This section is organized
Contributions to this section include writings by: Gordon, David, Cathee, Joel, and Linda; to add your diaries, or to comment on statements made in these documents, please go here.)
January 23, 1970 (Friday): "I'm now in the sky over Nevada -- 33,000 feet (11:55 NY time, almost 9:00 California time). Headed for Utah. Oddly, I don't feel that excited. Sometimes I think I "turn off" my emotions when embarking on something extremely new like this. A protection, perhaps. Or, maybe, I'm just scared.
I'm surprised we got on standby so easily. We arrived at the airport a little before 7:00 this morning, picked up standby tickets, and were on the 8:00 plane in no time! We saw Mark first, then Wes, then everyone seemed to arrive at once. Oh -- the movie's on -- I think I'll stop and watch it."
January 30, 1970 (Friday) Luxembourg: "I've been down with a horrendous cold for the past 3-1/2 days - can't talk too well (when I do I sound just like Mr.. Toad). But I'm still really enjoying everything. Mike and Mary are in the showers now (we had to hike all the way to the train station to get showers). I'm sitting here passing the time away in the waiting room.
"Bummer #1 - You can't even use the john here without an old lady meeting you half-way with her arm outstretched for two Belgium franks! Bummer #2 - Toilet paper is equivalent to American sandpaper, only gray. Bummer #3 - WATCH OUT FOR CRABS! THEY ARE THE NIGHT ATTACKERS! Luckily, I haven't appealed to them yet.
"Surprise #1 - Ran into (of all people, get ready for this!) Jim Kahle [a high school friend from Saratoga] - in a small little restaurant in town. He's going to school here! Two days ago he took me around Luxembourg. We hiked in the country a while, visited with a few of his friends, picked up a hitchhiker who lived in a castle in the highlands, so we went up there and stayed in the castle for the afternoon. The place was huge - with a series of dungeons, towers, secret passageways, a drawbridge -- the works. Most of it was in ruins, mainly from W.W.II. The Nazis used it as their headquarters for a time. We explored every cranny - incredible. Met some really fantastic kids (all students) living there. They raved about going to Morocco. Dennis, the guy we picked up, had gone to Greece and told us not to miss it for the world -- but his friend, Jeff, convinced us that Morocco was better. He also had a great tan. Maybe when Wes & Rich get back from Germany (where they went to buy a van) we'll head for good old North Africa??? Another thing -- the castle there was haunted, they told us. Unfortunately, I didn't have the opportunity to meet any of the mystic elders. Jim and I also hiked up to an old, old chapel at the top of a hill near the castle -- also "haunted". Supposedly an old count or duke had built it in 1730 for his wedding, but his lady split the day before. They say he still haunts the place. It looks like it, too. Completely surrounded by wilderness. Not far is another (older) castle on a still higher hill, but we only peered at it from below. (THAT one really spooked me! Ghost stories always get me going!) From the castle we took Jeff and Dennis to a monastery down the road and headed back toward Luxembourg where we had some wine. Jim had a test the next day, so I went back to the hostel to eat some Vitamin C and go to bed. Thursday I was so sick I had to stay in the entire day. But today.....ahhh....today's different. I merely have a low, sexy voice -- no fever -- no drippy nose -- only a small cough.
"Let me tell you what an average day in Luxembourg is like: #1 - Wake up at 1:00 am. Hostel's too hot. Crawl out of sleeping bag, run to the WC to splash on the ice water, come back and climb into bed. Lie awake till dawn thinking about all sorts of things. Get out of bed at 8:00 (sunrise). Wash and dress. Meet everyone in the hostel "lounge" (a group of benches downstairs). Bundle up and hike up to our favorite breakfast spot (we climb through the snow out of the valley and up through the old city gates. Then around the corner and up to the duke's palace and across the street). I order tea everyday. The others get a 3-course meal for only 35 franks, or 70 cents. We stay there and talk for about 2 hours with the people who come in (oh, how I wish I learned German! Taking Italian in school was smart, but German would come in so handy about now). Then find something to do in town until 2:00. (The hostel closes from 9:00 to 2:00). Then we all head back to the hostel, waste time and talk until 5:00, when they open up our rooms. Everything then becomes a mad rush when everyone piles into the halls toward the WCs and the bunks. At 7:00 dinner is served for those rich enough to afford it. For the less fortunate, an orange or some bread and cheese does the trick. After dinner is a general conversing time. Those who choose to brave the cold, snowy night air venture on their evening prowls. Since the hostel closes at 10:00 PM, midnight rampages are unfortunately out of the question."
"Mike and Mary and I are the only ones left from Tutorials here. Everyone else has scattered all the way from Paris to Rome, as far as I know. Here's a taste of the people we've met in the hostel: Michele, the 18-year-old from Pasadena traveling with her boyfriend for 6 months and waiting for her sister, Eileen (22) to arrive from America. Eileen and Mimi, her friend, came yesterday, and they all left for Paris today. Then there's Gary, the Canadian (Albertan?) who has spent 14 days in this hostel waiting for money so he can go back home (he's been on the road for 9 months). Quite a good fellow. He's been showing us some of the cheaper eating places around town. Then there's the lad from Liverpool -- never caught his name -- but his backpack was filled with patches from the countries he'd visited. A professional traveler and really kind person. Now he's off to Milan to catch a job with a friend for a while (to earn more traveling money). Then came the two Finnish girls who wouldn't talk to anybody. Then the huge group of American guys, fresh from the States (like us). Some were nice, but most of them were frat-type "cool dudes" who were only interested in beer and sex. Another really great person is the girl from New Zealand. She's with a guy from Vancouver and another from Brazil. All three are soft-spoken, smile a lot. Then, of course, we have the two Parisian actors who speak little English, but use a lot of sign language and engage in exquisite pantomimes. Arrogant and funny! Finally, the two people I've been most impressed with -- Anne, from Arizona, and her boyfriend Oulie, from Switzerland. I've never met more genuine and happy people in my life! They speak at least 4 languages apiece and never hesitate to share anything they own with anyone. I talked with them for 2 hours last night. Such good energy. It's nice to know people like this exist in this turbulent world. There's hope.
"I wish a million times I could speak German. And French. Spanish and Italian are all I know -- and only from an academic perspective. I don't understand the slang, which is much of what is really spoken, especially among young people. So much to learn.... What a lifestyle traveling seems to be! I wonder if I'll ever want to return to the States? I love every moment here -- walking down the cobblestone streets that are so narrow you can stretch out your arms and touch the buildings on each side. Sliding down the snowy banks by the river. Running mittened hands along the old stone wall of the fortress. Chasing ruins around the city. Pressing my nose against cafe' windows, and being motioned in by the chef with the big rosy cheeks and wide grin. Laughing with women in the market place. Sitting quietly at a table with a glass of good wine and an old friend. Maybe language is secondary to what really drives people in relationships? Maybe our hearts speak louder."
January 27, 1970, to his parents: "I am sitting in a tiny 26 Frank ($6.50) hotel room looking at Linda and a skyscape of Basel, Switzerland, just south of the German border. We just arrived after a pleasant, wine and harmonica-filled train ride from Frankfurt. Now she is asleep and I am smoking a cigarette, pondering the uncertain future in Perugia. Frankfurt was expensive and no cheap VW bus was to be had, but the hospitality of the much criticized Germans made everything pleasant. We went to Goethe University and saw the graffiti that remains from their SDS-led strikes and demonstrations: shades of Berkeley.
"We have decided trains and hitching are good enough for us, and have forgotten about buying a car. Tomorrow we will go south to somewhere in the high Alps, then to Milan and by Friday we will be in Perugia. What awaits us there remains in doubt. The prof. had no significant news when we flew to Luxembourg, where I last saw him. No place to stay, no vill or castle has yet been confirmed. I am not worried and hope you will not, either. Even if the whole Perugia thing fizzles, which I doubt, I still will get my crucial units. Confidently, I imagine myself coping with any and all situations that may arise. My Spanish is remarkably helpful with Italians, though some things need a dictionary to be expressed properly. I don't have a proper address yet so I hope that nothing crucial has been sent, or will need to be sent for 2-3 weeks. Money is going fast, even though I haven't frittered on trivia at all. Hotels are not so cheap as you are led to believe. Hopefully, things will level off in Italy. Bear in the back of your mind: I haven't a return ticket from N.Y. ($90. airfare), and those people who wrote Linda turned out to be just GREAT guys. Saw the Statue of Liberty, U.N., and all of the Bronx, where we stayed. Will you also send me Martin Rutishauser's address, when I get one where I can receive mail?
February 5, 1970: "Perugia. Perugia. A day of reunions, colds and sore legs. Much luggage to carry, and a first visit to Bar Ferrari. Italian pizza. But our new home is not yet ready for us, so it is off to Rome for a few days."
February 7, 1970: "...We arrived in Perugia on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, we saw a couple of people from our group who said that we all had a luncheon date with the contessa at the castle. The castle is situated out in the middle of the country and is on top of a large hill surrounded by trees. The castle was built in the 1300's (I think). There's a wine cellar (they grow their own grapes and make their own wine), dungeons and secret tunnels. The contessa lives there so there are all kinds of fascinating trinkets lying around. The luncheon included her two sons who I think are in their 30s or 40s. We sat at a long table with white linen and crystal and a man with white gloves serving us. The meal was four courses... and the best meal I have had since in Europe. It was quite a sight... all of these grungy-looking students sitting at the contessa's table. She treated us fine!
"The deal is we get only part of the bottom floor of the castle and a 300 year old farmhouse. The farmhouse is very run down, but they're working on it now, putting in new plumbing, painting, a new kitchen... The good thing is we can do anything we want to the walls . The farmhouse is big. There are 9 or 10 good sized bedrooms plus lots of small rooms upstairs and down. The contessa is also throwing in the equivalent of 1/2 liter of wine per day per person (we figured it out!). Most of the work on the farmhouse will be done by February 12 and then we can move in. Hence, why I am now in Rome. So far it is not very cold here. There has been no rain and it's only about 5 degrees colder than it would be in San Jose."
February 7, 1970: "Perugia is a pretty big place, contrary to what I expected. The city is surrounded by a big city wall, which somehow survived the barbaric invasions after Rome dominated it (10th or 11 century?) I've been told the city itself became pretty powerful in the 13th & 14th centuries & was well known then. Now I think the many thing that puts Perugia on the Italian map is the chocolate factory (and the university). We came here about 4 days ago. The day after we arrived, Wes & I went scouting to find the rest of the group and visit the villa. Some Chilean med students picked us up and took us to San Marco, where Mary told us the villa was. We didn't realize it was the wrong place until the guys dropped us off. There we were, in the middle of the tiny village of San Marco - the opposite direction from the villa - stuck. It took quite a bit of my freshman Italian to find out which road to take to Colombella, but we managed to make it back to Perugia. We were dropped off at the very bus station where the rest of the group just happened to be.
"They'd all been invited to dinner at La Contessa's - and were waiting for a bus to Colombella. Being noble souls, we came along, too. Now I can honestly say I've dined with a countess. She lives in an old castle-like villa on a huge estate called Monte Capanno in the hills of Colombella. (Try to picture old estates overlooking vast miles of Italian countryside and farmland in some of Sophia Loren's movies.) From the road to Colombella, we have to walk about two or so miles through farmland and country roads - up - before we come to a row of big poplars on each side of a narrow dirt drive. Looking up at this point, there's a hill surrounded by trees. Within the trees are the walls of the estate (like a small castle). Looking down is a tiny lake and a few old European farmhouses (peasant-like buildings with haystacks built like small houses). If we look hard we can see a few old women working in the fields (seeding) and some men chopping wood. After walking up the shaded road to the villa itself, we can see even more of the countryside below. The villa itself is equipped with its own vineyards and wine cellars, a room filled with medireview armor and swords, a library with books dating as far back as the 12th century (some are handwritten in Italian!), Roman furniture from Caesar's day, a huge dining room with an authentic long feasting table, goblets, and huge royal chairs. The dinner was enough to serve a king and his army! The first course was spaghetti and bread and wine. The bread and pasta were made from the grain from her fields, the wine from the grapes in her vineyards. Her house-servants prepared them and served them three times before the 2nd course was brought in. That consisted of roast beef (from her own cattle), home-made thick potato chips (from the gardens) and a crepe suzette made with the eggs from the chickens, cheese from the sheep, peas from the garden, milk from the cows, and God knows what else in the ingredients. Again, more wine and 2 more servings of the 2nd course. The 3rd course was pastry (from her grain and honey from hives in the area) - and a special sweet dessert wine. The 4th course was fruit and nuts and more wine. The 5th course - after-dinner wine. About an hour later - tea or a special coffee (tastes more like hot chocolate than coffee). Needless to say, after that meal, we were like slugs. I managed to take a walk by myself along the grounds. It was windy out, but nice.
