A fade-to-gist

August 11, 2020

Maybe it’s retirement combined with #COVID-19 self semi-quarantine, but I find myself using some of my time to wander thru memories for whatever remains of my wild and crazy youth.

“Human memory is notoriously unreliable, especially when it comes to details. Scientists have found that prompting an eyewitness to remember more can generate details that are outright false but that feel just as correct to the witness as actual memories. In day-to-day life, this isn’t a bug; it’s a feature”

I like this psychedelic brain image.

“A key rule about memory change over time is what we call fade-to-gist,” so says Dr. Charles Brainerd, (real name) a professor of human development at Cornell University.

What set me down memory lane recently was Dirt Road to Psychedelia a documentary about the mid to late sixties music scene in Austin, TX including the Vulcan Gas Company

The Vulcan was the hippest, coolest place in Austin (maybe the world). The following are some things I dredged up in memories as a direct result of viewing the film. And, yes, I going to be name-dropping because…

I started going to the Vulcan when it opened in early ’68. Some of my college friends were musicians and we went often together, but not always.

I was introduced to marijuana by a musician friend who went on to play bass with the 13th Floor Elevators. So that got me thinking. During my junior year in college 67-68 I spent much time in the company of the previous drummer for the Elevators. John Ike had quit the band and his mother thought he ought to go to college. He was a fun person to be with.

In the summer of ’68 I spent a lot of time in the company of the band New Atlantis in their Austin rental house. New Atlantis played at the Vulcan often and there I was introduced to Johnny Winter. I was crazy about his blues guitar licks. We became friends. I went to all of his Austin shows and we’d hangout for hours afterward. He called me his ‘college girl’ as I was still attending at that time. He got famous from those Vulcan gigs, and the last time I visited with him was in the mid-70’s when he stopped by the Armadillo Beer Garden.

The Armadillo World Headquarters, an Austin Texas music venue, in September 1976 photo by SteveHopson

By the time the Vulcan closed, I had graduated and was living in Music Mecca aka Austin. The Armadillo opened in 1970 and I was a frequent visitor thru early 1980 when I moved to NM. It felt like I was there every time the doors opened, but that’s not true. I saw so many wonderful shows–Jerry Lee Lewis on New Year’s Eve. Taj Mahal, Bette Midler, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Zappa, Van Morrison, Ravi Shankar… I rented the downstairs room of my house to drummer Jerry Barnett who worked some at the ‘Dillo and played with Shiva’s Headband.  Jerry was kind enough to get me in the door for free many, many times.

A boyfriend once broke up with me while the Dylan song “Ramona’ played on the PA in between stage sets of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee. He said, “Oh by the way, I’ve asked Ramona to move in with me, so this is our last date.” It was a rather apropos lead in, don’t you think?

Me and my brand new baby boy 1974

If you want to read more, try Race Relations, which I wrote about 10 years ago and recently updated.

As it all fades, the gist of it is–I had a really good time with little or no regrets. Because what would be the point of regrets?

Feel free to leave comment of your memories.

 


My Dream House

August 31, 2010

I have this house I dream about. It’s the house I lived in from 1969 to ’77 in Austin, Texas. Fresh out of college, two single, white females with hair down to our waists, my roommate and I found this house during an evening stroll. It was empty; but, we could hear it calling to us. We found the owners and asked if we could rent.  Amazingly, they said yes, rent is $90 a month. Even back then, it was a great deal.

The house was built in 1926, a split level with a small downstairs apartment. It was (and is still) located right on the cusp of Clarksville near Mopac. The house had no air-conditioning and a old refrigerator with the motor on top. But, it was full of good vibes.  We moved in and proceeded to live the life we had been dreaming of those past four years in school.

Without a doubt, those were the best days of my life. Oh, not that I don’t think all my days are the best, including tomorrow, next week, next year… In 1969, the neighborhood was in flux. With only a few actual homeowners left, the hippies had moved in. The neighborhood felt like a commune. We had our own gardens and vegetarian guru who supplied all our greens, if you know what I mean. I worked as a waitress in a popular restaurant and made plenty of tips. I think we saw every band that played the Armadillo. We came home in the early morning with our dancing shoes in one hand and a sweet boy in the other.  Later, our naked little babies played together in the back yard.

After we both had moved out and moved on, I began frequently dreaming of the house. I’d walk through the rooms with feelings of deep emotion, like a longing to be back home. Over time, the dreams became less frequent and the house began to look kinda distorted with odd shaped rooms or a weird view from the windows. But, it still felt like it was a place I wanted to get back to.

Our House is a very fine house.

Several years ago, my husband and I bought our first home.  Some days I sit in my comfy chair, by a cabinet full of all my souvenirs, and look out the large front window. With the smell of jasmine and honeysuckle wafting in, I watch the sparrows flinging bird seed all over. I say “thanks” for this wonderful home.  And, I can’t remember the last time I dreamed of the Austin house.


I Want to Go Home to the Armadillo

August 1, 2010

One of my favorite lines is “if you remember the 60’s (or 70’s) you weren’t really there.”  Well it seems plenty of us were really there and are remembering the Armadillo World Headquarters–that venerable music venue in Austin, Texas which was THE place to hear live music from 1970 through the early 1980’s.

Having been pointed in the direction of the ‘I Remember the Armadillo’ Facebook page by my brother Jack, I became an immediate fan.  I proceeded to spend way too much time reading the posted memories, checking out the list of bands and dates they played, and creating my own nostalgic musing. Since my downstairs neighbors worked at the Armadillo, and would put me on the ‘list,” it seemed I was there every time the doors opened.

Just about every band or musician you ever heard of and, some you hadn’t, played at the ‘Dillo.   Always the best audience, we gave a standing ovation for everyone—Ravi Shankar to Jerry Lee Lewis, Commander Cody to Frank Zappa, Freddy King to Boz Scaggs, and the list goes on.  The Armadillo embodied everything about that era in Austin, the music, the camaraderie, the wafts of smoke (you know what I mean).  But, it was definitely, first and foremost about the music for me.

So this weekend, I grooved to some of my old LPs, did a little dance and felt the love.

Listen to some good music this week.