Monday, August 27, 2007


Subject was interviewed at a rural residence near his land. Born 1950 in Wichita KS. Then at age 6, in AR

The combination of being in Arkansas and being from a middle-class family with a self-employed father and a semi-farm situation sort of insulated us from the ‘60s, so it hit me a little late. I suppose, probably in college in connection with ROTC, really, where at some point along in there ROTC became emblematic of the military and Vietnam and the establishment. At that time, the University of Arkansas was a land grant college and you had to do your two years of ROTC so all males got it for two years, at that time. You had a choice of Army or Air Force at the U of A. Mine was Army, I guess because I didn’t have good enough eyes to fly. I guess that’s what I decided. I didn’t decide much at that time. I just went along. Following my nose.

I always knew I would go to college. I was fairly good in school and my parents promoted education, which was fine with me. Now, I stayed in ROTC to stay in college, because after two years you didn’t have to be in ROTC. But along about that time you could have a low draft number and go to Vietnam and interrupt your education. But if you stayed in ROTC, you could defer that and finish your education. So that looked like a good enough idea to me, so I stayed in.

I was mostly oblivious of the issue [of war protests], in spite of ROTC. AR was fairly insulated even for more up to date people than myself. For example, we kept hearing that -- on the one day a week when we would march out on the quad, or whatever, that we were going to be protested -- well, the protests always tended to be four or five students who sat in little circles and talked to each other. It was vastly disappointing because then we didn’t get interrupted from marching, which was a real pain. So it wasn’t the sort of thing that jumped in front of your consciousness like it did at a lot of major universities. I was largely oblivious,, quite content to believe that those older and wiser than I were actually wiser. It wasn’t until later that I started maybe questioning what my contemporaries did earlier.

It took awhile. I was out of school and in my first job. Like ‘74. After going through four years of ROTC, you have a military commitment. But by that time you’re an officer, so I was looking for a commitment as an officer. But I wanted my master’s, plus that kept me out of Vietnam longer. So I went ahead and got my master’s, and by that time, Vietnam was winding down. I guess I was taking in information during those last couple of years, because I was listening to what was going on in Vietnam and definitely did not want to go there.

By that time, in one of the strange bits of the way societies work, the warrior class was shrinking, I guess might be kind of the generic way to say it, and they didn’t want half hearted warriors taking up the good slots. It was the only war we had, and there were plenty of what they called ‘regular army’ people --those who are career path, that wanted to be over there. So I got the opportunity to get out early, not go there, not go anywhere, really. Get out early into the inactive reserves just because of the way it was winding down and the machinery was running vast numbers of people into it and there wasn’t a place for them to go. So that all worked out very nicely for me.

But somewhere along in there, I guess the information I was taking in finally got processed. Sort of belatedly I started thinking about what was going on here. I got my head up a little bit once I was out of school. About 22 or 23, then I discovered I had a lot of information I had been taking in, and I just felt, I don’t know, unwilling, or unable to decide I had an opinion about it. I’ve always been distrustful of forming opinions too soon.

Part of the popular media was advising me to be outraged, you know, that part which you might say my parents would be listening to. So I naturally assumed I was not outraged and that there must be something good about it. But it didn’t really connect with me very much. I didn’t feel a great need to rail against my parents, who I basically got along well with. The establishment, since I was middle class, was taking care of my creature needs and seemed to provide a path for my life. It wasn’t like you were facing a depression or something. So it was kind of an academic thing. Plenty of friends in high school and college were smoking pot and using some various other drugs, but it didn’t really attract me because they were using it basically like, say, I like alcohol. Sort of as a way to be different and I guess I was happy the way I was. And so I was only mildly curious as to what the drug culture was.

It wasn’t until my early 20s that I got any kind of curiosity that would lead me to find those people who considered themselves in the drug culture. Before that, if they wanted to come into my world -- I guess I got interested in oriental religions a little bit, psychology a little bit, that sort of thing, wondering how people thought and why they did the things they did. Not like as a college study, just as a personal interest. So I got interested in reading about oriental religions and practices and that sort of thing, and that led me over a little bit, because another one of the areas -- at the time, I was very idealistic about just about everything, so I assumed that we knew better how to incorporate sex into our lives and how to experiment and find our own way in those areas, we meaning our generation.

Whereas in school I hadn’t experimented sexually, once I was out this began to look pretty fascinating. It was definitely all going into my head as possibilities Those who blaze a trail make it easier for the rest to choose what part of the trail we want to follow. I read about the eastern religions and as much was possible in the dreadfully white bread areas where I was living, tried to find those people and be around them some. But I guess kind of to my surprise, I found that, say, orthodox or practicing Buddhism was not any more attractive to me than practicing Catholicism. Or any of the others. I was finding out that in my own way I was an independent thinker, but not in a way that held up well at cocktail conversations. I didn’t really feel like I was ready to convert someone else to my way of thinking, much less badger them or expound on it, although I always felt like I was going to sometime. Haven’t got around to it yet, but -- pretty soon.

