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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Of Wannabe Hippies and Rod McKuen

a double shot from writer Juen (sic) Crawford Sanders


Toward destinations known and unknown in the new
freedom of the seventies our volkswagen squareback
traded later for a bus held all six of us a dream weaving
across roads mapped by rand-mcnally and hi-lighted
by dairy queens, cool streams and a yellow marker. West
to california disneyland the magic kingdom one magic day
on almost the last tank north to camp in the trees work for pay
then continue on our way out west where never is heard
but not so often and the wind blows free and so did we.
Resurrecting a raft at ruby beach the Children sailed the inlet
in search of adventure thru sunny days tented nights campfires
and stars keeping watch over us all six of us dream weaving


Me and McKuen

I once wrote to Rod McKuen
(and now I've given away my age)
He wrote back - a treasured page
And spelled my name Juen.


And one of Mr. McKuen's poems thrown in for good measure:

It’s nice sometimes
to open up the heart a little
and let some hurt come in.
It proves you’re still alive.
If nothing else
it says to you–
clear as a high hill air,
as diving through cold water–
I’m here.However wretchedly I feel,
I feel.
I’m not sure
why we cannot shake
the old loves
from our minds.
It must be that
we build on memory
and make them more
than what they were.
And is the manufacture
just a safe device
for closing up the wall?
I do remember.
the only fuzzy circumstance
is sometimes where and how.
Why, I know.
It happens
just because we need
to want and to be
wanted, too,
when love is here or gone
to lie down in the darkness
and listen to the warm.

Music, the Magical Healer

Been around the block and back again
A hundred times or more
This last trip that I took I fear
Has left me mighty sore

Mad at myself, at my situation
Mad that I can’t turn back time
Mad that I don’t have a potion
To ease the hurt that is mine.

They’ll fix me up, I’m sure of it
But what I’m really thinking.
Is how do I get through it all
Without so much as blinking?

The only thing today that works
Is getting back to the music
It’s bringing me out of my funk
And helping me not to lose it.

So I’ll go back to the basics
Crosby Stills and Nash and Young
And hopefully they’ll change me back
To the woman who’s mighty and strong…

~Wooden ships on the water, very free and easy,
Easy, you know the way it's supposed to be,
Silver people on the shoreline, let us be,
Talkin' 'bout very free and easy...~ CSNY



Friday, March 22, 2013

Memories of Friday Night High School Dances in Chicago

By John Henrichs

As teenage boys, we welcomed the area’s new all girl’s Catholic High School. We couldn’t thank the nuns enough for collecting all those girls for us! Better yet, the school would hold dances on the weekends, and we were allowed in. We thought it was nearly impossible not to come out a winner in this situation!

Of course, as usual we were wrong, but it wasn’t all bad. We got to hear some great local bands while being ignored by our intended prey. The band I remember most was the GTO’s. They played quite regularly around the area. We had a great time just listening, (and hoping we’d get noticed).

Years passed, I got married, and my wife, Carol, and I moved 600 miles away from our old home. By chance, I had to get a window screen fixed, and the man who fixed it owned a small shop west of town. I learned he was from our old area, and we had a nice chat regarding the “old days.”

I work for an estate sale business, and one day, my employer mentioned that we were doing a sale for the man at his shop. Since I was punctual, we had some time to again hang out and chat. As we waited for my boss, he showed me the items he wanted to sell. We came to a couple of guitars, and I asked “Do you play?” He answered with his own question, “Ever hear of a band called the GTO’s?”

The past came rushing back so fast it almost knocked me over! To see a person you saw in a different state, in practically a different life 40+ years later, was beyond my imagination! We have been friends ever since. I guess that sometimes, not often but sometimes, you really can go back!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Day the Hippies stole Hitler's Car

By Jackson Ahern

It was only a joyride to the gates of redemption
They ran like laughing children to the outskirts of Teutonic disgrace
splashed it with the colors of a Gypsy sunrise
and the fertile mud of Yasgur's farm
They took the folk's wagon and hid it
in the deepest part of their imaginations
shouted Shalom Aleichem into the heavens
frolicked like freaks and waited
for the Furher to self destruct

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tracing Boulder's Natural Food Roots to a Carnival

By Roger Freed

Editor’s note: The following is a recollection of one of Boulder’s first natural foods restaurants, the Carnival CafĂ©.

Let`s go back to the early 1970s, a time when Boulder was a simpler place to live and life was slower paced.

The pedestrian mall on Pearl Street had yet to be built, the old Crossroads Mall was a small shopping center, and the summer’s big bicycle race was still called the Red Zinger Classic. Fields of grain grew beyond 30th Street. 

