The Waiting Room

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Here’s another story from Tales from the Hereafter, published in the September 2017 issue of The Mystic Blue Review

The waiting room was cold and damp. The light was poor, but you were expected to fill out your application, hand it in, then wait. I had nothing but the suit I was buried in. If I had been able to dress myself, I would have had my good pen. But no one thinks to put a pen in your pocket when you’re dead. So the clerk, a stick-thin man of about forty with greasy hair, gave me a cheap ballpoint that wrote in light blue ink and skipped. They sat you at an old-fashioned child’s desk. The kind you had in elementary school, with the writing tray attached to the chair, and all scratched up, making it almost impossible to write neatly.

I was not alone in that dreary room. I could vaguely make out, out of the corners of my eyes, other souls hunched over their little desks, writing feverishly. But they were not in clear focus. A smoky haze seemed to permeate everything.

Filling out the form was long and painstaking: Place of Birth, Date of Birth, Date of Death, every institution of learning attended, any special achievements or distinctions at school, every job, promotions, reasons for leaving…

Then there was the essay section, in which you were able to make the case for your admission to Heaven. Good and selfless acts, how you made the world a better place. I had a lot of trouble with this section. It was hard for me to remember any special things I had done that were especially good—or bad.

One rainy night I rescued a stray dog and brought it home. But we had to bring it to the pound a few days later when it bit one of the kids. I guess they killed it.

I wrote about the many injustices to which I had been subjected. Honors at school and at work that should have been mine, but always went to someone else. How I had offered, out of the goodness of my heart, to share the driveway that was my designated parking spot with my new neighbor, a blonde girl from New England. And how she had then conspired with my landlord to get me evicted from my parking space, and how my car was relegated to the street. But I did not lash out. I choked back my rage. I maintained my composure. She remained my neighbor, her car occupying the parking space she had stolen, for ten long years. And I was always civil. I never said a bad word. Surely, that was a good deed.

I told how I had married. I was at the lowest ebb of my life at the time. Annie was a rather plain girl—very different from the flashy Hollywood types I had always gone with—but she was stable and intelligent. She had a rent-controlled apartment and a good paying job. I had bottomed out on cocaine and alcohol and had no visible means of support. Annie got me back on my feet. She provided a safe haven and helped me start a career in the music business. We had two children, a boy and a girl, in the space of less than two years.

Then I fell in love. She was someone I’d met through mutual friends. We both fell madly, passionately in love. But we were both married. I had two little children and she had a very rich husband. He had been her childhood sweetheart. There was no sex between them, but he was her devoted protector and provider. She was incapable of finding an ordinary job. She was thirty-five and had never had to earn a living in her life. And besides, she would never leave her best friend.

And so we deemed our love impossible.

Many years later, after my children had grown up and I had long been divorced from Annie, we reconnected. Her rich husband was dead, I had no wife, my children were no longer an obligation, and we still loved each other. She told me there had never been anyone but me. I told her she was the only love of my life. And still, she would not see me. She was inconsolable after the loss of her husband. She had lost her rudder. She was now surrounded by people designated by him to protect her. She was a prisoner in her own home; a prisoner of her newly-acquired wealth. We spoke often on the phone, and she always promised we would see each other soon—next week. This went on for four years. We never saw each other again. I died thinking I would see her next week.

At the bottom of the form was an affidavit I had to sign, swearing by Almighty God that all statements made were true and accurate. I signed and handed the form in to the clerk at the window. He stamped it and told me to take a seat and wait. In the haze, I sensed others also sitting and waiting. So I waited. And waited.

In death, time does not mean the same thing as in life. I waited for what, in the land of the living, would amount to about six months. Then, one day, the clerk called my name. Doing my best to suppress my excitement, I approached the window, and was handed a letter:

Dear (my name was filled in on a blank line),

Thank you for your application. As much as we would like to send each applicant a personal response, we get so many applications, it is impossible to answer each one individually. We regret that your qualifications are not a good fit for Heaven at this time. You are invited to re-apply during our next submission period, which starts at a time that will be filled in by the Waiting Room Clerk. In the meantime, you are free to apply to either Hell or Purgatory, whichever you feel yourself most qualified for.

