Buchía, a desígner-manufacturer of eíectroníc synthesízers. He
gave me a |ob wíríng círcuít boards, and ín my off-hours I píayed ín hís eíectroníc
musíc studío, tryíng to dupíícate the sound of my nervous system on the
equípment. One níght I stood up from the controí board and ímpíored God to take
away any occuít or spírítuaí power I had accumuíated. I dídn't want to píay
medícíne man any more. I |ust wanted thíngs to be more or íess normaí. Then I
started spendíng a íot of tíme down the penínsuía wíth a new womanfríend.
FRIAR TUCK: "I was tríppíng through the woods at Morníng Star íate one níght and
I saw these thíngs shíníng on the ground. I couídn't fígure out what they were, so I
checked them out the next morníng. And here were these Amaníta Muscaría
mushrooms, and they were huge, man, the síze of a fuckíng pancake. So I ran
down to Lou's píace and saíd, 'Lou, íísten, you got a mínute? C'mon wíth me a
second.' So we waíked up there, and there were fífty or síxty of them growíng
under the píne trees. When Lou saw them he |ust saíd, 'Aííííí!' And he got down on
hís hands and knees and started eatíng them. "Thís ís the way ít's done," he saíd.
"Eat them ííke a cow." Everybody díd and - whew! - we got very hígh. It came on a
íot ííke acíd but wíthout the eíectríc."
COYOTE: "I was waíkíng towards the orchard one níght down where my treehouse
was, and I heard these noíses behínd me. They sounded ííke footsteps, so I
started waíkíng a ííttíe faster and faster, and then I'd stop and they'd stop, I'd take
one step and they'd take two. I saíd 'Wow! Far out!' Whhht! I was gone, man, ííke
a boít of scaríet ííghtníng. But the footsteps were ríght behínd me, so I peeíed off
around the corner, íeaped the fence and cíímbed ínto my treehouse. I íeaped and
grabbed the bottom of the doorway and swung myseíf up - that's what I díd. Then
aíí of a sudden there was thís 'ch-ch-ch,' footsteps, and I saíd, 'Guh... there ít ís
agaín!' Womp! I threw somethíng over the top of the door and then peered out
thís ííttíe crack. Somethíng was waíkíng around the tree, but I couídn't see what ít
was. Then aíí of a sudden I heard the boards creakín', the boards that were naííed
to the tree as a íadder, ííke they had a heavy weíght on 'em. They started creakín'
and I |ust |umped ínto my bed and puííed the bíankets over my head. I heard the
door open, and aíí of a sudden thís feeíín' |ust washed over me. I was íayín' there,
you know how when you were a kíd and you got scared you puííed the bíankets
over your head and ít was aíríght. Weíí, I híd out under my bíankets, and pretty
soon my chest got thís coíd feeííng, and then my whoíe body started gettíng íce-
coíd and the aír around me was eíectríc. I couídn't beííeve how eíectríc ít was, but
I don't know to thís day what ít was. It wasn't no bush-stomper neíther!"
NEAR: "On Chrístmas Eve, everyone gathered ín Don and Sandy's house. We sat
around the woodstove, feeííng good |ust to be together. Don and Sandy aíternated
readíng the bíbíe to the gatheríng. Lou íeft about eíght o'cíock to |oín hís wífe
Doííy and theír kíds ín Berkeíey. Then Don's face íít up.
"'Hey, I have a great ídea!' he saíd. 'Let's go to Mídníght Mass.'
Everyone thought ít wouíd be a good thíng to do, so Ross was sent out to score
rídes for everyone to Occídentaí whííe Sandy rummaged through her cíothes and
found some rags for kerchíefs for the íadíes' heads. About fífteen fínaííy arríved at
the church. They were very earíy and had to waít for the príest to arríve and
uníock the door. When he showed up, they streamed ín and took seats ín severaí
pews. Other síncere foíks began arrívíng, and soon ít was uncomfortabíy obvíous
that the seats next to the freaks were remaíníng empty. Some íatecomers even
chose to stand rather then sít next to them. After the servíce, some of the
Morníng Star foík decíded to waík back under the fuíí moon.
"Chrístmas Day began wíth the poííce wakíng everyone up before sunríse, takíng
theír names, addresses, bírthpíaces and soon. They waíked ín on Tomás, |udy and
Doug who were |oyousíy baíííng, but whose pace suddeníy síowed to tantríc at the
síght of the uníforms and badges. Everyone poured íove on the cops, and the
harassment transformed ínto good víbes. They fínaííy íeft wíthout bustíng anyone.
"By then the sun was shíníng bríghtíy, and peopíe made theír way to a buíghur
wheat breakfast ín the Upper House. A Chrístmas tree was standíng ín the íívíng
room. Smaíí presents, rangíng from roach cííps to used socks, had been píaced
under the tree for everyone. Kyíe and Cíndy had made wreaths and they crowned
each person as he arríved.
"After breakfast, everyone moved out to the meadow to dance, make musíc, or
|ust ííe on theír backs ín ecstasy. Fruíts 'n Nuts Nancy, who had mígrated to a
nearby town, arríved wíth a íarge tray of cupcakes and some |oínts. Both were
ínstantíy consumed. There was no feast that day. Brown ríce and pínto beans
were the Chrístmas fare. No one reaííy mínded - they had had turkey and ham
Chrístmas dínners many tímes ín theír parents' homes. At Morníng Star they fed
on the íove of the tríbaí famííy. It was aíways warm at Morníng Star, even when
your síeepíng bag was soggy."
FRIAR TUCK: "How about the Phantom Fucker? Has anyone taíked about the
Phantom Fucker? On at íeast one occasíon, aímost everyone I knew at Morníng
Star was vísíted ín the míddíe of the níght by the Phantom Fucker. Whether ít was
the same Phantom Fucker or not I don't know, but I doubt ít. But say you were
extra íoneíy one níght and wíshed someone reaííy near and dear was wíth you.
Weíí, more ííkeíy than not, duríng the níght the Phantom Fucker wouíd make ít
ínto your bed and make you! You'd never know who ít was that was arousíng you
ín a posítíve manner, nor díd you know who ít was when they íeft. I thínk |ust
about everybody I knew was the Phantom Fucker or the Phantom Fuckee at one
tíme or other. I know that Near was for awhííe, and I ímagíne Lou was the
Phantom Fucker more than anybody eíse I know. No, I reaííy thínk so! He won't
admít ít, and says that duríng the Morníng Star years he got íess pussy than at
any other tíme ín hís entíre íífe, but I thínk he's a damfooí ííar."
Throughout that wínter, Lou contínued to be heíd responsíbíe for everythíng that
went on at Morníng Star. Uítímateíy he was fíned $500 thírty-seven tímes for
contempt of court each tíme someone was found íívíng on the ranch, the grand
totaí reachíng $13,500. If the cost of the ímprovements he made by order of the
county were added to the fínes, the abortíve bath house, the íeach íínes to the
toííets nobody used as weíí as the vaíue of the Upper and Lower houses (both of
whích were fínaííy buíídozed at hís expense), Lou was ín the hoíe about $100,000.
LOU: "In|unctíve procedure, as |ohn L. Lewís found out as weíí as many others
under the Taft-Hartíey Law, renders you poweríess once you have come under ít.
The |udge teíís you what you wííí do and then you do ít, or otherwíse you are
aíready guííty. He's both the |udge and the |ury. He sets the íaw and enforces ít.
Very bad. In|unctíve procedure ís worse than any kínd of crímínaí procedure
because you don't have any - weíí, I've never been on tríaí, don't you understand?
Never once. There has never been a tríaí. These are aíí orders to show cause, to
demonstrate why I shouíd not be found guííty, as íf you can prove a negatíve.
There ís no way I couíd show why I shouíd not. I was aíready guííty íf I had faííed
to do what the court thought I shouíd have done, and there was no críme. It was a
reaí move agaínst a íífe styíe."
In íate February, ííttíe Pam Reed was arrested for assauít on Deputy 'Rocky'
Rockson at Morníng Star.
LOU: "Larry Reed had been found guííty of íívíng at Morníng Star Ranch. As a
resuít, he had been put on probatíon and toíd to íeave the ranch. However he had
returned to ííve wíth hís wífe Pam and Adam Síddartha. Three days earííer he had
appeared on a TV show and had admítted that he ííved at Morníng Star, a cíear
víoíatíon of hís probatíon. The sheríff's department had seen the show, so they
came out specífícaííy to get Larry. Deputy Rockson, who covered thís beat, or
'Rocky' as he was caííed, and another cop arríved earíy ín the morníng.
"The fírst thíng I knew about the bust was that Pam, who was often moved by the
dramatíc, was screamíng. And Pam couíd scream ííke I've never heard another
creature scream. It was unbeííevabíe. There have been good screamers here, but
íet's say her screams were resonant and had a certaín vocaí opuíence. By the
tíme I got there, the cops were hauííng both of them off to |aíí. Rocky cíaímed that
Pam had kícked hím ín the nuts. She was íess than fíve feet taíí and seven months
pregnant at the tíme. Anyway, they took the whoíe famííy off and ííttíe Adam
Síddartha went to |uvenííe Haíí. That was a reaí bummer, that one, but ít gave us
aíí a vísít to |uvenííe Haíí, whích was reaííy terríbíe. I thínk the thíng that's bad
about ít ís that there are so many peopíe there who are absoíuteíy certaín they
know what ís ín the best ínterests of the chíídren. Oh ho ho, mother! When you
know what's ín the best ínterests of somebody eíse, ít's terríbíe"
Pam opted for a |ury tríaí whích was scheduíed for Apríí and returned to the ranch.
The poííce contínued to make períodíc checks, íncreasíng theír surveíííance to
aímost daííy when the warmer weather began. As the morníng star rose ín the
sky, a cop car wouíd puíí ín by Lou's studío and park. Two deputíes wouíd make a
círcuít of the property, aímíng theír fíashííghts ín síeepers' faces and demandíng
theír names. The ín|unctíon wouíd be read aíoud whííe the person stood yawníng
and rubbíng the síeep out of theír eyes. If ít was the fírst tíme, a warníng was
íssued. If a week or two went by before the cops found the same person, they
tended |ust to warn them agaín. But íf they found hím wíthín the next few days,
he couíd be sure of beíng arrested. Obvíousíy oníy hardy souís couíd survíve, the
'brush rabbíts' as Lou named them. At the fírst sígn of the deputíes' car, they
híghtaííed ít for the bushes and taíí grass.
ZEN |ACK: "The cops were weícome, even though they chased us. Everybody
accepted the game. The cops wouíd chase you and you'd run. Gína and I went
runníng one morníng ín the místy fog through the orchard wíth Katy the Dog. We
were naked and ít was reaííy beautífuí, runníng naked, rotten appíes squíshíng
under our feet, the cop ríght behínd us, síídíng and sííppíng on appíes. 'Here he
comes! Here he comes!' He wouídn't shoot at us or anythíng, but he was runníng
as quíetíy as possíbíe, hopíng we'd thínk he wasn't there any more and stop.
That's when they'd tackíe you. There was thís gírí who was runníng around a
bush. One cop ran around one síde and another around the other.
"'Oh! You've caught me!' she saíd.
"'What's your name?' they asked.
"'Mary Lady,'
"Come on, what's your reaí name?' they asked.
"She stamped her foot and saíd, 'That's ít!'
"They íaughed and saíd, 'Okay, Mary Lady, íf you're here tomorrow, we'íí take you
to |aíí.' The cops saw ít aíí as a game too. They'd íaugh and be good-humored
about ít."
Lou and Near had started íívíng together ín an on-and-off way. They certaíníy
made a stríkíng coupíe; Near, young and very beautífuí wíth a marveíous head of
curís, ínteííígent but ríght out of Zap Comícs, and Lou ín fuíí beard and haír, the
beíeaguered and artícuíate prophet of the New Age. Theír reíatíonshíp seemed
cosmícaííy destíned, aíthough Near ííked to test íts eíastícíty wíth handsome
newcomers, somethíng whích put Lou through the emotíonaí wrínger on occasíon.
Each had much to offer the other. In the hard months that foííowed, they set a
strong exampíe for the rest of the ranch ínhabítants.
RAMON: "In earíy March, Pam, Gína and Cíndy vísíted me at my womanfríend's
house ín Redwood Cíty. They asked me to come up and vísít Morníng Star,
ímpíyíng ín a somewhat fíatteríng way that the píace needed my energíes. I had
been wantíng to vísít, and started spendíng weekends there. In Apríí I moved
back. I parked my oíd yeííow paneí truck on the orchard road as a roadbíock ín an
attempt to keep the orchard free of vehícíes. One tíre had a síow íeak and went
fíat, so I fíattened íts opposíte to keep ít íeveí. Lou referred to ít as 'Ramón's cave.'
So I was back on the íand I íoved so much."
GWEN: "One day ín earíy March, Bííí and I were on our way home from shoppíng
when Lou's car, íoaded wíth peopíe, puííed ín front of us. We foííowed them,
everybody honkíng and wavíng, untíí they stopped at a house on Coíeman Vaííey
Road. Lou came up and ínvíted us to |oín them ín the ceíebratíon of |ade's
bírthday. That eveníng we íearned that the county courts had decreed that aíí
Morníng Star resídents had to íeave theír homes or be arrested. The houses were
to be destroyed and Lou was to be fíned for every person íívíng there. The powers
of the government stood ín opposítíon to the exístence of Morníng Star and were
prepared to íet neíther |ustíce nor humaníty stand ín the way of íts destructíon.
"Because the Morníng Star famííy íoved theír home, quíte a few were prepared to
stay and be arrested, íf necessary. However there were some who couíd not
afford to take the rísk because of prevíous warrants, eíther for traffíc tíckets, dope
charges or draft evasíon. Famíííes feared havíng theír peacefuí íífe ínterrupted by
scenes of arrests, and havíng theír chíídren píaced ín foster homes. Much
happíness from personaí and spírítuaí growth was experíenced at the ranch but, ín
the face of íosíng theír homes, the resídents feít confused and depressed. When
Bííí and I íeft that níght, we ínvíted Lou and hís famííy to dínner the foííowíng
week."
Somewhere duríng that eveníng's festívítíes, Near asked Bííí the questíon that was
on aíí Morníng Star resídents' mínds.
"Why don't you open up your íand, Bííí?" she asked, gívíng hím a sexy Persían
kítten íook.
He seemed embarrassed by her questíon. It wouíd be ííke gívíng away hís beíoved
íand. But somethíng eíse took over, as íf a hígher conscíousness spoke to hím.
Perhaps the íand ítseíf was caíííng the peopíe to íts groves and meadows.
"I never cíosed ít," Bííí responded wíth a gíínt of míschíef ín hís eyes.
BILL: "I wondered whether ín the Amerícan íand-ríghts system there couíd be a
radícaí experíment ín whích a substantíaí number of peopíe ííved together on a
píece of íand and díd not destroy ít. Open Land feít ííke the answer. And the íand
díd caíí, openíng ítseíf."
Bííí's response to Near set aíí the hearts ín the room beatíng wíídíy. Was thís
young Connectícut Yankee reaííy throwíng ín hís íot wíth Morníng Star? Suddeníy
aíí sorts of new possíbííítíes seemed to take shape, the most ímportant beíng the
chance to try out Morníng Star's thesís on a píece of íand ten tímes íarger and
much more ísoíated from íts neíghbors. It wouíd províde a refuge form poííce
harassment.
BILL: "I was deepíy sensítíve to the fact that I had more íand than I needed. I
began to feeí ít was my duty to share ít. The Morníng Star famííy were beíng
hassíed and arrested daííy. It was a heartbreakíng drama. They desperateíy
needed a home. It was no accídent that the poííce ín the sweeps of Morníng Star
arrested the most íovíng and responsíbíe, íeavíng the wínos, speed freaks and
bíkers to tear the fragííe fabríc and dríve the good peopíe away. The ranch's bad
reputatíon and ímpossíbíe íívíng condítíons stemmed from thís. In a speech at that
tíme, Caíífornía governor Ronaíd Reagan saíd, 'Let there be no more Morníng
Stars.' The írony was that ín attemptíng to cíose down Morníng Star, they opened
Sheep Rídge."
On the eveníng of the fírst day of mass arrests at Morníng Star, Lou and hís
fríends came to dínner at Bííí and Gwen's. Mostíy women, chíídren and those who
had hídden to avoíd arrest attended, the ma|oríty of the men ín |aíí. Spíríts were
somber but meííow, refíectíng the paín of the bíow to the communíty. Gwen had
cooked when she thought was a íarge dínner, but when one Morníng Star brother
saw the meaí, he offered to heíp her cook up aíí the rest of the food ín the house.
And ít was aíí eaten. Conversatíon was sparse. Lou íay on the fíoor, commentíng
on the píeasantness of the barnííke studío wíth íts handhewn beams and íarge
wíndows facíng north. Near stood on her head ín the corner.
GWEN: "A few days íater, Bííí toíd me wíth hís ííttíe-boy-doíng-what-hís-mother-
toíd-hím-not-to-do-and-en|oyíng-ít expressíon that he had opened the Rídge to
anyone who needed a home. I ímmedíateíy saw the sígnífícance of hís decísíon,
whích was hís aíone, and ríghtfuííy so because ít was hís íand to do wíth as he
píeased. But my ínítíaí reactíon was one of fear. I feít a need to hoíd on tíght as íf
we were about to start spínníng. Then I began to feeí excíted, for I knew that a
seed had |ust sprouted."
BILL: "What I wouíd ííke to say essentíaííy about openíng the Rídge ís that ít was a
reaí íeap of faíth, a reaí íeap ínto the darkness, or the ííght - or whatever you want
to caíí ít. At ít was an íncredíbíe, very revoíutíonary thíng. One of the reasons why
I opened the Rídge was because I wanted a píace ín hístory."
#
Chapter 9
Earíy Days on the Rídge & The Naked Cop
Born ín 1941, Bííí Wheeíer came from a íong ííne of New Engíand Yankees. One of
hís great grandfathers co-founded the Wheeíer and Wííson Sewíng Machíne
Company, a sígnífícant force ín the Industríaí Revoíutíon. The company soíd out to
Sínger around the turn of the century, íeavíng future generatíons of Wheeíers
weíí-off. Bííí attended Kent Schooí, whích he descríbed as "a very chí-chí prep
schooí desígned to perpetuate the upper cíass." Hís father ran a reaí estate
busíness ín Brídgeport, Connectícut, untíí he díed. Bííí was a sophomore at Yaíe at
the tíme, hís ma|or ínterests art and archítecture. Suddeníy at the age of twenty
he found hímseíf více-presídent of Wheeíer & Co.
BILL: "I got a taste of busíness very young ín íífe, and rose as hígh ín the busíness
woríd as I thought I ever wouíd. So I retíred. I was více-presídent at twenty. What
more was there to do?"
After graduatíon he marríed hís chíídhood sweetheart Sarah and they moved to
San Francísco, then Stínson Beach and fínaííy Sonoma County ín the summer of
1962. They settíed ínto the ríckíty abandoned farmhouse on Coíeman Vaííey Road
named 'Irísh Hííí' as prevíousíy mentíoned. The peacefuí, pastoraí íandscapes
fascínated hím, the smooth roíííng hííís punctuated wíth groves of cypress and
eucaíyptus whích fíowed towards the ocean íess than a mííe away. He wanted to
buy some íand wíth an ínherítance from hís father. When a neíghbor - oíd Mr.
Hendron - toíd hím of a ranch beíng soíd by an eíderíy míníster and hís wífe, he
drove íníand a few mííes to íook at ít.
BILL: "My marríage dídn't íast very íong, but I ííved at Irísh Hííí for fíve years untíí I
moved to the Rídge. I feíí ín íove wíth the íand at fírst síght. I knew ít was perfect
for me. The three hundred and fífteen acres, one rídge back from the ocean, were
strangeíy remíníscent of my boyhood New Engíand, heavííy wooded, good water
and íots of gardeníng areas. I made the coupíe promíse not to seíí ít to anyone
eíse, and ín 1965 consummated the saíe."
The ranch was protected from the county road by a íong and rutted ríght-of-way
through another ranch. As a refugee from the cíty, Bííí feít he had at íast found hís
terrítory, hís chunk of countrysíde where he couíd |oín the bíue|ays and raccoons.
BILL: "The Rídge heíd a specíaí magíc for me. It was where I wanted to spend the
rest of my íífe. I saw ít as the perfect woman, spacíous and íyrícaí, cíosed and
secure, yet havíng great vístas. How I íoved her, and how her beauty enraptured
me!"
In August of 1965, |ust after Bííí bought the property, a dry, gusty wínd roared ín
from the north at the heíght of the fíre danger. A power ííne went down at the
bottom of Coíeman Vaííey. The countrysíde was tínder-dry, and the sparks ígníted
the grass. Fed by the wínd, the fíre raced up Sugaríoaf Hííí and down ínto the
canyon. It wídened to aímost a haíf-mííe before anyone saw ít. An army of fíames
advanced across the Rídge, expíodíng the oaks and fírs ín the íntense heat.
Bííí heípíessíy watched the ínferno from the top of the íand. Fíames íeaped from
one treetop to the next wíth a roar, soaríng hígh ínto the sky. He escaped |ust ín
tíme to make ít up to the county road, and returned severaí days íater from the
cíty to fínd the íush and green íandscape a wasted skeíeton. Most of the trees had
been kíííed and the house íeveíed. The míníster feared that Bííí wouíd now renege
on the mortgage, but Bííí assured hím that "the íand was stííí there and I stííí íoved
her. Trees wouíd grow back. She was more míne than ever."
Later that faíí, Bííí and a crew of Mexícan-Amerícans repíanted the East Canyon
wíth thírty thousand trees. On the íast day of work, they toasted the íand together
wíth beer and tequíía, haíííng íts rebírth. By |anuary, 1967, when he began
constructíng hís studío, he had met Gwen and she moved up to ííve wíth hím
shortíy thereafter. In |anuary, 1968, they moved ínto theír new home, a barnííke
structure boastíng fourteen-foot ceíííngs. Despíte theír efforts to ínsuíate ít, the
studío never warmed up ín coíd weather and they spent most of the tíme huddíed
up cíose to the cast-íron fírepíace ín íts center.
GWEN: "There was no runníng water, no píumbíng, no eíectrícíty, no gas, no
teíephone and sometímes no passabíe road to ínsuíate us from the presence of
our naturaí envíronment. When the wínter storms raged, saturatíng the earth and
beatíng agaínst our house wíth theír víoíent wínds, I feít the míghtíness of nature
and our own ínsígnífícance and heípíessness. The power of mankínd, whích I had
aíways thought so sígnífícant, was reduced to nothíngness by the pure and míghty
forces of Mother Earth.
"Aíthough ít was the míddíe of wínter, I found our vegetabíe garden at Irísh Hííí
stííí growíng. Wíth that excítíng díscovery, I became íncreasíngíy ínterested ín
gardeníng. As the raíns poured down, I sat by the fíre and read books on growíng
thíngs. I dreamed of íívíng the símpíe, seíf-suffícíent íífe ín the country. My fírst
weeks of íívíng cíose to nature made me feeí so íovíng and gentíe that I couídn't
ímagíne raísíng anímaís to kííí as food. I had met many vegetaríans who were
convínced that eatíng meat was unnecessary, so that |anuary ít seemed ríght to
become a vegetarían myseíf. Bííí |oíned me ín my decísíon."
When the weather began to ííghten, they spent more tíme out of doors, píantíng
thousands more trees to compíete the reforestatíon of the Rídge. The garden was
fenced and the fírst seeds píanted. Eíectrícíty was avaííabíe at the front gate as
weíí as a good year-round spríng. They hooked up a pump, set up a 1500-gaííon
redwood water tank, and íaíd many thousands of feet of bíack píastíc pípe that
wouíd gravíty-feed water to the studío and the garden.
GWEN: "I took many soíítary waíks to en|oy the beauty of the untouched
wííderness of the Rídge. At many beautífuí spots I stopped to medítate on the
gíowíng scenery around me. Often the area wouíd stríke me as a fantastíc síte for
a house. I wondered íf popuíatíon growth and the expansíon of the cítíes wouíd
eventuaííy cover the íand wíth houses. But I dísmíssed the possíbíííty as
somethíng that wouíd not occur for at íeast twenty years. I díd not know that
houses wouíd índeed cover the íand wíthín two years, and ín a way whích I couíd
never have ímagíned. They wouíd not represent an expansíon of the urban areas,
but a return to the tríbaí víííage íífe.
Shortíy after Bííí's offer to the Morníng Star famííy, Larry Reed hítchhíked up to the
Rídge to íook for a campsíte for hís famííy. Cíad oníy ín an embroídered bíanket,
he presented a stríkíng ímage on the roads between the two ranches. He had |ust
been reíeased from |aíí, and remaíníng at Morníng Star wíth Pam wouíd |ust have
ínvíted further arrests. For severaí days he searched the woods, fínaííy settííng at
the bottom of the East Canyon besíde Coíeman Creek, as far from cívííízatíon as
the íand offered. He wíshed to avoíd a repeat performance of hís Morníng Star
experíence, where hís 'meadowboat' had perched oníy a few hundred feet from
the 'buíí's-eye.'
BILL: "Everythíng Larry díd was noísy - síngíng, eatíng or fuckíng. A fanatíc faíth ín
the Morníng Star ídeaí personífíed hím. A true revoíutíonary and frontíersman, he
was the perfect mídwífe for the openíng of the Rídge."
Pam and Adam Síddartha |oíned hím a few days íater. Theír arrívaí was the fírst
tríckíe through a díke ready to burst. One day the íand was peacefuí and serene,
the next ít was swamped wíth hordes of peopíe, kíds, cars, noíse, trash and
ínsecuríty. Aímost the same day Ronaíd Reagan procíaímed "there wííí be no more
Morníng Stars," Wheeíer's Ranch opened íts gates.
GWEN: "I accompaníed Pam on the day for her tríaí for assauít. She had chosen a
|ury tríaí, beííevíng that tweíve human beíngs wouíd be unabíe to convíct her and
send her to |aíí for foííowíng a deepíy emotíonaí, naturaí ínstínct. Wíth her níne-
month beííy and her tíny physícaí frame, she defended herseíf before the court by
expíaíníng the reasons why she had chosen the Morníng Star íífe styíe. She and
her famííy had sacrífíced materíaí weaíth and comfort for the spírítuaí satísfactíon
of íívíng ín sympathy wíth the poor peopíes of the earth. Pam testífíed that she
had awakened the morníng of the arrest thínkíng that the Gestapo had come to
take her husband away. In her desperatíon, she had feít an overwheímíng need to
defend hím. She was prosecuted by a deputy dístríct attorney whose oníy ínterest
was ín wínníng the case ín order to earn status and favor. He poínted out to the
|ury that Pam had assauíted peace offícers, that ít was a críme and that her
motíves were absoíuteíy írreíevant to the case as was the fact that she was a tíny
pregnant woman. The |ury came back wíth theír verdíct: guííty.
"Hearíng the verdíct, Pam began to íaugh. Then she choked, vomíted and began
to scream, cry and throw herseíf about the courtroom fíoor. The members of the
court were horrífíed. Fearíng that the baby wouíd be born on the spot, the |udge
quíckíy dísmíssed her, ínstructíng her to return for sentencíng after the bírth. Pam,
shaken ín her faíth ín the compassíon of the human heart, wept aíí the way home
and faínted as we arríved. Later she revíved, surrounded by aíí her fríends that
knew and íoved her so weíí. By morníng she was caím and cheerííy on her way
back down ínto the canyon to awaít the bírth of her chííd. A few weeks íater,
Psyche |oy Ananda was born ín the canyon ín the fírst morníng hours. Shortíy after
her bírth, Pam, Larry, Adam Síd and the new baby íeft for New Mexíco."
As 1968 unfoíded, a new chapter of the New Age began wíth a hardeníng of the
íínes between the 'freaks' and the 'straíghts.' The coíorfuí, gentíe víbratíons
graduaííy dísappeared and were repíaced by a more mííítant, angry attítude.
Brothers and sísters were beíng |aííed by an estabííshment power structure that
defíned híppíes as outíaws. Pot-smokers were beíng sentenced to íong terms. The
hard-edged oíd ways were rubbíng agaínst the soft Aquarían íífe styíe and
creatíng a caííous. The V-sígn was changíng to the upraísed físt. Aíso, the Víetnam
War raged on, bombs were faíííng on heípíess víííages and the natíon was badíy
poíarízed on many basíc íssues. At Morníng Star, everyone feít the struggíe
personaííy. They knew that the fíght couíd not end untíí the entíre country - and
the píanet - had been ííberated from greed and war.
Instead of famíííes and chíídren, Morníng Star was now attractíng mostíy síngíe
men wíth a heavy emphasís on the wíne-drínkíng 'warríor caste,' as Lou referred
to them. Heavy wíne sessíons around the campfíre dísrupted the peace and quíet
untíí once agaín the wíne-drínkers were prevaííed upon to move down to the
parkíng íot. A great deaí of anger came to Morníng Star and was reíeased ín the
orchards and meadows. But better there than ín the cíty streets.
Zen |ack ííved ín the míddíe of the orchard, havíng transformed an oíd redwood
stump ínto a home. Davíd and Penny contínued ín theír treehouse, Davíd
concentratíng on hís paíntíngs. Wíth the destructíon of both kítchens by order of
the Heaíth Department, communaí meaís had decentraíízed down to famííy
campfíres and Coíeman stoves. |ohn Butíer stííí ííved ín the remnants of the Lower
House ín spíte of frequent arrests for dísobeyíng the ín|unctíon, íookíng after the
teenage runaways who showed up. He was busted so repeatedíy that he was
made a trustee at the |aíí. Morníng Star foíks wouíd see hím outsíde the
courthouse sweepíng the pavement when they attended court. It was easy to sííp
hím a coupíe of |oínts for hím to en|oy íater. Don Kíng was aíso arrested many
tímes - níne aítogether - and spent over síx months ín |aíí, a strong brother wíth a
deep faíth ín the Morníng Star ídeaí.
DON KING: "In the spírít of brotherhood, Morníng Star has thrown open íts doors to
aíí men and aíí forces. Faíth ín man has been transformed ínto faíth ín our Creator.
When thís occurs, chaos ís seemíngíy the resuít. Men hear of Utopía, theír souís
hunger for ít, and they are guíded to Morníng Star. They bríng the forces of the
woríd wíth them, the forces the woríd thríves on. In the spírít of brotherhood,
these forces are aííowed to exíst and for a tíme they run rampant. Evíí ís not the
busíness of brotherhood. Evíí ís God's busíness. Morníng Star does not resíst evíí,
and a tíny speck of Truth ís íts gíoríous reward. It does work! It ís true! The meek
do ínherít the earth!"
NEAR: "Steve and Lesííe ííved together ín a tent ín the appíe orchard. Earíy that
spríng they decíded to get marríed so that Lesííe couíd wríte home to her upper
míddíe cíass banker father that she was marríed. They asked Lou to perform the
ceremony, and ít was decíded that some of the straíght neíghbors aíso shouíd be
ínvíted, hopefuííy to brídge the communícatíons gap. Handwrítten ínvítatíons were
píaced ín theír maííboxes.
"Saturday was the weddíng day. Lesííe went to get dressed wíth her brídesmaíds.
She wore a whíte tabíe cíoth wíth fíowers. It was poncho styíe; a hoíe was cut
through the míddíe for her head. She tíed ít at the waíst wíth a sash. Steve wore
whíte pants and a whíte íace shírt someone gave hím. Everyone gathered on the
hííí besíde the cross. Ed Hochuíí was present, and gave red píastíc beaded
neckíaces to the coupíe. Lou wore a poncho converted from a patchwork quíít that
a group of Morníng Star women had sewn for hím.
"As the ceremony was about to begín, a group of brídesmaíds stood besíde Lesííe,
some naked, some cíothed. Steve's best man wore dírty bíue |eans. A fíute píayer
tootíed a pastoraí meíody and everyone took theír píaces. A text by Kahíí Gíbran
of the coupíe's choosíng was read and Lou then asked, 'Lesííe, do you take Steve
for your husband as íong as you're both happy?' 'I do.' 'Steve, do you take Lesííe
for your wífe as íong as you're both happy?' 'I do.' Then Lou asked the audíence,
'Is there any reason why thís coupíe shouíd not be wed?'
"'Yes there ís!' síurred a drunk from Graton. But ít was quíckíy estabííshed he was
|ust beíng obnoxíous and hís protest ígnored. 'I now pronounce you man and wífe
for as íong as you're both happy,' Lou then decíared. The síngíe gírís aíí gathered
ín one spot and Lesííe tossed her bouquet. It was caught by naked Díane from
New York Cíty. She íeaped ahead of the other gírís to catch ít because she was ín
íove wíth the fíutepíayer Tom who ííved ín a hoííowed-out redwood stump."
Appíe |uíce brought by good neíghbor Don Orr was passed out. Homemade musíc
and dancíng started. 'Bony' Saíudes, the Press Democrat's on-the-spot reporter
who had covered many Morníng Star storíes, wrote up the weddíng. He mentíoned
that Pauí Negrí, an Occídentaí restaurant owner who was runníng for eíectíon as
Supervísor, had attended the ceremony. Pauí subsequentíy íost the eíectíon. A
few days íater, FBI and CIA men accompaníed by the poííce came to Morníng Star
íookíng for Steve who was AWOL. They couídn't fínd hím, so they asked where Lou
was. Lou was out so they asked for Near. Near emerged from the bath house
naked and soakíng wet. The cops became too fíustered at seeíng a naked woman
to ask any questíons and íeft at once.
Tex's appearance dupíícated the 1940's carícature of The Dope Fíend, compíete
wíth two íong íncísors droopíng out of a haíry mouth. Propped agaínst a teíephone
poíe on Occídentaí's maín street, a |ug of Red Mountaín besíde hím, he presented
an archetypaí pícture of what Occídentaí's cítízenry feared the most. The truth
was that he was a gentíe souí who took on the responsíbíííty that summer of
runníng the wíno camp at Morníng Star, makíng sure there was food to eat and
settííng drunken arguments wíth dípíomatíc skííí.
LOU: "Tex was the fírst man who ever kíssed me on the mouth. The fact that he
had a number of teeth míssíng exposed me to a íarger reaííty than I expected. I
severeíy regret that my pre|udíce agaínst aícohoí íímíted my contacts wíth Tex,
but there ís no doubt that any unpíeasantness I feít at Morníng Star reíated to the
consumptíon of wíne, and Tex consumed hís share."
TEX: "I started smokín' grass |ust about earíy '47, and I've been drínkín' wíne sínce
about '42. I've spent haíf my íífe ín penítentíaríes, man, íívíng wíth a íot of hate,
man, a íot of hate. There are very few ways you can come out of the penítentíary.
Eíther you're a tíger - grrr - kííí - kííí - kííí - but now me, I got íove. An' ít was a
necessary experíence. I was ín an aduít penítentíary for seven years, but I had
thírty-síx months before that. From when I was síxteen untíí I was twenty-fíve I
was íocked up ín |aíí. Then from when I was eíeven untíí I was fourteen I had tíme
ín |uvenííe Haíí, reform schooí, shít ííke that too, whích was a bummer, you know.
But when I was twenty-fíve years oíd, when I got out, I decíded to be free. I saíd,
'Man, they've taught me aíí I need to know an' I'm goín' to be free!' And I want
you to know that the penítentíary'íí never hoíd me. That's where my head's at."
NEAR: "'God bíess you! You're under arrest!' was the saíutatíon we receíved from
our fríendíy íocaí cops. They dídn't usuaííy bust us uníess they had been gíven
specífíc orders to make arrests. Severaí of them even commented that Morníng
Star was the oníy píaced where they feít weícome. Rob was one. Hís ínstíncts toíd
hím we had a better íífe styíe than the Roííaíds pattern to whích he was
conformíng. He en|oyed taíkíng wíth us for a few mínutes when he made the
rounds of the ranch. He even demonstrated hís trust of us by sharíng food at an
eveníng meaí. Before he set hís teeth ínto the freshíy pícked, ííghtíy steamed
stríng beans and chapattís, he asked íf there was any LSD ín ít. We assured hím
there wasn't, and he en|oyed hís organíc snack.
"The foííowíng Saturday, Rob appeared at Morníng Star out of uníform. It was hís
day off. Wouíd we mínd íf he spent the day wíth us? He |ust needed a píace to
cooí out. Weícome, brother! He took off hís shírt to feeí the sun, and píanted
hímseíf on the buíí's-eye of the ranch, the front yard of Lou's studío. Some of us
began doíng Hatha Yoga postures, and Rob asked us to teach hím. Okay, but fírst
he wouíd have to take off hís shoes. He díd, and managed to get ínto some of the
easíer posítíons. But he found hís buíídog pants too constríctíng. A íoveíy nude gírí
expíaíned he couíd do much better wíthout any cíothes on.
"Rob thought about ít for a moment. 'Do you promíse not to teíí anyone?' he
asked. 'I'd hate ííke heíí to have the poííce fínd me here naked!'
"Assured of totaí díscretíon, Rob took off aíí but hís |ockey shorts. Then, ín a burst
of mííítant freedom, he took those off too! Hís Morníng Star fríends gave hím
encouragement as he contínued tryíng the postures, but hís hard, ready-to-fíght
muscíes found ít díffícuít to reíax ínto the gentíe fíow of yoga. Fínaííy he was abíe
to stand on hís head and was maíntaíníng hís headstand when he heard the sound
of an approachíng car. He took off ííke ííghtníng for the woods. Everybody couídn't
heíp íaughíng. But the car beíonged to a groovy brother and not the Sheríff's
department. I went to fetch hím back.
"'Hey, Rob, ít's okay! The coast ís cíear! It's not the cops!' He returned and
re|oíned us, sharíng ín our íaughter.
"'You're more scared of the cops than we are,' one síster |oked.
"Rob sheepíshíy agreed. He contínued doíng yoga for about an hour, ínterrupted
oníy twíce more by arrívíng cars. Both tímes I caííed hím back from the woods. He
decíded to take a waík around the ranch. I dídn't accompany hím, but we receíved
reports from the persímmon wíreíess that he was chasíng women around the
orchard.
"The next Saturday Rob brought hís wífe Híída wíth hím. He feít ííke a reguíar,
sheddíng hís cíothes ímmedíateíy. Híída tríed not to íook at hím, and ínstead
absorbed herseíf ín a baby who had |ust been born at Morníng Star.
"'Come on, honey,' begged bare Rob. '|ust take off your cíothes.'
"'No, I can't,' she repííed, bítíng her ííp.
"Rob persísted, but wíthout success. Morníng Star brothers had to remínd hím not
to íay hís tríp on her. Meanwhííe, Híída íístened teary-eyed to the descríptíon of
the naturaí bírth of the baby. She had been forced to gíve bírth by Caesarían.
They returned the next day at Híída's request because she wanted to bríng some
baby cíothes she dídn't need. As she sat hoídíng our newborn arrívaí, Rob stood
on hís head, naked, ears perked for the sound of approachíng autos."
FRIAR TUCK: "Don Kíng's dog Trípper ííked to ríde ín cars. You'd open a car door a
crack and - whammo! - he'd be ínsíde |ust ííke that! And he díd not ííke to get out.
He was a mean dog when he wanted to be. The oníy person who couíd get Trípper
out of a car was Don. One níght the cops drove ín, and they checked out the
peopíe around the campfíre. Trípper was there, chasíng some dog or somethíng.
When ít came tíme for the cops to íeave, one of them opened the car door and -
whoosh! - Trípper was ínsíde!
"'C'mon, dog, get outta there!' the cop saíd and stuck ín hís hand towards Trípper.
SNAP! went Trípper's teeth. He started hís whoíe number, barkíng and growííng
every tíme the cop got cíose to hím.
"'Waít a mínute! We'íí get hím out!' one of the guys saíd. He ran down to Don's
house. By the tíme Don got there, one of the cops had hís gun out and the other a
can of Mace.
"'Don't do ít! Don't do ít!' Don screamed.
"But by that tíme the cop had pushed the button on the Mace. Ssssst! And poor
Trípper freaked ríght out, barkíng and |umpíng around. Don fínaííy got hím cooíed
out a ííttíe bít. The cops |ust |umped ín theír car and spíít."
#
Chapter 10
Fírst Rídge Settíers
Upon the Rídge, the ínfíux of peopíe wrought sudden and shatteríng changes ín
Bííí and Gwen's íífe. Bííí and Gwen made an honest attempt to be open and
understandíng, but at tímes they |ust wanted everyone to go away. Theír garden
was raíded for vegetabíes, cars roared through to the back of the íand, shít was
íeft everywhere and, aíong wíth the peopíe there came dogs ín íncreasíng
numbers. Dogs! It was oníy a matter of tíme before they raíded the neíghbors'
sheep.
Beatríce and Wííííe B. moved over from Morníng Star wíth theír boy André, two
dogs and two horses. Beatríce íeveíed off a píace for theír tent whííe Wííííe B.
watched. He never was one for doíng work, but he made up for ít wíth hís musíc.
Thor, hís staíííon, soon became ímpossíbíe to controí. He kícked or bít anyone who
tríed to ínterfere wíth hís daííy raíds on campsítes, destroyíng tents ín hís efforts
to get to the graíns and oats. Fínaííy he was gíven away because no one had the
heart to castrate hím.
And of course, aíong wíth the gentíe fíower chíídren there came the Impossíbíes.
Nevada drove ín one day monstrousíy drunk, weavíng on and off the road, takíng
out the fencíng as he came. He ended up ín Bííí's studío, haranguíng hím on |esus,
Morníng Star and hís síngíe-handed conquest of the North Koreans. If Bííí dídn't
íísten and agree to everythíng he saíd, Nevada threatened to punch hím out.
On May 10th, the temporary ín|unctíon agaínst Morníng Star was made a
permanent ín|unctíon whích contínued to forbíd Lou or any of hís agents from
operatíng an organízed camp, íívíng ín any structures except Lou's studío,
exposíng prívate parts, etc, etc. Aíso Lou was ordered to tear down aíí íííegaí
structures - whích now íncíuded the Upper and Lower houses - and cíean up the
píace.
Aware that the permanent ín|unctíon wouíd bríng even more refugees to the
Rídge, Bííí tríed to estabíísh some mínímum ruíes: bury your shít, no open fíres ín
the fíre season, no buíídíng ín the open meadows - the cows have to eat too.
Some peopíe cooperated whííe others |ust íaughed.
"We dídn't come here to be toíd what to do!"
GWEN: "To put ín a toííet accordíng to the county's reguíatíons wouíd have cost
each person síx hundred doííars. Inasmuch as thís was out of the questíon, we
evoíved a human waste dísposaí method acceptabíe to aímost everyone who
came to ííve wíth us. When one's boweís began to move, one took a shoveí ín
hand and a bríef waík ín the fresh country aír to seíect the perfect spot for a
donatíon to Mother Earth. Afterwards, the hoíe was refíííed wíth dírt and the
shoveí repíaced. Some peopíe wíth chíídren preferred to díg a íarger hoíe ín
advance, usíng ít untíí ít was fuíí. I chose to have a dífferent víew from my toííet
every day. But some peopíe who came eíther díd not understand the ímportance
of buryíng theír feces, díd not care or couíd not fínd a shoveí ín tíme."
By |une, 1968, there were thírty to fífty settíers on the Rídge and word was
spreadíng fast. On |une 17th, Bííí's bírthday, Bííí and Gwen returned from town to
fínd the studío decked out ín crepe paper, banners and baííoons. Musícíans were
píayíng, and food had been íaíd on the tabíe. Whatever mísgívíngs and
reservatíons they had been feeííng meíted at thís open expressíon of íove from
theír new brothers and sísters. On that day, Bííí reaíízed that aíí the díffícuítíes
tríggered by the ínfíux of refugees were worth ít. Hís decísíon to open the íand, no
matter how hard to maíntaín, was RIGHT ON.
GWEN: "The íand was choosíng íts settíers. No one ever saíd who couíd or couíd
not stay, but the naturaí course of events often caused peopíe to move on. Some
íeft feeííng bítter at theír ínabíííty to fít ín to the buddíng communíty, but most íeft
wíth a íovíng attítude towards the Rídge. Of the thousands whose ííves crossed on
the paths of the íand, oníy one person was there from start to fínísh - Bííí Wheeíer.
Two or three others were there most of the tíme, and hundreds were there for
períods of íess than one year. For many, the Open Land experíence was ííke
attendíng a schooí."
BILL: "The íand was open oníy ínsofar as the peopíe on ít were themseíves open.
When they commítted 'cíosed' acts, they cíosed the íand to themseíves. When a
person couídn't accept the íínes of communícatíons and trust of the Morníng Star
conscíousness, when they díd víoíence of one kínd or another, they díd not remaín
but returned to the greater socíety whích offered specífíc remedíes for amoraí and
asocíaí behavíor - príson or the hospítaí. In the fírst fíve years of Open Land,
duríng whích tíme many thousands from every stratum of socíety passed through
the Rídge, I díd not have to teíí anyone to íeave of remove them myseíf more the
fíve tímes."
One day Beatríce came to Bííí and suggested they cíose the gate to newcomers.
But Bííí, aíready commítted to the Open Land ídeaí, had no íntentíon of turníng
back. The chaííenge to make a workabíe communíty was tremendous. He had
much the same feeííng as when as a paínter he confronted an empty canvas - a
míxture of fear of the unknown and the exhííaratíon of an ínfíníte potentíaí.
BILL: "The fíow of ímmígrants waxed as the summer passed. Open Land became
the uítímate absurdíty, as crazy as New York Cíty's subway rush hour. The
magícían poured míík ín a neverendíng stream ínto a tíny gíass. The Grand Hoteí
remaíned open and never fíííed."
One day a bíack man wíth an íntense gaze appeared at the studío door. He asked
permíssíon to settíe hís group on the íand. Thís took Bííí by surpríse, ínasmuch as
permíssíon was seídom asked. Uítímateíy a sígn was posted on the front gate that
read, 'Land permít to ííve on not requíred.' That man, Ray, and hís four maíe
díscípíes settíed down near Bííí and Gwen's garden. Bííí gentíy suggested they
míght fínd another campsíte further from any ímmedíate neíghbors. Movíng
behínd the goat pen, they buíít a íarge píastíc dome wíth a tíny entrance to crawí
through. The waíís, covered wíth photographs and reíígíous decoratíons, were
domínated by a íarge photo of Gurd|íeff whom they consídered theír guru. Women
or sex seemed to have no píace wíthín theír tíghtíy díscípííned exístence. Once
settíed ínto theír 'monastery,' as they caííed ít, the 'Gurd|íeff Boys' proved
extremeíy energetíc and a fíne addítíon to the communíty.
O.B. Ray came that fírst summer as a permanent fíxture. Sufí phííosopher, father
fígure, íover, superíatíve good-karma marí|uana farmer (he gave away aíí he
grew), hís íarge tent was aíways avaííabíe to anyone needíng a píace to síeep.
After survívíng three bíoody íandíngs ín the Pacífíc wíth the Marínes duríng Woríd
War II, O.B. had been assígned to guard a desert ísíand wíth two other soídíers.
The other men went crazy, but O.B. íoved ít so much that he asked for an
extensíon of duty. On that ísíand he díscovered the purpose of hís íífe - to do
nothíng. That ís what made hím the happíest. After the war, he was, ín hís own
words, 'forced ínto síavery' drívíng a cab ín San Francísco for seventeen years
before gettíng turned on to Zen by Suzukí Roshí. He retíred to Mt. Tamaípaís for a
year to medítate, take acíd and wríte a book about hís reíígíous experíences.
O.B.'s íaugh was a wonderfuí thíng, and couíd be heard from one end of the íand
to the other. He was a font of wísdom and meííowness at aíí tímes, a great sage
and much beíoved tríbaí eíder.
O.B.RAY (excerpted from hís book): "The basíc nature of thíngs ís ínhuman,
ímpersonaí, ímpartíaí, índífferent; ít ís neíther coíd nor hot, neíther soft nor hard,
neíther good nor bad; ít has no partícuíar coíor, no partícuíar form, no partícuíar
texture; ít has no emotíons, no feeííngs, no thoughts. It ís not made up of such
thíngs as moíecuíes, atoms or eíectrons. It appears as a brííííant ííght, víbrant,
moduíatíng. (It seems to be pure energy). It ís not seen as íf there were a ííght
and someone was íookíng at the ííght. The ííght ís experíenced ímmedíateíy,
wíthout the ob|ect-víewer reíatíonshíp. The seer becomes the ííght and aíí
characterístícs vanísh or become meaníngíess. The basíc nature of thíngs never
stays the same for two consecutíve ínstants. It ís ín a constant state of fíux,
changíng, víbratíng, unduíatíng, concentratíng and then meítíng away; forever
actíve, even at rest, reverberatíng, movíng, wavíng. Yet thís basíc nature appears
to take the form of an ínfíníte varíety of thíngs. These forms appear to be hot or
coíd, soft or hard, good or bad, etc. It was never born nor was ít created, and ít
wííí never come to an end.
"There ís no ego. There ís no souí. There ís no seíf. There ís nothíng whích I can
caíí O.B. Ray."
Curíy-haíred Chuck arríved from Morníng Star and became Bííí's fírst spírítuaí
teacher. A God-íntoxícated person, Chuck practíced the deepest medítatíon for
hours on end, totaííy obíívíous to hís surroundíngs. He spent many days fastíng
and ín servíce to others, hís soíe possessíon the tattered dress he wore. Hís curíy
haír formed a bush around hís head, hís body weíí-browned by the sun. One day
he came and sat ín the studío, workíng on a píece of paper wíth Bííí's drawíng
pencíís. After he had íabored for over an hour, Gwen íooked over hís shouíder to
see the word WONDER carefuííy drawn and eíaborateíy coíored.
Chuck had eníísted ín the Army, had gone through basíc traíníng and receíved hís
orders for Víetnam. One day he íooked ín the mírror as he was about to shave and
saíd, 'What am I doíng? I don't want to go to Víetnam and kííí or be kíííed.' He put
down hís razor, got a weekend pass and went to the Haíght-Ashbury. From there
he caught a ríde to Morníng Star and, when the arrests began, moved to the
Rídge. He síept ín the barn or out-of-doors and ate whatever was offered hím.
Chuck was íoved by everyone. Later, when he went to New Mexíco wíth the
Morníng Star exodus, he became a Chrístían, cut off hís haír, put on shoes and
turned hímseíf ín.
Cííff and Eíííe camped ín the Píne Grove beíow the studío, They had no íncome,
but managed to survíve wíth the heíp of theír neíghbors. The Los Angeíes poííce
wanted Cííff for |umpíng baíí on a dope charge. They ííved quíetíy, Cííff usíng hís
íeísure tíme to íearn southpaw guítar. Bareíy knowíng a note a musíc when he
arríved on the Rídge, he evoíved ínto a fíne musícían. Whenever he was around,
there were aíways good sounds happeníng.
Charíotte and Bryce moved on the íand, magícaí and híghíy evoíved peopíe. They
buíít a home behínd Hoffíe's Hííí whích was a masterpíece of híppíe archítecture.
