My old lady and I were walking towards Griffith Park last night, up Commonwealth Street, trippy clear sky, geese heading north, why so late in summer?, lonely Venus on horizon, saw a big coyote in some rich guy’s front yard, it just rustled the leaves and appeared, then we’re up on the overwalked fire break trail, it’s getting dark so no one’s up there, and the coyotes start howling, and then we hear Robert Plant and his band, they’re playing at the Greek Theater to the west, and as we walk closer we can hear Robert wailing, he sounds really good, the coyotes around us are wailing along with Robert I swear to God, and the crowd is singing along to “skinny legged woman ain’t got no soul,” cheering like crazy, we look down on the amphitheater and then walk back, right as we’re leaving the trail I see a big shadow at the top of a dead pine tree, it looks like a huge bird, but it’s not moving so we split the land and hit pavement, and I’m told there’s a spiritual guardian of the park, he prays for its soul and the people below–is this true? It was a trippy night.
Onyx Man, Los Feliz
Dear Onyx Man,
In July of 1973 I took acid every night at midnight. I’d already been awake for months consuming mass quantities of uncut Peruvian marching powder and working as a photographer for the Kansas City Star. I couldn’t stay focused on my assignments: fires, traffic accidents, high school football games. So I’d spend the night taking photographs of colonial mansions juxtaposed against a little smiley face I’d drawn on my right index finger. See, I like to work in the shadows, my friend. Which is why I am where I am right now. The Star refused to publish my work, marked it trivial and unnewsworthy. But it was the subversive nature of the work which drove them to box me out. I’d complain, but it’s so much worse for any deep thinker working in the news media today, if there are any. So rock on, my man, and don’t fear the fucking reaper.
Fight The Power,
I was driving through the Valley coming home from work feeling pretty
good, pretty mellow day at work, and I checked out Indie 101.3. They
were playing stuff from the 70’s, like concert ads for the Allman Brothers
and Joe Walsh, and I was getting into it. That was my decade, you know.
I was digging it, and then they played the theme from Rocky, you know,
“feelin’ strong, now,” then they played “A Fifth of Beethoven,” the disco
hit. And they sounded terrible, all squashed and thin. The drums sounded like
mud, which I know is from bouncing tracks on tape, there was no way around it
back then, my brother was an engineer for Gloria Estefan in Miami back then.
And the guitar solo sucked, I thought it was maybe a remake for a second, you
know, the guitar players who can play rhythm but suck at lead, but no, it was
the original stuff. Sounded bad.
And then my favorite Steve Martin routine from the good old days came on,
the one where he ends with “Well, Ex-CUUUUSE ME!” and the audience goes
nuts, and I’m realizing, it’s just not that funny. And analog sucks, digital sounds
much better, and lyrics were at least as stupid back then, feelin strong now?
So I’m bummed, my era kind of sucked, I’ve been baggin on the 90s
all this time and I’m feeling very dark and nihilistic right now. Wondering if
you can provide some kind of perspective.
Eric From the 70’s
Dear Eric From The 70s,
I’ve only really driven a car once and I was out of my mind on a bitchin’ cocktail of quaaludes and Algerian hashish so I can’t really answer your question about listening to the radio. While I’m sure your attachment to pop culture moments from the decade of your adolescence has some significance to the larger human struggle, I’ll be damned if I can figure it. My advice to you is this: turn off the radio, stop driving the car, and send all those old LPs to the glue factory. You’re simply looking for your liberation in the wrong place. There’s only one way out, my man, and it’s through prolonged distortion of the senses provided only by years of isolated meditation or very heavy drug use. The choice is yours brother.
I’m On Cocaine and I Vote,
Email your questions for Stonecutter to: email@example.com
L.A. Weekly Pick of the Week, July 22, 2005
Though he’ll forever be remembered for the satirical “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” made famous by Jerry Jeff Walker, legendary Texan Ray Wylie Hubbard — the headiest headneck of the Outlaw Movement — wrote dozens of killer, smart songs. More recently, he’s chosen “to play in the mud,” perfected his slide-guitar technique, waxed lyrical about “The Knives of Spain,” and cracked wise in the anti-yuppie howler “Screw You, We’re From Texas.” I See Hawks in L.A. are our hometown cosmic cowboys; like Ray Wylie, they’re equal parts spiritual seekers and honky-tonk storytellers, creating an American West of honor and wisdom. Does that ethos exist in a time of spilt blood? Did it ever? It does tonight at McCabe’s. (Michael Simmons)
We’re into the home stretch, and the heat is mad, 119 according to the Bun Boy thermometer in Baker, but we catch a break heading into Barstow: a summer desert rain with a few lightning bolts, and we are cooling down, breathing in petrichor and watching the raindrops. The 10 east through the Inland Empire’s going to be a rush hour mess when we drop down, so we head east through welcome home Joshua trees on Pearblossom Highway, the gray brush stroke of rain our friend to the north. The 14 south is kind, and we’ll be home before sunset.
