ANTHEM is coming, chapter 43

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 43 (day 5):

EVIL WAYS
Written by Clarence “Sonny” Henry
Performed by Santana
Recorded at Pacific Recording Studios, San Mateo, California 1969
Drummer: Mike Shrieve 

NORMAN:

Barry’s letter sticks in my craw like a swallowed chicken bone I can’t dislodge. I might choke on it. His tone is so cavalier, just like he always is. He expects me to say How high? Every time he says Jump. All my life, I looked up to Barry. I wanted to be like him. I would do — and did — anything for him.
 But when I wanted him to help me recruit members for my band, he was too busy. When I wanted him to put together a band and put me in it, he forgot about his promise and said he wasn’t interested in a band. When he wanted me to keep quiet about his whereabouts, or even the fact that he was alive, I did it. Molly is right; I should have told her. I helped break her heart by not telling her he was safe. Barry left her without a good-bye. Because that’s what Barry does. He does as he pleases. Has, all his life. Why do we let him get away with that?

Things are coming to a head in San Francisco, and it’s a toss-up as to which way they will go. “Evil Ways” highlights Norman’s dawning awareness of who his cousin is, and why his family has treated him as the golden child for so long.

And, in this chapter, Norman is a stand-in for the American people who were increasingly coming awake to what they saw as the evils of the war in Vietnam, and to those who wanted to right wrongs in other ways as they worked for equality and justice in America, as Jo Ellen does. (She has come a long — and unsurprising — way from her college days in COUNTDOWN, yes?)

No spoilers here, but a couple more stills from ANTHEM scrapbooks as we hurtle to not only the end of the story, but the end of our #47chapters47songs. (We cut the first photo, but I love it so much, I want to include it here.)

And one that did make the cut:

It was a heady time.

And one more:

Chapter 43.

ANTHEM is coming, chapter 42

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 42 (day 6):

DARK STAR
Written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia
Performed by the Grateful Dead
Recorded live at Fillmore West, San Francisco, California 1969
Drummer: Mickey Hart

“My name is Molly. I’m a friend of your brother’s. Drew.”
Jo Ellen was concerned. “Is everything all right?”
“With Drew, yes. With us, no.”
Molly described their dilemma while Jo Ellen listened.
“I just happened to stop home to pick up some files,” she said. “Can you come to my office? I’m in the Castro. Do you have a pencil for the address?”
They were sitting in the waiting room when Jo Ellen returned. She ushered them into a small office, barely big enough for the five of them. Stacks of file folders lined the desk and more stacks on the floor threatened to topple over.
“I’m new here,” she said. “This is my first job out of law school. I’m not sure I can help you. We do civil rights litigation, mostly violations of the first, fourth, eight, and fourteenth amendments.”
“They’ve all been violated,” said Flo.
“Excuse me, who are you?”
“We’re the veterans. Moral support,” said Flo.
“We’re the adults,” said Eddie.
Jo Ellen raised an eyebrow and continued, speaking directly to Molly.

With apologies to Deadheads everywhere, I’ll confess that I was not a fan, and that I didn’t learn to be a fan as I wrote ANTHEM. I wanted a Grateful Dead song to reflect where we were in the story, and to honor the Dead, as they are a San Francisco band. You’ll find several San Francisco bands in this last section of the book, as we head for the end/finale.

“Dark Star” is a perfect title for a chapter where that dark star is revealed after so many hints and smaller peeks into just what Molly and Norman have been hurtling toward. Not to give it away, but to say that I did learn to appreciate the jam that is “Dark Star” and could imagine how the music could live on today as something quite special.

The version of “Dark Star” above is the jam recorded in 1969 at Fillmore West, which is where Molly and Norman may well be headed before it’s all over; keep reading. It was fun to research San Francisco bands, and Bill Graham’s Fillmore West.

It was meaningful to walk across the Berkeley campus and stand in the places where so much student activism had been born and nurtured, from the Free Speech movement in 1964 (which opens ANTHEM’s first scrapbook) to the People’s Park protest in 1969. More stills from ANTHEM scrapbooks:

I needed to know locations for various other venues in 1969. The internet and interviews can only take you so far. So I went to San Francisco for research and to get a feel for the Haight, the Berkeley campus, the San Francisco Zen Center, the Castro, city hall, the jail, pawn shops and coffee shops and more.

1969 was a pivotal time in this country, and a trippy time to be in San Francisco. I took my research and used my imagination for much in these chapters. The Grateful Dead took me there.

Chapter 42.

ANTHEM is coming, chapter 41

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 41 (day 7):

I-FEEL-LIKE-I’M-FIXIN’-TO-DIE RAG
Written by Joe McDonald
Performed by Country Joe and the Fish
Recorded at Vanguard Studios, New York, NY 1967
Drummer: Gary “Chicken” Hirsh

Flo repeated himself. “Our objective was to destroy the Viet Cong’s headquarters on the border of Cambodia in Vietnam. We used canopies to drop heavy equipment — jeeps, trucks, howitzers, supplies. And men. Eight hundred forty five of us flew under the silks that day, in two 26-second drop zones — that’s all the time we had.
“Let me tell you, you stand in the doorway of a C-130 aircraft 1500 feet in the air and leap into the turbulence of the propeller wash at 130 knots — your heart flies right out of your body. You have to jump out the door so you can catch it.”
The pride in Flo’s voice touched Molly in a patriotic way. 
“That’s amazing,” she said. Norman agreed….
Eddie appeared with a bucket of paint. “Flo’s a hero,” he said. “Got the bronze star.”
Flo waved off Eddie’s praise. “I like the uniforms. You shoulda seen me. Sharp.”