"I took the pathway down to the farmhouse where we all will be living. It's only an empty shell now, with the stables on the ground floor and the rooms above. By the 12th [of February] it should be ready for us to move in (so La Contessa says). We'll have to double or triple in the rooms, but it should be fine. They're putting heating and plumbing and a kitchen in - I don't know about the lights - hot showers and even a washing machine! The thing that thrills me most about living in the farmhouse is the land. It expands as far as our eyes can see. Fields, meadows, a pond, haystacks, and CLEAN AIR! No crowds of shoving people. No city streets to cross or barred windows facing brick walls. Just beautiful land and air accented with a touch of water.
"One strange thing about Italy - and all of Europe it seems - is the fact that everything dies between 1:30 and 3:30 (often 12:30 to 4:30)! No stores are open, post offices, banks, many eating places, markets - everything (even drug stores) goes on strike in the afternoon. During that time, people either swarm all over the place or they disappear. The other odd thing is the toilet paper. Like pastel crepe paper. And some places don't even have toilets. Holes in the ground instead! One place had magazine pages available to use for TP. I could fill an entire scrapbook with toilet paper samples..."
February 10, 1970: "We meet La Contessa after Dave's arrival and have a first taste of Monte Capanno Red Wine. Cordial as goes our meeting, there is thin confidence and half trust between landlord and new tenants. I thought we were staying in a Castle; it is two broken down farmhouses. A bad deal."
February 14, 1970: "Spent three hours lighting a wet wood fire."
February 15, 1970: "...I arrived back in Perugia around Feb. 11 and have been doing good healthy work since. I've been painting, cooking, washing, etc... It's kind of a group effort, so nobody seems to mind all of the work. I was living in the main castle up until last night when there was enough done so we could move in. I went into Perugia yesterday with Andre (the contessa's son, David, Maija and some others. The first thing we did was go and get pastries. It's something I've been drooling about for what seems like a long time. The food here isn't the worst... but still it's not the greatest. We eat a lot of potatoes, spaghetti, and sometimes, vegetables, fruit and very sometimes, MEAT! (which I really don't miss)... it should get better in time. By the way, the government in Italy has fallen. There are many, many strikes, one of which is postal. .... Later tonight, Gordon, Craig, Kathy, Maija, David and I went to the small town of Gubbio. While we were there, a beautiful blanket of snow fell on Monte Capanno. The ride home was an adventure, but it was the most beautiful sight."
February 17-18, 1970: "II. The Open Market In Perugia
Today is February 17 th. Or maybe 18th. Yesterday was Tuesday. Terre Eakins and Cathy Roberts and Cathy White and Mark Fissel got up about 6:30 to go to Perugia in the Low Flying Whale to buy food for everyone at the open market, where a lot of produce from round about is sold in stalls. Deidre Rainer is the one who woke everyone else, smiles and a song early in the morning wearing her fluffy coat. I woke up Maija lying next to me. She got mad the night before on account of I left her alone with 20 students while she cooked. Also, she drank a lot of Monte Capanno red wine.
Part of the evening was pouring it out of a huge old straw covered demijohn bottle into 26 two litre straw covered bottles. And drinking a lot of the wine is part of pouring it. Part of our rent to the Contesa covers one of those demijohns a week. And if we should happen to drink more than the allowance, we can buy more.
This batch of red wine had been going long enough so it sparkles almost like champagne. A rare thing, red wine that sparkles like champagne. And as Andrea told us, very pure from the grape, no headaches. But booze and Maija are a bad combination for me. So she threw some mineral water and then the bottle. Packed some things in a little leather hand case with the initial ìGî on it. Stands for her maiden name, Gregarious. Including her passport and half her round trip ticket from Luxembourg to New York. And now she was packed and wanted to be dropped off at the train station.
About seven I went out and scraped the snow off the windows. The windows are about six or seven feet high in front, very broad and open.
It had started snowing Sunday, when we drove over the mountains to Gubbio with Gordon and Linda and Craig and Cathy. Bit of snow on the way. Bid of moedival (sic) city. Craig and Linda and Gordon stole a candle apiece from the church there. Just before the lady came and turned the lights on and told [us] of the restoration. Then a prezzo fisso meal in a resturant (sic) down a cobbled alley, with photos on the wall of the men and ladies who came from Rome to make a movie in the medieval city of Gubbio, that nestles at the base of a hill that rises up and up like a California hill by the coast except itís terraced with vineyards and little orchards. The hill was covered with snow, very postcard. The meal was good with not much meat by very made. And the e z wine was white not red. Then we drove over the mountain back toward Perugia and Monte Capanno. But it was really snowing. These little Topolinos that most people use for cars in Italy were slithering all over the place, like trying to walk up a steep hill slantwise only it didnít work and alot of them got stuck. Someone would get out of a Toppolino push a bit then jump on the bumper and hold on in his sports jacket as the snow came down in balls. But the Low Flying Whale could pass left right and center, go straight through at about 40 kilometers and (sic) hour. Very exciting. Gordon and Linda and Craig and Cathy would get in the back of the van, sit on the spare tires over the wheels, to hold the car steady when the wheels started to spin. And Maija kept wiping the window clear of snow and singing out when there was a Toppolino in the road. After a half hour we reached the top.
The rest was easy. Toppolinos were getting stuck in the opposite direction, coming up from Perugia. Like wheeled hedgehogs, scuttling through snow.
When we got back Andrea was looking at his own Toppolino. Itís gray and shaped like a station wagon, and was stuck in about a foot of snow. He said he never saw so much snow and the country people were of two minds. One was it would last a month, the other it would melt and wash away in a day or so and Spring would come.
It is now three days later and Spring hasnít come, though most of the snowís washed away.
Anyway, the Low Flying Whale started. i opened up the radiator to see if the water was frozen. It wasnít frozen there, though it did freeze in the heater, which is a little radiator attached to the big radiator. So the motor ran smooth and pulled us downhill toward Perugia, about eight oíclock.
All the people who were going, and some more too, have been staying in this wing of the castle with the three bedrooms I told you about. The bottle Maija threw broke the way bottles do on tile floors, a bit noisy. And though a bit of feeling for her, since she likes the privacy of two people in a room and made a lot of having her own painting studio to work in. But she cooks fine and paints beasts, and people certainly didnít want her to go to California and leave me alone. I was of two minds about this. Nobody likes to have a bottle thrown at him.
Though there are a l[ot] of worse things one can do with a bottle. Like break it and come on slicing, aiming jugularly.
Speaking of jugs, I am drinking gently from a brown class one, labeled in gold Plymouth 1825, WHISKY. Italian whiskey. I bought a bottle for three dollars, on account of the wood ball that caps it. I thought the wood cap was a shot glass. Not exactly, though it would do in a pinch.
And Chris Klyce just came through the door to borrow a rug to do the yoga exercise. Chris is very much into yoga. She fasted four days recently. Chris and Mark Fissel are our trip vegetarians. When people ask Mark if heís a man or woman, since he wears his hair to his shoulders, he either says heís a watermelon or a man from the Moon. I believe the latter.
Havenít yet begun to describe these students from California. So you will have to imagine for yourself the meeting we had in the room in the small farmhouse where weíve been cooking and eating for the past week or ten days, waiting for more people to arrive and the big farmhouse to be ready with hot showers and toilets and a stove in the huge kitchen there and beds and some heating.
We had eaten a lot of pasta and drunk a lot of wine. The salad was particularly fine and the fire was going well, with two people sitting right in the fireplaces on the warming benches on the side. Then we picked two or three people to be specialists, resource people, in each job. Gardening, cooking, garbage disposal, cleaning, cutting firewood and making fires, chemical heating with kerosene and bottled gas, buying supplies, and keeping track of everything, or as we say secretary treasurer.
Terre Eakins became the secretary treasurer. She has a mean mind for such things, and can sit with a count twenty minutes as he misadds, then direct him gently to the difference in their systems. Terre is a fundamentalist Christian. More on that, probably.
There was also a group on transportation, in charge among other things of procuring hashish, mescaline and LSD, which have been in short supply since we smoked the last of Deidreís Philadelphia grass.
This was a fine meeting since [it] involved almost no discussion. People knew what was to be done. I was juiced enough to give a short sermon on the joy of garbage disposal, and gratified by response to it.
The thing about how we are here is we not only have to get along, we have to work. Together where possible. And enough so the mind can wheel into this thing called education, which is why we are here. More on that. Education is a racket Iíve been in as worked for ten years, but just never found a good way to talk about it. So forget about it. Imagine the meeting by candelight (sic), the way everytime there was a break and I asked for questions Craig Morem would stand up very blond with a bottle and say, Does anyone else need more vino? And if you want to think a minute about Maija, who likes her husband but doesnít like much to see him pay attention to people other than her, even in large group.
So the next morning [at] eight we took off in the Low Flying Whale to go to the Open Market of Perugia, and Maija to ride to the train station.
A note: thinking over the meeting and some other things I feel a little of the Mussolini in me. One thing that might happen here is I will decide between being a romantic and a contemplative. But for now if we donít get a system going...
(at that point, the Zack diary entry ends)
"Diary of David Zack" excerpt provided to Monte Capanno 1970 by Joel Agee
transcribed by Gordon Bowen
To read additional writings by David Zack, please go here.
February 20, 1970: "Protein starvation...I can't really say what here makes me mad, [but] God am I hungry."
Friday, Feb. 20th - "Last Sunday talked with two Italian guys who decided to visit the group. I persuaded them to give us Italian lessons, which turned out to be pretty funny. All we did for the rest of the afternoon was conjugate verbs. The only words spoken seemed to be Io sono, tu sei, egli 'e, noi siamo, voi siete, elle-loro sono, etc. Finally the two guys got tired and asked Terre Eakins & me to go for a ride with them. Being rather adventuresome (Terre convinced me we had each other to rely on) we bid the rest of the group good-bye & set off on a rather amusing journey. Terre & Gianni sat in the back seat of a tiny Fiat, while Raimondo drove and I sat on the seat next to him. Now, let me tell you what it's like to go parking Italian style (from the guys' point of view): (1) Start driving - any direction - let the girls think that where you go is completely up to them. If they pick the wrong way, it's okay. Just turn around at an appropriate time because of poor weather conditions (it's starting to snow, & you have no chains). (2) Head toward an off-road - the nearest farmhouse will do. Park at the head of the drive under a tree. (3) Start giving Italian lessons: faccia=face, carina=cute, bella=beautiful, naso=nose, occhi=eyes, guancia=cheek, mento=chin, boca=mouth, labbri=lips, bacio=kiss. (4) Now the stage is set. Get out the curtain. Explain in Italian that this is like the Metropolitan Opera House and the curtain must go up before the show can begin. Bring out a plaid blanket. Hook both ends of it in the windows (wind up the windows so the blanket won't fall down). Then proceed to convince the girl that you're madly in love with her, (get this) have a pain in your groin, and must kiss her or you'll be in absolute agony. Oh, don't forget to tell her that she's more beautiful than any girl you've known, and you'd be willing to forget your girlfriends in Perugia, Rome, Florence (and in your apartment) if only you could have HER. Be dramatic, serious, sexy, cool. WELL, it didn't work with Terry & me. As soon as the curtain went up and they tried to get a kiss, we asked them how to say eyes or nose in Italian once more. When that game was exhausted, we decided to be blunt and told them we didn't want to be kissed (this was after we had fun with them for a while, joking about the curtain). Gianni was really cool about it. But Raimondo got mad, started the car in a huff, and took us back to the villa. When we climbed out of the Fiat, I shoved snow down his neck and told him in Italian to cheer up. Somehow it made him laugh. We had a big snowball fight and ended up shaking hands."
February 20, 1970: "February 20, 1970... Things here have been going pretty much the same, except yesterday and today, the SUN was out. It was glorious. Andrea set up a ping pong table in the courtyard of the castle and we played all day. If nothing else, this trip has taught me about chickens. They are the most stupid animals I've ever seen. Purina, who works for the contessa, has about 20 chickens and when we walk from the farmhouse to the castle we go through her gated chicken area. People keep leaving the gate open and people have to spend time chasing the chicken back into their area. Tonight is the first night we're going to have a big meal with all of us together. We have our seminars all arranged. There are 30 to pick from and they range from serious drinking to eastern religions to needlework and pottery, and on and on. It should be pretty interesting!"
February 21, 1970: "...in a few days we're going to start planting a vegetable garden. We also got a woman to come in 3 hours a day to cook our big afternoon meal and wash dishes.... it will really take a big load off the girls! Tonight Paulo and Gigi, two Italian guys a girl met, came over with a record player and records... good ones... something we haven't seen in a long time. So, we had a feast... bread, cheese, salami, fruit, lots of wine, salad, banana nut bread, etc. I feel so peaceful living here."
