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.

ANTHEM is coming, chapter 29

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 29 (day 19):

WASN’T BORN TO FOLLOW
Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King
Performed by the Byrds
Recorded at Columbia Studios, Hollywood, California 1967
Drummer: Michael Clarke (concert); Jim Gordon (studio) 

When Norman opened his eyes, Molly was there beside him. There was worry in her voice. “Want some water?”
Norman half sat up and sipped some cool water from a tin cup. He was in a real bed in a tiny adobe room with a fireplace that warmed the walls and everything within them. It was the coziest he’d felt since leaving Charleston.
“Where are we?” He vaguely remembered pulling into the yard and children crowding the bus, happy waiting arms taking Moonglow from Carol, and other, capable arms, guiding him to a place to sleep.
“You’re at New Buffalo,” said a voice on the other side of the bed. Norman turned to look at a woman with smoky brown eyes and corkscrew black curls spilling around a head scarf, like a halo around her head. “My name is Sadie.” Norman blinked and swallowed.

“Wasn’t Born to Follow” is an important transition song in ANTHEM, as Molly and Norman come into their first commune experience in New Mexico. Plus, it’s just a song I adore by The Byrds, a group that got its start at The Troubadour in Hollywood; remember that when we find our heroes there in a future chapter.

The song was also a part of the movie “Easy Rider,” which you can see scenes from in the song clip above. The actual part of the film where the song plays is here, if you want to see that. And putting the song title into the YouTube search box will give you a plethora of other choices. 

I rewatched Easy Rider in 1989, at its 20th anniversary, and wrote an essay about “our generation” back then, and I have rewatched it several times since, and… wondered… about my generation. Which, of course, is one reason I’m writing about it now.

I became fascinated with the lore behind filming the movie, which you can read here (one version) in “A Reefer Runs Through It.”  One line of many telling lines: “As it turned out, any problems the production may have had over finance were as nothing compared with the trauma of the Easy Rider shoot…”

I had a thing about this movie from the moment it appeared on the scene. I asked my father for an advance on my allowance to go see it. And I defied him to see it. He forbade me to go, with, “I will not give Peter Fonda three dollars of my hard-earned money.” 

So I saw it with my boyfriend anyway (who is now, somehow, miraculously, my husband), in 1969. (Somehow, miraculously, a movie ticket was once $3.)

When I started researching New Buffalo for this section of ANTHEM, I discovered that the “Wasn’t Born to Follow” section of the movie sets up Captain America and Billy’s time at just such a commune in New Mexico. So I paid careful attention to it as I rewatched the movie for research. 

It turns out, Dennis Hopper wanted to film this section of the movie at New Buffalo, but the residents voted against his request, so he had to film the scenes on sets they built nearby. But the landscape is the same, and the movie holds the same weird fascination for me now that it did when I was a teenager in Charleston, South Carolina, like Molly, and discovering the world.

Now Both Captain America and Billy are gone, figuratively in the movie, and literally, in life. I miss them. I miss those days. But they weren’t easy for the kids trying to create a new life in the high country, in the communes of the desert Southwest, as you’ll see in these chapters of the book, as Molly and Norman make a stop so Norman can recover, and so they can make (or argue over) plans for the next push.

Chapter 29.

ANTHEM is coming, chapter 28

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 28 (day 20):

GOING UP THE COUNTRY
Written by Alan Wilson
Performed by Canned Heat
Recorded at ID Sound Recorders, Hollywood, California 1968
Drummer: Adolfo “Fito” De La Parra

The next morning Molly read out loud from An Adventurer’s Guide to Travel Across America as they rode through a landscape of shinnery oaks and prickly pears, past the vast grasslands inhabited long ago by plentiful buffalo and bison herds, land tended by the Kiowa and other tribes before the Homestead Act of 1862 sent white settlers pouring into the territory.
“You mean before invaders brought cholera and chaos to Indian land,” said Ben.
“It doesn’t say that,” said Molly.
“It wouldn’t,” said Ben.
Molly frowned. “Why wouldn’t it?” 
“Because ‘the Kiowa and other tribes’ didn’t write that book,” said Ben.
“This is an official guidebook,” said Molly, looking in confusion at the cover.
“That’s the problem,” said Ben. “There’s the official version of the past, and there’s the real past.”
“How do you know which version is real?” Molly asked, genuinely curious.
“Start paying attention to who’s telling the story,” said Carol. “The story changes depending on who’s telling it.”
Molly put the book away but not her questions.
They entered New Mexico at Texline.

“Going Up the Country” indeed. I was not familiar with Canned Heat, at all, but I knew this song of theirs from its radio play (it was also sung at Woodstock), and knew it was considered a “rural hippie anthem” — and we’re getting into a new hippie incarnation now, with Ben and Carol and baby Moonglow along for the ride, and an education Molly and Norman would never have received at home in Charleston. 

Chapter 28 begins a new way of seeing the wide world and those who inhabit different places in it, and hold different stories from the history we’ve been told. 

A totally different experience of living awaits Molly and Norman in New Mexico’s communes, populated by young people who are trying to carve out an existence away from materialism, commercialism, and the life and goals of their parents… and far away from war.

I knew I would need expert readers here, as we segued into New Mexico, and we got them, from enrolled members of Indian tribes in the area — some of whom were students at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe in 1969, to those “kids” who had actually lived and worked in the New Mexico communes in 1969 and built a life there.

What an education *I* received as well. Research can take you very far, but to hear people’s stories who lived that time, and to be the lucky recipient of their expertise and knowledge about your subject matter… this is essential to writing history. You want to get it right.

And you want to have a dog… you neeed a dog:

Molly came around the corner from the bathrooms and the ice machine and saw her cousin with a garden hose, a bottle of shampoo, and something living, white with foamy suds.
“We’ve got a dog!” Norman called as he wrestled with the animal, who clearly wanted to be anywhere than where he currently was.
Molly stalked past Norman without a word and boarded the bus.
They had a dog.

Chapter 28.