Best of luck,

The Heaven Team

 

When I approached the window, I saw that others had received similar letters, and so I took my place in line. When I got to the front of the line, I cleared my throat and asked the clerk: “Hell is worse than Purgatory, right?”

“To be sure,” he said.

“Then, may I have an application for Purgatory?”

The clerk smiled condescendingly. “Where do you think you are?”

 

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The Sisters B36

This short story encapsulates all that I love about Kurt Vonnegut. He stays on message, I’ll say the for him!

Flashbytes

by Kurt Vonnegut – a Kilgore Trout story…

Kurt VonnegutOn the matriarchal planet Booboo in the Crab Nebula, there were three sisters whose last name was B-36. It could be only a coincidence that their family name was also that of an Earthling airplane designed to drop bombs on civilian populations with corrupt leaderships. Earth and Booboo were too far apart to ever communicate.

Another coincidence: The written language of Booboo was like English on Earth, in that it consisted of idiosyncratic arrangements in horizontal lines of twenty-six phonetic symbols, ten numbers, and about eight punctuation marks.

All three of the sisters were beautiful, so went Trout’s tale, but only two of them were popular, one a picture painter and the other a short story writer. Nobody could stand the third one, who was a scientist. She was so boring! All she could talk about was thermodynamics. She was envious. Her…

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Bardo Train to Canarsie

an-old-subway-train

I’ve decided to start adding some of my fictional short stories, as they get published. This one was the first to appear. It was published online at Literally Stories (https://literallystories2014.com/), 15 Sept. 2016, and in print in the To Hull & Back Short Story Anthology, 31 Oct. 2016 (http://www.christopherfielden.com/books/to-hull-and-back-short-story-anthology-2016.php). It is part of a short story collection (in progress) I call Tales from the Hereafter. Each story is a first-person narrative by someone who has recently died.

 

My body had been dead for two days. I could hear my brother monks chanting the Mantra of the Dead the whole time: “Go to the Light. Do not be distracted by the demons of the Bardo…” If this was the Bardo, it certainly was not what I was expecting.

I found myself on a swaying, rattling train that made its way at a frightening speed on screeching silver rails through tunnels that were beneath a huge, bustling city. Above the windows were rows of signs in English. They were advertisements of some kind, but I couldn’t read them.

“Go to the Light,” they said, so I made my way through sliding doors that separated the empty cars to the front car. I looked out the front window, and I did see a light. I was headed in the right direction! But it turned out to be just a station. The train stopped and the doors opened. I wondered if I should get off. A single passenger entered my car. He was a large black man with wild hair and full beard. He was dressed in filthy rags and he carried an overpowering smell of urine.

“Hey, baby. Nice threads.” he said, looking straight at me.

“Threads?”

“Yeah, man, your outfit. That’s da shit. I wish I had me a rig like that.”

I gathered he was referring to the burgundy and saffron robes I had worn all my life. The robes all the monks of my order wear every day. I never thought there was anything special about them, but, seeing how impressed he was, I began to think maybe they were rather special, at least in contrast to him and these gray, dirty surroundings. The train pulled into another station. The doors opened again, but no one got on. My companion and I were still alone. In fact, there didn’t seem to be any other passengers on the entire train.

I had no trouble understanding my companion’s spoken English, even though the writing on the advertisements looked completely alien to me.

“How are you called?” I asked him.

“‘Yo, muthafucka!’” He laughed loudly. Apparently he had made a joke, but I didn’t get it.

“My dharma name is Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. I have many other names, though, some of them secret. You can call me Dilgo. Nice to meet you, Yo Muthafucka.”

