Saturday, October 4, 2014
Friday, August 15, 2014
HOW I FOUND MY FIRST GURU
< It is the summer 1964, London. We were a small group of renegades, living on, and off the street. We temporarily found a place to stay with an old codger named "Joke", who, as it turned out, was gay. >
...a day later Kevin and Dave appeared with a bottle of cough-syrup, which contained some promising ingredients, and we had enough money to buy one bottle for each of us.The word for fellow in English was “bloke” and a bloke named Yank joined us. He had been in the army, and now lived on a shameful petty pension, which he had just received. It allowed him to also buy a bottle of syrup.
We planned to take it this night in St. James Park.
Once we discovered a discreet spot between the bushes, we each drank the entire bottle of a horrible tasting concoction.
Dusk fell and we waited!
Nothing happened. Instead of psychedelic effects, the Bobbies appeared, the English cops with their strange, high helmets, and they told us we had to move -- the park was closed after dark!
We knew, but had hoped to stay on -- unnoticed in our hiding place. Now we had to pack up and walk quite a stretch to Hyde-Park.
Just as we arrived, we all dropped onto the grass, now feeling the effect of the drug, mainly getting sleepy, and uncoordinated. After a short while we all drifted into unconsciousness because nobody had any recall of anything happening after we hunkered down in Hyde Park.
I was the first to wake up – it was early morning! I looked at my fellow psychonauts, lying wherever the syrup had hit them – all over the place.
I checked, -- everybody was breathing, -- but I didn’t succeed in waking anybody up. Not that I tried very hard, because I had a killer headache and my mouth was dry, with a sickening taste to boot.
I needed some water! I made it out of the park to the next street and after walking half a mile I finally found a public fountain. I drank, and drank some more.
Then I tried to make it back to my friends, but after a few meters I vomited, and kept vomiting for the next fifteen minutes. When it stopped I sat on the curb with shaking limbs. I was a miserable bag of bones! Then I vomited again. I realized I didn’t have the energy to walk back to Hyde Park.
In spite of vomiting every couple of meters I made it to a nearby Underground-station. When the vomiting seemed to ease a little I took the next tube to Archway, where I still had to walk half a mile to Joke’s place. Eventually I crawled up the stairs into the living room, collapsed into my sleeping bag and fell into a dreamless sleep.
A little later I heard my friend J. coming home – he was in slightly better shape than I – but he had woken up Joke, who now for the first time was relentlessly hovering over us, while he kept telling us how cute we were, and how much he wanted to eat us.
This was definitely the wrong moment and I almost had to barf again. It took forever before Joke left us alone and J. and I realized that this was an unbearable situation.
Obviously, Joke was convinced that we did it with each other and could not understand why we would not let him participate.
By early afternoon we had recovered sufficiently to take the tube to the Square.
We had no idea what to do with Joke. He had been so kind to us and we felt sooo guilty not being gay!
On the Square I noticed an elderly man with long white hair, and a long white beard sitting on a bench. I moved closer. He looked like Moses or a Druid wizard. His suit, shirt, and tie were old but impeccably clean; he had a beautiful sun-tanned face, and he looked like what I expected a holy man should look like.
With the courage of desperation I approached him and inquired if I could ask him a question. He gently smiled at me and told me to sit down next to him and shoot.
I explained our problems with Joke to him, our feelings of guilt and confusion. He looked at me with sparkling blue eyes, now smiling, and said: “You will probably understand – this is not an unfamiliar territory to me!” At this very moment I realized – oh my god -- the wise man himself was gay!
He continued: “Did you ever consider to explain to your gay friend, what you just explained to me?”
I was thunderstruck!
Of course! Why didn’t I think of this?
All we needed to do was to talk to Joke, explain how we liked him very much, but that we weren’t gay, and weren’t very likely becoming gay anytime soon.
The wise man took my question, and instead of giving me advice, made me realize that I knew the answer all along!
The name of the wise man was Ernest. He didn’t have a home, but he wasn’t homeless – he just lived everywhere!
Or let’s say he lived among the stars…
He was an astrologer! With him he carried two large paper-bags filled with astrological charts, and spending most nights in-all night-cafes in the theatre district, he made a little money by writing horoscopes for a few crowns.
He could not stand up straight and always walked bent over. Something awful had happened to his spine, but he would never talk about it.
His past was a mystery but sometimes he mentioned living in Berlin in the twenties where he had been very happy.
When the word gay still meant happy!
Because of some other remarks he occasionally made, I could not shake the suspicion that he survived a concentration camp and after he returned to England he never attempted to become part of the regular society again.
It was hard to tell how old he was, and he never displayed any sexual desires, but he definitely liked to be surrounded by young and adventurous people like us.
We became close friends and I loved him dearly. We spent a lot of time together and enjoyed each other’s company, and when I noticed how much he worried about our crazy drug experiments, I knew he loved me too.
Many early mornings I would find him sitting on a bench in Leicester-Square, a tiny park with a few trees but an immense population of small birds, sparrows or finches. You could hardly see the birds in the trees but they made a deafening, most spectacular chirping sound.
