Jim, wake up. You’re under arrest


“Jim, wake up. You’re under arrest”

excerpt “History of the Groove, drummer’s history”

Russell Buddy Helm copyright 2013 all rights reserved

1969. “Jim, wake up. You’re under arrest.” I said to the sleeping keg of dynamite called Nasty Neiman by those who know, in the back of the school bus spreadeagled on a cot in front of the cases of drums and band equipment. I ducked out of the way after nudging him a little. He woke up swinging. The Asylum school bus was parked in Peacock Park down at the bottom of Macfarlane Avenue, overlooking Biscayne Bay in Coconut Grove. The old park had plenty of banyan trees, grass, hippies and Miami police. Animal had pulled the bus up and opened the door to let the morning bay breeze clear out the smell we had acquired driving through the everglades. The yellow school bus had also acquired a black spray painted biker insignia above the windshield. A Miami police officer strolled up to the open door of the bus and looked in. Animal was a huge biker, with missing front teeth, a beard, a dog collar, and ‘Animal’ tattooed across his forearm that was wider than my thighs.

“Is that thing loaded?” The police officer asked nervously, pointing to the double barreled shotgun behind the driver’s seat.

“Yeah.”  Animal said flatly.

“Break it open. Let me see what its loaded with.” The young officer said with nervy control, his hand slid toward his own side arm. Animal got up from behind the steering wheel, pulled the shotgun around, and leveled it at the officer at the bottom of the steps. The young guy went white. Animal cracked open the gun and pulled out two pumpkin balls; lead balls the size of a large marble. Going in made a big hole, coming out, quite a mess. Animal had shot one round off to scare off the dogs last night. But also, we had come through easy rider country and long hairs had best beware of the redneck tradition of, ‘ Get the hippie’.

When the cop had regained control of his bowels, he said,
“I have to arrest  you. That is against the law to have a loaded firearm in the city limits of Miami…I’m sorry, one of these hippies could go crazy and grab it, then I’d have to shoot someone. I wouldn’t want to do that.”

“I bet you wouldn’t.” muttered Animal.

“Do you have registration for that weapon?” The officer struggled to regain control of the situation.

“It’s not mine. It’s his.” Animal jerked a thumb toward the back of the bus.

“Then get him out here.” The cop said, getting pissed off at the insouciance. Normally, the  Coconut Grove cops were pretty cool, but we didn’t know that. We had just arrived.

I explained things to Jim as a crowd of hippies gathered around our bus wanting to know what was going on. Soon a paddy wagon showed up. Jim took his everloving time getting dressed. He looked out the bus window at the growing crowd and decided to play it to the hilt. He put on his American Indian outfit, knee high moccasins, headband, braids, shades, bone necklace. When he finally stepped out of the bus, all the hippies in the park cheered, he waved at them and smiled heroically receiving their Marlboro cigarette donations like he was the great Indian warrior being taken off to the white man’s jail.

“Fuck the pigs!” All the kids were screaming.

Christian had already found two beautiful young women who owned an apartment duplex in the grove. They were fans of the Bethlehem Asylum, so they gladly escorted me down to Dade County jail to bail Jim out. His gun registration for his father’s shotgun was in order, only it was from Pinellas Park. It took a few minutes for the desk sargeant to do the paper work. He was smiling with a wry look, “You’re here for Cochise?”

“Yes, Sir.” I said and pushed the girls forward. They were very pretty and graciously signed for the bail. The sargeant appreciated that. On the other side of the bars, we could see cells holding various guys of doubtful character. Jim was hanging on the bars of his cell like Mighty Joe Young, yelling at the guards,
“Get me out of here, you filthy screws!” He was quoting James Cagney. They loved it. He had a plate of food in his cell, hand delivered to the rock star. He was getting room service in Dade County jail.

I forked over the one hundred and fifty dollars my mother had given me for ’emergencies’ when we had left St. Pete. Jim was a free man, the two girls giggled and cuddled up to him like he was a gangster. The cops waved good bye to the girls as we left. Everyone had a good laugh. Jim was famous. I was lighter in the hip by a yard and a half.

excerpt “History of the Groove, drummer’s history”

Russell Buddy Helm copyright 2013 all rights reserved



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