February 23, 1970: "...You asked about the contessa.... I imagine she's in her 60's since she has two sons, 27 and 31. Her husband, who was a diplomat, died about a year ago. Her sons wanted her to have something to liven up Monte Capanno and her life, so they thought that this was ideal. So far, I think it has been. She doesn't speak a lot of English. When she walks around the farmhouse to see what the workmen are doing, she brings us little things but she he never gets in the way of what we're doing nor tells us not to do anything. She respects our privacy, as we do hers. She spends most of her time in the castle where she lives on the 2nd floor. We only go to her part when invited. She seems to be a very typical aristocrat and thinks quite differently than we do. They consider peasants, peasants and nothing more, etc. Her two sons Joseph and Andrea have been fine to us as well, especially Andrea, the younger one. Joseph is married to a Swedish girl and lives in town in one of the contessa's other castles! They have 1 kid. On Sunday they came over in their Jaguar, with the family, including the Swedish nurse maid.
"Andrea has been living here since we came, to help out. He really seems to be enjoying having us here. He comes to the farmhouse just about every night and sits around the fire and talks and drinks with us. Last night we had the wildest party we've had since we've been here. Andrea (among others) was dancing on the tables. Today, Andrea was going to Columbella and 3 or 4 of us went with him. He insisted on taking us to a bar and having something! I've been feeling great, strong, and healthy and with dishwater hands! Yesterday a bunch of people went to Assisi and it was too crowded in the car, so I volunteered not to go... about 5 minutes after they left, a taxi pulled up and in it were Rich and Debby, my neighbors from San Jose! They can't believe this place and hope to stay a while. I'm learning how to play the recorder."
February 27, 1970, to his parents: "Today I went to Assisi with Linda and a friend of the Count in a racy Alfa Romeo. We went to the Basilica of San Francesco, and then to dinner. For the first time in ages I had beefsteak! God was I keyed. We had a complete feast and what amounts to the best kind of Italian lesson: he speaks no English, and we but little Italian.
"At this time I must comment on the Italians. Though all of this is a generality, they are the most friendly, happy-go-lucky, helpfully inquisitive folks I have ever encountered. We are learning the ways of the people quite adequately and the hours they live, the way they 'fiesta' and drink fits ideally with my way. I often dream of staying here forever, but of course that is practically impossible. Still, this whole venture is teaching me to gauge my practicality to what is necessary, not what I feel obligated to do.
"There are times when I am ashamed to be an American, yet there are times when I see how much I am used to the standards of comfort I have grown accustomed to. The news I hear from America is sketchy, vague and the political details are almost absent, save the 'daringness' of an occasional story in Time magazine. I really wanted to know what happened in the "Chicago Seven" trial. I am curious about what is going on in Pasadena re: the integration order and its ramifications for you teachers there.
"There are times when communal living is so trying that it hardly seems worth it. Our seminars are finally getting under way, sort of half-assed. I'm learning more about how to chop wood, make garden tools, break up earth, and sow crops than anything else. Still, that's an education which to me seems valuable.
"I guess I'll be concentrating on Psychology for the term, inasmuch as this living arrangement lets me evaluate the intensely close elbow-rubbing of a large group. My book Joy by William Shutz will help me in the encounter group I'm leading.
"I really appreciate your letters. Say hello to Aunt Alma, Tom and anyone else who wonders about this amazing trip. Keep sending me news of the U.S.A.!"
Diary, Monday, March 2, 1970: "I've been going through so many changes here. At first I thought I'd never really be able to change, though I desperately wanted to miraculously blossom overnight into one of those beautiful people. Now I realize that growth doesn't come in obvious or vivid revelations. It's a slow, subtle process. Painful sometimes. Every once-in-a-while something tells me deeply that I'm not the same inside. That's how I feel now. Like I've looked into a mirror for the first time.
"My body's going through a really hard time. I'm either flat on my back for a couple of days, or I'm just not as sparkly as I'm used to being. Last night, like the past three nights, I sat alone by the fire.
"So often I walk outside at night and look up to an empty sky. I ache so much to bend down to the earth and feel its fibers flow through my fingers and my hair. I want to gather wood and build a comforting fire. Then I want to wander forever over these rolling, cultivated hills. I'm still a child. A kid. Una bambina. I only want to be outdoors. I keep asking myself, have I become lazy? I cook and clean, yes, but I don't enjoy it any more because my heart is playing in the fields. I'm quiet. Surprisingly so. Watching, listening, waiting...for what? My life? This IS my life!
"It's hard when all of us are getting it on in the kitchen at the same time. I get speedy and restless and walk to the frog pond and lie down in the dirt. It's tormentingly beautiful here. I'm a simple person with a simple appearance and simple needs, a simple heart, a simple mind, a simple soul. I watch and admire those around me who can catch an eye and come on strong. Mature, beautiful women like Kathy Roberts. Peaceful Chris Klyce. Linda Green, so cute, with the bounce in her voice. Funny, dominant Gordon Bowen. Silent, sincere Wes. Rick, who seems so centered. The list of people I admire is endless. At times I think, if only I could be like them... but there's only one reflection in my mirror.
"So I sit under trees. I send my eyes on journeys beyond the horizon. I meditate by the fire. Trivial things, perhaps. I feel too deeply. Take my eyes and ears for a while. Watch and listen to the sights and sounds of a countryside you can imagine only in fantasies. Especially the sounds. I use my cameras and sketchbooks to record the sights. But the sounds and smells, the taste of the air, the craggy feel of olive-tree bark, all this and more add only a fraction of dimension to this reality. At night when the moon is full it's like walking through a painting. I want to take a brush and smear my frustration everywhere. My frustration is that I cannot BE THIS PAINTING!! I want to roll in it. To dive through the fabric of the life I've constructed. To leap off the page and fall away from the conventions of organizing and planning and counting and comparing.
"This morning a couple of the guys killed two chickens for lunch. A while ago, horsemeat was served for dinner. Tomorrow night's a big festive occasion at the farmhouse. All the workers, their families, La Contesa, her family, the Marquis on the next hill, the village doctor and some of the townspeople are joining us for a huge American-style party. I will clean the bathrooms for it. I will dance in spite of my fears."
Diary, Friday, March 6th, 1970: "FAR OUT! It's 1:30 p.m. Thursday in California and 3:30 a.m. Friday in Italy!"
From a letter dated Tuesday, March 10, 1970 - 1:00 p.m.: "Well, the sun finally decided to poke its head through the clouds this morning. While I sat by the well with Chris Klyce soaking up the rare warm rays, the post-woman drove up in her little blue Fiat with her daily gifts, and La Contesa's housemaid excitedly handed me your letter. Truly a beautiful, beautiful morning! Right now I'm sitting on a tree stump half-way down the hill between the villa and the Big Farmhouse enjoying the sound of the birds playing in the trees above me. Below me is Mafalda's farm (our cook) and near her place is the little Frog Pond. On the mountain (hillside, rather) across the way stands the majestic tower of the Marquis' castle (jutting out from its nest of trees). To my left is a beautiful snow-covered peak (a ways beyond the little town of Assisi). I love these peaceful times. I'm living at the villa now with Chris and Daniella. It's way too hectic for me at the Big Farmhouse. Last week I spent 3 days there cooking and cleaning and eating and talking, but, for the life of me, I couldn't sleep at all! I'd end up sitting by the fire reading or writing all night - or stealing outside for a midnight walk by the pond. I saw some magnificent sunrises. Better than 1000 paintings! Especially when there was still snow on the ground. Imagine a red, red sun spurting distinct orange rays through cottony-white clouds onto a carpet of snow. Even a poet couldn't do it justice! In spite of all this beauty, lack of sleep made it a bummer. I was so speedy one day that I grated an entire pound of hard parmesano and half my thumb without realizing it, made about 3 dozen wine cookies, slice 5 huge loaves of saltless bread, made 3 huge salads, and washed, dried, and put away a kitchen-full of dishes within 4 hours. I'd have done more if Gordon Bowen hadn't given me a glass of wine and a pipeful (which a fellow from England provided) to calm me down! But after going back to the villa, where there are fewer people, fewer parties, and more peaceful surroundings, I'm perfectly content. I can sleep for hours!
"A few days ago, Mary Zuccaro received a copy of the Spartan Daily, and I saw some ads about you playing at the Garlic Factory. I nearly fell out of my long underwear! I didn't expect to see your name in the paper! Bravissimo!!!
"Mafalda just came by after cooking lunch for everyone at the Big Farmhouse. She was worried that the sun would give me a headache, but my Italian was too poor to convince her otherwise. She ended up putting my shawl on top of my head to protect me! That's what I love about her! She really worries about us! She wanted me to go back to the villa to put my boots on. Moccasins don't make it!
"I talked to Katie, a photographer, about sending film and movies home. She told me not to do it because 9 times out of 10 they're either ruined or lost. Costs for mailing are out of this world, too. Since it's most likely cruddy photography anyway, I'll send everything to you and take that chance. I'll wrap it up in a Saratoga prune box purchased in the heart of Perugia! (The only prunes you can buy in Italy are imported from OUR home town!)
"I got the traveling itch again, so I may go to Greece Friday the 13th with Daniella, Wes and Rick - by way of Naples, Rome, Pompeii, Brindisi, etc. We hope to spend Easter in Athens and then on the way 'home' to Perugia we may visit Yugoslavia and the Alps and down. We may be gone over a month.
"Time has lapsed since the last sentence. I went with Sandee and Barb to the doctor's to check out Sandee's knees and Barb's bladder. I was the translator. Imagine that. Somehow, in the middle of trying to figure out what-in-the-world this doctor was saying, I realized I love Italy. I love these Italians, how they work so hard to help you speak their language. How they speak with their entire bodies. How, even when you may misunderstand everything, they still smile, say va bene!, and even hug you. Not too good for Barb and Sandee, I'm afraid. Water. Water. Water. We must drink more water. And then some.
"Linda Faulkner just asked me to move into the most beautiful room in the Big Farmhouse. A view of the valley and sunset. Is this a bribe for me to spend more time with people? I may take it. I run away too much. I hide too much. Spring is coming, and I'll have a room that will let me see the birds as well as hear them and feel the fresh morning and evening breezes. One glitch. That means I stay here instead of going to Greece. A lot to think about."
March 10, 1970: "...you had asked me to call you on my birthday. I don't think it's a good idea. I'd have to call from the castle and people who have called the states from here got really poor connections. It's still really really cold. I've had a cold for a long time... along with everyone else. We finally got our books about a week ago and I have been reading away. I may miss my birthday since nobody really knows the date....much less the day or time. What a beautiful way to live."
March 10, 1970: "The overriding feeling is one of cold; people have colds, snow covers the ground, there is suffering and deprivation, and most of all impatience for things to improve. In five days Linda and I plan to leave for Naples, where we hope for warm weather."
Friday, March 13, 1970: "Another sleepless night by the fire. You'd think I'd learn. If only I could peacefully fall into a state of dream-filled repose... Maybe moving to the Big Farmhouse was a mistake, after all. AAAHHH. Indigestion. Your company has been astoundingly consistent since I've come back here. You poke at me from all sides. Lascia!! Ebasta!!! Too many onions and spices in the spaghetti. All them spices give me a hot temper!! [pen runs out of ink] And pen, you only seem to write when it suits you. Strong sickness, weak pen.
"Marti just interrupted my babbling by announcing the arrival of a visitor and ran off to the WC. Meanwhile my stomach churns. Now Marti's sleeping bag zipping up sounds like Laurel Stanley sneezing.
"Sandee and I are going to fast for the next six days on tea. That'll show you, Indigestion! [handwriting is awful here] IT'S COLD!!!!!!!"
"After realizing I couldn't stay awake any longer, I finally stumbled into bed (literally knocking over pans and boxes in the process). Guess it was about 4:00 or so. Now I feel hung-over. I will read and write and forget about my ailing jacket....
"Is everything nothing and nothing everything? Are the dark trees at night really the dark trees at night? My mind returns to music. The sound of frogs. The wind. When I move outside myself, I feel better. Funny. This book says, work to be strong. Okay. Now off to the WC....."
Sunday (?) March 14, 1970: "A long trip to the W.C. and an eventful cup of tea. It all led to plucking, cleaning and chopping up two chickens, grating a huge chunk of parmesano, and organizing dinner. Tonight is goulash night. We're attempting to [make] changes [in] this afternoon's macaroni soup into another tasty dish. I hope Maija will like it. If it comes off, tonight will also be "encounter group night" for Mike, Mary, Wes, Rick and me. But why speculate on that now? I feel so dirty and greasy. Got up this morning to wash, but Jan asked me to help her and poor Mafalda in the kitchen. Didn't comb my hair, wash my face, or brush my teeth. Yuck.