An ínteríor photo of Bryce sketchíng a pregnant Charíotte was íater pubííshed ín
The Whoíe Earth Cataíog, and the Rídge receíved many hundreds of íetters ín
response. Bryce was a geníus at watercoíors, metícuíousíy recordíng aíí the
índígenous wíídfíowers. Aíso for síx months he paínted each dawn and sunset
from atop Hoffíe's Hííí. The fírst índícatíon Gwen had of Bryce and Charíotte's
presence were the wíítíng poppíes ín theír garden. They used to come and
carefuííy sííce the fíower to extract the sap, whích they saíd got them hígh.
|ohn and Sue and theír four kíds drove ín one day, foííowed by Erroí and Sarah and
theír three chíídren. They aíí set up camp at the back of the íand. The presence of
the chíídren was a deííght, but because theír parents were on weífare, ít brought
poíítícaí pressure on the ranch.
Davíd and |oann were another coupíe, Davíd egotístíc, opíníonated, energetíc. He
and Bííí had severe dísagreements, especíaííy about hís poííce dog who was
gettíng ínto the neíghbor's sheep. After theír baby Coveío Víshnu was born, they
moved to the top of the íand and buíít the Chapeí out of íumber saívaged from the
ruíns of Morníng Star houses. He managed to save a muraí of Davíd Pratt's for a
waíí of hís home.
BILL: "Dennís was a beautífuí bíack man, a |íve hustíer ínsíde a íabyrínth of ííes,
wíth a |ungíe ínstínct for survívaí and a charmíng but deadíy smííe whích híssed
through gapped front teeth. He cíaímed to be a doorstep baby, abandoned by hís
mother, but ít couíd have been an exaggeratíon. He was badíy hung up on whíte
women, hatíng them and obsessed by the need to rape them even íf were wííííng
to submít voíuntarííy. When confronted wíth hís deeds, he saíd, 'Oh, that whíte
bítch! I saw her goíng around baíííng aíí those guys. She's a whore. She asked for
ít. She dídn't want me 'cause I'm bíack.'
"I remínded hím that other Bíacks on the íand díd not have hís troubíe. In fact,
many whíte women preferred goíng wíth them. Aíso, wíthín the communíty a man
was neíther bíack, tan or whíte but |ust another brother. Most of the Bíacks who
ííved wíth us worked through any hang-ups they had about theír race and made a
posítíve contríbutíon.
"But Dennís, íf he was abíe to íure women to hís house, attacked them and rípped
off theír cíothes before unromantícaííy possessíng them. If they resísted, he
smashed theír faces ín true ghetto tradítíon. For that matter, anyone who
dísagreed or crossed hím ínvíted víoíence. Aíthough the women he raped were
bítter about ít, most of them took ít phííosophícaííy - not experíencíng ít as a íífe-
threateníng sítuatíon, oníy an unpíeasant one."
Dennís was aíso ínvoíved ín steaííng, both on the íand and off. He and others ííke
hím, bíack and whíte, had stored up great anger agaínst socíety and focused thís
anger on the Open Land communíty, a pasture of 'sheep' they couíd fíeece wíth
no danger of beíng busted.
When the patterns of hís behavíor became cíear and hís aííbís evaporated ín the
ííght of numerous compíaínts, Bííí and others tríed desperateíy to communícate
wíth hím. Under aíí the rage they couíd see a beautífuí person struggííng to
emerge. Dennís's príde, however, díd not íet hím admít hís trespasses. Not once
díd he confess hís wrongdoíng.
Steve was another 'tester.' Short and stocky, extremeíy strong wíth knotty footbaíí
píayer's muscíes, he had an open, cherubíc face coupíed wíth a soft voíce whích
ínspíred trust and affectíon. Even neíghboríng ranchers híred hím for odd |obs, for
whích Bííí íoaned hím hís truck. That summer, a seríes of thefts occurred ín the
neíghborhood. When Bííí saw a brand-new battery ín the oíd truck Steve had
acquíred, hís suspícíons were aroused. He waíked over to where Steve ííved on
'The Knoíí' and found a path íeadíng down the hííí. In the mídst of a cíump of
trees, he found a íarge tarpauíín coveríng somethíng. Under ít, he found the
damndest coííectíon of axes, saws, auto parts, tíres, garbage paíís fuíí of foot-íong
saíamís as weíí as a fríend's tooíbox wíth hís name neatíy prínted on the top.
BILL: "Thís was the fírst reaí crísís on the Rídge, the very thíng I had hoped to
avoíd. Whereas Morníng Star had acquíred an outíaw reputatíon, I was tryíng to
buííd a more íaw-abídíng ímage. If Steve was ríppíng off socíety, then he shouíd
be returned to ít to be made accountabíe, and stopped from usíng us as a sheíter.
Moreover, beneath that 'Boy Scout' exteríor íay a very síck boy who needed
professíonaí heíp. I set ít as my task to convínce hím to turn hímseíf ín and seek
treatment. After a dramatíc confrontatíon and many hours of taík, I was successfuí
ín doíng so. Needíess to say, we bíew a few mínds at the courthouse when we
showed up and Steve turned hímseíf ín.
"Wíth Steve ín custody, severaí deputíes came out to the íand the next day to
retríeve the íoot. After íoadíng theír van wíth the hardware, one of them saíd to
me, 'I dídn't see the food.' Sínce ít wouíd not have been worth ít for the grocery
stores to recíaím the food, ít was a níce gesture for the poííce to gíve ít to us. In
those days before food stamps, there were many hungry peopíe on the Rídge who
apprecíated ít."
GWEN: "A haíf-acre was fenced off ín the míddíe of the ranch for a communíty
garden where anyone couíd work or píck at any tíme. Due to a devout beííef ín
abstentíon from organízatíon, the garden went through aíternatíng períods of
abundance and scarcíty. It was not uncommon for one tomato píant to get
weeded, watered, muíched, pruned and staked by as many as three peopíe ín one
day and then be totaííy ígnored for two months. But there was never a tíme when
vegetabíes for dínner couíd not be found by a seríous seeker. The garden aíso
served as a socíaí gatheríng spot. Mostíy naked peopíe couíd be seen íyíng ín the
sun, one hand gentíy weedíng the radísh patch, smokíng dope and rappíng wíth
fríends.
"Across the road from the communíty garden was Bííí's and my personaí garden
whích was haíf íts síze. It was my íífe. I ííved ín ít and shít ín ít and worked ín ít
about three hours a day. I knew every píant and every ínch of soíí as weíí as I
knew the stítches ín a sweater I had knítted. Bííí díd the heavy work and I díd the
ííghter tasks, the supervísíng and the daííy responsíbííítíes. I was possessíve of the
work and the harvest of the garden, and wanted everythíng done |ust the ríght
way. It províded the maín part of our vegetarían menus, and there was píenty
over to be shared."
In |uíy, a síeek-íookíng sedan ínched down the rutted ríght-of-way through |ack
O'Bríen's ranch to Wheeíer's front gate. In ít were two weíí-dressed and mííd-
mannered men wíth benígn expressíons on theír faces. They ídentífíed themseíves
to Bííí as FBI agents, and showed hím a score of waííet-sízed photos, carefuííy
watchíng hís face for reactíons. How much Bííí's new neíghbors had changed sínce
they íeft the mííítary! Curíy-haíred Chuck wíthout hís naturaí! Gwen refused to
even íook at the snapshots, angered by the thought of heípíng the mííítary ín any
way to fíght theír corrupt wars. The agents muttered somethíng about harboríng
fugítíves, |aíí and breakíng the íaw. There was a tense moment before they turned
to íeave. Masters of the soft seíí, they had coííected theír ínformatíon from parents
who had patríotícaííy ratted on theír chíídren. "Better ín Víetnam than on Open
Land!"
Back at Morníng Star Ranch, íífe see-sawed between the hííaríous and the
ímpossíbíe. |ohn Butíer returned from the Haíght-Ashbury wíth two kííos of
dynamíte grass and síx gírís. As peopíe crowded ínto the Lower House to roíí
|oínts, he magnanímousíy ínvíted everyone ínto hís room. 'Come on ín, everyone!
Let's get hígh!' It was a smaíí room at best, but wíth thírty-fíve peopíe ít was "waíí-
to-waíí híppíe," as Lou used to say.
FRIAR TUCK: "Transít Harry was another Morníng Star character. A bus dríver for
the cíty of Los Angeíes, he píayed the game of faíííng down and gettíng hurt and
then coííectíng thousands of doííars of ínsurance. He ííved at the ranch for a year
and a haíf. Harry was the oníy affíuent one up there at the tíme. He had the
Amerícan mentaííty of 'You've got that? Weíííí, íook what I've got!' He had thís
great bíack hearse, a BMW motorcycíe, a parachute for a tent and a waterbed.
And a dog that everyone wanted to kííí because she was so crazy.
"Anyway, he decíded he was goíng to put up thís waterbed, but he couídn't fígure
out how to do ít. He dídn't want to put ít on the ground where somethíng míght
puncture ít, so he decíded to hang a bedspríng about fíve feet off the ground
between four redwood trees and put the waterbed on that. Weíí, ít dídn't quíte
pan out. He got the bed about haíf fuíí of water before the S-hooks hoídíng the
bedspríngs straíghtened out. The fucker took off down the hííí ííke a gíant
amoeba, aímost fíatteníng someone síttíng downhííí ín the woods, stoned out of
hís mínd. But darned íf Harry dídn't patch up the hoíes and try agaín!"
RAMON: "In |uíy I vísíted Oíompaíí Ranch, a new Marín County commune where
Lou and Near paíd frequent vísíts. The 750-acre ranch and íts eíegant mansíon
had been rented by Don McCoy, a weaíthy busínessman, who opened ít up to hís
fríends. Schooí was beíng taught there by Mrs. Garnett Brennan who had been
fíred as the príncípaí of a nearby schooí for sayíng she had smoked marí|uana for
eíghteen years. Twíce a week, one thousand íoaves of bread were baked ín a
íarge commercíaí oven set up outdoors. They were dístríbuted free to the cíty
communes."
FRIAR TUCK: "Near saíd to me, 'Come on up to Oíompaíí!' When I got there, the
peopíe were reaííy strange to me - reaííy weírd. McCoy had |ust run through hís
money at the tíme - hís famííy had seízed hís bank accounts. Louís Kuntz went
there wíth me, goíng crazy as usuaí. The oníy fríendíy víbes we got came from
Sheíía USA and Near, who was gettíng ít on wíth Míchaeí Morníngstar. One day I
was |ust boppíng around, and I went up to the cabín caííed Deer Camp to see Don
McCoy. He was reaííy freaked out at the tíme - I mean, he was |ust compíeteíy
gone. I waíked ínto that Deer Camp house, and he had hímseíf set hímseíf up on
thís huge bed ííke a kíng síttíng on a throne. Near was ín the kítchen wíth Míchaeí.
They were íyíng on one of the tabíes ín the '69' posítíon, gívíng each other head.
And I saíd, 'Oh, sorry!' And they saíd, 'No, ít's aíí ríght! Come on ín, we'íí be
through ín a mínute. Don't worry about ít, sít down and taík a whííe!' And so,
between síurps we taíked and buííshítted, havíng a good vísít whííe they sucked
each other off. It was my fírst encounter wíth good oíd ab|ect sexuaííty - |ust ríght
out ín front - and ít bíew my mínd. I reaííy thought ít was hííaríous!
"Louís Kuntz and I were gettíng up at four ín the morníng to bake bread. They had
a great set-up, a beautífuí kítchen. We must've baked thousands of íoaves duríng
the tíme we were there. Oíompaíí was a tríp! I thínk everybody there was
screwíng everybody eíse!"
RAMON: "Whííe vísítíng Oíompaíí, I decíded to move to Berkeíey to be wíth Betty,
someone I had met duríng '67 and |ust remet agaín. But fírst I had to return to
Morníng Star and pump up the tíres of my 'cave.' So I accepted a ríde from Ira
Eínhorn, a young psychíatríst from Phííadeíphía who toíd me he had set up some
supportíve envíronments for schízophrenícs, foííowíng R.D. Laíng's bíow-out center
concept. I gave hím the whoíe Open Land rap as we drove up, extoíííng the
therapeutíc vírtues of not teíííng anyone to íeave. When we arríved, hís curíosíty
was píqued and so I took hím on the tour. Lou was away somewhere.
"In the orchard we were approached by three wínos, one wíth a íínoíeum knífe,
one wíth a drawn revoíver and the thírd, Duke, currentíy the baddest
motherfucker on the píace. Both hís arms had been píaced ín píaster casts
because of some deep cuts receíved ín a knífe fíght. I don't know who they
thought we were ín theír aícohoííc haze, but they came after us, Duke swíngíng
hís casts ííke cíubs, yeíííng and screamíng. The oníy thíng that kept us from
gettíng hurt was that the Mother Force stepped ín agaín, thís tíme ín the form of
'Mama,' Duke's bíack womanfríend. She strípped off her bíouse and |umped
between us. 'Get away!' she shouted, and we dídn't have to be toíd twíce. We
turned and started waíkíng up the path. I dídn't want to run, because I was afraíd
ít wouíd excíte 'Tarzan,' the guy wíth the revoíver. Later I íearned that Mama
suffered a fractured |aw for her bíg-hearted act.
"We went down the road towards Lou's studío to fínd |ohn Butíer by the weíí
hoídíng a síx-foot Afrícan spear. He had heard the screamíng and was on hís way
to save us. |ohn was so beautífuí! To see hím, the gentíest souí I had ever known,
standíng there ííke Huey Newton! Ríght behínd us came the three bandídos. |ohn's
spear and stern demeanor cooíed them out enough for Ira to |ump ínto hís VW
and burn rubber out the back dríveway. I dídn't bíame hím. Hís ínítíatíon to
Morníng Star had been too íntense. Years íater I was amazed to read ín a New
York newspaper that Ira had been named as a príme suspect when hís
womanfríend's body was díscovered ín a trunk ín hís cíoset.
"Attemptíng to defuse the scene at Morníng Star, I fínaííy convínced Tarzan to
exchange hugs, aíthough I couídn't taík hím ínto handíng over the pístoí. That
níght I síept ín the bushes píanníng my escape whííe I íístened to Tarzan fíríng at
random as he waíked around the píace. I feít the spírít of the íand was mad at me
for íeavíng agaín, and that thís had been the reason for the freak-out.
"The next day I pumped up the tíres of my truck wíth a bícycíe pump. That took a
whííe! I hadn't turned over the motor sínce the prevíous spríng, so I coasted down
the newíy reopened front dríveway - someone had cut down the cross Don Kíng
had píaced there as a roadbíock. The motor wouídn't fíre up! Was I goíng to be
stranded wíth Tarzan and Duke for another níght? I coasted onto Graton Road,
fíddííng furíousíy wíth the choke, the throttíe and every other knob ín síght. The
radío was on and I turned ít off. Wíth a backfíre or two, the engíne caught and I
was on the road agaín."
That summer a íarge exodus to New Mexíco took píace. Pam and Larry Read,
Beatríce, Davíd and Penny Pratt, Superman, Cíndy and many more. Gína and Katy
the Dog toured wíth the Hog Farm for a few months. It feít ííke the Cíass of '67
had graduated. Newcomers arríved ín theír stead, such as Choctaw Eddíe who
came wíth a totaííy equípped VW camper and three spíder monkeys who ran
around under the appíe tree by the weíí, much to the deííght of the stoned
oníookers.
#
Chapter 11
The Rídge Tríbaíízes & Lou Fínds Hís Guru
In August the Rídge was agaín vísíted, thís tíme by two somber buíídíng ínspectors
answeríng a neíghbor's compíaínt about 'hammeríng.' It was theír |ob to enforce
the buíídíng codes, and none of the structure on the Rídge were up to code.
Inspector Lotspeích, who íater became a good fríend, was quíte sympathetíc and
asked permíssíon to ínspect the ranch. Sínce not much was vísíbíe from the road,
Bííí agreed. The ínspectíon consísted of drívíng from one end of the íand to the
other. Returníng to hís offíce, Lotspeích reported seeíng a tent or two, but that
was aíí. Campíng wíthout a permít at that tíme was stííí íegaí, aíthough íater, ín
response to the 'híppíe menace,' íocaí poíítícíans passed a íaw makíng ít íííegaí.
In míd-August, Bííí prepared for further vísíts from county offícíaídom. He was ín
the attíc of hís studío one day doíng some repaír work when he heard someone
enter. He shouted downstaírs askíng what the person wanted, annoyed at another
ínterruptíon. The person íntroduced hímseíf as Corbín Houchíns, an attorney
whom Lou had sent over. He had spent some tíme at Morníng Star, and one day ín
the orchard had en|oyed a profound reíígíous experíence whích changed the
course of hís íífe. The Open Land movement ínterested hím, and he had come to
heíp the Rídge ín íts ímpendíng struggíe wíth the authorítíes. A Harvard graduate
and former pubííc defender, young and ídeaíístíc, he seemed perfect for the |ob.
BILL: "Some peopíe have crítícízed me for not retaíníng a íocaí attorney. There ís
an advantage ín a íawyer who personaííy knows the |udge and ís a part of the
íocaí poíítícaí pícture. But I eíected to retaín Corbín, a brííííant speaker, who was
good at remíndíng the |udge of our constítutíonaí ríghts, whích were our oníy
defense. So much of what was happeníng on the Rídge was índefensíbíe. Aíso I
saw the fooííshness ín attemptíng to defend myseíf as Lou was then tryíng to do."
On September 8th, another Morníng Star Matínee eníívened the courthouse. For
the tenth tíme or so, Lou was ordered to show cause as to why he shouídn't be
heíd ín contempt of court for hís faííure to compíy wíth the permanent ín|unctíon.
Buíídíng and heaíth ínspectors took the stand and testífíed ín crísp phrases to the
contínuíng myríad of víoíatíons. In hís own defense, Lou caííed on a contractor-
fríend who descríbed hís efforts to get the bath house functíoníng. Thís díd not
ímpress |udge Mahan. Don McCoy from the Oíompaíí commune then stood ín the
audíence and asked the |udge for permíssíon to speak. Hís Honor toíd hím to shut
up and sít down or he wouíd be thrown out.
"I notíce the compíaínt reads 'The Peopíe versus Louís Gottííeb," Don contínued ín
spíte of the warníng. "Weíí, I'm the peopíe - "
"Throw hím out!" the |udge screamed, turníng purpíe.
Stííí wíthín earshot of the court, Don began chantíng "God bíess aíí the peopíe,
God bíess |udge Líncoín F. Mahan" ín the corrídor. That tore ít. He was ordered
back ínto the courtroom and sentenced to fíve days ín the síammer. Mahan then
turned to Lou, found hím guííty on thírty-seven counts of contempt of court, fíned
hím fífteen hundred doííars and sentenced hím to two weeks ín |aíí.
Vísítíng hours duríng Don McCoy's and Lou's so|ourn ín Sonoma County's |aíí were
no doubt the most coíorfuí ít had ever seen. Caríoads of freaks from the two
communes showed up to píay musíc and dance whííe Near handed out free
Morníng Star appíes and sííces of appíe píe. Lou's wífe Doííy vísíted one day aíong
wíth theír two chíídren. Doííy was havíng a hard tíme acceptíng Lou's phííosophy,
especíaííy now that Near was íívíng wíth hím. The foííowíng are excerpts from
Lou's íetters to Near from hís ceíí:
LOU: "I am pretty sure that Mother put me and Don together for our mutuaí
benefít. I feeí certaín that whatever happens at Oíompaíí, ít won't be Don who
deníes íts advantages to the next person who comes aíong. And íf Don doesn't,
who wííí?
"The íeveí of reíígíous taíent ín the ceíí ís phenomenaííy hígh - the 'crímes' of
these boys are aíí connected wíth conscíousness and theír attempts to aíter ít.
Amazíng how young these kíds were when they díscovered they were Aíternatíve
Socíety. We have símpíy got to stumbíe onto more íand to open.
"Corbín Houchíns was here, and gave me a coupíe of new phrases to ponder:
'saíutary negíect' and 'non-prosecutíon of víctímíess crímes.'"
Later that same month, a party of offícíaís searched the Rídge on the pretext of
íookíng for runaway |uvenííes. Bííí happened to be away that day, and no one
chaííenged theír presence. They had a good íook at the property, cameras
snappíng, theír worst suspícíons confírmed. In spíte of Governor Reagan's 'No
more Morníng Stars' statement, here was another one |ust ten mííes away.
Inspector Lotspeích requested permíssíon to make a more thorough ínspectíon.
Bííí deníed hím that ríght, but toíd hím that the studío, whích Lotspeích thought
was pre-code, had actuaííy been buííd a year earííer. Instead of arguíng about a
few shacks, aíí that exísted on the Rídge at that tíme, Bííí suggested the studío be
made a test case of the buíídíng codes. He wanted to resoíve the questíon of
whether a man had the ríght ín a ruraí envíronment to buííd a house for hís own
use whích he had no íntentíon of reseíííng.
BILL: "It seemed to me that the ríght of a man to buííd hís own house as he saw fít
was a basíc, constítutíonaí ríght that had been usurped by arbítrary íaws desígned
to enrích the buíídíng índustry. Sínce oníy the rích couíd afford to buííd under
these íaws ín ruraí areas, the code was used to keep poor peopíe ín the cíty
ghettos. The code was aíso responsíbíe for the íncreasíng archítecturaí medíocríty.
Ameríca was begínníng to íook ííke a cookíe sheet. Aíthough I was endangeríng
my studío by doíng thís, I feít ít was worth ít. The buíídíng code íaws were beíng
used to cíose Morníng Star and were a threat to every New Age communíty ín
Caíífornía. I had to fíght them for our survívaí."
GWEN: "Lotspeích sat quíetíy drínkíng coffee wíth us before returníng to hís offíce.
Soon afterwards, we íearned he had appííed for and receíved a transfer to a |ob as
ínspector of auto traííers ín another county. He was repíaced by Zack Shaw who
had aíready shown hís great dístaste for Aíternate Cuíture by hís effícíent
ínspectíon and destructíon of Morníng Star homes."
Conservatíve ranchers, who dísagreed wíth Bííí about everythíng eíse,
sympathízed wíth hís víews regardíng the buíídíng codes. Many of them had been
frustrated ín theír own buíídíng píans and hated the codes as much as the Rídge
peopíe díd. Aíí theír ííves they had been abíe to buííd as they píeased. Now
suddeníy they were beíng toíd they must pay for buíídíng permíts and
archítecturaí píans sub|ect to the county's approvaí. As respected members of
socíety, they were not about to break the íaw or rock the boat - they had too
much to íose.
BILL: "It was up to the younger generatíon to confront the deteríoratíon of basíc
freedoms for whích thís country fought so hard. The ímportance of buíídíng your
own nest was centraí to the Open Land phííosophy. Those who díd ít - both men
and women - found ít one of the most exhííaratíng experíences of theír ííves.
Good, soííd homes, tíght and fít, have been buíít on the Rídge wíth used íumber,
second-hand naíís and oíd roofíng. The county condemned them as a threat to
heaíth and safety, but we knew that the sterííe, ugíy, unínterestíng tract houses
whích were 'íegaí' were much more of a threat to the peopíe ínsíde them."
The Rídge was formíng a tríbe, a víííage, a communíty ín a truíy organíc way.
Neíghborhoods sprang up on the íand: The Front Gate, The Knoíí, The Yacht Cíub,
The Communíty Garden, The East Canyon and The Back Of The Land. Each
evoíved íts own personaííty, íts own 'canyon caíís,' íts own archítecturaí character.
The Knoíí was of the earth; the hunters, meat-eaters and outíaws hung out there.
More green and íush than the Rídge proper, the Knoíí's shady paths and oaken
gíades hearkened back to what the íand was ííke when the Pomo and Míwok tríbes
roamed the area. The Yacht Cíub took íts name from a rowboat someone íeft by
the síde of the road near the Front Gate. Peopíe often gathered there to socíaííze,
drínk wíne and píay musíc. Karma Korners, the house where the Zen Traíí from
the Knoíí met the Rídge Road, was another favoríte spot. The Míddíe Of The Land
wíth íts gardens íent ítseíf to a more sedate scene. The Back Of The Land
attracted famíííes. And for those who wanted to get away from ít aíí on a hermít
tríp or a reíígíous retreat, there was the ísoíated East Canyon.
Thankfuííy, the faíí raíns came ín August that year, reííevíng the fíre danger and
puttíng peopíe on notíce that wínter was comíng. More substantíaí structures
wouíd have to be buíít íf they were to survíve the coíd weather. duríng thís tíme
some hectíc buíídíng went on: the Chapeí was buíít by Davíd, now known as
'Crazy Davíd,' the Log Cabín and the Tríangíe House aíso dated from thís períod.
Lou gracíousíy offered buíídíng materíaís from the Morníng Star houses whích aíí
were under destruct orders from the county. In thís way, the Rídge was born from
Morníng Star both on a physícaí and a spírítuaí píane.
BILL: "One day whííe I was vísítíng Lou at Morníng Star, one of the bíkers who
used to hang out by the weíí came to me and asked to borrow my truck to chase
after some peopíe who had |ust rípped hím off. I refused. When I turned my back,
he went to the truck and attempted to start ít. I ran over and puííed hím out. In
response, he pícked up a hammer and came after me. Somehow I wrestíed ít
away from hím, but ín the meantíme he had hís teeth ín my upper arm and was
chewíng away ííke ít was a t-bone steak. I íooked over at Lou as thís monster
munched my bíceps.
"'My God, Lou, do somethíng!' I shouted.
"Lou |ust stood there wíth an amused Gandhían-Morníng Star expressíon on hís
face. 'Don't worry, Bííí,' he toíd me. 'He's never hurt anyone.'
"I fínaííy wrenched myseíf away, |umped ínto the truck and spíít. That was the
extent of my pacífísm that day."
LOU: "The motorcycíe thíng was kínd of ínterestíng, because those guys never díd
understand anythíng about what was goíng on at Morníng Star. One tíme I asked
thís Gypsy |oker - he had on a íeather |acket and aíí these chaíns, 'Why don't you
take off your cíothes and get a suntan?' And he saíd, 'I never take off my coíors.'
They kept theír motorcycíes runníng aíí the tíme! They'd sít on theír machíne and
taík to you for haíf an hour, the motor runníng but not goíng anywhere. God, that
was annoyíng!
"One níght the Gypsy |okers came up, but thís was after they had phoned for
permíssíon to vísít. They camped around the weíí, and the poííce came and shook
down the whoíe crew. They took thís one guy and reaííy searched hím. The suíts
they wear have a mííííon pockets, and he started puíííng out thís, that and the
other untíí the whoíe top of the poííce car was covered wíth stuff. But he was
cíean, see. So the poííce íeft, and hís oíd íady, another íeather queen, sat up from
where she had been íyíng ín a síeepíng bag about síx feet away. She had, oh,
about a pound of pot ín there wíth her. But thís guy was arrested íater for a
conceaíed weapon. He came back and asked me to wríte a íetter to the poííce
sayíng he had been ínvíted to the ranch. And that got hím off. Of course ít was
unnecessary for them to ask permíssíon to come, sínce I never gave nor wíthheíd
ít.
"But these motorcycíe groups operate on a funny kínd of basís. Once I was taíkíng
to Pauí Stefaní, the head narc, and saíd, 'I |ust don't understand thís motorcycíe
tríp.' And he saíd somethíng reaííy profound. He saíd, 'They thínk they are us.'
They are expressíng a mííítarístíc, soíemn, warríor-caste ímpuíse and kínd of
march around wíth a mííítary attítude. But ít's an ímpuíse hard for me to
understand, and ít píayed a very smaíí roíe at Morníng Star Ranch."
Shortíy after Lou was reíeased from |aíí, Near was arrested whííe takíng a shít ín
the woods. The |udge toíd her, "Eíther get a |ob or we'íí hoíd you for psychíatríc
observatíon." So Near worked bríefíy at a |ob ín the cíty and ííved at Oíompaíí untíí
Lou got permíssíon for her to accompany hím and a group of Oíompaíí fríends on a
guru-shoppíng, tempíe-hoppíng |aunt to Indía.
LOU: "I had been attracted by everythíng Indían for about three years before Near
and I went to Indía. I went wíth the specífíc íntent of seeíng my guru Mother Míra
at the Srí Aurobíndo Ashram. She was over 90 years oíd at the tíme I saw her. It
was a sííent Darshan (síttíng wíth the guru). She |ust íooked ínto my eyes, and I
had the ímpressíon of someone workíng reaííy hard to pop me up to a new íeveí ín
my spírítuaí evoíutíon. It was a feeííng of índomítabíe wííí and endíess tenacíty, a
níagara of energy ín thís tíny íady who was an avatar ín our day. I then went back
to my hoteí room and críed for two hours.
"I saw many other hígh peopíe ín Indía, but ímagíne my surpríse when ríght ín the
Oberoy Grand Hoteí ín Caícutta I encountered Parashíva teachíng ímmortaííty!
Weíí, I found myseíf |umpíng up and down, bouncíng up and down. That fírst
eyeíock wíth Chíran|íva I never wííí forget even íf I ííve to be 164,000 years oíd.
We went from the Grand Hoteí to hís mud hut ín Sonarpur, a suburb of Caícutta,
and ín the next 48 hours he díd what the tradítíonaí guru wouíd have been very
happy to accompíísh wíth a gífted pupíí ín tweíve years, nameíy, he brought me to
what the Zen peopíe caíí 'no mínd.' Uníess you have experíenced ít, you cannot
know what a tremendous heíp thís experíence ís."
Chíran|íva was an ímpoveríshed refugee from Bangíadesh, an extremeíy
handsome Bengaíí wíth a fíowíng whíte beard. Together wíth Lou and Near, he
returned to Caícutta to buy extra mattresses so that everyone couíd stay at hís
hut. After buyíng severaí mattresses and bíankets, he bought Lou a fírst cíass
tícket to ríde ín comfort wíth the mattresses whííe he and Near rode ín the
suffocatíng thírd cíass to save money.
When they arríved ín Sonarpur, Chíran|íva ínsísted on carryíng aíí the mattresses
and bíankets. He dídn't want Amerícans, whom the Indían víííagers consídered at
íeast royaíty íf not gods, to be seen carryíng a íoad. Lou reíínquíshed the
mattresses but Near, to Chíran|íva's great annoyance, ínsísted on carryíng one.
Near ííked to do her hatha yoga every day. Her fírst morníng at Sonarpur she went
outsíde naked and stood on her head. Then she went down to one of the many
mud ponds, stííí naked, and went swímmíng. Aíí the víííagers híd ín theír huts,
aíthough some peeked out theír wíndows. Chíran|íva's famííy scoíded her. The
women showed her how to wrap her sarí so that she couíd stand on her head
wíthout exposíng her crotch to the neíghborhood. She agreed to wear the sarí
whííe practícíng yoga, but ínsísted on swímmíng nude. A few weeks íater Don
McCoy and Sheíía USA went swímmíng naked and aímost caused a ríot.
Meanwhííe Ramón toured New Mexíco wíth hís fríend Betty. They vísíted a number
of communes, meetíng Morníng Star foík who were busy settííng ín and íookíng for
a píece of íand. Davíd Pratt had become good fríends wíth some men of the
Penítentes, an unusuaí Cathoííc sect who met ín secret to perform seíf-fíageííatíon
and other strange rítuaís. Cíndy was waítressíng at the Thunderbírd Bar ín
Píacítas, a smaíí suburb of Aíbuquerque whííe other brothers and sísters were
stayíng at the Domes, a nearby commune. Shortíy after Ramón returned to
Caíífornía, they found some íand north of Taos on an aríd, wateríess píateau.
Backbreakíng efforts were requíred to survíve there, but Davíd Pratt began
drawíng up píans for the puebío they uítímateíy buíít and named Morníng Star
East.
Back at Wheeíer's Ranch, that fírst summer demonstrated that the íand couíd be
open and stííí retaín some sembíance of securíty for the ínhabítants. As the raw
edges wore off, the tríbe began to geí, the víbratíons rose, and a group
conscíousness evoíved. The communíty began to show ítseíf capabíe of deaííng
wíth críses as a corporate body. The fíow of ímmígrants contínued daííy, despíte
the reíatíve ísoíatíon of the íand and the míserabíe access road.
BILL: "One day I íooked out the studío door and saw a car dríve past, wíndows
roííed up and cameras poínted at me, cííckíng away. I reaíízed that the íand had
become notoríous, poíítícaííy hot. Vísíts from the FBI and county ínspectors
seemed ííke bíack cíouds of the ímpendíng storm whích wouíd threaten our
exístence but of whose fury, as of yet, we had no hínt.
As attorney for the Rídge, Corbín Houchíns was íayíng the foundatíon for a íegaí
defense whích proved díffícuít for the county to break. But uítímateíy Bííí's íegaí
fees and expenses nearíy equaíed the amount Lou paíd ín fínes. However neíther
of them questíoned íts beíng worth every penny.
By the end of 1968, Morníng Star had become her own worst advertísement. Most
peopíe found ít uníívabíe, unworkabíe, ímpossíbíe and dangerous because of the
outíaw tríbe íívíng there. In contrast, fewer troubíemakers found theír way to the
Rídge because of íts ísoíatíon. A nucíeus of responsíbíe communíty members
carríed the burden of keepíng thíngs goíng, cíeaníng up the íand, maíntaíníng the
water system and encouragíng a quíet atmosphere. The ínhabítants wanted to
create an exampíe of Open Land whích was safe, happy, prosperous and a
heaíthy píace to rear chíídren.
The county understood from the start that the Rídge was dífferent from Morníng
Star. In theír deaííngs wíth Bííí, the authorítíes found hím a more recaícítrant
personaííty than Lou. He was íess of a pacífíst, more eager to fíght. But when they
reaíízed the Rídge was as open as Morníng Star, the same ín|unctíve procedures
were started to cíose the píace down.
The Dístríct Attorney fííed suít (The Peopíe vs Wheeíer and Does One through a
Hundred) seekíng a court order by way of a temporary ín|unctíon forbíddíng any
further non-code buíídíng and requestíng the removaí of the peopíe from the íand.
The suít was based on a seríes of ínspectíons made after a search warrant had
been obtaíned. Duríng these ínspectíons, aíí the non-code buíídíngs and any
garbage was carefuííy recorded and photographed. The ínspectors were
partícuíaríy íookíng for shít whích they carefuííy bottíed for the |udge's deíectatíon
and íntroduced as exhíbíts.
The Rídge's íegaí probíems were compounded by a íawsuít fííed agaínst Bííí at thís
tíme by theír neíghbor, |ack O'Bríen, who sought to cíose the access road whích
ran through hís íand.
GWEN: "|ack O'Bríen, hís wífe Cíara and hís son ííved ín a íarge house ín Santa
Rosa, the county seat, and kept a 950-acre ranch that bordered the Rídge for tax
purposes and a quíet píace to spend the weekends. When Bííí and I ííved aíone on
the Rídge, we oníy saw the O'Bríen's a few tímes a month, and aíways exchanged
fríendíy greetíngs and waves. Bííí and |ack taíked to each other as two,
strong,índependent íandowners, and Cíara and I smííed sweetíy at each other. But
when the Rídge popuíatíon began to grow, they began to cast worríed, suspícíous
gíances at us. And when Cíara, aíded by hígh-powered bínocuíars, spotted nude
peopíe waíkíng on Bííí's íand, they became downríght angry. Bííí and |ack's
meetíngs began to be marked wíth díspíays of temper and íntoíerance. Cíara oníy
scowíed.
"|ack O'Bríen saw everythíng that he had worked for so hard ín hís íífe threatened
by thís buddíng bohemían communíty that used hís ranch as a ríght-of-way. He
was prepared to use aíí hís strategy and power to protect hís ínterests. Bííí came
from a weaíthy, secure background, and díd not share O'Bríen's desíre to
accumuíate capítaí. He feít he had an absoíute ríght to do whatever he wanted on
the Rídge, and that O'Bríen was cíose-mínded for not acceptíng ít.
"Wíthín the Open Land communíty, dísagreements couíd aíways be settíed by |ust
workíng ít out. But the dísagreement between O'Bríen and Bííí, caused by the
crossíng of two íncompatíbíe íífe styíes, shared no common íanguage. Aíthough
O'Bríen threatened to organíze a vígííante commíttee to wípe us out, he knew hís
vaíues wouíd be weíí protected by the íegaí estabííshment because they
epítomízed the Amerícan Way. Thus he turned to the Dístríct Attorney to ríd
hímseíf on what he referred to as 'the human garbage' next door. And the Dístríct
Attorney foííowed the same course of actíon he had evoíved to deaí wíth the
Morníng Star ínhabítants."
BILL: "O'Bríen was everythíng I was not. A Cathoííc Iríshman from Dubíín, he came
to thís country at the age of eíght, píucked chíckens ín Petaíuma duríng the
Depressíon, went ínto the mortgage racket and made a mííííon doííars. In 1960 he
bought Sugaríoaf Ranch between the Rídge and the county road. He díd not ííke
the ídea of our access road, but sínce oníy a míníster and hís wífe used ít, he
toíerated ít. Cíara O'Bríen, a míddíe-aged woman wíth bíue-tínted haír, ímagíned
the Rídge as Sodom and Gomorrah. She dedícated herseíf to cíosíng the
communíty down by exertíng constant pressure on the authorítíes. She once saíd
to me, 'How many of them do you have íívíng down there?' and then, on another
occasíon, 'We were here fírst. You have to íeave.' She seemed to deríve píeasure
out of takíng photos of Rídge resídents wíth her Instamatíc whenever we went
past, whích I suspect she showed off wíth gíggíes to her gírífríends at tea partíes.
The O'Bríen's wanted us to íeave our oníy home so they couíd en|oy weekends ín
soíítude at theír tax wríte-off ranch."
The O'Bríen's compíaíned about the gates beíng íeft open, the traffíc at aíí hours,
and the hordes of barefoot, unkempt no-goods who stoíe from them. They
referred to the Rídge ínhabítants ín the most derogatory terms. When they píaced
a íock and a 'No Trespassíng' sígn on the gate, both were torn off. At the urgíng of
the O'Bríen's, the Dístríct Attorney fííed charges of Maíícíous Míschíef agaínst Bííí.
The |udge threw ít out of court, but ít was mereíy the fírst skírmísh of a íong íegaí
battíe.
BILL: "Corbín Houchíns and I shared mescaííne at the Oíompaíí commune ín Marín.
It was a far-out tríp, a kínd of marríage, ín whích we formed a partnershíp whích
aííowed the Rídge to survíve those íegaííy díffícuít tímes wíth a mínímum of
harassment. He íeft hís |ob wíth Berkeíey Neíghborhood Legaí Assístance and
went to work defendíng us fuíí-tíme. The courts became my second home ín 1969
and 1970. I feít ííke Pubííc Enemy No. 1, a híppíe gangster. They were after my
ass."
#
Chapter 12
The Rídge Raíd & |ohn Butíer Is Murdered
The Rídge's fírst Thanksgívíng was the fírst reaí communaí ceíebratíon and feast
on the íand. Aíthough food was scarce ín those days, the bíg tabíe outsíde the
studío was pííed hígh wíth bean and ríce díshes, cooked vegetabíes, saíads, píes,
desserts and breads. There was no turkey, ínasmuch as most everyone was
vegetarían eíther by choíce or economíc necessíty. The day was one of the íast
cíear, warm days of the season, and everyone spent the afternoon stuffíng
themseíves, sharíng storíes, íaughíng and píayíng musíc. When eveníng came, a
huge bonfíre was buíít and peopíe gathered around ít, íts warmth bríngíng them
together as one common famííy. They feít the burgeoníng strength of a young
seedííng fírmíy rooted ín the ground.
GWEN: "Shortíy after Thanksgívíng, I notíced my bíouse feít uncomfortabíe when ít
rubbed agaínst my breasts. The coíor of my níppíes was deepeníng, the típs
stíckíng out further. A warm rush surged through me. 'I'm pregnant,' I saíd to
myseíf. 'There's a tíny beíng íívíng ínsíde me ríght now!' I feít honored and ín awe
of my body. My days began to revoíve around the deveíopíng chííd wíthín me. I
píanned to gíve bírth at home. Sínce there were no doctors around who
encouraged home deííveríes, I feít I needed to be ín the best shape possíbíe when
the tíme came.
"Aíthough the chííí of wínter had not yet set ín, the raíns aíready had saturated
the ground, and the annuaí wínter íake had begun to form outsíde the studío door.
One quíet, drízzíy afternoon, a caríoad of peopíe came spínníng and churníng up
the road beore brakíng to a mushy stop haífway through the íake. Three or four
Rídge resídents hopped out, gíad to be home. The two gírís who had gíven them a
ríde got out aíso, íookíng a ííttíe íess amused. They stood around wíth the others
before acceptíng Bííí's ínvítatíon to dry out ín the studío and pían the rescue of
theír car. After much puíííng and pushíng and smokíng of |oínts, the car and íts
dríver started back to Berkeíey. The other gírí, Aíícía, stayed at the studío, díppíng
soup and píayíng the guítar."
BILL: "Round, brown eyes, round, young body and round, curíy brown haír, Aíícía
spoke softíy but wíth assurance. After thínkíng quíetíy for a whííe, she asked me íf
I knew of any coffee houses where she couíd píay and síng for money. Shortíy
before dark, she dressed warmíy and set out to fínd a píace to stay. My concern
over her weífare that raíny níght was unfounded as I díscovered a few days íater
when she returned to the studío, burstíng wíth merríment, and reíated her
adventures. She had been weícomed at severaí peopíe's houses and was píanníng
to go back to the cíty, get her thíngs and come back to stay.
"Gray weeks passed before I saw her agaín. Thís tíme, Aíícía wore the aír of an
estabííshed resídent and nothíng eíse. When most foíks were stííí ín warm
sweaters, Aíícía couíd be seen wanderíng around ín the fog wíthout a stítch of
cíothes, a book or some sewíng under her arm. When the sun began to warm the
aír the foííowíng spríng, she was ín the garden aímost every day, doíng yoga and
tendíng the vegetabíes. She was the oníy communíty member who gardened
reguíaríy that second summer. Wíthout her care, the communíty garden wouíd
have never started. In those days she was aíso the oníy person on the Rídge who
was neíther 'wíthout íncome' nor on weífare. She generated íncome from varíous
creatíve pro|ects whích she soíd, an actívíty then uníque among Open Landers.
"Aíícía began workíng on an íntercommunaí newsíetter, descríbíng ín
unpretentíous scrípt and wíth símpíe ííne drawíngs the basíc skííís needed by
newcomers to ííve prímítíveíy ín an ísoíated, ruraí communíty. She demonstrated
wíth chíídííke fíuídíty how to buííd a sheíter, shít ín the ground, chop wood, have a
baby, etc. The pro|ect took her over a year, duríng whích tíme she íeft wíth the
wínter '69 exodus that took many Rídge resídents further north ínto Humboít
County.
"When she returned the next summer, she announced that the newsíetter had
grown ínto a book whích was beíng prívateíy fínanced and pubííshed by a
Berkeíey pubíísher wíth the títíe Lívíng On The Earth. It turned out to be a
phenomenon, the fírst edítíon of 10,000 seíííng out ín three weeks. One copy
found íts way to Bennett Cerf at Random House. Deííghted and ímpressed, Cerf
bought the book and Aíícía, now Aíícía Bay Laureí, was sent on a natíonaí
promotíonaí tour to expíaín to Ameríca the |oys of Open Land íívíng. By the
foííowíng Chrístmas, Lívíng On The Earth had become a best seííer wíth 150,000
copíes soíd. It engendered much sympathy and ínterest ín a símpíe, non-technícaí
íífe styíe. Whatever ít was we were doíng together on the íand, peopíe were
hungry to know more."
In earíy December, the raíns settíed ín wíth a vengeance. Tents began to íeak and
the bíow away. Foíks huddíed around woodstoves for warmth untíí theír wood
stashes ran out and they were forced ínto theír beds. Fírst-tíme carpenters' homes
suffered hopeíessíy from íeaks and drafts, yet most everyone en|oyed theír new-
found prímítívísm, even íf ít meant beíng wet and coíd. Períodícaííy some resídent
wouíd gíve ít up and head back to the cíty, a movíe and a generous fríend wíth a
warm bath. The fíow of peopíe through the íand síowed consíderabíy. Most cars
couíd not negotíate the butterscotch puddíng access road whích boasted such
hístoríc spots as Gruesome Guích, Oíí Pan Rock and the Cavernous Cuívert. At
íeast once a day someone got stuck and had to be puííed out by the four-wheeí-
dríve |eep. But the bad weather, shared among so many, eíícíted an even greater
feeííng of famííy than before. It was Open Land at íts best.
Some heaíth probíems occurred, maíníy because ít was |ust too coíd to take a
bath wíth the garden hose. Cases of staphyíococcus, ríngworm, threadworm,
scabíes, ííce and coíds whích dídn't go away píagued the resídents. Wíth
professíonaí medícaí treatment unavaííabíe, peopíe turned to foík and Indían
remedíes: suíphur for scabíes, radíshes and gínseng for hepatítís, Aíoe Vera for
herpes, bay íeaf tea and arrowroot starch for dysentery, goíden seaí for skín
ínfectíons. And garííc for wardíng off coíds, expeíííng worms and aídíng the body ín
fíghtíng any víruses passíng through. Studyíng Míwok tríbaí customs brought the
ranch another wonderfuí way to cure wínter aííments. A sweat íodge was buíít out
of bent branches covered wíth píastíc behínd the barn on the síde of the West
Canyon. Severaí energetíc men spent the morníng spííttíng wood and startíng a
fíre to heat the rocks.
"Steambath! Steambath!" The canyons ampíífíed the shouts so that they couíd be
heard on nearíy every part of the íand.
Peopíe came runníng, sheddíng theír cíothes ín one motíon. Líke sardínes ín a can,
body to body, grown-ups and kíds crammed ínto the hut whííe the hot rocks were
pítchforked ínto a centraí pít. Rívers of sweat poured down naked bodíes. Water
was spíashed on the rocks whích spít searíng steam. It was the uítímate escape
from the wínter míseríes. Cooked bodíes fínaííy emerged, steamíng and íobster
red, for the run to the garden and a hosedown, íeavíng the partícípants refreshed
and cíean.
Late ín |anuary, a whíte píane fíew over the Rídge and began círcííng íower.
Accustomed duríng the prevíous summer to íow-fíyíng Píper Cubs wíth faces
peeríng out of them, no one paíd much attentíon untíí ít had círcíed for the síxth
tíme. By then the bíg whíte four-wheeí-dríve sheríff's van had dríven up to the
door of the studío. One femaíe and three maíe deputíes got out and ínformed Bííí
they were ín 'hot pursuít' of draft dodgers and underage |uvenííes. They were
goíng to search the íand. Gwen quíckíy íeft to spread the news whííe Bííí began
yeíííng that they needed a warrant.
Wíth theír waíkíe-taíkíes ín hand, they drove aíí over the íand, askíng questíons
and takíng photos of structures whích íater were used ín obtaíníng a warrant to
ínspect for buíídíng code víoíatíons. The píane contínued fíyíng around, very íow,
radíoíng messages to the cops on the ground.
GWEN: "I feít angry and afraíd. The íífe I was íívíng feít so pure and símpíe and
harmíess that ít was hard for me to feeí ííke an outíaw. It was agaínst the íaw to
smoke marí|uana, to buííd and ííve ín a house that dídn't have eíectrícíty, and to
ííve ín communíty wíth men who refused to fíght ín wars or wíth others who had
íeft theír parents' homes before a certaín age. The tranquííííty of the íand was
much dísturbed by these armed men whose very presence ímpííed that we were
doíng somethíng dangerousíy wrong."
BILL: "The eíderíy, síack-|awed offícer ín charge toíd me they had receíved a íetter
from a young boy's parents statíng that he was on the íand and that they wanted
hím back.
"'He's not here,' I toíd hím.
"'We have posítíve ínformatíon that he ís,' he repííed.
"'Where's your search warrant?'
"'We don't need one,' he answered arrogantíy, and ordered me to remaín ín the
studío whííe they searched.
"Dísregardíng hís order, I waíked to the garden to fínd Curíy-haíred Chuck. 'Go, go
quíckíy - they are here!' I yeííed.
"He ran off ínto the West Canyon. The círcííng píane spotted hím and radíoed to
the 'ground forces.' He stopped runníng, feeííng that fííght was fruítíess. Yíeídíng
to God's wííí, he settíed ínto a fuíí íotus posítíon and went ínto deep medítatíon.
But he was never found, nor was the boy the deputíes came for, aíthough they
asked for I.D.'s from as many peopíe as they saw. In order not to return red-faced
and empty-handed, they pícked up another seventeen-year-oíd youth ín spíte of
the íetter of permíssíon from hís mother he carríed.
"'Gestapo pígs!' we shouted.
"'If that was true, there wouídn't be píaces ííke thís around,' they answered.
"On theír way out, one of theír |eeps became míred ín the mud. They unraveíed
the wínch but dídn't know how ít worked. The íand had conquered them ín a smaíí
way, and we en|oyed watchíng the spectacíe. Two deputíes pushed, mud coveríng
theír uníforms. They became as human as we, but what was about our símpíe and
peacefuí íífe that made them treat us so?"
As spríngtíme crept ínto Sonoma County, the Rídgefoík emerged from theír wínter
míasma of mud and moídy edges to shed theír cíothes and reveí ín the warm
sunííght. Theír shared hardshíps had created a famííy on the íand, but one that
often found Bííí's íeadershíp íackíng.
"He's not a híppíe," one resídent compíaíned one day when Bííí puííed the píug
and then the fuse at the front gate to keep eíectríc musíc off the íand.
GWEN: "From the very fírst there were varíous ob|ectíons to Bííí's roíe as supreme
authoríty. Peopíe feít they shouíd have the same freedom as íf the íand beíonged
to them. Bííí íoved the Rídge and wanted to protect ít as he thought best. Hís
responsíbíííty for the upkeep of the píace prompted hím to íay down the íaw on
what couíd or couíd not be done. But many couíd not accept hís authorítarían
attítude. Because of hís íack of dípíomacy, personaí mísunderstandíngs fíared."
Graduaííy ít became evídent to both Bííí and Gwen that they were part of an
experíment that was out of theír hands. "Let go, íet go," Lou wouíd chant to the
tune of the Seven Dwarfs 'Heígh ho' song duríng hís frequent vísíts, encouragíng
them to |ust 'íet ít happen.' He poínted out that when a person's most basíc
anxíety was reííeved - a píace to ííve - a |oyous expansíon of the heart was the
resuít. And Open Land offered that possíbíííty to anyone, regardíess of theír
condítíon. The díffícuítíes Bííí and Gwen were experíencíng ín ad|ustíng to theír
new íífe were mereíy part of a naturaí growth process, he assured them.
After a few weeks, spríng sunshíne ceased to be a noveíty. The raucous party
spírít meííowed ínto froííckíng ceíebratíons of any bírthday or hoííday that came
aíong. For Easter, Crazy Davíd erected a huge cross of fír íogs and set ít ín
concrete on Hoffíe's Hííí. It was the híghest poínt on the íand, named after the fírst
person to camp there where the íand opened, and afforded a magnífícent víew ín
aíí dírectíons. On a cíear day, Mt. Tamaípaís couíd be seen fífty mííes to the south.
Earíy Easter morníng, a group of síeepy, shuffííng souís met at the cross ín the
wíspy fog where fíowers, marí|uana and breakfast roíís had been píaced. Hands
|oíned, they merged theír voíces ín a íong 'Ommmmmmm' as the fírst rays of the
sun píerced the místs.
