Category Archives: March on Washington

Hot Air


I became a fan of the late James Garner a ways back when I was an idealistic teen hoping to participate in the remaking of this corrupt, sick, unfair world. Immediately after Martin Luther King was whacked, I delved into his life and adopted him as my hero. I learned that several white actors had participated with him in the March on Washington in August, 1963. Among them were Burt Lancaster, Charlton Heston, Marlon Brando, James Franciscus, and James Garner.

It took plenty of coglioni for a white guy to associate himself with the Civil Rights movement back then. Heston was warned off rubbing shoulders with King by his agents and his friends who ran movie studios. They told him it would be career suicide and, in fact, Heston’s career arc dipped significantly in the mid- and late-’60s.


Actress Diahann Carroll & James Garner At The March On Washington

For his part, Garner also experienced a rough patch after throwing his lot in with King et al. Prior to the March, Garner’d portrayed a charming, borderline-swindler card player named Bret Maverick on the long-running eponymous TV series. The year of the March he appeared in the Hollywood blockbuster The Great Escape. The future looked limitless for him. Then, after pix of him attending the March appeared in newspapers all over the country, it seemed he was only able to snag roles in mediocre, lower-budget films for a few years.

It wasn’t until he scored the role of private detective Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files in the more easy-going ’70s that he hit the top of the biz again.

The world, BTW, is still corrupt, sick, and unfair. Garner, though, did what he could about it

In The Cards

Speaking of local blogs (well, I did mention one yesterday, and writing this one almost every day seems a seamless task to me, so, yeah, we’ve been speaking of local blogs), if you’re into the woo occult you might be interested in Maryll Jones’s Interpretations.

Her URL, BTW, is I asked her how she managed to score such an address — you’d think several jillion bloggers named Maryll would have snapped it up way before she did. She told me she purchased it in 1998 which, I believe, was back in the days when the interwebs were powered by steam. She’s been sitting on for lo these many years yet Interpretations is only a couple of months old.

Maryll studies tarot and talks about the cards and her life in Interpretations. She even occasionally does impromptu readings for interested parties at Soma Coffee. Loyal Pencillistas know that I look askance at things like tarot. Nevertheless, I like to flog for my blog-writing colleagues.


“We Are All Interested In The Future….”

There. Now, ain’t I a broad-minded fellow?

The Red Dawn

So, the City of Somerset, Kentucky, has opened its own municipally-run retail gas station. Folks in that neck of the woods can fill up on regular unleaded (the only octane the place offers) for as little as $3.36 a gal. There are no Cool Ranch Doritos, lubricated reservoir tip condoms, nor sullen teenagers behind the counter. The place sells gas, period.

The city buys the gas wholesale and then sells it based on the current average regional retail price. Mayor Eddie Girdler of Somerset sez the city has no interest in making a profit on this venture, meaning he’s likely a child-molesting, commie, Nazi abortionist and prob. was born in Kenya around the time Barack Obama was.


You Can Trust Your Car To The Man Who Wears The Star

Acc’d’g to the Washington Post, local private gas station operators are aghast at the development. Their prices, natch, are higher than the city’s place because they have to stock their shelves with junk food, booze, and cheap prophylactics. Oh, and they have to hire sullen teenagers to put up product and sell it. One fellow who runs a nearby convenience store/gas station says, basically, only an idiot would not recognize the city’s venture as “socialist.”

It may interest you to know Eddie Girdler is a Republican.

Keeping Reachin’ For The Stars

I understand Casey Kasem’s body has gone missing. The TV DJ died earlier this month even as his wife and other potential heirs fought tooth and nail over whom he loved mostest.


Casey Kasem & Wife Jean in the 1980s

My Soma Coffee co-loiterer Michael Spica wonders if there’ll be an American Top 40 list of possible hiding places for Casey’s corpse.

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Wednes II


“When the civil rights battle was won, all the Jews and hippies and artists were middle class white people and all the blacks were still poor.” — Jonathan Lethem



All the coolest things happened in the ten year period before I became old enough to participate in them. Here’s a list of events I’d have attended or been part of had I been 18 years old and not still terrified of being grounded for a couple of months by Ma or clunked on the head by Dad:

Summer of Love

I Wished

How I longed to have been there!

Accordingly, for the first few years of my youthful independence, I tried to do everything that I couldn’t when I was a tadpole.

I mean, I even burned my Selective Service System registration card the day I got it in 1974, even though the draft had been effectively ended at least a year by that time. I felt revolutionary. I must have looked like a dope.

Some six months before that great act of resistance, I concocted a foolproof cover story, bundled up some clothing, a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush, and pocketed the entirety of my wealth — some $12, IIRC — and set off with five pals for southern Indiana and the Erie Canal “Soda” Pop Festival.

Soda Pop Festival Ticket

Where Did I Get $20?!

It would be my first rock festival and, I was certain, would be as cool, as transcendent, as culturally significant, as oh wow! as Woodstock. I was 16 years old.