"Rick, Craig, Kathy, Wes, Mike and I are sitting around the fire reading or writing. Linda's in the kitchen wrapping up a package for her brother. David, Maija, Tall Terry, Sandee, Mary Miller, Chuck - all in my room having a Blake seminar. Wes fiddles with the fire between intervals of reading Man and His Symbols. Rick is engrossed in Etruscan Places. He seldom looks up or shows signs of distraction. Can't see Craig. Wes' book is in the way. Kathy's staring at the fire and writing a letter. Mike's doing what I'm doing - writing.
"Perhaps I should try Zack's suggestion of an exercise in "flowing thought." No capitals, no punctuation, no worry about structure or spelling or grammar. Just straight writing. Takes some discipline to forget my rigid ties to grammatical formality, but it's worth a try. Here goes:
"linda walks around footsteps heavy on the recently swept floor thats now dirty again mafalda tries feel sorry for her it must be hard trying to understand crazy messy kids water running interrupts my thoughts rick gets up and moves to a cooler spot by the table jan just walked in and wes attacks the fire once more a nice blaze makes funny hissing and crackling noises a good combination with the squeaking of mikes pen along with mine jan just asked me if it would make you sick to eat a rotten orange giving me a piece of her rotten orange to share with wes and now we are all going to be sick this is hard not even making paragraphs or periods at the end of sentences but it is only an exercise a learning process just as strange as any attempt to change an old habit pause hand cramp mike seems to be pounding his fist on his knee in search of more words he thumbs through his journal quite often i know the feeling everyones getting fat someone says in the distance cant wait till spring if it ever comes i look out the window and see the same gray overcast washed out picture of cold frost sweeping over the valley the breadman said it would snow last night but it didnt rick just abandoned his book jan took his old place in the fireplace now she just left to put her orange peel in the marmalade bag and to check her tea she just heated up tea for everyone kathy announced that its now 10 to 4 while wes grunts at his dripping tea i kind of think mikes bored hes singing and almost stepped on wes s cup of tea but thats not necessarily boredom he just sighs a lot i feel sorry for kathy craig and dierdre because the rats got into dierdres room two nights ago and craig and kathy have had to listen to them crunch away at their belongings ever since as wes noisily slurps his tea in walks a heavy set of footsteps its rick jamming up some bread and rick returns to his fireplace spot and mike splits turning his chair around as he goes now hes back with a book about a portrait of an artist as a young man kathys asking directions for an easy route to perugia but its hard to listen clearly and write at the same time wonder what a historian would have to do if she had to write constantly while history was taking place mike just let out a big profound yup as an answer or comment about something but something could be anything and the yup didnt even have to be profound since i wasnt listening anyway and i must go to the bathroom before its way too late it wasnt an hour of flowing thought but biological needs interrupt for a good excuse i suppose stop"
Tuesday morning, March 17, 1970: "It's 4:00 am, and I'm not too coherent. The last things I wrote were pretty strange, too. Let me paint the scene by back-tracking a bit.
"I recently moved from the villa to a room in the Big Farmhouse (with a fantastic view), and our whole group just adopted a scrawny gray-brown dog named Strider (found in the Etruscan tombs nearby). That's the gist of the happenings, aside from the fact that Wednesday a priest is coming to bless every room in the Farmhouse for us.
"The weather's been a drag. Rainy, cloudy, and freezing. It probably accounts for my foul moods. The wind's howling wildly outside. It's so cold I can't stand it! The people here have been really good to me, though a lot of them bitch constantly.
"We've started seminars, but they're all David Zack Monopolies. Where are the dialogues? The creative exchanges? I have to grit my teeth to keep from wanting to run away. Tutorials spoiled me. Learning is a moving process. It should be exciting, filled with discovery. We shouldn't feel self-conscious about what we don't know. We should ache to FIND OUT. Dictatorships make people feel small. I hate intellectuals. It's a phony kind of wisdom.
"I can't run anymore. I need to push through this. I need to make peace with myself and everyone around me. I need to be okay with this kind of learning. I need to shut my mouth and just listen.
"Perhaps I'm not being fair. I'm pretty ignorant about the whirlwinds of life. Slow down. Watch. Clear this cluttered mind. Understand this situation, even in its chaos. I wonder if I'll ever get back on my feet? If I will ever learn? When we plucked those chickens, I felt like Lady McBeth. Am I cut out for this?
"I'm mighty sleepy. Before I go to bed, I'll re-read this and think about what I said and try to work it all out. I'm going to rest for the next few days. Gather strength. Get healthy again. Read. Meditate. Then I'll have Katie help me fool around with my camera. Most importantly, I'll do everything as best as I can. I'll be my most ardent observer. I will observe this landscape. The people in it. I will observe the workings of our professor and figure out what it is he wants from us."
March 18, 1970, to his parents: "All in all, everything has been improving here, and though it's still quite cold, the sunny days tend to make one's mood become more gay. Linda's 21st Birthday is tomorrow and so we happily have been celebrating for the last couple nights. My trip to the Amalfi Coast defies description. Such beauty as that, such fine people! No wonder it's the jet-setters paradise in summer.
"The ugly financial facts are $120.00 at present, with a trip to Yugoslavia happening in the end of April. Probably that will shoot $50 or $60 minimum, and up to $80 or $100 if we go to Romania. I want to go there, and hitch hiking is a "no-no". In any event that will be the only excursion before June, and consequently I won't absolutely need anything before then, I hope. Enough about such dreary things.
"Fantasizing for a moment, perhaps after June 15th we'll head for Spain, maybe do 2-3 weeks there and on the Balearic Islands, and then to Morocco. Or instead of Morocco, maybe up to Amsterdam and on into Scandinavia. We hope to be in London in late August and to come back around Sept. 1. Of course, there is the possibility of not wanting to stay that long (unlikely) or not having enough $ to live on (somewhat more likely). I'm pondering hitch hiking across America (the North!) to save $ when we get to N.Y. It might be the most educational of all my experiences to date. Anywho, all of this is mere speculation.
"At present, I'm reading Kafka and Jung, with an occasional novel to spice up the action. Our seminars have taken shape, and I'm active in the Psychology and Play Reading ones. A lot of them I find totally irrelevant (i.e., Eastern texts, Aesthetics, etc.)
"Been looking at Etruscan arches and tombs. Looks as if they have been attacked by archeologists, etc. Not much original stuff remains. I've yet to go to the underground city beneath Perugia, but will soon. I may take a roll of pictures on someone's camera here and send them home so you can see Monte Capanno et.al. Snow capped Mt. di San Francesco still dominates the sublime elegance of rural living. Each day as I feel Spring approaching I know that is all will work out. Any news of the Draft Board? I see The Revolution has failed to materialize yet... maybe it's happened already in South Carolina. We got a German shorthair (dog) named Etrusco (or Strider). He's paranoid, but neat. I'm well, and quite satisfied with life.
March 19, 1970: "...I just got back from a couple of days in Southern Italy. Gordon and I stayed most of the time in a little town built on a cliff over looking the water called Positano. Things here have their ups and downs. It's still really cold and that tends to make people bitch a lot... other than that there are a lot of good things happening. For the first time, after a month of eating pasta, I saw myself in a full length mirror...I've been exercising ever since and trying to stop eating so much pasta."
March 20, 1970: "We return from Positano and find new folks, meager smokes, and that Dave and all have grown distant. I wonder what has happened. Craig and I again are chopping wood, and sawing as the pile we had made before leaving now has dwindled. Ah for Monte Capanno 'young' Red, card games, Andre and fireside dreams. More sick, and sickly, people."
March 21, 1970: "...Well, I'm 21 and there isn't a damn thing I can do that I couldn't do before. My birthday was great. ... people gave me all sorts of eating goodies and a real pack of Marlboros (they cost $.80 here!) I kept telling everyone that the sun was going to come out on my birthday, and it did!... for about an hour, then the wind blew some black clouds over and it started to rain! My cold is completely gone as is just about everyone else's. There are only about 15 people here now which makes it a lot easier to function. David was really bumming out a lot of people. He and Maija have left for about a week and so things are really quiet and pleasant. I'm going to go to Florence with Marti and Jan."
March 23, 1970 (Monday): "It's 5:00 am now. Very quiet in my room in the farmhouse (except one toilet that just flushed, Sandee's breathing--she's sleeping in my room for a while--and a few noises outside). I just had a good meditation outside. The weather's cleared, so we can be in the sun in our shirtsleeves during daylight hours and in a thick sweater at night. Spring really seemed to peek through the clouds right on schedule, much to our delight. We spend most of our time soaking up as many of those rays as possible (I've got a new crop of freckles on my nose already). Our garden now has 4 rows of seeds from the open market. Still small, but progressively expanding.
"The food situation for the group is getting worse. Money is very scarce and people's stomachs are growling again. A lot of really heavy hassling is going on - to the point where a bottle was thrown at one of the meetings. I was so shocked and blown out, I had to leave and take a long walk through the fields to dry my tears and set my head straight. Mark F. later took me for a midnight motorcycle ride to help ease the tensions within us both. It was good -- really good. There's something magic about riding down country roads on a bike with a full moon lighting your way and a cool wind splashing in your face. Ever since then things have been all right within me. People still hassle about food and money and belongings - but finally--FINALLY--I've begun to forget about those 3 things. Only a beginning, yes, but a blessing just the same. This could be such a beautiful experience for all of us -- to be able to live in a "perfect" environment, free from city problems, close to nature and the basic, simple life. Giving to and receiving from the earth and each other. Theoretically it's what "Tutorials-type" people dream about -- the opportunity to live "naturally" and communally. But somehow we won't allow ourselves to see through the garbage. We pick at each other, pull each other apart, and slowly destroy ourselves. Many of us are drinking so much of the time that we don't care if we hurt anyone or if anything loving (or at least kind) comes across to another human being. I really feel like crying when I see so much venom in the people I consider to be my brothers and sisters. I really love them individually - every single one is a beautiful person - but together we create bad vibrations. It's to the point where all I can do is sit in the corner at the meetings with my head on my knees biting my lip to keep from crying. Why can't we open our eyes and see another human heart? I want to run away to Greece and enjoy the sun. I know that isn't the answer, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to need a breath of fresh air. I love it here. I love spending the early hours of the morning watching the sunrise more than listening to gossip sessions around the fire. This weekend - Easter - Wes and I are going to go to Florence again. Then to Rome around the 1st or 2nd week of April. Then eventually to Greece. I need an atmospheric change. Perhaps by the time we return, things will have calmed down a bit.
"The sun just came up. My candle's flickering, and the hillsides are heavy with mist. The room is filled with shadows. I think I'll skip down the road in my stretched-out Morgan sweater, baggy jeans, moccasins, and yellow socks. Can I throw my arms around the wind? Listen to the birds sing? Maybe I'll hitch a ride into town to buy some food for everyone (Big S's for surprises) and start the day out right. The clouds are rolling in. Funny how fast things change. Now it looks like rain will wash away the darkness."
March 25, 1970, to Gordon's Mother: "I received your birthday card today. That was really sweet of you to remember it! Things at Monte Capanno are coming along really fine. The day after my birthday the sun came out and has been beautifully shining ever since. It really (finally) feels like Spring -- blossoms on the trees, butterflies, and people just generally feeling alot better towards each other.
"Gordon and I both are feeling great -- mentally and physically. His back was out of whack for a while, but since we got back from Positano he hasn't had a bit of trouble. In fact, since we've been back, he's been chopping wood almost every day and been getting in great shape.
"I guess we'll stay around here for a while - except maybe a short trip to Florence --and maybe in a month or so head towards Yugoslavia....
April 3, 1970, to her Mother: "... in answer to your question about why there are only 15 students is because people are out traveling. It's a great thing to do and also a necessity. Living with as many people as there are here, it an be very fun, but it can also be a hassle. Most of the time we have lots of interesting guests that come a stay. They've all been great and interesting people. Today is Gordon's birthday, and it snowed! Every once in a while we have sunny days, but never more than 3 in a row. Easter in Italy was amazing and strange. We went to Columbella one afternoon (it's about a 15 minute walk) to a local bar. It was packed with Italian men in shiny tight suits and women all wearing large hats."
April 3, 1970: "My Birthday! Snow and rain, then hot sun all today. People are moving in and out. Groups have formed. My 'plus people': Mike W., Wes, Rich, Sandee, Cathee, Diedre, Craig and Kathy, Mary Z., Barb, Terre E., both the Lindas."
April 3, 1970, to his parents: "We had partying today for the occasion of my birthday, and even for me was a big cake! Oh Boy!! Got another harmonica, a little one called Piccolo, some neat pens, and pastries etc. from Linda. We're very happy and though we're bloated by our proteinless diet, we still are both healthy and studying hard.
"Life here is really and encounter with the adversary called "GROUPS," and his evasive enemy: "PRIVACY." We keep a heater in our room now (very selfish) and don't (quite consequently) have much furniture and no reading, or in my case writing, lamps. A little 40 watt bulb now casts its dim din on this page, white walls give the illusion of a brighter setting.