I began to pick and choose among everything about what was my track, since my track at that time was very focused around having a job, being able to accumulate enough money to drive out West and go camping, things like that. There was only so much of it I could incorporate into that framework, as opposed to, say, running off for weeks or months at a time to go experiment here or there. So that limited how much of that I could incorporate.

I was on the farm for the six years of my college life, very much a part of the farm there, at least, sort of the Arkansas hill farm/ranch sort of life. Not to be confused with say, Illinois farm country or something. The West was part of my ideal. The West was God’s country. West the right direction. East was the old place. West was the new place. We’re talking the Rockies, the Cascades, kind of scene. Big mountains, clean water. Tall trees. Space. Space to grow. And then, just a fascination with the awesome aspect of nature. I gravitated toward the biggest mountains, the biggest trees, the bluest water. You’d pack in the Rockies, pack in the Cascades, find the Oregon coast, that sort of thing.

My first exposure to any drugs was when was in my mid-twenties, well into my first job, which was mostly just curiosity. That was pot only at that time. I didn’t see that it fit into my life much, which was a personal kind of thing for me. I didn’t like being drunk. My experiences of being drunk weren’t particularly fun. Getting high didn’t make me as ill as getting drunk, but it put me out of control, and I didn’t like that. It wasn’t what I was comfortable with.

It was years later when I relaxed enough to enjoy and appreciate that aspect of it. I was trying to fit the world into my control at that time. I thought I had the world by the tail. Internally, in terms of ‘60s culture, the distillation hadn’t happened yet. The chaff was still in there. I saw so much of the chaff. I’m going, what are you trying to prove? Or , don’t talk so loud or get in my face quite so much. You’re working too hard at this. If you’ve got the answer, you know, it seems that you’d be quiet and not pushy and make me come to you. So it took awhile for the chaff to come out.

The attitudes towards sex, on the other hand, I thought had more promise. That appealed to my idealism. That sex did not have to be the way our parents did it, or the way any particular other group did it and coped with it. That since I had the world by the tail, I was competent to figure out an all new way to live life and do it better. In practical application, coming from where I did, to have sex before marriage was enough of a practical application right there. To feel that you could have a relationship that was a loving relationship, that you had more than one of in a year, was another step beyond that. So just in that sense, that was a leap for me.

I was fascinated by communes, by the possibility that a marriage could involve three people. I couldn’t see much practical way once you got past four, but it seemed like three might work. In spite of absolutely no personal experience to support that, I held onto that for the longest time, either in my own experience or in anybody else I ever observed, it seemed like a good idealistic ‘60s kind of thing.

It was an ideal, generally, in my experience, to less success, which did not affect my feeling that the ideal was sound. It was just the evidence I had been able to run across hadn’t made it yet. Of course, I put a different criteria for success. It was pretty high standards for happiness and harmony. That sort of thing was equated with success at that time. You were pretty much supposed to be happy 24 hours a day, as far as I was concerned. Tough to do that any time.

My two experiences with one night stands left me feeling like I had been dishonest or at least had not really taken the feelings and situation of the other person into account. At least, in a way that would make me feel good. Whether that’s what they were feeling, or if that’s a carryover of me not being totally ‘60s -- I don’t know.

I think partly the rude shocks that life brings along, when it reminds you that you’re just a little part of it, and that control is an illusion -- when you’re young, you can preserve it a little better, because you have more experience with self-imposed deception than you do later on when it all starts to be familiar. Probably, when I got divorced, was when I figured out that I couldn’t deny that I didn’t really have this thing figured out.

At one point we agreed to have lovers outside of the marriage, and tried that for less than two years and found that was too scary in spite of like, we can do this, we’re ‘60s folks. It still messed us up. Our first effort was with another couple. That was early on, when the marriage was working.

I was definitely affected by what I was taking in from the ‘60s -- all the years when I wasn’t acting any of it out. It was all going in. So when my time, on my own internal development came to do things, that was all inside. My possibilities were those that came with the ‘60s, and then when my time in my own way came to something, I knew there was free love, there was drugs, there was rock and roll -- all these things that were totally possible for me because there were really radical people who were doing them in such uncontrolled ways that anything I wanted to do was well within the bounds of possibility. I didn’t have to forge any new paths, due to my own sort-of ‘process it first and then do it’ approach. There was always somebody out in front of me, forging the new areas, marching against this, or demonstrating against that, or trying this substance or that substance. My possibilities were very large, I thought.

I think it’s wonderful that there are those radical people who do have to act out and rebel and live large and be extreme and climb on soap boxes. They do a wonderful service in forging new territory for the rest of us who don’t have an internal need to do that. We profit from their hard knocks.

Without the ‘60s, I probably would have tried to live the life my parents lived, but generations being what they are, it probably wouldn’t have fit and I could easily imagine being in one of those situations where you talk about lives of quiet desperation. Given who I am, I probably would not have made the large leap, or at least not soon enough, to save myself a lot of that desperation. Now I have a large set of possibilities to move through.

