Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 9, 2005 - 02:35pm PT
Can’t stop the reminiscences! The title of my previous post, “A Brief walk with Bridwell”, was a reference to the wonderful Tom Patey article, “A Short Walk with Whillans” decades ago, a great read, originally in The Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal.
Here is another vignette. Named after the famous movie.
The VW van was unusual; it had doors on both sides. It was called a Transporter, and had a hell of a lot of miles on it. I recall it was maybe an old 1964 but it was my new bedroom for a few years. What it lacked at first was an 8-track, and knowing that music is at the root of it all, somehow I saved up enough S&H Green Stamps, to score such a unit, and greedily installed the booty before another climbing season could try to start without rhythm and textures.
Since Camp Four had very very few sound systems resident, the bus was popular especially with Werner, Klemens, Bridwell, and our other friends who came to drink at the trough, so to speak. Clapton, The Stones, CSNY, The Youngbloods were some of the favorites, but I was a jazz fan also, so I had some Coltrane too. Klemens and I shared this taste but the harder work of Coltane was too much like screaming, for Royal, and most other sensible friends. It was very hard for me to tolerate this lack of tolerance on their part.
Jim and I were driving around the Valley one time, the weather was crappy, but when you have a master plan, it just doesn’t matter. We made do, as we had the 8-track and we had new routes to scope out with our temporary though copious spare time. There was some gas in the tank and the motor hadn’t blown up yet. As far as JB was concerned, it was a mellow, wet afternoon in the mid and lower Valley and we were centered. Just like he was happy to belay off of a battery of rurps 6 years later 2000 ft off the talus on Pacific Ocean. But for me, the DJ of the moment, Coltrane was honking at me from way back, loudly too. And I was grinding away inside about how in my life, I was standing on crumbly nothings and that it all hurt. Kind of like a Higgins edging route. What I mean was that I was a mess and now looking back, I was not any fun at the moment either.
So JB goes, you’re freaking out again Haan, and this Coltrane stuff is horrible or something to that effect. And it didn’t help that we only had about a dozen 8-tracks to work with for months. I suppose he could have said, “Coltrane’s approach, though tossing up huge melodic questions and though not atonal, requires more engagement then I currently want to offer it”, but he didn’t. While he was sitting next to me on the VW bench, in my 21 year old mind’s eye from Berkeley--- which of course, though in turmoil, knew everything---I was hatefully picturing him as suburban for about an hour (there was nothing worse to be, if you were from Berkeley, even though it is a suburb). He couldn’t tell, it was my mean little secret. After all, a year later, he and I are doing Henley Quits with him in ladies’ pink stretch Capri pants from Merced. So maybe I was on to something about this suburban thing.
His slashing comment only made matters worse as I was kind of needing for Coltrane to actually have the answer here and I wanted JB to go with me on this. But he not only didn’t, he didn’t need to, because the answer was clear: climbing, nothing else---oh and his harem. After all, he was so much older than I---he was 27, practially middle-aged like Royal. I had been bothering the Lion but he could work with it. So obviously the truth was right there and I of course missed it that afternoon and had called it suburban.
Weird Parallel: Early 80's: I had Largo in my bus going from his digs in Santa Monica to Josh listening to Coltranes "Interstellar Space". Rush hour traffic, old ass bus, hours to go... Largo flips his lid and says something like, "ho man, anyone who listens to this for more than about 12 minutes will end up in a nut ward".