"BEANS, BEANS, BEANS, BEANS!
PASTA, PASTA, PASTA, PASTA!
"Never, please, allow me to in your presence consume either!
"Travel costs seem higher than I may have expected for summer. Perhaps we'll come home in about the middle of August. That might give time to get settled up north, after a rest in L.A. I still want to hitch across the states as a finale, though we may just try for a drive-away in N.Y., instead. All of this could be a fantasy.
"Yugoslavia still looks like a good bet, though I hear Spain is totally overrun with Americans. Can you please RUSH Dicarbosil? No, I'm not flipping my head, am not either nervous or crazy. Carbohydrates = Acid Indigestion!
"My poems are going nowhere now. I need a change of setting. All these people!! I quit smoking cigarettes and am continually eating. This must stop, perhaps if I eat prunes.
"Linda wonders if it was hard for you to control classes when you first began to teach? Is failure to control the 2 or 3 big loudmouths necessarily a sign of lack of ability? Do most new teachers experience this? Please include a reply to these in your next letter. She'll appreciate it.
"All of the above seems to be a collage, squashed out, unorganized ramblings. Sometimes I wonder if I don't get into New College, will I be able to cut it in regular classes? Doubtlessly paranoia.
"I got the check you sent, haven't cashed it. Thanks.
"It started snowing again this morning and I began feeling like a forecast was being made on my coming decade: in the 20s in the 70s. I hope the planet still is together when it comes time to usher in my 30s!
"Basta! Send dicarbosil. I was a fool to leave the Kelty backpack behind in Altadena."
c. April 10, 1970, to his parents: "As Spring came on us everything grew more relaxed and moods have been less tense. Today we are having a light rain and the few (10) of us here are busying for the crush when everybody gets back from their vacations.
"I got all your letters, including the one with the money. That will be very helpful when we head for Yugoslavia and Romania, probably in the end of April. Word here is tht it's still snowy and cold there now, so we decided to wait on another long trip until things are at their best. Perhaps we'll go to Florence for a weekend soon. I don't know: Florence is awfully touristy.
"The mail strike seems to be delaying my words back to you. I've written several times. I guess that I never say anything so crucial that a slight delay will harm it.
"I keep thinking of hamburgers and prime ribs and steaks. Even a piece of fish would be good. We do have chicken three days a week, and eggs (1 or 2) five or six days a week.
"The adverse side of Italians is becoming apparent. Though they be pleasant, in monetary matters they're not unlike Mexicans in Tijuana. Several lads have been sold real lemons disguised as 'machinas' (automobiles). I'm glad I didn't buy one. Craig from San Luis Obispo has a neat little 1950 Toppolino (miniature Fiat). It's fun to drive it to town. Italians are amazing drivers. They slide through every turn and pass anywhere. When driving the Toppolino, Italian name for Mickey Mouse, you get passed a lot. Scarey!!!
"How's my VW treating you? I hope you're giving that yacht of a Ford a rest.
"The Contessa just came and I must request our wine, cheese, and other things that we lack. I'll write again soon."
April 13, 1970: "...the weather is shitty, but that's nothing new. I just came back from a trip to Florence, Siena, and Pisa."
April something: "... The weather, about 5 days ago, made a sudden switch and now it is beautiful and HOT.... at least short sleeve weather."
April 15, 1970, to his parents: "Monte Capanno, home of kings, brings surprises to you: a laughing Gordon upon returning from Firenze, Pisa, and Siena, a garden of new Spring lettuces and carrots, and more disenchantment with the ideal of communal living. God am I sick of lazy people. Some of our guests do more than some of the students who bitch about how the guests are screwing up the 'quality of life'. Our 'professor' has split. He comes back now and then to hold utterly irrelevant seminars on James Joyce or William Blake, or some other prophet of anarchy. All of this disgusts me. I'm writing short stories now and my harmonica playing is improving, I think. I finished a wood sculpture and I consider that this term has been both productive and educational, in the broadest sense of both those words.
"Linda and I remain happy, though we both find little academic stimulation when surrounded by preachers of Taoism, Astrology, Anarchy, Health Foods, and Yoga. All 'Rational' minds (i.e., students of History, Psycholigy, Sociology, or Literature, etc.) have thrown up their arms in despair and fled. At the minute the one lad who I can converse logically with is in Rome and the hocus-pocus of all the followers of mysticism and illogic has doubtlessly colored this letter overly negatively. I have become more sure of my own direction, at least.
"Though I'm not willing to commit myself totally yet, I think Political Science is what I would like to study in the Fall. Psychology holds a close second still, but something tells me it's not right for me. I've been thinking of my course of study in the next two years much, for it will, more or less, determine the nature of much of the direction of the rest of my life. Insofar as governments are concerned, I've come to the conclusion that anarchy is not a viable solution. From what I read in Newsweek and Time it seems as if America continues to slowly inch toward the cries of reaction. Not much new there. The only hope is that the conservatives will blow it badly once and the lower middle class will swing back to the Demos. America could be so utterly complete, but the forces that would inhibit equality appear to have the will and the power to inhibit. It is such a pity. I hear Reagan raised State College and University tuition. One more step toward a truly upper middle class, white, ruling elite. That man knows who he represents and he represents them. It's a pity that those who follow him don't see that its they and their children who are being HAD. Enough!!
"News from you has not come in some time. I do like to hear from you. "
April 18, 1970, to his parents: "With a last dying gust the north wind has blown itself out and green Spring is here. Four straight days of sunshine, today it is 80 degrees.
"I got the check from Uncle Sam and your letter. What a neat surprise! I had no idea it would be so much.
"Things here continue as usual. Getting the work done still hangs the lazy folks up. I keep splitting wood and Linda has a nice garden of carrots and lettuce coming up. Warmer weather makes it easier to enjoy our Italian landscape. Did you get the pictures? I sent them some time ago.
"Goddard College sounds like a frost. Forget even considering me applying to it. No reply yet from SJS's New College. Our inside word, from a friend on the admissions committee said that its going to be very tight. Not even enough room for all NC sophomores to become Juriors. If worse comes to worst, I can just be a regular old SJS political science or psychology student, but I don't know which.
"Linda was, of course, relieved at your comments on classroom control techniques. I know she can do it if she just gets the confidence in herself. Don't you agree that that must come first?
"A widening rift separates our esteemed professor and me. I think he is completely a flop as an instructor. He's been hired at University of Sasketawan next fall and isn't very concerned with repercussions of his lack of organizing and he subsequent lack of a style of seminar which he can dominate. We still hold our own, but he doesn't come any more... Of course the jerk hasn't yet paid he and his wife's $500. (approximately) rent and board.
"Ask Tom if he's actually gotten anybody out of San Quentin yet. If he has, I'm elated; if he hasn't I'm impressed he's trying.
"I heard there is a teachers' strike in L.A.? How go your negotiations in Pasadena? Of course, the politicians are distorting the issue which is quality education, right?"
April 20 something: "...This guy Mike went to Rome and some guy GAVE him a Lambretta, a small motor scooter. Gordon and I went for a drive through the country side. We passed oxen and donkeys and rode through little towns waving and saying Bon Giorno to everyone and they all smiled back and waved... When we came back, Andrea told us about a Marquis on the next hill who had a big castle. He invited us to come, so 5 of us piled into his car and 4 into Craig's and we zoomed over. It was a crazy drive. He's got a Fiat and pulled the top down and stood up as he was driving... we all stood too and it was quite a sight to see us careening around the roads. It was an interesting visit. Afterwards, we stopped in the town of Ripa and went to a bar where we got drunk, ate ice cream and played pinball. I think everyone in the whole town came out and watched us in amazement.
"Things around here have been really great, good weather, people getting along and just good vibes everywhere. David and Maija left for Yugoslavia for 2 weeks which makes everyone happy. He hasn't yet paid his portion of the rent ($480) and needless to say, people are bent. The other day, a bunch of us decided to go to Gubbio, which is only about a 30 minute drive, but we found a beautiful mountain road and got carried away and ended up in Ancona, on the Adriatic. It was a crazy and fun day. The other day Andrea came by and said to Gordon and me that his mother wants you to come to Roma and stay for a few days. We'll probably drive up with Andrea on Sunday. There is a couple staying with us now who have a 3 year old. They've been traveling I think for about a year. It seems hard on the mother who is really a neat person, and the kid seems very wise. It seems like this experience has made her very out going and independent."
April 25, 1970: "Monte Capanno: Confrontations with Dave. Lazy leaches, rain, and thick talk. We take to the road, to Rome and the Contessa's, there are strikes. But I liked being able to play frisbee again."
May 2, 1970: "... I just got back from Rome yesterday. We stayed 3 nights at the Contessa's. What a trip. She has a penthouse in a very ritzy part of Rome and you take an elevator to the 3rd floor and then ring a door bell that goes into her flat. The living room is a showpiece, velvet furniture, marble pillars in the entry way and all sorts of beautiful antiques. There are 4 bedrooms and 3 baths. The first morning she had coffee and bread and cheese for us and that night she said, "I vill make pizza for you." We insisted that that was too much trouble, but she whipped out an Appian Way Instant Pizza box! We had to help her open the can, because she didn't seem to know how to use a can opener!
"You asked about life here...it is very interesting. We spend about $100 a week on food and fuel. We have $400 left in our checking account. David and Maija still haven't pay any rent and keep saying that when they get their checks they'll pay... We shop partly at the open market, for vegetables and fruit. We all bargain with the vendors and they recognize us and seem to be happy to see us. Then we shop at the supermarket for other stuff. We have a chicken and egg man who comes about every other dayand brings 2 chickens which we get to clean and pluck... a treat in itself! Basically, for meat we eat chicken because it's the cheapest meat. Sometimes we get sausage, salami, or ground beef (or so they say). Once, only once, we got horse meat. Nobody could really handle it so we haven't done that again. We have also had squid, octopus, and clams. We have LOTS of spaghetti, for a while, we had it everyday, now not as much. The girls plan the meals and cook. We've gotten it pretty together and we all just do it. I've learned how to cook a lot of different things without a whole lot to start with... like boiling chicken bones to make a broth and making home made mayonnaise which is great. Since we don't need as much wood chopped as before, the guys have begun to help more with the kitchen stuff."
May 3, 1970, to his parents: "Doubtlessly, all of this changing air lines tickets etc. puzzles you. Icelandic Airlines was not worth the original $240, and it sure isn't worth $60 more! Return charter flights are supposedly easy to get in Paris, London, Brussels and Amsterdam, in Summer. We have joined a club that could get us a flight to N.Y. in August for $120. Another, through the Italian National Student Office costs $100, but more info is needed to secure that. All charters require payment in advance, but some break their rules to fill their planes. I'll make it back, don't worry... Check on that CTA charter if you can, join clubs if necessary for $2 or so, and get a good price. A straight flight to L.A. would be superior, for any price around $200. If you see anything that low, jump on it.
"I sent a box of bulky clothes through the post office to you today. Lots of pretty stamps. No insurance, so I hope it makes it. Also, slammed my fingers in a car door today, that's why the print here is so big. Throb-throb. I've picked up through various channels that (1) student deferments may end, and (2) the war has grown into Cambodia. A bad combo of events, since I am No. 83 in the lottery order. Hope nothing concrete comes of it, i.e. not get drafted.
"I'm really sick of Italians tonight. Seven hours to mail that package today. It will take two months to get to America by ship, at least. I did find out that no visa is required for Yugoslavia or Romania, and we're really set to go. Maybe we'll hit the road in two days and stay gone for a week or two, depending on the weather and hospitality of the natives.
"I'm tired of Italy. Monte Capanno is getting crowded again and I'm itching for the road. We hope to see the Black Sea, maybe look across it at those Rooshin Kommies.
"My hand hurts so I'll quit."
May 10 - 23(?), 1970: "Yugoslavia: private homes, odd food (greasy!), Anna's in Dubrovnik, first swim, hitching hitting Slivovitz in Russian trucks, Sarajevo is beautiful, bad roads to Beograd which is a modern pit, we escape by coal-fired train, to Mostar and the old Turkish bridge, Makarska and the sun(!!), a pebble beach and Linda's bikini is stolen off the line, north to Split and a ship to Pescara. Pasta again! and then a train home to Monte Capanno."
May 19, 1970 (Tuesday): "Well, today it just hit me that the end our our stay at Monte Capanno is drawing near. Wes and Rick have begun their journey back home - leaving this afternoon with brand new haircuts as a safeguard against America's harsh politics. They're hitching across country. Can't say I really envy them - I only hope they'll be okay. Gawd. Going back home. What a drag! Right now I'd rather not think about the U.S. and all the shit that's going on there...
"The wheat fields here are lush and green - sprouting with red poppies everywhere. Today's warm breeze is nice. Birds singing. Sun shining on my face.