Making music and dancing joyfully were always things I thought would be particularly wonderful, although a way to do it did not come out of my childhood. I watched the media, other people, other musicians, other people who could dance -- I had to watch those things from the outside until it came time to make a place for it. I was still married when I decided I had to learn to dance. I went to an Arthur Murray’s, as a couple, which was a social experience unto itself. I don’t think that would be considered part of the ‘60s. I think we’re talking the ‘50s -- not the ‘40s, because I think then people did still dance. It was part of the culture. In the ‘50s, I think they were losing it, along with just about everything else they lost, in suburbia and all that. So you had to have Arthur Murray’s and that sort of thing to learn what is it you might have done as part of your life before. Very strange. Neither of us could tolerate it. It was extremely contrived and alcohol-dependent and with some very strange people teaching ballroom dancing, with a mirrored ball in strip shopping malls at five in the afternoon.

So that didn’t fit, but the need was still there. We kept looking and found the traditional dancing -- I was living in Little Rock at the time -- early ‘80s -- we looked in the paper. I went to one place they were dancing and put my nose in, and I distinctly remember what I saw, which saw a bunch of people who weren’t drunk, who were very joyfully dancing and did it without a mirrored ball and dark light. In fact, it looked just terribly normal. I thought, this is pretty great. [describes “Brigadoon” as an example.]

I didn’t get to this point all on my own. I grew up with my father telling stories about dancing when he was a boy, when they danced in the front room, literally pushed the furniture back and rolled up the carpet. In their German community, they did shadishes, waltzes, live music of course at that time. So I had that in the back of my mind trying to find expression. It sounded to great. He would reminisce about it.

My experience with disco, which I did because that was the way you met women and got to find sex, and that sort of thing -- I never felt like it was an expression of the joy. It touched on it but never really got there. There was too much other stuff going on. The thing that’s nice about traditional dancing is that it’s not complicated and you can get there. Folk dancing is for folks. Not professionals. I mean, on a scale of one to ten, with jitterbug and swing dancing being a ten, folk dancing is a one. It’s basically walking, hopefully in rhythm to the music, but not absolutely necessary. It’s that simple. And that’s why it felt accessible to me. I didn’t know that. I had it idealized from my father’s description. I didn’t have to deal with ‘could I do this’ or not. It was just something my father talked about and it sounded neat. But then I saw these people doing it and they were basically having a good time and I could tell by looking that I could sort of get by there. The first few times I was pretty embarrassed, but everybody else was smiling and laughing and didn’t seem to notice. I did have to kick myself to go, but I really thought I could do that.

It’s moved now to where for me dancing is making music. It is being part of the music. Musicians would be scornful of the term I use -- making music -- since that’s done by musicians. But for dancers, once you get into it, you’re definitely part of the music. So that’s just where you take it. But then, that happens when you do anything for ten years. No -- fourteen or fifteen. You know, time passes.

I think [our sense of civic responsibility] is in a degree different from that of some other generations. I think Al Capp maybe hit upon it in his comic strip of the time, where he was sort of making fun of ‘60s students and invented the student organization wildly indignant about nearly everything (SWINE). Sometimes cartoonists really hit on the kernel of what’s going on, in the same way that myths, legends, and scary stories do. Well, sure you should make fun of students wildly indignant about nearly everything, but that’s still telling you something, that it’s not students who are wildly apathetic about nearly everything, or students on a career track with nothing else in mind, or you name it anything else. There were those people out there opening possibilities by being wildly indignant, by experimenting, by being outrageous, by destroying theirs lives for periods of time, or maybe forever. Or by dying --

All the effects of those things on everyone else adds together in the world we have now. The whole world I’m living in has been changed by the ‘60s. If you look at what the ‘50s were, sort of the combination of the last gasp of an outmoded social system overlaid with an unreal experiment in all kinds of things --- the last gasp of male chauvinism and all that goes with that, world domination by the standards of WWII -- the world desperately needed the ‘60s. With all we’ve done to the world -- even with the ‘60s -- it pales in comparison to what we would have done to the world without the ‘60s. The military industrial complex, the power structure, the press -- the weak press, we didn’t know it was weak at the time, but by the standards of nowadays, we know the non-questioning or not questioning anything, whether its liaisons of the president in the white house, or the machinations of the head of the FBI, you name it -- we didn’t question it. Wise people, the same ones who almost led me to Vietnam, wise people were going to handle things. A patriarchal society, there. The ‘60s started the questioning of that, and with the questioning comes the end. Unless we blow it. We’ve got a chance.

They went to great efforts to preserve that. It’s now disrupted. It’s a state of affairs that you recede to through lack of effort, lack of energy. Inertia brings you that. It’s like gravity. As you get more tired, gravity is still there. It’ll push you right back down. Someone once said, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance -- something like that.

We’ve got a chance. You could say we made our chance. Pretty soon it’s going to be how well we hand it off. That’s a scary thought.

We’re extremely impatient. We knew we were the smartest people who ever came along. Consequently we should be in there at 18. We could invent new ways to live, we could have multi-partner marriages -- surely we could run the country. But by the standards of the previous generation, it’s just now getting to be our turn. Clinton and Gore are considered young.