My companion had another hearty laugh. It was hard for him to stop laughing, but when he finally did, he said, as straight-faced as he could, “Nice to meet you, Dildo!”

“It’s Dilgo.”

“Yeah, I know. I was just playin’ wit’ cha. By the way, my name is Leroy. Leroy C.V. Jones, writer, poet extraordinaire and bon vivant, at your service.”

I looked at him in puzzlement.

“Just call me Leroy. Say, you a monk, right?”

“Yes.”

“From Tibet?”

I brightened. This man knew more than he let on. “Actually, Nepal. We were all driven out of our home, Tibet, many years ago. In 1959.”

“1959? What year is it now, anyway?”

“In Western time, the year is 2016.”

“No. You’re shittin’ me!”

“I shit you not.”

“I been dead since 1965.”

The train stopped again. “Union Square,” said Leroy. “Let’s get off and change to the Broadway line. Maybe we can catch Bird.”

“Bird?”

“Charlie Parker, man. You never heard of Charlie Parker?”

“No.”

“Only the greatest saxophone player that ever lived. The greatest musician that ever lived. Sometimes he plays on the 49th Street platform. If we’re lucky, we can catch him. It is absolutely the best thing about being dead… Hey, listen to this…”

He positioned his hands as if playing an invisible saxophone and sang a fast and complex series of notes. These notes had a certain universal truth to them, so that, as alien as this music was, it communicated something to me.

“That was called ‘Au Privave,’ a Charlie Parker tune. Great, huh?”

“Yes, great.”

He stuck his hand out to keep the doors from closing. “You sure you don’t wanna go to 49th Street with me?”

“No, I think it is better for me to stay on this Bardo train. I must go toward the Light.” I gestured toward the front window. Leroy let the doors close and looked out at the tunnel ahead.

“I don’t see no light. I see a lotta lights—red ones, green ones, white ones…”

“Well, I do see a Light, and I’m going to it.”

“Okay, brotha-man, I’ll go to da Light wit’ cha.”

“Can I trust you?”

“Now, what kinda crazy-ass question is that? If you couldn’t trust me, I’d tell you you could trust me. If you could trust me, I’d tell you you could trust me. So, you believe what you want.”

“In our Book of the Dead, it warns us to beware of demons who will distract you and draw you away from the Light. Are you one of those?”

“Not that I know of, man. But I’ve been called worse.”

The train stopped at First Avenue; no one got on. We then descended into a long, black tunnel. I sensed we were under a body of water.

“Is there water above us?” I asked him.

“Yeah, the East River. Soon we’ll be in Brooklyn.”

“What is in Brooklyn?”

“Nothin’, man. Usually I just stay on the train when it gets to Canarsie and go back the other way. When we get back to Manhattan, I’m goin’ to 49th Street. You can come with or not. Your choice. One thing I can tell ya: there ain’t shit in Canarsie.”

At the first stop in Brooklyn a group of six young men entered our car. They were various shades of brown. They looked at us, whispered together and laughed. The largest one approached us.

“What the fuck you doin’ on our train?” he asked. His voice had a belligerent tone.

Leroy responded defiantly: “What choo mean ‘our train’? This here’s a public conveyance.”

The leader approached Leroy, sniffed him. “Man, you stink like a toilet! Hey,” he beckoned to the others in his group, “come here and smell this guy.”

“Pee-yooo,” they all said, holding their noses.

“And look at this one,” said another, fingering my robes in a most disrespectful manner. “What are you dressed up for? Is it Halloween already?”

“I do not know of this Halloween,” I said. They all laughed. These youths were definitely threatening us. I felt that they were working themselves up for a physical attack. But, if we—Leroy and I—were already dead, what could they do to us?

The youth that had addressed me turned to the others. “He don’t know about Halloween! Hey, where the fuck you from, anyway, China?”

“Nepal,” I said.