"Am sitting in the middle of the grassy road (up to the little farmhouse). It's changed so much since that first day when we trekked up here after checking out the frame of a home we were to live in (and arguing over which room we'd occupy). Then the road was barren and sloppy with clay mud a foot deep. Greenery was scarce. The wheat recently planted in neat little rows - tiny little green slivers just beginning to peak above the wet earth. The trees mere skeletons. Now they're full of glittering leaves.
"I remember the first gardening days: digging, digging, digging (we, the Diggers!) We dug hard and fast on the few days the sun decided to shine. Coming down here from the villa with Sandee's hat on & joining Linda & Barb while Gordon hauled in wood. Reminds me, I haven't seen Gordon & Linda in a long time...
"It was sad seeing Wes & Rick go. Especially with short hair. Rick says hair doesn't really make that much of a difference. People are people just the same. Wise guy. Wes still eats raw pasta and orange peels. Rick still shrugs his shoulders and smiles with his lips tightly pressed together.
"Flashes of all the things we've done........talks around the fire in the little farmhouse - about people back in Allen Hall. All night vigils in train stations (and trains). Getting locked in the Perugia hostel. Waiting for 17 hours for a boat that really didn't deserve to arrive anyway. Spilling an entire jar of honey in the bathroom of a Greek ship. Planning to go to Greece with Daniella (fell through). Fighting over which room to occupy and staking our claims with the dripping shutter paint in the kitchen. Getting stoned. Drunk. Morning glory seeds. Hearing about the acid trips [this was before I tried it]. Watching Jan & Marti & Wes in heated philosophy. Trips to Colombella for munchies (onion rings and French fries). The Piccadilly with Wes & Jan & Marti - their hamburgers & my orange peels & ketchup. Stealing bread in the hostels. Freezing in the snow while building a snowman. Sitting in the haystack learning photography techniques. Sitting in the square in Perugia learning photography techniques from Rick. Walter & his "arancias." The big spaghetti dinner in the hostel. The trip into Perugia with Wes (after getting lost in San Marco) which led to La Contesa's dinner. So many nights by the fire in the big farmhouse with Marti. Playing cards with Mike & Marti on those sleepless nights. Fasting in the castle with Chris. Reading The Last Temptation of Christ. Riding on Little Mark's bike on the night of his birthday after that heavy scene. Racing with Terry & Craig & Mark and crashing into the tree. A midnight raid with Darrel & Rich for makings for "horsemeat stroganoff." My first taste of REAL ricotta cheese. Morning glories with Sandee & Terry & Donovan - then with the whole gang (Sandee & I played "ring around the rosy"). Speedy nights grating parmesan cheese. Gordon giving me prune yoghurt to calm me down. Almost going to Greece with Georgia & Warren. Reading the Scripture of the Golden Eternity with Sandee & Rich (eating raisins). Taking sunrise walks by the pond. Dreams. Strange dreams. The big party Chris & I missed while we were fasting (but Terry came in and talked to us and made us feel better). My first bath at Monte Capanno (when the water turned to ice in the middle of it). Sleeping in the hall at the villa - then trading places with Little Mark. We all talked about seeing the illuminated cross in the room. Ghost stories. Making mayonnaise. Getting sick. The time when Linda & I had constipation and diarrhea at the same time. Eating walnuts. Terre & I cracking them in the haystack for banana nut bread. FRISBEE FOR HEALTH. ITALIAN FOR THE MIND. Wes & I spent so much time making those Italian signs for the bathroom. What fools we were! Gathering eggs. Plucking chickens (oh). Shopping at the open markets. The day I moved into Linda Falkner's room & Kathy Roberts gave me a whole package of bubble gum. Hitching to Florence with Wes in 3 rides (never did go back to that guy's place near Lake Trasimeno for wine). Listening to Daniella grind her teeth at night. And to Gomar singing, "Who will buy this wonderful morning?" Chuck and Katie trying to teach me to take pictures. John with the hash. The night Georgia, Warren, John & the two chicks from Florence all came and slept with Linda and me. Looking for Sue's ring all over Italy.
"Maybe if I continue to piece together these fragments, the puzzle of Monte Capanno will be solved. It was such a fucking experience. So many of us changed - some radically. The more I think about it, the less I know about really happened. Nothing stayed the same for more than two days at a time, and the roles some of us played in the beginning seem to have completely reversed.
"Perhaps I'll go up to the farmhouse and see what's happening....maybe I'll sing Beatle songs off-tune with Marti. Laughing!"
May 21, 1970: "Full moon in Scorpio, ominously pointed out by Peter the star-gazer yesterday, "watch out tomorrow, strange things are bound to happen." Well, don't they always, darkly strange Scorpionic things, why should today be any different. Drove out with Count Andrea in our car, David Zack and others following in Dave's van, to the Rainieri castle, according to Andrea the most beautiful in Italy. It really was beautiful, especially from inside, glorious trees, flowers, a sweeping view over Umbrian hills green through blue to violet in the distance. Andrea had asked the owner of the castle, also a Count (or Prince, or Duke, I'm not sure), to give us a tour. So there we were, the two Counts followed by a ragged train of sloppy classless American students. Rainieri, a wide-hipped phlegmatic man, explaining the family tree to [deleted] 'Ms. Mangia,' who is not impressed. Then rooms, stairways, a balustrade along the side of one wall overlooking various farmsteads. Pictured myself as a brightly clad prince or one of his guards surveying the doings of the laboring serfs, cold eyes and pride of power. More rooms and stairs--some stairs have oval holes with iron gratings. Count Rainieri explains this was for pouring boiling oil on people, and also to see who was following you up the stairs. Dave says you could drop flowers through there, and Maija suggests butterflies. More rooms, a huge library. Paintings of precious objects and materials, brocade and silver, a rather gross concentration on sheer sumptuousness. David points out that these are most unusual paintings for their time, a kind of formalism, I guess--so I observe them in this way, and enjoy them. A little later Dave opens a wooden door, obviously not leading to anything we're supposed to see, rough twentieth century boards nailed together, Count Rainieri clasps his hands together imploringly, "No vale la pena!", it's an outhouse, laughter. Then, walking along another turreted balustrade, I say to Maija, "sure is a paranoid building." She tosses that around in her head for a while, then says, "Fortification. No privacy without fortification." Finally, as we get into the car to go back to the farm house, Gina starts clamoring for water, and Count Rainieri very kindly walks back inside with me and Gina, past a poodle stretched out asleep as if dead in the sun, up a flight of stairs and toward a door from behind which delicious food smells penetrate into the hallway, through that door into a tiled kitchen, the care-taker's home, I presume, a pot steaming on the stove, a crucifix over the cupboard, the Count lets the water run until it's nice and cold, pours Gina a glassful, which she sucks up devouringly. Then on the way down I ask him if he lives here and he says no, it's too cold, too windy, he lives in Perugia. Returning to the car, I see David's van disappearing around the corner. He didn't even wait to exchange pleasantries and thank the guy for coming all the way out here. What was that--an anarchist's snub?
. . . .
[later that afternoon] A long-haired figure came approaching up the road leading to the house, hurried gait, stumbling, stooped over, knapsack on his back, something in his hand, a long black sword. Terry says "It's Mark!" and the guy drops his sword and goes running, dashing towards Terry, hugs him-- then handshakes and greetings to everyone else. "Where did you get that sword," "I got it in Spain," "did you have any trouble traveling with it," "No, I think I was so open about it nobody thought it was anything but weird," "How was Ibiza," "It's a long story, man." ... We go into the house, Andrea has to go back to his castle, affectionately pinches Mark's cheek, "Take it easy, Don Quixote."
Upstairs, [deleted] Ms. Mangia says Mark is the Pisces-Aries guy she wanted to tell me about. I ask Mark if it's Aries rising, and he says no, it's Scorpio rising, he was born in the last three minutes of Pisces, rapidly progressing into Aries -- exactly the same as I. "Isn't it beautiful?" says Mark. "I guess so." Why don't I share my joy as freely as he does?
Michael comes up to me and says Susie and Danny and Gina are stranded in Pontefelcino, where Terry's car broke down. Terry and I decide to drive down there in mine, but not before smoking a joint--me rather greedy for smoke after losing all my grass to the wind some days ago. Turns out then my car won't start. We had to go bother Virgilio, disturbing his meal, borrow two gallons of gas from his car. Terry: "Molto, molto, molto grazie!" Having tanked up, we drove to Pontefelcino and found Susie and Danny and Gina in high spirits, they'd had a ball with half the town trying to help them start the car. Apparently the generator was shot. Terry was quite upset--he'd been planning to go to Luxembourg with that car. We tried to jump-start it, but the motor was completely dead. . . .
[Evening] Maija welcomes us into the castle. David and John are there, Mark greets everyone warmly--cool response from John-- Mark, undaunted, says "You sure look good, John, you're looking really mellow," and John nods with a faint smile, and then Mark says "I hear your girl-friend just got here," and John's smile widens, "You really got good reason to feel mellow, man," and now John is smiling warmly and says, nodding, "Yes, I do feel mellow, hmhm" -- then a pipe is passed around, and Mark refuses it, and Maija and John ask what's the matter, and David says "No, I don't think he needs it, he's happy, I can see it in his eyes." Terry is picking on a June-bush David bought in Turkey, and John is playing another one. Danny sitting next to Terry on the bed, Maija in the background, Mark and David talking, friendliness between them. I ask John where the Shanai is, and he hands me the June-bush and says "here" and goes out and gets the Shanai for himself. The usual cacophony then."
Editor's note: does anyone have any idea what a "June Bush" is? (Joel and Gordon haven't a clue). We believe a "Shanai" to be a musical instrument.
May 21, 1970: "Craig & Cindy & John & I went to town to see about transferring Topolino's services from Craig to John. Met Andrea there. He's planning what he calls a 'psychedelic party' (bring flowers) with a slide show and records. He bought Craig "The Chicago Transit Authority," John "Let It Bleed," Cindy "Country Joe," & me "Jethro Tull." All for an evening's entertainment at the big farmhouse. One problem - we don't know when it will be..."
From the Diary of Cathee (White) St. Clair
May 22, 1970: "A grim-looking day, but really far out thunder & lightning and a rain storm. It beats the summer storms in Glens Falls and all of upper state New York! On the small farmhouse porch (with candlelight), Terre and I excitedly await the bright flashes and sounds of bowling balls crashing against the sky. It's only 11:40 am. Gordon & Linda happily returned from Yugoslavia last night to a big hamburger dinner. French fries and fruit salad. We made ketchup to go with SALTED bread. The day before yesterday Terre and I made crullers for Mike and Mary's trip to Paris and for the whole group. That was the day Mark F. came back from Ibiza. Got my films - slides - back. The ones I took last week when Wes & Marti & Jan dropped acid and the rest of the group was so stoned from marijuana - yes, real marijuana from the other John and the other Andrea. I somehow got 37 pictures back from the 36 exposures. (We have visitors of doves in the living room again!! I think I'll go inside and watch them.)"
May 22, 1970: "... Yugoslavia was great."
May 23, 1970, to his parents: "Had a fine time in Yugoslavia, but didn't make it to Romania. The interior of Eastern Europe just turned us off: too poor, with a sort of quiet hostility toward 'outsiders'. Made it to Beograd, the capital city, which was very modern in parts, and near-Neandrathal in others. Lots of class contrasts in the 'Classless' Communist society. The coast was hot, clear and beautiful and the bulk of our jaunt was spent hitch-hiking up and down it to different rocky beaches.
"Now that we've returned, thoughts turn toward the upcoming summer... Linda wants to go to Spain for a while, but I lean more toward Northern Europe, the Alps, and Scandanavia. Where we go will be determined by the amount of cash we have to spend. I've got enough tucked away for return fare on a charter, but no real leads that are developing on a flight. All will work out eventually. I've yet to cash my government check and secretly still wish to buy a camera, but won't do it until I'm sure I have enough money to stay a while. My assets are $270 at present, government check and American dollars all included. Your next letter would be a safe time to send any $ because with all the mail strikes etc. its not good to cut it too close.
"All of my sources into the scene at home now indicate some sort of widespread crisis. This is disturbing and yet quite expected. I was very disturbed by an article in Time which described construction workers emulating Storm Troopers. No one is to blame for what is now going on, its just the natural course of a nation in which groups vie for power against one another, and have no regard for the wishes and desires of those who lack power. It seems tactics are being escalated. I won't be surprised when machine-gun battles mark the 200th anniversary of America's independence in '76. I'm not sure that anything will change even then. I can't help but view the guys I know who are in the Army and the National Guard as in one way my friends, and in another my hated enemy. Time won't let events slow long enough for objectivity to be achieved by any of the involved parties, and emotion and America are violent bedfellows. Sometimes I feel like just staying over here and getting a job or something. Since I got accepted in the New College, I'm sure I could get a few units without ever going home to America, and if I worked hard, long enough, my degree two years hence.
