14 January 12020 is supposed to be Organize Your Home Day. And Defenders of the Motherland Day (Uzbekistan). It’s Dave Grohl’s birthday. Also Benedict Arnold’s. And it’s a day when I’m feeling too lousy to write anything, or even type random letters one after another. On top of this goddamn hacking cough that’s probably going to turn out to be a symptom of pancreas breakdown or something, I’m sore from a visit to the dentist and I don’t feel much like blogging—or whatever it is that I’m doing while pulling together real pieces for the consideration of all my imaginary readers.
I see in the news that Cornplanter’s pipe—a gift to him from George Washington—has been returned to the Seneca people. I doubt that would mean much to Cornplanter; if I don’t have him confused with somebody else he ended his life thinking he had been a failure, betrayed by the American officials he had dealt with. He was right about the betrayals anyway—but he played the hand he was dealt with skill and honor. It’s been decades since I was knee-deep in the documents of his time and place, but his name still shines with a golden glow in my memory. Not that he’d care about that, either.
Well, the sun is in Capricorn of course—it’s that time of year—but so is practically everybody else, what with Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto (assuming that Pluto counts for anything since its demotion) all hanging out there as well. Still, Mercury’s just passing through on his way to Aquarius, so at least that influence will be negated.
On this day in history the Human Be-In was held in San Francisco in 1967. This “Gathering of the Tribes” was an attempt to forge an alliance among various factions in the counterculture—particularly the Berkeley radicals and the acid freaks derogatorily referred to as “hippies”. Participants included Gary Snyder, Dick Gregory, Timothy Leary, and Allen Watts, with music supplied by Big Brother and the Holding Company, Blue Cheer, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Quicksilver Messenger Service. While remembered fondly by many of those who were there, Eugene L. Grogan, Jr., wrote in his lame and unintentionally hilarious book Ringolevio: A Life Played for Keeps:
The Human Be-In was publicized as a “Gathering of the Tribes,” but it was actually more a gathering of the suburbs with only a sprinkling of nonwhites in the crowd of three hundred thousand. … [Eugene L. Grogan (who wrote of himself in the third person)] walked to one side of the stage and stood below it, watching the so-called luminaries of the alternative culture. He felt a sense of anger and despair over the way the Be-In had been set up and presented. Their advertising had assembled three hundred thousand people, and all they gave them was a single stage with a series of schmucks schlepping all over it, making speeches and reciting poetry nobody could hear, with interludes of music. It was even more incredible to [Grogan] that the crowd crushed forward for a better spot where they could stargaze at the feeble spectacle. … More ham chewers trouped up to the mike and kept saying how wonderful it was with all that energy in one place at the same time. Just being. Being together—touching, looking, loving, embracing each other—that’s what it was all about, they said… Three hundred thousand people shouted repeatedly that they were one, and [Grogan] just sat on the grass and watched them pretend, wondering how long it was going to take before people stopped kidding themselves.
Self-serving and untrustworthy as Ringolevio is, I like the guy’s spirit. Rest in peace, Eugene L. Grogan Jr., wherever the fuck you ended up.