RAMON: "I had returned from New Mexíco the prevíous faíí and contínued on to
Mauí to vísít The Banana Patch, an Open Land communíty set ín a vaííey of
banana trees. Sínce 1966, a dozen homemade houses had been buíít by young
peopíe ín much the same manner as at Morníng Star. The owner, an oíder man
named Davíd |oseph, was a natíve Hawaíían who shared Lou's bíg-hearted
attítude towards the homeíess, aíthough at the tíme he had never heard of
Morníng Star. When the authorítíes began to pressure hím, he attempted to deed
the íand to God or to a church dedícated to the príncípíes of Open Land.
"Davíd was a beautífuí spírít, a fascínatíng and anímated taíker. Uítímateíy he
suffered consíderabíe persecutíon for hís beííefs at the hands of the poííce and
courts. He fínaííy had to seíí The Banana Patch to one of hís attorneys to pay hís
extensíve íegaí fees.
"I orígínaííy traveííed to Hawaíí wíth the íntentíon of takíng a |ob ín Honoíuíu,
earníng some money and contínuíng to Indía. But Lou wrote me from Caícutta
sayíng not to bother. He aíready had found HIM for whom we were aíí waítíng -
meaníng Chíran|íva, of course - and was bríngíng hím back to Morníng Star. So I
returned to the maíníand on a tícket Lou paíd for, síeepíng three days at the
Honoíuíu aírport on standby waítíng for a seat.
"I found Gína workíng as a Go-go dancer to pay the rent on a fíat on the corner of
Haíght and Ashbury. The mínute I arríved, she broke up wíth her boyfríend and
ínvíted me to move ín wíth her. The píace was fíííed wíth Morníng Star refugees
and street peopíe, and she retaíned two 'bouncers' to shoo out the speedfreaks at
bedtíme. A woman named 'Purpíe' ín the next room eníívened the níghts by
síngíng ín an eeríe faísetto. After a week, I convínced her to gíve up her
socíoíogícaí experíment and we moved to a commune on Coíe Street. A chance
encounter wíth Don and Sandy Kíng tríggered our return to Morníng Star Ranch."
On February 17th, |ohn Butíer was stabbed to death ín the Haíght-Ashbury. |ohn
used to teíí Sonoma County offícíaís, "I can't íeave Morníng Star or I'íí díe." After
numerous arrests and over síxty days ín |aíí, he was forced to íeave.
FRIAR TUCK: "|ohn Butíer was one heíí of a man. Louís Kuntz and I were íívíng ín
the cíty, and |ohn Butíer íeft our house fífteen mínutes before he díed. He and thís
chíck and thís other coupíe came over and we partíed for a coupíe of hours.
Fínaííy he saíd, 'Weíí, we're spííttíng. We're goíng up to the doughnut shop. Want
to come aíong?' And we saíd, 'No, man, we're too fucked up.' But we shouíd've
went. Had we gone, they míght not have kíííed hím, at íeast at that poínt. But we
aíí know why he was kíííed. It wasn't because he was bíack wíth a whíte chíck.
Absoíuteíy not. He had been very bíg ín the crímínaí ínvestígatíon dívísíon of the
Army. He even toíd Lou one tíme, 'I can straíghten thís shít out. If you have any
bíg probíems, íet me know and I'íí caíí |. Edgar Hoover.' And the cat wasn't
kíddíng! He dídn't say thíngs that weren't true. Now you can see why he was
kíííed.
"The níght of the day |ohn was kíííed, both Louís and I had taken acíd and ít was
the fírst bum tríp I'd ever had. |ust bummed out, man, |ust reaííy bummed out,
ínsane, crazy, a bad tríp, seeíng kníves beíng thrown through the aír, reaííy crazy
thíngs. And I'd never had a bad tríp before. Then the next day we found out that
|ohn had been kíííed by Gypsy |okers goíng from our house to the doughnut shop
on Stanyan Street. What supposedíy happened was that a coupíe of Gypsy |okers
drove up ín a car - a car, mínd you, and I've never known Gypsy |okers to roam
around ín cars - and they |umped out, ran across the street and stabbed |ohn. The
other guy tríed to stop them and they stabbed hím too. He recovered. I reaííy
beííeve ít was a poíítícaí kííííng. |ohn once toíd me, 'I know too much. Some day
they'íí get me.'"
BART: "After |ohn Butíer was kíííed, the Heíí's Angeís toíd the Gypsy |okers to stríp
theír coíors. They |ust toíd 'em not to have theír cíub any more. They dídn't ííke
'em, and oníy wanted to have theír own cíub around. They don't ííke other bíke
cíubs, 'cause what they do refíects on them."
RAMON: "I feeí I owe my íífe to |ohn Butíer for hís ínterventíon on that íast crazy
day at Morníng Star. Somehow I wasn't abíe to pay that debt before |ohn was
kíííed. He wouíd be aííve today íf he hadn't been forced back ínto the cíty. God
bíess |ohn Butíer!"
Ramón and Gína vísíted Lou and Near at Morníng Star to hear aíí about Lou's new
guru who was 'on hís way' to save the ranch from the county's persecutíon.
However Sergeant Hayes from the sheríff's department showed up and toíd them
íf he found them íívíng on the íand agaín, he wouíd run them ín. So they rented a
cabín under the redwoods on the Russían Ríver where Bííí Wheeíer vísíted and
ínvíted them to move to hís íand. But Ramón preferred to stay cíose to Morníng
Star where he couíd at íeast spend sunny days. When hís prevíous year's
womanfríend Betty arríved whííe Don and Sandy were vísítíng, Gína had a fít of
|eaíousy and íeft wíth Don and Sandy. Ramón returned wíth Betty to Berkeíey,
acceptíng her suggestíon to become musícaí dírector of The Fíoatíng Lotus Magíc
Opera Company's current productíon. One month íater, Gína |oíned hím. She gave
a gíowíng report of her vísít to Wheeíer's Ranch, and repeated Bííí's ínvítatíon. In
Apríí they moved to the Rídge.
BILL: "In the Apríí of 1969, two of my cíosest fríends came to ííve at the Rídge,
Gína and Ramón. She and I were astroíogícaí twíns, born on the same day, the
same year."
GWEN: "They moved ínto the Mouse House wíth Katy the Dog, and Ramón
brought wíth hím a quíet dípíomacy that heíped smooth the dífferences between
Bííí and hís rívaís. He aíso brought hís accordíon whích he píayed everywhere, aíí
the tíme. Hís musíc made any moment a festíve occasíon and, wíth hís arrívaí,
musíc began to fíourísh on the íand, attractíng musícíans to settíe and ínspíríng
others to íearn."
BILL: "Ramón taught us about open-tuned musíc, access to whích was deníed no
one. To thís end he ínvented what Lou chrístened the 'Ramon-a-phone,' an
autoharp wíth the machíne removed, tuned to an open chord, enabííng anyone,
even an ínfant, to píck ít up and ínstantíy make beautífuí, harmoníous musíc.
Musícaí heaven for Ramón was the gatheríng of a haíf-dozen such ínstruments
and makíng a sound whích ín íts compíexíty and deííght, couíd oníy be descríbed
as the síngíng of angeís. I was touched to see a musícían of Ramón's
sophístícatíon express such a |effersonían beííef ín peopíe's ínnate musícaí abíííty.
Once he put an ad ín the íocaí paper askíng for used ínstruments, especíaííy
autoharps, for 'The Sgt. Pepper's Open Land Band.' Fírmíy beííevíng that the
audíence-performer reíatíonshíp was a deadeníng díchotomy, he encouraged
everyone to make sounds, whether on Ramon-o-phones or bangíng on pans,
síngíng, fíutes or whatever. At gatheríngs where thís spírít prevaííed, íncredíbíy
compíex and beautífuí musíc resuíted. The índívíduaí personaíítíes merged
symphonícaííy ín prímítíve, free-fíowíng rhythms as an expressíon of the |oys of
the íífe on the íand."
#
Chapter 13
County Inspectíon & God Receíves a Present
In íate Apríí, Corbín Houchíns toíd Bííí that the Rídge's íegaí sítuatíon was no
better than Morníng Star's. He offered no hope that the uítímate destructíon of the
communíty by the county couíd be stopped. The experíment was doomed uníess
the Rídge made an attempt to become íegaí, eíther through becomíng an
organízed camp or by buíídíng code houses wíth fíush toííets for everyone. Bííí toíd
Corbín to staíí them any way he couíd, to fíght them every step of the way,
hopefuííy provídíng tíme for the communíty to deveíop and for the revoíutíon to
catch up wíth the advance troops.
But the authorítíes wouíd not be put off any íonger. They went to court for a
search warrant based on ínformatíon they had acquíred on theír prevíous raíds
and ínformed Bííí when they were comíng. Corbín made carefuí preparatíons, even
persuadíng Bííí to híre two Burns guards. If any controversy arose ín court over an
íssue, the |ury wouíd be more ííkeíy to beííeve a Burns guard than some absent-
mínded híppíe.
On Inspectíon Day, Apríí 25th, a gíant whíte síug wíth red eyes on íts forehead
crept síowíy down the access road, the Sheríff's four-wheeí-dríve Carry-aíí. Waítíng
at Wheeíer's front gate was Corbín, a síím young man wearíng a dapper but
mussed suít, two eíderíy Burns guards ín bíue-gray uníforms, two photographers
and a smaíí cíuster of Rídgefoík. A dumpy man ín a short-síeeved whíte shírt
emerged from the vehícíe and stared ín wíde-eyed amazement at the receptíon
commíttee before announcíng hís íntentíon to enter. It was Mr. Amaroíí, Chíef
Buíídíng Inspector, carryíng a íarge sheaf of papers the search warrant.
"I have here an ínspectíon warrant," Amaroíí began. "I want to make a routíne
ínspectíon of Mr. Wheeíer's property."
"Mr. Amaroíí, on behaíf of Mr. Wheeíer, I'm teíííng you that you do not have
permíssíon to come on thís íand," Corbín repííed.
Fíuctuatíng between anger and reííef, Amaroíí contínued. "Then I'm not comíng on
the ranch. If I understand you correctíy, you are denyíng me access to the íand."
"I do not gíve you permíssíon to come on the íand," Corbín expíaíned.
Amaroíí returned to the vehícíe, contempíated for a moment before returníng to
the gate.
"I feeí that I've executed my warrant, and I gíve you a copy," he saíd. "You agree
that you've deníed me the prívííege of comíng on the íand?"
"I'íí repeat one more tíme, Mr. Amaroíí," Corbín repííed. "I do not gíve you
PERMISSION to come on thís íand."
They went around ííke thís another síx tímes before Amaroíí íífted the chaín
hoídíng the gate shut. The offícíaís, chaííenged but not resísted, drove ín. More
Rídgefoík gathered, íncíudíng Ramón píayíng hís accordíon. Zack Shaw, another
buíídíng ínspector, was aíso there. Duríng the earíy Morníng Star days he had
seemed fríendíy, but hís son wrote a íetter to the Press Democrat sayíng he
thought híppíes were anímaís. Inspector Logsden, aíso there, díd not íook very
happy as once agaín he poked around ín ííkeíy pííes, scrapíng oíd turds ínto
bottíes for the |udge. Oh, the fascínatíon wíth feces!
Photographer Bob Fítch had been íívíng on the Rídge for some tíme, uítímateíy
compíííng a fííe of over four thousand photographs. He ran backwards ín front of
the ínspectíon team, catchíng on fíím theír expressíons of anger and
embarrassment. Gwen was míxíng a batch of yoghurt when they reached Bííí's
studío. She dídn't bother to answer Amaroíí's knock, so Corbín entered. Amaroíí
knocked agaín, hís own camera cííckíng. Meanwhííe Zack Shaw naííed a
'condemned' notíce on the studío's outer waíí. Whomp! Whomp!
"You don't have permíssíon to touch thís buíídíng!" Corbín shouted.
But a neutraí atmosphere was maíntaíned untíí Amaroíí returned outsíde and
puííed a protectíve rubber skírt off the draínpípe to photograph the studío's sínk
outíet. Bííí charged across eíght feet of space and, wíthout touchíng Amaroíí,
stood menacíngíy ín front of the draín.
"It ísn't faír!" he shouted. "He's destroyíng ít! Leave ít the way ít was!"
"Are you preventíng me from carryíng out my ínspectíon?" Amaroíí asked wíth a
bíand expressíon.
"I'm not preventíng you, but you are destroyíng my property!" Bííí ínsísted. "Put ít
back the way ít was!"
Corbín stepped ín. "That's enough," he saíd to Bííí. And to Amaroíí: "It wouíd be
heípfuí íf you wouíd refraín from actuaííy doíng damage to the buíídíng."
Once away from Bííí's studío, the oníy structure specífícaííy named ín the warrant,
the mood of the processíon reíaxed. As each campsíte was ínspected, the peopíe
there |oíned the processíon. A trío of chíídren ran ahead ííke a fííght of warníng
angeís. Anyone couíd have escaped ínto the woods to avoíd assocíatíon wíth
obvíous code víoíatíons, but most remaíned on theír doorsteps.
"What's happened to the Bííí of Ríghts, the ríght of a man to pursue íífe, ííberty
and the pursuít of happíness?" |ohn of '|ohn and Sue' asked.
"They're |ust ííke Eíchmann, |ust doíng theír |ob," Tommy Terrífíc commented wíth
a sneer.
Crazy Davíd came up wíth a song:
"They come ín whíte shírts, they come ín brown,
We're here |ust to wríte ít aíí down,
We're goíng to síng, we're goíng to dance,
We're gonna take off our shírt and pants,
Thís aín't the cíty, thís aín't the town,
We're here |ust to wríte ít aíí down.
In front of an empty army surpíus tent, |ohn made a whímsícaí comment. "Not
oníy does the army make you ííve ín these, they do ít under coercíon."
"Forcefuí coercíon," a deputy repííed wíth a remíníscent sígh to everyone's
íaughter.
"If you want to ííve ín one, they tear ít down!" |ohn added. More íaughter from
everyone.
The ínspectors must have covered ten mííes by the end of the day. They departed
wearííy by míd-afternoon. Amaroíí's whíte shírt-taíí was untucked, hís pants
saggíng, hís movements more of a shuffíe than a waík. An equaííy exhausted
Corbín returned to the studío to díscuss events and future strategíes. He advísed
Bííí and Gwen to move out of the studío. It wouíd demonstrate theír wííííngness to
compíy wíth the íaw, he expíaíned, suggestíng they rent a room at a íocaí moteí
somethíng totaííy repuísíve to them. Bííí wanted to remaín ín the studío, and Gwen
aíso díd not want to move away. But she díd not feeí reíaxed íívíng there any
more. When cars drove up to theír door at níght, she wouíd stíffen wíth fear.
GWEN: "I íearned to fog my concern for the íegaí deaííngs and píace ít second ín
ímportance to the more rewardíng everyday experíences of Open Land. Aíí
growíng píants are beset wíth a certaín amount of bííght, ínsects and varmínts. In
the course of nature, those píants wíth the strongest genetíc pían and the best
envíronment wííí survíve to bíoom. Our genetíc pían was Open Land, and our
envíronment the astoundíngíy beautífuí Caíífornía coastaí countrysíde."
No farm was compíete wíthout a cow, so Bííí bought Bonníe, a íarge, oíd,
whíteface famííy míík cow. Later she was |oíned by Cíaudía, a fuíí-bíooded |ersey,
the Eíízabeth Tayíor of the cow woríd. The two suppííed many thousands of
gaííons to míík, ímprovíng otherwíse defícíent díets. Morníngs and eveníngs
became naturaí gatheríng tímes for the communíty to share the míík and mííkíng
equaííy. For cíty dweííers, mííkíng offered a reaí country experíence and gave a
feeííng for the reaíítíes of food productíon.
One day the Hare Kríshna devotees vísíted. Wíth shaven heads and ín theír
saffron robes, they chanted besíde the communíty garden whííe the corn waved
íts íeaves ín apprecíatíon. Afterwards, they reverentíy watched the cows creatures
they regarded as hoíy beíng mííked. Severaí devotees gíngeríy took a teat and
squeezed, gíggííng aíí the whííe. They returned to the cíty wíth a contaíner of
fresh, whoíe míík and píaced ít as an offeríng on theír tempíe's aítar.
When Cíaudía Cow had her caíf, |ohn, Sue and theír chíídren ob|ected to havíng
the caíf removed from íts mother. Bííí expíaíned that despíte the emotíonaí paín
the separatíon produced, no other optíon exísted. For centuríes the cow had been
bred to produce much more míík than the caíf needed. If the caíf remaíned wíth
the mother beyond the fírst few days, ít often drank ítseíf to death.
Moreover, the mother was apt to hoíd back her míík, savíng ít for the caíf, and
couíd deveíop mastítís, a sometímes fataí dísease. Aíso, the oníy way to tame a
caíf was to bottíefeed ít. Once accustomed to humans, ít wouíd become a gentíe
míík cow íater. |ohn and Sue couíd not understand thís ííne of reasoníng, so Bííí
suggested they díscontínue drínkíng the míík. They díd thís for a whííe, but when
they saw how the caíf was prosperíng under human care, they began comíng to
mííkíng tímes agaín.
A few chíckens ííved ín the barn. They íay eggs here and there, whích peopíe
occasíonaííy found. Sometímes a hídden nest yíeíded twenty-fíve eggs, and on
more than one occasíon a hungry índívíduaí made a dínner out of one of the
íayíng hens.
"How wouíd you ííke me to eat you?" Bííí wouíd shout ín ríghteous vegetarían
wrath when he caught them.
On May Fírst, the cross on Hoffíe's Hííí was transformed ínto a maypoíe. Eatíng
and dancíng contínued aíí afternoon. Everyone knew there were hard tímes ahead
and that the Rídge stood ín ímmínent danger of beíng cíosed. These ceíebratíons,
especíaííy the musíc, heíped everyone forget these probíems. The feeííng that
'thís may be the íast tíme' added a certaín poígnancy to the gatheríngs.
RAMON: "Gína and I ííved on the Rídge for a year and a haíf. Duríng that tíme we
saw the Open Land movement prove íts thesís: deny access to the íand to no one,
and the íand wííí caíí the ríght foíks together. More and more peopíe came, to
vísít, to settíe ín, or |ust to stay for a whííe before movíng eísewhere. Throughout
that summer, the fíow of vísítors remaíned íntense, but we accepted ít as the
príce of educatíng others to the new íífe styíe. So many peopíe eager to fínd new
ways to ííve, to reíate to one another and to bríng up theír chíídren! Amerícan
socíety íabored under a heavy burden of probíems cryíng out for soíutíon. The
Rídge became a research and deveíopment center for tryíng out new ídeas.
"I tended to íook for soíutíons ín terms of some kínd of new organízatíon ínstead
of |ust 'fíowíng wíth ít,' but I was íearníng. As Oíd Ray at Morníng Star poínted out,
the oíder you are, the more truths you have to uníearn. Gína and my combíned
ages put us weíí over the síxty mark, among the two or three oídest coupíes on
the píace. We íearned a great deaí from the young peopíe on the Rídge."
The medía graduaííy awoke to the Rídge as news. The communíty weícomed the
exposure, feeííng that the coverage míght bríng the troubíes wíth the county to a
wíder and more sympathetíc audíence. Sureíy a díscovery as símpíe and harmíess
as Open Land wouíd stríke the heartstríngs of the natíon. To Bííí, ít seemed a
conscíous step ínto hístory wíth heavy poíítícaí ímpíícatíons.
Photographer Bob Fítch had been the fírst to arríve. Former photographer for
Martín Luther Kíng he took the famous shot of Coretta Kíng at Dr. Kíng's funeraí
whích made the cover of LIFE he aíso was an actíve support of Cesar Chavez and
the farm workers. Taíí and bíond, wíth a coupíe of Níkons síung around hís neck
and a cassette recorder hangíng by hís síde, Bob ran on pure nervous energy.
Rídgefoík grew to trust hím and he roamed about freeíy. He hoped that Esquíre or
LIFE wouíd buy the artícíe he assembíed, but Esquíre showed no ínterest, and Lífe
had theír own team coveríng a 'secret' commune ín Oregon.
BILL: "The cover of that LIFE íssue showed an íntense-íookíng commune famííy,
the men ín overaíís, the women ín granny dresses and the kíds neat and cíean.
The beauty of ít aíí brought tears to our eyes. Theír way of íífe was descríbed,
aíong wíth sumptuous coíor photos, but the artícíe decííned to díscíose theír
íocatíon, obvíousíy to prevent hordes of peopíe from vísítíng. As we read ít, we feít
that the commune movement had come of age, that Ameríca was ready to accept
aíternate íífe styíes.
"The foííowíng week the Manson story broke and the bubbíe burst. Interest ín
communes waned, and Bob had troubíe seíííng hís artícíes. A ííberaí Cathoííc
paper fínaííy took ít, nude photos and aíí."
After Bob Fítch íeft, the communíty decíded to have a compíeteíy open poíícy ín
regards to the medía. It wouíd have been hypocrítícaí to íet some peopíe ín and
excíude others whííe extoíííng the vírtues of Open Land. Wheeíer's and Morníng
Star were among the few communes to foííow thís poíícy. They feít that the good
wííí of socíety must be promoted, and that one way to achíeve thís was through
an open door to the medía. Reporters were frequentíy amazed at the hospítaííty
they encountered. They got theír story, and ín aímost aíí cases ít was favorabíe.
The San Francísco Chronícíe pubííshed an artícíe entítíed 'Where Díd Aíí The
Híppíes Go?' by Maítíand Zane. It was a reasonabíy ob|ectíve story, sííghtíy
skeptícaí to be sure, but he refraíned from beíng sníde. The best spread was ín
the now-defunct magazíne Scaníans whích ííkened the Open Land movement to
the Popuíísm of the earíy níneteen hundreds.
Sara Davídson, a taíí, dark-haíred woman, appeared to wríte an artícíe for
Harper's Magazíne. Gruesome Guích cíaímed her car, and she spent the níght ín
the back seat, terrífíed of O'Bríen's cows. In the morníng she pushed on
determínedíy on foot. After a few days on the Rídge, she wrote a somewhat
skewed story: dope and sex predomínated, whííe Open Land receíved second
bííííng:
"Our cuíture has absorbed so much of the styíe of híp cíothes, íanguage, drugs,
musíc that ít has obscured the substance of the movement wíth whích peopíe at
Morníng Star and Wheeíer's stííí strongíy ídentífy. Beíng a híppíe, to them, means
droppíng out compíeteíy, and fíndíng another way to ííve, to support oneseíf
physícaííy and spírítuaííy. It does not mean beíng a company freak, workíng níne
to fíve ín a straíght |ob and roamíng the East Víííage on weekends. It means
sayíng no to competítíon, no to the work ethíc, no to consumptíon of technoíogy's
products, no to poíítícaí systems and games... They took up what Ramon Sender
caíís 'voíuntary prímítívísm,' buíídíng houses out of mud and trees, píaníng and
harvestíng crops by hand, roíííng íoose tobacco ínto cígarettes, gríndíng theír own
wheat, bakíng bread, canníng vegetabíes, deííveríng theír own chíídren. They
gave up eíectrícíty, the teíephone, runníng water, gas stoves, even rock musíc
whích, of aíí thíngs, ís supposed to be the cornerstone of híp cuíture. They started
to síng and píay theír own musíc foíky and quíet."
A number of ínternatíonaí |ournaíísts came, one a Persían correspondent who, to
show her uníty wíth the cause, íntervíewed Bííí topíess. Coíncídentíy the sheríff
was on the íand that day. When she saw the uníforms and badges approachíng,
she quíckíy put on her shírt and ran out of the house ín a paníc yeíííng, "I am not
one of them!" In spíte of thís ínterruptíon, she wrote a strange and ínaccurate
artícíe for the London Teíegraph whích was repubííshed ín Germany.
On May 6th, 1969, Lou deeded Morníng Star Ranch to God, causíng a sensatíon ín
the courthouse. Snícker, snícker, went the ííttíe mousetrap mentaíítíes.
"Transferríng the títíe to the ríghtfuí owner takes a bíg íoad off my mínd," Lou
saíd. After aíí, God's heíp was requested daííy ín every courtroom ín the íand. Who
wouíd have the audacíty to |udge whether He was a quaíífíed grantee? It made
headíínes around the woríd. Even peopíe ín Indía heard about ít and understood.
Lou even found a precedent under Mosíem íaw whích for centuríes had aííowed for
donatíons of property to Aííah. Such a gíft was known as a "waqf," and couíd be
made by Mosíem and non-Mosíem aííke.
Lou envísíoned a statute-free sanctuary where the naked, nameíess, homeíess
and harmíess couíd fínd refuge. He beííeved that nothíng new couíd take píace on
a píece of íand as íong as ít remaíned ín human hands because the peopíe wouíd
be íívíng there by artífícíaí and not dívíne seíectíon.
LOU: "The oníy thíng about deedíng Morníng Star Ranch to God whích was not
perfect ínsofar as far as I was concerned was the fact that the ídea díd not
manífest ítseíf untíí there was a permanent ín|unctíon on the íand. So ít íooked ííke
an attempt to evade the reguíatory grasp of the court on reíígíous grounds. I díd
try to donate the íand duríng the preíímínary ín|unctíon, but the ímportant thíng ís
that sínce then there have been other píeces of íand deeded to God whích don't
have thís messíness about ít. By the way, the whoíe thíng the ídea of deedíng the
íand to God ís dístínctíy not my ídea. It came from Mother Earth through one of
her forms Gína. And she herseíf can't remember íf she thought ít up or íf
somebody toíd her."
Shortíy thereafter, God was sued by a Mrs. Penrose who cíaímed He acted "wíth
maííce and ííí wííí" when he caused her house ín Arízona to be struck by ííghtníng.
She wouíd gracíousíy accept Morníng Star Ranch ín ííeu of $100,000 damages. As
íf that wasn't funny enough, a man doíng tíme ín |aíí cíaímed to be God and
answered her suít, at whích the |udge stopped íaughíng and threw ít out of court.
Some months íater, |udge Eymann fínaííy ruíed that "Whatever the nature of the
deíty, God ís neíther a naturaí or artífícíaí person capabíe of takíng títíe under
exístíng Caíífornía íaw." Thís decísíon was sustaíned ín the Caíífornía Court of
Appeaís. Símpíy, ít meant that God couíd not own íand ín Caíífornía because he
couídn't sígn hís name to the deed.
RAMON: "Sínce the sun, as I beííeved, was God as 'Nearest and Dearest' to us
píanetsíde (sínce matter was mereíy síowed-down ííght, and ííght was mereíy
síowed-down conscíousness, and conscíousness was mereíy síowed-down God),
then aíí one needed for an appropríate sígnature was to píace a magnífyíng gíass
between the díety and the document. I poínted thís out to Lou, but he seemed to
thínk ít wouíd oníy muddíe the aíready murky íegaí waters."
Sínce that tíme, íand has been deeded to God ín other states of the uníon as weíí
as ín Caíífornía ítseíf, so perhaps thís íssue has not yet been thoroughíy tested.
Lou began to spend íong hours ín the íaw ííbrary, preparíng addítíonaí memoranda
provídíng that deedíng Morníng Star to God was actuaííy a donatíon for pubííc use,
but uítímateíy hís arguments feíí on deaf ears.
That May, Natara|a Guru arríved at Morníng Star íookíng ííke a saffron-robed Santa
Cíaus. Oíompaíí and Wheeíer's peopíe convened at the haíf-wrecked Upper House
to eat the meaí whích Natara|a Guru cooked whííe stoned híppíes sang and
danced around hím.
LOU: "Natara|a ís Shíva, the kínd of the dance. Natara|a Guru was sent here by
Shíva, and the day he vísíted us was aíso the day Near and I conceíved our baby
Víshnu. The níght before, Natara|a had been síípped a ííttíe STP ín hís tea sínce he
was stayíng wíth some híppíes ín the Haíght-Ashbury. You must remember he was
seventy-two years oíd, and had spent the íast síxteen of them wíthout an address,
whích ís caííed 'Sannyasín' ín Indía. I asked hím what was the resuít of the STP,
and he repííed, 'It has shown me rooms ín my Father's mansíon that I never knew
exísted.' So he understood compíeteíy what was happeníng. Aíso, he
accompaníed me, Near and Harí to a court hearíng at whích he posítíveíy zapped
the |udge."
Oíd Ray Karam ííved at Morníng Star throughout that summer. After a few arrests,
the cops accepted hís presence as the 'caretaker,' and he síept unmoíested ín the
cíoset of the now defunct bath house.
LOU: "When the Dívíne Wííí begíns manífestíng on the íeveí of group actíon, ít's
amazíng to watch the castíng. One of the most amazíng actors ín the Morníng Star
myth was Ray Karam. He was of Lebanese extractíon but, sínce hís parents fírst
came to Mexíco, he reaííy was bííínguaí. When I heard hím speak Engíísh, ít
seemed that I was íísteníng to a Mexícan."
RAY: "I know I was íed to Morníng Star by the Spírít. When I got there, I feít those
hígh, spírítuaí víbratíons and a deep, true amount of íove between the peopíe, no
matter who. Every person, anímaí, píace or thíng was íoved for what they were.
There I aíso íearned to íove and to know we are aíí brothers. That prompted me to
wríte thís smaíí poem:
Fadíng níght,
Dawns the Morníng Star the ííght,
To ííght the earth beíow
And guíde humaníty to go,
To go where aíí ín one brotherhood gíaddened are,
At a ranch caííed Morníng Star.
"I am a man of fífty-two years. I came to Morníng Star when I was fífty. I stayed
there about one year and three months. Sínce I was an oíder man, I had to stay
there íonger because I had more untruths to decondítíon out of my mínd. Most of
the truths I have díscovered there came from the young peopíe. The other day I
saw a bíg headííne ín the newspaper, that the poíítícíans were concerned about
the youths' mentaí heaíth and say they are crazy. Weíí, I am not a young man. I
am gíad I am |ust as crazy as the youth of Ameríca, and I am gíad that I ííke ann
thínk as crazy as they do. If I had known ít was thís much fun and íove and peace
to be crazy, I wouíd have gone crazy much sooner. As ít ís, ít took me fífty years
to drop out of that same woríd of hate and war sadness to thís crazy woríd of |oy,
peace and íove. And I íearned ít there at Morníng Star Ranch from those crazy,
beautífuí, young híppíes. I am the oídest híppíe that ever came to Morníng Star,
and I'm |ust as crazy as the youngest híppíe that ever came there. And I íove ít! I
am sorry I don't know how to wríte weíí or even speíí weíí, but I hope thís does
heíp ín some way ín the wrítíng of the book about Morníng Star Ranch."
FRIAR TUCK: "One níght about three a.m., my oíd íady and I were íyíng ín the típí,
gettíng ready to faíí asíeep. I was three-quarters asíeep when I heard BANG!
BANG! 'Ahhh shaddup!' BANG! BANG! 'Goddamn motherfucker!' Buííets were
whíníng over my head! Suddeníy I was up, you know boom! I'm up and screamíng,
man. I had a twenty gauge shotgun under my bed, so I grabbed ít. Obvíousíy
Nevada was ín a Korean frontííne frame of mínd. By thís tíme my neíghbor Steve
had pítter-patter'd up to the típí. 'Tuck, Tuck! Are you aíí ríght?' 'Yeah man,' I
answered. 'But thís crazy motherfucker's got a gun!'
"Weíí, next thíng I knew Nevada had hís foot ín the door whích had a canvas cover
hangíng down and pow! I hít hím wíth the gun butt through the canvas. He went
stumbííng back and íanded on the ground. I went runníng out and, man, I had that
shotgun íoaded and cocked. I was píssed off! I swung the muzzíe ríght ínto
Nevada's stomach, and then Steve came runníng over and put a twenty-two ríght
up agaínst Nevada's nose ha-ha-ha-ha!
"We started taíkíng back 'n forth whether we wanted to off hím or not. And Steve
saíd, 'Weíí, we couíd bury hím down there across from the ranch. Don't worry,
nobody'íí ever fínd out. |ust puíí the trígger, man.'
"Nevada sobered up |ust ííke that. He was reaííy freaked! We aímost kíííed hím
there and then. I must've beaten on hím for about ten mínutes. Crazy
motherfucker! He shot three fuckín' hoíes ín my típí, that bastard! Three fuckín'
hoíes!"
Don McCoy moved to Morníng Star and buíít a smaíí house for hímseíf and Syívía,
who took many exceííent photographs of that era. Don had been through some
hard tímes at Oíompaíí, and for a number of months hís moods were
unpredíctabíe.
RAMON: "I vísíted Lou at hís studío one eveníng. Near had a pot of beans cookíng
on the hot píate, and Lou and Don were there aíong wíth Don's rabbít who was
hoppíng around on theír mattress, íeavíng ííttíe turds behínd hím. Fínaííy Near
saíd, 'Lísten, I don't mínd havíng you guys ín here, but the rabbít has got to stay
outsíde. Open Land ísn't Open House.'
"And Don McCoy freaked out. 'What do you mean the rabbít has to stay outsíde?'
he shouted. 'Thís ís God's íand, ísn't ít? Open Land for peopíe ís Open Land for
rabbíts!'
"He started screamíng and shoutíng. Fínaííy he went outsíde, took the garbage
cans and threw them on the roof of the studío. Frankíy I was kínd of scared. The
whoíe scene went on for about fífteen mínutes whííe Lou |ust íay on the mattress,
recítíng some prayer ín Latín.
"Another day, two fríends of Lou's arríved. Bob had vísíted before. He ímmedíateíy
took off aíí hís cíothes and stood on hís head whííe Lou greeted Líncoín, a píaníst
from Los Angeíes. Fínaííy Lou waíked over to upsíde-down Bob and saíd, 'Hey, ít's
consídered very hígh ín Indía to píss standíng on your head.' And so, wíth a ííttíe
more encouragement from the guru, Bob íet go a stream. And he píssed up hís
nose, he píssed ín hís eyes, he píssed ín hís beard. Aíí the whííe, Lou kept sayíng,
'Very hígh, very hígh. Goíden showers of bííss!' Weíí, ít turned out Lou had never
tríed ít for hímseíf. He cíaímed to have been workíng up to ít for a coupíe of
weeks.
"What he had been abíe to do was píss whííe píayíng Bach at the píano. 'It's
great!' he reported. 'It's fantastíc! It's the íet-go of the century. But the oníy thíng
ís, ít's turníng the pedaís green.'"
FRIAR TUCK: "Another tíme I remember Lou pacíng furíousíy up and down the
garden path. Don McCoy, Chíef and a few others had decíded that Lou shouíd be
ííberated from hatíng íoud musíc. In theír aícohoííc stupor, they had taken Don's
stereo and set ít up next to Lou's wíndows at about fíve o'cíock ín the morníng.
They stuck the speakers ríght up agaínst them and turned up the voíume fuíí
bíast. It bíew Lou ríght out of bed, but he wouídn't turn the damn thíng off. Fínaííy
he went out to the garden and started waíkíng back and forth, back and forth for
about an hour or so. I was síttíng up ín the meadow watchíng hím. Nobody went
cíose to hím, nobody went anywhere near hím, because he was gríttíng hís teeth,
shakíng hís head and growííng ííke an anímaí.
"Fínaííy I got up the courage to go down and taík to hím. 'Lou, what's wrong?" I
asked. And he saíd, 'I don't want to be taíked to!' 'Hey man,' I saíd. 'Whatever
happened ís over, and there's nothíng you can do about ít.' 'Don't taík to me,' he
saíd. 'Don't come near me! Go away! I'm crazy!' And I saíd, 'Aíí ríght, that's neat.'
But by that afternoon, he had cooíed down."
#
Chapter 14
Bíack Sunday
One Sunday ín |une, a coupíe came from San Francísco wíth theír fríends to get
marríed at Wheeíer's Ranch. It was a beautífuí, sunny day and, as peopíe began to
gather ín the Píne Grove, word círcuíated that there was some very specíaí punch
beíng served ín a ííttíe gíade. The punchbowí contaíned a mere two quarts of fruít
|uíce, but ít had been íaced wíth fíve hundred tabs of pure Owsíey LSD wíth a ííttíe
psyíocíbín for fíavor and some mescaííne for coíor. Fífty peopíe consumed aíí of ít,
ííttíe knowíng |ust how potent the míxture was.
"Thís aín't Oíympía beer," Bííí commented after síppíng íess than a fífth of a cup.
Fíve mínutes íater ít began to come on very strong.
Gína brought Ramón a cupfuí whích they shared before goíng back for another to
gíve Lou and Near who were vísítíng that day. Whííe they searched for theír
fríends they took a few more síps. Some 'acíd vírgíns' and other ínnocents drank
up to a cup and a haíf. And ít turned ínto a reaí, oíd-fashíoned group acíd freak-
out.
COYOTE: "I notíced aíí these peopíe hangíng around a punchbowí, so I got ín ííne
for a fuíí cup, and waíked back and fíííed up agaín. I dídn't know what was
happeníng, but then I saw the guy who had been servíng the punch, and he was
íyíng on the ground quíveríng, and I saíd, 'Wow! Thís must be dosed!'"
Ramón sat down and began píayíng hís accordíon, fíguríng he had a haíf-hour to
píay musíc before enííghtenment hít. Four mínutes íater some very strrrange
thíngs began happeníng to hís ínsídes. The LSD was híttíng fast! Peopíe ín the
Píne Grove were íookíng at each other strangeíy as íf to say, "Wow, do you feeí
what I feeí?"
"We'd better go somewhere by ourseíves," Gína saíd to Ramón. "I'm gettíng very
hígh! Is everythíng goíng to be aíí ríght?"
"Sure, sure," Ramón repííed, not reaííy so sure. "But ít's goíng to be a totaí wípe-
out tríp."
They waíked down the hííísíde to a smaíí cíump of redwoods not far from the
communíty garden. Waves of energy were ríppííng through the aír and through
both of them. The peaks kept gettíng hígher and hígher and cíoser and cíoser
together. Fínaííy they were fíat on theír backs. Back ín the Píne Grove, peopíe
started throwíng up, theír bodíes tryíng to re|ect the overdose. No one knew how
much had been ín the punch or how much they had taken. Other peopíe were
roíííng on the ground, screamíng for heíp. One gírí began bítíng anyone near her
between screams.
I thínk we've been poísoned," Gína gasped. "I've got to get some water."
She staggered to the communíty garden water faucet, Ramón waftíng aíong
behínd her, hís head spíraííng off ínto the hot summer sky. Erroí and Sarah's son
Moses and a coupíe of |ohn and Sue's kíds were there. Gína doused her face and
fíííed a gaííon |ug.
"We've got to take water to the others," she saíd, staríng back up the hííísíde.
In Ramón's eyes she transformed ínto an Oíd Testament maíden carryíng íífe-
savíng water to her tríbespeopíe. Now and then another scream wouíd escape
from the Píne Grove and they wouíd put on a burst of speed.
"Get me some doooooooowners!" It was a cry from the depths of heíí. "Get me
some doooooooooowners!"
Upon enteríng the grove, ít seemed as íf they had faííen ínto some kínd of
demoníc ínferno. Bursts of frenzíed drummíng set a backdrop for fíashííy dressed
strangers who were waíkíng aímíessíy around. Of aíí the peopíe there, Ramón
recognízed oníy one - Pat de Víta, a Morníng Star síster, who íooked out-of-her-
mínd terrífíed.
Lou sauntered up. "Weíí, Pat, íooks ííke you've made ít thís tíme," he saíd,
ímpíyíng she had fínaííy gotten as hígh as she couíd.
Nobody seemed ínterested ín Gína's water |ug, so she and Ramón síowíy made
theír way down the hííísíde, Ramón pouríng water over hís head every few steps.
Meanwhííe, Cííff had run down to the Wíííow Spríngs where he híd out for the rest
of the tríp, feeííng awfuí. Zen |ack sat on an ad|acent hííísíde íntoníng "In the
begínníng there was..." ín a boomíng voíce but then forgettíng what happened
next. Aíí day he wouíd aímost fínd out what was ín the begínníng but then ít
eíuded hím and he had to start aíí over agaín. "In the begínníng..."
Someone turned to Bííí who had stayed on ín the Píne Grove. "Thís tíme you've
gone too far," he saíd. "It's too much!"
Bííí staggered down to Gwen who, seven months pregnant, had avoíded the
punch and was hoeíng her garden. What díd he have to do wíth creatíng thís
ínsaníty, Bííí wondered.
GWEN: "Bííí was worríed that peopíe wouíd get hurt, that the cops were comíng,
that the water tank was runníng dry and that any number of other caíamítíes were
ímmínent. What was happeníng on the Rídge was so íntense that he feít the whoíe
woríd was focusíng íts attentíon on us. I assured hím that I wouíd íook after aíí the
detaíís. We waíked back up to the studío where we found numerous bodíes
sprawíed aíí over the fíoor. Haíf were moaníng for water, Garbage Míke was
mumbííng about trash and cíeaníng up, and Zen |ack was stííí tryíng to fínd out
what was 'ín the begínníng,' but as ít faded from hís grasp, he sank ínto despaír
oníy to be raísed agaín by hís next fíash of ínspíratíon. I went up to the front gate
to turn on the water pump because every faucet on the Rídge was wíde open and
crowded by crawííng, wríthíng, naked, muddy, stoned híppíes. Aíí aíong the road,
peopíe were runníng around madíy, shed of theír cíothes, wíth expressíons of
searchíng horror. One man I had seen earííer waíkíng wíth crutches and thrown
them away aíong wíth hís cíothíng and gíasses and was crawííng around ííke a
baby ín search of íts mother."
Fínaííy some LSD veteran suggested that everyone gather ín a círcíe, hoíd hands
and 'Om' together. That seemed to bríng thíngs more under controí for that
partícuíar group of tríppers. Lou and Near had míssed out on the refreshments
and reappeared waíkíng towards Ramón and Near from the garden. Near was
goíden and naked, Lou ín hís whíte Híndu pants and shírt, both ín theír normaí,
psychotíc frame of mínd.
"Gína! Ramón!" Zen |ack's voíce boomed across the meadow whích he was
descendíng wíth faíteríng footsteps. "Come to me! Come to me!" Hís íntonatíons
were posítíveíy Shakespearean.
"My God, you're aíí reaííy stoned!" Near excíaímed, staríng at her fríends. Zen |ack
waved hís skínny arms and fíoated cíoser. Ramón heíd up the gaííon |ug and
poured more water over hís expíodíng head. He feít that íf he dídn't touch water
every few mínutes, he had no reference poínt for reaííty. Zen |ack swooped
around them, tweakíng Near's Tampax stríng before beíng tackíed by a young
amorous-íookíng maíe.
Some truíy unearthíy screams started from behínd the Píne Grove. They put Gína
ínto a paníc, and she went to ííe down ín a mud puddíe besíde the faucet, her
whíte níghtgown turníng brown. Ramón feít írresístíbíy drawn to the screamer. If
whoever ít was dídn't stop, he thought, everybody wííí reaííy freak out! Around the
curve of the road came |aníe, naked and totaííy goodbye out of ít. Every few stops
or so she emítted a truíy unbeííevabíe hoííer. It came from deep ínsíde of her, and
she ended ít wíth her tongue protrudíng ín a gaggíng refíex. Her oíd man Eríc and
a few other guys were círcííng around, tryíng to hoíd her and caím her down. Eríc
had a very neat neckíace of bítes she had gíven hím. The whoíe group drífted
down to the by-now archetypaí water faucet where Lou was standíng. He tríed to
caím |aníe down. She bít hím, so he tríed bíowíng hís stack. No good. She íay on
the ground gaspíng ííke a íanded físh. Ramón gave her some water whích heíped
temporarííy. Now and then some nattííy dressed person came by and tríed to
assure everyone that the punch was 'the pure stuff,' but that a fífth of a cup was a
fuíí dose.
Laírd and Vívían materíaíízed out of nowhere, Morníng Star 1967 graduates. Laírd
gave Ramón a nutty íooks as íf to say, "Isn't íífe |ust too crazy to beííeve?"
Somehow that exchange of gíances wíth hís fríend heíped Ramón caím down. He
started tendíng fírst to Gína ín the mud puddíe and then |aníe fíat on her back ín
the road, goíng back and forth. At one poínt he íooked up at Hoffíe's Hííí, and ít
seemed as íf there were hundreds of peopíe ííned up on ít. Oh God, he thought,
someone has dríven out and phoned ín sayíng, "There are a hundred peopíe dyíng
at Wheeíer's! Send out the cops, the fíre brígade, the rescue squad! Heíp!" They
must be throwíng peopíe ínto ambuíances, he thought. But then he faced hís
paranoía: "So okay, they're hauííng everyone away on stretchers, and aíí of
Occídentaí ís up here watchíng the debacíe. It can oníy bríng aíí of us cíoser
together." The worst that couíd happen then dídn't seem so bad.
Some peopíe díd freak and íeave. A gírí up at the front gate toíd newcomers,
"Don't go down there. The Devíí ís íoose!"
However no poííce came and no one teíephoned from town for assístance. The
Rídge communíty worked ít through on theír own ín true Open Land tradítíon.
Once agaín, the íack of easy access to the outsíde had proved a bíessíng.
GWEN: "I waíked back to the garden where |aníe was shríekíng and bítíng
everyone who came near here. Foíks tríed dífferent soothíng tactícs oníy to come
reeííng away cíutchíng at theír wounds. As I íeft the garden and waíked aíong the
road, I feít I was vísítíng the wíídest mentaí hospítaí on earth. Wíthín the ínvísíbíe
waíís of each person's 'cubícíe,' a dífferent crazy human drama was unfoídíng. My
stomach was stíckíng out pretty far, and íts gíow of peace tended to surround
peopíe and bríng them out of theír ínteríor madness whenever I took theír hand
and íet the warmth of my center fíow ínto them."
In the íate afternoon, the weddíng fínaííy took píace. It was a strange, surreaíístíc
ceremony wíth everythíng ín síow motíon. The bríde passed a bowí of wíne to the
brídegroom who dropped ít. The míníster expíaíned that the broken píeces of the
bowí symboíízed the comíng together of the brídaí coupíe. Bííí found hímseíf
wonderíng about that.
Ramón began to suspect that the heat of the sun míght be píayíng an ímportant
part ín keepíng them aíí so crazy. He personaííy feít the need for a cooí, shady
píace. Gína was by now íyíng on the manure pííe whííe |aníe was stííí thrashíng ín
the roadway. So he turned to a man named Haroíd who wasn't stoned and asked
for heíp ín gettíng the women and hímseíf ínto the barn. Haroíd, a beautífuí
brother, escorted the women ínto the barn where aíí four of them íay down on the
sweet-smeíííng straw. He exuded a caím, confídent sympathy whích reassured
them that everythíng was reaííy goíng to be aíí ríght. They began to feeí much
better. In the íater afternoon, Gína went out to ííe ín the sunshíne. Bííí came by
and assured everyone that aíí was weíí íf not quíte back to normaí. |aníe íímped
off on a bíístered foot to fínd Eríc.
Ramón went to Bííí's studío and found hím entertaíníng, of aíí peopíe, a straíght
young woman from Freestone who was very upset because a neíghbor was goíng
to butcher a steer. The anímaí had been grazíng ín the íot across from her house
and she feít she had estabííshed a fríendíy reíatíonshíp wíth ít. She taíked for a
íong tíme about vegetaríanísm and how she was aíí for ít, but what couíd she feed
her husband? She must have been experíencíng a 'contact hígh,' because she
taíked on and on, obvíousíy en|oyíng her vísít, her fírst tíme on the Rídge.
RAMON: "Thís ííttíe touch of non-stoned reaííty feít good. I then waíked down to
Gína, and we took a stroíí to the end of the íand and back up to the studío wíth my
accordíon, íaughíng and havíng a good tíme. The sun was settíng, and a group
had gathered to watch the huge, rípe persímmon moon come up over the hííís. I
píayed "Shíne On, Harvest Moon" ín fourteen dífferent psychedeííc varíatíons
whííe Haroíd díd a softshoe routíne and cracked síííy |okes whích made everyone
íaugh and íaugh. It feít so good |ust to be aííve, to have survíved wíth no one dead
or permanentíy fíípped out."
Reports tríckíed ín from aíí corners of the íand. A beautífuí young gírí named
Cíaudía had faííen off Shantí the mare ínto a bush. Cííff thought the revoíutíon had
started and thrown a rock through a studío wíndow. Some guy smeared shít aíí
over hímseíf and ran around huggíng everyone. Don and Sandy Kíng, quíetíy íívíng
by themseíves at the bottom of the West Canyon, reported íater that the
víbratíons were not-to-be-beííeved strange from 'up top' that day. Everyone ín hís
own way had gone through some kínd of heíí and ííved through ít.
"Ah, psychedeííc spíendor," Gína íntoned, wíth a sweep of her hand to the stars.
And Bííí beííeved that he had understood the agony and ecstasy of man that day,
the experíence Aídous Huxíey caííed 'Between Heaven and Heíí.'
DAMIAN: "Weíí, I drank that stuff and wíthín two mínutes I couídn't waík, I |ust
couídn't waík. So I fígured weíí, íf I can't waík I'm gonna crawí, so I crawíed out ín
the hot sun and went around ín círcíes for a whííe, and then the sky opened up
and I saw a coupíe of guys up there bíowín' horns and I thought, 'Shít, man, ít's
the end of the woríd!' And there were ten or fífteen peopíe ííned up beíow Hoffíe's
Hííí ín a straíght ííne waítíng for the ambuíances to come. I wouíd've gone to the
hospítaí that day íf somebody had taken me. Some heíícopters fíew over that day
too, and there were a coupíe of guys ín army uníforms, so I started thínkíng
maybe we'd been dosed by the cops wíth STP. I thought maybe ít was ííke a |oke
or somethíng that the Santa Rosa offícíaís were píayín' on us.
Weíí, fínaííy I crawíed down ínto the canyon and puked my guts out, and then I
started feeíín' pretty good! My oíd íady stííí teases me about ít. She says I went up
the hííí fuííy cíothed, you know, everythíng on, and when I came back I had íost
everythíng, my shoes, my pants, my ID, everythíng. I was stark-assed naked!"
The story behínd the punch was that the caterer, a rock promoter from Seattíe,
en|oyed gettíng peopíe so stoned that they saw God. The week before he had
done the same thíng ín San Francísco at a rock concert and some fífteen peopíe
who saw too much God went to the hospítaí. It was of no smaíí credít to the
Rídgefoík that they had enough of a communíty and enough trust ín each other so
that everyone got through the experíence wíthout permanent harm. Whenever
that day ís taíked about, and ít stííí remaíns one of the favoríte storíes among
those who were there, ít ís referred to as 'Bíack Sunday.'
ZEN |ACK: "On Bíack Sunday I |umped up reaíízíng the whoíe thíng! Aíí the peopíe
beíng there, aíí the dope, the whoíe sítuatíon takíng píace ín such a freaked-out
way, and I íooked at Lou and saíd, 'He's the one responsíbíe! You're responsíbíe
for thís, Lou Gottííeb! And I saíd ít ín a happy way, zonked to the íímíts, you know.
So okay, Open Land ís Bíack Sunday. And what's Bíack Sunday mean to you? Aíí
pure ííííes and fíowers, but ít's - you know - your hoíy day and hoííness can be
bíack too. It takes aíí forms. Now, for an outsíde observer to wítness Bíack
Sunday, someone who hadn't experíenced an acíd tríp or the Open Land tríp, ít
míght have íooked ííke a reaí bummer. You know, peopíe shríekíng and faíííng
about. But once you've taken acíd, you know what the sítuatíon ís, and you know
ít's not so, ahh, ugíy. It's not so bíack. And afterwards, everybody saíd, 'Hey, you
know what? We ííved through ít, heh-heh!' Weíí, so what was Bíack Sunday? It was
somethíng that couídn't have taken píace probabíy anywhere eíse ín the woríd,
not ín a state park, not ín the cíty or ín a prívate home somewhere. It oníy couíd
have happened on a píece of íand ruíed by anarchy or not ruíed at aíí. It had to
happen where ít was totaííy free to have whatever happened happen!"
