A noted team of anthropologists from the University of Borneo was sifting through ashes purportedly remaining from the original hippie encampment in the Santa Cruz Mountains when a lanky graduate student cried, “Eureka.”
Clearly, the evidence he dug up was compelling. There were shards from a primitive hookah made of opalescent blown glass, a preserved pack of zig-zag papers wrapped in yellowed wax paper, and a cache of unopened contraceptives stamped, Use before April 1968, in mint, if somewhat brittle, condition. An unsophisticated colleague, however, who spoke Oma Lung, Uma Kuht, and standard Malay, but only a little pigeon English, thought what he was hearing sounded like, “Ooga Booga,” and started to laugh. His graduate adviser frowned. Apparently, the young man needed to get a more mature outlook on life in general before his grades inevitably suffered.
It was not much later when it became confirmed by carbon dating that the Grateful Dead led by Jerry Garcia on one of his good days played on this very site for what only seemed like forever during the Summer Of Love, back when Pigpen was still somewhat alive and dropping Owsley acid daily in his doomed attempt to ward off evil spirits, and Ken Kesey was attempting to construct an actual habitable structure up the road featuring a tin roof and a pot belly stove, and framed with fallen redwood, oak, and pine, on land he bought with real money that he purportedly earned by scribbling whatever came to mind first, without a backup plan, and cobbled together by alloy nails and baling wire, no twigs, mud, canvas, or straw.
“Fascinating,” the lead professor proclaimed.
“I don’t get what they were thinking,” one graduate student remarked.
“Not thinking,” said another.
“Not thinking as we know it,” averred an assistant professor.
“I believe the quaint terminology was tripping out of one’s mind.”
“Why out? Why not in?”
“It’s kind of sad in a way.”
Later, on a field trip to San Francisco the team visited the site of the original Fillmore. Nothing but pre-stressed concrete remained. No quality artifacts to study. They had to step past panhandlers, hustlers, the insane. Fortunately, it was not too far from their hotel in Japantown. They sampled soul food on Divisadero, pizza on Columbus, pupusas on Valencia, tacos on Mission. They turned down several generous offers of crack.
“A strange, but interesting culture.”
“So many buyers.”
“So many sellers.”
“I’ll be happy to return to the forest where I can drink the water.”
It was in the forest where the tawny owl first noticed and began to observe their behavior. Cries of universal love according to the gospel of Marvin Gaye accompanied the curling smoke from their campfire. What high flying bird could not dig that? The lovely wife of the tawny owl, Thee Mrs., joined him and they shook a tail feather to the beat. Some of the more timid birds in the forest kept a respectable distance but could not help but gawk. A bunch of flies were driven into a tizzy by a bowl of Singapore curry left unprotected. It smelled a whole lot better than the same old mealy shit they were used to. Later, once the fire was safely extinguished, the tawny owl continued his carousing at a higher elevation near the top of Mt. Umunhum. He savored a nice pair of moles for a late dinner. Unless they were in fact voles. With a crooning Marvin Gaye setting the mood, the taste was bound to be delicious.
I only learned some of the less prurient details the next day when the tawny owl wanted to hear more Marvin Gaye. Some days it’s just Marvin Gaye, Marvin Gaye, Marvin Gaye. The hippest owls can’t seem to get enough. That was after he asked me how buying felt across from selling while sitting on my powdered ass. I never expected to hear a question like that from the tawny owl. I said, “Huh?”
It’s no secret to me that the tawny owl uses me brazenly for my cd collection, but who am I to complain? I was listening to Miles Davis’ tribute to Jack Johnson while practicing my hip focused figure-eights, which is roughly equidistant from buying and selling on a separate and unequally higher plane, though still close to the ground, but I bowed to his demand. Nothing new there. I’ve learned it’s not a good idea to cross the tawny owl when all that he craves is Marvin Gaye.
“Let me get this straight,” the tawny owl declared somewhat incredulously as we got right down to the real nitty-gritty, sort of. “The bigger the seller, the bigger the house that entraps him?”
“Roughly,” I repeated.
“Must be like this trouble man Marvin Gaye always be singing about.”
“Or her,” I added.
“Makes no damn sense at all.”
“It’s not generally viewed by the inhabitants as a trap.”
“What else you call it?”
“I think the original idea was to stay warm and dry.”
“No balance in that.”
“That’s the way it is for us.”
“Thin skin, easily penetrated.”
“In a nutshell.”
“Yeah, there’s that. And broken.”
“I got me a slew of cousins who are barn owls. I never understood how an owl can stand to be cooped up inside.”
“Does a whole big barn count as a coop?”
“Size don’t matter.”
“A trap is a trap.”
“There’s that, too.”
“In, out, no matter.
“It must feel bad when you’re trapped inside of that big house.”
“I asked first.”
“You ever feel trapped?”
“Can’t be done. That’s when I fly high and rise above.”
I said, “That’s easy for you to say.”