The Hawk mobile powered north and then east through dark Idaho hills, and we almost ran out of gas again. There are few gas stations on I-15, so fill up in Pocatello or Idaho Falls. Eastward on 90 and we unholster cell phones, functioning again after hours of silence, and we roust Ron Craighead, KGLT honcho and DJ, and Dave, owner of Big Sky High Studios, as we approach Bozeman at 1 a.m. We wind up dirt roads to Blue Sky High, a huge studio/B&B nestled among alfafa farmers and grazing cattle in the shadow of Middle Cottonwood Canyon and Montana mountains.
Dave’s up and plays the gracious late night host, shows the Hawks around his studio and beautifully appointed living quarters. Poco recorded a live album in the main room recently, and it’s being mixed on site in the pastureland. The Hawks give Blue Sky High a hearty recommendation to bands looking to record and get in day hikes in alpine speldor.Next day we woke and raided Dave’s refrigerator, making a big eggs and goat cheese breakfast, shades of the generous larder of Doran and Katherine in Winters, CA, hung out
with Dave a while, then Ron and sound man Noose arrived with the PA, and we sound checked for an acoustic and electric show. We drove down into town, hung out with PL’s sister Mary and her old pals Steve and Mary Lou Osman and their film school finished daughter Julia. The Osmans are the embodiment of the Hawks song “Raised By Hippies.” They met in the wilds of Jackson, WY, are professional outdoor guides and artists, split from running rapids in Jackson to Costa Rica, then moved to Bozeman. It can be done.
As show time neared, gentle Renee, who has been booking our mountain tourette, and KGLT DJ Jenny, a wild and mercurial evolved spirit, arrived, lifting the Hawks slightly road weary spirits, and the crowd filled the room. We played an excellent acoustic and then electric set, to a wildly enthusiastic response from the crowd. We felt like we’d become fast friends through music. Fans and friends slowly drifted away as the wee hours swept cool breezes onto the meadows, and the Hawks retired.Next day PL’s sister Mary came by as promised at 9 a.m., and with Mary Lou and Ron we climbed a few miles up the trail into Middle Cottonwood Canyon, through beautiful meadows of Indian Paint Brush and other local flowers, lupines, cottonwood and aspen stands, and the canyon widened into big vistas of surrounding peaks. We stuck our heads in the creek, and it was nice and cold, blew giant dandelions, and discussed the new ruling that will allow snarling ATV’s to race up the canyon and trample the meadows. Et tu, Bozeman? Perhaps Peak Oil will rescue Middle Cottonwood Canyon. Bring it on soon, say the bunny rabbits.
A late afternoon acoustic show at the funky and sophisticated Cactus Records in classic downtown Bozeman, a farewell to our kind friends, and we were off for Virginia City, MT. —–
Two Hawks went to bed. Two Hawks stayed up until dawn drinking and gambling. Those two Hawks are in great pain today as the temperature is once again soaring into the 120s. Will we make it home without puking along the side of the road? Stay tuned to the ISHILA Blog to learn the verdict. We are a band which knows the foolishness and danger of venturing into Vegas with our hard-earned tour dough in our pockets. Perhaps if we were of sound mind we would’ve passed on through Sin City or perhaps slept in peaceful St. George across the Utah border free from all of Nevada’s tempations. But our collective mind is not sound. We are weary travelers lured in by the bright lights and magnificent absurdity of this electric desert oasis-mirage. Vegas wins. Vegas always wins. And during the drive back that most physical of pains is fully realized.
This morning we gave PM $50 each to stake him in poker, and he played Texas Hold-em for about three hours, battling weak cards and very competent players, ending up $40 down when it was time to hit the road for home. Paul was playing at Binion’s, perhaps the oldest operating casino in Las Vegas and a home base for good card players, who prefer it to the squares-infested family casinos on the Strip. He held his own, and knew when to fold ’em. Now it’s 3:51 p.m., we’re twenty miles from Baker, hazy skies, silence in the Hawks Suburban rolling downhill with minimally effective AC. Music would churn the delicate innards of the two Hawks party animals. Time to reflect, and fill in a narrative gap.
It just wasn’t quite right. A lone truck stop emporium on a yellow and green hills offramp promised great things. Cool and refreshing things. Which we did purchase. But it wasn’t right. We merged with the southern flow, and were gone.