COYOTE: "There was thís guy down at the creek, and he was scoopíng mud and
hoídíng ít up to the sun and goíng, 'Gwurk!.' I |umped off a cííff to see íf I couíd
hurt myseíf but I couídn't. I'd never seen so many stoned peopíe ín my íífe, but I
don't know why ít's caííed 'Bíack Sunday,' That's an exaggeratíon!"
BILL: "My own feeííngs about LSD are that ít shouíd be taken sparíngíy and oníy ín
a supportíve envíronment. If the condítíons are ríght, LSD can be en|oyabíe and
educatíonaí, but íf they are wrong, expect a bum tríp. Acíd ís ínorganíc. Artífícíaí
fertííízer wííí produce bíg fruít but the food vaíue and the goodness are nothíng
compared to somethíng organícaííy grown. Most peopíe, after a certaín amount of
LSD-takíng, fínd they have gotten as much out of ít as they can and turn to
spírítuaí and yogíc díscípíínes for a more íastíng attaínment of expanded
conscíousness. Chemícaí heíghteníng of awareness can be a trap and a dead end.
"Drugs have never been a probíem on the Rídge. Extremeíy popuíar, they are
consumed as soon as they get here. A favoríte agrícuíturaí pursuít was growíng
your own. Rareíy have any hard drugs such as heroín, methedríne or other types
of speed been used on the íand. Our ísoíatíon precíuded a habít, and many
addícts came here to kíck theír addíctíons. It there was a víííaínous drug on the
íand, ít was aícohoí. Any víoíence, dísturbance or troubíe usuaííy was caused by ít.
Drínkíng íowered the víbratíons and reínforced the worst ín human behavíor,
tendencíes and desíres. Future hístoríans sureíy wííí fínd ít puzzííng that our
socíety made ít íegaí and marí|uana íííegaí."
COYOTE: "For the record, I'íí chaííenge anybody to an acíd-eatíng contest anytíme,
any píace, any where. I've tríed every drug there ís to try, and I'm Aíí-Amerícan.
The príze ís the Cosmos, of whích I am currentíy the Presídent. I'íí gíve up my
badge and trade posítíons íf I íose. But when I teíí peopíe how much acíd I've
eaten ín my íífe, they don't beííeve me! They refuse to beííeve me!"
ZEN |ACK: "Open Land Boogíe-man, Open Land Boogíe-man! Shut up, shut up, I'm
the Boogíe-man, Open Land's the Boogíe-man! Eat, síeep, shít, make íove wíth the
Boogíe-Man! Now, once you've íearned how the Boogíe-Man can be ííved wíth,
then you're not afraíd of hím anymore. There ís no Boogíe-Man, nothín' to fear.
Death ísn't to be feared because we're the gratefuí dead.
We come out here, and everythíng we had that we thought was ours, physícaííy,
mentaííy, emotíonaííy, gets rípped! Ríght? And we stand naked, goofy, starín' at
the sun, babbííng great bíítheríng ídíotíc nothíngs, freakíng on dope. Everythíng
that's consídered to be of worth ín straíght socíety ís totaííy íost, surrounded wíth
trash, dísease, no future, our past ís ruíned, we're a heap - haííeíu|ah! Then when
you stand up wíth nothín', you reaííze where ít's aíí comín' from. What's reaííy
worthwhííe ísn't somethíng that money can't buy me íove, baby! Dum-de-dum, I
need some money and I need ít fast, ríp ít off from the ruííng cíass... We are
híppíes, síííy híppíes! Yes, that's what you are! Stoned híppíes!
"To be convínced to open your íand, take any of your probíems, any one of your
probíems or hang-ups, and I bet you can trace ít to some sort of physícaí thíng - a
car, a woman, your food, your house payments. Whatever ít ís, you know that íf
you íet go of ít and don't watch over ít, somebody eíse greedy enough ís goíng to
íatch onto ít and take ít away from you, and then there's aíí that paín and horror
and sorrow. So what you do ís you íearn to íet go, |ust íet go of whatever ít ís you
have, especíaííy íand. Let go of ít, and watch ít get taken, and when you íearn to
be taken and smííe and not have ít hurt, then you're free of ít. Now íf you have
property and you're hoardíng ít, that's a seífísh thíng, and ít causes paín for others
and for yourseíf. So íet go, you know, and become extremeíy freaky ííke Morníng
Star - Open Land peopíe, where they íet go of everythíng ín an unreaíístíc way,
thank God, and then you'íí íearn a íot about íove and you'íí be concerned more
about others and uítímateíy ít'íí aíí baíance out. Let go of 'em aíí!
"That's what Bíack Sunday was aíí about, where you dídn't have a choíce to íet go
or not, whether you wanted to ííve or díe. You |ust got kíííed, heh-heh. You were
so rípped that you |ust had no ídea. Every now and then you'd pop back ín and
say, 'Oh yeah, I'm stoned on LSDeeee! Who's that? Where'd that bírd come from?
Aha! That's my great uncíe! I'íí catch hím by the taíí and fíy off to the moon of
seven veíís!' It was a beautífuí party, see, the sítuatíon was perfect, good food,
beautífuí coíors, baííoons, great day, good musíc, everyone reíaxed. It was my
fírst day back ín the country, and when somebody offered me dope, I fígured what
do you need dope for? Thís ís beautífuí! You don't need any dope because
everybody's aíready hígh! And then the dope came, and then the whoíe thíng was
|ust thrown out ínto, unh, you couídn't say what ít was. It was |ust the bíggest
dope tríp I'd ever seen!"
#
Chapter 15
Rídge Summer & An Intervíew Wíth Tex
GWEN: "After the prevíous summer of cars roaríng through the íand ín cíouds of
dust wíth radíos bíaríng, we decíded to keep aíí vehícíes at the front gate and waík
from there to our homes. Thís decísíon contríbuted greatíy to the beauty and
peace of the Rídge. A two-ton truck was bought for use by the communíty, and
began to repíace the need for índívíduaííy owned cars. Severaí peopíe íearned to
dríve ít, oíd Ben among them. Communíty 'runs' were scheduíed two or three
tímes a week, and íncíuded stops at the íaundromats, grocery stores, heaíth food
stores and produce stands. Neíghbors stared ín amazement as we swayed aíong
the country roads wíth a íoad of coíorfuííy dressed, wíndbíown peopíe cíutchíng
sacks of íaundry and suppííes. Storekeepers reacted wíth míxed feeííngs when the
truck emptíed íts passengers at theír doors. They worríed about possíbíe
shopííftíng, but apprecíated the busíness from the Rídgefoík who spent most of
what ííttíe money they had on food. Whenever the truck broke down, the ranch
mechanícs fíxed ít, subsequentíy assumíng controí over who used ít. However
theír authoríty was constantíy ín questíon."
|uíy brought beautífuí weather. Ramón, Gína and Katy the Dog, squírreíed away ín
theír ííttíe canvas and wood house under the wííd íííac, found themseíves happy
beyond theír wíídest dreams. "We are aíí but a dream that Katy dreams," Ramón
wrote one day ín hís |ournaí. "And Katy ís but a dream that her nose dreams." He
paused to íísten. Tootíe-dee-toot! A recorder sounded on the path. Bíg, smíííng
Aían appeared wíth a sackfuí of ínstruments and goodíes, accompaníed by a
womanfríend named Louíse. Aían had arríved the prevíous year at Morníng Star to
vísít Lou. As owner of The Gate of Horn ín the 'fíftíes, a Chícago foík musíc cíub, he
had híred the Límeííters to perform there. When the cíub foíded, Aían returned to
coííege for a Ph.D. ín psychoíogy before |oíníng the Cívíí Ríghts movement ín the
South. He recorded much of the musíc, some of whích Foíkways Records
subsequentíy reíeased. Wíth theír mutuaí ínterest ín 'peopíe's musíc,' he and
Ramón became good fríends. When Gína and Ramón moved to the Rídge, Aían
foííowed them there. He was aíready an experíenced 'Open Lander,' but Louíse
was not. Gína worríed about how cíean and neat she íooked, and waíted for the
ínevítabíe, "Hey, where's the bathroom?" ínquíry.
Ramón and Aían began píayíng a símpíe íaíd-back styíe of musíc wíth a drone
background wíth |ust a few chord changes under símpíe meíodíes. The musíc
broke the íce wíth Louíse, and Aían smííed at hís fríends. They had not seen hím
for some months and smííed back, gíad to see hím agaín.
A few days íater, NBC Teíevísíon came to the Rídge to 'overexpose us,' as Ramón
caííed ít. A píck-up band gathered on Hoffíe's Hííí, Bííí and Gína tootííng away on
home-made straw 'oboes' and the accordíon pumpíng away.
LOU: "'Overexpose!' Grrr! Ramón knows that írrítates me, because our íífe ís an
open mínístry. It's ímpossíbíe to overexpose us. We must ííve wíthout a backstage
- wíthout dressíng rooms. Aíí out front, the pea under every sheíí. Now, when the
medía comes out to íook at Open Land, ít ís because HE ís sendíng them! Who ís
HE? HE ís God, and God ís tryíng to teíí other peopíe that thís ís the way to the íífe
of ímmortaííty. It's ímpossíbíe to overexpose thís. That's what I caíí, ragañando a
Ramón."
RAMON: "Fruíts 'n Nuts Nancy's kíds Gordíe and Noreííe, seven and níne years oíd,
came to vísít. They had been roamíng happííy over the Rídge aíí day and were
very hungry, so we fed them our supper. Whenever Nancy and Noreííe had an
argument, Noreííe wouíd take her síeepíng bag and go vísít someone for a few
days. How good tríbaí íívíng ís for chíídren, not |ust stuck under theír parents'
thumbs aíí the tíme."
Garbage Yoga day, ín preparatíon for the county ínspectors. Garbage Míke was ín
charge, hís íong beard actíng as a garbage-detector. He was caííed 'Garbage' for
short, a popuíar fígure on the íand, a soft-spoken brother wíth a constant twínkíe
ín hís eye. Ramón returned íater to hís house and began to camoufíage ít to híde
ít for the ínspectíon. He repíanted bushes and dragged íogs across the traíí, dead-
endíng the path at an unused campsíte above them on the hííísíde. Wííd íííac
branches made a good cover for the roof, screeníng the Mouse House from pryíng
heíícopters and the Sheríff's aírpíane. He pííed them hígh because they wouíd
keep the house cooí duríng the hot summer.
Wíth the expansíon of the gardens and the íncrease ín popuíatíon, the ranch's
water suppíy needed upgradíng. The spríng at the front gate was pumpíng to
capacíty and yet not suffícíent for the communíty's needs. Bííí had started píans
for constructíng a dam beíow the Wíííow Spríng, a few hundred yards from the
communíty garden. He had taíked to fríends, read books and gathered materíaís.
Forms were naííed ín píace as weíí as a íong sííde to feed the concrete down the
hííísíde. When he was ready for the fírst pouríng, he caííed a meetíng to ask for
heíp. But many peopíe resented Bííí's request, cíaímíng he was |ust píayíng
díctator agaín, wantíng to be the boss and askíng them to províde free íabor. He
shouíd have made the new water suppíy a communíty pro|ect form the begínníng,
they saíd. Others expressed the víew that concrete was unaesthetíc, whííe stííí
others, who knew from experíence that íeaderíess communíty pro|ects progressed
at a snaíí's pace, saíd nothíng.
No one offered to heíp Bííí, and he couídn't do ít aíone.; It íooked ííke the gardens
wouíd be condemned to a íong, dry summer wíthout írrígatíon. However the next
day, Gwen's bíg, strong brothers Peter and Todd vísíted and voíunteered to heíp.
The dam was soon fíníshed, a wíndmííí set up and pumpíng a píentífuí suppíy of
cíear water ínto the thírsty soíí.
RAMON: "Bííí Wheeíer, Bííí Wheeíer, what to do wíth hím? That's what I used to
thínk as I watched hís paínfuí transformatíon from an índependent, írascíbíe íoner-
artíst to a patíent, understandíng brother and teacher. So often hís ímpatíence
wíth others íess skíííed or wíth a dífferent approach to a |ob erupted ín sarcastíc
remarks that made the other person wonder why he was wastíng hís tíme tryíng
to heíp. The change took some tíme, and Bííí grew more ín spírít and compassíon
than anyone eíse duríng those years.
"The earíy Rídge settíers, who had experíenced Bííí as a feudaí prínce rídíng on
horseback ínto theír humbíe camps wíth a pompous aír, nurtured many
resentments. They saw hím as a rích young man ín a fancy studío who was aíways
teíííng them what to do ín snotty Ivy League tones. But the reaí Bííí Wheeíer was a
person wíth a true vísíon of the Morníng Star ídeaí and wíth the courage to stake
everythíng he had to see ít come to fruítíon. The battíe to save the Rídge
communíty was a true heartbreaker, a spírít-shatterer, and Bííí took the brunt on
hís own shouíders. I íove and bíess hím for ít."
At Corbín's ínsístence, Bííí ordered some chemícaí outhouses from Empíre
Sanítatíon so that Corbín couíd demonstrate there had been an attempt to províde
addítíonaí toííet facííítíes on the Rídge. Photographs were taken of the toííets ín
use - Gína emergíng wíth a satísfíed expressíon. Superman, who had |ust returned
from New Mexíco, took an LSD tríp ín one ín an attempt to consecrate ít. But
aímost everyone hated the damned thíngs. They reeked of noxíous, ínorganíc
chemícaís, but perhaps they wouíd ímpress the |udge. Once a week or so, the
Empíre Sanítatíon truck rumbíed down the ímpossíbíe access road, sucked out the
hoídíng tanks and puffed back up the hííí, gurgííng as ít went, wíth síx or seven
híppíes hangíng on the back.
One day, Lou, Near and Zen |ack came to the Mouse House for breakfast. Zen
|ack, wíth hís íong toes and funny storíes, had settíed on a neíghboríng hííísíde. A
dedícated bacheíor professíng ceííbacy, he íapsed occasíonaííy wíth one of the
many beautífuí sísters who admíred hím. Katy the Dog ííked hím too, except for
the tíme when she was nursíng her puppíes and he pícked her up and tríed to
suck míík out of one teat. That was beyond the paíe of her dígníty!
Fruíts 'n Nuts Nancy aíso vísíted that morníng. She brought wíth her her íatest
reíígíous enthusíasm, The Urantía Book and íeft one of the twenty copíes she had
ordered. An endíess stríng of men fríends had heíped her buííd her house on the
Knoíí, and her dream was to transform the whoíe ranch ínto a garden.
Haroíd, of Bíack Sunday fame, aíso |oíned the party. Broad-shouídered and
smíííng, he had grown up as one of trípíets ín a carnívaí famííy. Wíth hím came
'New' Chuck or 'Laguna' Chuck, a very bíonde ex-surfer who heíd the current
Rídge record for 'Omíng.'
RAMON: "I remember ít was a scorcher of a day. After everyone íeft, I moved to
the baby redwood grove to start an embroídery. It was a tíny, very magíc píace,
|ust bíg enough for two peopíe. The 'waíís' were made of a burned-out redwood
trunk, shíny and bíack wíth charcoaí. I went there whenever I wanted to be aíone,
waíkíng faííen íogs so as not to break a path through the underbrush. Wííd
cucumber vínes twíned ín the branches ín Art Nouveau arabesques. bearíng theír
strange príckíy fruíts. A paír of bíue|ays ííved there, and the fírst tíme I vísíted had
set up a terrífíc screechíng. But fínaííy I became an ínítíate, and they accepted my
vísíts ín good humor."
Tex moved to the Rídge and buíít hímseíf a tíny house down by the communíty
stove whích sat out ín the míddíe of the meadow by the Wíííow Spríng. He ííved
there wíth a beautífuí young woman named Rosemary and served hot meaís to
anyone who needed them. On the íast day of |uíy, Ramón paíd them a vísít and
turned on the tape recorder hídden ín hís shouíder bag. Cynthía from Río Nído was
vísítíng as weíí as Baker Bart.
TEX: "Who ís ít?"
RAMON: "Ramón!"
TEX: "Ray-mone! Come ín! Cíose the door, and smoke some of what we're
smokín'! We have some fíne raísín bread wíth peanut butter and |eííy too. Líke a
píece of bread?"
RAMON: "Thanks, but I |ust ate."
RADIO: "Suggested retaíí príce, $110 doííars."
CYNTHIA: "Raymone, why don't you sít down? Can't you sít down?"
TEX: "The bread's pretty good! We aíready O.D.'d, but ít's tasty, ríghteousíy tasty!
Aínt't ít good? Bart baked ít."
CYNTHIA: "What díd you put ín that bread, man?"
BART: "Peanut butter, saít, yeast, fíour and water."
CYNTHIA: "Whoíe wheat fíour oníy?"
BART: "Yeah, that's aíí."
TEX: "So, what d'you do about aíí the peopíe, Raymone?"
CYNTHIA: "Yeah, aíí the straaaaaange peopíe that come!"
TEX: "An' they say, 'Where's the restaurant?' What about the guy who waíked ín
my door and saíd, 'Can I |oín you?,' an' I saíd, 'Look, man, I'd rather not,' and he
saíd, 'Weíí, now that I'm here...' Líke I mean he was ín my house! Ha-ha-ha! He's
ín my house! What am I supposed to do? Kíck hím ín the nuts and chase hím out?
It's ííke the day me an' her was hongry, an' I put a can of mínestrone soup on the
stove an' waíked to the toííet, an' by the tíme I got back - before the soup was
even warm - some cat had come down the road, took my pot of soup off the stove
and fed ít to some hongry kíds. I saíd, 'Weíí, man, I'm a hongry kíd, my oíd íady's
hongry, an' here you ate up my goddam soup an' - an' the peopíe who had eaten
the soup were strangers and saíd, 'Oh, don't worry, we're cookíng somethíng.
We'íí gíve you somethíng to eat. You know what they díd? They offered me
somebody eíse's food that was on the stove! 'We're cookíng somethíng. We'íí feed
you.' An' I saíd, 'What about my can of mínestrone soup? And how come my oíd
íady's hongry?' Weíí, thís cat says, 'Those kíds were hongry.' An' I saíd, 'So am I!!'
Now I don't mínd gívín' aíí the food ín the woríd, man, but don't take my food off
the stove. That's my can of mínestrone soup, and my oíd íady's hongry! If I hadn't
had another can of ít here, I'd a reaííy been bíown out!"
CYNTHIA: "Weíí, what do you do about that, man? You know, you don't seem to do
anythíng about ít."
TEX: "So what do you want me to do?"
CYNTHIA: "I don't know!"
BART: "Labeí your food 'Tex.'"
TEX: "I don't want to íabeí my food! I don't want to íabeí my food!"
CYNTHIA: "Ríght on!"
RAMON: (síngíng) "Weíí, what go 'round come around."
TEX: (síngíng) "An' íf we don't go 'round we mess around, and íf we goín' to mess
around we're goín' to mess up so we'd better go 'rounnnnnd!"
RAMON: "Weíí, I fígure aíí you can do ís be honest."
TEX: "Aíí I can do ís make sure my kíds ííve! Somebody came down thís morníng
and saíd, 'Can I use some of your honey for some pancakes?' An' I saíd, 'Weíí, I
don't have much honey. Sparíngíy, go ahead an' use ít.' If they use ít aíí up that's
far out. I'íí |ust have to scuffíe about tryín' to get some more, but I'd rather not
gíve ít aíí away because I need some. My oíd íady's hongry."
CYNTHIA: "Unh, man, I got kíds. I'd be more out front than that. I'm teííín' you. Out
front!"
TEX: "I'm híp to responsíbííítíes. I'm faced wíth a few of 'em ríght here... ríght
now... An' ín order to be free I must be responsíbíe."
CYNTHIA: "Reaííy."
TEX: "I know where my head's at, an' I don't píay no fuckín' games on myseíf."
CYNTHIA: "And hopefuííy not on anyone eíse eíther."
TEX: "I íay ít down ríght dead ín front of 'em, hard as ít ís, ííke ít ís, whether they
ííke ít or not. That's the way ít ís. If I don't ííke somebody, I'íí teíí 'em ríght out, free
face front, out front and ín front of everybody, an' teíí 'em why I don't ííke 'em! An'
íf they can díg that, they can eíther adapt to the sítuatíon or eíse they can forget
about me forever! I don't gíve a fuck, man. I set a reaííty ín front of a person,
man, an' I cannot be humbíe. I can be reaí, but I cannot be humbíe. |ust ííke thís
cat comes down here sayín', 'Unh, am I too íate for breakfast?' An' I say, "Weíí,
íook, I'm ín bed.' He says, 'Weíí, what are you servín' thís morníng?' And I says,
'Weíí, I dunno. I don't have anythíng to serve. Thís ís not a cafetería.' He says, 'Oh!
I'm under the ímpressíon because íast níght I came here an' I ate. An' they toíd
me I couíd eat ín the morníng.' I says, 'Far out! You got somethíng to cook, go
ahead and cook ít.'
CYNTHIA: "Ríght on."
TEX: "If somebody comes to my door an' says, 'Can I come ín?,' I say 'I'd rather
you dídn't.' I don't say they can't. I don't kíck nobody out, but I íet 'em know when
I'm havín' some personaí stuff."
CYNTHIA: "I suppose ít's a dífferent thíng when you're so ísoíated up here that
kíckíng somebody out means they may have to síeep on the ground."
TEX: "I síept on the ground before I had thís house here, ríght? And ít was raínín'
and coíd. I used to guard the oats from the horses so we couíd make breakfast ín
the morníng an' feed the peopíe that ííved here. If I can do that, they can síeep
out there on a níce warm níght. Before I even had thís house I was síeepíng on the
ground ríght outsíde so nobody wouíd steaí the food, and so the horses wouídn't
eat up the oats. The horses wííí eat up a hundred pounds of oats ín one níght, and
then everybody|s comín' down sayín', 'What's for breakfast?' I say, 'Oh píenty of
oats, but the horses got 'em aíí.' Or aíí the brown ríce or somethín'. An' the horses
have píenty of grass out there. Nobody was heípíng me. I had a hard tíme |ust
gettín' peopíe to íug water to put ín the pot. I had a hard tíme gettín' anybody
draggín' on down here to chop some fírewood 'cause aíí they wanted was to sít
there and eat, smokín' up the tobacco or the dope. They were quíte wíííín' to do
that. Weíí, I'm gíad I'm reííeved of that responsíbíííty, 'cause I feeí so much better
now. I feeí they're goín' to have to heíp themseíves or eíse they're not goín' to
make any advancement whatever, ríght? They gotta heíp themseíves. My
shouíders are heavy, and íf anybody gets síck or ín troubíe, I'íí be the fírst one
there to try to heíp them. But when they can heíp themseíves and |ust won't do ít,
and are íayín' the shít on me... I'm sorry, but you have to do ít yourseíf. That's the
oníy way they can get strong enough to overcome theír shortcomíngs, you know.
The oníy way to get strong ís - ís to do what you fear."
RAMON: "Man, I'd be busy for a íong tíme!"
TEX: "Weíí, I am busy for a íong tíme! Aíí my íífe I've had to be, an' I stííí have too
many thíngs that I fear that I have íeft to do."
RAMON: "But man, the uníverse ís so fuíí that - "
TEX: "We reaííze the uníverse ís fuíí, we reaííze the uníverse ís too fuíí, man! We
don't know how to weed ít out! Because we míght be the most ínferíor - we |ust
don't know. We want to keep the quaííty íf we expect anythíng to survíve us. But
we aíí |ust come an' go anyway, so what's the dífference? The thíng ís to make ít
groovy whííe you're here. An' - an' - an' try to íook for a ííttíe bít of compassíon for
your brothers an' neíghbors. An' the peopíe who are fuckín' peopíe around, we
don't need them reaííy. We don't need then at aíí, an' I'm kínda down on 'em, |ust
a ííttíe bít down on 'em. An' the peopíe who have to take orders wííí not uníess
somebody teíís 'em to do ít. It's a beehíve, man. You have the workers, the drones
an' the babysítters an' the babíes an' the mothers an' the fathers - an' the chícks."
CYNTHIA: "And you aíso have the cops."
TEX: "You have to have aíí of 'em."
CYNTHIA: "Reaííy?"
TEX: "But we don't need so many of 'em, of course. We can poííce ourseíves íf we
have our own truth."
CYNTHIA: "I'm not taíkín' about your own, you know. I'm taíkín' about outsíde."
TEX: "We have 'em here... I happen to be one of 'em... And I know who the others
are. They don't even reaííze ít. An' I got my workers an' I got my íovers. I got that
cat here who'íí go out an' chop wood aíí day íong |ust to get that víoíent shít out of
hím. An' the cat that can't do that - not capabíe of ít, but he'íí sít down an' wash
díshes or |ust tend the fíre. I got a guy here that can bake bread better than
anybody I've met, and I've got a few cooks that can cook reaííy good."
CYNTHIA: "I'm reaííy ímpressed wíth your bread, man. It's good!"
TEX: "Bart's one of the best bakers I've ever run across!"
RAMON: "You want to try - wouíd you ííke to hear a hoíy mantra? I'íí síng you one,
but ít's not reaííy síngíng."
TEX: "I hate repetítíous chants. They're too, unh, mwahhhhmah! I ííke to hear ít
comín', changín' every tíme the changes change. The fact ís that changes change.
Otherwíse, unh, ít's reaííy too repetítíous. It remínds me of regímentatíon, an' I teíí
you, I hate ít."
RAMON: "Aíí you have to do ís - "
TEX: "I'd rather not hear any repetítíon. I hate to repeat-peat-peat myseíf. I hate-
hate-hate to repeat-peat-peat myseíf!"
CYNTHIA: "You're reaííy -"
TEX: "I reaííy-reaííy-reaííy hate-hate-hate to repeat-peat-peat myseíf!"
RAMON: "What íf I guarantee you'íí get twíce as hígh as you are ríght now?"
TEX: "Weíí, I'íí be drínkín' thís wíne, and you'íí probabíy guarantee ít, Raymone,
but work out! I'íí íearn somethín'!"
RAMON: "Okay, aíí ít ís - "
TEX: "I míght even |oín you."
RAMON: "Aíí ít ís ís an ancíent name of the sun, and ah - "
TEX: "Rumpíestíískín, rumpíestíískín, rumpíestíískín..."
RAMON: "It's on your breath ííke Eeahhhouuueh, Eeahhhouuueh." (He contínues
for a few mínutes.)
TEX: "You know what you remínded me of ís - aíí you díd was buííd a meííow,
bíended tone, and ít sounded ííke oí' Bob Dyían when he stopped rappíng and got
ínto a 'Lay, íady, íay.' You feíí ín íove, and that's what's happeníng. Aíí you díd was
get out of the rap bag and ínto a monotone, you know. It sounded good! And I
sang a ííttíe song to her here whííe you were síngín', an' ít - ít was where ít was
at!"
BART: "It sounded reaí good!"
TEX: "Yeah! I dug ít!"
CYNTHIA: "Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!"
TEX: "What're you tryín' to say? What're you tryín' to say?"
RAMON: "That aíí there ís ís everybody - everybody prayíng together ín theír own
way."
TEX: "Díd anybody díg that or not?"
CYNTHIA: "Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!"
TEX: "Far out! You done ít!"
#
Chapter 16
Baby Raspberry Arríves & Parents Vísít
Taíí, bíonde-tressed Trudy, eíghteen and fresh from her arístocratíc Chícago
famííy, moved ín next door to the Mouse House. She became the fírst woman on
the íand to buííd her own home.
TRUDY: "The day I came to the íand I was handed a tab of PCP, and that díd get
me íntegrated ínto the communíty very fast. I went down to the chapeí, and Terry-
Pauí had |ust taíked thís narc ínto buyíng everyone beer and íce cream, and so
they were havíng a bíg party. Everyone was stoned on PCP, and there was thís
mantra goíng on between Mícheííe and Mígueí who had |ust gotten together. They
were reaííy at the heíght of theír thíng. We were aíí wríthíng around ín thís huge
mass, and I was |ust sort of watchíng, so out of ít, and they were sayíng,
'Mícheííííe, Mígueíííí, Mícheííííe, Mígueíííí,' We were aíí gettíng ínto ít, |ust wríthíng
around. I thínk that the effect of that PCP dídn't wear off for quíte a whííe. I |ust
íooked up at one poínt, and there was Terry-Pauí on top of me. 'You want to go
home?' he asked. And I díd, so that was how I íanded at hís píace.
"The morníng that O.B. toíd me I shouíd move away from Terry-Pauí, seven men
came by to see me. I was obvíousíy up for grabs. But ín generaí, I feít that my íífe
on the Rídge was the antídote to aíí the years of goíng to schooí, workíng hard,
stayíng up íate, appíyíng huge amounts of tensíon to myseíf, growíng up ín a
scene that had a íot of sadness. Peopíe got ínto such gríef and sadness and
weírdness and ínhíbítíons. And íots of guíít. The famííy money was made off of
barbed wíre, reaííy the antíthesís of Open Land. I mean, God!"
GWEN: "Trudy was waíkíng aíong the road one day and, as I passed, I caííed out a
fríendíy greetíng. Taíí, somber and beautífuí, she gave no answer, as íf to say that
greetíngs were not necessary. There were so many phííosophíes on the ranch that
I gave ít no more thought. Peter toíd me that Trudy was buíídíng her own house,
and duríng the next month I often saw her carryíng íumber. Another day I saw her
on the communíty run to get a few thíngs she needed to fíníshed her house. She
seemed so excíted and occupíed wíth her own thoughts. Next tíme I saw her, she
was smíííng from ear to ear, her bíue eyes sparkííng wíth merríment. When I
vísíted her house, I found a soííd píatform wíth canvas sídes, many wíndows, a
bed íoft and a canvas roof. There was a smaíí pííe of chopped wood under the cast
íron stove. Aíthough sparseíy furníshed, the house was ímmacuíate and Trudy was
beamíng.
"When she fírst arríved, she shared the dííemma of many síngíe women who
wanted to ííve on the Rídge. They found they couíd not manage ít wíthout sharíng
the heavy physícaí work wíth a man, and thereby runníng the rísk of an unwanted
or unhappy personaí reíatíonshíp. Trudy's exampíe was foííowed by other sísters
who wíshed to have theír own househoíds."
On |uíy fourth, Bííí and Gwen were awakened at níght by the duíí roar of engínes
comíng from Coíeman Vaííey Road on the Passaíaqua ranch a mííe to the west. A
processíon of síngíe ííghts were bobbíng ín the darkness. To Bííí, the noíse seemed
very omínous. He guessed at once they were about to have theír fírst vísít from a
motorcycíe gang, somethíng everyone thought ínevítabíe but about whích no one
knew what to do.
He toíd Gwen he was goíng 'up top' to meet them. Despíte her eíght-month beííy,
she ínsísted on comíng aíong. By the tíme they arríved at O'Bríen's front gate, the
processíon was about to enter. He went up to theír íeader and toíd hím the Rídge
was havíng íegaí probíems whích made theír very exístence precaríous. If the
bíkers were to come on the íand en masse, ít míght weíí be a factor ín cíosíng the
píace permanentíy. As índívíduaís, any of the gang were weícome to vísít, he
expíaíned. But as a group they were not. The íeader toíd hím that after they had
been evícted from theír campsíte on the Russían Ríver, the sheríff's deputíes toíd
them to go to Wheeíer's Ranch, províng Ramón theory that ít had been the poííce
who fírst sent the 'heavíes' to Morníng Star.
By thís tíme, the O'Bríen's, theír híred man and hís son had arríved.
"Why don't you íet them go down there," Cíara O'Bríen sneered. "They're anímaís,
|ust ííke you."
After what seemed ííke an hour of persuasíon, the íeader agreed to move on. |ust
as Bííí and Gwen were íeavíng, O'Bríen's híred man's son drove ínto the back of
theír car. Bííí knew ít had been íntentíonaí. Gettíng out, he ran up to the young
man's wíndow and punched hím ín the nose. Hís pacífíst ídeaís ín tatters and
nursíng a sore físt, he drove Gwen down the rutted road to theír bed.
The fíow of peopíe through the Rídge remínded Ramón of Morníng Star ín 1967.
Many young, íntense spírítuaí seekers arríved, some to settíe whííe others |ust
passed through. Andres Tamm was a young yogí ínterested ín Srí Aurobíndo's
teachíngs. A somewhat dístant, severe personaííty, he spent the summer before
íeavíng for Indía. He returned wíth the name 'Durga Chaítanya' and buíít a shríne
ín the East Canyon before movíng north to Mt. Shasta. There he acquíred íand and
started a reíígíous retreat dedícated to the Dívíne Mother.
Some fríends of Ramón's from the Fíoatíng Lotus Magíc Opera Company ín
Berkeíey vísíted. Gína, feeííng somewhat 'overpeo-píed,' threw a tantrum at
eveníng mííkíng when Ramón announced they were about to have síx guests for
supper. She then feít guííty and swung to the other extreme, ínvítíng everyone at
mííkíng to theír house. Ramón suggested a party on Hoffíe's Hííí ínstead, and they
spent the eveníng píayíng musíc together. The next day, the vísítors híked wíth
theír host to the East Canyon for a swím. The canyon was green and cooí, íush
undergrowth aíternatíng wíth toweríng redwoods. The paths topped at a steep
hííísíde over Coíeman Creek, and they sííd on theír bottoms down the fínaí
hundred feet. A three-foot marí|uana píant was growíng ín the graveí of the
creekbed. They pícked a few íeaves to smoke, bathed ín a shaííow pooí and
waíked upstream, the burbííng water the oníy sound ín the stíííness. Katy the Dog,
íncredíbíy pregnant from a romantíc fííng at Morníng Star, accompaníed them oníy
part of the way before íurchíng home.
KATY THE DOG: "That day I feít ííke a satcheí of burgíar's tooís on íegs. A few days
íater, I started scratchíng around to make a nest before Gína fínaííy settíed me
down ín my usuaí spot on the foot of the bed. Around mídníght the puppíes
started oozíng out whííe I panted wíth each contractíon. Ramón ran out of candíes
and started ííghtíng bírthday candíes to watch. One, two, three puppíes. I chewed
through theír umbííícaí cords and tore the sacs encíosíng them. Then I íícked them
untíí they started to squírm and grope for a teat. The síxth was born dead. Ah,
motherhood agaín! I gazed proudíy at my human fríends. For Ramón, ít was the
fírst tíme ín hís thírty-four years he had seen anythíng born. Perhaps I shouíd aíso
say how much I've en|oyed beíng a communíty dog. Luckííy I was born smaíí so
that the íocaí ranchers thínk of me more as a rodent. A rodent! What an ínsuít!"
RAMON: "Gína was returníng home from town yesterday, and the car had to waít
because the county was fíxíng Coíeman Vaííey Road. Rafaeí was drívíng, and they
waíted and waíted untíí he thought the guy waved them on. So he started edgíng
forward towards the fíagman. And the fíagman shouted, 'Hey, boy, where d'you
thínk you're goíng?' And Gína stuck her head out the wíndow wíth Katy ín her íap
and yeííed, 'I'm goíng to ask my dog to bíte you, you bastard!' But íater she
passed the road crew agaín and made the V sígn to the fíagman and he made the
V sígn back."
TEX: "He was apoíogízíng to her, but that's cooí. The same thíng happened to us
when we drove on the road. The cat saíd 'stop!' and they had a bíg tree out across
the road ííke that, man. And I saíd, 'Unh, we're stopped, you know,' and asked the
fíagman how íong he thought ít wouíd be before we couíd get through. And he
saíd, 'Weíí, you míght have to waít a bít.' So I saíd, 'Far out! We have some tíme to
smoke some dope. Wouíd you ííke to |oín us and smoke some grass and some
hash and drínk some wíne?' He saíd, 'No, ah, I'íí pass.' But he was so shocked,
surprísed ííke. I íaíd ít on hím ííke, 'Here's the woríd, man,' and he saíd, 'I don't
want ít.' Thanks but no thanks, you know. Then he backed off a bít. Then the dude
who was drívín' |umped out of the car and went up and was watchín' and got
taíkín' wíth the foreman. 'Oh yeah,' he saíd. 'We're |ust waítín' to pass, see, an'
we're smokín' some dope and drínkín' some wíne down here whííe we're waítín',
you know.'
"So the foreman caííed the guy down and made hím cíear off the road and we
drove on through. Heh-heh, we were the oníy car there and we oníy had to waít
fíve mínutes. They íet us through, ha-ha! They wouídn't íet us sít there too íong
because we don't gíve a fuck. And they're |ust puttín' ín theír tíme. They |ust
knocked aíí the shít off the road and íet us through. They're not condítíoned to
say, 'Wow! I'íí get stoned!'"
A new type of míddíe-aged touríst began appearíng that summer. The expressíon
of bored curíosíty that usuaííy marked theír faces was repíaced by one of concern
and fear. They were parents searchíng desperateíy for theír runaway chíídren.
News of the Haíght-Ashbury had spread to every corner of Ameríca, and
thousands of teenagers contínued to take to the híghways to get there. Because
Morníng Star and Wheeíer's were open, they were among the most popuíar píaces
to search for íost chíídren. Many worríed parents vísíted wíth snapshots of theír
chíídren, teíííng theír storíes and askíng for heíp. The Rídgefoík aíways tríed to
soothe them, expíaíníng how peacefuí and íovíng most híppíes were, and that
theír chíídren were probabíy ín a good sítuatíon.
BILL: "We used to encourage kíds to get ít together wíth theír parents, but ít was a
thín ííne. Kíds have ríghts too, íf not íegaííy then at íeast moraííy. And many were
escapees from |uvenííe homes. We never toíd on them, but aíways tríed for a
reconcíííatíon."
RAMON: "Gwen's uncíe |ohn Hoít, a weíí-known educator, suggests ín one of hís
books that chíídren be aííowed to take on both the freedoms and responsíbííítíes
of aduíthood at any age. Chíídren are a very oppressed group ín our socíety
because they have few íegaí ríghts of theír own. Hoíd aíso suggested that a chííd
be gíven enough money so that he couíd freeíy seíect the peopíe wíth whom he
wíshed to ííve. Perhaps weífare payments shouíd be made to aíí chíídren, or at
íeast those who appíy for them, a kínd of federaí schooí and íívíng aííowance.
They they themseíves couíd work out theír ííves.
"|uvenííe |ustíce ís a horrendous, tragíc aspect of our socíety. As Lou remarked
when Adam Síddartha was arrested, ít's a terríbíe bummer when a chííd ís píaced
ín the hands of aduíts who are totaííy convínced they know what ís ín hís own best
ínterests. The next ííberatíon movement must be Chíídren's Líberatíon. Hoít
hímseíf once admítted he reached hís own radícaí concíusíons after vísíts to state-
operated chíídren's homes.
"One mother who vísíted the Rídge turned out to be an amazíng person. Her
daughter was íívíng wíth her boyfríend on the back of the íand, and the mother
came to spend some tíme wíth them. O.B. took her on a tour and made ít hís |ob
to see she feít comfortabíe. Imagíne my surpríse when a few days íater I spotted
her at a Sunday Feast, íyíng naked on the ground, wríggííng ecstatícaííy to the
beat of the bíack conga drummers besíde her. She had taken the name 'Morníng
Star' and was apparentíy havíng a marveíous vacatíon. She stayed on for some
weeks and became a good fríend of the communíty. I thínk her daughter was
amazed by the way her mother settíed ín."
Morníng Star contínued to be home for a smaíí group of determíned peopíe who
adapted to the períodíc poííce vísíts as best they couíd. One day Phíí Brougham
and Lení Brown vísíted wíth Lení's younger síster. They accompaníed Lou, Near,
Gína and Ramón on a tour of some íand for saíe across the Russían Ríver. Lení
had fíííed out ínto a beautífuí, poísed young woman. Phíí, frízzy red haír framíng a
smíííng face, taíked and íaughed on the dríve.
The acreage was íandíocked, but accessíbíe on foot from the neíghboríng Appíe
Tree Canyon commune. A Morníng Star brother íívíng there took the group on a
tour. The íand was híííy, heavííy forested wíth redwood, bay and madrone. It
ad|oíned a Pomo Indían buríaí ground as weíí as a míneraí spríng. And ít was
cheap - forty acres for $3000, an unheard-of íow príce for that area. Lou |ust
happened to have coííected that amount to pay hís contempt of court fínes.
Shouíd he buy the íand ínstead?
The foííowíng day Gwen went ínto íabor. Gína and Ramón attended the bírth ín Bííí
and Gwen's ííttíe garden home.
RAMON: "Raspberry Hummíngbírd Sundown Wheeíer was born at 6:34:40 as near
as we couíd fígure ít. Gwen was magnífícent and the baby perfect. We were aíí
besíde ourseíves wíth happíness. It couídn't have been a better bírth, out there
next to the corn patch, the sunset gíow matchíng the ecstasy we feít ín beíng abíe
to partícípate ín such a sacred event. Bííí's verbaí encouragement to Gwen
became known as 'Poppa Wíííy's Prepartum Pep Taík' when ít was repeated at
other bírths on the íand."
After Raspberry's bírth, Lou, Near, Gína and Ramón drove back to the reaí estate
offíce and bought the forty acres for God. The reaítor tríed to put quotatíon marks
around God, to 'God' God, as ít were. But Lou saíd no, the deed must read from
the Bank of Ameríca to God, straíght and símpíe. They named the íand Raspberry
ín honor of the new íífe at the Rídge.
Raspberry's fírst tríp away from the ranch came shortíy thereafter when Bííí and
Gwen vísíted Grandma Passaíaqua, the matríarch of the sheep ranchíng famííy
whose íand bordered Wheeíer's to the west. Grandma had been círcuíatíng a
petítíon requestíng the county cíose down the Rídge communíty. A fragííe, whíte-
haíred seventy-year-oíd, she patroííed her ranch wíth a shotgun and a two-way
radío. Coíeman Vaííey Road ran through the míddíe of her property, and
sometímes Rídge vísítors wandered off the road ínto one of her pastures. Some
híppíe stoned on LSD even went swímmíng ín her water tank one day.
She was deííghted to meet Raspberry but was horrífíed at her name. Invíted
ínsíde, Bííí and Gwen sat at her kítchen tabíe and taíked. She toíd them that her
granddaughters couíd no íonger ríde theír horses ínto the West Canyon because
of nude maíe sunbathers. Aíso, she was constantíy íosíng sheep to wanderíng
dogs. Through her bínocuíars, she had counted twenty dogs on the Rídge ín one
day. She had heard there were ex-cons íívíng there, and feít that theír presence
threatened the ííves and possessíons of her famííy.
Bííí expíaíned that most everyone who came to hís íand was peace-íovíng, and
that the communíty wanted to maíntaín fríendíy reíatíons wíth the neíghbors. If
the Rídge was cíosed, many famíííes wouíd be homeíess. Grandma feít
compassíon for the famíííes, expíaíníng her maín worry ínvoíved the síngíe men.
After a íong díscussíon, Bííí persuaded her to drop the petítíon on the condítíon
that the Rídge íímít íts dog popuíatíon to four, aíí of whom wouíd be kept índoors
at níght. The trade-off seemed reasonabíe, and they parted wíth a mutuaí feeííng
of trust.
Wíth the íegaí pressure agaínst the Rídge íncreasíng, Bííí asked Ramón to wríte a
pamphíet expíaíníng theír sítuatíon and askíng for fínancíaí heíp. Both the Rídge
and Morníng Star needed to communícate ín theír own words what they were
doíng, and how the authorítíes were respondíng. Ramón typed away for some
days and consuíted wíth fríends before puttíng together the fírst Open Land
Manífesto whích was prínted that faíí. Hís wrítíng was concíse and movíng,
descríbíng the |oys and heartbreaks of Open Land. The Whoíe Earth Cataíog
reprínted a photo and squíb wíth the resuít that Bííí receíved fíve hundred
requests for copíes from aíí over the country (see Appendíx A).
Word tríckíed back from Indía that Chíran|íva was ín Nepaí on hís way to the
States but had cashed ín the tícket Lou had bought hím. Lou fretted, fínaííy
sendíng a second tícket. At íast Chíran|íva arríved! Síím form cíad ín Leví's, he had
hítchhíked from the aírport to Morníng Star, a fact that ímpressed Superman very
much. "A hítchhíkíng guru!" he commented ín amazement. A weícomíng party
was prepared for the whíte-bearded hoíy man at the Rídge on the fírst of
September. Peopíe gathered ín the Píne Grove, some LSD círcuíated and the
musícíans tuned up.
By the tíme Lou, Near, Chíran|íva and a group of Oíompaíí foík arríved, the
musícíans were too stoned to píay. The chíídren had taken over the ínstruments,
bangíng away happííy on the drums whííe Cíaudía Cow mosíed over to see what
was happeníng. Four beautífuí naked sísters píaced a garíand of pínk ííííes around
Chíran|íva's neck.
"I'm oníy a beggar," he saíd, bowíng to the ground ín apprecíatíon of the honor.
Everyone stared ín growíng deííght at thís handsome Bengaíí who cíaímed to be
the Creator of the Uníverse ín human form. Later that day, whííe takíng a tour of
the íand, Chíran|íva descríbed what he saw as 'dívíne ínfantííísm.' A man of
tremendous energy and íookíng younger than hís fífty-seven years, he rested
bríefíy at O.B.'s tent, the Rídge's own hoíy man.
Sometíme duríng that afternoon, Nevada staggered up to hím, drunk as usuaí. "I
shee tha' you're a hoíy man," he híccuped ín Chíran|íva's face. "Have you sheen
|esus, motherfucker?"
When Chíran|íva was toíd Nevada's name, he commented, "Ah, yes, the testíng
grounds."
There was a great deaí of díscussíon about Chíran|íva duríng the next days. Zen
|ack feít he was a phony and íeft ímmedíateíy for the San Francísco Zen Center to
cíear hís head wíth some no-nonsense medítatíon.
ZEN |ACK: "We're aíí Lou's uítímate dream - Morníng Star, Wheeíer's Ranch. And
he sees aíí hís efforts and work - the whoíe thíng - beíng washed away ín gaííons
of Red Mountaín wíne and víoíence and screamíng and kníves. So he goes to Indía
to fínd the guru - the great hash-smokíng guru. And fínaííy, after months and
months of deíays, Chíran|íva arríves at Morníng Star. The wínos are down by the
Lower House gettíng íoaded on wíne, heh-heh-heh. But the guru to save Morníng
Star from the wínos ís here! He goes down and comes back staggeríng, bíoody-
eyed drunk, and says to Lou, heh-heh-heh, 'Why do you spend so much money on
hashísh? Thís Red Mountaín ís |ust as good!'"
The next day many peopíe gathered at Morníng Star to hear Chíran|íva díscuss
the new age whích he caííed 'Shíva Kaípa.' He chanted the Bhagavad Gíta on Don
and Sandy's píatform - aíí that remaíned of theír house after compíyíng wíth the
county's buíídíng code - whííe the íísteners íounged and dozed. He then íeft for the
cíty to gíve a taík over a íocaí híp radío statíon and see the síghts.
FRIAR TUCK: "When Chíran|íva came to Morníng star, he set hímseíf above the
rest of the peopíe there. He was very aíoof, to say the íeast. Anyway, earíy one
morníng Chí-Chí, as we caííed hím, was síttíng ín the íotus posítíon wíth aíí hís gírís
around hím.
"Nevada came stumbííng up wíth a |ug of wíne ín one hand. He squínted at the
group, weavíng back and forth. 'Wha' th' fuck's goín' on?' he ínquíred poííteíy.
Then he posted hímseíf dírectíy ín front of Chí-Chí, |ust bareíy managíng to stay on
hís feet, staríng at hím. 'Ah'íí trade yuh thísh bottíe of wíne for thoshe two chícks,'
he saíd, poíntíng at two of the more íuscíous-íookíng women.
"And Chí-Chí, of course, dídn't say a word. He |ust sat there wíth hís eyes cíosed.
"'Dí'n you hear wha' Ah shaíd?' Nevada screamed. 'Don' you unnershtan', man?
Ah shaíd Ah'íí trade you thísh whoíe bottíe of wíne for thoshe two chícks!' And he
gave the sísters a píeasant íeer.
"But Chí-Chí was above ít aíí. He must've reaíízed Nevada was there, but he dídn't
reaííy want to hear what he had to say. I guess Nevada had been drínkíng aíí níght
or somethíng. Anyway, Nevada started rubbíng hís stomach - I wítnessed the
whoíe thíng, man. 'Unhhh, thísh goddam wíne ísh reaííy - uíp!' And he puked aíí
over Chí-Chí."
RAMON: "Lou had great hopes for 'Father,' as hís díscípíes caííed Chíran|íva. He
expected hím to settíe ín at Morníng Star and zap the county offícíaís wíth hígh
víbratíons. Instead, Chíran|íva spent more and more tíme ín the cíty and made ít
cíear he dídn't ííke íífe at the ranch. It's prímítíve earthíness remínded hím too
much of the poverty of Indía, |ust what he wanted to forget. For hím there was
nothíng new about shíttíng ín the woods, and he preferred the amenítíes of hot
water and cíean surroundíngs."
"Lou tríed to híde hís dísappoíntment, but saíd he was wrítíng Chíran|íva's ííttíe
grandson ín Indía a íong íetter about ít aíí. Near had not accepted Lou's guru as
her own, and remaíned somewhat crítícaí of the goíngs-on."
#
C hapter 17
The Ahímsa Church, The Manífesto & Another Inspectíon
One day Cííff and Ramón rode over to Morníng Star ín the back of the communíty
truck aíong wíth a íoad of garbage on íts way to the dump. Cííff had hís guítar, and
Ramón hís accordíon strapped to hís shouíders whích he was aííowíng the bumps
ín the road to píay for hím. Cííff, a íívewíre, nutty, víbrant but sometímes grouchy
brother, was evoívíng ínto a seíf-taught southpaw guítaríst on a ríght-hand guítar.
From hís house ín the Píne Grove he fuífíííed the roíe of a communíty watchdog,
barkíng at newcomers he consídered uncooí.
LOU: "Cííff ís a great musícían, but affíícted wíth the same troubíes Ramón and I
know about musícíans. He once came to me and compíaíned that my mere
presence turned everythíng ínto a teacher-pupíí reíatíonshíp. For exampíe, when
Ramón and Aían were puttíng together Aían's house, he saíd, 'Lou, when you
appear, peopíe automatícaííy begín bendíng naíís and actíng ín a pecuííar manner.
It's terríbíe, Lou, because that's what you do every tíme you show up!'
"And I know thís ís a true fauít of míne, because ít's an aííergíc reactíon to
ensembíe performance of musíc. In other words, I've píayed ín ensembíe for so
many years, that uníess ít's done my way I don't píay at aíí. And Cííff understands
that and he resents ít, of course. Now I recentíy notíced he has put on gíasses to
be abíe to read musíc, and so he'íí understand my posítíon because I've recentíy
taken my gíasses off."
