ANTHEM is coming, chapter 32

ANTHEM, Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy, publishes on October 1. Each of the book’s 47 chapters begins with a song from the Sixties to set the tone, mood, and scene. Every day between now and October 1, come have a listen and read a snippet from each chapter. On October 1, these posts will be archived with a link at ANTHEM’s webpage for #teachingAnthem1969

This is Chapter 32 (day 16):

MAGIC CARPET RIDE
Written by John Kay and Rushton Moreve
Performed by Steppenwolf
Recorded at American Recorders, Studio City, California 1968
Drummer: Jerry Edmonton

NORMAN:

Wavy appears in front of the buses and yells, “Who’s in charge?”
“Nobody!” comes a chorus from everyone.//
Wavy climbs onto the roof of the Kitchen Bus. 
“Let’s run one at a time!” he yells. “Use a stopwatch! Fastest time’s the winner!”
“That’s for sissies!” yells the driver of the Hospital Bus.
“That’s Ken,” Red tells me. “Watch out for him. He’s a terrible driver.”
“Let’s go!” yells Ken. “Once around the meadow, turn around at the flag, and get back here first!”
The rest of the crowd surges onto the bus roofs.//
“Start your engines!” This despite the fact that all engines are revving and ready to go….//
The roof of my bus is swarming with bodies and it sounds like a stampede is going on. The whole bus rocks and I open my arms to catch a kid who slides down the front windshield.
“Wait a minute!” I say again.
“Who’s bus it this?” yells a girl in pigtails.
“Florsheim’s!” yells Red.
“Well, come on, Florsheim! Floor it!”//
Wavy gets on his knees from his perch atop the Kitchen Bus and points straight ahead with both arms. “The United States of America! And step on it!”

This was a great song for dancing or daydreaming to, pretending to, being totally crazy to. “I like to dream, yes, right between my sound machine,” inspired by John Kay’s new stereo system. hahaha.

It includes that rad base line by Rushton Moreve, which provided the engine that propelled us through the song. Norman has such an engine in Chapter 32… in fact, there are a whole lot of engines revving up to be quite the sound machine for the bus race in the Aspen Meadow on the summer solstice in 1969.

I took this chapter from an actual event that Stewart Brand writes about in the Whole Earth Catalog. It made me laugh out loud, and I decided immediately that Norman needs to be part of this amazement — all the buses from all the communes in a bus race in the Aspen Meadow, kids riding atop their magic carpets, crazily, happily, full of mayhem and joy and almost crashing… finally coming back to earth.

The “Ken” that’s mentioned is Ken Kesey, who had a much more fleshed-out role in this chapter that was cut for length, and for… well, for a middle-grade novel. I gave some of his lines to Wavy, and I slipped Kesey’s name back in, as the driver of the Kitchen Bus, but surely he would have been driving Further, which was there as well, also excised in the revision… “We’re dropping too many names here at the expense of story.” Frump.

But you can see a picture of Kesey on Further in Scrapbook 1 of ANTHEM.

And Molly has to decide in this chapter, if she’s on the bus, or off the bus… something the entire book seeks to resolve as the story continues.

Chapter 32.

ANTHEM is coming, chapter 31

ANTHEM, Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy, publishes on October 1. Each of the book’s 47 chapters begins with a song from the Sixties to set the tone, mood, and scene. Every day between now and October 1, come have a listen and read a snippet from each chapter. On October 1, these posts will be archived with a link at ANTHEM’s webpage for #teachingAnthem1969

This is Chapter 31 (day 17):

BORN TO BE WILD
Written by Mars Bonfire
Performed by Steppenwolf
Recorded at American Recorders, Studio City, California 1967
Drummer: Jerry Edmonton

“It’s a girl!” cried a young man with an enormous mound of brown curls falling into his eyes. He stepped out of the tipi long enough to let everyone know. “Her name is Summer! Born on the solstice!” He ducked back inside. 
“Welcome Summer!” was the cry then as people circled the tipi and sang a song about peace on earth.
“To the meadow!” shrieked a gaggle of kids running and threading thenselves around the grown-ups.
“Molly, come look!” called Carol.
Norman’s bus sat in the parking area, painted white. A group of painters young and old were spattered with their handiwork Flam acted the role of inspector, walking around and around the bus as if his opinion on the paint job was the one that counted.
“Don’t you love it!” exclaimed Carol. Moonglow sat at her mother’s hip and clapped.
“How..?” began Molly, shocked. Norman would be so upset.
“We wanted to say thank you for the ride yesterday,” said Carol. “I saw that you’d started painting it already, so we just finished it for you.”…//
“Let it dry,” said Carol. “Then it’ll be a canvas just waiting for you, and you can paint to your heart’s content. We’ll help you. It will be fun to do in the meadow.”
There was no resisting them after that.

