Heroes

April 30, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I like to tell people I was born in the "Summer of Lust" in 1968-- one year before Woodstock and the "Summer of Love." Anyway, by 1969, my parents were too busy to be hippies. They did have a fine forest green VW bus and my mother rarely wore shoes, but they spit-bathed us on Sundays for Methodist church services or whatever church they were "shopping" at the time. My father was a tow truck driver and hardworking mechanic who always wore shoes. We watched "Wild Kingdom" with Marlin Perkins and went water skiing on the Willamette River on weekends & ate casseroles & tomato soup and enjoyed indulgent picnic lunches of 'Kentucky Fried' on sunny summer afternoons.

It wasn't until college at the University of Oregon -- a spring day, I think, in about 1992, that I finally got to be in the same room with my hippie writer prankster idols. Ken Kesey's "Sometimes a Great Notion" is still one of my favorite novels of all time. Hunter S. Thompson's "The Edge" still gives me chills. Check out this animation. Seriously. "There were no helmets on that night.....The Edge is still out there."

Well, maybe it was something about the warm spring air today that made me think of another fine spring day & youth and all that & brought to mind this narrative poem hanging out in a drawer. Thought I'd share.

Waiting For Our Heroes To Arrive

The crowd is going crazy.
Hunter S. Thompson and Ken Kesey are late.
They're so late that people are starting to
entertain themselves. We’re crammed,
standing-room-only into a small venue
in downtown Eugene near the
university campus.

The room is gettin' hot and sticky,
air thick, humid, buzzing, crackling
with energy. All kinds gathered,
hippies, jocks, geeks, stoners, young, old,
all yelling, chanting, hoping for a glimpse,
the privilege of a moment.

In one corner, an a capella
jam session busts out and spreads.
Flasks are passed. A guy with dreds
juggles bowling pins. A hacky sack flies into the air.
A paper airplane whizzes by.
Unfolded it reads, “Free Tibet.”
The anticipation is exciting, but we’ve all paid
a precious seven bucks for this,
most of us can barely afford
a hot dog on a Friday night,
and we’re beginning to wonder
whether they’ll even show up at all.

Finally, over an hour past go time,
the pranksters stumble in, igniting the crowd.
They lurch onto the stage as we stomp,
cheer, shout. As things quiet down,
they launch into their act, slurring
into microphones. They rant,
scream at us, at each other, preachin'
about all kinds of really important shit
that we must remember for the rest of our lives,
but they’re so drunk and stoned, nobody
knows what they’re really saying. Truth is,
nobody cares. What matters is,
we’re in the same room
with living gods.

That night is flawless, tense,
 insane, perfect, as idols appear in the flesh,
real, human, poorly dressed,
old, but not too old to rage,
utterly incomprehensible,
vulnerable, beautiful in their imperfection,
arriving, cape-less, unmasked,
at the last possible moment,
the way all heroes should be.


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