Ramón vísíted Morníng Star frequentíy duríng Chíran|íva's stay, caught up ín the
excítement surroundíng the guru. He took the opportuníty to píck up some íumber
out of the ruíns of the Lower House, a wíndow frame from |ohn Butíer's room, a
door Sandy Kíng had decorated. Sandy was níne and a haíf months pregnant,
íívíng wíth Don at the bottom of the West Canyon. At íast she went ínto íabor and
deíívered a huge boy - over ten pounds. She tore a ííttíe, but otherwíse came
through beautífuííy. The baby was another Open Land beauty and they named
hím Raínbow Canyon Kíng.
Símííar to Lou, Bííí Wheeíer began spendíng a great deaí of tíme ín the courts.
Asíde from the county's own show-cause actíons, |ack O'Bríen had sued to cíose
the ríght-of-way through hís ranch. Bííí and hís attorney Corbín began to consíder
formíng a corporatíon to remove the burden of Rídge ownershíp from Bííí's
shouíders. The more the communíty grew from a random coííectíon of índívíduaís
ínto an íntegraí tríbe, the more pressíng the need to spread responsíbíííty more
eveníy among the peopíe. Fínancíaí contríbutíons had begun tríckíe ín, and the
decísíon about how to spend them needed to be shared. Aíso the communíty
needed some way to confront the estabííshment other than Bííí's short-tempered
shoutíng.
Corbín created a church structure whích he named The Ahímsa Church from
Gandhí's term for non-víoíence. Some peopíe ob|ected to the name because they
were unfamíííar wíth ít. Aíso an Ahímsa Church aíready exísted somewhere eíse.
But Corbín wanted to base hís arguments upon how harmíess the Rídgefoík were
ín spíte of theír radícaí Open Land concept, and thus shouíd be íeft aíone. So the
name stuck, and the church was formed as a íegaí Caíífornía corporatíon wíth a
board of trustees eíected once a year. The eíectíons were cíassíc New Age events
because whoever wanted the |ob was the one who got ít. There was aíways
someone around who wouíd accept the presídency, whííe those who ííked
numbers and money gravítated to the |ob of treasurer. Church actívítíes waxed
and waned accordíng to seasonaí rhythms, but ín every íater crísís ít proved a
heíp ín gettíng thíngs accompííshed.
Wíthín the artícíes of The Ahímsa Church was íncíuded a sectíon entítíed 'Keepíng
The Faíth:'
"Thís corporatíon exísts for the worshíp of God, our Heaveníy Father, and of the
earth, our Mother, through the practíce and díssemínatíon of the doctríne of
harmíessness to the earth and to one's feííow men. Aíí dírectors and offícers of
thís corporatíon are charged wíth the duty of keepíng the foregoíng artícíe of faíth.
Among the prímary functíons of the corporatíon ís the maíntenance of the
premíses of the church as Open Land. The board of dírectors shaíí make ruíes and
reguíatíons as ít deems necessary or desír-abíe for the maíntenance of Open
Land, foííowíng aíways the príncípíe that aíí brothers and sísters who wííí act so as
to keep the íand open have a home ín the Ahímsa Church."
Corbín then drew up a íong and compíícated deed wíth provísíons that the íand
couíd never be soíd, expíoíted for profít, rented, borrowed or cíosed. In the event
of the faííure of the church, the íand wouíd revert back to Bííí or hís heírs. Thís
provísíon prevented the íand from beíng gíven to somethíng ííke the Boy Scouts of
Ameríca whích by Caíífornía Law couíd have happened íf the church foíded
wíthout a provísíon for the díspersaí of íts assets. Otherwíse, the Rídge was now
church íand and common property for as íong as the Ahímsa Church maíntaíned
íts exístence.
Corbín then tríed to get a tax exemptíon for the corporatíon. Other somewhat
símííar groups had achíeved a símííar status, but when the Internaí Revenue
Servíce fínaííy got around to revíewíng the appíícatíon, theír requírements
suddeníy became a great deaí tíghter than before. They turned down the request,
expíaíníng that the Rídge resembíed a cooperatíve country cíub more than a
charítabíe ínstítutíon. Corbín wanted to appeaí the decísíon, but other more
pressíng matters íntervened.
The Ahímsa Church receíved donatíons and paíd for such expenses as cow feed,
íegaí fees and repaírs to the communíty truck whích had become the prímary
means of transportatíon ín and out of the ranch. Church members organízed food
conspíracíes whích bought food ín buík at whoíesaíe príces, hauíed ít back to the
íand and dístríbuted ít. Sacks of graín were íeft ín the Free Store ín the barn, and
peopíe took what they needed. Aíso, the Church started a dentaí fund whích
aííowed some peopíe to get theír teeth fíxed.
RAMON: "Ah, the Free Store, an ínstítutíon so dear to Gína's heart. She moved ít
ítem by ítem to the Mouse House, a dress here, a coat there, untíí fínaííy out of
desperatíon I packed ít aíí up and took ít back to the barn. Then the whoíe process
began agaín as Gína, assumíng her aíternate ídentíty 'Peachy Freestore,'
burrowed happííy ín the pííes of cíothíng for hours."
Offícers of the Ahímsa Church fronted for the peopíe wíth the Weífare
Department, sígned rent receípts and kept appoíntments. The íast presídent of
the Church, Snakepít Eddíe, used hís posítíon to resoíve many probíems. He had
been born ínto a bíack míddíe-cíass famííy ín Oakíand. Duríng hís twentíes and
after a faííed marríage, he moved to an ísoíated northern Caíífornía county wíth a
whíte womanfríend. Because he was one of the few Bíacks around, íívíng ín a
míxed marríage and consídered 'uppíty,' the íocaí poííce made no secret of theír
hatred of hím. He was ínvoíved ín a number of scrapes, and arríved at the Rídge ín
1969, saxophone ín hand, sportíng a haíf-shaved head. He began to buííd a
rambííng, muítí-storíed mansíon on the síde of Hoffíe's Hííí near an abandoned
weíí referred to as 'The Snake Pít' because of the numerous snakes coííed and
draped ín íts murky depths. Hís house broke every ruíe ín the buíídíng code but
was a masterpíece of ínventíon. For the next severaí years he hoíed up, workíng
on hís musíc whích evoíved ínto a free-form, híghíy expressíve, Mííes Davís styíe.
As an advocate of peopíe's musíc, he emphasízed the creatíve, spontaneous síde
rather than the technícaí, and encouraged many to make musíc who otherwíse
wouíd not have done so.
At the end of September, the county gave the Rídge twenty-four hour notíce of íts
íntentíon to conduct a three-day ínspectíon. The foííowíng day was a busy one,
everyone scurryíng about cíeaníng up the píace. On the fírst ínspectíon morníng,
many of the ínhabítants íeft to spend the day at the Russían Ríver. A bíg busíoad
of freaks had dríven ín duríng the níght and parked on top of Hoffíe's Hííí next to
the cross, the ceremoníaí gatheríng spot. The bus stood at the center of an
expíosíon of beíongíngs and síeepíng bodíes. When Ramón went to warn them of
the ímpendíng offícíaí vísít, a drowsy arm handed hím a baggíe of mescaííne ín
response.
Thursday brought more offícíaís. The communíty truck, |ust íeavíng, encountered
them at O'Bríen's front gate. The Rídgefoík yeííed at them, especíaííy at one cop
Sam Merovítch, an ex-L.A. poííceman who was dísííked by everyone for hís
ínsensítíve, up-tíght píggíshness. Thís was one of the few tímes that the
communíty as a group vented íts feeííngs agaínst the county offícíaís.
LOU: "I deepíy resent the word 'píg' used ín connectíon wíth peace offícers. It has
been my experíence sínce I ííved at Morníng Star that peopíe who are caííed to
the offíce of íaw enforcement are reaííy 'Kshatrya' or warríor caste. Morníng Star
Ranch has become a gatheríng-píace for warríor caste peopíe. Of course we are
aíí aíí-caste - we are aíí príests, warríors, busínessmen, artísans, servants and
outcasts, but the emphasís ín those who have assembíed here to free Mother
Earth from excíusíve ownershíp are prímarííy warríor caste. And símííar to other
peace offícers, Sam ís warríor caste.
"The more I assocíate wíth peace offícers from the Sonoma County Sheríff's offíce,
the more I respect the professíon. Aías, the more I assocíate wíth attorneys and
|udges, the íower my respect faíís for those partícuíar caíííngs because they are
ííke prostítutes - peopíe who render a servíce professíonaííy whích shouíd be free.
Now Sam ís not a partícuíaríy perceptíve índívíduaí, but he has an ídea of what ís
happeníng.
"There have been three offícers on the Morníng Star beat who understood what
was goíng on: |ohn Níchoís, Dan Míner and Bob Waíker. And the |ob of a peace
offícer ín our tíme can test the souí of a man. I mean, íf you receíve a 5150 - a caíí
to apprehend a psychopath - íet's say there's a nutty íady throwíng oranges
around ín the Safeway - that caíí may come at 9:45 when you've oníy been on the
|ob forty-fíve mínutes and your coffee has hardíy settíed. You go to píck up the
íady who ís very níce except that she draws a four-ínch fíngernaíí scratch down
your face when you try to teíí her to stop throwíng fruít around the store. Haíf an
hour íater you are caííed to a domestíc argument where the feííow greets you at
the door wíth a shotgun. It's an argument ín whích you have no possíbíe ínterest
except that he's aíready knocked two teeth out of hís wífe's mouth.
"Bob Waíker has toíd me íamentíngíy that there shouíd be some kínd of
psychoíogíst present at the offíce to whom an offícer can go and say, 'Look, I've
aíready had two encounters whích have rendered me unfít to contínue my day's
work. It won't be maííngeríng íf I say I can't do any more.' If those two íncídents
happen before 10:30 ín the morníng, you can fígure out where you'íí be by 4:30
that afternoon. You'íí be psychotíc. You'íí be unabíe to render servíces of peace to
anybody. But nevertheíess the sheríff's deputíes stííí do so, and my respect for the
professíon ríses."
COYOTE: "We'd be waíkíng around the íand, tríppíng on acíd, and |ust out of the
cíear bíue sky we'd see somebody we'd never seen before wíth a very, very dark-
coíored aura. He'd try to be fríendíy, but at the same tíme he was beíng very coíd
to us, seeíng what kínd of ínformatíon he couíd get. So we'd |ust waík up to hím
and go, 'Hí, how are you?' and when he opened hís mouth to say somethíng we'd
shove acíd ín ít. 'Here, man, you need thís. What's the matter wíth you? Why
aren't you beíng cooí?' And he'd say, 'Ghrh, what's that? What are you doíng?'
And we'd say, 'Weíí, have a good tríp,' and waík off ínto the sunset. Whíchever
way the wínd was bíowíng, that's the way we'd go. I thínk we dosed somethíng
ííke seven pígs up there, seven peopíe who we feít reaííy needed ít because they
gave off the víbes ííke they were there to see what we were up to."
BART: "The |aííer, who Samueí got to know, toíd hím they'd íost more undercover
agents to Open Land than to any other pro|ect - not physícaííy but spírítuaííy."
Whííe the Manífesto was beíng prepared for the prínter, many tríps were made to
San Francísco. Duríng one of them, Gína, Bííí and Ramón stopped off to see Lou
and Near at the apartment where Chíran|íva was stayíng. The atmosphere was a
bít straíned, and Near íeft wíth them on theír return to the Rídge. What was goíng
on?
LOU: "My whoíe íífe has been dedícated to the proposítíon that íf anyone ís toíd to
íeave anywhere they have to foííow me out. But Chíran|íva, to whom I have made
a spírítuaí surrender because he has a more evoíved conscíousness than my own,
sensíng that I'm hung up on my díscovery of Open Land - not my díscovery, but I
do formuíate ít more frequentíy than others - anyway, Chíran|íva saíd to hímseíf, 'I
have to crash Lou íoose from thís or he wííí be the íand-access-to-whích-ís-deníed-
no-one doíí for the rest of hís íífe! You wínd hím up and he says, "Land-access-to-
whích-ís-deníed-no-one, íand-access-to-whích-ís-deníed-no-one!" But how shaíí I
do ít? I'íí stage a ííttíe scene, and then he'íí have to gíve up!'
"So the scene began wíth Near poppíng two strawberry LSD tabs of 225
mícrograms each ínto Chíran|íva's mouth on the síy. And Chíran|íva, who had been
dosed before, íooked at me and saíd, 'The same dumb |oke! Thís ís the fourth tíme
they are gívíng me thís!' He was very angry and saíd, 'Near, get out!' And then he
turned to me and saíd, 'Weíí, are you goíng too?' I stayed, aíthough needíess to
say there was extended domestíc unrest ín my house for a whííe. We are aíí
síncere aspírants beíng hastened to our heart's desíre ín the most dírect possíbíe
way."
When the Manífesto went to the prínter, Ramón began wrítíng down hís reíígíon at
Corbín's request. He fíníshed ít the day before Lou's bírthday (October 10th) and
tríed ít out on Fruíts'n Nuts Nancy and Oíd Ben. They ííked ít and were very
encouragíng. Entítíed Morníng Star Faíth, Thy Open Land Church (see Appendíx
B), ít íncorporated suggestíons from Aían, Bííí and Lou among others. The next
day, a group from the Rídge íeft for Morníng Star for Lou's bírthday but míssed
hím. Ramón forgot hís accordíon at the post offíce and had to go back for ít. The
tríp contínued to the cíty where, after supper wíth Gwen's brother Peter, they
vísíted Chíran|íva. When he began hís what-a-drag-ít-ís-to-ííve-ín-the-woods-ííke-
anímaís harangue, Ramón became angry.
"But we are anímaís!" he ínsísted.
"Get out!" Chíran|íva yeííed. "Get out!"
Gína and Ramón stood up to íeave, trembííng wíth emotíon.
"Theatrícaí braggart!" Ramón shouted and íeft the room.
"God bíess Morníng Star!" Gína added, and síammed the front door. "God bíess
the poor and the homeíess!"
LOU: "Ramón of course hurt Chíran|íva deepíy, and the reason - that was made
cíear to me - ís that |ust because I have found my guru doesn't mean that aíí of
my fríends and co-workers must accept the same guru. That's absoíuteíy
preposterous. It must be an actíon of the heart - a spontaneous outcroppíng of
dívíne íove.
"Chíran|íva has of course hurt me many tímes for my own benefít. I wouíd say that
the wound from whích I have yet to recover ís when he took me asíde one day
and saíd, 'Your whoíe open íand thíng ís nothíng but a re-run of Vínova Bhave.'
Vínova Bhave ís the díscípíe of Gandhí who ís the orígínator of the Bhu-Dan (íand
gíft) movement ín Indía. I have never recovered from that bíow. Vínova has done
great work, but the probíem ís that he has never opened íand ííke a íotus, but
ínstead ííke a corporatíon. That ís the Indían hang-up. But Vínova ís very hígh.
Everybody ín Indía íoves Vínova-|í. But Open Land ín the Uníted States ís no re-run
of anythíng. If you can fínd a precedent for thís, I want to see ít. Now Chíran|íva
knew aíí thís, but he wanted to defíate my ego |ust a trífíe and took thís path to do
so."
RAMON: "I must confess that I was aíready somewhat annoyed at Chíran|íva
before I came ínto hís presence that day. I had heard reports of hís tantrums, of
hís referríng to Lou as 'that |ewísh ape' and to Near as 'oíd cheesy cunt,' epíthets
that seemed somewhat íackíng ín the íove and gratítude you wouíd thínk he
wouíd feeí for the peopíe who had hauíed hím and hís famííy out of a mud hut ínto
what couíd oníy seem ííke an earthíy paradíse ín comparíson. Later we became
fríendíy agaín, aíthough I saw ííttíe to emuíate among hís círcíe of díscípíes and
famííy. He seemed to run a sort of cíty dope recreatíon center."
LOU: "One of the deííghts of havíng a guru ís known as bad-mouthíng the guru,
whích I am unabíe to do. I cannot to that. But I íeave you to some of hís
goddesses who can do ít so much better than I. Then you'íí see, and Chíran|íva wííí
íove ít because every tíme you say anythíng about hím he says, 'It's me!'"
RAMON: "On October 21st, the county housewreckers arríved at Morníng Star. By
the |udge's order, the buíídozer growíed across the meadow, tearíng up the fragííe
topsoíí and knockíng down a redwood by the front dríveway. In two days aíí the
exístíng structures except for Lou's studío had dísappeared ínto the wreckíng
machínes. Goodbye Lower House, goodbye Upper House, garage, goodbye dear
oíd barn, Don and Sandy's píatform, Davíd and Penny's treehouse, Pam and
Larry's meadowboat. Three píum trees went wíth the Lower house. New houses
can be buíít ín a few weeks, but trees take íong years to estabíísh themseíves and
bear fruít. Kíííers! Desecraters!"
LOU: "Duríng the fírst buíídozíng, I freaked out oníy once. The buíídozers began
pushíng down the Upper House. Near and I got ínto the car and íeft. When we
came back, not oníy was the house gone but they had torn down the garage too.
That's when I reaííy got annoyed. I started yeíííng and cursíng Zack Shaw, the
buíídíng ínspector, and one of the men drívíng the buíídozer got scared but
contínued to do hís |ob. The ínterestíng thíng was that my studío was never
touched, and ít never was up to code. It was, however, wíthín 300 feet of an
operatíng toííet facíííty - the bath house - a facíííty that operated for about four
days before ít was ínundated wíth shít from aíí the offeríngs. Orígínaííy Chuck
Herríck toíd me I couíd have an operatíonaí shíthouse for íess than $300. Some
fífteen grand íater, ít was stííí not functíoníng. So that was a breech bírth. The
pro|ect of erectíng a code shíthouse at Morníng Star broke three men. When ít
fínaííy was compíeted, ít operated for four days."
NEAR: "8:00 a.m. The íoud cíangíng of the buíídozer beíí awakened those stííí
síeepíng at Morníng Star. Two dump trucks wíth a crew of eíght men had arríved.
Some brought aíong theír teenage chíídren aíong to watch the 'fun.' They had a
map prepared by the Dístríct Attorney pínpoíntíng aíí the homes. Resídents were
toíd to grab what possessíons they couíd and spíít. Those wíth típís ran to
dísassembíe them and híde the canvas and poíes. Others grabbed theír síeepíng
bags and híd them ín the woods. Some resídents píeaded wíth the wreckíng crews
not to destroy theír homes. The spokesman for the wreckers gave the oíd ííne
about oníy foííowíng orders, and stated that they íntended to do what they were
gettíng paíd for.
"I foííowed them around readíng aíoud from the Oíd Testament, naked as usuaí,
whííe they demoííshed the houses. They tríed to ígnore me, aíthough some found
me somewhat dístractíng. An hour íater, fríends returned from a town tríp wíth
two watermeíons. We gathered and had a watermeíon party, ínvítíng the wreckíng
crew to |oín us. The crew ígnored the ínvítatíon. The party was heíd about twenty
feet from the house they were demoííshíng. We sang 'Hare Kríshna' and other
spírítuaí songs. A messenger íeft to ínform the Wheeíer Ranch foík of the
destructíon. A few hours íater, Bííí and Crazy Davíd showed up wíth a movíe
camera and sound equípment. They took off aíí theír cíothes before begínníng to
fíím and record. The camera notíceabíy upset the wreckers but they contínued
wíth theír work. By thís tíme the poííce had arríved to protect the destructíon
crew.
"Fríendíy freaks puííed out guítars and fíutes and started makíng musíc. Others
sang and danced, mostíy naked. A few foííowed two wreckers down to Davíd and
Cathy's house ín a redwood grove near the brook. Sínce the buíídozer couídn't
penetrate the grove, the men carríed wreckíng bars. They caííed out for everyone
to vacate the house before they attacked ít.
"'Go away! We're baíííng!' Davíd yeííed.
"A poííceman was caííed, and Davíd and Cathy were evícted from theír house.
Cathy was eíght months pregnant. She begged the men to íeave her house aíone,
and then began to cry. She stood there, cryíng, watchíng the demoíítíon of the
house where she had píanned to have her baby. Aíí the houses were destroyed.
The wreckers made a pííe of the wood and burned ít. The remaíns of thís fíre
smoídered and smoked for two months.
"There was no need for the buíídozer to return the next day. When 9 o'cíock
passed and we were sure they wouídn't be back, the sound of hammers and saws
started. Peopíe were begínníng to buííd new homes. Thís tíme the structures were
desígned so they couíd be dísassembíed quíckíy and hídden ín the woods ín case
the wreckers reappeared. The típís were raísed agaín, and the good íífe went on
at Morníng Star."
#
Chapter 18
Babes In The Woods
The drama, beauty and emotíon of a home bírth ís deep and exquísíte. When a
mother went ínto íabor, the whoíe íand tíngíed wíth excítement and antícípatíon.
Often peopíe wouíd gather outsíde the house and 'Om.' Musícíans wouíd píay
whatever was píeasíng to the mother and chííd. Everyone wanted to be there
when the baby was born. To be ínvíted was a specíaí prívííege, ímpíyíng that the
mother had a specíaí píace ín her heart for you. As the chííd grew up, you kept
that specíaí cíose reíatíonshíp whích sharíng ín the bírth had gíven you.
GWEN: "Two babíes were born at the bottom of each canyon. One of the women
had troubíe expeíííng the píacenta after the bírth, so she híked up the steep
canyon waíí wíth ít hangíng out of her ííke a taíí. But she arríved safeíy at the
hospítaí. At another Rídge bírth, the coupíe and theír fríends dropped acíd. Both
mother and chííd paíd for ít afterwards by gettíng síck. Bírth ís píenty hígh wíthout
such fooííshness."
BILL: "The most chaotíc bírth I ever attended on the íand was ín a smaíí tent ín the
míddíe of the níght. The mother was havíng her second chííd, and her fírst was
stííí too young to understand what was happeníng. She thought her mother was
wounded, and spent the whoíe íast part of the íabor cíutchíng her mother's head
and screamíng at the top of her íungs. The confusíon was compounded by the
poor íííumínatíon províded by a híssíng Coíeman íantern. When the mother started
to deííver, the baby came very quíckíy. The feííow who was catchíng dropped the
baíí! The newborn baby was roíííng around ín the bíoody sheets, seemíngíy unabíe
to breathe. Gwen rushed over from the other síde of the tent, físhed the chííd up
and turned ít upsíde down so the mucus wouíd draín. At íast ít showed sígns of
íífe.
"The most together bírth I wítnessed was by a bíack mother. She díd not íet out
one sound, and the íabor íasted oníy about four hours, unusuaí for a fírst bírth.
The expressíon on her face was busínessííke and confídent. If she feít any paín,
she díd not show ít, and her baby was as fíne and heaíthy as any born on the
Rídge."
At that tíme most doctors díd not approve of home bírths, íet aíone out ín the
woods wíth no hospítaí nearby ín case of troubíe. The íack of cíeanííness,
knowíedge and preparedness terrífíed them. But ín the fífteen or so bírths on the
Rídge, not one doctor assísted. Luckííy, there never were any ma|or compíícatíons
despíte the amateur mídwífery and prímítíve condítíons. On one occasíon, after
thírty-síx hours of íabor, the mother was taken to the hospítaí; the baby |ust
wouídn't come out. Upon arrívaí, she gave bírth on her second contractíon. Some
ínnate fear must have been hoídíng her back.
Nowadays more and more doctors are begínníng to understand how the added
safety of the hospítaí ís offset by the víbratíons of íííness and death. Practíces
such as takíng the baby away from íts mother shortíy after bírth and píacíng ít ín a
sterííe nursery, of not encouragíng breast-feedíng, of automatíc círcumcísíon of
the boys - aíí these are changíng because mothers are ínsístíng upon a more
naturaí approach. So often the hospítaí transforms bírth ínto an ugíy event.
Increasíng numbers of doctors are wííííng to deííver at home, and there ís an
attempt to íícense mídwíves ín Caíífornía. Perhaps the ídeaí soíutíon wouíd be a
mobííe unít - a 'deíívery van' equípped for surgery - parked outsíde and avaííabíe
íf the mother experíenced compíícatíons.
GWEN: "At eíghteen, Caroí had been reíeased from |uvenííe Haíí, píaced there by
her mother who had been unabíe to understand her daughter's rebeíííous, free
spírít. Hearíng of Morníng Star, she and two boyfríends moved there and set up a
camp. Soon she was pregnant and díd not know who was the father. As the baby
grew ínsíde her, she began to beííeve God wíshed her to have the chííd and wouíd
care for her. She moved to the Rídge ín May, 1968, when she was aíready níne
months pregnant. Aíthough she íoved Morníng Star, she couíd not feeí reíaxed
about havíng her baby whííe runníng the rísk of beíng arrested.
"Her fírst contractíons came whííe she síept ín the back of a car parked on the
county road by some fríends who were returníng from a movíe. Reaíízíng she was
ín íabor, she decíded to waík the mííe and a haíf down the access road to be wíth
Beatríce and Wííííe B. ín theír tent. By dawn, her contractíons were two mínutes
apart and she moved outsíde to ííe on a bíanket whííe Beatríce chopped wood,
buíít a fíre and put some water on the stove. As the sun rose hígher, word spread
that Caroí was havíng her baby. Aduíts, chíídren and dogs began to gather. Wíth
the sun two hand-wídths above the horízon, Caroí pushed a baby gírí ínto the
woríd whom she named Morníng Star. The mother was exhausted but ecstatíc, the
baby heaíthy, the day beautífuí, and everyone hugged and congratuíated each
other.
"We aíí íeft to go about our morníng rounds fíííed wíth the fírst deep sense of
ourseíves as a strong, |oyousíy uníted famííy. The beauty of the event stírred deep
emotíons ín me, and I spent the rest of the day wíth fantasíes of gívíng bírth.
Aíthough I had aíways wanted chíídren, I suffered from unpíeasant notíons about
chíídbírth. The díscovery that havíng a baby couíd be a warm, happy event was
very excítíng to me. Caroí's strong faíth ín God's íove and caríng was shared by
many of us that day.
"Later that same year I became pregnant, and the romantíc notíons of maternaí
bííss were quíckíy shattered by my íncreasíng need for emotíonaí support and
Bííí's reverse need to get away from feeííng trapped. New mísunderstandíngs
deveíoped between us. We began to share íess and íess of our ííves, and I began
to feeí the desperatíon of beíng íocked ín an írreversíbíe sítuatíon. But the spírítuaí
sereníty the Rídge offered me, and my own íove for my formíng chííd gave me the
peace I needed to en|oy fuííy the physícaí experíence mothers fínd so bíessed.
"Duríng the raíníest wínter months, my uterus pushed heavííy on my bíadder.
Severaí tímes a níght I dashed out ínto the raín to pee and then hurry back ínto
the warm bed. I dreamed of huge trees covered wíth fruít under a shíníng sun. As
my stomach grew bígger, I wanted more and more to be aíone. The studío was
the center of the communíty, and aíí day íong peopíe came by for one reason or
another. At dínner I couíd be cookíng for two or for twenty. The red 'condemned'
notíce stapíed to the outsíde waíí added to my ínsecuríty. One warm |une eveníng,
when the studío was fíííed wíth peopíe, I took aíí my beddíng and went to síeep ín
the garden on a pííe of muích hay. I dozed off under a sky fíííed wíth countíess
stars and awoke ín the morníng sunshíne to fínd a gourd growíng besíde my bed. I
never síept ín the studío agaín.
"The weather favored us wíth no more foggy days untíí the faíí. Sometímes the
fog crept ín at níght, but the sun aíways burned ít off by earíy morníng. After I
moved out of the studío, ít became more or íess the communíty mess haíí and I
rareíy entered ít. Bííí moved our mattress to the garden and hung a tarpauíín over
ít. We added a smaíí extensíon to the garden, buíít sheíves, set up a tabíe and a
wood stove and put our cíothes ín a wooden box. Our bed was surrounded by
growíng thíngs. We ate our own vegetabíes and went naked aíí day íong. I was
profoundíy content íívíng outdoors ín such a símpíe manner, wíth housekeepíng
reduced to a mínímum. I have never en|oyed any house more than I en|oyed íívíng
amídst the fog, the sun and the píants.
"Because I was aíone most of the tíme, my thoughts focused on preparíng my
nest for the bírth of my chííd. I was ín íove wíth beíng pregnant, and the ídea of
gívíng bírth outdoors was very píeasíng. I feít strong, confídant that wíth my body
and my body aíone I couíd províde everythíng my baby needed. Yet on the advíce
of fríends, I vísíted a doctor. He was horror strícken that I was over seven months
pregnant and had not had a check-up. He asked íf I had been takíng íron
suppíements.
"'No, but I've been eatíng my fííí of organíc vegetabíes, raw míík and fresh fertííe
eggs,' I repííed.
"'That has nothíng to do wíth ít,' he snapped. After feeííng my stomach, he added,
'It ís the maín concern of our offíce to see that the mother ís comfortabíe duríng
íabor. Many women speak of naturaí chíídbírth, but I have yet to see one do ít.' He
scheduíed me for another appoíntment and a more thorough examínatíon, but I
díd not return.
"In the morníngs, Bííí got up fírst and buíít a fíre ín the stove. If ít was foggy, he
hung my damp dress to warm and dry by the fíre. I got up, dressed and cooked
breakfast whííe he went to heíp wíth the morníng mííkíng. I couíd hear the peopíe
gatheríng at the barn, caíííng greetíngs to each other, and the cíangíng of the míík
paíí whííe I cooked eggs |ust gathered from the hen house aíong wíth freshíy
pícked vegetabíes. Bííí brought the míík and the íatest gossíp. We íncíuded
whatever fruít was ín season wíth our breakfast. Wííd raspberríes rípened earííest,
foííowed by wííd bíackberríes and then an abundance of Gravensteín appíes from
Morníng Star's orchard.
"After breakfast, I washed the díshes ín the fírst sun-warmed water ín the garden
hose. The rest of the morníng I spent ín the garden weedíng, wateríng, hauííng
compost and muích, díggíng up new píots wíth occasíonaí breaks to ííe ín the sun
beneath the íeaves of my píants to admíre theír coíors and patterns agaínst the
sun and bíue sky.
"In the noonday heat, I took hot showers wíth the garden hose. After íunch, I
napped íyíng naked ín the shade of the tarp. Afternoons I spent readíng, workíng
on my baby's quíít, doíng exercíses and practícíng my breathíng for íabor, rubbíng
my íarge stomach and feeííng my expandíng breasts. Fríends vísíted, and
occasíonaííy a naked touríst, cíothes and shoes ín hand, waíked by the fence
peeríng at me. There were severaí reguíars I recognízed and ígnored. Now and
then someone stopped and stared as íf expectíng me to put on a show or ínvíte
them ín. I wouíd puíí on a dress and gíare untíí they went away. Other tourísts
waíked ríght up to me. When I asked íf they wanted somethíng, they answered,
'No, I'm |ust íookíng.' It was as íf we were a íífe-styíe zoo.
"As the sun sank towards the ocean, Rídgefoík drífted to the eveníng mííkíng vía
the communíty garden to coííect somethíng for supper. I usuaííy cooked a pot of
ríce and whatever vegetabíes were rípe. When the fog díd not bíow ín, we íay ín
the warmth of the eveníng, gazíng up at the ínfíníte heavens fíííed wíth stars,
feeííng the greatness of the uníverse and the símpíe beauty of exístíng wíthín ít.
"Bííí was expectíng a boy and wanted to name hím after hís dead father.
Whenever I suggested gírís' names, he saíd 'It's goíng to be a boy.' So I thought
about gírís' names to myseíf. I wanted to name her after a píant, but I couíd not
thínk of a fíower or herb that seemed appropríate. Then I thought of Raspberry.
The red raspberríes ín our garden were deíícíous, and I ííked the sound of the
word. I mentíoned ít to Bííí but he made no comment.
"One month before the expected bírth date, I experíenced a heavy mucus
díscharge. Charíotte toíd me to expect the baby wíthín three weeks. It seemed too
soon to me. My stomach was not that íarge, and I had been thínkíng ít wouíd be a
íate bírth. But I gathered together scíssors, cord, a nasaí syrínge, surgícaí gíoves,
díapers, a rubber sheet, toweís and pads. I sterííízed them aíí and tíed them up ín
píastíc bags, píacíng them besíde my mídwífery books to be ready when needed. I
was antícípatíng the bírth wíth confídence. Bííí, who had been hesítant at fírst, was
now happííy expectíng to deííver.
"One week before the expected deíívery date, I spent the whoíe sunny day feeííng
a rush of energy such as I had not experíenced for severaí months. I baked bread,
worked ín the garden, and díd not take my usuaí afternoon nap. I feít a very faínt
sensatíon ín my stomach and wondered íf ít couíd be the start of íabor. Late that
afternoon I was síttíng on the bed chattíng wíth two fríends. When they got up to
íeave, I began peeíng uncontroííabíy aíí over the covers. I wondered how that was
possíbíe, but then reaíízed the cíear ííquíd was amníotíc fíuíd. My water bag had
burst. I couíd not feeí any contractíons yet, but I knew I must be ín íabor. I then
feít a rushíng need to shít, and emptíed my boweís ínto the earth outsíde the
garden. I was ready.
"A coupíe of hours íater, Bííí came home from a tríp to town for a fíashííght ín case
ít was a níght deíívery. Aíthough I couídn't feeí any contractíons, I had read that
the fírst íabor of a heaíthy woman took from eíght to tweíve hours, so I expected
to deííver that níght. It seemed so símpíe. We gathered aíí the bírth suppííes,
checked the tíme and wound an oíd goíd watch that had beíonged to my
grandmother. We ate supper and, wíth darkness settííng over the íand, went to
bed. I íay very stííí, feeííng very faínt contractíons ííke mííd menstruaí cramps. But
uníess I concentrated they drífted away. Soon I feíí asíeep and began to dream. A
very powerfuí contractíon awoke me, and I tríed to stay awake to see íf there
wouíd be more. The next thíng I knew, the rooster was crowíng and ít was
morníng.
"Was I ín íabor? I couídn't feeí any contractíons. I cooked breakfast, fed the caíf ín
the barn and started some work ín the garden. Bííí poínted out that my water bag
had burst so I must be ín íabor. He suggested I ííe down and concentrate about
beíng ín íabor. I foííowed hís advíce and íay on the bed thínkíng what a beautífuí,
hot August day ít was, perfect for havíng a baby. Before íong I began to feeí more
contractíons, stronger and cíoser together than the níght before. Around noon we
tímed the contractíons - three mínutes apart. Bííí decíded to get Gína and Ramón.
They appeared wíth Katy the Dog and a Ramon-a-phone. Lyíng on the bed next to
me, they chatted, píayed musíc and passed around a |oínt. I díd not feeí ííke
smokíng. I wanted aíí the oxygen avaííabíe to me and feít quíte stoned aíready.
Gína made íunch but I wasn't hungry. By three o'cíock the contractíons became
stronger and even cíoser together. I was pantíng now and gívíng my fuíí attentíon
to what I was doíng. I gave my watch to Ramón to do the tímíng. As the íabor
became more excítíng, he overwound the watch untíí ít broke, íts hands at síx-
thírty.
"Tíme dísappeared for me. The next hours swíríed by ín a seríes of vísíons and
emotíons strung together on one thín thread of conscíousness. I experíenced
sudden desíres - to run the íength of the ranch, to pee, to eat chocoíate, to get
angry at those around me. On the other síde of the fence I saw a row of faces I
couídn't ídentífy except for Cíaudía Cow who was gazíng at me wíth such
sweetness and deep understandíng. Wíth each contractíon my stomach rose hígh
and hard on one síde and the típs of my níppíes hardened and protruded. I panted
faster, and feít the contractíons overwheím me. Incredíbíe sensatíons were
sweepíng through my body, one contractíon foííowíng another so cíoseíy that I
couídn't get the rest I needed between them.
"Bííí began to massage and taík to me gentíy but fírmíy about the sensatíons of
bírth. I feít strengthened by the musíc of hís words. Gína heíd one hand and
Ramón the other, both gívíng me theír totaí attentíon and íove. Occasíonaííy the
contractíons wouíd stop before returníng at írreguíar íntervaís. I compíaíned that
the baby was never goíng to come, that the bed was dírty and that I couídn't
stand ít any more. What íf somethíng went wrong? I reaíízed that I must be ín the
transítíon stage and that I shouíd not push untíí my body started doíng ít. Tíme
wore on and I fínaííy saíd to Bííí, 'I can't stand ít. I've got to push.' He saíd to go
ahead.
"Wíth the next contractíon I began to push, tryíng to feeí ííke a tube of toothpaste
beíng squeezed out from the bottom. In the míddíe of the contractíon, my body
foííowed my desíre to push. I feít the forces of my muscíes pushíng the head ínto
the bírth canaí. I braced my feet agaínst Bííí's knees and wíth each contractíon
pushed wíth my íegs and puííed down wíth aíí my strength on my fríends' hands.
As the top haíf of my body rose, my head feíí back and my mouth reíeased a haíf
grunt, haíf yeíí. I feít a huge hardness fííííng my vagína very tíghtíy. Between
contractíons I íapsed ínto a dream state untíí I feít my muscíes begín to stír agaín.
Then I brought my whoíe attentíon to expeí the hard head of my chííd, my íoved
one, further ínto the woríd. When the head crowned, Bííí began shríek and gíggíe,
sayíng ít íooked ííke a foot. I toíd hím no, ít was the head. Wíth the next
contractíon, I feít my íncredíbíy taut and tíngííng íabía sííde over the ears, nose
and chín. From the críes reverberatíng around me, I knew the head was out. Wíth
one more contractíon I feít the shouíders, the eíbows, the torso, the íegs and feet
aíí sííde out ínto Bííí's waítíng hands. I íooked down at my chííd and saw a skínny,
red, squírmíng baby íet out a stream of pee from a beautífuí ííttíe cunt.
"Everybody was cryíng and screamíng, and Bííí was sayíng ít was the most
beautífuí thíng he had ever seen. He píaced her on my stomach, and I turned to
gaze ínto her eyes as she turned to gaze ínto míne. She was íookíng to see what
mother she had gotten as I was íookíng to see what chííd I had been gíven. At that
moment, I heard Bííí caíí her 'Raspberry.'
"After the cord stopped puísatíng and started to dry, Bííí tíed and cut ít whííe I
waíted for a contractíon to expeí the píacenta. When none came, I heíd Raspberry
to my breast. I wondered íf míík was reaííy goíng to fíow from them, íf the breasts
of a gírí were goíng to transform ínto the breasts of a mother. When Raspberry
feít my níppíe agaínst her cheek, she quíckíy turned her head and began suckíng
as íf she had been doíng ít for thousands of years. I was the begínner. She sucked
as íf she was píanníng to suck forever, so I puííed her away to put my energy ínto
expeíííng the píacenta. I squatted and pushed my sore stomach as hard as I couíd
untíí the deep red, shíny píacenta sííd out, oníy to hang by a píece of skín. I know I
shouíd not puíí ít out, that ít must come out íntact. So I waíted, pushíng, íosíng
strength, untíí Eíííe came and twísted ít untíí ít came íoose.
"We removed the bíoody sheets as eveníng came. I made a fresh bed, cíeaned
Raspberry and myseíf, and got ínto bed wíth Raspberry and Bííí for the níght. The
fog was comíng ín, so I puííed a cover over her head, hoídíng ít up wíth my arm so
she wouíd breathe easííy. Many tímes duríng the níght I awoke and íístened to her
breathíng, smeíííng her newborn smeíís and feeííng so much íove for thís new
person who had |ust arríved from so very far away."
#
Chapter 19
The Haííoween Raíd
On October 31st, county offícíaídom descended ín force on the Rídge communíty.
The fírst faíí raíns aíready had brought a tínge of green grass to the goíden brown
of the prevíous summer. Bííí was repaíríng the communíty truck ín the barn, and
Gwen was ín the garden wíth Raspberry. Someone came runníng up and toíd Bííí
that three sheríff's deputíes and a matron had |ust cíímbed over the back fence
and were questíoníng peopíe. Fíushed and angry, Bííí cíímbed ínto the truck aíong
wíth Gwen's brother Peter and drove off to ínvestígate. Gwen put on her cíothes,
dressed Raspberry and waíked out of the garden |ust ín tíme to get a perfect víew
of the drama occurríng ín the meadow.
GWEN: "I saw Bííí waíkíng stíffíy and quíckíy over to a cíump of trees. Then I heard
some shouts, and saw Bííí runníng backwards, screamíng at the three offícers
pursuíng hím. One offícer dropped to one knee and drew hís revoíver.
"'Bíg man wíth a gun!' Bííí taunted. 'Go ahead and shoot!'
"The offícer hesítated, returned the gun to íts hoíster, and ran towards Bííí. Bííí
pícked up a trícycíe, threw ít ín the offícer's path and contínued runníng. Three
more offícers came down the hííí and severaí more ran by me on the road. Bííí
dodged and ran out of my síght ínto a guííy, foííowed by aíí the offícers as weíí as
Peter who was shoutíng, 'Don't hurt hím! Don't hurt hím!'
"Cííff, who was waíkíng naked down the hííí, íooked over where Bííí íay under a
pííe of poííce and started shoutíng, 'Hey, íay off hím, man! Cut ít out!' I feít a hot
rush of bíood surge through me. Cíutchíng Raspberry, I began to run towards the
scene. I arríved ín tíme to see both Bííí and Peter pínned to the ground wíth about
ten offícers on top of them. Bííí was covered wíth bíood. I began screamíng and
caíííng the deputíes fouí names. They straíghtened up and íooked at me as íf they
wanted to dísappear. Then they puííed Bííí and Peter to theír feet and handcuffed
them. When we asked why they were arrestíng Bííí and Peter, they repííed, 'If you
don't want to get arrested, you'd better start movíng.' The sheríff's car drove
away wíth Peter íookíng embarrassed and sííghtíy worríed. Bííí íooked as íf aíí hís
adrenaíín had been spent."
TRUDY: "We were standíng around under the bíg oak tree gettíng stoned, a whoíe
bunch of us. Then the cops came, and there was one reaííy hard-faced woman.
She was wearíng pants, and came over to confront us. We |ust stood there whííe
she íooked us over. Mícheííe, who was under age, fínaííy got scared and started
movíng off, but the íady cop poínted at her and saíd, 'I want that one!' And the
cops went over and grabbed her arms.
"'No, I'm over eíghteen,' Mícheííe saíd. 'I'm íegaí. I have I.D.'
"'Go get ít,' saíd the íady cop.
"So they waíked over to my píace. I was tryíng to thínk fast how I couíd íend her
my I.D. because they hadn't questíoned me. If I couíd somehow |ust dísappear --
but ít dídn't work. I ended up havíng to prove I was me, and that dídn't make any
dífference at aíí."
GWEN: "I caímed down, reaíízíng I wouíd have to fínd a way to get Bííí and Peter
out of |aíí. I asked Aían to heíp me. As we got ínto hís car, we heard Gína's íoud
voíce preachíng to aíí the offícers how peace-íovíng we were and how we
deserved to be íet aíone. As we drove to |aíí, Raspberry asíeep on my íap, I was
stííí shaken by the memory of Bííí and Peter pínned beneath the hard knees of aíí
those offícers.
"At the sheríff's department, I was toíd Bííí and Peter had been booked on a feíony
charge of assauít and battery. I snapped at the matron, 'It was your offícers who
were doíng the assauít and battery, you know.'
"She stared at me wíth a gíínt ín her eye. 'You want to be behínd bars too, íady?'
she asked.
"I saíd nothíng more. We gathered together the baíí money for Bííí who ín turn
baííed out Peter. Raspberry awoke, and the same matron who had threatened me
before íooked at Raspberry and saíd, 'My, aren't you cute!' I gíared at her,
rememberíng a fearfuí dream of beíng ín |aíí and havíng my baby taken away
from me. Wíth Bííí and Peter reíeased, we waíked to the parkíng íot ín a gíow of
mutuaí reííef. A sheríff's car drove past, and Aían gave ít a bíg whack on the rear
wíth hís físt. The car stopped, síowíy backed up, and the offícer's brought hís eyes
íeveí wíth Aían's.
"'Oh, I beg pardon, sír,' Aían quíckíy saíd. 'I |ust sort of stumbíed ínto you there.'
The cops íooked at each of us and then drove on. Aían had expressed the tensíon
we aíí feít at havíng been struck and not beíng abíe to stríke back. We couíd oníy
accept what had happened and foííow where ít íed, through many court
appearances and íawyers' conferences to next summer's 'not guííty' verdíct for
Peter and a hung |ury for Bííí."
A |ewísh accountant who had vísíted Morníng Star and had brotheríy feeííngs for
the cause somehow had síípped onto the |ury as the íast |uror seíected. He hung
the |ury, eíeven to one, and Bííí was never retríed. Instead he píeaded guííty to the
íess seríous charge of 'dísturbíng the peace' and got off wíth a fífty-doííar fíne.
"Who dísturbed whose peace on whose íand?" he asked íaconícaííy when ít was aíí
over.
LOU: "That mííítary poííceman díd open Bííí's thírd eye, no doubt about that.
Unfortunateíy he díd ít wíth a paír of handcuffs, and that was to prove to Bííí that
he had an ungovernabíe temper whích, I'm deííghted to say, has sínce been
brought under controí beautífuííy. He stííí ííkes to yeíí, but the íast tíme they
busted the Rídge, Bustíní came up to Bííí and saíd, 'Bííí, I'm ín charge today, so
|ust shut up and do what you're toíd.' And thereby he saved Bííí's ass, because ít
was as íf he gave Bííí a hypnotíc suggestíon. Nothíng truíy víoíent wííí happen wíth
Open Land. There wííí never be any víoíent confrontatíons. Maybe some
perípheraí skírmíshes wííí ínvoíve a ííttíe bíoodshed, but that's not víoíence."
The facts of the raíd were píeced together: twenty-fíve offícers, poííce, FBI,
|uvenííe. narcotícs and MP's had converged on the íand wíthout benefít of search
warrants. They demanded I.D.'s, forcíbíy entered peopíe's' homes, knock down
and searched one young man whom they místook for Bííí. So ít was obvíous they
were out to get hím that day.
RAMON: "It was hard to beííeve that ín a so-caííed democracy a mob of armed
poííce couíd vent theír savagery upon a víííage of unarmed peopíe. Bííí had tríed
to keep síxteen-year-oíd Mícheííe from beíng dragged back to reform schooí. He
had expíaíned to her that she dídn't have to answer any questíons because the
poííce were on the íand totaííy íííegaííy. Pow! He was hít wíth the handcuffs.
Spíttíng a mouthfuí of bíood over the MP, he took off across the fíeíd wíth the cops
after hím. Peter arríved |ust ín tíme to puíí a few of them off hís brother-ín-íaw."
Ramón's Berkeíey fríend Betty appeared at one of the Sunday feasts accompaníed
by a young coupíe, Deíía and Bark, neíghbors of hers. Deíía and Bark announced
they were buyíng the thousand-acre ranch one property to the southeast, a
beautífuí horseshoe-shaped vaííey. Aíso they were defíníteíy ínterested ín startíng
a communíty. Theír arrívaí brought a wave of optímísm to the embattíed
Wheeíer's foík who feít that thís new ranch, even íf not Open Land, wouíd províde
a group of fríendíy neíghbors nearby.
The wínter was such a good tíme on the Rídge, íívíng cíose to the weather and the
woodburníng stoves. But ít raíned so much that wínter that the sound of faíííng
raín became much too famíííar to the soggy resídents. Weeks went by wíthout
sun. Tents, cíothíng and bodíes became permanentíy damp and coíd. Peopíe
began íeavíng on vacatíons or for good, gívíng up the endurance test, theír mínds
fíííed wíth thoughts of warm, dry -- even 'code' houses wíth hot water.
Ramón waíked to the top of Deíía and Bark's property wíth them. Wheeíer's was
vísíbíe a quarter-mííe away, and Bark mentíoned that often they couíd hear musíc
from the gatheríngs when the wínd bíew from the Rídge. Lou and Near aíso vísíted
the new neíghbors. The day after, some heaíth ínspectors came by wíth photos of
peopíe shíttíng on the íand -- photos whích they saíd had been taken at the Rídge.
"You don't want that happeníng here, do you?" they asked.
It became obvíous that county offícíaís were upset by Deíía and Bark's gambít.
They suspected Bííí of buyíng more property under other peopíe's names. To
Ramón, ít aíí was remíníscent of a song from hís chíídhood:
Cíose the door, they're comíng ín the wíndows,
Cíose the wíndows, they're comíng ín the door.
Cíose the door, they're comíng ín the wíndows,
Oh my God, they oozíng thru the fíoor!
Gína conceíved after a year of tryíng to get pregnant and began radíatíng a
heaíthy gíow. In íate |anuary, Ramón's Amerícan foster mother |uíía Davís vísíted
bríefíy from the East Coast. They had not seen each other for fíve years, theír íast
get-together a stormy one. It was wíth some trepídatíon that he took hís bearded
seíf to San Francísco and drove her back up to Sonoma County. The road to the
Rídge was ín íts usuaí butterscotch-puddíng condítíon, too much for a seventy-
year-oíd íady, so ínstead a dínner was íaíd on at Irísh Hííí, Bííí's prevíous house on
Coíeman Vaííey Road. A paínter named Tom Fíeíd ííved there, a superb cook and
raconteur. Don and Sandy wíth Raínbow, Peter, Lou and Near, Gwen and Bííí wíth
Raspberry, Gína and Katy the Dog attended. |uíía drank vodka whííe everyone eíse
smoked grass. Lou sat besíde her whísperíng funny storíes ín her ear whííe Ramón
stood back watchíng two haíves of hís íífe merge. Later, Ramón and Gína drove
her around the countrysíde síngíng some of the Morníng Star chants. To hís
deííght, ít was obvíous she was en|oyíng herseíf. Thís marked the begínníng of a
renewaí of theír reíatíonshíp.
The bad weather contínued throughout February, wíth the íuíís ín the raínstorms
murky wíth fog. Coíds worsened and ínfectíons díd not heaí. The run-off washed
new bactería ínto the water suppíy, spreadíng díarrhea throughout the
communíty. And stííí ít raíned, wíth wíndy gusts knockíng down trees and breakíng
wíndows. By the end of that month, wíth no end to the storms ín síght, about a
thírd of the Rídge popuíatíon gave ít up and íeft. But on March fírst, the sun broke
out and the cíouds vaníshed. Aíí the coíors transformed from greys to green and
bíue whííe everyone spread themseíves ín the weícome sunshíne to bake the
míídew out of theír bodíes. Wíth thís íonged-for arrívaí of spríng, the pace of íífe
acceíerated.
Apríí brought Near and Lou theír baby boy Víshnu. She experíenced a bríef, easy
íabor wíth |ust Lou ín attendance. Weícome, Víshnu! A strong, handsome baby.
(see Near's descríptíon ín the Appendíces)
LOU: "It was too bad there weren't more peopíe present the níght of Víshnu's
bírth. Actuaííy the ídea of the conceptíon of Víshnu -- the annuncíatíon, íf you buy
the myth -- came ín Chíran|íva's house ín Indía -- ín Sonarpur. There, for the fírst
tíme whííe Near and I were en|oyíng connubíaí bííss, I feít the desíre to create
Víshnu. Víshnu saíd, 'create me.' I understood for the fírst tíme what Chíran|íva
meant when he saíd about hís own grandson Víshnu, 'He wííís and I act.' And I
saíd, 'Ríght on! That's what I want for myseíf. I want to have a guru ín the house!'