Celestial Seasonings made its soon-to-be, world-famous teas out at the industrial park on 55th, which pretty much delineated where Boulder ended and the prairie began. 

Broomfield was a small cluster of homes with no nucleus, and the suburban tentacles of Denver were still miles away. Boulder had not yet acquired the upper-class glitz that it now has.

Along Broadway, between Canyon and Pearl, existed a row of so-called “head shops”--old wooden storefronts, some from the early part of the century, that had been taken over by young entrepreneurs who offered various services.

For a short period of time, there existed in the middle of them a quintessential example of the hippie, love, sharing-caring movement introduced by the ’60s. It was a small restaurant brightly named the Carnival Cafe, a gypsy-esque bundle of energy that exuded beyond the perimeters of its walls. Outside it looked a bit faded and worn at the elbows, but to enter within was to be ushered into a whole other realm.

The Carnival Cafe was a colorful potpourri of enthusiastic alternativeness. Vibrant posters papered the walls, and plants possessed corners and overflowed from shelves. A huge, U-shaped, glass display counter dominated the middle of the main dining room and housed hand-made trinkets for sale and whole-grain goodies generous in their size, price and healthy ingredients. 

The insider name of the bakery section was “the Dateful Bread.” Behind the back counter, bangle-bedecked girls in tie-dye T-shirts and saris baked next to the long-haired fellows in sandals who were cooking.

One corner was a children’s play area with toys.

Music laced the air, ranging from folk to the Grateful Dead. The atmosphere was thick with character, laughter and love. When one came to the Carnival to eat, it was not just a feast for the tongue and stomach, but one for the senses and spirit, too. The Cafe started out as the “Carnival Restaurant” in September 1972, created by five friends who took over a vegetarian eatery called the Family Table Restaurant. They were soon joined by other similar-minded friends, bringing their number to 13.

Mark Gunther helped get it going by bringing his significant experience in cooperative operations that he had gained in Berkeley, Calif. Others in the troupe had been involved in a food cooperative in the same area. The “Carnies” were a lively bunch, involved in theater, clowning and dance.

Photo provided by Roger Freed
The name “Carnival” came from a busker’s carnival on the library mall that they participated in that summer. The core idea in the enterprise was that “Life is a Carnival,” and it should be so lived, as stated by a famous banner they had displayed in the kitchen.

By 1974 only Margaret Theno of the original 13 remained, but the cafe had expanded to 14 fulltime and five part-time workers. The fare was vegetarian and as organic as was possible in those pre-Wild Oats days. The only true organic produce back then came in from local farms and was limited to a few lettuces, potatoes and green vegetables. But the Carnival still turned out meals that have never been equaled in wholesomeness and creativity by any of Boulder’s healthier restaurants throughout the years. No pesticides, chemical fertilizers or herbicides were used on the produce. Whatever people ordered, they could be assured that they would get a plateful of healthy grub, rich in vibrant ingredients and love.

The cafe started out as a collective. Everyone would share the tips and managerial duties and would divide the earnings amongst themselves. They shared a checkbook called the “Sojourner Truth Memorial Checking Account.” 

All lived in two houses that the Cafe paid for. When this proved difficult, they changed to a system where one could work 14 hours a week for unlimited meals and groceries, or 28 hours a week for meals, groceries and some managerial responsibilities. Many of the Carnies had second jobs where they earned their real living wages. On each shift, people chose which jobs they wanted to do that day. Those who worked on a particular shift were the authority for that shift. Everyone would stay an hour after closing to clean. 
There were some in town who questioned how sanitary the place was, but the Carnival’s rating with the health board was always very high.

The Carnies always had a goal to make enough money to pay off their debt. Gunther had loaned the money to buy it, and by 1975 the debt was paid off. At one point, a legal pad was passed around, and 26 “employees” signed on as legal owners, meaning it truly belonged to the people working there. They, in turn, felt that the Carnival belonged to the community, and that working there was a form of service to the people of Boulder. The Carnival had the cheapest prices in town and great quality to boot, in contrast to today’s premium prices for natural food in restaurants.

The daily special was advertised by a sign saying, “The Carnival’s daily love gift.” On Thanksgiving, meals were free to all who entered the door, although the soybean drumsticks they had one year didn’t go over too well. There was a counter space where people could leave their plates if they could not finish their meals. The food would be put on a fresh plate, and anyone who did not have money or was hard up could come in and eat it. There was one guy who came in for a year and lived on it.