This was my cover story: I was a member of the Astronomy Club in high school. In fact, by Labor Day weekend 1972, I’d already been elected vice president of that august group. The only nerdier guys were the Chess Club members, some of whom were also members of our gang. The Astronomy Club twice a year would hold a weekend camp-out some 50 miles west of Chicago on one of our members’ uncle’s property where we’d set up our telescopes, keep running counts of meteors, and when we got too cold, huddle in cars and look at the Playboy magazines that one of us invariably brought.

I told my parents the Astronomy Club camp-out would be early that year.

“Okay,” Ma said as I shoved off. “Just be careful.” I nodded and walked a couple of blocks to a prearranged meeting point. There, in a rusty old black Ford blaring the 8-track strains of the “Concert for Bangladesh,” sat not my pimply-faced geeky brethren but three hippies named Bart, Karen, and Gaye. Behind the Ford was an even rustier faded blue Rambler containing two more hippies named Ronnie and Sunshine.

I never found out what Sunshine’s real name was. He’d earned his moniker because he was mad for Orange Sunshine, a type of LSD that made other kinds of acid seem like something your Mom would take.

Orange Sunshine

A Four-way Blotter Hit Of Orange Sunshine

Sunshine always had a faraway look in his eyes. Faraway.

Bart, Ronnie, and Sunshine were in their mid-20s. Karen, Gaye, and I were in our mid-teens. Bart and Karen were a couple, which we — self-regarded free-thinking and free-loving freaks — thought nothing of. I was madly in love with Gaye. She was the first white chick I ever knew who had an Afro.

As we barreled south on Interstate 57, I even tried to hold Gaye’s hand, which she allowed me to do for all of 13 seconds. The rest of the time she spent staring out the back window of the Ford, looking for all the world like a lonely puppy. I wouldn’t let myself realize it at the time, but she was mooning over Ronnie, following us in the Rambler. She was madly in love with him.

The Erie Canal “Soda” Pop Festival originally was slated to be held in Chandler, Indiana but county officials there quickly put the kibosh on that idea. After scouting around for a new site, the organizers discovered a piece of oxbow land just east of the the Wabash River called Bull Island, near New Harmony. Because the big river had changed its course over the years, Bull Island, originally part of Illinois, by then was on the Indiana side of the river. Ergo, Indiana authorities had no jurisdiction over it. And, like that, the festival had a new home.

Evansville Courier-Press Photo

The Way In

I took a hit of Orange Sunshine that Saturday night, my first acid trip. I’d hardly ever smoked marijuana to that point. In fact, I’d only drunk alcohol a handful of times. “Don’t worry,” Ronnie advised me, “this is gonna be freaky.”

Freaky was his word for wonderful.

A couple of hours later as Foghat played “I Just Wanna Make Love to You,” I looked down at my hands and discovered that I’d gashed them wide open. The gaping wound was big enough that I could have sworn I saw the very tendons and bones inside of me. “Oh God,” I shrieked, “I need bandages, quick!”

My plea was so desperate that any number of people leaped up and ran for First Aid supplies.

Evansville Courier-Press Photo

The next morning when I woke up, my pals were laughing at me. I considered this highly insulting; after all, I’d nearly severed my hands. Then I learned what had really happened. A guy was walking around passing out flyers. I stuck out my hand to take one and — wouldn’t you know it? — got myself a nasty paper cut.

That was the extent of my trauma.

Freaky indeed.

As we bathed in the Wabash River that morning, the sounds of Ravi Shankar’s sitar wafted over us. I’ll never forget that moment because it was the very first time I’d ever seen a nude chick. Thank heavens I was waist deep in the river. I loitered there for a long time, not just to catch sidelong glances at her and other unclothed females, but to allow certain parts of my anatomy below the surface to de-tumesce.

Did I mention I was 16?

Evansville Courier-Press Photo

Ravi Shankar At Bull Island

Anyway, Bull Island was a catastrophe. More than 200,000 people showed up; the organizers were prepared for 50,000. Much of the acid sold there was not just a rip-off, it was dangerous laced with strychnine. Before the acts arrived by helicopter, each was advised not to drop any acid purchased at the site. We were lucky inasmuch as Sunshine had dosed us from his personal stash.

Bull Island, the festival, lacked water, food, medical supplies, and toilets. A downpour of biblical proportions soaked the 900-acre site on Friday night. Trucks bringing food into the festival were looted and one was overturned and burned. A kid in a sleeping bag was run over by a car backing up on Sunday night. Three other kids drowned in the Wabash River.

Scheduled acts included Rod Stewart and the Faces, Black Sabbath, the Allman Brothers, and Joe Cocker. None of them performed. Instead, we were treated to the likes of Black Oak Arkansas.

After the festival was over, the stage was set on fire.

Evansville Courier-Press Photo

Aftermath: A Burned-Out Food Truck

I think of all this because I learned Ravi Shankar died yesterday. He was 92. He played at Woodstock as well as Bull Island.

Bull Island was not Woodstock.