"Maybe it's not really as bad there as I seem to feel it is. Write and give me your opinions on the current happenings. I love you both and am sorry you've had shoulder trouble, Mom."
May 25, 1970: "... I've been running around in circle. I went to Florence yesterday to get some money but American Express was closed. There has been a strike of almost everything in Italy. While I was away in Yugoslavia, all the fields have turned red, yellow and purple with flowers."
May 25, 1970: "Departing friends and violent news. Plenty of smoking. Zack's BS. We take over the money and say, 'fuck it,' finally we eat good."
May 25, 1970: "...It was nearly 10:30 p.m. when Danny (from Australia - Terry Mc's friend) came in and woke me to tell me to come to the party at the big farmhouse. I was about to refuse, but when I heard that Gigi had brought the Beatles' new album, "Let It Be," and Simon & Garfunkle's new one, I decided to give it a try..."
Tuesday, May 26, 1970: "Took a nice walk this morning amid poppy fields in the south wheat cultivations and vineyards. Green ferns by the lake. Sighed deeply. Rare morning breezes silently surprised me. Caught Joel & Susie & Gina & Mary just as they were leaving for town. Picked up my slides. 5 rolls. One roll is completely black. I must have done something really stupid like opening the camera. List of photos: Roll #1 - New York, Monte Capanno, Florence. Roll #2 - Florence, Germany (w/David, Seth, Terry, Sandee), Rome. Roll #3 - Rome, Paestum, Olympia, Athens. Roll #4 - Athens, Matala, Monte Capanno.
Wednesday, May 27, 1970: "Kathy and Craig left today. So did Mary (after rolling in spaghetti all last night). You're only free when you're free of the need to be free. 'It's all too much for me to take...' Talked with Little Mark last night about Spain and Ibiza. Chris and he are initiated into Transcendental Meditation. We were interrupted by Mary writhing on the table in bowls and bowls of spaghetti - sauce and noodles covering her from head to foot. 'Because the world is round it turns me on....' [The Beatles]."
May 27, 1970, to his brother, Tom: "Received Icelandic's refund and was thankful that they gave a full half of the fare in return for the ticket. I expected them to deduct the cost of a one way ticket, leaving me with $80 or $100. Some good fortune befalls all! We both greatly appreciated the favor of you returning them to Icelandic.
"News from home is quite depressing. Hard hat flag wavers certainly prove why Marxian class analysis is invalid with regard to American workers. Doubtlessly, David Brinkley on NBC is frowning with a drawl toward all the violent parties. I read even the New Yorker came out against the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. It's certainly odd that none of these nuevo peaceniks have labelled the true violent parties in these affairs: that is, the Republicans and the Democrats. I heard of a Hatfield-McGovern amendment to limit funds for the war that is getting some attention in all the powerless circles (i.e., campuses, suburbs, slums). As fine of an idea as it is, the results are what I must measure to try to understand even part of the situation from afar. And yet not so far: in Perugia, signs are seen with Nixon spelled with a swastika as the X in it. It is up in fresh paint on many buildings.
"Here everything is on strike, even all the gas stations occasionally!! June 6 is election day and lots of banners span every main street of all the little hick towns around here. Big rallies, ones that families attend, are held by each of the 20 parties often. We got stuck driving through a march the other day in Citta della Castello. It turned out to be 100 little girls in white veils chanting jibberish in unison at something called "First Communion."
"If my cards from Yugoslavia haven't gotten there yet, we gave up on Romania after a heavy time in the interior of Yugoslavia. Lots of big black shiny new Mercedes get dusty carrying the Party men from metropolis to towns via those tasty dirt highways they like so well. At least the country was Alp-like and the vast forest lands occupied my eyes so I didn't have to look much at the rag wearing peasants pulling their own plows!
"Relay to Mom and Dad that any monies sent to me should be posted by June 6th or 7th at the latest; mail strikes are common. By about the 25th, we'll be in Barcelona. If you wish, write me c/o American Express. I was glad to hear about the job you've lined up. Law, that's where the real power is. Do it!"
May 27, 1970: "....I don't know for sure where I'll be headed next. This place is really emptying out. Today there are only 7 of us here. It's sad that it's almost over."
Thursday, May 28, 1970: "The major causes of wasting your life-force are: Nervous habits, association with negative persons, misuse of your senses, and idle talk....Most of this, of course, is the statement of fear, anxiety, anger, and other unhealthy mental and emotional conditions..."
"Why don't we just love each other rather than judge so harshly? Maybe I should throw out all these books."
From the Monte Capanno Diary of Gordon Bowen
May 28, 1970: "I must collect my thoughts about all of this. We began in June 1969 to create a student initiated accredited semester. By fall the 15 of us had grown to 25, and the department had hired a highly innovative young professor, David Zack, to whom the idea of Europe was appealing. In mid-November, the Trustees of the State Colleges had approved a curriculum for us revolving around the role of Art in Society. Perugia, Italy was chosen to be the site for the experiment, and David wrote to secure accommodations in a nearby villa or country house of the aristocracy. In January Icelandic Airlines assisted our crossing, and by early February, we began to trickle in to the Perugia area. To house us, two large farmhouses and 25 acres of farmland were rented from the Vicarelli family, a fine group of monarchists. It was immediately clear that these white folks from the sun basked of California would suffer in the frigid breezes that swept south from the Alps in a frostbite of Umbrian snow.
"Inside the three hundred year young barn house unswept scraps of cow dung pungently incensed the cold kitchen. At her hearth crowded the Californians, reminiscing about their warm past; planning their fantasy futures. Holding court with resigned tolerance dominated David Zack. Somber prophesies of skepticism from the students became mere whittled scraps of his carving at the useless nature of "Worrying." New disciplines in this academy were many; eagerness is common among the young and inexperienced traveller. Consensus held. Certain minor inconveniences would be resolved by our new landlord, La Contessa Luissa Vicarelli Manzoni and her friendly son, Andre, who incidentally was endowed with an absolutely classic Roman nose. In a matter of days, demijohns of vintage vino were flowing our way from the cold cave beneath her Medieval villa, Monte Capanno. Naturally, when she graciously added one wing of the 13th century Maltese castle to our rent, Dave and his beast-painting wife Maija reclined to that well heated suite.
"At this came the initial notes of division among the members of the Zackian band. As straggler students finally appeared, all sporting hefty colds, it became obvious that some crowding would be inevitable since there were only 14 bedrooms, and 30 people by then were here for them. As the colds spread, we sneezed together.
"A crsip breeze brought three inches of slushy snow to the hilly countryside, and a refrigerated frost permeated a continual crowd around our huge, but insufficiently supplied, fireplace. Two benches within this only source of heat became prime spots to sit, and the more aggressive students invented ingenious methods to trick the less wiley out of those seats. Mark Cohen, affectionately dubbed "Gomar," went out of the fireplace often to bring one of the girls some little oral surprise. Of course, his generosity always was reciprocated by that female weaseling his seat from him. And though this occurence was not in the least uncommon, Gomar always eagerly shared the treats in his private stash of goodies.
"This was greatly appreciated, for tight finances prevented the students from buying many of those little extras that make life so much nicer: marmalade and jam, coffee, cookies, meat and cheese, not to mention butter were never seen on the group's shelves until late May, three months after the chilly period of deprivation.
"As February grew older, rumors began to circulate that the Umbrian Spring arrived on about March first. Anxiously the once depressing chatter at the fireplace turned toward our eminent return to the outside world. On about March 10th, as Wes Shaffer and I were hauling logs on a wooden cart through two foot deep mud near the wood pile, he commented 'I wonder who started saying that it got warm here in March?'
"And as snow fell on April first that question remained unanswered. By this time, however, other mysteries enjoyed greater popularity around the chill kitchen. Students Darrell Jones and Mary Zuccero initially were labelled as 'paranoia spreaders' as their calculated prophesies predicted financial crisis by April 15th. Though I assumed some control over the group's finances on May 25th and at that time nearly $200 remained, I am certain that without Mary's tireless effort at thrift this disaster would have befallen us. Lord knows, she tried.
"Seminars in our faraway school were and weren't. Originally fully fifty different ones were scheduled, mostly led by students, though Prof. Dave led the pack with roughly 10 booked. By March, the workload was pruned to 28 seminars, of which five or six ever occurred. Some of them were held nearly daily, others weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, as interest among the students lagged during travels of seminar members. 'Serious drinking' by far was held the most often, and once it was warm, 'Frisbeeing for Health" enjoyed near daily classtime. Both of these were jointly attended by Craig and myself. 'Serious drinking' was broadened to include 'Other Euphorias' when a friend of Dave's, John Dean, arrived via Amsterdam with plenty of smokable goodies.
"John added a lot to the group. To some he became an object of anger, as he ate from the already short food supply and paid merely with a pipe some residents benefitted not from. Late in the term, he nearly came to blows with student Terry MacDonald over the loss of a flute recording of his. And to other students, such as Barb, handsome John was a source of much happiness and artistic inspiration. John can be said to have inspired one of her finest embroiderings, this particular one featuring two females and a man between them on his head. Many other guests also enriched our home at Monte Capanno. Chuck Egof gave great tips on our garden, which aided the growth of impotent crops. Suspicions that he and his chick Katie were 'spies' for Dave grew late in April when group feelings were almost totally negative toward the lack of guidance given by our theoretical leader, Dave Zack. For periods of many days, quite often the bulk of the students never saw him, and indeed, some conversed with him very, very little due to what Marti Kramer described as 'his arrogant way of making you feel you don't know anything.'
"This feeling was not at all isolated. A fair sized minority attributed their early departures from Monte Capanno totally to their inability to reconcile their differences with Dave. Notably, Wes Shaffer, recognized by his peers as among the most academically oriented of students, gave up chatting even casually with the man shortly before his departure a full month before the end of the term. Mike White, cynic and general pessimist of the group, quite unabashedly stated that he felt Monte Capanno was one of the greatest examples of academic buffoonery he ever had witnessed, saying "Dave is just a nutty neat guy." There was, I believe, a general consensus among the students that some gap was present between the statements of tolerance and 'whatever's right' uttered by our esteemed professor, and the undeniably selfish style of life the man lived, discriminating against students he didn't like (e.g., Mark Cohen), criticizing continually the manner of affairs at the farmhouse, and resorting to personal attacks when confronted about the $480 rent which the man never paid.
"Such problems divided the two classes of folk at Monte Capanno, nicely mirroring the Monarchists and peasants who lived in the area permanently. Dave and Maija, flanked by bodyguards Chuck Egof, John Dean, 'yes men' Katie and 'Tall Terry,' effectively became known as The Elite. All students, excepting two or three at all times, were at odds with them from about April first until June. Physical violence between the two classes erupted only twice. Once between myself and 'Tall Terry' upon my requesting the man to leave our house, and once when Chuck beat Terry MacDonald up, due to John Dean's tape being lost. Considering the national background of all the students (American), the adverse climatic and sanitary conditions (lack of functional toilets for a month, lack of hot water), and a mere four burners and one oven to cook for 25 plus people, I consider this amount of violence very low.
"The extent of cultural interaction between the students and the rural Italian community varied from student to student. Diedre Ranier and Terre Eakins took an Italian class at the University of Perugia for Foreigners. Mary Zuccero, being of Italian American blood, generally was conceded to have the greatest command of the language. Most of the rest of us picked up enough of it have pleasant conversations with the neighbors Virgilio and Pierina, and their son Mauritsio, who became Mark Fissel's fast friend and who got outrageously drunk at one of the parties La Contessa held in our honor. Most students travelled extensively throughout Italy. Roma and Firenze were the most popular destinations. I personally made trips with Linda to Naples and the Amalfi Coast, Roma twice, Firenze twice, Pisa, Siena, to the Adriatic and once for two weeks to Yugoslavia. Darrel, Mark F. and Chris Klyce ventured to Spain, Dave and Maija to Bulgaria and Turkey, Mark Cohen to Hungary and Czechoslovakia, Mary Z. to Sicilia, Craig and Kathy to Yugoslavia by car, the White sisters and Terry MacDonald to Germany and Denmark, Barb and Terre to Greece, Jan and Marti to Yugoslavia, Georgia and Warren to Greece, and Linda Faulkner by herself to Spain!
