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A Martian at the Love-In

Poster for One of Bill Graham’s Presentations at the Fillmore

Poster for One of Bill Graham’s Presentations at the Fillmore

Yes, I went through the Sixties—and a wild time it was! That is, for some people. By the time I reached the (chemically-induced) age of puberty, around the age of 23, I felt badly out of place. And I would have even if I were not in swinging Los Angeles in 1967. I had just come off the operating table for a pituitary tumor in September 1966 and was still beginning to imagine life without daily severe frontal headaches pressing on my optic nerve.

Girls were pretty much out of the question. As for drugs, I was newly on hydrocortisone, thyroid, and testosterone (and still am, and will be for my whole life); and I didn’t want to see how LSD, psylocybin, and other psychedelic compounds would act on me. Also, within a few months after my arrival in L.A., I was told I had aseptic necrosis of the left hip and had to be on crutches for two years. Hence, I felt like a Martian surrounded by people who were intent on having a wildly good time.

I have never gone to a rock concert. I couldn’t even drive until 1985 because I was on a blood pressure medication (Catapres) that made me narcoleptic. On car rides, I fell asleep within minutes.

Rock Impresario Bill Graham

Rock Impresario Bill Graham

Today, Martine and I went to the Skirball Museum and saw their special exhibit on Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution. It was a revelation to me of all the things I had missed. Until this afternoon, I had no idea of the role that Graham played in sponsoring rock concerts over a quarter of a century until he died in a helicopter crash in a storm at the age of 60.

I eventually outgrew my Martian isolation. As a young woman, Martine was more familiar than I was with the big rock bands, as she listened to them all on her radio when she was growing up in New Jersey. In the 1980s, I began to catch up with the music—though in another fifteen years, I rejected all pop music in favor of classical music by dead guys in powdered wigs.

But, no matter, I was reminded of my early days in Los Angeles. I would wait until Fridays, when the L.A. Free Press was distributed. There I read about all the love-ins, the psychedelic power of oven-roasted banana skins (“bananadine”), with ads for all the head shops and local concerts. I was never much of a hippy, but it was a yeasty time. It was fun remembering it.