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1,000 Miles Back in Time

The Grateful Dead sent me and Kesey’s people and a couple of Hells Angels and a couple more Diggers to London to see the Beatles and check them out, to see if they were as socially progressive as they were musically progressive. Which they weren’t at the time. We set up a big apartment as a 24-hour a day crash pad in London, and hipsters came in from all over Europe to meet with us and swap ideas. You know, Bob Dylan once said it was time when you’d drive 1,000 miles for a good conversation. And it was true.

–Me, quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, May 20th, 2007

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Beautiful opening quote for

Beautiful opening quote for the blog . . . . What an inspiring time it must have been. Now perhaps it is time for us to listen carefully for the hundreds of good conversations possible with every person we pass on the street . . . . as well as traveling 1,000 miles for the same. If we are willing to listen to the neighbors we rarely see, store clerks ringing up our groceries, and people asking for money at the corner of Starr King and Franklin -- we may hear the stories, and histories, that reflect, illuminate, or completely distort what we thought was real and right in our little world. Imagine the probabilities . . . .

Looking forward to reading your writing, as well as that of the other authors posted on this site. Warm regards on this chilly San Francisco day.

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Valuable advice—it IS time

Valuable advice—it IS time for us to listen carefully for the possibilities. In one morning in this bustling frantic city I walk by hundreds of people I don’t even see and so many faces I never remember, but when I take the few seconds to make an effort to have a real conversation with the person who sells me my cup of coffee or the guy standing on the corner of Franklin Street my perspective of what is real and right is always altered and I realize how little I really do know…I also realize how many other people out there share the same terror, outrage, and sometimes resignation about the world that surrounds us now. These small conversations are a form of hope and in order to sustain that hope we all have to make the effort to have the conversation…Lauren Sapala, redroom.com

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Coyote and the Diggers

I read Peter Coyote's autobiography when it came out a few years ago. It was a focused remembrance of a famously unfocused time. The author was near the epicenter of the sixties hippie movement, an undervalued period, one deserving of greater examination, but Coyote opens a door to it, describing vividly the philosophy, actions, and characters inhabiting San Francisco during the early sixties. The Diggers were a committed people, feeding clothing, and and generally endeavoring to guide the denizens of a new world in a moral direction. I suppose, like society itself, or the world, or the publishing industry, San Francisco was ultimately overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people. But considering the duality of nature, what force, what movement, can survive indefinitely? What was interesting about the period was that a generation was coming to age with so many possibilities - in technology and the awareness technology gifted this world - that many of those who were there, like Mr. Coyote, felt, even believed, that a kinder, gentler world could be made; then again, perhaps the idea of the sixties was more a reaction to the terror residing just beneath the possibilities, the instinct for survival sending the young scattering for safety from the weight of catastrophe: the Cold war, Vietnam, nuclear holocaust, the widespread destruction of the environment, and the understanding sinking in of what exactly the phrase "Naked Lunch" meant. Issues that continue to haunt us today, albeit, sadly enough, without hardly enough protest.

Peter Coyote's book is good place to start. So is his acting. From his small but uncannily authentic performance as an NG sergeant in Southern Comfort to his portrayal of general Cook in Deadwood - the man's a master.

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60's flashback

Ever since I heard that you were Pirsig's choice to play the main character in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I was intrigued by your career. Now that I've read a few of your pieces, I can see that acting is merely one of your many talents. My book "Essays and Aphorisms on the Higher Man" is an attempt at recapturing some of that spirit of the 60's that you discuss here. There's no need to drive 1,000 miles for a conversation when the book itself is intended to be a dialogue with each individual reader. Just a thought. Here's an excerpt if you're interested:

"The beastliness of the hunter, that which makes him something less than an animal, is not to be found in the hunt, the kill, or the eating of meat. His beastliness rather stems from his enjoyment of the kill, his relishing of it, and the childish celebration of what he perceives to be his omnipotence over life itself — all this while steely-eyed as to the true consequences of his action."