“Never heard of it. Must be one of those piddly-ass countries over in Asia.”

“That is correct,” I said.

The train pulled into another station and stopped.

“Let’s throw them off the train,” said the leader. “Man, you in Crip territory here. You won’t last five minutes.”

“No. I must stay on this Bardo train.”

They all started to grab me. Leroy ran to the other end of the car and cowered behind a seat. Instinctively, I defended myself, using the ancient Tibetan martial art of Sengueï Ngaro. In a flash, all six men were scattered on the floor of the train. The doors of the car were still open and all of them got up and fled as the doors closed. The Bardo train moved on toward the Light.

Leroy got up from the floor behind the seat where he had been hiding. “Holy shit, Dilgo, you kicked their asses! My man!”

“They forced me to break my vow of nonviolence. I wonder if this will affect my karma adversely in my next incarnation.”

“You be alright,” said Leroy. “None of them was hurt so bad they couldn’t get up and run.”

“You speak wisely, Leroy.” His words comforted me. “I think perhaps these were the demons the Book warns of. How did you die, Leroy?”

“I was livin’ on the streets. It was a very cold night. I got drunk on some cheap wine and fell asleep in a doorway. And I woke up here.”

“Sounds like a good death,” I said.

“It was! A very good death. I never felt a thing. Hell, I’d pick that death over some kinda cancer any day of the week. How did you die, Dilgo?”

“I lived 101 years on Earth. Peacefully, happily. Then I got very tired, so I left my body.”

“Wow. Now that sounds like a great death.”

“Yes, it was. All my brother monks were around me, chanting me into the next stage of existence. But I must admit, I never expected this. What do you do here?”

“I just ride different subways from station to station. I take the A Train, the double E, the IRT, this used to be the BMT. Of course, they don’t call them that anymore, but I’m still in 1965.”

“Do you ever get out of the subway?”

“Never. I can never get upstairs to the surface. And the only other people I see are dead like me.”

“Then those boys, the ones I beat up, they must be dead too.”

“Damn right. They be dead as mackerels. They just ain’t figured that out yet. And the station where they ran away, Lorimer Street… They were right, that is Crip territory, but it’s dead Crip territory. Of all the stations in the subway system, Lorimer Street is the closest to hell. The Crips there make you watch as they kill and mutilate everyone you’ve ever loved or cared about. I made the mistake of getting off there once, but I was lucky. I managed to cross to the other platform and get on the train goin’ the other way before they got finished killing my mother.”

I was looking out the front window as we neared the next stop. It was the next-to-last stop on the line, the one before Canarsie. “Look, Leroy! Can you see the Light? It’s getting brighter now.”

“Yeah. It is getting brighter. I can see it, Dilgo!”

The train stopped at East 105th Street and Turnbull Avenue. The doors opened and a monster got on our car. He looked and smelled like a rotting corpse. He walked stiffly, like a reanimated dead person. When he tried to speak, guttural, gurgling sounds came out of his mouth. He approached us with outstretched arms, gurgling.

“Ahhh! What’s that, Dilgo? Let’s get the hell out of here!” Leroy started to run for the exit while the doors were still open. I grabbed him and held him back.

“No. This is another trick of the Bardo to keep us from the light. This creature is here to test our courage. Stand still and don’t move. It cannot hurt us.”

“It’s stink is already hurtin’ me,” said Leroy.

“Just stay still. Only one more stop to go.”

The white Light of Canarsie filled our car as we rolled into the Rockaway Parkway station. It was almost too bright to see the details of the station, but I could see there were stairs that led up from the platform.

“Goddamn. I wish I had my shades. I left them on a train about twenty years ago,” said Leroy.

“Don’t worry, Leroy. You will soon get used to the brightness.”

As we rolled into the station, the creature dissolved into the Light. The train stopped, the doors opened, and we walked out onto the platform.

“Where we goin?” asked Leroy. His voice quivered with trepidation. “I don’t wanna go to Canarsie.”