On Sunday mornings, the Carnies held “the meeting.” It would start with everyone sitting in a circle and chanting the spiritual meditation word “om.”
Then they would stand in a circle and massage the shoulders of the person before them, then turn and repeat with the person on the other side. After that, it got down to business. Everyone had a voice in what was going on, even visitors. Once, a major debate took place about whether to serve coffee or not (coffee being a major source of both bad health and worker exploitation).

Working at the cafe was always an adventure. One time, the electricity went out and all the perishables in the cooler were going to be lost. The owner of the New York Deli, Tony Schwartz, sent employees over with bags of ice to help out. One customer remembers a day when a fly paper strip lost its mooring on the ceiling and fell, draping itself around a customer.

The cafe was visited by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Alan Ginsburg, Black Elk, Dan Fogelberg and Steven Stills. Mitchell once drew a picture of the cafe turning into a parking lot, which was added to the Carnival scrapbook. East- West Journal, Yoga Journal and others heralded the Carnival as the prototype of a collective business in the U.S. Celestial Seasonings mogul Moe Seigel used to deliver fresh herbs to them that he carried in his backpack on a bicycle.

For everyone, the cafe was more a lifestyle than a job.

“I am so grateful for the experience of love the cafe gave to me at such a critical time in my life,” Doe Gregoire says.

Cedar Geiger adds, “The cafe seemed to be a combination of many things to many of us. Lots of us were just frustrated with not having a skill, not having a home, not having friends/ family, etc. Here we found real family and a life learning experience that made us all a part of who we are now.”

But all good things must come to an end. In 1977, the city announced that the entire block would be torn down to make room for a parking lot. The Carnival had always had a month-to-month lease, and it was known when they got the place in 1972 that this would be its fate one day. Still, the Carnies were shattered.

People made parallels to Mitchell’s lyrics, saying “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Despite protests, no one in the higher financial and political end of things was going to listen to a bunch of hippies and their customers.
The parking lot opened on Aug. 11, 1978. It still stands today as a monolithic, uninteresting structure across from the Municipal Building on Canyon.

The Carnival died a premature death that year, its loyal keepers spreading to the four winds and other adventures. Surprisingly, many of the Carnies are still in touch with each other more than 30 years later. There is a website devoted to the memory of the Carnival Cafe with more than 50 members:

The passing of the Carnival Cafe signified the passing of an era in Boulder. Boulder changed from being a simple Western town to one that had a more metropolitan outlook and an upscale feel.

Similar establishments soon met a similar demise. The popular Green Mountain Granary, one of the first real natural food stores in Boulder, was razed to make space for the Senior Citizens Center. Hanna Kroeger’s New Age Foods kept making wonderful, inexpensive nutritious meals into the ’80s, until the success of the Pearl Street Mall brought in higher-stakes businesses with big budgets that drove out most of the local stores.

It is sad that the Carnival Cafe is so forgotten today. It was truly a unique institution and one that left a big imprint on the city’s culture and consciousness during its short existence. It offered a cherished look at life as a dance waiting to be danced and a song waiting to be sung. It showed to those who experienced it that amongst all of one’s daily work and strife, you need to not just stop and smell the flowers along the way, but lay among them and be one yourself.

This article was written with help from the following individuals and institutions: Carnegie Library, the written documents of Marc Weiss, Steven Miles and Stephen Gassaway. Information was also gathered from Larry Dixon, Karen Kaushansky, Richard Convertito, Cedar Geiger, Doe Gregoire, Mark Gunther, Barbralu Fried and Perry Sprout.

Life is a carnival-The Band

Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Where Grass Entered the Picture

Seems not many of the writers so far want to delve into the subject of illicit drug use, particularly, the smoking of marijuana. Well, we’re all adults here, and so much time has passed that talking about it now seems as natural as pulling on those old blue jeans and tie-dyed t-shirts.

My very first toke on a joint was when I was the ripe old age of 15. I had a childhood friend who lived in Florida. I was living in Pittsburgh at the time, but spent summers at my uncle’s house in Hallandale, Florida. I spent most of my days with my aunt helping her--usually under protest--clean the house and tidying up while my uncle and cousins, who were a few years older than me, went out into the working world.

I remember one day my aunt and I were visiting a family friend, and I became bored. I asked my aunt if I could walk over to my old friend Karen’s house and hang out with her for awhile. I grew up next door to Karen, and we were the best of friends until I eventually moved away after fifth grade.

My aunt agreed to let me go, and off I went. It was a long, hot walk, but well worth getting away from two gossipy women sipping lemonade and talking about things I had absolutely no interest in.

It was late morning, and I got to Karen’s just as she was getting ready to go run some errands. She had her driver’s license, something I wouldn’t get for another couple of years, and she had a cute little VW bug. I know, so clichĂ©, but honestly, she did, and she asked if I’d like to ride along.

