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  • In my reading, I tend to glom onto a period in history, and read everything I can get my hands on surrounding that period. Novels, biographies, non-fictional accounts, etc. One period in recent history that has fascinated me was the period of the Beat poets and writers, and the transition from the Beats to the likes of Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and some of the early hippie-types, the Grateful Dead and the early acid freaks of the Bay Area.

    I’d just read Kerouac’s “Dharma Bums” and “Cody” when I had the dream that began with my meeting Kerouac. I remembered this one the other day, as we were having a spirited on-line debate about the merits and value, or lack thereof, of the Cowbird Story of the Day. It was a good debate, in that, opinions were aired out – I was not shy about my own (my family name motto is “Neither Rashly nor Timidly”. I have always honored the second part of the motto, but have on occasion been rash, though I try not to be). And, while I can be stubborn on such subjects, I did eventually open my mind when confronted with a completely different viewpoint, and came away from the debate willing to relook at the Daily Story in a different light.

    So, what does all that have to do with the Beats and the early Hippies, you may be wondering? Well, in the middle of it all, the debate veered off the road for a few comments, as these things do, and got onto the subject of writers in general. Sean mentioned meeting Truman Capote once, and that comment just triggered the memory of meeting Jack Kerouac once, when a car veered off the road….all in a dream. This was a dream so bizarre and filled with unusual cameo appearances, I’d written it all down in a journal. So, I dug the journal out, and this is my Cowbird Dream of the Day.

    (Pictured above - Cassady and Kerouac)
  • It was, of course, on the road that I met Jack. I had been hitchhiking, somewhere out west, when this 1950's Oldsmobile came careening off the road, onto the shoulder, damn near ran me over, and Kerouac flung the back passenger side door open and yelled "Jump in" as the car kept moving past me. He reached out and grabbed my arm and swung me into the moving car. The crazed looking driver (Kerouac was in the front passenger seat) pressed the gas pedal to the floor and we peeled off the shoulder and back onto the highway, while I wrestled with the flapping door to pull it shut. The driver was Neal Cassady, though Kerouac kept calling him Dean. His eyes bugged out of their sockets, and he kept passing everyone and their brothers as we flew down the road, doing what had to be 100 mph or more. Jack said something in French to him, and he just grunted and grinned, madly, closing his crazed eyes ,then opening them again with a roar of laughter.

    Kerouac was scribbling something on a roll of toilet paper the whole time. I asked them where they were heading, when I noticed, for the first time, Ken Kesey sitting beside me in the back. He had a glazed over look about him, but he answered my question, saying, "Further...", looking dazed and spaced out.

    (In the picture - Ken Kesey, author of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", and original Merry Prankster)
  • I said, "Far out, man, but further than where?". Kesey looked at me and rolled out laughing, as he said, "Further ON, man! Further ON!" Just then, we passed a psychadelically-painted school bus that had “Further” on it’s destination sign in the front.


    I fell asleep (in the dream), then next thing I knew, I was awoken to a "bump-ta-bump-ti-bumping" as the car had veered off the road and went rocking and rolling across a cow pasture, everyone in the car bouncing all over, mashing into each other, stuff flying everywhere in the car, Kerouac yelling "Dean!" and something unitelligible in French. Moriarty just calmly said "Shortcut!" as he dodged around cows and tractors. Kesey kept laughing the whole time. I was looking for a way out. I was beginning to suspect it was a dream, but couldn’t be quite sure. It felt so real.

    (Picture: Bus used for Electric Koolaid Acid Tests and trips around the country by the Merry Pranksters, on one of which they met up with Kerouac and Leary - the meeting didn't go well, though)
  • Right then, I noticed Aldous Huxley, for the first time, slumped down low in the front seat, between Kerouac and Moriarty, reading his own - "Perceptions of the Mind". He looked up from the book and, pointing to his temple, said "it's all in here, Pete, look within – therein lies your answers". Just then, the car screeched to a halt inside a large apartment in New York City. (It was a dream, so it didn't have to make sense).

    Alan Ginsberg began to howl like a wild man in the kitchen, as he chopped up celery and onions for the soup he was making. The Moody Blues album, "In Search of the Lost Chord" was playing on the record player, the song "Legend of a Mind" - "Timothy Leary's dead, No, no, no, no, he's outside looking in". Sure enough, I looked out on the fire escape, and there was Leary, with Owl Owsley, peering in at us. They started arguing about something, and Kesey yanked the record off the stereo.

    Pictured above: Beat Poet and author of "Howl", Allen Ginsberg
  • Everything stopped. Ginsberg said "Hey, where's the music?" Leary had taken a bag of acid hits from Owsley and was passing them around to everyone. Kesey pulled out a box, opened it up, and it began to rain inside the apartment. Phil Lesh started singing, "It's all a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago", and just before the acid got to me, I woke up, drenched. Was it sweat, or was it the rain? I immediately pulled out my journal and wrote it all down. I went back to sleep, but couldn’t get back into the dream, as far as I know.

    That was my dream, and that’s my story. How about you? Have you had any interesting dreams lately? Try writing them down when you awake. The more you do that, the more you’ll remember them. We’d like to hear some of them. Dreams can make for interesting stories!

    Photo: Album cover of Grateful Dead Album "American Beauty", on which is the song "Box of Rain", including the line quoted by Phil Lesh above, who wrote and sang the song on the album.
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