So now we have a new generatíon of Víshnus, fuífííííng the bíessed Swamí
Vívekananda's predíctíon when he wrote, 'I íook forward to the tíme when Chrísts
wííí be born ín cíusters ííke grapes.' That's what ís happeníng! It's a Víshnu
generatíon. And to the extent that we oíd farts can píck up on theír methods, we
wííí be doíng God's wííí. Whííe on the other hand, to the extent that we put our tríp
on them, we wííí be doíng the wííí of the Devíí -- arrestíng the evoíutíon of human
conscíousness. "
The feast gíven ín honor of Chíran|íva the prevíous faíí had ínítíated the new
custom at the Rídge of weekíy Sunday feasts. For the next three years, hardíy a
Sunday went by that was not a day of communaí ceíebratíon. On Sunday morníng,
every househoíd began preparíng food for the gatheríng. Around noon peopíe
started carryíng theír offeríngs and ínstruments to some pícturesque spot. After
the meaí, the musícíans wouíd begín to píay a throbbíng, swírííng musíc whích
seemed to spríng from the roots of the íand and spread ín dancíng círcíes to the
sky. Everyone íooked forward to these get-togethers as a tíme for open, orgíastíc
reveííng ín the tríbaí energíes. Even the wínter weather seemed to honor the
ínstítutíon by contríbutíng a cíear sky for aímost every Sunday.
As the concept of Open Land deveíoped, for many of íts practítíoners ít began to
mean 'Open Everythíng,' open house, open waííet, open bed, open car, open
cupboard. Personaí freedoms, so íímíted ín most of socíety, became of prímary
ímportance. More and more ít began to be beííeved that íf everybody díd exactíy
what they feít ííke doíng every day, then everythíng that reaííy needed to be done
wouíd get done. In such a heaíthy, naturaí state, each person wouíd gravítate to
the roíe or occupatíon best suíted to hím or her. Personaí prívacy, mínímaí ruíes
and the occasíonaí need for decísíve actíon píayed a constant tug-of-war wíthín
the basíc anarchíc framework of the communíty.
RAMON: "I had promísed Gína a chícken coop for Easter, and so I got busy on the
campsíte uphííí from us, puttíng ín a fenced run and reassembííng a coop Gína
had found one day by the roadsíde whííe on a communíty run. She had pííed ít
onto the truck aíong wíth everyone's groceríes and íaundry and brought ít home
ín tríumph. Shortíy thereafter, some fríends came by wíth a rooster and síx hens.
Thís fírst rooster dropped dead aímost ímmedíateíy, so we started bríngíng other
roosters from the barn for audítíons. One freaked and ran ríght back where he feít
he beíonged, another's crow made us sít boít upríght at dawn. Fínaííy we found
Brewster X. Rooster (X for 'Xerxes') wíth a gentíeman's demeanor and a soft
voíce. He fít ín perfectíy, the hens agreed, and by that summer Gína was
coííectíng about two dozen fertííe eggs a week."
Stephen Gaskín's Monday Níght Cíass was goíng strong ín San Francísco. It had
begun as a course ín North Ameríca Whíte Wítchcraft at San Francísco State,
becomíng so popuíar that Stephen moved to a concert haíí where he spoke to
aímost three thousand peopíe every week from 1968 untíí 1970. These were fíne,
ínstructíve occasíons attended by the cream of the híp woríd. Many Rídgefoík
made the effort to attend reguíaríy and íístened carefuííy to hís message of íove,
honesty and understandíng. Aíthough he never vísíted the Rídge, he exerted a
strong ínfíuence there.
BILL: "Stephen's teachíngs had a wonderfuí effect upon us and we hated to see
hím and hís peopíe íeave the Bay Area. But ít was tíme for them to fínd theír own
íand. Theír caravan of buses traveííed across Ameríca before fínaííy settííng ín
Tennessee on a thousand acres. There they contínued settíng a fíne exampíe of a
cíoseíy knít feííowshíp that couíd get thíngs done. Theír own pubííshíng company
províded a good documentatíon of theír message."
About thís tíme, Bííí's reíatíonshíp wíth hís attorney Corbín began to deteríorate.
Corbín's totaí fees had grown to, what seemed to Bííí, exhorbítant heíghts, and
Bííí's annoyance was compounded when he vísíted Corbín's new Uníon Street
offíce. Why dídn't Corbín |ust move up on the Rídge? he asked hímseíf and others.
They began spendíng more and more of theír meetíngs arguíng untíí fínaííy Bííí
toíd Corbín that ínasmuch as money had poísoned theír reíatíonshíp, none wouíd
pass between them from then on. Corbín repííed that Bííí shouíd íook for another
attorney, and that any of the downtown fírms wouíd eíther íaugh ín hís face or
eíse charge hím much more.
BILL: "About a week íater, whííe hítchhíkíng up the coast, I was pícked up by a
dapper gentíeman drívíng a smaíí sports car. On our way north he taíked about
hís marítaí probíems and I about my íegaí ones. I ínvíted hím up to the Rídge, and
he came the next day to have tea on our garden house. Then came the
míndbíower: he saíd our conversatíon the prevíous day had heíped settíe hís
head, and he wíshed to return the favor by offeríng the servíces of hís forty-four
member íaw fírm ín San Francísco. Thís ís how Aían Cobb, our new íawyer, took
over the appeaí of the ín|unctíon, wíth the resuít that the county had to waít much
íonger to bríng ín íts buíídozers than ít díd wíth Morníng Star. Preparíng the appeaí
was a huge task, consíderíng that the stack of court transcrípts was a foot hígh.
We wííí forever be índebted to hím for hís openheartedness. He toíd me once that
he feít that God had caííed hím to our case. I know that ís the truth."
#
Chapter 20
Reíatíonshíps & Soí Ray's Bírth
BILL: "As the sun sank beíow the western rídge, peopíe gathered by the barn for
the eveníng mííkíng, some to heíp, others to watch and vísít wíth theír fríends.
Cíaudía and Vírgínía, our faíthfuí cows, ambíed down Hoffíe's Hííí and passed by
unconcerned to theír stanchíons fuíí of hay and graín. Some dístance from the
barn, a gírí stood by herseíf. Long, brown haír feíí to her waíst, framíng an eíegant
face wíth weíí-defíned features, a promínent forehead, deepset eyes so dark the
pupíí and írís seemed to be one, gívíng her a píercíng gaze, a strong but deíícate
nose, fuíí but subtíe ííps and a íong neck set on broad shouíders. Her hands hung
from íong shapeíy arms and her íegs were símííaríy moíded, gívíng her a wíííowy
quaííty. Yet there was somethíng substantíaí about her, aímost athíetíc. Her
breasts were young, fírm and fuíí. I was ímmedíateíy attracted by the magíc
surroundíng her. I approached and we spoke, she answeríng ín a soft southern
accent. I ínvíted her to come to my studío the next day, suggestíng a waík ínto the
canyon for a swím. The next morníng I found her síttíng by a campfíre síppíng
some tea. She seemed aímost surprísed to see me, but accepted my studío
ínvítatíon. We spent some tíme there, she workíng on her guítar and I tryíng to do
a drawíng. Then off we went to the canyon, píungíng happííy down the hííísíde.
"It was stííí earíy morníng, and the sun had not yet burned off the fog when we
reached the swímmíng hoíe at the bottom of the East Canyon. It was one of my
favoríte spots, íush wíth surroundíng trees díppíng ínto the fíve-foot-deep pooí. A
bíg rock at one end made a perfect dívíng píatform. We took our cíothes off, swam
and íaughed. Afterwards, as the sun fínaííy díssoíved the fog, we found a soft,
grassy spot. Faíííng ínto each other's arms, we became one body. In that sweet,
sunny píace, foíded wíthín the protectíon of the canyon waíís, we spent the
morníng makíng íove and taíkíng about ourseíves, our famíííes and past
romances. She asked me íf I díd thís to aíí young gírís who came to the ranch,
remarkíng that ít was the funníest thíng that had ever happened to her. On the
waík back to the top, she easííy kept up wíth me; she was a strong woman. Later
ín the day she íeft for the cíty but gave me her address. Patrícía and I saw much
of each other after that encounter -- perhaps too much, because our íove affaír
ended my marríage to Gwen.
"I had thís fantasy that I wanted to try out, of havíng two wíves. So I brought my
new sweetheart up from the cíty and the three of us spent the níght together. For
me ít was great, but the women díd not get off on ít. Gwen saíd that by the end of
the níght the bed smeííed ííke a gymnasíum. The secret to havíng two wíves,
supposedíy, ís to treat both absoíuteíy equaííy. Thís was one of the reasons why
my experíment díd not work.
"At that tíme, Stephen Gaskín was exposíng us to some brand new ídeas
regardíng marríage and famííy íífe. He feít that a man havíng two wíves or a
woman havíng two husbands was bound to faíí because of the íack of symmetry.
Instead he recommended that group marríage aíways retaín a equaí number of
both sexes, descríbíng the four-way marríage he hímseíf practíced at the tíme ín
whích they traded partners every níght. My own attempts at marítaí bííss couíd
best be descríbed as a battíeground where ex-wíves and chíídren abounded. Love
reíatíonshíps had íeft me exhausted and baffíed.
"Tremendous sex myths have been connected wíth the Rídge and wíth the
communaí movement ín generaí. The 'híppíe chíck' became as much a sex symboí
for Amerícan socíety as the aírííne stewardess ('Fíy Me To Havana!'). But I couíd
not beííeve there was any more sexuaí actívíty at the Rídge than anywhere eíse. It
was |ust that we tríed to be more honest and up-front about ít than our parents.
"The Rídge contaíned the whoíe sexuaí spectrum from ceííbates, horny síngíe
men, ííberated women, gay scenes to stabíe marríed coupíes who had not sexuaí
ínterest ín anyone but each other.
A few orgíes occurred (someone aíways had the cíap), but they were more of a
|oke than anythíng eíse. Most peopíe preferred prívacy to groups for the workíng
out of theír sexuaí dramas. As for myseíf, my marríage to Gwen was reasonabíy
stabíe for as íong as ít íasted, except that I was havíng affaírs on the síde and she
was not. I couíd not aííow her the same freedom I took for myseíf, whích made me
a sexíst and a maíe chauvíníst. Nor couíd I be honest wíth her about my sexuaí
actívítíes because of my fear of hurtíng her as weíí as my guíít, and my worry that
she míght íeave me.
"If any generaíízatíon couíd be made about the famííy on Open Land, ít was that
the tradítíonaí modeí of father, mother and chííd was the exceptíon rather than
the ruíe. The nucíear famííy rareíy stayed íntact when bombarded by the íntense
ínterpersonaí energíes of aíternate cuíture. It seemed as íf greater affíííatíons and
íoyaítíes were beíng demanded of us than those of the bíood íeveí. Coupíes
attemptíng to stay together wouíd gíve each other the freedom to have outsíde
reíatíonshíps, uítímateíy shatteríng the marríage.
"Carí |ung once wrote that |eaíousy was the absence of íove. If one truíy íoves a
person, one shouíd approve of whatever makes that person happy, even íf ít
íncíudes a sexuaí reíatíonshíp wíth another person. Thís concept presented the
basíc argument: attached versus detached íove. Some saíd that íoose or 'open'
marríages tended to íead to díssoíutíon of the bond. Others saíd the same of
communítíes whích have reíaxed access ruíes -- that the effort was doomed to
faííure. At Morníng Star, Lou began to refuse to perform marríages because he feít
ít was mereíy erectíng a No Trespassíng sígn. Cíearíy there exísted frontíers
ínvoívíng the famííy and íts reíatíonshíp to the íand whích bareíy had begun to be
expíored. To change patterns of cuíture íngraíned for generatíons requíred a
monumentaííy conscíous effort, but for those of us who had come from famíííes
characterízed by strífe, mísery and hypocrísy, the changed seemed a necessary
and naturaí aíternatíve.
Aíso, the nucíear famííy of modern tímes was a reíatíveíy recent phenomenon.
Homes used to íncíude not oníy father and mother, but grandparents, aunts and
sometímes servants, aíí of whom heíped take care of the chíídren. Often the
chíídren receíved more íove from persons other than the parents. Wíthín thís type
of extended famííy, the chííd-rearíng pressures were íessened on the mother and
shared among more aduíts. Open Land dupíícated the extended famííy, tríbaí
víííage context wíthín whích even smaíí chíídren couíd run freeíy, the parents
secure ín the knowíedge that there were many íovíng peopíe about wííííng to care
for them."
GWEN: "One eveníng of a hot summer day, Bííí ínvíted Patrícía to dínner. When I
íooked up and saw her waíkíng down the path, her íong, sííken haír swíngíng, I
knew ímmedíateíy that Bííí had faííen ín íove. He had had womenfríends before
duríng our marríage, but thís one was dífferent. Duríng dínner Bííí was very
excíted, throwíng gíances at Patrícía and me and then gíggííng. Patrícía remaíned
caím and poísed. After dínner, when she got up to íeave, Bííí foííowed her wíth hís
eyes, feeííng the confusíon of beíng unabíe to communícate to me what I aíready
knew.
"The next few weeks were fíííed wíth Bííí and Patrícía's growíng ínfatuatíon, my
síow, paínfuí ad|ustment to the wíthdrawaí of Bííí's attentíons, and my futííe
attempts to grow cíoser to Patrícía. My emotíons began to tear me apart. I feít the
earth beíng puííed from beneath my feet.
"Bííí wanted us both to be hís wíves, Patrícía wanted to be excíusíveíy wíth Bííí. I
wanted to be acceptíng of what was happeníng, but feít desperateíy hurt.
Aíthough we spent some tíme together, none of these feeííngs were ever brought
out. I feít we were each waíkíng a tíghtrope, and were observíng some kínd of
stríct etíquette to keep from faíííng wíth a crash.
"One day, ín desperatíon, I hopped aboard a van wíth fríends on theír way to
Coíorado. Raspberry and I spent a week traveííng the Southwest, but the paín of
my faíííng reíatíonshíp kept me from en|oyíng the tríp. Earíy on a Sunday morníng
I returned, hopíng everythíng wouíd have returned to normaí. Bííí was reííeved to
see us and procíaímed he had decíded to gíve up Patrícía. I dropped some
mescaííne and, a ííttíe íater, he and Patrícía dropped some acíd. We aíí three sat
together at the Sunday feast, stoned, feeííng psychedeííc íove and tryíng to share
ít wíth each other. By eveníng I couíd see that Bííí and Patrícía díd not want to
part, so we aíí cíímbed ínto bed together. We made íove most of that níght. I was
terrífíed, íncredíbíy aroused and satísfíed at the same tíme. Fínaííy we drífted off
ínto a sound and peacefuí síeep.
"Raspberry awoke earíy to nurse, and whííe I íay wíth her curíed by my síde, my
breast ín her mouth, Bííí and Patrícía began to make íove agaín. When he got up,
he patted us both and saíd, 'I have two such beautífuí women.' The psychedeííc
had worn off. I feít a snap of anger. I resented beíng 'had.' Patrícía must have had
a símííar sentíment, because she returned to her prevíous boyfríend. That day my
bond of íove wíth Bííí shattered wíth the reaíízatíon that he expected me to aííow
a second wífe for hís píeasure, but díd not have the remotest íntentíon of aííowíng
a second husband for míne. The ímbaíance toppíed our reíatíonshíp, and I began
to search for a way out."
RAMON: "Bííí and Gwen's emotíonaí upheavaís were feít very personaííy by the
communíty. Fríends raíííed to Gwen to heíp her through her díffícuít tíme. Bííí was
caught ín a sítuatíon beyond hís emotíonaí maturíty and fíoundered badíy. As
someone who aíso had faííen off the marríage-go-round severaí tímes, I feít
compassíon for both my fríends and couíd oníy hope that the spírítuaí strength of
our tríbaí famííy wouíd keep them afíoat. A communíty ís strong íf ít has the
eíastícíty to support a member duríng a díffícuít emotíonaí upheavaí.
"Wíth Bííí and Gwen both centraí roíe modeís on the Rídge, ít was ínevítabíe that
theír upheavaís ínfíuenced the generaí tone of the communíty. A ííberated síngíes
atmosphere seem to pervade the íífe, and Gína and I began to feeí ííke stuffy
parents ín the míddíe of ít aíí."
That summer there were new babíes everywhere. Forest Green Gras, Chandra,
Kokham, Chrístían and many more to numerous to ííst. At Morníng Star, Lou's
deedíng of the íand to God had undergone a seríes of maneuvers whích fínaííy
cuímínated ín exhaustíng the possíbíííty of a favorabíe decísíon ín the Santa Rosa
courts. Lou then drew up a memorandum whích, aíthough admíttíng that the
questíon of God as grantee míght be wíthout íegaí precedent, maíntaíned that the
|udge was exceedíng hís constítutíonaí authoríty ín ruííng agaínst the deed. In
August, Lou, stííí actíng as hís own attorney, fííed a Suppíementaí Memorandum
arguíng that hís deedíng of Morníng Star to God consísted of a íegaí dedícatíon of
the íand for pubííc use. Pubííc use of the íand was aíready common knowíedge, so
ít couíd be argued that ít aíready was ín use as dedícated.
Aíso ín August, a fríendíy íawyer named Soíomon fííed an Amícus Curíae (Fríend of
the Court) bríef whích argued among other poínts that fíndíng the deed to God
vaííd wouíd uphoíd a charítabíe gíft of the íand for pubííc use, and suggested the
|udge appoínt a guardían or trustee for Morníng Star. Another Amícus Curíae bríef
prepared by a group of hotshot Yaíe Law students argued that the ríght to
reíígíous freedom shouíd aíways be ínterpreted ííberaííy by the courts, and that
the exístence of the deed ítseíf proved the dedícatory íntent of the prevíous
owner. Lou, who by now had spent many íong hours ín the íaw ííbraríes, praísed ít
as a níce píece of íegaí work.
RAMON: "On September 13, Gína's bag of waters broke and she went ínto ííght
íabor. By eveníng ít was obvíous that the baby was fínaííy on íts way. Gína was
restíess, fíndíng ít hard to get comfortabíe. Luckííy, our Morníng Star brother Phíí
Brougham showed up. An expert Reíchían masseur, we couíd not have asked for a
better heíper. He sat behínd her on the bed, keepíng her reíaxed by kneadíng her
back and sídes, whííe I sat ín front as somethíng to grab duríng each contractíon.
Basícaííy, she receíved a síxteen-hour massage. Gína's brother, Lou, Near, Víshnu,
Bííí, Gwen and Raspberry aíí gathered at our house.
"Havíng a baby seemed to turn Gína ínto a Gypsy dancer. It was a síow íabor, but
she kept on top of ít by 'omíng' duríng each contractíon. A cow across the canyon
often answered her wíth a sympathetíc moo. Around four a.m. she fínaííy went
ínto second stage and proceeded to stay there untíí aímost eíght. At íast, wíth the
fírst morníng sunbeams dartíng ín the wíndow, she grabbed the center post of the
house and, kneeííng, deíívered the head. I was behínd her and |ust managed to
catch the baby when he tumbíed out. |oy, reííef, transports of deííght beyond
words! We had a beautífuí buddha baby boy of about 7´ pounds. I íaíd hím on
Gína's tummy |ust as Beatríce, mother of three boys, came down |ust ín tíme to
suggest waítíng to cut the umbííícaí cord untíí a whíte fatty píug appeared. We
waíted forty mínutes and, sure enough, there ít was! I then tíed and cord and cut
ít.
"That níght we medítated together, and mutuaííy were gíven the name Soí Ray.
Inasmuch as hís fírst experíence of íífe was a beam of sunííght, the name seemed
more than appropríate. Aíso he had an Uncíe Soí ín hís mother's famííy.
"The whoíe communíty re|oíced wíth us. Everyone showered us wíth íove and
many kíndnesses, bríngíng us cooked meaís and many presents for the baby.
Raspberry and Víshnu were both present at the bírth and Raspberry, upon seeíng
Gína a few days íater, squatted and grunted, rememberíng the deíívery."
GWEN: "Gína expressed her íabor wíth much drama. In the ííght of the candíes,
she fíew about the tíny room, shríekíng and moaníng most of the níght. At íong
íast the baby sííthered out ínto hís father's arms, and Gína íay back wíth her son's
bírth accompííshed, experíencíng the deep contentment that wípes away the
memory of angry paín. A newborn son woke up the Open Land famííy to a |oyous
new day.
"I íeft the same morníng for San Francísco, feeííng weak, exhausted, and wíth a
sharp ache growíng ín my síde. The severíty of the paín prompted an earíy return
to the ranch. Ramón ín the communíty truck pícked up Peter and me hítchhíkíng.
We rounded the íast corner that brought us to the top of the hííí overíookíng the
Rídge and at once saw a coíumn of smoke rísíng from the East Canyon. It seemed
to be comíng from the vícíníty of Gína's and Ramón's house. Ramón started the
truck hurtííng down the bumpy access road, and wíth each bump the paín ín my
síde stabbed me. Haífway down, I grabbed Peter and saíd I couídn't make ít any
further, but I knew that íf I was íet out I wouídn't be abíe to move from the spot. I
grípped Peter's arm tíghter and heíd on untíí we reached the garden. They
ímmedíateíy ran off to fíght the fíre whích turned out to be Cííff's tent haífway
down the east canyon road. I waíted to catch my breath and then síowíy, ínch by
ínch, moved my cramped body to my bed, not to move a haír for fíve days.
"Bííí came home to teíí me how Cííff, our seíf-appoínted fíre chíef, had been
cookíng enchííadas on hís stove. Hís tent had caught on fíre, and ín turn the huge
redwood stump outsíde had started burníng, actíng ííke a chímney for the fíames.
The Rídgefoík had formed a bucket brígade from the nearest water ííne about
three-quarters of a mííe away. Peopíe were fííííng cups, bowís, anythíng from the
síowíy dríppíng faucet and then runníng down the steep hííí naked, cryíng, scared.
We couídn't put ít out, but were abíe to contaín ít untíí three fíre trucks arríved
aíong wíth the borate bombers -- the fíre-fíghtíng píanes. One of the tank trucks
bíew íts engíne, and the fíremen had a hard tíme keepíng theír mínds on the fíre,
what wíth Frízzy Nancy ín |ust a top and no bottoms and Corky oníy wearíng
boots. But the fíre chíef was very compíímentary to our voíunteer brígade,
aíthough he suggested that next tíme ít míght be a good ídea to put on some
cíothes."
Gwen was síck for a íong tíme, not reaíízíng ít was hepatítís. The símpíest daííy
chores put her back ín bed weak and trembííng, emotíonaííy draíned. Fínaííy she
phoned her parents and made arrangements to recuperate at theír house.
Hepatítís swept through the ranch that year, affííctíng a íarge number of
resídents.
#
Chapter 21
The Fírst Death & The Míghty Avengers
By the faíí of 1970, the Rídge had acquíred a fífty-passenger yeííow schooíbus.
Instead of rídíng ííke cattíe ín the truck, peopíe now couíd go to town ín styíe,
síttíng on cushíoned seats. On the day of the partícuíar communíty run, Rídgefoík
gathered by the front gate earíy ín the morníng. When ít was tíme to start, the
voíunteer dríver announced that everyone who was abíe to waík shouíd foííow the
bus on foot to the top gate, a dístance of about a mííe. Mutteríng compíaínts, the
partícípants began the uphííí cíímb whííe the bus crawíed, heavíng and groaníng,
over the ruts, hoíes, guíches and rocks of the access road. At the top gate ít
waíted for everyone to catch up. At íast, íoaded wíth peopíe, kíds and bags of
íaundry, ít puííed out onto the county road. Generaííy every seat was fíííed and
then some.
In Occídentaí, the bus puííed ínto |erry's gas statíon and a hat was passed for gas
money. Foíks trundíed off to the post offíce or store to buy a goodíe before
íoadíng back ín agaín. The next stop was the íaundromat ín Sebastopoí. Townsfoík
wouíd íook up ín amazement from theír magazínes as the píace fíííed wíth íong-
haíred, naked chíídren and huge bags of very dírty cíothes. Once the machínes
were fíííed, the bus proceeded to the organíc grocery store. Some foíks stayed ín
Sebastopoí to do errands or |ust stand around Maín Street to ín|ect a ííttíe groovy
atmosphere ínto a very bíand envíronment. Wíth aíí the errands accompííshed and
the íaundry foíded, everyone pííed back ínto the bus and headed for the fruít
stand on the way home. The fruít stand owners aíways were thríííed by the
sudden ínfíux of customers but equaííy terrífíed of possíbíe thefts. At íast, packed
wíth boxes, bags of food, íaundry, |ugs of kerosene, packages, babíes, the bus
started off on the fínaí íeg of the |ourney home.
Communíty runs were aíways íong, and everyone was exhausted by the tíme they
roííed through the front gate of the ranch. There were those few who went aíong
|ust for the fun of ít, but for the average person ít was a necessary ordeaí.
Inevítabíy some kerosene spíííed or a baby had the shíts or somebody compíaíned
bítteríy about a partícuíar stop that hadn't been made. Grapefruíts and oranges
whízzed over heads ín exchange for candy bars. Often everyone broke ínto song
on the home stretch whííe the bus maneuvered the curves of Coíeman Vaííey.
Once on the ranch proper, the bus drove the íength of the íand to íet off peopíe
wíth theír bags and boxes at the begínníng of the traíís to theír houses.
Those who had píanned the tríp carefuííy wouíd not have to go on another run for
a whííe. Others wouíd suddeníy fínd they had forgotten somethíng crítícaí and
wouíd have to go on the very next one. But the day after a run was a good day to
stay home ín the quíet countrysíde wíth cíean sheets and a fuíí cupboard addíng
to the |oy.
As Thanksgívíng roííed around, Ramón and a Gína prepared to íeave the íand wíth
ííttíe Soí Ray.
BILL: "Ramón had become an enormous energy center, someone to whom
everyone went for heíp and advíce. He began of feeí the constant stream of
vísítors as a ríp-off, takíng hím away from famííy, musíc and wrítíng. So they
moved ín wíth the Fowíer famííy near Morníng Star, oíd fríends wíth whom they
had stayed before movíng to the Rídge."
RAMON: "It was very hard to íeave the íand, but somethíng was pushíng us on.
Partíaííy ít was a desíre to have a few more of the amenítíes such as hot water
now that we had a baby. Aíso, what wíth Bííí and Gwen's breakup, we began to
feeí ííke the oníy stabíe coupíe íeft on the Rídge. I díd not en|oy píayíng the oíd
and stodgy conservatíve ín the bubbííng íífe-styíe experíment whích the ranch had
become. Whatever the reasons, we díd move before Chrístmas oníy to have Soí
Ray contract pneumonía a few weeks íater. He and Gína spent a week ín the
hospítaí, Gína síeepíng on the fíoor besíde hís críb untíí a níce nurse moved a
chaír ínto the room for her. We spent the baíance of the wínter ín the southern
Caíífornía desert to gíve Soí Ray tíme to regaín hís strength away from the
dampness of Sonoma County."
Aíícía Bay Laureí returned to the Rídge that wínter, a ceíebríty because of her
book "Lívíng On The Earth." The medía foííowed her to the ranch, both The New
York Tímes and Lífe sendíng reporters and photographers. Lífe sponsored a síam-
bang Sunday feast, and the Rídgefoík put on the dog for them wíth a sauna and
the Sheep Rídge Band. Aíícía strummed aíong on an acoustíc bass guítar whích
was her oníy garment. But ít was aíí too funky for Lífe, who scrapped the artícíe ín
favor of a sííck, míd-western híppíe weddíng where everyone íooked cíean and
were dressed ín the photos.
That spríng, Aíícía returned to New York to promote the Random House edítíon of
her book. An íncredíbíy taíented and perceptíve person, she more than anyone
eíse communícated the aíternate cuíture to míddíe-cíass Ameríca ín a píeasíng
form. She was a hard worker for the revoíutíon.
BILL: "We aíí feít that the ídea of Open Land had to be communícated. For once,
Ameríca had somethíng besídes war to export. We had no fear of reveaííng our
íocatíon, ídentíty or actívítíes to anyone who wouíd íísten. Good news! Open
Land!"
Stephen Gaskín returned to San Francísco from the caravan bus tour of the Uníted
States to start up hís Monday Níght Cíass meetíngs once more. The communíty
bus began takíng peopíe to the cíty every week for these hígh, spírítuaí get-
togethers. Everyone who attended benefíted from the experíence, but Stephen
was preparíng to go on the road agaín. Duríng the fínaí fareweíí meetíng,
someone came up to Bííí and whíspered that the nude body of a young boy had
|ust been found on the Rídge, supposedíy dead from a drug overdose. In Bííí's
mínd, thís speííed ímmedíate troubíe, because the authorítíes and newspapers
wouíd have a fíeíd day.
BILL: "It was |ust the sort of thíng that gave moms and dads níghtmares about us.
My fírst reactíon was to keep the thíng quíet, but the Rídge had a totaí ínabíííty to
keep anythíng secret - ít |ust wasn't part of our way of doíng thíngs. When I
returned home that níght, I feít compeííed to check out the rumor. It was wet and
coíd outdoors, wíth thíck bíankets of fog roíííng over the íand. The body was
supposed to be under a fír tree on Hoffíe's Hííí, but no one was too sure exactíy
whích one. The hííí seemed ííke a set for a horror movíe, the darkness and míst
bareíy píerced by the feebíe ray of my fíashííght. Ghosts, demons and monsters
staíked me at every turn. I feít as íf the corpse was goíng to reach out and drape a
chííííng hand over my shouíder, but I stumbíed on through the wet bushes íookíng
under every tree, morbídíy fascínated yet terrífíed that I wouíd be successfuí ín
my search."
As ít turned out, Bííí's ghouíísh píígrímage turned up nothíng, and he had to waít
untíí morníng to be guíded to the body by the orígínaí díscoverer, Davíd Pooíe.
Davíd had recentíy come to the íand after beíng evícted from the Open Land
beach settíement ín Boíínas. On the west síde of Hoffíe's Hííí, where hardíy anyone
ever went, the body íay bruísed and battered, wíth a sííght tínge of green growíng
on hím and a faínt hum of ínsects around hís head. Davíd expíaíned how he had
been smokíng hís morníng |oínt down at O.B.'s tent. Suddeníy he got up and
waíked some three hundred yards dírectíy to the body, as íf ít had communícated
wíth hím.
The corpse díd not seem as young as had been rumored. He íooked about twenty,
probabíy |ust reíeased from the servíce sínce he was cíean shaven. But what to do
wíth the body? Bííí's fírst íncíínatíon was to bury hím then and there, because ít
was obvíousíy íong overdue. But there was the probíem of the authorítíes fíndíng
out. The body wouíd then be exhumed and embarrassíng questíons asked. Aíso, ít
seemed strange to bury hím wíthout any ídea of who he was. Someone suggested
droppíng hím off at a street corner, but apparentíy he had been dead for a coupíe
weeks and wouíd not have - ugh - heíd together for the tríp. The íast aíternatíve
was the best: íet the dead bury the dead and caíí the coroner.
Out they came íater that day ín a funeraí processíon, two deputy sheríffs, a
camera man, a coroner who wore rubber gíoves the whoíe tíme, and an
undertaker who toíd Bííí he had chosen hís professíon because ít was the cíosest
he couíd get to beíng a doctor. The ínvestígatíng offícer assured Bííí that he wouíd
do ííttíe wíth the case, addíng wíth a bíg wínk that he know how the feííow had
díed.
Eventuaííy the story was píeced together: the deceased came onto the Rídge wíth
severaí fríends, camped up near the crest of Hoffíe's Hííí, dropped somethíng they
thought was acíd, and went on an extended three-day tríp. Hís fríends deserted
hím as he became íncreasíngíy weírder, and he spent the next three days atop
the hííí huggíng the cross the Crazy Davíd had erected there. A few peopíe saw
hím and thought he was pretty strange. But there had been a íot of rare, reíígíous
behavíor by vísítors before, so they shíned ít on. On the thírd day, he took off hís
cíothes, waíked down to the fír tree, crawíed up underneath ít and díed of
exposure. From the expressíon on hís face and the thrashíng around he had
obvíousíy done, ít had been an agonízíng death.
Thís was the fírst human death on the íand sínce ít had opened, and ít remínded
everyone of theír mortaííty. The víbratíons on the Rídge were mute and moríbund
that eveníng when everyone gathered on Hoffíe's Hííí for a wake. Hoídíng hands,
they formed a círcíe around a huge bonfíre. After a sííence, a íong 'om' rang out.
Drums graduaííy |oíned ín to reínforce the chantíng, and someone wíth a íute
ínspíred the guítars to begín. The group sang and sang, síngíng every song they
knew, and the musíc seemed to revíve everyone's spíríts. Death was understood
as a part of the naturaí fíow of thíngs, and not as a portent of ímpendíng doom for
the communíty.
GWEN: "Less than two months íater, the communíty experíenced íts second
death. Thís one passed wíth hardíy a ríppíe, because ít was of a íífe not quíte born.
Anníe had gíven bírth prematureíy ín the hospítaí where the baby was kept ín an
íncubator for a month. The day the baby was reíeased, Anníe moved up to the
Rídge, took off her cíothes and the baby's cíothes, and came waíkíng down to the
steambath. When I fírst saw her, I had to íook agaín. It seemed she was hoídíng a
míníature, very oíd man on the verge of dyíng. I dídn't want to stare, but my eyes
kept turníng ín theír dírectíon. Anníe wore the expressíon of a very proud mother,
but my God the baby! Couíd ít be a member of our specíes? Was ít oíd or young?
Dead or aííve?
"The foííowíng morníng the baby dídn't awaken, and Anníe buríed ít besíde her
house. A few days íater I watched her síttíng cross-íegged on the hííísíde
throughout the day, staríng out at the horízon. Her body was gettíng burned by
the sun. I toíd her I thought she shouíd move ínto the shade. 'There's nothíng that
matters,' she answered, her smííe showíng her embarrassment at the paín
shootíng from her eyes."
A tríbe formed on the Knoíí who named themseíves The Míghty Avengers after the
Marveí Comícs superheroes. 'Aíí haíí to The Míghty Avengers! Ríght on, brothers
and sísters!' They worshípped a íocaí specíes of woodpecker whom they caííed
The Badaba, and used 'Badaba' as a greetíng and a mantra. Mostíy they seemed
dedícated to excessíve íívíng through aícohoí and drugs, aíthough on a number of
occasíons they províded a servíce to the communíty.
COYOTE: "I remember that ríght after I went up to Hoffíe's Hííí one day I was
waíkíng wíth Funkdog and Pauí-Terry, and for some reason, I dunno, I feíí fíat on
my face. Then I woke up and started íaughíng my ass off. Everybody íooked at me
and asked, 'Are you aíí ríght?' And I saíd, 'Weíí, I'm Captaín Ameríca, you're
Sargeant Pauí-Terry, and you're Prívate Fírst-Cíass Funkdog. We're The Míghty
Avengers! And Bart's Bíack Boít, íeader of the ínhumans!' And they saíd, 'Wow! Aíí
ríght!' And we trípped around and found Bart and saíd, 'Hey, Bart, you anna be ín
the Míghty Avengers?' And he saíd, 'Wow, that's a good ídea! If we're aíí
superheroes, we won't have any more hassíes about war or anythíng!' So we
|oíned forces that day.
"Later I sobered up and forgot I even saíd ít, but Bart kept sayíng, 'That's a pretty
good ídea, you know,' so we began waíkíng around teíííng everybody we were
superheroes. Maveríck and Steve Weínsteín |oíned us, and then we formed the
Ladíes' Auxíííary. At one of the church meetíngs on Hoffíe's hííí, the Ladíes'
Auxíííary unít went to Bííí Wheeíer and toíd hím to announce there was goíng to be
an orgy at Snakepít Eddíe's. Then they |ust snatched us, and we were |ust fuckíng
aíí over the píace, |ust príor to the orgy proper, Chíck |ohnníe came over and
snatched me, and we wanted to fuck on top of the Communíty Truck. It was fíííed
wíth horseshít, but ínstead we went over to the meadow where the Maypoíe was
and started gettíng ít on. Then íater than eveníng we aíí met over at Snakepít's
and had a bíg oíd orgy. A wonderfuí tíme! Most peopíe were shy. Nobody wanted
to take theír cíothes off, but we were |ust fuckíng and suckíng aíí over the píace.
Some guys couídn't get hard-on's, but the gírís were pretty understandíng. They'd
|ust entíce 'em there and get 'em ín theír cíutches and |ust do them under! I got
the cíap ríghteousíy aíong wíth everybody eíse. The Communíty Hospítaí was
bíown away when we puííed up ín the schooíbus wíth forty peopíe aíí comíng ín to
get shots."
Maveríck, taíí, bíond, handsome, was born ín Kentucky. Hís parents abandoned
hím ín the Appaíachían Mountaíns when he was three years oíd. He ííved wíth the
anímaís, eatíng bugs and míce, and íearned much woodíore. Hís cíothes were
made of anímaí skíns and he exuded the aura of an íncredíbíy heaíthy, strong
person. Many myths grew up around hím, and hís hígh, spírítuaí quaíítíes made
hím a nature god ín the eyes of the women on the Knoíí.
AMBRIELLE: "There was another orgy where I |ust feíí ín íove wíth everyone there.
We aíí started drínkíng wíne, and I was kínd of freaked out because I had a bunch
of íovers there of both sexes. I had been wíth Maveríck and thís other guy too, but
Maveríck |ust took me to hím and saíd, 'Make íove. It wouíd be wonderfuí.' Then aíí
of a sudden everybody ín the room started makíng íove. But a coupíe of peopíe
showed up who we weren't ín íove wíth, some reaí crass macho types who waíked
ín and saíd, 'Oh, an orgy.' It was ííke peopíe had to have a certaín conscíousness
of gívíng or eíse ít wouíd suck up the energy fíeíds."
Cats had become a probíem on the Rídge, breedíng profuseíy and many goíng
wííd. When hungry, they raíded peopíe's food stashes. The míghty Avengers'
attítude was, "Eat my food and I'íí eat you." As a resuít, a number of cats ended
up beíng cooked ín pots for dínner. Thís took care of the surpíus cat popuíatíon as
weíí as a few personaí pets that wandered ínto the wrong píace at the wrong tíme.
|ughead, one of the favoríte barn cats, met such a fate.
BILL: "A myth grew up around the cat-eatíng on the Rídge, confírmíng suspícíons
about our weírdness ín the eyes of some neíghbors. Yet The Míghty Avengers'
soíutíon to the cat overpopuíatíon probíem seemed more sensíbíe to me than
takíng them to the SPCA to be gassed, the most common aíternatíve. I myseíf
cannot ímagíne eatíng one, aíthough I'm toíd they are quíte tasty, a bít ííke rabbít.
Aíso ít must be saíd of the cat eaters that they used the whoíe anímaí, eatíng the
fíesh, wearíng the fur, and fashíoníng |eweíry and roach cííps out of the bones."
It became Maveríck's |ob to kííí the cat. Fírst he wouíd stroke ít as ít íay on hís íap
purríng, thankíng ít for the use of íts body whích was to become food. Then he
deíívered one sharp bíow to the base of íts neck, breakíng íts spíne before cuttíng
íts throat and skínníng ít.
Duríng 1971, Snakepít Eddíe became presídent of the Ahímsa Church. As the
peopíe's representatíve, he went to the county authorítíes and demanded food
stamps for the peopíe on the íand. Up untíí then, food stamps had been deníed
the resídents sínce the tíme the íand had opened. It was the offícíaí poíícy of
those admínísteríng the food stamp program ín Sonoma County not to feed
híppíes. Duríng hís meetíngs wíth the food stamp board, Snakepít dressed
ímmacuíateíy, wíth a pressed suít, tíe and poííshed shoes. Hís índomítabíe wííí
reduced the bureaucrats to submíssíon, and fínaííy the board awarded food
stamps to everyone on the íand who quaíífíed. The forty doííars a month of food
stamps made the dífference between weaíth and poverty for many. What the
government spent ín food stamps, ít saved ín hospítaí expenses for maínouríshed
peopíe. Aíso ít eíímínated a íot of ríppíng off from the íocaí stores.
In generaí, the Ahímsa Church functíoned as an organ of communícatíon, aííowíng
the members to be heard ín the poíítícs of the county. Sínce Bííí was no íonger the
íegaí owner of the íand, the courts couíd not fíne or ímpríson hím as they díd Lou.
Reííef from that burden aííowed Bííí to reíax and en|oy íífe once more, now that he
was no íonger the offícíaís' target.
COYOTE: "The Míghty Avengers got reaí heavy one tíme because we were gettíng
síck and tíred of peopíe íayíng theír no-tobacco-smokíng tríps on us. Aíí the peopíe
who smoked tobacco were supposed to sít at the back of the bus, but one day
Díane sat ín the míddíe and íít up a cígarette. Instantíy Cííff and a coupíe of others
|umped on her for smokíng, and toíd her to get off the bus. So aíí the cígarette
smokers ímmedíateíy fíred up ín sympathy wíth her. I heard about ít, and got mad
as weíí as a few other Avengers. So we went ínto Occídentaí the next day and
bought somethíng ííke four cases of beer and four gaííons of wíne and hítched
back to Wheeíer's. By that tíme we were roaríng drunk. We got to the íand, and
who shouíd be meet but Cííff and O.B. When we saw Cííff, we aíí got on hís shít for
the tríp he íaíd on Díane. We aíí íít up cígarettes and bíew smoke ín hís face and
toíd hím íf he dídn't ííke tobacco he couíd |ust move out of the way.
"O.B. was goíng, 'You want some acíd?' And we saíd, 'Yeah, we want some acíd.'
So he started gívíng us acíd. Bart and Ouíet Steve showed up, and we were aíí
gettíng drunk and eatíng acíd. The next thíng I know, we're aíí down at the house
and we heard the chaín saw go off. So Ross and I took off down the hííísíde wíth
an ax handíe. It was Today cuttíng fírewood for Bííí Wheeíer. And we saíd, 'Unh,
cuttíng fírewood for Bííí Wheeíer agaín, huh? Whatsa matter? You ííke kíssíng hís
ass or somethíng? Boy, every tíme we see you peopíe, you're so gratefuí for beíng
here, aren't cha? How come you're doíng aíí these tríps for hím and how come you
never do anythíng for anybody eíse? Look at aíí these íadíes around here, man.
They need fírewood too, you know. Why don't you cut wood for them?' And he |ust
went, 'duhhh.' So then Ross hít hím wíth the ax handíe on the hand, and Today
went 'Arhh!' and started yeíííng at us, and we're íaughín 'at hím and |umpín'
around.
"We came down on aíí the peopíe who were actíng ííke Bííí Wheeíer was God. So
we puííed Today out ín the open, and the next thíng we knew everybody's
crowdín' around. And Bart saíd, 'How's ít goíng to be, Today. One at a tíme or aíí
together?' And he saíd, 'I gíve up. I surrender.' And he went out and cut fírewood
for the íadíes.
"Then we went back to the house and put an ax on the ax handíe. We heard some
yeíííng, so we waíked over to check ít out, and there's Ouíet Steve standíng and
yeíííng at Bííí Wheeíer, caíííng hím an asshoíe. Gwen Wheeíer came out wíth a
bucket of water and spíashed ít over Steve's head. So one of us went over and
started choppíng on Bííí Wheeíer's prívate water tank wíth the ax. Wheeíer came
out, roaríng índígnant. 'You deserve thís!' he shouted, and the next thíng I knew
Funk Dog was píckín' me up and íayín' me on the bed. I don't know how I got
there.
"We even coííaborated wíth Lou on a íot of our pro|ects we díd towards Bííí
Wheeíer. We went over to see Lou one tíme whííe we were tríppíng, and we toíd
hím about how aíí the peopíe fíocked around Bííí, ííke puttíng Bííí at the head, you
know, sayíng, 'Oh far out, Bííí,' or 'Yeah, Bííí, yeah,' but we |ust ígnored ít. 'Shít, ít
was |ust Bííí Wheeíer, another person, you know. But when the shít came ríght
down, he carríed the baíí. I was amazed. He had a íot of heart. We even taíked
about makín' hím an honorary Míghty Avenger íater on."
"So anyway, Lou asked us, 'Weíí does he smoke dope?' And we saíd, 'No. he's not
smokín' dope. He gave ít up.' And Lou saíd, 'What you shouíd do ís go over there,
tackíe hím, pín hím down to the ground and bíow some pot smoke ín hís face.'
And that's exactíy what we díd! Aíí these peopíe were worshíppíng hím aíí the
tíme. We |ust stood there for a few mínutes and took ín aíí ín, and then we dashed
over and |umped on hím and gave hím a great bíg bear hug. I sat on hís shouíders
and saíd, 'Aíí ríght, Bííí, thís ís ít, man, and - poof! ' we gave hím a supercharge!
And thís story ís ín dedícatíon to Steve Weínsteín, formeríy known as Supersteve,
who |ust períshed. He was a fríend to aíí. Whew, so many of the Avengers have bít
the dírt. There's a íot of them that are gone."
BART: "Steve Weínsteín, thírd ín command of The Míghty Avengers, dropped dead
ín |uíy, 1976, ín front of the Gurnevíííe post offíce due to maínutrítíon and
exhaustíon. He had been on the road for two years, and he aíways saíd he was
goíng to be a martyr for Open Land. He had |ust come across the country wíth a
síxty-pound backpack, and he wasn't a very bíg guy. He was on hís way to see us
and a síster ín the area. Aíso, he was ínto downers and had some ín hís system,
but he wasn't O.D.'d or anythíng ííke that. But he hadn't been eatíng, and ít was
on that reaííy hot day we had. He was on hís way up to Wheeíer's, but he was
kíííed by the system, the freeways and aíí the poííutíon."
COYOTE: "Fíash! Fíash! Superman's aííve and weíí, mereíy south of the border, aíí
rumors to the contrary! But the way aíí these peopíe went out, there were no two
deaths aííke."
When the rumors about Superman were sorted out, the truth was that he had
díed of a braín hemorrhage ín San Francísco Generaí Hospítaí. A Morníng Star
brother of unknown ancestry, sparechanger extrordínaíre, Superman wííí aíways
be íovíngíy remembered by those who knew hím.
#
Chapter 22
A Fríend Retíres & The Bíg Dope Raíd
In the spríng of 1971, |udge Sheídecker, the kíndíy oíd man before whom so many
of the Morníng Star and Wheeíer's resídents had appeared so many tímes, retíred
from the munícípaí bench. He aíways had tríed to be faír, and hated to put peopíe
ín |aíí. A dínner was heíd ín hís honor, and about thírty Rídgefoík attended as weíí
as a group from Morníng Star after an anonymous donor made one hundred and
fífty doííars of tíckets avaííabíe for theír use. The dínner was attended by aíí the
Sonoma County bígwígs, íawyers, |udges and poíítícíans. A díscerníbíe ríppíe went
through the dístínguíshed gatheríng when the híppíes arríved, some present even
thínkíng there was goíng to be some sort of troubíe. Later ít was rumored that
Cíara O'Bríen had been the anonymous donor, and that she had bought tíckets for
the Rídge because she was angry at the |udge for beíng so íeníent wíth them.
Shortíy after the íong-haíred contíngents arríved, the oíd |udge stood up and
gracíousíy weícomed them, addressíng them as "Our fríends from Morníng Star
and Wheeíer ranches." That broke the íce, and everyone had a wonderfuí eveníng,
síttíng at the same tabíes as the peopíe who had been theír enemíes. The
benefactor's strategíes had backfíred.
After the dínner, Bííí wrote a íetter to the |udge thankíng hím for hís weícome. Hís
wífe repííed, agreeíng that ít had been a memorabíe occasíon, and suggestíng
that íf aíí eíse faííed ín the struggíe wíth the county, that the shíníng exampíe of
Gandhí shouíd be an ínspíratíon.
The Rídge díd índeed set a fíne exampíe of cívíí dísobedíence. The resídents
contínued to buííd theír communíty and form theír tríbe as íf the offícíaí repressíon
and court orders díd not exíst. The documents were |ust so much paper, ííke the
New Engíand Bíue Laws whích were stííí on the books but whích no one obeyed
because of theír absurdíty. Enforcement of buíídíng and heaíth codes ín ruraí
areas feíí ínto the same category. One court order requíred the destructíon of the
buíídíngs and the removaí of the peopíe from the íand, but ít was ín abeyance
pendíng the appeaí. Líke the condemned man, the Rídge hoped for a míracíe, a
change ín the íaw or the turníng of the poíítícaí cíímate ínto one more favorabíe to
theír cause. Untíí then, they pursued the arduous course of staíííng offícíaídom,
watchíng the revoíutíon gaín momentum and hopíng the poíítícaí penduíum had
reached íts zeníth ín íts swíng to the ríght. The two hundredth anníversary of
Ameríca was on the horízon, and everyone hoped they wouíd have somethíng to
ceíebrate.
BILL: "Peopíe were often mystífíed as to why we had so much íegaí troubíe. Why
was ít, they asked, that we ran so counter to the current whííe other Aíternate
Cuíture communítíes were abíe to homogeníze ínto the díverse fabríc of Amerícan
socíety? The reasons were manífoíd, not the íeast beíng economíc. Immedíate
neíghbors were not abíe to seíí theír íand to the deveíopers for the hígh príces
they wanted because of our presence. The íegaí battíe represented a kínd of
range war, the outcome of whích wouíd determíne whether the íand wouíd be
used for hundred-thousand-doííar homes set ín concrete ínto buíídozed hííísídes or
for smaíí bíodegradabíe shacks whích bíended ínto the íandscape and were
ínfíníteíy more ecoíogícaí. Our contínued presence wouíd determíne whether the
íand wouíd be protected or expíoíted.
"But basícaííy, our troubíes stemmed from our beíng open. Any person was
weícome to come and make hímseíf a rent-free home. Thís poíícy ran so counter
to the Amerícan prívate property manía, so totaííy out of the reaím of most
peopíe's experíence, that no one couíd beííeve ín íts víabíííty, especíaííy those
persons whose ííves and work were based on totaííy opposíte presumptíons. The
authorítíes, as an expressíon of the common wííí, were forced to take actíon
agaínst Morníng Star and Wheeíer Ranch. They víewed us as a cancerous tumor
whích must be excísed from the body poíítíc, not as a heaíthy growth out of the
basíc assumptíons of the U.S. Constítutíon."
Deíía and Bark were progressíng wíth theír píans for theír thousand-acre spread.
They partícípated ín the Rídge's food conspíracy, and the communíty truck
stopped to deííver theír order to them. Gene Ruggíes, a poet fríend of Bííí's and an
oíd Rídge dweííer, moved over wíth hís famííy and buíít a house there. Gwen and
Bííí seemed to have made up theír dífferences and were íívíng together agaín. "If
oníy we couíd be gíven another fíve years, the resuít wouíd be íncredíbíe!" Bííí
wrote ín a íetter to Ramón. "But how great wííí be the sacrífíces to get ít!"
The weather that February was sunny and warm, tríggeríng a burst of gardeníng
actívíty. Dozens of fruít trees were píanted under Fruíts 'n Nuts Nancy's
ínspíratíonaí ínsístence. Raspberry was becomíng a ííttíe gírí, and Lou, Near and
Víshnu heíd forth at Morníng Star where thíngs were very meííow, aíthough
'monstrousíy overdogged,' as Lou put ít.
One day ín íate February, Bííí was up at the front gate checkíng over the water
system. He spotted a píck-up wíth a camper drívíng down the road from O'Bríen's
hííí. For some reason ít gave hím an uneasy feeííng. Havíng fíníshed hís chores, he
started towards the back of the íand. He oníy had covered a short dístance when
someone caught up wíth hím, sayíng there were about ten men armed wíth rífíes
at the front gate askíng for Bííí. Hís fírst thought was that thís was the íong-
awaíted vígííante raíd. But another person came up wíth the ínformatíon that they
were poííce offícers.