In my case, the dancing is an expression of idealism. People who are happy, people who have community, people who have village that I’ve never been able to experience in the rest of life -- people who like to do that are sometimes separated geographically but [come together to dance] have such a basic expression, a basic human expression in terms of movement, joy, music, something that touches on such a basic human chord, it keys into all that idealism. And actually, the whole resurgence of traditional folk dancing started in the ‘60s, I just missed. Like everything else, I caught up to it later. The resurgence started on the campuses during the ‘60s.

Long-haired girls in hip huggers. Volkswagens. That sort of mobile, we-don’t-have-to ask somebody permission kind of thing. That’s still part of our times. Of course, the media has taken this and corrupted it to where it’s all around you all the time. I quit watching network television a long time ago. The last I remember of it -- I reacted against the commercials. The price of the entertainment was too high, to be periodically have something that you don’t want. I’m extremely rigid in that I keep trying to control what comes into my head. Commercials -- I had no control over them. There were right there and you had to listen to them. Even if you turned the sound off, the mute button is one of the better inventions of all time -- but it’s still flickering. You’re talking to someone and you keep going like this -- (looking back and forth)

Health food. Organic farming. Very much an outgrowth of the ‘60s. Pretty successful, on the scale of things that came out of the ‘60s. Continuing to grow. As we die and they figure out what we’re dying from, it may get more successful yet. It generally takes a generation or two to know. Some of the answers take awhile. It would be ironic if we all die from DDT residue or too much sugar or something instead of from pot or LSD or cocaine or something. Or more likely even than that, we’ll die from rayon fibers, or something else that we have no idea about.

[As far as the future goes] Part of the time I feel like the genie is out of the bottle and you won’t get it back in. That’s the optimistic side. The other side is that there’s always inertia. You get older, more tired, you lose your idealism. We didn’t do the best job of parenting as a generation. I’m not sure how well we handed it off. That’s the other side. It seems to me, for some reason or another, I have no idea what it was -- but looking at it, there was a lot of low energy, non-involvement parenting going on, among our generation. And I don’t mean because we were too busy making communes or anything like that. I mean, we went out and got jobs and decided to be middle class and we put our kids in daycare. You could say we began to look like ‘them’ if you wanted to. I saw ‘we decided’ -- we probably didn’t decide. We probably just decided we wanted what we wanted and let everything else take the course. You could be a parttime parent instead of being like our grandparents generation, where you did have a spouse at home -- we didn’t quite make it to full time dad, we just got rid of full time mom -- and I really feel one of [a parent’s] job is to pass your culture along. If you pass along a crappy culture, you deserve it. But if you don’t pass along anything, all you’ve done is abdicate. That is on the pessimistic side.

With all those ideals we had, who knows, maybe if we tried to pass them along, there are those who say that generations have to differ. [Interviewer comments about her kids not going as far as she’d like w/ education] Maybe -- if you think about education more in the traditional earmarks of success, we should lighten up on that. The world is not really hurting for more widgets right now. It doesn’t really need a faster growing species of corn, in spite of people who think that’s the answer to everything. Maybe it doesn’t need more concert pianists. Maybe these aren’t the earmarks for success in the world we’re looking at . We don’t have to populate the earth anymore.

If you chose to hide, say, for example, hide from your children the fact that you smoke pot, that’s just one easily identifiable thing to talk about that you’ve hidden from your children, that you haven’t shared with your children. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, I think. You can’t just hide one thing like that from your kids.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Subject D and I sat in the small, paper-strewn office of her home, just off her large work room where she conducts her business.

When I was 12 or 13, my uncle was in the Vietnam war, and my mother was vehemently opposed. She began to say things like -- I had two younger brothers -- if this crap is still going on when they get to be draft age, I’m moving to Canada. She was serious. The irony of it is that she worked -- until she retired -- at Offit Air Force Base. She said there is so much bullshit going on you wouldn’t believe it. She said, I won’t have my children be part of this. So I was aware at that level. I heard her talk a lot and I watched TV quite a bit. I began to see what was occurring. And then there was the music – the Beatles, Rolling Stone, Woodstock and all that. I began to consciously choose a lifestyle then. I graduated high school in 1970, experimented with various mind altering substances -- although I didn’t try anything until I was out of high school. In fact I had a pretty strong opinion that it was the wrong thing to do. My father was alcoholic, and I was concerned about control.

After high school, I began to work immediately, got my own apartment, and met a man who became my first husband. We lived together in Iowa where he was going to school, and I became more aware of not only the political aspect of what was happening in our country, but I was involved in a whole lifestyle change. We lived together -- we partied, experimented with different drugs -- and all that for me was pretty spiritual. Like with LSD, I made sure the situation was just right. I was pretty controlled in my use of stuff -- I was a control freak in that sense. I wouldn’t put myself in a vulnerable position. I wouldn’t go out in public. I didn’t do a lot of LSD. I smoked a lot of pot. Everywhere you went, people were smoking pot. I really feel like it was very mind opening. It altered our consciousness to the point where we were able -- we were already seeing a different point of view, but it really propelled us into an expansion.