“You bet I would!” I hurriedly answered. So, errands weren’t like the coolest thing to do, but having a friend who drove when you were still yearning to, well, that was close enough to the real thing for me.

Karen was cute, really cute, surfer Florida girl cute. She had long wavy blonde hair, a perpetual tan, and a perfect body. I was more curvy than Karen. She could wear the gypsy skirt, peasant blouse look well, I couldn’t. But I looked alright in a pair of shorts and sleeveless blouse, and while my hair was dark, long and wavy, not at all looking like the surfer Florida girl, I did have plenty of freckles.

Together, we were ok to look at and driving around town, well, we got some honks and some stares and I remember feeling so much freedom that day. No worries, just riding around town, hitting the store, the bank, doing odds and ends, grown up stuff when I hadn’t really realized that, in fact, it was about time I started acting more grown up.

When we were on our way home, Karen asked, “Have you ever smoked a joint before?” I wanted to act all cool and say yeah, but truth is, I never had, and since Karen and I went way back, she’d know I was lying anyways, so I told the truth. She pulled out a joint.

“Well, now you can see what it’s all about,” she told me, and she lit it up. My first drag on it was awful, I remember. The smoke really hurt my lungs. I had already tried cigarettes, but I wasn’t anything near being a smoker.

We passed the joint between us as she maneuvered in and out of traffic, and me? I kept my eyes out for the cops. I kept waiting for something magical to happen but the most I can honestly say I felt was maybe a bit happier, but high like I’d heard about from all the propaganda being thrown at us? No. I wasn’t high. I “wanted” to get high, to honestly feel how Karen was feeling, but never really did. I envied her. She had a car, she was cute as hell, had a boyfriend already, was entrenched in the hippie lifestyle, and she was high. I was none of those things.

Karen told me it was ok, my not feeling high right off the bat, that it happened to lots of people the first time cause they didn’t know what to expect. We got back to her house, and it was time for me to start walking back home to my uncle’s house. She told me to wait a minute, went into the house and came back out with a small joint.

“Here, for later. Maybe the second time will be better for you.”

It was at that precise moment I went from being an innocent onlooker to a part of the hippie generation. I was officially on the road to turning on, tuning in, and dropping out. I stuck the joint in my bra (Karen said it was the best place to hide it), and I set off toward my uncle’s house.

Maybe I did feel something after all. I sure as hell wasn’t the same girl that had made the trip to Karen’s house a few hours earlier. I had matured somehow. I had become one of “them.” The cool people. I never felt guilty, never felt like I was doing anything remotely wrong, and I never, ever wanted to look back.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Another Great Beatles Moment - Part I

by John Henrichs

Growing up in the 1960’s, it was difficult to find a radio station that wasn’t playing something by the Beatles. The “British Invasion” had come to the U.S. The airwaves were awash with the sound.

Living in a small town, and living in a relatively poor family, my siblings and I didn’t have new-fangled transistor radios like many of our peers. Instead, we had early 1950’s tube radios, many of which we had to rebuild to make them work.

Often times when I heard that my sister had a song on her radio that I wanted to hear, I had to run to my room and turn on my radio to listen to it. Needless to say, tube radios took forever to “warm up.” Usually, I would catch only the last few bars of the song. Of course I couldn’t simply listen to my sister’s radio in her room. We were not unlike most brothers and sisters that hated each other. My sister “Eggbert” was the worst! I have no idea where that name came from, but she wears it to this day. So I could hardly listen to her radio when I had one of my own.

Later, when I got a job, the hours were awful. As a result, I never got to actually see the Beatles perform. At least I got to follow the band through newspaper accounts until they broke up.

At the time, a girl I was dating told me she had tickets to the Paul McCartney and Wings concert. I was going to see at least one of the Beatles! It turns out she had somehow gotten tickets in the eighth row. I never did ask how she got them.

It was probably the best produced concert I had ever attended, the sound and theatrics were simply mind-blowing. But the one thing that got to me during the song, “Live and Let Die,” with the flash pots exploding and lights flashing on the stage, was the look of sheer joy on Paul McCartney’s face. He seemed to be having the time of his life.

I swear he looked out over the audience and our eyes connected. I felt his sheer exuberance. His smile lit up the whole arena, as he played and sang. I thought to myself that this indeed was nirvana. Someday, I wanted to follow suit, start my own band, and live like a rock star!

Sadly, work got the best of me, and after 38 years on the job, I can hardly get my hand around the neck of a guitar. But that moment remains fresh in my mind. Every time I hear that song, my mind goes back to that night long ago. There was a lesson to be learned—Do what you love, be who you want to be. Life is too short not to.