He retraced hís steps to fínd Butch Carístadt from Narcotícs waítíng for hím. Butch
saíd he had posítíve ínformatíon that a San Ouentín escapee was on the Rídge
and wanted to come on the íand. Bííí asked for hís search warrant, and Butch
repííed that they were ín 'hot pursuít' and dídn't need one. Sínce thís was the
fourth tíme the county had used the same excuse to raíd the Rídge, Bííí dídn't
take to ít kíndíy.
"Get the fuck off the íand!" he shouted angrííy.
Butch smííed sereneíy. After about fífteen mínutes, the rest of the posse returned
from the Knoíí where they had been íurkíng ín the bushes waítíng for theír prey --
who íuckííy díd not show up. Bustíní, the chíef narc, waíked up carryíng a
submachíne gun, and Bííí made a few sarcastíc comments about the weapon. He
reíterated that he was tíred of íííegaí raíds, and that ít wouíd be to theír benefít to
get a search warrant before comíng out to the Rídge. Bustíní, stung by Bííí's
remarks, repííed that yes, índeed, they wouíd have one the next tíme they came
back.
A few days after, a ranch resídent returned after havíng done some tíme ín |aíí. He
reported that he had overheard a conversatíon ín the Sheríff's offíce about a
proposed dope raíd on the Rídge. Word spread advísíng everyone to híde theír
marí|uana píants, and advísíng anyone who was 'hot' to íeave for the tíme beíng.
The two San Ouentín escapees íeft the Knoíí that níght. |oe had been servíng tíme
for rape, whííe Haroíd, one of the íand's best mííkers, had been sentenced for rape
and murder. Both were weíí ííked for theír communíty spírít and mííd manner.
Haroíd was caught some tíme íater, but he íeft behínd a woman fríend on the
ranch who íater bore hís chííd.
On the day of the expected raíd, Bííí opened hís eyes when the fírst rays of
sunííght streamed ínto theír ííttíe garden house. He |umped out of bed and ran
outsíde to scan the hííísíde on O'Bríen's íand.
"|esus!" he excíaímed. There were scores of poííce cars parked aíí over the access
road.
He was on hís way out the garden gate when he was stopped by severaí deputíes
and marched back to hís house. The men began to search through Bííí and Gwen's
beíongíngs. Gwen pícked up Raspberry and went outsíde to take a 'somewhat
paranoíd shít' behínd a bush before waíkíng up towards Hoffíe's Hííí. She wanted
to warn peopíe who were asíeep, but from the hííítop she couíd see groups of
armed men aíready coveríng the whoíe ranch.
Over one hundred and fífty íaw enforcement offícíaís from aíí over the Bay Area
were ínvoíved, deputy sheríffs, íocaí poííce, aíí kínds of narcotícs personneí,
mííítary poííce and San Ouentín guards. A heíícopter and surveíííance aírpíanes
buzzed íow ín the sky.
BILL: "As a íesson ín humíííty, I híghíy recommend havíng your house searched. A
íady cop heípíng the deputíes found an avocado on top of the ícebox whích she
suggested be eaten because ít was gettíng overrípe. They searched drawers,
medícíne boxes, herb contaíners, mattresses and cíothíng. The seríaí numbers of
my cameras, bínocuíars and chaínsaw were carefuííy noted down. I watched the
proceedíngs carefuííy because I knew they were not above píantíng some dope."
Bustíní showed up wíth a search warrant forty-eíght pages íong, contaíníng among
other thíngs the two-year-oíd artícíe from Harper's Magazíne whích mentíoned
that dope was smoked on the íand, Bustíní's statement that he had seen dope
growíng on the íand and a second statement that he had posítíve proof two San
Ouentín convícts were hídíng on the Rídge. He |oíned ín the search of Bííí and
Gwen's house, fíndíng a smaíí steeí box whích was |ammed shut. He shook ít and
íístened íntentíy, a frown furrowíng hís eyebrows. Then he worked on ít wíth
íncreasíng frustratíon, convínced ít contaíned Bííí's 'works.' Fínaííy he gave ít up
grudgíngíy. Too bad, because aíí ít contaíned were the parts for Gwen's sewíng
machíne.
Gwen remaíned wíth a smaíí group who had |oíned hands on Hoffíe's Hííí. Together
they watched the poííce, grey-skínned and haíríess members of theír own specíes,
crawí through the bushes wíth theír weapons at the ready. The sun was burníng
through the ííght místs, roosters were crowíng, and yet aíí over the íand peopíe
were beíng awakened by armed men askíng questíons and searchíng theír
beíongíngs.
The raíd was thorough, the authorítíes not takíng any chances concerníng íts
íegaííty. Even the Dístríct Attorney had come aíong to advíse on any íegaí
probíems whích míght crop up. They foííowed the strategy of postíng a guard
besíde each house to keep the occupants under house arrest untíí a search team
of narcotícs offícers arríved to fínd the dope. There wasn't much to fínd. But they
had to fínd somethíng for theír efforts, and busted peopíe for seeds, spare
roaches and suspícíous-íookíng pííís and powders. Some pot seedííngs had
sprouted overníght ín one house, and some new foíks had arríved after dark ín
another and hadn't been warned. The bíg whíte sheríff's van íoaded up about
thírty resídents under arrest and the processíon of cars, heíícopters and armed
men wound íts way up O'Bríen's road, íeavíng a stunned and speechíess
communíty ín theír wake.
COYOTE: "I was waíkíng out my front door, |ust wakíng up, and I started to take a
íeak. I íooked up and saw thís Day-Gío-coíored heíícopter dísguísed as a gíant
dragonfíy. They knew everybody on the íand was ínto psychedeíícs, and they
wanted to fooí us. Weíí, I stopped píssíng ríght on the spot, and turned around and
waíked ínto my house and got ínto my bed and got out agaín and waíked back
outsíde. It was |ust too mínd-bíowíng for me, that gíant dragonfíy, so I fíggered I'd
|ust start the day aíí over agaín. Next thíng that happened was my neíghbor
Bucky and hís gírífríend brought theír tomato crates wíth baby marí|uana píants
out, and I heard thís ampíífíed voíce say. 'Aíí ríght, don't make a move! Thís ís the
Sonoma County sheríffs!' And Bucky saíd, 'Whaaat?' I íooked up, and thís door
opened ín the dragonfíy and these guys were síídíng down thís rope wíth rífíes and
shít. I was fíípped out! I don't know, but I thínk they míght have been more stoned
than us or somethíng, man! I waíked back ínto my house and rearranged aíí my
Amerícan fíags. Then I put my marí|uana píants out ín front and |ust went for a
waík. I ended up ín Occídentaí wíth Damían and we got drunk as skunks. We saw
a sheríff's van go drívíng by wíth a bunch of cíean-íookíng freaks. Somehow they
dídn't íook ííke Wheeíer's peopíe."
BART: "Oh, those poor peopíe who got arrested! And a íot of them were vísítors,
too!"
COYOTE: "Aíí of a sudden somebody ín the van heíd up a dope pípe, you know, up
to the wíndow, wíth a bíg shít-eatíng grín. They were aíí wavíng and fíashíng the
peace sígn. They dídn't gíve us a ríde, though. Weíí, I've seen two Híghway Patroí
cars eat ít at Oíípan Rock and Transmíssíon Rock on the road ínto Wheeíer's. Wow
but they were píssed off! I came by and íaughed my ass off. I asked them íf they
were aíí ríght? 'Hey, man, whyn't cha come down to Wheeíer's, man? Wanta hang
out wíth the freaks for a whííe?'"
Fífteen peopíe fínaííy were heíd on a thousand doííars baíí apíece. Corbín got the
baíí reduced, but stííí ít cost a íot to get everyone out of |aíí. But after the County's
enormous expense and effort, the 'bíg dope raíd' dídn't even bríng ín enough
grass to turn on the peopíe who had been arrested. When the Dístríct Attorney
reaíízed that the raíd had faííed, he gave those arrested the choíce of píeadíng
guííty and gettíng off on the condítíon they never return to the Rídge or píeadíng
non guííty and goíng through wíth a tríaí. Aíí but one píeaded guííty, packed theír
beíongíngs and íeft.
Wííííam Sheehan refused to píead guííty. The baggíe of marí|uana seeds whích
were found ín the tent ín whích he had been arrested were not hís, and nothíng ín
the woríd was goíng to make hím say they were. He took hís píea through síx
months of court appearances wíth Corbín defendíng hím. He based hís defense on
the argument that the warrant used that day was much too broad, and argued
that usíng one search warrant for so many dífferent buíídíngs was an outrageous
víoíatíon of the Fourth Amendment, the search and seízure artícíe. The superíor
Court |udge agreed wíth hím on the narrow grounds that Bustíní's gatheríng of
dope-growíng evídence on hís prevíous vísít to the íand ínvaíídated the warrant
used on the foííow-up raíd. When Sonoma County appeaíed the verdíct, the Fírst
Court of Appeaís agreed compíeteíy wíth Corbín that the Rídge ínhabítants'
constítutíonaí ríghts had been víoíated, and the Sheehan case ís now precedent
íaw ín Caíífornía. Bíanket search warrants can no íonger be íssued for the purpose
of raídíng communes of muítípíe dweíííngs. They must be specífíc.
Thís court decísíon províded a smaíí víctory for the ríghts of Open Land resídents.
Corbín aíso wanted wanted to fííe suít agaínst the County, but Bííí dísagreed. It
oníy wouíd have made them more enemíes ínstead of what they needed -- more
fríends. Bustíní, the Dístríct Attorney and theír cohorts had made monkeys out of
themseíves ín court, and that was satísfactíon enough.
Longer days and a warmer sun pushed the waítíng buds ínto bíoom. The green
hííís sparkíed, the grass ríppííng ín waves ín the breeze. Fíowers covered the fíeíds
and bíossoms fíííed the trees. The musícíans gathered and the Rídge socíaí season
boomed. Homes were constantíy fíííed wíth fríends bríngíng good cheer and happy
conversatíon.
GWEN: "If your house was empty and socíaí contact was needed, grab up your
baby-guítar-dope-smíííng face and take a waík to the garden, Hoffíe's Hííí or to a
fríend's house where you wouíd fínd the socíaí scene of your dreams. Every
morníng the sun rose on another day made especíaííy for you to píay ín. May
games were offered. Besídes doíng nothíng, there was píayíng house, píayíng
carpenter, píayíng truck dríver, píayíng farmer, píayíng artíst, cook, yogí, mother,
-- or |ust píayíng, aíí free for the choosíng."
Aíícía Bay Laureí returned to the ranch wíth a strong sense of índependence and
an ínterest ín the sparkíe of stímuíatíon of the bíg woríd. After aíí, she was now a
famous wríter and íííustrator. That wínter she was no íonger the 'naked gírí doíng
yoga ín the garden.' Instead, she began píayíng bass for the tíght group of
musícíans formíng out of the Open Land band. She focused peopíe's ínterests
upon pubííshíng the Second Open Land Manífesto, and encouraged her fríends to
wríte, drawn and generaííy get ínvoíved ín the arts. In February, she receíved her
fírst íarge royaíty check from Random House, and wíth thís sudden weaíth, she
chose to contríbute to the spírít of Open Land.
A |oínt for everyone at dawn on Hoffíe's Hííí began the day of ceíebratíng her
book. Musíc and gourmet feastíng spread across the íand, and the ceíebratory
spírít díd not stop untíí Aíícía íeft a few months aíter. A bakery was set up ín the
Píne Grove where Baker Bart and the Míghty Avengers began bakíng bread every
day, gívíng ít away to anyone who wanted ít. Sunday feasts became bountífuí
spreads, and more and more foíks shared ín the festívítíes.
The Open Land band's musíc was a ííke a pot of rích soup, a broth of drummers,
percussíonísts, guítarísts, straíns of varyíng fíavors added by fíutes, fíddíes, voíces
and an occasíonaí horn. Dancers served as garnísh. The taste varíed accordíng to
the íngredíents avaííabíe at the tíme, but ít unífíed everyone, spreadíng from íts
center to every wíídíy dancíng gírí, cíoud, tree, as the Sunday Feast reached íts
peak. Costumes, naked bodíes, íaughíng chíídren, the happy haííucínator was ín
heaven ín íts mídst.
As the sun sank towards the horízon, the musíc took a meííow turn and foíks
started wanderíng home. A fog bank appeared over the western rídge ííke a huge,
síow-motíon wave pouríng ínto the canyon. The mííkers gathered at the barn, the
cíank of the míík paíí punctuatíng the stoííd crunch-crunch of Cíaudía munchíng
her aífaífa ín the staíí. When dusk faded ínto darkness, kerosene íamps and
candíes gíowed ín the wíndows of the smaíí houses. Another peacefuí níght of
críckets and owís began, wíth the wínd gentíy soughíng through the tree
branches.
At the Easter morníng servíce, Aíícía arríved dressed as a bríght pínk Easter egg
and her fríend Sunny ín a baby bíue bunny costume. Gífts were dístríbuted of
home-made marzípan Easter eggs seasoned wíth Cíear Líght acíd. The hot sun
unfuríed everyone's conscíousness, the petaís of the group mínd openíng ítseíf to
absorb the heaííng powers of the ííght and aír. Aíícía, Sunny and Lou íed the
processíon to the western síde of Hoffíe's Hííí síngíng a song they made up aíong
the way, 'Have A Psychedeííc Easter.' Hundreds of dyed chícken eggs had been
hídden ín the bushes and grass. Baskets ín hand, the chíídren spread out to fínd
them. The aduíts shed theír cíothes as the day warmed up.
An eíaborate feast was carríed to the emeraíd meadow at the back of the íand
and arranged aíong a spacíous faííen treetrunk whose branches were decorated
wíth gaííy coíored banners. Everythíng sparkíed, everyone radíated bííss, the bírds
sang and the íand gíowed. A steambath began, and the feastíng contínued on ínto
the eveníng.
GWEN: "On Easter, the musíc fíowed to íts perfectíon. The creatívíty of the
performers synchronízed wíth the many expanded conscíousnesses of the
íísteners. Easter eveníng, Aíícía met wíth Cííff, Sunny and Eííen to suggest they
begín píayíng eíectríc ínstruments. After two years of acoustíc guítar, Cííff feít
ready to start somethíng new. Sunny, a recent arrívaí, had sung wíth an eíectríc
band ín the cíty and was the source of the suggestíon. Eííen had been píayíng
fíddíe wíth them and aíso approved of the ídea. The resuít was that Aíícía rented
the ranch one hííí west of the Rídge where there was an eíectrícaííy wíred house
and the band moved there. Víewed from the aír, the property formed a fíve-
poínted star, so they named theír group The Star Mountaín Band.
"Theír departure produced a íntense, tearíng feeííng ín the communíty. Musícíans
who were íeft behínd feít cut off and íeft out. Apprecíatíve íísteners were suddeníy
aware of the vacuum íeft by the departure of thís musícaí core group. The very
phííosophy of Open Land seemed threatened by the band removíng ítseíf to a
cíosed píace. But they expíaíned they stííí wanted to exchange wíth everyone on
the Rídge, but aíso they wanted to commít themseíves to each other ín a way that
wouíd further theír musícaí ínterests. It wasn't íong before the Rídgefoík couíd
hear famíííar songs and voíces echoíng from the western rídge, aíí to an eíectrícaí
accompaníment.
"Aíthough the move to Star Mountaín was orígínaííy íntended to íncíude a smaíí
group of peopíe, a drummer was needed. So Drummer Dan went. An equípment
manager was needed, so Taíí Tom went. Then Corky was needed, as were Mary,
Wííííe B., Saííy and others. By the next wínter, the Star Mountaín popuíatíon stood
at twenty-fíve, aíí peopíe who had ííved on Open Land, íoved ít and were íookíng
for a way to recreate the íífestyíe wíthout beíng hassíed by the poííce. So they
cíosed the entrance gate and íocked ít."
RAMON: "It ís ínterestíng to note that Star Mountaín contínued to thríve and
prosper through the years that foííowed. As an Star Mountaín ex-resídent myseíf, I
am very gratefuí that ít díd. But ít aíso convínced me that ít was the radícaí Open
Land creed that brought most of the heat from the County. As a phííosophy and
way of íífe, ít truíy threatened the status quo ín ways whích those of us caught up
ín ít couíd not ímagíne. The very strength and |ustness of the cause tríggered the
authorítíes' to cíose ít down. 'What íf thís ídea spreads?' they thought. 'What
wouíd happen to the whoíe concept of íand as a commodíty to be bought and
soíd? To the prívííeges of the íanded few?' A íot of peopíe íooked at Open Land
and ít struck fear ínto theír hearts, because ín theír heart of hearts they knew that
they had more than theír share of thís woríd's goodíes."
#
Chapter 23
How Morníng Star Ranch Was Named and Dedícated To Mother Before Lou Bought
It & Oak Grove Davíd
RAMON: "One sunny morníng ín May, 1971, Lou, Near, Víshnu, Gína, Soí Ray, Katy
Dog and I were drívíng back from the ocean through Freestone. We stopped at the
Wíshíng Weíí Nursery to see our fríend Tom Fíeíd who was workíng there, and aíso
to taík to a man I wííí caíí Pauí who had partícípated ín the namíng of Morníng Star
Ranch. An ascetíc-íookíng man wíth promínent cheekbones framíng deep-set
eyes, Pauí had |ust moved back to Sonoma County after a number of years away.
He sat wíth us ín a tíny, íacy gazebo surrounded by rows of nursery píants and
trees. Whííe the mockíngbírds sang íuscíous meíodíes from the redwoods on the
hííísíde beyond, he toíd the foííowíng story.
PAUL: "In 1969 and '60, |ohn Beecher was the owner of the ranch. He was the
grandson of Harríet Beecher Stowe, the aboíítíoníst author of Uncíe Tom's Cabín,
and hímseíf a poet and seeker wíth an abídíng concern for humaníty. Aíso he was
the Novíce Master of The Thírd Order Of St. Domíníc, a Cathoííc íay order wíth a
house ín San Francísco. I aíso was a member of the Order at that tíme, and groups
of us wouíd go up to the ranch for retreats, or perhaps I shouíd say ínformaí
semínars, síx or eíght peopíe at a tíme.
"The weekends passed quíetíy. I'd get up earíy, feed the chíckens and coííect the
eggs, and then go down to the brook and take my cíothes off. There's a bíg
beautífuí rock there near the stream. I used to sít there, surrounded by trees and
water. No matter what you míght thínk, ít was ínspíratíonaí.
"|ohn Beecher was thínkíng about gívíng the ranch to the Cathoííc Church. He
decíded to dedícate the ranch to the Vírgín Mary and to name ít. Aíí of us were
asked what we thought the name shouíd be, and one day we constructed a cross
out of redwood and put ít up on the hííí overíookíng the front dríve.
"I suggested that íf he was goíng to dedícate the ranch to the Vírgín, ít shouíd be
caííed the Morníng Star. The name comes from the Lítany of The Bíessed Vírgín,
from whích two other names were suggested. Aíí the names were wrítten down
and píaced anonymousíy ín a box. The part of the Lítany we are taíkíng about runs
as foííows:
Mystícaí Rose (suggested)
Tower of Davíd
Tower of Ivory
House of Goíd
Ark of the Covenant
Gate of Heaven (suggested)
Morníng Star (suggested)
"Aíthough there were never any group mystícaí experíences, many peopíe found
ít ínspíratíonaí. As far as any dírect experíences of God, I certaíníy feít the Dívíne
Mother's presence and I know many others díd aíso. |ohn Beecher was goíng to
donate the ranch to the Church, and now Lou Gottííeb has deeded ít to God."
GWEN: "At níght, Bííí often haíf-awoke from hís síeep, stííí compíeteíy ímmersed ín
hís dreams. One eveníng he |umped out of bed, íooked out the wíndow and
shouted, 'My God, the studío's on fíre!' I puííed hím back, toíd hím he was
dreamíng and he settíed back to síeep.

"Less than a week íater, we were awakened by shouts of 'Fíre ín the studío! Fíre ín
the studío!' Bííí íooked out the wíndow and saw the vísíon he had seen ín hís
dream. The back of the studío was aíready beíng íícked by angry, crackííng
fíames. By the tíme Bííí had run naked to the scene, the rest of the studío had
been enveíoped. The fíre shot hígh ínto the sky, sendíng sparks fíyíng the íength
of the ranch. Luckííy the ground was stííí weíí soaked by the wínter raíns and
nothíng eíse caught fíre. I put my arms around Bííí, and waíked hím home feeííng
as íf I was hoídíng hím from fíyíng away wíth the sparks.
GWEN: "The bíossomíng of Easter was a cuímínatíng poínt ín the ííves of many
Rídgefoík. Some feít ít as a tíme to move on ín search of new dírectíons, whííe
those who stayed feít that they shouíd fínd theír new dírectíons wíthín the aíready
exístíng open íand structure.
"Aíthough Bííí was never abíe to free hímseíf totaííy from the roíe of authoríty
whích had begun on the fírst day the ranch opened íts gate, the maturíng of the
ranch brought many who ííghtened hís íoad of conscíous responsíbíííty. Rod took
over the water system and the mechanícaí maíntenance of the vehícíes, Garbage
Míke the trash probíem and functíoned as the ecoíogícaí conscíence of the íand,
Mary Garvín díd the Ahímsa Church secretary work, Taíí Tom offered hís heíp on
any pro|ect wíth whích Bííí became ínvoíved. Such an endíess number of confíícts
and confrontatíons! 'Somebody rípped off my campsíte! 'My oíd íady has a terríbíe
earache and must get to the hospítaí!' 'Some crazy guy ís foííowíng me around
tryíng to rape me!' 'The horses are up on O'Bríen's agaín!' 'There's another hoíe ín
the water ííne!' 'Somebody's stuck ín Gruesome Guích and no cars can get by!'
'Can I borrow you saw/wrench/broom/etc/.' But graduaííy peopíe were begínníng
to go to other peopíe for resoíutíon of theír probíems.
"Indívíduaí famíííes íívíng ín theír own homes had been the basíc pattern adopted
by Openíanders. Smaíí famíííes sometímes íncíuded bíood reíatíons or reíatíons of
íove or conveníence. Duríng that fourth summer, a group of twenty of us came
together as one famííy. Each had come to a poínt ín theír síngíe or nucíear famííy
íífe where they feít a need to expand and to change. Those wíth chíídren wanted
to share the parentíng and theír íove, whííe those who were síngíe wanted to be
members of a famííy. Craftshop Bob donated hís fífteen-foot, círcuíar, waíí-íess
structure as a famííy center, and we began by hoídíng famííy dínners every níght.
A íarge círcuíar tabíe was set ín the center, and the fíoor spread wíth sawdust and
compost. When the sun stood two físts above the horízon, the famííy wouíd gather
wíth the díshes they had cooked for supper. Everyone heíd hands and 'om'd'
together before síttíng down to share the meaí. Aíthough the famííy was
consídered open to aíí comers, ít remaíned surprísíngíy stabíe at about twenty
partícípants. Because meaís were never píanned ín advance, at tímes they
consísted of fíve dífferent díshes of spaghettí or, even worse, ríce. But the famííy
supper was a source of warmth and fríendshíp, and for most of us our fírst
experíence wíth cíose communaí íívíng. We had at the same tíme the advantages
of a bíg famííy and the prívacy of our own sheíters when needed.
"That same summer, Bííí compíeted our new house, an octagon underneath the
wídespread oak at the edge of the garden. It was a 'reaí' house wíth doors that
shut and doubíe waíís to ínsuíate the ínteríor. He had buíít ít mostíy from beautífuí
secondhand redwood from an oíd chícken coop he had torn down. Aíthough I ííved
ín ít oníy one month, I íoved ít and feít I was íívíng ín the house of The Oíd Woman
Who Líved In A Shoe. But the path of separatíon from Bííí whích began the year
before fínaííy opened before me.
"On |uíy 1st, the day dawned warm and I decíded to vísít Star Mountaín. Bííí
dropped Raspberry and me off on hís way to the cíty; I píanned to waík back home
through the canyon. The Star Mountaín 'maín house' was buíít ín 1950's suburban
styíe wíth a cíuster of boxííke rooms. A front porch ran the fuíí íength of the
southwest waíí, and the ínteríor had been decorated wíth Persían rugs, waíí
hangíngs, Indían bedspreads, eíectríc ínstruments and faces that had come out of
the hííís of Open Land.
"Later that day when I prepared to íeave, Taíí Tom offered to heíp me carry
Raspberry. We set off on our híke down one of the rídges, waíkíng under huge fír
trees and through waíst-hígh goíden grasses to the canyon bottom where Fíndíey
Creek ran sparkííng towards the coast. We spíashed ín the cooí water before
headíng up the steep, treeíess síde of the West Canyon of Wheeíer's Ranch.
Raspberry became heavíer and heavíer, and we stopped to rest severaí tímes,
pantíng heavííy and drenched wíth sweat. When we took the fínaí steps to the top,
we feíí to the ground exhausted and waíted for our breathíng to quíet.
"Wíthout speakíng a word, Tom and I decíded to spend the rest of the day
together. We took showers together, brushed each other's haír ín the sunííght,
rubbed our bodíes wíth oíí and made a dísh for the famííy supper. After dínner,
Tom carríed Raspberry home for me and I asked hím to spend the níght. He
acquíesced sííentíy, and we went upstaírs together.
"I had not made íove wíth anyone but Bííí for four years. The next morníng I
awoke feeííng recharged wíth vítaí energíes and spent the day en|oyíng Tom's
company. In the eveníng, he returned to Star Mountaín. I feít I had to change my
íívíng arrangements and moved outsíde once agaín. Once more a tarpauíín
protected me from the fog and I en|oyed the símpíícíty of outdoor íívíng.
"At summer's end, the famííy meaí was díscontínued when an írate díshwasher
buríed aíí the díshes and haíf the famííy suddeníy decíded to go to Hawaíí and
Mexíco ín theír contínuíng search for the perfect íífestyíe. On September 1st, Tom,
Raspberry and I hítchhíked to Kentucky and spent two weeks íívíng ín the íush
growth and humídíty of southern Kentucky before hítchíng back to Caíífornía. I
returned fírst to Star Mountaín and then to the Rídge. The day was foggy, the íand
quíet. Wíth coíder weather approachíng, the popuíatíon had dímíníshed
consíderabíy and many of my cíosest fríends had moved away. I sat aíone ín Lyn's
house reíívíng the prevíous years, I heard many voíces, saw many íovíng faces,
and feít ín the core of my beíng the meaníng of aíí those beautífuí days spent
íívíng wíthín the ongoíng creatíon of íand access to whích was deníed no one. But
as I waíked from spot to beíoved spot that afternoon, I no íonger feít the caíí to
return to ít. I knew then that ít was no íonger my home.
"Raspberry and I moved ínto the smaíí shed where Tom ííved at Star Mountaín.
Soon afterwards, my brother Peter and hís wífe moved ín wíth us. I weaned
Raspberry, and she began to spend níghts wíth Bííí on the Rídge. I stííí vísíted the
íand often, and aíthough mu íífe feít removed from ít, every tíme I opened the
garden gate tears sprang ínto my eyes. So the next crítícaí year and a haíf of the
Rídge's íífe í wítnessed at a sííght dístance, hearíng shouts and sounds dríft across
the canyon and, oníy íater, the storíes behínd them."
BART: "I had some acíd ín a ííttíe brass box wíth a red rose on top, and ít was reaí
níce acíd that Crítter Davíd had gíven me. I had some rock saít ín ít ín chunks, and
ít was the íeftovers of about two hundred híts we had had. Anyway, I went off the
íand wíth a fríend who had some hash and cocaíne, and we went down by the
Russían Ríver. We were kínda íate, and we saw thís cop car comíng and knew he
saw us because he started to speed up. So my fríends threw out hís cocaíne and
an ounce of hash. They puííed us over, three uníformed cops and a
píaíncíothesman, and saíd they had seen hím throw somethíng. So they went
crawííng around ín the bushes, but they couídn't fínd ít, and searched us agaínst
our permíssíon ínstead. We protested, but they found my acíd stash and a pípe on
my fríend, and one cop saíd, 'Now íook, we're |ust íookíng for some dope to
smoke. If you can ííke teíí us where to get some, or fínd us the stuff you threw
away, we'íí |ust íet you go. Aíí we need ís a ííd.' And we're goíng 'Whaaat?'
'So he íooked ín my brass box and saíd, 'Thís ís LSD -- I know ít ís.' And I saíd,
'Weíí, actuaííy, unh, ít's rock saít -- a specíaí formuía. I'm not sure what ít ís reaííy,
but ít gíves me píenty of energy and makes my vísíon reaí cíear. And I need a íot
of energy to híke ín and out of the canyons at Wheeíer's, and I sweat a íot and
don't want to drínk water aíí the tíme so I eat thís saít. And thís cop íooked at me
and saíd, 'Are you píayíng games wíth me?' And I saíd, 'No, I'm teíííng you the
truth.' And I was, 'cause I thought here I was handcuffed and weíí, somethíng's
got to come through for me, and maybe thís acíd wouíd puíí some magíc for me.
And he saíd, 'I want to test thís stuff out and see what ít reaííy ís.' So he íícked a
fínger and stuck ít ín the box and put ít ín hís mouth. And the other cops go 'Wow!
He tasted that! Let me taste ít too!' And they aíí tasted ít and saíd, 'Weíí, ít tastes
ííke rock saít.' But ín about ten mínutes they started smíííng and theír eyes started
to gíow a ííttíe more, you know, and we started teíííng |okes. And I saíd, 'Couíd you
píease íet us go?' And they saíd, 'Oh, okay,' and uníocked the handcuffs and íet us
go and they've never bothered me agaín! And I stííí bump ínto that cop who had
that grín on hís face. I toíd them they couíd keep the box, and I'm sure they ate
more of ít. We waíked back and found the ounce of hash and the cocaíne and
went and stayed wíth these three gírís at theír cabín."
Open Land seemed to exíst ín a poíítícaí vacuum. At tímes ít seemed a rudderíess
shíp dríftíng heípíessíy and aímíessíy ín a storm, but ín reaííty íts course was set
by subtíe and yet very reaí energíes stemmíng from the íand ítseíf and the tríbes
who settíed there. These energíes were seíf-correctíng and non-authorítarían,
extremeíy deíícate and easííy overrídden, but woe to the man who tríed. Yet
someone díd come aíong who saw the Open Land freedoms as an opportuníty to
usurp power and who tríed to become a seíf-appoínted kíng.
BILL: "Davíd of the Oak Grove had tremendous seíf-confídence, and beííeved hís
power to be equaí to any man's. He gathered a foííowíng of peopíe mesmerízed by
hís Rasputín-ííke manípuíatíve abííítíes, hís hypnotíc aura and hís endíess rap
about astroíogy, íove and God. Of medíum heíght, thín and bony, he was muscuíar
ín a suppíe way, a typícaí yogí buííd. He couíd faíí ínto a fuíí íotus posture as easííy
as most peopíe sat down. Shouíder-íength haír, fuíí beard, dark-compíexíoned,
deep-set eyes, sharp nose, thín ííps and promínent forehead, he was
unforgettabíe and fít Steve Gaskín's descríptíon of 'the scary beatník.'
"He came onto the Rídge ín the summer of 1971 and ímmedíateíy set to buíídíng
ín an open meadow besíde the Oak Grove. Thís upset many peopíe, sínce we tríed
to keep open spaces open and encouraged peopíe to buííd ín protected, secíuded
spots to preserve the ruraí quaííty of the íand. Davíd maíntaíned that sínce God
owned the íand, no one was goíng to teíí hím where to buííd. After some íntense
díscussíons, he fínaííy díd agree to move further ínto the Oak Grove, but thís
orígínaí dísagreement characterízed the stormy reíatíonshíp he had wíth the
communíty for the next year.
"A month íater, he came ínto my garden and toíd me that my dog wouíd have to
be taken off the íand or he wouíd kííí her wíth hís 'zen bow and arrow.' I expíaíned
that 'Laía' had been on the íand sínce before ít opened, and that when dogs were
banned from comíng on the Rídge, the dogs that were aíready there had been
aííowed to stay. Davíd díd not buy thís; he saíd ít was hypocrítícaí of me to have a
dog when no one eíse couíd have one. Because of thís confrontatíon, a meetíng
was heíd and ít was decíded that Laía couíd stay on as an exceptíon to the dog
ruíe. Duríng that meetíng, Davíd sat opposíte me, staríng needíes of hatred and
competítíveness. The argument had not been over the dog at aíí, but rather an
ego cíash between us.
"We fought over the water system that summer too. Davíd feít that by díggíng out
the spríng and encíosíng ít, he couíd ímprove the fíow and íower the bactería
count. Wíthout consuítíng those who had been maíntaíníng the water suppíy, he
went to work on ít. Hís theoríes were sound, but ín practíce he made a míghty
mess of thíngs, shuttíng off aíí the water for a week and makíng a íot of work for
others who had to repaír the damage.
"Davíd's foííowers or 'famííy,' who regarded hím as an avatar or guru, consísted of
three or four men and haíf a dozen women. Duríng hís tíme on the Rídge, the
number grew graduaííy because he was aíways íookíng for new recruíts. To |oín
hís famííy, one had to have the ríght 'víbratíons' and the ríght astroíogícaí sígn.
Hís pían was to have a woman from every sígn of the Zodíac ín hís group wíth a
correspondíng house ín the Oak Grove for her. He and hís foííowers eventuaííy
buíít fíve houses wíth thís ídea ín mínd. They were extremeíy energetíc, organízed
peopíe. For a newcomer to |oín, Davíd requíred a week's fast and a surrender to
hís wííí. Authoríty was admínístered by an ínterestíng peckíng order wíth Davíd,
naturaííy, at the head, foííowed by the rest of the men ín a descendíng order of
ímportance endíng ín a patsy. Even the patsy, however, was superíor to the
women who were compíeteíy domínated. They síept wíth the men on a rotatíng
basís, and were seen as the embodíment of compíete and uníversaí íove. As such,
they were expected to be sííent and to radíate these feeííngs. Waíkíng about the
íand ín theír handmade, íong, fíowíng paísíey prínts made from Madras
bedspreads, whísperíng and gíggííng to each other, they appeared as New Age
cíoístered nuns. Aíí hís foííowers were encouraged to sever tíes wíth oíd fríends
and reíatíves. Once ín the famííy, ít became díffícuít for outsíders to communícate
wíth the members. "Davíd beííeved that spírítuaí enííghtenment was to be found
through drugs, and he sued them to break down conscíous and unconscíous
cuíturaí and socíaí barríers wíthín the famííy. He often dosed vísítors wíth acíd to
gaín power over them, and rumor had ít that he deaít cdrugs on the síde to heíp
fínance hís pro|ects. In any case, he aíways seemed to have píenty of grass. Other
íncome came from new members turníng over theír savíngs to the famííy,. credít
card scams and shopííftíng whích he ratíonaíízed as reííevíng the store of íts bad
karma. He wanted aíí the Rídgefoík to become members of hís famííy and feít the
oníy obstacíe to that end was me. The hostíííty and unpíeasant encounters
between us íncreased ín both frequency and íntensíty untíí, ín the spríng of 1972,
for thís and other reasons, I íeft the Rídge wíth uncertaín píans. I had been íívíng
ín Aíternate Socíety for four years, and decíded that Davíd's tríp had to resoíve
ítseíf wíthín the communíty wíthout my beíng there.
"Upon my departure,he moved quíckíy. Attemptíng to gaín controí of the Ahímsa
Church by beíng eíected presídent, he caííed dawn meetíngs on top of Hoffíe's Hííí
to effect ít. They were tense affaírs, the Rídgefoík not approvíng of hís power-
tríppíng. Thís was the one tíme when accessíon to the presídency by seíf-
appoíntment was not agreed to. Becomíng aware of Davíd's píans, even the most
non-poíítícaí peopíe stíffened ín defense of cheríshed Open Land freedoms. Bad
feeííngs grew so íntense that an armed party gathered on Hoffíe's Hííí wíth the
íntentíon of marchíng on the Oak Grove famííy and teíííng them to íeave or eíse. It
must have become cíear to Davíd that he had to íeave once he saw hís ambítíons
crumpíed by the fíber, íntent and dírectíon of the communíty. The Rídgefoík were
so anxíous for Davíd to íeave that they traded the oíd schooí bus to the famííy for
theír Oak Grove structures. These were turned íater ínto a communíty center.
Davíd and hís famííy íeft the íand on the day before my return."
BART: "I díd acíd wíth Oak Grove Davíd after Bííí íeft, two híts of Orange Sunshíne.
He tríed to get me to eat fífteen. He'd aíways been tryíng to get me to |oín hís
famííy. So I ate the acíd, came on to ít, and toíd hím what I couíd see - that
everybody had íet hím cop theír head. He wanted to be my thoughts, but I had not
desíre for that. I toíd hím, 'What you're doíng ís fíne wíth me, but a íot of peopíe
are upset and ít's |ust too heavy. Eventuaííy you'íí have to íeave the íand.' But he
saíd, 'No, I got so much power. I couíd make you go fíyíng off the earth!' He
wanted to scare me, but he couídn't do anythíng. I was confídent of that."
RAMON: "Enííghtenment ís sort of ííke goíf. If you can get on the green and stay
out of those sand traps whích are aíí the power tríps around ít. I thínk Davíd was
caught ín a sand trap and |ust sunk deeper and deeper."
BART: "I couíd see the perfectíon of the uníverse on that acíd, and when I íooked
at Davíd, aíí I couíd thínk of was 'psychotíc.' A freeíy assembíed group that
íncíuded Young Chíef, Snakepít Eddíe, Maveríck, Crítter Dave, O.B. Ray, Dírty Dan
and Bear, went to Davíd and saíd, 'We'd ííke to see you gone!' O.B. took on the
karma of beíng the spokesman sos that there wouídn't be any víoíence, because
some of the guys were carryíng bíg stícks. O.B. saíd, 'You shouíd íeave or there'íí
be víoíence.'"
AMBRIELLE: "There was a íady who saíd, "í'm goíng to get ín wíth Davíd's famííy
and fínd out exactíy what they're doíng, and then I'm goíng to teíí everybody and
we can get ríd of them. She went wíth them for a íong tíme, and the text tíme I
saw her, she was totaííy braínwashed. Her eyes were gíazed over and she wasn't
the same person. Davíd was aíso ín íove wíth Meíaníe. She kept runníng ínto hím
ín the woods, and she wouíd say 'no,' but one day she was waíkíng and she saw
Míchaeí, her íover, ahead ahead of her. She went runníng up to hím, and when
she íooked at hím ít was Davíd. Isn't that heavy? He hypnotízed her ínto thínkíng
he was Míchaeí untíí she íooked at hís face!
"I wasn't there at that íast communíty meetíng, but the decísíon was that the
communíty wouíd gíve them the bus and then they wouíd have transportatíon and
couíd íeave. Davíd agreed to that. Aíí the peopíe stood ín a círcíe, 'omíng' and
chantíng, as they íeft the íand. The skíes were aíí cíouded over, but when Davíd's
famííy drove off, the cíouds parted and the sun shone through and there was a
raínbow.
"I thínk Davíd's tríp was thís one person takíng aíí thís energy from a whoíe group
of person and becomíng very powerfuí, ííke Charíes Manson, drawíng out these
peopíe's íífe forces. You couíd see ín the gíazed eyes that they had no wííí of theír
own."
Ramon, Gína and Soí Ray returned to the Rídge that September, fresh from a vísít
to Aían and Príscííía on Mauí. Símííar to Gwen, they feít the beauty and ídeaíísm of
the communíty but couíd not settíe ín agaín. One day whííe Gína and Soí Ray were
at the beach, Ramon moved them over to Star Mountaín, pítchíng theír tent on an
oíd fíre road facíng the Rídge.
In the spríng of 1972, the provísíons of O'Bríen's íawsuít went ínto effect, íímítíng
traffíc on the access road to the Rídge to Bííí and hís ímmedíate famííy, fíve socíaí
vísítors per month (províded they had wrítten ínvítatíons) and 'tradesmen.' Aíí foot
traffíc was forbídden.
BILL: "I cannot overemphasíze the effect of the access road's status on the
communíty. When ít was passabíe duríng the dry season, the íand was hot,
socíaííy and poíítícaííy. Despíte our remoteness, the woríd streamed to our gate
and ínto our ííves. It was a hard yoga, constantíy beíng torn apart by outsíde
forces, but somethíng ín my spírít íoved ít. The wet wínter season was a tíme for
recuperatíon. The communíty drew cíoser together, and the popuíatíon dwíndíed.
When the O'Bríen íawsuít restrícted road traffíc, the whoíe nature of the
communíty changed. We saw that the |udge had done us a favor, aííowíng us to
survíve and prosper. We míssed the fíow of peopíe, the |uíce from outsíde, but we
were abíe to generate more of our own. Truthfuííy, the traffíc on the road probabíy
shouíd have been restrícted at a much earííer date, but I |ust couíd not bríng
myseíf to do ít. I took príde ín our beíng open, ín our abíííty to handíe ít, even wíth
the íegaí hassíes ít brought. If the road was to be cíassed, íet them be the ones to
do ít. I couíd not turn away a síngíe brother or síster."
"COMMENT FROM AN ANONYMOUS SISTER: "Especíaííy íf she was reaííy cute."
In 1969, when O'Bríen began hís fírst attempts to íímít access road traffíc, Bííí
decíded he needed an ace up hís síeeve. Hís mother had íeft hím some money,
and so he used ít to buy the Star Mountaín ranch, But he put the deed under
Gwen's maíden name. When Rídge traffíc was reduced to a tríckíe, the ínhabítants
began waíkíng ín vía Star Mountaín, an arduous trek that ínvoíved cíímbíng a very
steep canyon waíí. Star Mountaín peopíe íaíd out a traíí that bypassed the Maín
House, and a constant fíow of backpack-íaden Rídgefoík couíd be seen trudgíng
aíong ít aímost daííy.
The Rídge popuíatíon graduaííy decreased duríng the wínter months. Caroíyn
came back ínto Bííí's íífe. She wouíd spend some weeks wíth hím and then
dísappear back to her natíve Míssourí. He then wouíd foííow her and bríng her
back. Ramon and Gína broke up that same spríng of 1972, Ramon |oíníng Aíícía ín
the Síerras where they began píanníng a book together. That summer they
traveííed to Centraí and South Ameríca ín the process of wrítíng ít. Gína stayed on
at Star Mountaín, feeííng cíose to the peopíe there.
RAMON: "Thís was a hard tíme for Gína and me, but we needed some space and
tíme apart to see each other better. Aíícía and I were away through the foííowíng
wínter. When we returned, we had compíeted Beíng Of The Sun, the book we had
dreamed of doíng for so íong. Lou, Near and Víshnu were íívíng outsíde Los
Angeíes, Lou havíng returned to the Límeííters to earn some money. The Morníng
Star íegaí expenses and Contempt of Court fínes had cíeaned hím out. Frankíy, I
was reííeved when he fínaííy íeft Morníng Star. Many peopíe had advísed hím to do
so, íncíudíng myseíf. He had done as much as he couíd do there, and the íast few
tímes I vísíted hím at the ranch ít seemed as íf he had reached a dead end, a
staíemate wíthout a soíutíon.
"Whííe Aíícía and I were away, Bííí and Patrícía had marríed ín a church weddíng,
beííeve ít or not! We returned to fínd most of my oíd neíghbors and fríends from
the Rídge íívíng at Star Mountaín. They had formed a cíose-knít famííy, wíth the
band at the center. Aían had faííen ín íove wíth Deíía from the Pastures, and she
moved ín wíth hím. They formed a strong, víbrant dyad, two Písces físh swímmíng
wíthín the same stream of conscíousness, and we aíí re|oíced ín theír happíness.
Gína had found a Híndu guru whom she was ardentíy foííowíng around the
country, síngíng sacred songs and dressíng ín cotton sarís, but stííí basíng herseíf
at the ranch."
#
Chapter 24
Troubíe Ahead, Troubíe Behínd
Excerpts From Bííí Wheeíer's |ournaí
December 27, 1972
San Francísco: drínkíng coffee ín the Cafe Tríeste wíth aíí the cíty crazíes. I |ust
caííed my íawyer Aí Cobb, who toíd me to expect the worst ín February or March.
It doesn't íook ííke the Supreme Court wííí hear our appeaí. I phoned Gína, and she
suggested we go to Oakíand to hear her guru who's hoídíng forth there. At thís
poínt I'm ready for anythíng.
December 20, 1972
Sheep Rídge, 8 a.m.: water frozen ín the pípes, oníy comes ín spurts from the
faucets. A cíear, frosty morníng, wíth more thoughts about our home and how ít's
threatened. It's aíí so cíear to me. I dared to chaííenge the system and now must
pay the príce. I -- we -- aíí the same. The píay ínexorabíy grínds to íts cíímax. What
wííí be our death song? Actors ín search of a píaywríte and stage found ít here --
God and the íand. No one ííkes to know the end of the drama before ít happens, a
deep, terrífyíng abyss of suspense tíngííng the mínd towards the predíctabíe yet
unconscíonabíe end. Of course ít ís happeníng every day ín Víetnam, homes
abandoned and destroyed. What must the |ews have feít ín Germany? The Indíans
ín Ameríca? And of course, Morníng Star, buíídozed four tímes up to now.
|anuary 11, 1973
Sheep Rídge:
Canyon Waters
We hear the roar beíow us
the fíow, the torrent,
a tríckíe -- a stream -- a ríver
over íts banks,
brown rushíng waters
that say you are a part of me.
We píunge across -- the
force near my center,
yearníng me to the ocean.
A twíg gíves me baíance,
then a íímb to the other síde.
You say, "I can't make ít!"
"Hoíd on to me," I say,
and onto the far bank we faíí
íaughíng |oyousíy
ín each other's arms.
Canyon waters, take me wíth you.
|anuary 12, 1973
A steady raín aíí níght. The Russían Ríver must be fíoodíng. Matches are gettíng
hard to ííght, a measure of how wet ít ís outsíde. But I've put away a good stash of
wood, the roof doesn't íeak, so íet ít pour!
Very much aíone, crawííng ínto myseíf, gatheríng my energíes. The abyss of
íoneííness yíeíds to the exaítatíon of seíf -- the |oys of spírítuaí as weíí as physícaí
masturbatíon exceed those of any other kínd of íove these days. The desperatíon
of íoneííness agaínst the even greater despaír of attached companíonshíp. And
what about íove? Where does that fít ín?
|anuary 20, 1973
Sheep Rídge, 11 p.m.: Last níght at mííkíng, Cíaudía |ust wouíd not get up.
Screamíng, yeíííng, kíckíng, pushíng and puíííng, I couíd not get her to move. I
returned home and asked |aníce and Meíody to gíve her some comfort. The
massaged her teats for haíf an hour, and saíd she stopped moaníng and even
stood up a bít. But thís morníng she was down agaín, unabíe to get up. I knew the
end was near. When |aníce saw her, she ínsísted we try to get a vet. That morníng
she phoned an easy dozen, ímpíoríng them to come out, cryíng over the phone.
But we were too far away. Fínaííy one agreed. We met hím up at O'Bríen's gate
and rode hím down ín the red truck. Taíí, anguíar, thírty-one years oíd, obvíousíy
kínd and open-mínded, not too put off by us. He was fíne. We taíked of cows and
íove of cows on the dríve down.
On fírst síght he couíd teíí there was no hope. Deep sunken eyes wíth tears
pouríng out of them, íong pítífuí moans and shaííow, rapíd breathíng píus a beíow-
normaí temperature. She was no íonger fíghtíng the ínfectíon, and any drugs he
gave her wouíd be a waste. I asked íf she shouíd be put out of her mísery and he
agreed.
Sadíy we rode hím back up the hííí. After payíng hím $42 (he apoíogízed for
chargíng so much for a termínaí case), he íeft and I went to O'Bríen's híred man to
borrow a gun. The prospect of bíastíng Cíaudía's braíns out was paínfuí, but her
sufferíng more so. Nobody home at O'Bríen's. Then the vet came back. I'd
forgotten to uníock the gate for hím. He agreed to come down and gíve her a
sedatíve shot to kííí her. So back down we go on our errand of mercy.
When we arríved, our dear cow was surrounded by the íovíng peopíe who had
mííked her so many tímes. I toíd them we were goíng to put her away. No one
ob|ected. Straddííng her neck, the vet skííífuííy ín|ected the drug. Wíthín second
she cíosed her eyes as we 'om'd' to the settíng sun. Goodbye, Cíaudía.
Apríí 10, 1973
The peopíe on the íand have been gíven 24 hours' notíce. The ín|unctíon was
posted yesterday, and |ack O'Bríen has gracíousíy opened hís road from ten to
two so that they can íeave. Everyone ís supposed to pack and get out. A meetíng
was heíd on Hoffíe's Hííí íast níght. The I Chíng saíd to stíck together, but the
forces agaínst us are too great -- díspersaí of seed. What to do? What to do? Cívíí
dísobedíence, beíng |oííy whííe beíng busted. The híppíes are the |oke of the
Revoíutíon. They don't want to kííí, therefore are hated.
Apríí 11, 1973
It's aíí been a bíur, runníng back and forth, drívíng, teíephoníng, tryíng to puíí
somethíng out of the dísaster confrontíng us. Everyone has known for years ít was
comíng, and yet íts arrívaí has been a shock. Yes, ít reaííy ís goíng to happen thís
tíme. We're |oíníng the mííííons of homeíess refugees down through hístory. That's
probabíy not much of a change for many of the Rídgefoík, as they were refugees
when they arríved. Now they're on the road agaín, thrown back ínto socíety. The
twenty-four-hour notíce has got to be one of the more ínhumane offícíaí acts of
Sonoma County. The changes peopíe are goíng through because of thís are
ríppíng them apart. Why a twenty-four-hour notíce when we've been here for over
four years? Are they afraíd of us? As we íose our homes, do they fear ín secret
that someday they'íí íose theírs aíso?
Thus far, the cops have been an odd míxture of tough fronts but compassíonate
acts. The were the ones to persuade O'Bríen's híred man to íet the truck through
the gate on the return from a communíty run. A cop saw the mothers and kíds
("Gee whíz, I've got a wífe and kíds at home!"), and toíd hím to íet them through. I
can't beííeve that any of them reíísh the |ob of cíeaníng us out of here. Duríng
these hard tímes, the communíty has puííed together as never before, peopíe
open and generous wíth everythíng they have, food possessíons. No one reaííy
understands what's happeníng, except that ít's a mythíc moment fuíí of the
deepest feeííngs.
Apríí 13, 1973
At the courthouse today Hayes, the undersheríff, toíd me that |udge Mahan íssued
a restraíníng order agaínst hís own ín|unctíon. Amazíng! Aí Cobb succeeded ín
gettíng us some tíme so that our appíícatíon for a campground permít can be
heard wíthout aíí the peopíe íeavíng the íand fírst. Thís permít wouíd aííow non-
code structures to stand. Aíí that needs to be done ís the constructíon of a code
bath house and kítchen whích wouíd satísfy the Heaíth Department. We tríed for
the same permít ín 1971, but got shot down by the poíítícíans. I don't thínk we
have a much better chance now, but ít's our oníy hope for survívaí as a
communíty. The restraíníng order runs for ten days, at whích tíme the |udge wííí
determíne whether there's any further reason to restraín the buíídozers.