Back to “Easy Rider” for Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild,” a song that still makes me want to run away from home, young and full of possibility, “looking for adventure; whatever comes my way.”

Which is where Norman is about to find himself, in full embrace of all kinds of new sensory experiences, including skinny dipping with the gang in the Aspen Meadow on the solstice, an experience Molly isn’t about to let him partake in.

Hugh RomneyWavy Gravy — makes his first appearance in Chapter 31. Wavy is one of the real people I lobbied to keep in the story and found a way to do by cutting some other beloved sixties folks, as well as the better part of a chapter that I dearly wanted to keep, so Wavy could stay, and the story could move forward. More on that chapter coming up.

Wavy was — and is — one of my heroes in life. He makes an appearance in the last scrapbook of ANTHEM, too, arriving with the Hog Farm to be the “Please Force” at Woodstock in 1969. 

Things are starting to get a little wild in Chapter 31, as folks from all the communes in New Mexico converge in the Aspen Meadow on the Summer Solstice, 1969. There really was this gathering, which you’ll read more about in the next chapter. 

But first, Norman — who did not want to make this trip at all — is about to “let it all go for peace” — or maybe that’s love — and come into his own wild self.

As Wavy says, “We are all the same person trying to shake hands with ourselves.”

Chapter 31.

ANTHEM is coming, chapter 30

ANTHEM, Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy, publishes on October 1. Each of the book’s 47 chapters begins with a song from the Sixties to set the tone, mood, and scene. Every day between now and October 1, come have a listen and read a snippet from each chapter. On October 1, these posts will be archived with a link at ANTHEM’s webpage for #teachingAnthem1969

This is Chapter 30 (day 18):

PEOPLE GOT TO BE FREE
Written by Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati
Performed by the Rascals
Recorded at Atlantic Studios, New York, New York 1968
Drummer: Dino Danelli

A young man with a thick head of wild black hair and a bushy beard interrupted Molly’s thoughts. “There are lots of us here,” he said. “We’re trying to create what we never had, or we’re making room for whatever is coming, because something is coming, something is asking for expression.”
“It’s the Age of Aquarius,” said Ben. “Harmony is coming.”
“Struggle is coming,” said the weathered man. He nodded to Norman and Molly. “Maybe you’ll find what you seek here with us. We’re all meeting tomorrow in the Aspen Meadow above Santa Fe for solstice. Come with us. Bring your bus. You can go on your way from there, if you want. But come see.”
“We leave early in the morning,” Molly said before Norman could answer.
“Too bad,” said Sadie. She smiled at Norman, who blushed.
“Go in peace,” said Ben. 

I have a feeling they will go in peace… to the solstice celebration in the Aspen Meadow. Otherwise, what is fiction for? 

First, though, a night around the fire at New Buffalo, where the philosophies of the counterculture are revealed. “We don’t need things for the sake of having things,” said a girl with freckles and glasses. “We don’t need a lot of money. What we need is community and caring.” 

That’s for starters. “People Got to be Free” was a huge hit for the Rascals in 1968, an upbeat song all about freedom and tolerance and peace. “Peace in the valley, people got to be free.”

We were supposed to sing it at my senior class “revue” before graduation, at Clark Air Force Base, in the Philippines, where my dad was stationed the last of my high school years, in 1971. Somewhere Franny’s dad might have been stationed, in COUNTDOWN.

Someone changed the tune, though, at the last minute, and there was a great hubbub over it, as I remember. It suddenly, at the height of the Vietnam War, wasn’t an appropriate song. Someone suggested “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” by the Animals, which was worse, lyrics-wise (but the chorus was great). 

Eventually “Get Together” by the Youngbloods won out, and we 17- and 18-year-olds living overseas on the cusp of adulthood and in the middle of an unpopular war we didn’t understand but saw our fathers fighting every day, began to learn to pay attention.

We’ll meet some of those touched by the Vietnam War in future chapters. For now, we have a solstice celebration to attend.

Chapter 30.