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  • No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man
    To be the sad man behind blue eyes
    No one knows what it’s like to be hated
    To be fated to telling only lies

    But my dreams they aren’t as empty
    As my conscience seems to be
    I have hours only lonely
    My love is vengeance that’s never free

    When my fist clenches crack it open before I use it to lose my cool
    When I smile tell me some bad news before I laugh and act like a fool
    And if I swallow anything evil put your finger down my throat
    And If I shiver please give me a blanket keep me warm let me where your coat.
    (Pete Townsend – “Behind Blue Eyes”)

    Louie and I became friends. Louie was a musician. We took a ride on his motorcycle down to St. Augustine, and he was just so low-key and mellow, we got to be friends. He was one of the other Yankees on the ship. We’d sing songs we both knew down in the engineroom, and he took a liking to me. I was recently in touch with Louie, and he reminded me of the time I sang the Who song, “Behind Blue Eyes” down in Mission Control. His memory was that I was pretty good. I never knew. Maybe his memory is just faulty after all these years. I did always love that song, and it really fit my state of mind at the time. Fit me like a glove.

    Louie mentioned that Joe Walsh and Marshall Tucker were coming to town and he had an extra ticket. I was so ready to get away from the Jesus Freaks and to be around some “normal” people again, and was really ready to get off the ship, so I took him up on the offer. Somebody produced some acid on the way to the concert, windowpane I believe, and I took a couple of hits of it. One was never enough for me – of whatever was being offered. After my several weeks of intense bible study, I was feeling especially attuned to spirituality, and at some point early on in my “trip”, I decided that this was my chance to try to achieve true oneness with God. I said something to Louie about it, and he just said “Cool, man!” Not much phased him. Once at the concert, I was very restless and couldn’t stay in my seat – I had to get up and move around. At one point, I was certain that I was going to melt. I grew very fearful. I didn’t feel like I was ready to die, and it occurred to me that if I melted, I would probably die. I kept walking around the outside of the arena, with my fear increasing, then found myself talking with a very calm lady, who was quietly preaching and handing out pamphlets about God and whatever religion she was promoting. I began talking to her about my desperate situation – I was melting! – and her calm, soothing approache eventually settled me down. I felt like I was going to be o.k. She didn’t go into all the good and evil business that my friends had recently been preaching at me, she just talked about how God loved everyone and had a plan for each of us, and I ran with that thought and decided that if I was meant to melt that night, I would melt, and that would be part of God’s plan.

    I made my way back into the concert, and began to really peak on my trip. At one point, I felt like I was very powerful, and that all of my power was concentrated in my eyes. I believed that I was telepathically projecting my thoughts to Joe Walsh, through my eyes, and I remember looking straight at him, and in my mind, doing some kind of trick with my eyes to demonstrate my power, and he just looked back at me, shrugged his shoulders, and gave me a look back and said, “Yeah - so what?” Whether or not this really happened, I’ll never know, but it sure felt real to me on my trip.

    At one point, I did believe that I really had achieved the oneness with God that I had sought that night. I was totally in sync with all of creation, and for what seemed like hours, I’d achieved nirvana.

    As I came down off the trip, I had a very deep sense that I had done something to lose that oneness. When I woke up in my rack on the ship the next morning, I was just devestated. Nirvana was gone, a distant memory, an opportunity lost. I had it, and I had blown it. I felt a lof of shame, trying to figure out what I had done to let it slip away. What was left to live for?

    One of the things that kept me going through all of this were my letters home and to friends back in Connecticut, and the letters I got in return. I was a real hurtin’ puppy by that time. This was a time that I especially felt the warmth and caring of my little sister, Mary. Her letters really touched me, as she expressed in them that she knew I was going through a tough time, and really felt for me and wished there was something she could do. They were really heartfelt sentiments from my little sister, and brought me to tears, and probably did more to keep me connected to my humanity than anything else could have. It was in one of these letters that she shared a poem with me that just stunned me. I thought I was quite the poet, but hers just blew me away. It was her first poem, and she had “sprouted” it from one of mine, using an opening line from one of mine for her first line – but the poem itself stunned me:
    Out of the depths cries the shadow of my soul
    Longing to remove the mask of a fool
    Always open and up in the air
    Breezing by the whispering trees
    Shattered by the stare
    They shall all wonder why they came
    And left so soon….shadowed at the climax of our game….

    This concludes Part 3 of the Stribling Saga.

    (Photo of Joe Walsh’s second album, “The Smoker You Get, the Player You Get”
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