“It is not Canarsie, Leroy. It is the next phase of our existence.” I led him up the stairs. Sweet-smelling air was wafting in from above.

“But, I can’t go like this,” he said. “Look at my…” He looked down at his clothes to see his rags were gone and he was now resplendent in a beautifully-tailored white silk suit with matching white buck shoes. “Look at my clothes! These are the baddest, most splendiferous mutha-fuckin’ threads of all time!”

“Yes,” I said, “and you smell good, too.”

 

“Making It” Reviewed in “Ugly Things”

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The Lost, 1965. L to R: Walter Powers III, Kyle Garrahan, Ted Myers, Lee Mason, Willie Alexander

Many thanks to Mike Stax, editor and publisher of Ugly Things magazine for the excellent and insightful review in Issue #45. Here it is:

“Making music, like all art, is a crap shoot,” reflects Ted Myers. “If you don’t ‘make it,’ it’s not necessarily your fault.” “Making It” in the music industry had been Myers’ goal since the dawn of the ‘60s when he began playing folk music in the coffee houses of Greenwich Village. That quest continued in Boston in the mid-60s with the Lost, and into the psychedelic era with Chamaeleon Church (with a young Chevy Chase on drums) and the waning days of Ultimate Spinach (Myers was drafted in for the third album, after the band’s mercurial leader, Ian Bruce-Douglas was canned. It rolled on into the 1979s with a move to Los Angeles, where he attempted to find a foothold as a singer-songwriter before forming Glider, a melodic commercial rock group who had an album on United Artists in 1977, and then, in 1980, Incognito, the band he considered his last stab at “making it.”

That final stab turned out to be more like a self-inflicted wound. Incognito—who had a sound “somewhere between the Cars and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers” (which sounds more like a warning than a recommendation)—were part of an artistically crippled Hollywood rock scene that by the early ‘80s was fueled almost entirely by cocaine. While his band struggled to attract interest, Myers was making a lucrative living. “My music career was starting to interfere with my partying,” he confesses. Over the course of the ‘80s his goal of “making it” as a songwriter and musician sputtered and died. Fortunately, he was able to break free of that lifestyle, and start a new life in the business side of the music industry, going on to work for more than a decade at Rhino Records (he was nominated for a Grammy for the 2001 box set, Washington Square Memoirs: The Great Urban Folk Boom, 1950-1970, which he compiled) and subsequently at the Concord Music Group.

Myers may not have “made it” in terms of fame and fortune, but he made it through what the book’s tagline calls “the Golden Age of Rock” with his sanity and his sense of humor intact, creating some great music along the way—especially the songs he wrote and recorded with the Lost—and with numerous memorable stories to tell. The section covering the 1960s, which will be of most interest to Ugly Things readers, and includes plenty of detail on the Lost, who Myers reflects “had the most potential to break through to the big time of any of my bands,” as well as Chamaeleon Church, the underrated pop-psych outfit that followed. Along with the music, Myers doesn’t hold back when it comes to dishing the dirt on the sex and drugs. In fact, he has something of a compulsion to over-share when it comes to tales of his sexual exploits, giving the book an occasional tinge of locker room braggadocio that I found unnecessary and repetitive. But that’s a minor distraction to what is a hugely enjoyable biography, one that proves once again that the stories of those who never “made it” are every bit as interesting and compelling as the lives of the rich and famous—and more often than not more so. —Mike Stax

My First Review

 

MakingIt-FrontCover-04052017

I had connections with a couple of publications that targeted fans of the ’60s and retro rock in general. One of these was Jon “Mojo” Mills, editor-in-chief of Shindig! magazine out of the UK. So, when my memoir (pictured above) was published, I lobbied him to give it some ink. He agreed to read the book and review it if he deemed it worthy. The review came out this week in issue #69 (July 2017) . It was the only five-star review of the six books reviewed. But, for me, the sweetest part of the victory was that the reviewer was not Jon, who I’ve known (if only via email) for several years, but by a guy named Greg Morse, whom I don’t know at all. And he totally got it. It’s very satisfying for an author to know he got through to a complete stranger, and it gives me hope that this book might just have legs. Here’s the review:

