Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gobbling and Goofing

The camera is starting to find moments of form and feeling. It's aiming everywhere, all the time. Sun, snow, moon or noon, the new Pentax is getting a workout. There is little sense yet of an artistic stance or mission. Life is simply appearing through the viewfinder.

The rain, the moon, and anything in my path. 

Al Fuchs, Professor of Psychology, a course I never took. After flunking all courses in my first freshman semester, I made Dean's List after a year of becoming a working parent and stayed there as long as I was at Bowdoin.

In the 60s there was downhill skiing at Sky Hi in Topsham. Hard to imagine in this warming century, but it was a busy place.

This post wanders because so did my eye in early 1965. I was having fun. Don Beckwith, with whom I wrote our hit record, came by for a photo session.

Don and Lorel do their own cigarette ad. This sort of fun was silly and helped sharpen my lighting skills. But things got a bit stranger when it got toward Halloween with our neighbors. Across the street, at the AWG Fraternity of the NASB boys, Ted Schnieder took me out to the graveyard to get in the mood. Ted was a constant cutup, later an award-winning editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Here he's just a Navy guy in the middle of a college.

I joined in on the fun. Halloween was a major holiday for the AWG boys. Their tradition was "trick or drink." and they did plenty of both. Drinking was the party paradigm. No one knew any different, except for a few beatniks. One of these lived in the adjoining apartment. Pat O'Haverty was the first real beatnik we met. She grew ganja in the back yard at a time when people believed it was just an "Isreali herb," and told us about her morning glory seed concoctions. She never offered us anything, but in her outrageous dramatic behavior showed us what weirdness could be like.

These images are one of the many discoveries in this journey through celluloid. After 45 years, Pat O'Haverty still makes a strong impression. See how wide her pupils are.

The lighting appears to be the old Smith-Victor kit. Without tutoring, I was able to make it work. Formal studio training would not come for several years yet.

We'd never seen anyone do the lotus position or did we have much idea about what it meant. Pat was not a person to instruct; her style was to dramatize. She and her husband would sometimes fight with their cars in the driveway, bumping them into each other while we watched from the window.

In the midst of her squabbles and scenes, Pat did not seem to us a model of enlightenment, so her psychedelic prescriptions were of little interest. It would take a far different kind of person to lead us over that divide two years later.

There was one other reference I had heard to psychedelics, and that was Biology Prof. Gustafson. who mentioned the "interesting experiments" being done with "LSG," which a student corrected to LSD. First time I ever heard of it, right there in the classroom.

So here this goofy, wandering post ends. Pat O'Haverty and Professor Gustafson, the first heralds of the revolutions to come. We are yet innocent, still tied to our childhood community and its customs. The camera is seeking what it can find, but as yet no theme, project or cause has emerged.

One must be mature to see those distant times in their full shining light. Here are the sixties in their early oblivion, dancing to Wilson Pickett, staging comedy, drinking Bud. Barely out of our teens, we thought we knew so much and had so much to learn. Not every day was a great day at the car wash, but times were good. We were in college. Little Brad was the center of attention, child of a thousand uncles.

We had thousands of miles to travel.

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