My first husband and I both had real mainstream jobs. I worked for attorneys, and he was an accountant. We were living two lives, mainstream jobs, then we were with the counterculture in the evenings and weekends. I got introduced to yoga then. It would be accurate to say, in retrospect, that the use of the mind expanding drugs gave me a different point of view of the world, and therefore I began to choose a more alternative lifestyle, got involved in yoga, changed my diet. I decided I didn’t want to be in a real stressed out lifestyle, totally jerked around by being employed by somebody else, etc. Made a conscious choice not to have kids at that time. And actually lived ten years, throughout my 20s, with that being my lifestyle. And then we split up, exactly on my 30th birthday. We had been growing in different directions, and made a mutual choice to divorce. I had already met S.

At that point, I knew that I had swung far left, and I knew that wasn’t working exactly. And I didn’t want to go all the way back to the right, so I’ve spent the last ten or fifteen years trying to find the balance between the two, realizing that the way to make change is to work on myself and have as much integrity and honesty as I can. If I detach and depart from society, what effect? None, as far as I can tell. So I’ve settled now into a point of view that the best contribution I can give is to continue to do my own internal personal growth. But then my work is very much in the world, working with people -- through the yoga. I’m counseling, too. I don’t have a technical counseling degree, but it becomes very much counseling and encouraging people to not be afraid to change and take a look at their strengths, as well as what we consider our challenges.

And just now are we coming to terms with the financial end of things. We’ve lived very scantily over the last ten years, and when the kids were little it was ok, but now we’re making some major shifts, so that we can deal with what we need to do. It’s ok. About five years ago I knew -- actually, even when the kids were still little – that the lifestyle -- we had to make a strong decision, either go all the way into the woods, or get with the program. S was not of that mind. He rode the fence for quite awhile, couldn’t come to terms with how to make peace with all that. We’ve had several conversations -- I remember saying to him one day that I was choosing a lifestyle that was different from what we’d been doing. I know what I want and I no longer feel guilty, because there was all that guilt piled up -- oh my god I’m selling out and all that crap. It was like, look, it’s going to take a certain amount of money to do this, and I said, we both had the benefits -- we had everything we needed and a lot of what we wanted, and our parents were there 100% for us in all those ways -- and then we shifted more, taking on yoga as a full time job. That’s how I make my money now. Yoga, reika, dreamweaving -- healing arts. I have slow financial times, and then good financial times.

Basic material comforts, and then M hit junior high school last year, and just activities -- N started riding horses two years ago -- a huge financial commitment. In fact, we had to stop for awhile because we just couldn’t keep going, and that really made me feel bad. It’s something she’s really good at, really natural at, and I want to be able to encourage and provide at that level. Being a good parent involves providing what’s necessary in our society, materially. And I believe part of that is installing an ethic to not be quite to consumer oriented. I encourage them to try different things.

In the last couple of years, I’ve been a cycle of really getting in there and looking at all the negative thinking. All of a sudden I’ll find myself in a spiral of negativity, and then I have to ask, how does that manifest around me? Then I explore, taking responsibility for my own negative thinking, realizing that negative thinking is nonproductive, non-life promoting, things that lead toward more destructive behavior. I really believe now, after looking at all this in myself and other people, that if we stay in a spiral of depressed or negative thinking, that’s exactly what makes us ill. There’s no doubt in my mind anymore. That negative thinking or depression leads to real strong downward emotions, and then all that hits the body like an impact at the cellular level, and then the body goes, well, ok, this is the message you’re giving me -- or the body becomes a direct reflection of all our thoughts and emotions.

The good news is, once you realize this, you can begin to change it. You change the patterns, the ways of relating. That’s what a lot of my work is now. You deal with the core issues that brought it on, and change it. In using myself as an example, feeling inadequate in whatever level as a parent/provider, knowing that I’m giving a lot of emotional support, but because I was unable on a material level to do all the things that I thought was important to do, then it made me feel inadequate. So I’ve been spending myself, using my energy in ways that are nonproductive. It caused a lot of worry. What I realize now -- and you read this in any of the self help books -- when you worry worry worry all your energy is sucked off in the worry and you’re not really focusing on what we need to be doing. And it makes me really understand what happens to people when they get in a depression cycle. It’s terrible. Somewhere there you see where you want to be, what you want to do, but to break out of it can be quite challenging.

Some kind of spiritual belief is necessary. It’s our connection. When I’m out of sorts, I feel disconnected, to the rest of life, basically. I feel disconnected from everyone else and what I’ll call my self, and now, when I realize I feel disconnected, I know there are things I can do to reestablish the memory of what it’s like being connected to God and life, and with that experience of connection, then I know that anything’s possible. I learned this through yoga. It has been the foundation for me, a path that has worked extremely well. I’ve had a lot of different teachers. At the beginning, I got a strong balance of the physical posturing as well as meditation. There was as much dogma in some of those practices as in any religion, and so I began to plow through the dogma to find the core of it. I’ve never had a guru. All my teachers have been hatha yoga teachers (posture) -- some meditation teachers. None of them ever presented themselves as a guru. I never put myself in that position. And then a lot of self study through reading, going to different workshops, bringing in information and utilizing it on my own.