Flo and Eddie represent pride in their military service, pride in the men they served with, and pride in the brotherhood of soldiering, a viewpoint much needed in ANTHEM, and one that was important to me to represent, on a personal level as well, since my dad was an air force pilot who flew in Vietnam (you’ll meet him as Colonel Chapman in a future chapter), and I wanted to honor his service. I wanted to honor the soldiers who served.

Chapters 40 and 41 give the reader a window into different ways of serving as well, Eddie on an aircraft carrier as a plane handler, and Flo a “Sky Soldier with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Operation Junction City, 1967,” the only combat airborne mission of the Vietnam War.

From an ANTHEM scrapbook:

There were many ways to serve:

Chapter 41.

ANTHEM is coming, chapter 40

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 40 (day 8):

ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER
Written by Bob Dylan
Performed by Bob Dylan
Recorded at Columbia Studios, Nashville, Tennessee 1967
Drummer: Kenny Buttrey

Performed by the Jimi Hendrix Experience
Recorded at Olympic Studio, London, England and
Record Plant, New York, NY 1968
Drummer: Mitch Mitchell

“So you didn’t have to fight in the jungle?”
“It’s a different fight,” said Eddie. “You work seventeen hours a day, seven days a week. Your job is to keep those fighters flying. You live with over two thousand people on your ship, and sleep in bunks stacked six high. You take care of your aircraft so the pilots can complete their missions successfully. You hope they return. You live in a twilight zone in the middle of nowhere, and eat a lot of powered hamburger.”
“How did you get there?” asked Norman.
“They take you there! Let me tell you, it’s a weird feeling when you’re on an airplane and you’re surrounded by only sea to the horizon everywhere you look, and then, suddenly, you see this speck down below, and that’s where you’re supposed to land. You start dropping like a rock. And when your plane hits that deck, you feel like a rock. You hope the handler is gonna grab the arresting wire on the first try and you’re not going to end up in the ocean!”
“Wow!” said Norman, clearly impressed.
Molly felt herself changing her mind about San Francisco. She pulled her rubber band off her wrist and began to gather back her hair.
“It was the biggest experience of my life,” said Eddie. “A nineteen-year-old kid joining the navy to see the world.”

The missing Barry loves Hendrix, so of course we need Hendrix in ANTHEM, and all those notes he bends with that wailing Stratocaster. He makes his appearance in the title of Chapter 40, singing Dylan’s lyrics. “There must be some way out of here” / Said the joker to the thief / “There’s too much confusion / I can’t get no relief…”

There were many watchtowers in play during the war in Vietnam, including those on aircraft carriers in the South China Sea. So Norman and Molly meet Eddie, who worked on an aircraft carrier, and Flo, who was an army paratrooper — another watchtower — jumping out of a C-130 flown by the air force — another watchtower — and so on and so on.

Another kind of watchtower, from an ANTHEM scrapbook:

and one more:

The watchtowers of war are highlighted in Chapter 40, manned partly by two men I named after the Sixties pop duo Flo and Eddie, two of the original founding members of The Turtles.

Watchtowers have always fascinated me as guardians of whatever they are appointed to protect. In this case, both Eddie Mullin and Florian Finelli are about to accompay Molly and Norman on the last leg of their trip, as they enter, finally, San Francisco and the drama that lies ahead.

Chapter 40.

ANTHEM is coming, chapter 39

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 39 (day 9):

SPACE COWBOY
Written by Steve Miller and Ben Sidran
Performed by the Steve Miller Band
Recorded at Sound Recorders, Hollywood, California 1969
Drummer: Tim Davis

NORMAN

“Drew!” says Molly. “Norman, it’s Drew!”
“You are correct,” says Drew. “I am surprised to see you here.”
“You’re surprised!” says Molly. “Norman! It’s Drew!”
I start to laugh. It’s so good to see someone we know. “What are you doing here?” I ask Drew. “I thought you were going to some air force base.”
“I am going to Vandenberg Air Force Base tomorrow,” says Drew. But tonight we are at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.”
“So I see!”
“I thought you were going to San Francisco,” says Drew.
“We are,” I say. “We are on the way.”
“The Apollo astronauts trained here,” said Drew. “They learned how to identify the thirty-seven navigational stars that their guidance computer uses. This is in case of equipment failure. Inside the observatory, there is a Zeiss refracting telescope in the east dome, so you can see the stars.”
Molly looks like she wants to hug Drew, she is so delighted to see him, but she settles for, “Good for you, Drew.”

Drew is the ultimate space cowboy in ANTHEM, representing the nation’s fervor about the moon landing that’s at-hand. You’ll recognize Drew from COUNTDOWN, where he was 9 years old and wanted to be an astronaut.

It was 1962 and Drew’s hero was John Glenn. Drew carried the book Our Friend the Atom everywhere he went, and spouted off facts about atoms and the atomic bomb, in the midst of his fear about the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Discovering Drew in ANTHEM is an Easter egg for COUNTDOWN readers, but it’s not necessary to know Drew from previous Sixties books, as each book in the trilogy is a stand-alone novel.

The Steve Miller Band came into its own in the early seventies, known better for “Take the Money and Run” or “Fly Like an Eagle,” or “Rock’n’Me” but I love “Space Cowboy” for its insistent beat and straight-ahead guitar hook. And it’s perfect for Drew, and for this chapter at the Griffith Observatory late on a June night in 1969.

Chapter 39.