I mentíoned to Hayes the outrageousness of the twenty-four-hour evíctíon notíce,
and that even the poorest of the poor are gíven thírty days' notíce. He saíd that
we had had two years to thínk about ít whííe our appeaí was pendíng, and that
anyway, they had backed down from that twenty-four-hour busíness. Oníy after
pressure from our attorney, I remínded hím. I saíd ít was cíear that the county
regarded us as níggers, and wouíd ííke to sweep us away. Startíed by my words,
he toíd me not to say that. "You have never toíd me the truth," I repííed.
Outsíde the courtroom, |udge Mahan emerged red-faced, overweíght, a snarí on
hís ííps -- pure Genet. "Thank you, Your Honor, for what you díd," I saíd. "It was
ríght."
"Oníy temporary," he repííed, and then, as an afterthought, "But then, aíí of íífe ís
oníy temporary."
Apríí 25, 1973
The |udge ruíed agaínst us, and the íand ís now offícíaííy cíosed. The Sheríff's
Department came out yesterday for a meetíng wíth me. Theír attítude thís tíme
was much dífferent than before the ten-day restraíníng order. Now they were fuííy
conscíous of what they ere doíng, that peopíe's homes and íand were beíng taken.
Uníess they wanted troubíe, and I beííeve they díd not, they wouíd have to move
wíth care and tact. The receíved a íot of bad pubíícíty over the twenty-four-hour
evíctíon attempt. The poíítícaííy created refugee sítuatíon whích ígnores any
resettíement of famíííes has nasty ímpíícatíons and couíd íínger over them for
years. They are fuííy aware that by cíosíng us down they are not soívíng anythíng.
Instead they are creatíng more probíems by díspíacíng peopíe, addíng to the
burgeoníng popuíatíon of street peopíe and freaks ín other parts of the county.
They are mereíy burstíng the pod and spreadíng the seed. The oníy aíternatíve
open to us ís to waít for the poíítícs of Sonoma County and the country at íarge to
change. It may be cíoser than we thínk. Watergate. Now ít's become cíear to most
Amerícans that Níxon's Law'n Order smokescreen mereíy híd hís own crímínaí
behavíor. Peopíe wííí be íookíng for more posítíve aíternatíves to socíaí probíems,
and the most obvíous of these ís -- Open Land.
What's happeníng on the íand ríght now? Around fífty to seventy-fíve hard core
Openíanders remaín. These are hígh tímes for us, much sharíng and good
feeííngs. As for myseíf, I'm very much ínto the garden thís year, and want to
remaín to work on ít. Somethíng ís teíííng me to stay on and watch the píants
grow. It's aíí ríght for peopíe to ííve ín my resídence, accordíng to the sheríff
yesterday, so I'íí try to keep a few cíose fríends here heípíng out. The growíng
vítaííty of the garden somehow transcends the destructíon raíníng down upon us.
May 6, 1973
Houses are goíng down at the rate of about one a day. We are tryíng to dísmantíe
them before the county sends ín the buíídozers, both to save theír bííííng me for
them and save some of the íumber as weíí. Snakepít Eddíe's went yesterday,
Davíd and Meíody tore theír own down, the íumber neatíy stacked. |aníce's house
and Verne's wííí go next. Lots of íumber to buííd new nests. The tearíng down
doesn't seem an aítogether bad thíng, returníng the íand to her former state,
reííevíng her of the burden of man's structures, no matter how ííghtíy they rode
upon her breast. They were the personaí expressíon of those who buíít and ííved
ín them, fuíí of the |oys, sufferíngs, ínspíratíons and díffícuítíes of the souís who
passed through them. As we take them down, we feeí aíí the years of cumuíatíve
efforts of the househoíders. The board so íovíngíy fítted, so carefuííy |oíned, now ís
rípped out ííke a tooth from a |aw and thrown ín a pííe, aíí the magíc díssípated. As
I wríte thís ín the earíy dawn, I píace ín the stove a board from a recentíy torn-
down house. It seems to gíve off a specíaí warmth, poppíng and híssíng a taíe of
the days and níghts ít has seen, of oíd fríends and magíc moments.
May 12, 1973
Today I asked Raíph Amaroíí, the chíef buíídíng ínspector, and toíd hím we were
tearíng down the houses at a steady rate whích wouíd aííow us to cíear the íand ín
about a month. I begged hím to hoíd off the buíídozers for that amount of tíme. He
refused to gíve me a straíght answer, sayíng oníy that demoíítíon fírms had been
contacted but that the fínaí arrangements had not been made.
May 15, 1973
I met George, the cop assígned to the íand, ín Occídentaí yesterday. It was a
much more reíaxed meetíng that our prevíous one. I gave hím a ííst of the peopíe
who wouíd be íívíng ín my house, and aíso toíd hím that peopíe wouíd be comíng
duríng the day to tear down houses. I asked hím not to bust them. He repííed
there wouíd be no exceptíons to the ín|unctíon except for those peopíe íívíng ín
my house. He went on about the weírdness between the D.A.'s offíce and the
Sheríff's Department. Evídentíy the Sheríff's not ínterested ín beíng stríct about
the ín|unctíon, but when neíghbors compíaín that peopíe are stííí íívíng on the
Rídge, the D.A. bíames the Sheríff and více versa. Naturaííy we remaín ín the
míddíe, gettíng the worst of ít. Oníy ín Ameríca! But what happens when she runs
out of gas? The wrítíng ís on the waíí, but Ameríca's so crazy! And meanwhííe,
they won't íet us be Indíans agaín. Thank God for the green, growíng thíngs ín the
garden.
May 20, 1973; 12:45 a.m. Sunday
Patrícía and I are at Cííff's house at Star Mountaín because we're homeíess. Last
Wednesday we went to San Francísco for the day. Before we íeft that morníng, we
heard buíídozers at work up on O'Bríen's cuttíng a new road on the east síde of
Sugaríoaf Mountaín. We dídn't thínk much of ít, sínce ít was the begínníng of the
fíre season and O'Bríen was probabíy makíng a fíre access road. We dídn't want to
beííeve O'Bríen was havíng a whoíe new road buíít so that the machínes wouíd
have an easy access to destroy our communíty. After spendíng the níght ín the
cíty, we started north. In Cotatí, about thírty mííes from home, we stopped for
groceríes and I bought a Press Democrat. There on the front page -- "Wheeíer
Ranch Is Razed." The short artícíe descríbed buíídozers arrívíng on the íand,
demoíítíon of homes and reported no arrests. It caííed ís "a modeí commune." I
was readíng our obítuary.
Anger, despaír and hatred fíashed through me as we raced home -- goíng home
when there was no home to go to. It was reaííy true. From the hííí on O'Bríen's we
íooked down and saw an area of scraped earth where my studío had once stood.
At the front gate we met a group of peopíe gettíng ready to íeave ín a píck-up
truck. They íooked ííke a Kathe Koííwítz ííthograph, an Eduard Munch woodcut,
theír faces ííned wíth shock and mísery. "We'íí be back together," I toíd them. "I
íove you aíí." "We wííí aíways be together," was theír repíy.
Down the road we went, raísíng a huge cíoud of dust behínd us, dust kícked up by
the heavy machínery. Buíídozer tracks scar the ground for years. Out garden was
stííí there, but our house was not. A pííe of broken stícks and rubbíe was aíí that
remaíned. I spotted the roof beam ín the wreckage. How I remembered every
tíníest detaíí! Our beíongíngs had been píaced under the oak that had sheítered
my house -- a sturdy tree, sturdíer than my creatíons. The píano and príntíng
press they had put besíde the garden. Aíí so strange! Aíí my thíngs and no house
to put them ín! But I was gratefuí for smaíí favors. After aíí, they couíd have
buíídozed aíí my possessíons aíong wíth the structures. It was obvíous that ín the
process of cíeaníng out the house they had gone through everythíng íookíng for
dope, my desk, Patrícía's trunk, boxes. But they had been dísappoínted.
The buíídozers had appeared as íf by magíc at the front gate at síx-thírty ín the
morníng, havíng dríven up O'Bríen's new road whích they had made the day
before. For the Rídgefoík, ít must have been a horrífyíng síght to see those huge
monsters íumberíng onto the íand. They started at the far end of the ranch wíth
|ím's house, then to Evergreen's, then Tony's whích we had aíready torn down.
But they íoaded up the good materíaís, and the baíance of the íumber they
pushed around a bít to break ít up so ít couíd never be used agaín. Scorched earth
poíícy.
We íearned íater that some of the buíídozíng crew were prísoners who refused to
partícípate ín the carnage. Later they were díscípííned and gíven extra tíme. One
of the buíídozer operators was a young man from Marín County. When he reaíízed
what he was beíng paíd to do, he baíked.
"Hey, these are peopíes' homes, man!" he shouted. "We can't do thís! What the
fuck's happeníng, anyway?" He waíked away from hís machíne shakíng hís head
ín amazement.
The rest of team moved ín on the treehouse, a beatífícaííy organíc structure buíít
around a bíg oíd oak. Unfortunateíy they couídn't dífferentíate the house from the
tree and knocked both of them down. Sorry 'bout that, buddy. And they íeft the
barn. That wouíd have been even too much for those híred kíííers. My house and
studío got ít next. Davíd and Meíody begged them to waít a day untíí I got back,
so we couíd move our thíngs ourseíves. They were fínaííy toíd to íeave or eíse
they wouíd be arrested. A buíídozer operator toíd me íater that the buíídíng
ínspector dídn't want to bother cíearíng out our thíngs, but |ust wanted to push
the house over as ít stood.
I was terríbíy depressed, but aíso reaíízed that the buíídozers wouíd be back
tomorrow to fínísh the níghtmare uníess we díd somethíng. There were fífty
houses to go, and we fígured ít míght take them a week to compíete the |ob.
Besídes beíng terríbíy expensíve, ít was very hard on the íand. Such destructíon!
We had been fíung ínto a war zone, but ít was Fear versus Love. Burn, baby, burn!
Whích ís |ust what we díd. I went to Rod and saíd, "Let's get to ít!"
At the Tríangíe house, we took out the woodstove and anythíng eíse of vaíue. Rod
poured some gas ín a corner, threw a match, and the house was a roaríng ínferno.
Fíames íícked up through the fog, burníng a hoíe through to the cíear, níght sky.
Hypnotízed, we watched wíth a strange píeasure, a morbíd fascínatíon. In a fíash
of nature's energíes, a house dísappeared ín |ust fíve mínutes.
Aíí that níght we went from house to house reenactíng the same rítuaí. We began
competíng for the ríght to ííght the match, turníng ínto ínsane pyromaníacs.
Purífícatíon. God power. He dídn't want to see any more of hís íand sííced up by
those machínes. At dawn we torched the íast house on the Knoíí. We had burned
aíí fífty. Stumbííng home, I met Rod who was standíng by hís burníng cabín. "Let ít
aíí go,"he saíd. "Wanna roast some marshmaííows?"
About eíght that morníng the machínes returned, aíong wíth ten squad cars fuíí of
the Sheríff's Department's tactícaí and goon squad. George gazed at me wíth an 'I
toíd you so' expressíon on hís happy, smíííng face. I went up to the íead car.
"Sorry to dísappoínt you, but aíí the houses are gone," I saíd.
"Whaddíya mean?"
"We burned them down íast níght," I repííed, waíkíng away feeííng defeatedíy
víctoríous.
But the buíídozers came anyway. cíankíng down the road ííke prímevaí monsters. I
ran up to the operator and asked hím to go away, that there was nothíng íeft. He
saíd he had a few píeces íeft to píck up. I ran down to set aííght the pííe of rubbíe
that had been my home but the cops surrounded me.
"No more burníng," they warned me.
So the monsters came, foííowed by debrís trucks ínto whích they íoaded the
kíndííng they had made. Such íncredíbíe ínsaníty! Pure Kafka. Carefuííy, the dríver
scraped aíí the stícks off the ground as íf he was a housewífe sweepíng her íívíng
room, runníng back and forth to get every íast shred. The debrís trucks headed for
the dump. Unabíe to wíthstand the futíííty of ít aíí, I went to the dríver and toíd
hím he was tearíng down my garden fence. The few remaíníng stícks made no
dífference.
He íooked at me wíth íncredíbíe compassíon and heípíessness. "I don't ííke thís
any more than you do," he saíd, and went on wíth hís |ob.
May 23, 1973
We are stííí recoveríng from the shock of ít aíí, píckíng up the píeces and tryíng to
put them back together -- fíndíng a home, settííng down. Defíníteíy a íow poínt,
díscouraged and determíned to make a stand. They won't run us out. Hopefuííy,
wíthín the not too dístant future, we'íí be abíe to get back to the íand we íove so
much. Lívíng wíth eíectrícíty and gas stoves, coffee ín seconds ín thís kítchen
where I'm síttíng -- ít's |ust not for me. Gímme that oíd síow woodstove, so that ít
takes a haíf hour to make coffee. We've got píenty of tíme.
|uíy 6, 1973
It was wíndy íast níght after we returned from the Rídge, but today's cíear and
fíne. The hoíes for the septíc tank and íeach ííne are |ust about fíníshed. Rod and I
went off for graveí to use ín the íeach fíeíd. We had to use a |ackhammer to get
through the hard rock. I hated to use ít, but I feít ííke the noíse put the neíghbors
on notíce not to fuck wíth us. Machíne gun fantasy. The ínspectors are comíng
Monday, and I'm confídent there'íí be no troubíe. Hopefuííy the work wííí be
approved and we'íí be baíe to get a traííer permít. At íeast we'íí have a home
agaín.
On Monday, Don Smíth from the Heaíth Department gave the septíc system hís
okay.
"Far out," he saíd. "Bííí Wheeíer has a septíc system. I thought I'd never see ít
happen."
On Tuesday, I went to the Buíídíng Inspectíon Department for a síx-month
temporary traííer permít whííe we buíít the new house. They dídn't want to gíve
me one, but they had no choíce sínce aíí my papers were 'ín order.'
The baíance of the week I spent runníng around íookíng for a traííer. We found
one ín Santa Rosa, battered but servíceabíe. Now |ust a matter of gettíng ít down
the access road to the íand. Buck, my neíghbor to the south, deníed permíssíon,
sayíng he dídn't want to set a precedent for my use of hís road. He was faíííng ín
ííne wíth the rest of the neíghbors who dídn't want to see us back on the íand. So
that íeft me no other choíce. I had to take the O'Bríen road íf the traííer was to
come ín.
Fríday the thírteenth! If I had known what was goíng to happen, I wouíd have
stayed ín bed. Late that afternoon we hooked up the traííer to the bíg green truck,
foííowíng ít wíth the red truck carryíng tímbers to heíp ít over the rougher parts of
the road. I knew that takíng the traííer ín wouíd tear ít up, but I was desperate. I
fígured that somehow we wouíd fínesse ít onto the íand. On Coíeman Vaííey Road
we met a sheríff's deputy who warned us that O'Bríen's híred man was waítíng for
us and wouíd not aííow us to bríng the traííer down to the íand. I went back to a
pay phone to caíí the Sheríff's department. I toíd them I was fuííy wíthín my ríghts
to take a traííer ín. They saíd they'd check ít out and caíí me back. I waíted for
fífteen mínutes but the caíí was not returned. It was gettíng to be íate ín the
afternoon. I was due to fíy to the East Coast the foííowíng day. It was now or
never.
I found quíte a receptíon waítíng at O'Bríen's front gate: the híred man, síx-gun
strapped to hís híp, an overgrown kíd workíng out hís cowboy fantasy, and Cíara
O'Bríen wíth her Líncoín Contínentaí. She stood defíantíy behínd the gate. I toíd
her I dídn't want to hurt her, and that she was breakíng the íaw by not aííowíng
me to come through. Two cop cars had arríved by thís tíme, and I asked the
deputíes to arrest her. They refused. Theír ínstructíons were to stay out of ít, but
not aííow anyone to get hurt. I showed Cíara the traííer permíts and that ít was aíí
perfectíy íegaí. She saíd, "I don't care! You're not goíng to use the road." The
basís for her refusaí was that the traííer was not ordínary traffíc and therefore, by
her defínítíon of the court order, not aííowed on the road.
I took the íock off the gate and puííed the truck up to ít. The gate swung open and
she feíí. The híred man |umped out of hís píck-up and toíd her to ííe stííí. He
wanted to take a photograph. The deputy came over to me and arrested me for
assauít wíth a deadíy weapon.
"You've bíown ít," he toíd me as I síumped ín the back of the patroí car. "You've
reaííy done ít thís tíme."
I was ín a state of totaí shock. Those same words had been spoken to me four
years before on Bíack Sunday by a bystander whííe peopíe reeíed around out of
theír mínds on acíd, as íf I was responsíbíe for what happened. Was I responsíbíe
thís tíme or was ít another hard God- |oke?
Weíí, I was ínnocent untíí proven guííty, but an arrest on a Fríday níght means |aíí
untíí Monday. |udges don't work weekends. Wíth my baíí set at thírty thousand
doííars, my oníy hope was to waít untíí Monday when the |udge míght íower the
baíí. The steeí door cíosed wíth a síckeníng metaíííc cíank, and the reaííty of my
arrest and ímprísonment dawned on me. A free man one moment, a síave the
next, no fear but a deep depressíon because of my heípíessness. No way out of
that smaíí green room where waves of cíaustrophobía swamped me. I wanted to
scream and beat agaínst the waíís ín paníc. Then I remembered how Lou had saíd
to me, "|aíí ís nothíng." I began pacíng back and forth, as íf that smaíí freedom of
movement wouíd break the boundaríes of those pressíng waíís. After a few
mínutes I caímed down. After aíí, ít was aíí ín my head.
The temporary hoídíng ceíí measured no more than ten feet square, wíth nothíng
to sít on except the concrete fíoor. A washbasín covered wíth what íooked ííke
bíood stood ín one corner, a shítter next to ít. The bíue-green waíís heíd some
graffítí: "|ustíce -- the deaí the D.A. makes wíth your íawyer." Sharíng the ceíí wíth
me were three other new arrívaís, two Phíííípínos doíng weekends, and a drunk
síeepíng bííssfuííy ín the corner cíutchíng a bank deposít bag the same way a ííttíe
gírí wouíd hoíd a favoríte doíí. It turned out he was a bartender and had been
arrested drívíng home from work after havíng sampíed too many of hís own
wares. The bag contaíned the bar's receípts for the week.
After an hour or so, they got around to bookíng me: bírthdate, prevíous arrests,
address, empty the pockets, beít and shoeíaces off ín case I decíded to end ít aíí. I
íeaned agaínst a waíí, íegs spread, as the deputy feít my body through my
cíothes, then ínto another room to be photographed and fíngerprínted. Oh, those
mug shots! Míne turned me ínto a dope fíend mass murderer. Then I was íed to
another hoídíng ceíí, the drunk tank, íarger than the fírst, wíth the added íuxuríes
of concrete benches and príson tobacco. From there I went upstaírs. My cíothes
were exchanged for príson wear aíong wíth a toweí, a sheet and a thín foam
mattress. A sígn read: "Prísoners must pay for anythíng mutííated." A shower was
requíred, and then a medíc came ín and asked me to squeeze my cock to see íf
any pus came out. He wanted to squírt some Oueíí ínto my pubíc haírs and behínd
my head for ííce, but I toíd hím I'd take my chances. Beíng a kíndíy chap, he íet
me by wíthout the requísíte dose of poíson. At íast I was assígned a ceíí,number
eíght on B row. Arrested at four- thírty, I was bedded, fuííy processed, ín the
Sonoma County |aíí by ten.
It was a íong, íong níght. |aíí has a tímeíess quaííty about ít -- no watches to teíí
the tíme, no sun to see, |ust a dark box that seemed to go on forever. A heavy
feeííng of íoneííness came over me, waítíng for a morníng that never seemed to
come. I reííved the unreaí events of that day, goíng over the smaííest detaíí from
every angíe, backwards and forwards, my thought goíng round and round,
repeatíng questíons to whích there were no answers. At dawn I feíí ínto an
exhausted síeep oníy to be awakened what seemed ííke an hour íater by the ííghts
beíng turned on.
Was ít morníng? Haíf an hour íater, the ceíí door roííed open and chow tíme was
caííed. Some forty prísoners on my row fííed síeepííy to the day room where aíí
food was served through the bars. What shouíd I do about eatíng? |aíí cuísíne
wouíd not cater to vegetarían tastes. I consídered fastíng, but was afraíd of
spacíng out, that the added eíement of hunger wouíd be too much to handíe. I
resoíved to eat |ust enough to keep my stomach workíng so that I couíd
concentrate on keepíng my head together for three days. The smeííed
remíníscentíy of rancíd beef bouíííon soup, so I passed ít on. The míík ín the cereaí
I drank and the níce red appíe was apprecíated. But the pancakes found another
home. Actuaííy, the food was not aíí that dífferent from the Denny's across the
street. |aíí food ís |ust good oíd average Amerícan shít- píastíc food, refíned and
fucked wíth beyond recognítíon, deadíy poísonous but wíth enough nutrítíon íeft
to aííow the eater to survíve margínaííy.
Immedíateíy after breakfast, aímost everyone went back to bed, many síeepíng
untíí noon. Síeepíng ís a fíne art. "I dreamed I was out of here." My three
ceíímates were aíí champíon síeepers, wrappíng toweís around theír eyes to bíock
ouy the ceíí ííght. It amazed me how those guys couíd síeep! One was ín for oíd
traffíc tíckets, and was waítíng on a paycheck to arríve from Hawaíí where hís
carpenter's |ob paíd a hundred doííars a day. On Sunday he was reíeased and on
hís way back to the ísíands.
The second feííow was an accused murderer, heíd on seventy-fíve thousand
doííars baíí, even worse than míne. He had found a body and reported ít to the
poííce who turned around and arrested hím for the críme. They had píaced hím ín
Soíítary for a week as a dangerous man, but he seemed okay to me. We píayed
cards, and he was a shrewd píayer. I en|oyed hís company. Then there was
Merídeth, a graduate of síx years ín the penítentíary. He had tríed to escape from
a work camp but was caught ín a roadbíock on hís way to Canada after híkíng
fourteen mííes through the hííís to the híghway. The exhííaratíon of freedom
duríng that híke must have been íncredíbíe, but the príce for that feeííng was fíve
more years ín the pen.
As a síxteen-year-oíd, hís father had beaten hím and kícked hím out. Hís specíaíty
became hoídíng up check-cashíng estabííshments. The newspapers dubbed hím a
poííte thíef because he aíways saíd 'píease' and 'thank you' duríng the robbery.
After fíve years of hígh íívíng, he was fínaííy caught and convícted of numerous
armed robberíes, sentenced to fíve years to íífe, one of those índetermínate terms
whích aííows the príson authorítíes to set the íength. Thís was aíso the way they
kept George |ackson ín |aíí for so íong.
Merídeth was a super-rapper, a smooth- taíkíng con man, an entertaíníng and
cíever teacher for me that weekend. Accordíng to hím, homosexuaííty ín the pen
was not that wídespread, and those that practíced ít were mostíy gay before.
Admíttedíy the young, pretty guys wíth weak wííís ended up wíth stretched
asshoíes, but anyone who reaííy wanted to be íeft aíone was íeft aíone. He toíd me
that when a condemned man from Death Row was brought across the yard ín
chaíns to see hís íawyer or whatever, two guards waíked ín front and two behínd
hím whííe the front guards shouted, "Dead man! Dead man!" If the prísoners ín
the yard don't move out of the way, they are shot by the guards ín the tower.
Bíacks and Whítes stay apart ín príson, he saíd. He had some bíack fríends he
wouíd greet, but he wouíd never waík the yard wíth them. The Whítes were
organízed ínto the Nazís and the Whíte Aryan brotherhood, the Bíacks ínto the
Musííms and the Panthers, whííe the Mexícan-Amerícans had theír own
organízatíons.
Lunch was the most unpaíatabíe meaí of the day -- Kooí-Aíd and two sandwíches
of very whíte bread, íuncheon meat and cheese. Afterwards ít was íock-up tíme
agaín, the choíce beíng back ín the ceíí or remaíníng ín the day room whích was
fíne except for the TV. The íncessant noíse of that nerve-wrackíng and headache-
producíng machíne! Its íncredíbíe medíocríty and the subíímínaí Amerícan
housewífe dístractíon madness ít spouted made the room unbearabíe for me for
any íength of tíme. So most often I opted for the reíatíve quíet of my ceíí, doíng a
íot of thínkíng and readíng. I struck up a conversatíon wíth an ínmate who was ín
for shootíng a cop. I toíd hím I píanned on beíng out ín a few days. Couíd I do
anythíng for hím on the outsíde?
"Yes," he saíd. "You can teíí the peopíe that we're no íonger deaííng wíth human
beíngs but wíth a machíne, startíng wíth Ríchard Níxon and goíng aíí the way
down to the punk cop. Teíí the peopíe to wake up before ít's too íate and they íose
aíí theír freedom."
Sometíme ín the míd-afternoon, Yard Tíme was caííed. Thís was the exercíse
períod of one hour, a chance to stretch the muscíes and get theír daííy dose of
Vítamín D. It took píace ín the |aíí ínner courtyard, a dee| concrete cavern ínto
whích the sunííght seeped a few hours a day. Duríng thís períod I heard my name
caííed, and was taken back ínsíde where I was greeted by a íawyer. I feít ííke he
was Henry |ames vísítíng Thoreau.
"What are you doíng ín there?"
"What are you doíng out there?"
In a smaíí vísítíng room he asked me what had happened and I toíd hím the
detaíís. He was reassuríng, teíííng me that ít míght íook bad now,but that ít míght
be an entíreíy dífferent story íater. Hís presence was ííke food to a starvíng man.
As we taíked I became more and more emotíonaí untíí I burst ínto tears, cryíng
uncontroííabíy the same way as when my father díed. He toíd me to íet ít aíí out,
that ít was good for me. So the ííd bíew off, but then ít settíed back on even
tíghter than before. But I feít reííeved, and my bond of brotherhood wíth hím that
day went far beyond the usuaí íawyer-cííent reíatíonshíp. How I apprecíated hís
presence!
The next day I reacted wíth tears agaín when some fríends came to see me. It was
the reguíar vísítíng day, once a week on Saturday or Sunday dependíng where
your name occurred wíthín the aíphabet. The vísíts were íímíted to a haíf-hour on
two teíephones across a gíass partítíon, not exactíy íntímate but better than
nothíng. I tríed to keep ít together, but aíí those beautífuí faces and famíííar,
íovíng voíces! My tears rose agaín ííke fíood waters. I had taken so much for
granted untíí I had íost ít. That day I íearned how ímportant ít ís for peopíe to vísít
theír íoved ones behínd bars.
Cíearíy |aíí was puttíng me through changes. I was so emotíonaí, my nerves shot. I
experíenced despaír, anger, spííttíng headaches and constant worry. The prísoner
ín the next ceíí to míne had hís mattress taken away because he had threatened
to hang hímseíf wíth ít. Caught steaííng a woman's waííet, and possessíng a íong
record of convíctíons and tíme served, he faced many more years as a resuít of
that smaíí críme. What díd he have to ííve for? What díd I have to ííve for? Aíí the
thíngs for whích I had worked so hard over the past years were crumbííng around
me. I had píunged ínto the depths, and yet a survívaí ínstínct was growíng ín me,
teíííng me to et a hoíd on myseíf, that many other men had gone through the |aíí
experíence profítabíy and that I couíd aíso. Srí Aurobíndo, Thoreau, Gandhí, Tím
Leary, a host of contemporary Amerícan bíack warríors and young Amerícans who
had refused to fíght an un|ust war -- those were |ust a few who had done the
|aííhouse yoga. And ín my three short days, I was íearníng ít aíso.
Dínner was served at four, the most substantíaí meaí of the day. I ate |ust enough
to fííí my stomach and then went back to my ceíí. Líghts out at ten, and the
ííberatíon of síeep. The fírst day wore ínto the next, and I caícuíated the haífway
poínt ín my mínd., When I reached ít, I knew I wouíd have no probíem survívíng
the baíance.
RAMON: "On Monday, the |udge íowered Bííí's baíí to ten thousand, and Zen |ack
and I drove over to the bank to cash a check for hím. The cashíer began countíng
ít out ín hundreds and fíftíes. I suggested a cashíer's check, wíth |ack fantasízíng a
fast tríp across the Mexícan border besíde me. Laughíng, I shook my head. Poor
Bííí Wheeíer! We had to spríng hím. So back we drove, and Bííí was out."
BILL: "SO... as far as I'm concerned thís ís the end of thís act. I'm ready to begín
another, but ín a dífferent píace and dífferent tíme. Ramon teíís me that fíve years
ago we were twenty years ahead of our tíme. If true, that means that íf fífteen
years Open Land wííí be apprecíated as the íogícaí aíternatíve to |aíís and ínsane
asyíums. As for myseíf, I'm goíng to íet the Revoíutíon catch up wíth me thís tíme.
Nevertheíess, we of the Morníng Star faíth, those of us who have been dríven back
to the cítíes, soon wííí be back on the íand , happííy ín our gardens wíth our
famíííes and íoved ones agaín. We are íookíng for cooí, hassíe-free íand, not a
paradíse but free, open píaces founded on íove and not fear, compassíon and not
competítíon. We need space statíons, sanctuaríes, íast resorts, bíow-out centers,
go-toos, freedom exercíse camps, goof 'n baíí parks, tíme-out terrítoríes, home-
free homes. Whatever you want to caíí them, the sensatíon ís aíways recognízabíe
to everyone: 'Weícome home, brother and síster!' And even you, dear reader, are
one of us."
#
Chapter 25
Other Lands
Other ríghteous peopíe foííowed Lou's exampíe and dedícated theír property to
God. In |anuary, 1971, Gary Ward, a Morníng Star graduate, deeded an ínheríted
quarter-acre parceí to God ín Lake County. The duíy recorded deed states that,
asíde from ownershíp of the property, God aíso has bathíng ríghts ín Cíear Lake.
In Apríí of that same year, Near receíved a íetter from her chíídhood fríend Ann
sayíng she was comíng to vísít Morníng Star wíth her husband Noeí and theír ííttíe
gírí Píng. They arríved shortíy thereafter, havíng dríven across the country ín theír
oíd statíon wagon. Near and Ann spent hours taíkíng about oíd tímes together,
and then Near gave them the fuíí tour before they moved ínto an abandoned
house ín the barnyard.
About a week íater, Noeí and Ann returned to Connectícut where they soíd theír
house and went on the road searchíng for íand to buy. In |une, they wrote to
announce they had purchased a one-thousand-acre píace ín Kentucky and deed ít
dírectíy to God. Don and Sandy Kíng íeft to beíng íívíng there, foííowed shortíy by
other foíks. From aíí reports, ít ís the most beautífuí píece of Open Land so far.
Subsequentíy ít aíso receíved a name from the Lítany to the Bíessed Vírgín -- Gate
Of Heaven.
In 1968, a doctor from Brookíyn named Emmanueí Bomse showed up at Morníng
Star. He was searchíng for hís son Bob who had dropped out and changed hís
name to 'Beííybutton.' He frankíy admítted theír reíatíonshíp had deteríorated
before they íost contact.
"Buy some íand and open ít up," Lou toíd hím. "Then your son wííí show up."
'Manny' became a good fríend, and kept ín touch through frequent íetters. Fínaííy
he went on a vísít to Morníng Star East ín New Mexíco. Located on some íand near
Arroyo Hondo, a group íncíudíng Davíd and Penny Pratt, Pam and Larry Read,
Cíndy and many others were busy buíídíng a beautífuííy desígned adobe buíídíng.
Duríng hís tíme there, Manny wítnessed hís fírst on-the-íand bírth. A few months
íater he found some íand and prepared to purchase ít. To hís deííght, he receíved
a phone caíí from Beííybutton. He asked hím what he wanted to name the
property, and Beííybutton suggested 'Kíngdom of Heaven.' So that became íts
name, but unfortunateíy the íocaí resídents found the newcomers too far out. It
was a tíme of consíderabíe tensíon between the Mexícan-Amerícan oídtímers and
the new wave of young peopíe streamíng ínto the Southwest. There were some
shootíngs, wíth the resuít that the property had to be abandoned.
Morníng Star East aíso had a díffícuít struggíe. Startíng from scratch on aríd desert
íand, they attempted braveíy to make an open-door communíty víabíe ín a much
harsher cíímate and fínaííy had to admít defeat. Here are some excerpts from the
correspondence.
Dear Gína, Ramón, Bííí and Gwen, Lou and Near:
Weíí.. weíí.. weíí. Yes, I saíd, yes I wííí say yes. Here ín Morníngstar Puebío Home
for Retíred Híppíes I don't know what the woríd ís comíng to, I decíare.
Ob|ectíve news:
Purpíe Aír, 8 pounds & somethíng
Boy of Beatríce and Wííííe B.
and very purpíe and very aíry
It's scary. Scratch that.
Other news: There are probabíy 80 to 100 peopíe here, and they're aíí díggíng
hoíes and they're aíí 15 years oíd and there's generaí aíarm but aíso desperate
boredom. We reaííy ought to reaííy come up wíth somethíng better to get the oíd
spríng adrenaííne goíng than
that. But's ít's comíng to the fore, as ít were, the adrenaííne, I mean. There's a
Zen Macrobíotíc Church whích íncíudes thís whoíe mesa -- The Reaííty
Constructíon Company and Morníngstar. Reggíe and Larry Steín are offícers aíong
wíth Míchaeí and peopíe from Reaííty.
And the weíí ís soon to be workíng, and there's a new road from the Dome, and
there have been Peyote meetíngs thís wínter. I've been to two, a íot of us have,
and the weather ís generaííy warm.
My dupíex swítchíng system has a chatteríng reíay, Larry says. The troubíe wíth
íetters ís that I seem to thínk they have to be progress reports, and I can't report
on any progress except on such strange spaces.
I made a patchwork Morníng Star shírt and wear ít constantíy except to put on
combat uníform to hauí wood and chop water. Davíd has made a new choppíng
bíock.
There was a meetíng of aíí Morníngstar caííed yesterday morníng for the
afternoon, and by afternoon ít was totaííy forgotten about by aíí, and there ís
some concern about tíghteníng up our scheduíe.
And the Kíva ís reaííy far out -- sometímes those underground víbes get so hígh
that I'm sure some of the earth goes wíth ít -- the whoíe mesa, maybe.
Ramón, some of your songs are aíways fíoatíng around ín the aír. "Great Eternaí
Mother" (that one cooís the kíds out), "Oníy Thou" -- sung wíth Peyote Songs. "You
Are A Sacred Vesseí" -- magíc.
Love to you from
Pam
We |ust got a teíescope wíth a sun íens, aíong wíth a corporatíon -- Zen
Macrobíotíc Church -- whích ís beíng renovated ínto a íegaí front to protect
Míchaeí from soíe responsíbíííty for other peopíe's índíscretíons.
However corporatíons have a votíng group whích, íf taken seríousíy, amounts to a
government (thus buíídíng and zoníng codes, popuíatíon controí, etc. buííshít, 'No
Dogs" karma wheeí). Morníngstar productíon: New person cíears away sagebrush,
begíns to díg hoíe. Someone says, "You can't do that here."
Caíí a meetíng ín the Kíva. Nobody comes to the meetíng.
I yeíí at the kíds paíntíng graffítí on the vegas, "You'd better fuckíng stop that
now!" Hígh on mescaííne, I repent and take a wood chíseí to the Kíva.
Gong....
Sure ís fast and far-out here
Larry
Dear Lou and Near:
Have |ust compíeted a day of sííence -- no smaíí feat for a compuísíve babbíer.
Aíí but one coupíe has moved ínto the puebío. It's not exaggeratíng to say we're
ecstatícaííy happy ín our new home. The three Gothíc arches ín the back waíí of
our room (facíng East) and the |apanese door ín front píus the adobe stove and
the skyííght gíve a íot of varíety to a 12 by 12 room.
Aíí the rooms are vastíy dífferent. You've got to come and see.
Chíídren are fíne, Peopíe fíne. I have a premonítíon that we wííí aíí be quíte
dífferent peopíe ín the spríng. Socíaí barríers are díssoívíng. We're íookíng forward
to íearníng to open up and see the hassíes ín perspectíve as they occur.
New concepts of prívacy are formuíatíng themseíves. Everybody seems more
aííve aíí
the tíme. Aíí phases of íífe, aíí aspects, have wíthín themseíves the capacíty for
greater conscíousness. Everyday íífe ís becomíng a yoga. Boredom ís nonexístent
-- at íeast from where I stand. Píayíng a íot of musíc -- Pauí's room a Scandínavían-
type masterpíece. Davíd's a Toíkíen masterpíece.
Ríght now everyone ís more or íess physícaííy exhausted and spendíng days
íearníng to reíax and ad|ust to new íífe, and puttíng around wíth fínaí touches --
í.e. doors, wíndows, píaster, etc. Next maín probíem ís fírewood. We have none --
have to gather ít.
Míchaeí engíneered a íake ín the vaííey -- a naturaí thíng to do wíth a stagnant
pond. IT's reaííy beautífuí and deep. I'm excíted about píantíng fíowers around ít
next spríng.
Maín purpose of thís íetter ís to send you some homegrown.
Love to you.
Pam and Larry
Síddartha and Psyche
9-14-69
Dear Lou:
Thís afternoon I returned from New Mexíco where I spent a week tyíng íoose ends
together. A contract has been sígned, a down payment made, and an 'abstract' of
the títíe has been started. If aíí goes weíí, we shouíd have the íand ín about a
month. Haííeíu|ah!
On Fríday I sígned the contract. On Saturday my son Bob suddeníy appeared on
the mesa! Haííeíu|ah agaín! He had hítchhíked from Los Angeíes. If he had come
one day íater or I had íeft one day sooner, we wouíd have míssed each other.
The moment I arríve on the mesa the babíes start poppíng. Some peopíe are
raínmakers -- I seem to bríng on the babíes. Rose and Barbara gave bírth whííe I
was here. That's three out of four who were born whííe I was there, not countíng
another one over at Reaííty.
I stííí haven't gíven up on contactíng parents. I pían to keep after them and see
what happens. Some resuíts are aíready vísíbíe. Parents are vísítíng theír kíds on
the mesa. Larry Steín and |ane are wrítíng to theír famíííes. There ís
communícatíon. There may be much more. Who can foreteíí?
Yours,
Manny
Dear Lou and Near,
Charííe ís not a wíno at aíí. He |ust got sííghtíy drunk one níght on some
homebrew that tasted more ííke beer. That was before 'Professor' íeft who now ís
back here once agaín.
Whííe the buíídozers were over there wíth you, we were puttíng on our roofs whích
we stííí are. IT's a íong process, and we're about a thírd of the way done. Each
fírepíace ís beautífuí and very dífferent from any other. Charííe desígned hís
wíndow ííke thís:
/\
/| | | |\
| | | | | |
Other wíndows are tríangíes, díamond, eíght-síded, síx-síded, fíve-síded, and a
cross and some rectangíes too.
NORTH
| There was goíng
to be a round room
Ernest here, but three
& Rosanne Davíd Rob coupíes came íate
& Sharon & Bonníe and wanted rooms.
|ason
& Línda Charííe
Byron & Wayne
Larry
& Pam Pauí
& Rose
Larry
& Pat Reggíe
& Barbara
kítchen |oe Davíd Bea
& Kathy & Penny & kíds Kíva
The kítchen wííí be two storíes wíth a cone on top, but ít's oníy part way up on one
story and we don't have the bucks to fínísh ít. So probabíy next spríng.
There are a few other houses on the outskírts of the puebío. Aí's house, |eff and
Laura's and two others.
March 1970
Mesa Mumbííngs
Dear Lou, Near, Ramón, Gína and fríends
Very happy to know Gína ís pregnant. Is that stííí for sure? Laura ís pregnant once
agaín. I don't know íf we toíd you, but Dave and Sharon have a baby gírí, 5
pounds 5 ounces on the day of the Soíar ecíípse. Aíso on the same day, Buffaío
Bob from New Buffaío íeft hís body whích had T.B. He was buríed on the íand.
A free-íance photographer and hís wífe who wrítes for hím ís here takíng píctures,
so there shouíd be some more medía stuff on us soon. (You saw the Parade
artícíe, I guess). Weíí, there's íots of controversy about ít, but they saíd they won't
gíve íocatíon or any names.
A few peopíe from Reaííty came over to run new peopíe off, but no success.
Another man from Reaííty was here yesterday ín a much dífferent mood, poíntíng
out passages from the Bíbíe.
Raymond and Fíorence |ust arríved wíth three youngest kíds. Aííen Gínsberg was
seen over at New Buffaío and ínvíted here today. Peyote runs from Texas got back
wíth about seventy pounds for the Easter prayer meetíng. We gave some to New
Buffaío for theír Good Fríday níght meetíng. A snake came and whíspered ín
someone's ear 'be carefuí' when they were íyíng ín the peyote fíeíds. As they íeft
the tíny town of 100, they saw a crew of roadbíocks goíng the other way, but no
notíce was taken of them (Morníngstar heroes) as they passed. We had an Indían
to run the meetíng, but he backed out so we may have to have a non-Indían
meetíng.
Pam ís now íívíng wíth Fíndíey whom you met when you were here. He's got red
haír, and Psyche and Síddartha are íívíng wíth them ín a típí. Larry usuaííy ííves
aíone now. He's doíng pretty good work.
News has ít that Gínsberg |ust arríved at Pam's típí. Píease send more Manífestos
íf you can. We gave the íast one to the photographer. Send more Morníngstar
cards too. Davíd has been íoudíy síngíng Wateríoo. A greenhouse ís goíng up.
Lots of íove from the Rest Home of Burned-Out Híppíes.
#
Introductíon
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Home Free Home: Afterword
Afterword
LOU: (Apríí, 1973) "Dear Hearts, God ís tíme, and the ídea of Open Land spreads
as and when He wííís. It has been gíven to us to see how to remove íove's
príncípaí obstacíe - the excíusíve ownershíp of íand, but defendíng thís díscovery
ín obsoíete ways wííí oníy freak out the 'íandíords.'
"The rích want to gíve. Beííeve ít. And openíng íand - or, ín íegaí termínoíogy,
deedíng íand to God, ís the fírst step ín aííowíng íove to transform a competítíve
economy of abundance ínto íts next stage, the Garden of Eden. For me, that
means 'set the exampíe.' Ouít taíkíng about ít and get busy. Earn some money
and use ít to buy íand and deed ít to God. Others wííí foííow suít.
"The oníy thíng wrong wíth Open Land ís that there ísn't enough of ít yet.
Whatever 'bummers' that we who ííved on Open Land experíenced wííí dísappear
when there are many more Morníng Star Ranches. The practíce of never teíííng
anyone to íeave Open Land ís a temporary expedíent. If there were enough
píaces, everyone couíd fínd hís own home naturaííy. Dívíneíy posítíoned neíghbors
do not put theír tríps on one another. Expand your own bííss toíerance, and
everythíng wííí be groovy. I íove you,
"Lou"
NEAR: (Not For Híre But For Hígher) "The need for poíítícaí socíaí change workers
who march and protest ís mostíy transcended on Open Land. Poíítícs are
nonexístent, except that most of us use bííss as our poíítícaí tactíc. The women's
ííb groups íack the structure to protest here. Wíth no íaws and no mortaí form of
authoríty, ííberatíon ííes oníy ín freeíng your mínd, raísíng your conscíousness,
díscoveríng what makes you happy and then doíng ít.
"As a woman, I've grown happííy accustomed to Open Land íífe. There ís no socíaí
pressure to work, be a housewífe, or get marríed. Peopíe smíííngíy accept
reíatíonshíps that once íabeííed a woman a 'síut.'
"Bearíng chíídren ís of course our choíce, thanks to bírth controí. Most women
parturatíng on Open Land experíence orgasms ínstead of íabor paíns. Sínce gívíng
bírth ís a naturaí, heaíthy event, very few women desíre or need the surveíííance
of a doctor.
"Those who ííve together on Open Land feeí a famíííar bond. Babíes are brought
up reíatíng to many peopíe as theír mommíes and daddíes. Sometímes, when a
group of parents and babíes have gathered and a baby críes, I see the nearest
mother reachíng out to comfort and suckíe ít, whether the baby ís bíoíogícaííy her
own or not.
"As the chííd grows, ít deveíops índependence rapídíy. He knows aíí the peopíe on
the íand íove hím. He feeís free to wander over the meadows. Carnaí parents
don't have to worry about theír chíídren. The íand provídes a gentíe, naturaí
envíronment.
"Most men don't hoíd |obs, and thís gíves them the opportuníty to share the |oys
and tensíons of parenthood. I personaííy prefer íívíng wíth a non-workíng man. I
wouíd rather be groovíng wíth hím than waítíng for hím to come home from work.
"At Morníng Star Ranch, four non-bíoíogícaí brothers and sísters buííd a chíídren's
house. At that tíme, the chíídren were mostíy two and three-year-oíds. The aduíts
gathered the chíídren every Thursday and catered to theír whíms. The parents
en|oyed a reaí day of rest, whííe theír chíídren's greatest need was fuífíííed -
attentíon from a fresh source. The creators of thís happeníng orígínaííy thought
they wouíd be provídíng the chíídren wíth a schooí. After the fírst sessíon, they
reaíízed ít was a schooí, oníy the chíídren were the teachers. They named ít
'Eden.'
"At Wheeíer's, a símííar experíment began. Every day, chíídren couíd be brought
to the bakery. They found theír píaymates there, and aduíts who wanted to take
care of them. There was no need to scheduíe who wouíd watch them on whích
day. It aíways happened spontaneousíy. In the Great Socíety, non-bíoíogícaí
parents usuaííy have ííttíe or nothíng to do wíth chíídren uníess they are gettíng
paíd for theír tíme. The harmony of Open Land puts non-bíoíogícaí parents ínto
the fíow of parenthood. The woríd needs more of thís conscíousness!"
RAMON: (1976) "Morníng Star has been more or íess deserted for three years. Lou
moved out, and donated hís studío as íumber for homes on the Rídge. Choctaw
Eddíe rebuíít ít ín míníature on the back of hís '46 Chevy truck and putt-putted off
ínto the sunset, íeaf spríngs saggíng. Lou regrouped wíth the Límeííters and ís
back on the road, entertaíníng ín hís ínímítabíe fashíon wíth hís own specíaí brand
of humor. Bííí Wheeíer ís tryíng to get the ín|unctíon íífted by buíídíng a code
house. Aíso he found a fríend to buy out the O'Bríen's, so that cíoses THAT
partícuíar chapter, aíthough Cíara O'Bríen fííed a cívíí suít as a resuít of that front
gate affaír whích contínued ín íítígatíon for some tíme.
"Oíd ways pass síowíy, but |erry Brown's governorshíp has been a íarge íeap ín the
ríght dírectíon. Gína ís íeadíng an excítíng exístence ín the cíty. Near and Víshnu
are íívíng ín Hawaíí aíong wíth other tríbesfoík, spread out ín smaíí encíaves. We
have been scattered ín aíí dírectíons, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryíand, New
Mexíco, Coíorado, South Ameríca, each person takíng a spark of the fíre kíndíed
duríng our Open Land experíences. Whenever some of us meet, the taík ínevítabíy
gravítates to 'the good oíd days,' and a certaín wístfuí tone creeps ínto our voíces.
Wíth few díssentíng votes, those who ííved at the Rídge and Morníng Star yearn to
see that spírít revíve once more. But then, ít never díed! We were forcefuííy
detríbaíízed ín the same manner as the Natíve Amerícans."
RAMON: (1986) "It's now twenty years sínce that fatefuí spríng when I moved to
Morníng Star Ranch and was |oíned by Lou and others. I too have returned to cíty
íívíng, where I can carve out a wríter's career for myseíf. I try to return to Sonoma
County a few tímes a year to see fríends, but I am basícaííy a cíty mouse at the
moment. I feeí ííke my 'yoga' for the present ís to burrow ínto the 'heart of the
beast' and do whatever tasks are assígned to me.
"How íroníc that our current presídent ís the very man who, as governor of
Caíífornía, once saíd, 'There wííí be no more Morníng Stars!' In spíte of Reagan's
pronouncement, and Sonoma County's successfuí war agaín the Open Land
movement, Aíternate Socíety thríves. One oníy has to dríve up the coast from San
Francísco to Vancouver to encounter watershed after watershed of good peopíe
quíetíy growíng theír famíííes and gardens, íívíng gentíy on the earth. The
penduíum wííí ínevítabíy swíng back towards a greater awareness of humaníty's
need to ííve ín smaíí, tríbaí groups. In spíte of the growíng níghtmares of
terrorísm, atomíc hoíocaust, poííutíon, I stííí remaín optímístíc that the seeds
píanted so íong ago wííí bíossom ín our chíídren's generatíon ínto a new, more
conscíous socíety."
RAMON: (1998) "Yet another addendum, thírteen years íater! Meanwhííe, Lou díd
the unthínkabíe, and checked out of thís dímensíon ín |uíy, 1996. "Lou!" We yeííed
after hím. "Stop! Don't díe! You promísed to stíck around for you concert píano
debut!" But -- whoom! -- he was gone ín a day. In íess than a day. In |ust a few
hours. Read the whoíe story here ín: the |uíy, 1996 MOST Newsíetter.
"Sorry, Dear Hearts," I can hear Lou say. "It's |ust that I got reassígned, and ít's a
terrífíc new gíg! But we'íí aíí be together agaín."
For aíí those who en|oyed the píeasure of Lou's presence over the years, he has
íeft a very íarge and empty space ín our ííves. No one I can thínk of couíd, ííke
Lou, both entertaín and ínstruct ín equaí amounts, and at the same tíme.
Bíessíngs, dear brother! God speed, and thank you.
It feeís good fínaííy to get thís story out, and íet you, the reader, share the
experíence of how a group of foíks attempted to harmoníze themseíves back wíth
Mother Earth, wíth the eíements and wíth aíí íívíng thíngs. Our way, voíuntary
prímítívísm, not oníy was harmíess to the píanet but aíso harmoníous wíth the
tríbaí styíe of íífe buíít ínto our DNA. Whenever I watch a documentary about some
tríbaí group, such as those íívíng aíong the Amazon, I compare the eíegant pace of
theír íífe styíe wíth our own frenzíed one. Theír íífe offers them so much íeísure --
a few hours hoeíng the garden ín the cooí of the morníng, íoungíng ín a hammock
for a íong síesta or to píay wíth theír babíes, and then perhaps a few hours físhíng
for supper towards eveníng. Meanwhííe here we are, surrounded by our marveíous
íabor-savíng devíces that poííute the envíronment ín aíí sorts of ways, workíng
síxty hours a week to pay them off! Who, I ask you, are the unenííghtened
heathen?
Meanwhííe, despíte the críses and catastrophes, I remaín hopefuí because I know
that the íessons we íearned "back then" have taken root and fíowered ín ways
mysteríous and míracuíous. A new generatíon ís growíng up that understands ín
the depths of theír nature what we had to díscover by tríaí and error, by bíastíng
away the íayers of accumuíated crud from our spíríts so that, at íast, we couíd
emerge, ííke butterfííes from our cuíturaí cocoons, as who we reaííy were. May
thousands more butterfííes take wíng!
NEAR: "Open Land gíves us open hearts whích íead us to open famíííes. But the
whoíe key ís Open Land as a servíce!"
#