Yoga is a science that has been adopted by a lot of different philosophies and religions. It’s its own practice, deriving from the Indus valley five or six thousand years ago, from what we can tell. There’s yoga in Tibet, in India -- when you get into reading about the lost years of Jesus, they all talk about Jesus knowing all these different practices. What they are, are practices of learning the energetics and the interactions between body, mind, and spirit.. We’ve got all the words for it in the West, and people are experiencing through yoga and meditation and acupuncture and eastern thought -- I think it’s good that it’s being brought into the western experience and western mind. If we really want to know it, we have to go back to the pure teachings. They are written down very clearly. There’s no dogma around the teachings. It’s the whole cause and effect teaching. Current books written, like The Holographic Universe -- all that is explained in those real old philosophies and ancient texts. It’s there. The language is a little different, but it basically says you have this relationship between what is manifest and not manifest aspects of energy, and you have different vibrational rates of energy, and out of that you have sound and light and color and dense material form and multiple realms of existence going on at once, and basically, it’s no big deal.

We’re in these physical bodies, and from the physical body’s point of view, things look a certain way. As we expand our consciousness or heighten our awareness, we begin to incorporate more spirit into our everyday lives and have a greater understanding of everything that’s going on. My passion is to be able to look at all these philosophies. There’s a thread that runs through them all. There’s no difference. There are a lot of different pathways to the same place. It’s just to allow each other to have the variances and nuances on how we’re here and not interfere with each other in a harmful way, to encourage each other to explore life and be our full potential.

With my daughters, I’ve found it extremely refreshing to be able to talk to them openly about sex, the pros and cons -- I ended up telling them both the other day that I feel it’s really awkward to talk to you about some of this, because on the one hand, sexuality is a very wonderful part of who we are, and when it’s in the right place with the right person it’s ecstatic, marvelous, but if it’s in the wrong place with the wrong person, it can be a terrible experience. It’s confusing now because in the media where sexuality is combined with advertising, with violence -- it’s totally mixed up with a lot of other things that it was never intended to be mixed up with. M especially -- she’s 13 ½ -- I said, you’ve got all these things out there saying to you be sexy, but you go to school and they say you can’t dress this way, you have to keep yourself, hold yourself in a certain attitude and energetics so that you have the right behavior, and I said, I know it’s a very mixed up message, a total tradeoff, so just talk to me. Same with drugs. When the opportunity is presented to you, come and talk to me some more, because we’ll do whatever we need to do so that you are making responsible choices that are right for you.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Subject talked in the office of one of his retail establishments. Born 1951, Missouri.

At the time, let’s face it – I was pretty young [in the 60s], and I was less concerned with my place in time than I was just with my place. I finished high school not really knowing what I wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t want to go to Vietnam. When I first registered for the draft, I registered as a conscientious objector. That never came to any kind of fruition because my college deferment superseded it. I can remember when I turned 18 and had to register. I went through a lot of turmoil knowing I was not going to go to Vietnam, and I didn’t know if that meant fleeing to Canada. I stayed in school until the lottery came out, and then I got a high number, so I really lucked out. Most of the middle class kids managed to stay out, one way or another, either by joining the reserves or getting a psychological deferment from a sympathetic psychiatrist. Not a lot of the guys I grew up with went to ‘Nam because most of them went to school. But then I met people after I started college who were getting back, and the reality of it struck home. That is when I did some protesting.

I got into pot my sophomore year in high school. I didn’t stop and identify it, but it was part of the culture I was moving toward, which was the counterculture. It was apparent in music, style, fashion, and pot was definitely a part of it. And even acid. I was able to get through high school and keep Bs and Cs without really participating too much; smart enough to figure out that system. It wasn’t like I was wild, running crazy, and abusive. I kept things under control. Before pot, I was drinking in junior high. My mother would like to have thought that everybody was a bad influence on me, but I have to confess it was the other way around. I just didn’t want to do things the way people wanted me to do them. Rebellion more than anything. I survived it all. I’ve come full circle to being a pretty moderate person, although even then, all these activities that I took part in, it may be ironic to say, I did it in moderation. If you’re 15, drinking taking acid stuff like that, you could say – where does moderation fit in? And yet I look at guys that really went over the edge. I worked all through high school, kept a job, put myself through college. Part of my rebellion was that when I finished high school, I was out the door. I didn’t want anything from my parents in terms of support because that would mean strings.

I did three years of college not really knowing what I was going to do, and after I got my high lottery number, I quit college. I was studying philosophy and religion primarily, and I realized I didn’t really want to go to school for that. A year later I went back to school and got a bachelor’s in science, an experimental program that included engineering courses, statistics, math, art courses, art history courses, and design (architecture).