"Folks always kept coming back, for though Monte Capanno was a divided house, it was still our home. Difficult as it is to admit, I must concede that the one thing that served to resolve hard feelings between the professor and the students was cannabis. On this point, Dave and the rest of The Elite were quite generous. Indeed, the timely arrivals of hash or pot at Monte Capanno often served to head off a major confrontation at our bi-weekly meetings. Unfortunately, unpleasant confrontations did occur. Originally we had meetings in which we all sat about the large eating table and 'discussed' things of concern. There were five of these meetings, each essentially dwelling on the same points: How to get better food (it was always prepared well even if the quality of ingredients was low); and How to Collect Unpaid Money for rent and food from residents and guests. At meeting No. 5, on about March 25th, it was decided that we should ask each guest to contribute $5.00 a week, or 3000 lire; and that Dave should be asked for a date when he would pay. He originally said April 15, later switched to May first, still later to June first, and at this time it is assumed that he has no intention of ever paying. To my knowledge, the question has been dropped, though not forgotten by many students both here, and those who have returned to San Jose. From April first on, we never held an official meeting, though informal student budgeting sessions continued. At the financial helm sat Terre Eakins from the outset until she went to Greece in April. Mary Zuccero eagerly pinch hit as bookeeper and did a fine job in her own thorough way.
"But if money was what divided Monte Capanno, it was sweat that brought us together. Special recognition must be given to the cooking prowess of Maija, Deidre Ranier, Linda Faulkner, and Kathy Roberts. None of the students or guests will ever forget the call of "mangia!" (Italian for 'let's eat'!) that reverberated through the farmhouse before our daily dinners. Inevitably, pasta or spaghetti appeared as the first dish. Delightful fruit and vegetable salads were Linda G.'s, Jan Hammond's, Barb's and Terre's specialties. Marti Kramer became known as the greatest consumer of Coca Cola in the world; Diet Rite is not sold here). All cleaned, washed, swept, to keep some order.
"Less sexual role conflict occurred at Monte Capanno than in any other group living arrangement I have experienced. Men had hard, sometimes impossible jobs that burned lots of Craig, Rich, Wes, Mike and my fuel up fast. Other boys who sat inside endured our joking at them, joking that served to alienate some into an early departure. Every single day the girls produced a filling, sometimes nourishing, always hot meal which wound us together into the big family that Monte Capanno was. In the months of the school at Monte Capanno I became much more interested in the people around me, and their real selves, more than I could possibly have come to know them through any ordinary educational arrangement.
"What the school at Monte Capanno lacked in terms of tests, term papers, and academic bullshitting, was outweighed by the extent of individual progress toward community oriented goals, and progress toward individual forms of artistic expression and philosophic contemplation. Play readings became popular dramatic sessions that channelled some fo the studnets into a new 'reality of existential drama.' Communications skills improved, and concern for others grew so dramatically that I feel the experiment must be judged an 'A,' or better."
Sunday, May 31, 1970: "Marti says, 'If I'm ever rich and have an estate, I'm going to name it Spaghetti Tops.' A sugar shack with a spaghetti-top roof!
"This afternoon Gordon and I took the Lambretta into the hills past Assisi toward Gubbio. We came across a castle that was similar to my dream of Monte Capanno before we came - a true medireview wonder. I picked a wild rose. Pink. fragrant. Untouched by transplants. But the wind hitting us on the bike was rough on the poor thing. Umbria is beautiful. Green and wild and cultivated at the same time. I love it more than anything. Riding on the back of the bike, feeling the cool wind, running my fingers through the landscape as it whizzes by. White oxen turn their heads in surprise, and peasant women with bundles on their heads smile as we pass. God knows how to create beauty."
Wednesday June 3, 1970: "All day I've been in a crazy mood. Took my camera and shot all sorts of ordinary things around the Big Farmhouse. Now I will copy the graffiti on our bathroom walls, thus immortalizing the wisdom here.
"BATHROOM STALL #1 - Inside the door - "Words are herds of bird turds." "Fear is the lock and laughter the key to your heart. And I love you. - CS&N" "And I love you, too" Colors in Italian. "Ada Gasser drops Rolaids" "I like Acid!" [Astronomy lesson in Italian.] [More Italian words for fruit.] Right wall - [huge beastie drawn in lipstick.] "Give till it hurts" "oft I have said and I say it once more, I a wonderer do not stray from myself" "Kiss me!" [in lipstick] "Hi There!" "Vote here for the next governor of California - just flush" "A small step for man, a giant step for mankind (or dump as the case may be)" "Sha na na, sha na na na na na, etc. Get a job!" "cut the bullshityourself!!" Left wall - "and she shows you where to look amid the garbage and the flowers; there are heroes in the seaweed; there are children in the morning; they are leaning out for love; and they will lean that way forever' while Suzanne holds the mirror" "Let your conscious (cautious) be your guide" "The love you take is equal to the love you make" "You've got the blues, not me" "If I've got 'em, you do too" "ain't no way!" "Wouldn't it be a real drag now if we were all the same?" "Yeah, but wouldn't it be nice if we were together?" Back wall- "SURF CITY" "No Thyself" "ode to a toilet: Toilet paper clogs our toilet. Be nice to him. Don't choke him. No lotta toilet paper. Please. He's our friend."
"BATHROOM STALL #2 - Right wall - [In dripping red paint over other graffiti] "FUCK" "I do what I do. I am what I am. We are what we are. We do what we can." "The sanest man sets up no defenses, lays down no laws, takes everything that happens as it comes as something _______?_______ not to appreciate, to earn, not _______?_________ without self-importance. If you never assume importance, you never are disappointed. - Lao Tsu" ["Fuck" blocks out blank words]. Left wall - "Fail to honor people - they fail to honor you." "Follow your DNA code." "The way to live life is to do nothing through acting. The way to live life is to do everything through being. - Lao Tsu" "L. Bruce Lives" "Words are hurds of those little white and black things" Back wall - "We are all outlaws in the eyes of America - Marty Balin" "All of us are elephants, yet one day even chipmunks will wear green! - Timothy Leary" Door - "Werds are hords of burd tirds" "Peace"
"BATHROOM STALL #3 [unused] Outside the door [door is locked] "We are children of the future. Wonder where this world is going to...when I get high I can see myself for miles. All I can say is I didn't mean to be unkind. Open your eyes and love will be easy."
"KITCHEN GRAFFITI - "Crew - time is not a field to be measured in rods, nor a sea to be measured in miles. It is a heartbeat." "It is not unpleasant to be where one is. It is only unpleasant to think one would like to be somewhere else."
"FIREPLACE - "but if you want to play, stay right back on earth waiting for rebirth." "LMF" "Fly the American Way" "It's just that the thought of us so happy appears in my mind to be a beautiful and mysterious thing - C.T.A." "MF 5/29/70 I'm going home!" "NIXON" [the "X" is a swastika].
"Poor Gina's crying and screaming."
June 7, 1970, to his parents: "I got the letter, with the bank draft, and am now preparing to go. There is some chance we may get a ride to Genoa tomorrow, and if not, we will begin hitching toward Spain with the next couple days.
"My plane ticket, which I have already bought, goes from Paris to N.Y. on August 13th. Probably we will then charge N.Y. - L.A. on Linda's American Express Card. I sort of want to do a drive-away car thing from N.Y. to L.A., but by then we may just be travel weary.
"I agreed with your remarks about working for peace through the ballot box next fall. Now is the time for positive action, not 1972. I have doubts about the effectiveness of such work, but still plan on trying.
"Martin Rutishauser and I have been corresponding and I hope to stop by where he lives in Germany at some point.
"I have heard nothing more from Jon H. and hope he follows through on some course that still leaves him able to come back to America if he chooses.
"Your position next year as first Vice Pres. of the P.E.A. sounds exciting. What will be your role, making inflamatory speeches a la Spiro Agnew? Concerning your being put on the Lincoln faculty: does that mean you will be teaching at Lincoln? sixth grade still? Sounds as if you're in for a new set of circumstances and problems that are entirely different from those of the Chatman Woods crew.
"Actually, the easiest way money can reach me now is for you to give the money to Mrs. Green and have her deposit it in Linda's North Hollywood checking account because her American Express Card instantly makes any check she writes OK.
"My itinerary once again: June 15th Barcelona, Spain; July 4th Paris, France; then either to the Alps or to Berlin and Coopenhagen; August 3rd Amsterdam, Netherlands; August 13 Paris, France. Got to get to packing, say hi to Tom. Of course, thank you for the money."
June 8, 1970: "Strange day, strange acid. We leave, fast, for Florence."
June 27, 1970, to his parents (from London UK): "Tonight for the first time, we experienced the brawling, warm-beer beer hall affectionately known as the 'Black Horse'. An English pub is definitely a unique institution at least to the American traveler, for it affords the opportunity to meet and converse with a diverse cross section of English speaking peoples, among them Australians, New Zealanders, Irish, Scottish, South Africans and Canadians. We had a grand time, and even ran into a guy named Denny, an Aussie, who stayed at Monte Capanno with us for a while!
"London is an incredibly lively town, in spite of the low key build up I had previously heard. At the minute most young folks are on their way to a rock festival at Bath, a town 150 miles (kilometers?) west from here. It's just so nice to be able to talk to folks instead of merely trying to communicate directions!
"We both remain quite happy both with our travels and with each other. Hopes are up for Stonehenge, but transportation down there seems a bit of a chore. It's somewhat isolated. I think we'll probably go on Monday or Tuesday.
"We definitely will go to Amsterdam on Friday July 3rd, as we have a plane ticket on that date through the same charter group as our return ticket to N.Y. Barring some unforseen hangup with the Eurailpass, we will start it from Amsterdam on about the 10th, heading for Coopenhagen, and then on to Norway. Prospects on both places sound great, and since it's so costly up north we'll probably stay in hostels up there. This is all timed so that we can end our Eurailpass on Aug. 10 riding from somewhere in Spain to Paris. It's all so exciting!
"I hope to finally buy a camera in Amsterdam, if I can find one with adjustable settings for under say $75. This may be difficult, and if I can't find it, photos aren't really all that important.
"We both enjoyed calling you the other day from here. The lines were supposedly clogged up for 3 hours from the time we tried, but Linda just got on the phone and charmed some man and the next thing we knew, we were connected with you in Altadena! It's hard to deny that sometimes a woman truly has greater power than even the most persuasive man!!
"Mother: Have you happened into another one of those curriculum writing jobs at the Education Center this summer, and if so, what is its nature? Dad: What sort of integration is planned for Wilson next term? Will your job be altered at all? I still think that your idea of one grade at each of the paired schools is by far the simplest solution. Say hello to Tom and tell him I hope his job is going well and that he is accomplishing something. It is probably best to reply to American Express, Coopenhagen. It is on 12 Hans Christian Andersen."
TWO PIECES OF DIRT MAKING LOVE
I'm a thousand years old,
worn steps onto solid ground.
Yesterday happened a century ago.
The sky isn't purple-red any more.
Grape vine olive trees no longer dance
in blue fluorescent paint. Buzzing
gives way to weighty silence.
No more flashes
of pink and yellow light. Red
poppies stand motionless in the fields.
A strange memory stretches
those slender poppy necks
above the wheat. Asks us to fall
into a stream. We float
through sticky, man-eating vines
to a jungle-river. Jan & Martin flash
on 'Nam. They sink in quicksand.
Sob in mud. We ignore them
toward the Marquis' castle,
stumbling over huge frogs,
watching rain drop into the pond
from a cloudless sky.
Consider two pieces of dirt
making love in a canteen.
The day is like that.
I should explain.
It comes from the States
in a Fillmore poster.
Thousands of tiny transparent dots.
Farmhouse bathroom walls.
We exhaust ourselves
trying to read them all.
I've seen bathrooms
like that in New York. Words
float through air. Run down doors.
Weave in and out of toilet paper.
No one can escape them.
Gina cries. Martin tugs at his ears.
Barb quotes from Spread Eagles.
David recites gory poems.
I retreat to the stairwell. Watch
walls make music. Listen to colors
throb from the wringer washer.
A group of hearts.
Slush and beat.
An old man's.
Joel says, the moon's in Leo.
We trip down stone steps
into the night. Lions roar
through our veins.
Gordon & Martin salute
colonels of popcorn.
without putting anything
into our mouths.
From endless midnight patterns
a reluctant morning
advances through the fields,
approaches the hill.
Blue stains the air. Red
comes alive in the poppies.
The sun's mugginess slowly sets
traces of madness aflame.
I sit at the table.
[deleted] Mangia danced here
A wad of stained clothes
testimony in the corner.
Maija paints "beasties"
on fragments of my favorite dress.
She cuts it into small pieces
Up the road to La Contesa's castle.
I stop before the gate. Touch
the wall stones. They're dead
cold now. I recall the sizzle
of ancient secrets in my hands.
The Topolino putters
down poplar-lined roads
past the chocolate factory.
toward the Perugia train station.
It's late. When I close my eyes
I still hear Zack's voice
hailing experiments by Stan Grof
and Tim Leary. Ousley's best,
he assures us.
To know that Truth of truths,
consult the stars. Throw the I Ching.
Read lines in your palms.
Take a tiny paper dot.
Place it on your tongue.
It's easy to say this now
while sitting safely in Zermatt,
the Matterhorn mothering over me.
Somewhere in Italy
is a hillside of dreams.
I lived there. Died there.
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