It resonated fabulously in the small park and it felt like an ever so happy sound-sculpture was hovering right above us. Ernest and I used to sit here many mornings to enjoy this exquisite performance.
When a year later I went looking for him, a mutual friend told me, that one summer morning he found Ernest at this favorite spot, and when he tried to wake him up -- Ernest just fell over sideways!
He peacefully had died in his sleep!
Way to go!
London Trafalgar square 8.16. 1964
Excerpt from "Runaway Jesus" available at
Sunday, July 20, 2014
The 20th of July is celebrated in Germany as the day when Graf von Stauffenberg in 1944 attempted to assassinate Hitler with a bomb in the "Führerhaupt-quartier Wolfsschanze". Hitler survived, not in great shape, but convinced that divine providence kept him alive to continue on his idiot mission.The same day, artists like Joseph Beuys, Wolf Vostell, Bazon Brock, and others had planned a happening in Aachen, a city in the northwest of Germany, to elucidate the public about the nature of this public holiday.
We had to be there!
Early afternoon we arrived in Aachen and assembled our tent in a nearby campground where we also left our sleeping bags. Then we went into town and looked for the “Technische Hochschule”, the location of the happening. Half an hour before it started we took our usual dose of DXM and when the doors opened we were the first ones in, and instantly got into a spirited conversation with a guy in the seat next to us. He turned out to be one of the artists and accepted our offer to participate by sending us backstage where Wolf Vostell was still looking for collaborators.
The structure for this happening was the following: He had distributed hundreds of small toy-whistles to the audience, along with a leaflet of instructions. Whenever a blue light, mounted on a gas mask he was wearing, lit up, the audience was supposed to frenetically blow their toy-whistles and then slam the lid of the little ink-containers built into the desks.
Eight young men, plus J. and I, stood on the stage with our back to the audience, our face to the wall, and whenever the audience made their cacophonous noise we fell, like being executed, to the floor which was covered with a layer of yellow powder. This was to show how a meaningless cue - the blue light - could instigate an, in itself harmless act, - the clapping and whistling – and would result unexpectedly in a bunch of people falling down in the distance.
A great metaphor for fascism as a construct, in which the ignorant masses, just following orders, would, as a seemingly unrelated consequence, kill the undesired elements of society.
We had stripped down to our jeans, because of the yellow powder, and after the audience had killed us a few times we were covered from head to toe with golden, yellow pigments. This, and the hot bright stage-lights, together with the effects of the DXM made us feel like we were gods on an Olympic stage acting on a higher existential level than them puny mortals.
The puny mortals, on the other hand, were not to be ignored! Joseph Beuys, for whatever reason, was pouring sulfuric acid into a piano, accidentally splattered some, and burned a hole in one mortal’s tie.
The athletic mortal stormed the stage and provided Beuys with a bloody nose. Beuys tried to keep him at bay by brandishing a rubber crucifix in front of him. It didn’t help, other mortals, yelling: “That’s not art!” flooded the stage and a healthy chaos ensued.
Healthy, because instead of the artists protesting fascism, it was fascism protesting the artists! – But at least there was protest rather than acquiescence and obedience to the authority of the people on stage.
J. and I were having a ball!
Vostell had a naked window dummy backstage and we asked him if we could use it. He just nodded and kept sweeping the yellow paint, which had spread everywhere now, off the floor. We carried the dummy out onto the chaotic stage, instantly capturing the attention of the rabid audience and the press photographers.
The doll was naked, after all!
In a mock ceremony J. and I groveled and prostrated ourselves on the floor in front of our false idol. The audience was jeering, the cameras were flashing!
Suddenly, the dummy fell – in slow motion – hitting the floor in a cloud of yellow dust. I crawled over and started to dry hump the slightly damaged doll.
This was more than the audience could handle and luckily J. pulled me away and probably saved me from serious injury…
Meanwhile, the official organizers had gotten hold of the microphones and ordered everybody to leave the auditorium. The happening was canceled!
Not in our mind! We walked up to the microphone – and being half-naked and totally yellow seemed to give us some kind of authority, and they handed us the mikes. To their dislike we would repeat one sentence over and over like a hypnotic mantra until they shut the mikes off: “Don’t be manipulated by authority! Don’t be manipulated by authority!”
Eventually the audience left and J. and I, still high as kites helped to clean up the mess. There were bundles of wheat decorating the auditorium that needed to be collected and taken to the trash. J. and I -- golden yellow messengers of the gods -- floating around with huge bundles of golden wheat in both arms, were a sight to behold!
Our outrageous, but basically good-natured activities, had conquered the hearts and minds of the performing artists, and they invited us to an after-event party. We took a shower at the campground and arrived at the party where we were greeted like the ambassadors of the new generation they all were hoping for.
Everybody gave us their address and we were invited to visit them at their home and when early in the morning we crawled into our sleeping bags, we were exhausted and totally blissed out.