So I started being a building contractor. I mean, I say being a building contractor. I started out painting porches. I had this background in design and structure, and that’s what I really wanted to do. That’s the main reason I moved to Fayetteville – the School of Architecture. But the work that I was doing was exactly the opposite of what I said about school, that I was never a student. Building was completely opposite. I mean, you could study that – you could study what it is to be a carpenter. But doing it is instant gratification, instant cause and effect. If you miss the head of the nail, the nail doesn’t go into the board. If you build something wrong, it falls apart. That always seemed to be the way I learned.
This is ironic, because I had studied philosophy. I mean, I was fascinated with philosophy and religion, but then, that was part of the ‘60s too, the existentialist stuff. I had a good friend who was very much involved in Hatha yoga and Swami Satchedenanda – a character who was an Indian businessman, smoked cigarettes and lived a life of desire. I had the opportunity to meet him and he was really cool. I liked the guy. This friend of mine was a monk in Swami Satch’s yoga movement, and I helped him. They got some property here. Somebody donated 350 acres to Swami Satch just outside Eureka Springs, by Hogscald Hollow. They also got the old schoolhouse up there. This friend of mine who was a monk got assigned to come here and develop this ashram. I worked with him for a few weeks, but it was an effort. I dug hanging out with him and I dug the yoga exercises. But sitting and meditating (whistles), boy, I never could do that. My mind – I was never able to turn off the chatter.

There was the back to the land thing, too, when we came to Arkansas. We bought some property out by Devil’s Den, and we were going to move there, and there was a community of people that we knew there. It was the whole apocalyptic vision, without any real specific prophesies involved. I must say that in some ways, although my lifestyle now has gotten very middle class, you would never know it probably to see how I live or what I do.
There is an interesting concept in my mind that still prevails and hearkens back to that time. I’ve observed that in the natural world, there is nothing that maintains continuous growth. There is always a process of growth, death, decay, and regeneration. In my naive mind, I look at everything our culture is promoting, and it appears to be based on continuous growth. Our whole economy is based on growth. So I still have in my mind somewhat of an apocalyptic vision that it just can’t go on. Now I’ve been saying that for 30 years, but I truly believe it.

On the other hand, now, because of the business I’m in and the people I’m exposed to, I see the people that adhere to this as a religious dogma, the Y2k’ers, and I’ve come full circle to realize that death is inevitable and if that’s the worst thing that can happen to us, well, so be it. Quite honestly, if the only people who survive some kind of major catastrophe are the wackos I’ve met who are really into this – they can have it. I don’t want to survive with them. These people with semi-automatic rifles that have hoarded grains and foods, totally paranoid, and yo-yos to begin with. They’re getting prepared.

I’m still trying to earn a living and I’m more successful now than I’ve ever been, and yet my means are so simple. I’m not extravagant. I spend my money on the things that give me the greatest pleasure, which are music and food and some travel. I don’t care about having a fancy car. I live more comfortably than I ever have but it’s not extravagant. I don’t want to make the buck at any cost. The way I handle my employees, I mean, when I train an employee, I tell them their first job is to help the customers. And the way to do that is to identify what their means are, what it is they need, and how much they can afford. Then plug them into the appropriate technology. If we don’t have it, I send them to the competition, somebody who does. Or if they are trying to buy something that you know is not really appropriate, but they’ve been sold this idea, then show them the alternatives, even if they’re cheaper. I feel like, in my heart, that’s the way it should be done. And now having been in business for quite awhile, I also believe that’s the best way to do business. Because you convey that ethic to people and they come back to you and they trust you. I’ve got to live with myself. Making money is a weird thing. I mean, the whole concept of being in retail, buying something for one price and selling it to somebody for more – it’s a little bit foreign to me. With carpentry, I was selling labor, skills and knowledge. To some degree, I think you still do that in retail, if you incorporate the ideals I was just talking about.

I think that a lot of things that were part of the counterculture and spawned in the ‘60s were things that were always part of the American motif. Repackaged, given different trim. Essentially, it was self-dependence, thinking for yourself, not being afraid to strike out into new ground. Each generation thinks they’re discovering it for the first time. And they are, in fact. But I guess that’s the value of history; we might look back and avoid some mistakes, although mistakes are just as important. Learn something from it and survive the mistakes. I may be a person who knows more from my mistakes than from successes. I expect things to go well, and if they do, I take them in and keep moving without relishing them. But when something doesn’t go well, that’s when I tend to analyze more.

Part of my ‘60s consciousness was to be the Renaissance Man, being able to do everything, whether it be fix my car, build my house, and I was really into that, big time. It was part of the back to the land thing. That fit in well with my psyche. It’s one of the reasons it has taken me four years to do a room addition on my house. Because, oh, I can do that – well, when are you going to do it? – well, I’ll do it, but I’ve got these other things I have to do first. Now I’m coming to the realization, just with maturity, that time is not a bottomless jar.

We heated with wood exclusively in an old 1920s house that had a central chimney with flues hooked up from all the rooms, so we had a wood cook stove and a wood heat stove. My wife did most of the gardening, and we had goats which we raised for butchering. I did the slaughtering, although that was pushing the envelope for me. I had never really done that and I wasn’t into doing it. The times that I did it, actually rendering the meat, skinning, none of that bothered me. But it was that instant of pulling the trigger, seeing the animal alive and then dead, that had a real profound affect on me. I was bound and determined to do it, as long as I was eating meat. I felt I should be willing to take responsibility for killing the animal. Even now, I like to eat meat but I don’t like to hunt, so I’ve gotten around that by knowing people who are obsessed with hunting. They just want to hunt, and they’ve got ricks of deer meat put up that they’re never going to eat, and I just get deer meat from them. And I’m not down on hunters, but it’s a whole other mentality. It’s not one that appeals to me.

