Allan Ginsberg handed his autoharp to Jim and Danny, “Could you tune this for me?”
1969. We were all standing on the floating stage out on Key Biscayne at the Miami Marine Stadium on Rickenbacker Causeway. The concert featured Allan Ginsberg and Bethlehem Asylum. Only Bethlehem Asylum was not being allowed to perform because the Miami police department had not cleared our police records in time. Jim Morrison had recently been indicted for lewd conduct on stage and they weren’t taking any chances, or rather they were using any excuse to prevent rock n roll from happening in Miami. So we sat on the stage, on chairs, quietly while Allan Ginsberg recited poetry about homosexual love making to an almost packed crowd. The marine stadium looked like a gigantic vintage nineteen fifties toaster oven with the floating stage like a piece of toast that has just been spit out of the toaster. There was about two feet of water between the stage and the concert seating with big ropes at each end keeping the large floating stage fairly stable. It was a very cool piece of fifties Miami architecture. Kai had his sailboat tied up to the edge of the stage. Bananas and a few other beauties were lounging on the deck. Allan was having a fine time speaking about the subtleties of his brand of eroticism, making it as lewd as he possibly could. He didn’t look like a rock star so he got away with it. He was fattish, baldish, hornrimmed glasses, sloppy and gracious to a point, that could shift to snide at the drop of a metaphor. Captain Ego, Jim, was dressed as an American Indian. His hair was braided in two long ponytails. He had a bare chest with a bone choker necklace, Indian style headband, jeans with suede knee high moccasins and his constant companion; his clip on shades that fit over his coke bottle glasses. His eyes were never seen by the public. They were small and beady and did not fit with the rest of his personas. Allan Ginsberg kept checking out Jim’s pert nipples.
The flow of the groove was what we were experiencing as a band. The visions were similar on stage. Without drugs because the music was too intense to be stoned. People were sure that Christian Ghandi, the Bethlehem Asylum keyboardist was on some exotic cocktail of opiates but he was always that heavy. He was taller than the Ghandi that changed India, but you could see the similarities in his face and body style, thin, muscular, taught like a rope, but graceful. His skin was brown, hair thinning. A Brahmin in Florida, where local rednecks might have accidentally considered him a local African American. His Harlem childhood experience set them straight right away by showing them his razor, “…and it’s rusty too…”
He took me with him to scout out the grove. Evenings we would visit different groups of people having their metaphysical meetings. Christian would engage them in sincere dialogue about the energies of the universe, they were sure they had all the answers based on their current doctrine, but Christian always blew them right out of the water with his cosmic intelligence, intoning one liners like, “You are just reciting things you’ve read in a book. That isn’t real for you.”
Reading the Wilhelm Reich lab reports was like reading dispatches from the front. Each day, he came up with new insights about how the human works, the energies we have no names for. He developed theories about psychology that are still relevant and have become part of the vocabulary of healing. He coined the term, ‘psychological armor’, referring to the layering of physical and mental filters to silence our pain. It is an antidote to the harshness of the world, but it gets in the way when we need to change our behaviors. It turns out that rhythm can get through all that armor plating and move us in the heart, and that’s where I needed to go, only I didn’t know that yet in my conscious every day fearful mind. It was percolating deep down in the subbasement of my feelings and it’s groove was ancient.