Ted Myers is a nice guy. Ted Myers wanted to make it in the music business. He didn’t – but in a way this book is all the better for it, for what you get in Making It is the hugely enjoyable tale of a man who tried and had a ball while he was doing it. What you get – in fact – is trouble with school, falling out with parents and then begging them for a new Gretsch guitar, the spectre of Vietnam, meeting Dylan, meeting pot, and meeting girls. Yes, girls. There’s a lot about girls. And sex – the lack of it, the glut of it, the great sexual awakening, no less. You could say it takes you back, or at least you could if you’d had half as interesting a time as Ted. That’s the real beauty of this book, for Myers writes in such an easy, conversational style that you could be right next to him – if not in the thick of the action., backstage at one of his gigs, or rubbing shoulders with The Who or Procol Harum – then at least in a smoky bar with him somewhere afterwards. You feel for him. You root for him. You wish he’d made it. More importantly, you wish you’d been there with him.

After leaving the world of rock, Myers became an ad man, then a writer. Thank goodness he did – he’s given us some great stories within a great story.

Greg Morse

Many thanks to Jon Mills, Shindig!, and especially to Greg Morse, my new best friend.

Click here to buy the book.

Finding God in New York City

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When we moved to Manhattan from the Bronx in 1949, Stuyvesant Town, the red-brick housing project that was to be our new home, was still under construction. The buildings were complete, but the playgrounds—I think there were twelve of them—were still under construction. I was four years old. I’d look out the window and see the bulldozers at work, see the construction guys, sweating in their wife-beaters, brutalizing the pavement with their pneumatic drills. It was noisy, but fascinating.

They had installed Quonset huts—those semi-circular metal structures—for the construction crews, and at night, after the crews had departed, they were guarded by uniformed guards who wore olive drab uniforms with olive drab military caps that had white visors.

“Who are those guys?” I’d ask my mother.

“They’re the guards,” she said. Only, with her heavy New York accent, she didn’t pronounce the “r,” so it sounded like “gods.”

Later, they made me go with them to temple, a Reformed Jewish synagogue. I’d listen to the rabbi, and he would talk a lot about “God.” I asked my mother what God looked like, but she couldn’t adequately describe him. My parents were both agnostics. They didn’t believe in God any more than the Tooth Fairy. They just lacked the courage not to belong to a synagogue, where all their friends belonged. Their friends probably didn’t really believe in God any more than they did. But in the ‘50s, people were mostly sheep.

In 1950, we got our first television set. I’d watch old movies, westerns, whatever was on, and there was a lot of talk about God. It wasn’t hard for me to picture God in my mind’s eye: he was a greying, middle-aged man in an olive drab uniform with an olive drab military cap with a white visor.

The Four Facets of “Making It”

MakingIt-FrontCover-04052017

When I took Erika Schickel’s memoir class at UCLA Extension, one of the first things we learned was that the difference between a memoir and an autobiography is that a memoir has a constraint. That is, the specific aspect or aspects of your life that make your memoir into a good story. I got this immediately. No one would want to hear about my bland middle class upbringing, my bland, middle class parents, or any of my relatives (also pretty bland and middle class). What I wanted was to give readers a picture of the life of an aspiring musician in the ’60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. I wanted to write about the stuff that I found exciting and entertaining: music, sex and drugs. And so, the title of my memoir was born: Making It: Music, Sex & Drugs in the Golden Age of Rock. The subtitle lists my constraints. The title, Making It, ironically refers to the fact that I didn’t.