I’ve reached this level of comfort that works just fine for me and quite honestly, it’s more important to me to have the music thing be part of my life than to earn any more money. I do have this missionary zeal about jazz. I feel like I’m not politically informed, although I will align myself with certain issues. I think recycling is good, using less is important. In my heart I’m convinced that there’s enough in this world to go around and everybody could be pretty comfortable, but it’s just not going around. I think – this may be a utopian vision, but not necessarily – the wealth of the world is so unevenly distributed and so exploited and so wasted. That disturbs me. Yet I’m not someone who will march on city hall to try to get a better recycling program. I will go to the merchants within my immediate influence and get a recycling program going for this shopping center. I’ve done that. Particularly when I can piggy-back it with something that hits deep in everyone’s consciousness. For example, I got a cardboard thing going here when the city changed over their garbage policy. You had to buy a container and you were charged by how many times they emptied it. I knew that for 95% of the merchants in this area, 80% of their garbage was cardboard. Cardboard is not garbage. It’s traded on the commodities market. So all I had to do was find some way to contain it and somebody who wanted it, and I could go the merchants and say, look, this is not going to cost you anything. This is going to save you money. You’re not going to have to buy as big a waste container and have the city come put this in the landfill, which they’ve screwed up on anyway. So those things, when they’re right there in front of me, I can get pretty involved.

I think that ultimately, almost everything that people do – almost everything that everybody does – is for themselves. It’s good if in your life you can identify that and accept it, and then realize that the best way to make yourself happy is to make the people around you happy. Maybe that comes off as being generous. But I still feel that most of our drives and ambitions have to do with our own survival and well-being.

Music has always been an underlying element in my life. I used to play the piano when I was very young, but again, my inability to stay focused and disciplined and to glean from a teacher and books and what not led me astray. That probably will always be one of my regrets. My mother tried to get me to study piano when I was young, and I didn’t. I love music. I’ve approached the abyss several times, thinking, OK, maybe I’ll study it again, but then realize that it’s a really formidable thing. I feel like my ears are way ahead of my discipline and skills, and the demands I would put on myself – it’s an avoidance thing. Rather than approach and fail and not achieve the level I want, I just have never made the commitment to be a musician. I’ve always been around musicians, music, and in some ways, I have some friends who have said to me, that I shouldn’t regret it because quite probably through my work as a [radio jazz show] producer, I’m bringing more music to more people doing what I’m doing than I would if I was a musician. When they say that, it’s like, you know, they’re right. In that respect, there is a lot of gratification.

I think music and the business of music are a good metaphor for a lot of things in life and a lot of things that have to do with the ‘60s: The real essence of what we believe in or love or seek is often lost by the pursuit of it. In music, the business of music is probably one of the most bullshit-wrought professions anybody can be in. It’s really just a lot of crap. It has absolutely nothing to do with the music. But you have to go through it to get there. I think the 60s in a lot of ways is like that too. There was a lot of bullshit. I look back at the ideals that I had and some of the bullshit I was involved in that was counterproductive to those ideals, to where those ideals would ultimately lead you. I think the same is true with religion, anything that becomes organized, quantified, turned into a bureaucracy, or a committee. It immediately starts diluting the essence of it. The purity of anything, I think, happens within a person’s own experience, whether it be music or religion.

Music is more than comfort. Sometimes it’s a discomfort. It’s probably the closest thing I’ve come to that has, like religious significance to me. Absolutely. It also reflects back on the skills that I have and the skills that I don’t have, which have to do with comprehension. There is a level of comprehension that I feel through the sequencing of certain notes that create certain chords, which create certain chord changes. That level of experience has more meaning to me than words. It’s cosmic. It’s beyond understanding.

I can tell the difference in my comprehension of music and how the music moves me, how it works mechanically, and that’s another level of joy, when you can understand relationships and things like that, on that level. Part of the joy that people get out of music is the familiarity, their recognizing it, being comfortable with it. That’s popular music. What sets jazz apart is that which is unfamiliar, that which leads you to new levels of appreciation. It pushes you to the edge and you go, “What is that? That’s not comfortable.” And then you listen to it again, recognize it, then listen again, and you see some inner beauty in it, and then it’s part of your repertoire, part of your understanding.

It’s tied in to spirituality, but even into politics. To me, music is so political. It’s such a reflection of culture and what people are thinking. Talk about Jung and analyzing people’s dreams. Just look at what people listen to. Look at the music that really means something to them, granted it might not always be a real straightforward connection in terms of – there might be seemingly opposite personalities attracted to the same kind of music. But I still think that it’s very political. In fact, I know it is. There’s a musician in Brazil who played instrumental music during one of the particularly right wing regimes in Brazil. His music was outlawed. There were no words. And yet the government outlawed his music. This guy – Hermeto Pasqual – they decided his music was too politically radical even though there were no words. The fact that they felt they had to outlaw his music is quite a statement, quite a testimony to the importance of his music. I mean, what could make you want to hear it more than to find that out?