Instead of stopping when we could we went right on …
Flash back – I’m seventeen, trying to cut my hair like Mick Jagger’s. Dylan wails on my record player. I’m wearing white jeans tucked into black ten inch high mod boots and my mother hates me. Plum incense burns in my bedroom, and I’m drunk on Earl Grey Tea bought from the Crate and Barrel in on Wells Street in Chicago. It’s hard to cut hair with a dull paper shears while bobbing my head and not poke an eye out. I’m one of the last two virgins in Old Town, my friend Teri, being the other. I don’t know about her, but all the weed I’ve inhaled was second-hand. Half the time I thought dudes failed to use deodorant. I was dense, but it was the first place that accepted me and I kept going back.
I loved it. We’d sit on the floor in John Brown’s Leatherworks in Pipers Alley and listen to stories as he’d play guitar. My shoulder was next to Brian McGuinn, Roger’s brother. Man, I wanted a leather Byrd’s cape from John. Eventually I did buy one, but mine came from Marshall Fields, not Johns.
I didn’t make it to the Democratic riots at the Hilton Hotel although a friend borrowed my tambourine. I caught the news footage of him as he brought my beloved flower painted instrument over the head of a cop in the viewfinder of the CBS National News. Me and Teri, wound up on a documentary about leftist groups, Remember, Nixon was paranoid. They staged the entire thing. Producers went into the coffeehouse basement and brought up protest signs that predated us by several months, if not years, and asked up to pretend to paint them. They chose us because our hair read clean on the light meter. The crew admonished us not to look into the camera. Teri looked up, her boss caught it when it aired, and she got fired.
I never went to Woodstock, I went out and bought a horse instead and that left me flat broke. I still prefered the scent of fresh cut hay and horse sweat over live music and flower children
But I’d learned early about wiretapped telephones, FBI files, innocence, protest, and the friends you keep. The nicest people could be running at ninety miles an hour thinking no one can see them. Fifty years ago the government kept watch on who and what they wanted on their radar. Nothing’s changed much except the technology.