Now that my memoir has been published, I have mixed feelings: pride because I stayed with it, did a good job of telling the most exciting and entertaining stories, and actually finding a publisher—Calumet Editions in Minnesota—who was willing to publish it; but there’s also embarrassment. Another rule of memoir I learned in Erika’s classes is about merciless self-revelation. You need to strip yourself naked before the world. One of the articles I read was called something like: “Make the Reader Worry that You’re Not Okay.” So, I threw caution to the wind and revealed all the dark and sordid corners of my sex-obsessed and drug-riddled past, all my self-doubts and deep insecurities. And I made it funny.

First and foremost, there’s the music…

“…when I convinced my parents to get me a guitar and lessons at age thirteen I was motivated as much by the desire for popularity as a love of music. Ask any rock musician why he got into it and, if he has a shred of honesty, he’ll admit it was to ‘get chicks.’ I wasn’t tall, athletic, or handsome, so learning how to play and sing was a natural shortcut for me to the attentions of the opposite sex… As luck would have it, I had a good ear and a natural gift for picking up and replicating songs I heard on records and the radio…”

And, as I progressed, I also realized I had a gift for writing songs. I had always been good with words, writing poetry and short stories from the time I was in high school, so combining these two talents (words and music) became the cornerstones of my adult life.

Then, there’s the sex. As I pointed out, the music and my desire to get laid were intertwined from the first. Here’s an excerpt describing my second sexual experience…

“She took off all her clothes and lay on the bed like a patient on an operating table. She was not beautiful, but not hard to look at. Her compact body was trim and beautifully shaped. I undressed as quickly as I could, fearing she might change her mind at any second. Then I remembered the condom. This was not optional; there was no ‘pill’ in those days, so I started rifling through my pockets, trying to find it. A shudder of panic passed through my body, causing me to lose my erection. What if I had forgotten it? I held my pants aloft and shook the contents of my pockets out onto the floor. Amidst the loose change and used Kleenex, there it was. I struggled to get enough of an erection back to put it on. I had never felt so unsexy in my life. Finally, I was able to unroll the condom onto my pathetic member.

“Is it in yet?” she kept asking.

“I-I think so…”

The third constraint is drugs. To quote The Bob: “I started out on Burgundy but soon hit the harder stuff…” I started smoking pot in high school. That was 1963. By 1984 I had been using and selling cocaine for a couple of years, but the downward spiral really started when someone showed me how to turn cocaine hydrochloride into freebase, later to devolve into a street drug called “crack”…

“…it was that first hit of the evening that it was all about. I would sit with Len and a small group of his ‘inner circle’ around his big round table and pass that pipe. That first hit felt like it must feel to mainline heroin. You get this incredible rush, hear a ringing sound in your ears and fall back on the nearest cushion (or girl) in a velvet cloud of ecstasy. But it was all downhill from there. You’d spend the rest of the evening chasing that first rush and never quite achieving it. By the end of the evening—and about a quarter-ounce of coke later—you’d be filled with a terrible feeling of regret, foreboding, and paranoia…”

The fourth facet—or constraint—of Making It is the amazing parade of future celebrities whose paths intersected with mine. The very first scene talks about my infatuation with Janie Schindelheim in fifth grade. We went to elementary school, junior high and high school together. She grew up, moved to San Francisco, married Jann Wenner, and started Rolling Stone magazine. I went to junior high school and shared the auditorium stage with a thirteen-year-old José Feliciano. A few years later I went to see José play in a dark Greenwich Village coffee house and shared a table with an as-yet-unknown Bob Dylan. In my second band, Chevy Chase was the drummer. In my third band, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter was the lead guitarist. I started a folk music coffee house on Martha’s Vineyard with some college friends in the summer of 1964 and hired a sixteen-year-old James Taylor, who played there regularly for the whole summer.

And that’s only the beginning. But to get the whole picture, you’ll have to read the book. You can get it here: http://smarturl.it/MAKtg. Enjoy!