Utah is robust. Many people work hard here but don’t waste time pondering their existence or questioning their national government save some generalized boiler plate rumblings. The heat as the sun headed to its western bed was charged with hard working energy, and a breeze urged action, action, action. And action we acted upon, charging 85 mph down I-15, our 8 cylinders pumping at a speed and intensity that would kill us if we could grasp it, like gazing into the face of God. We are agents of a Great Destiny, each a grain of causality and consciousness, in a dance to that final edge. May we meet upon that other shore.Nevada is energy gone mad and depraved, an orgy of fossil fueled grinning self immolation, a faithful floor show tribute to Satan on wet t shirt night. And it’s luring us through sheer indifferent application of gravitational attraction to our dreams and daring. Everyone’s a gambler, especially those who won’t play the game.
You got to know when to hold em
When to fold em
Know when to walk
Know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sitting at the table
There’ll be time enough for counting
When the dealin’s done
We’ve got $39.99 rooms reserved at the Four Queens, and we don’t know what’s going to happen. Nightfall is complete on this lonely Utah highway.
The Hawks guardian angel guardianship continues. The generosity of the people who booked us into their clubs, promoted the shows, put us up in their homes, fed us, entertained us, shared windows into their lives with us–is overwhelming. I hope we bring this spirit back into Los Angeles, which could always use a massive injection of mountain manners and magic.
We just left Jocelyn’s house in Jackson adjacent Wilson. Jocelyn, her husband, and daughter lead lives of quiet majesty in the land that is now their soul. They look to forbidding winter’s 20 below with excitement, because then they’re outdoors all the time, skiing over the snow blanketed mountains, foothills, and meadows. The meadows in Jackson are sublime, green and wet, new homeland of elk, surroundings sculpted by the Grand Architect, a dialogue in altitude between two heaven reaching zones. The Tetons are a doctrine-obliterating master sculpture, each peak with its own personality,
destiny, and inner fire. The Tetons are only 9,000 years old, the equivalent of a five month old baby in geological time. My sister Mary’s favorite peak is (?), a block like monolith that counterpoints the heavenward spikes of surrounding mountains. Mary and Jocelyn are old friends, and they know the bond of wilderness experience. It’s a precious thing. Joycelyn’s husband and their daughter are today rafting the Salmon River in Idaho, a region of so few roads that it’s called the River Of No Return.
The Hawks stepped into Jocelyn’s studio as they were leaving, uninvited but sure we would find a kindred spirit inside, and we did. She is a mistress and high priestess of watercolor,.At last the heat wave has broken. Just after our gig in Jackson a blast of Arcic air had landed. The temperature plummeted to 40 F. Our readers will remember that it was123F in Baker at the beginning of our journey. An 83F degree swing. PL bravely chose to sleep out amoung the stars. It only took him 20 minutes to zip up his sleeping bag, and then he was out till morning. Shawn slept in a vintage aluminum trailer out behind the house. He claims he woke up at one point and watched his breath for a while. PM and RW climbed the tall and frightening ladder to the upper loft. The indoor Hawks slept fitufully, shocked but thankful for the sudden change in the weather.
On a mid-afternoon Monday we’ll call, say, July 18, the Hawks raced south from Pocatello,
Idaho on four lane I-15. How far to Salt Lake? How far to Mesquite? Vegas? Where will we spend the wee hours? Two hopeful events: dinner at the Red Iguana in Salt Lake, and staking Paul Marshall to a poker game somewhere in Nevada. The road is clear, the Idaho hills are brown and yellow, the fields an irrigated green, hard working homes, trailers, corrugated buildings dig into the landscape. It’s heated up from the Wyoming side over Teton Pass, and it’s going to get hotter. Or not.
Another guardian angel to send a shout out out to, saviour on our way out of Jackson Hole: a mechanic of few words who opened the Suburban hood and fixed our air conditioning malfunction in a matter minutes, and refused to take any cash. We gave him a Hawks CD, and he told us he plays banjo, so we hope he digs our songs. South, south, south, sage and hills. We figure out we’ve played in 17 states. A free admission to Coles and a free back rub from Shawn to anyone who can name the 17 United States of Hawks: contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
letters to the editor
Hey, Stonecutter, you may remember me, I got into kind of a hassle with you at the Milkweg in Amsterdam, 1977, it was a Herbie Hancock/Jorma Kaukonen show, and you sat on the blanket I’d laid to save my spot, I came back from scoring some righteous Nepalese Temple Ball, was ready to fly, and I had to deal with you, but you convinced me that scarcity is an illusion, and we shared my blanket and Temple Ball, and I turned you onto the Sleep-in, and I recall you crashed there for several weeks until they figured out you stayed way past the three day limit.
Anyhoo, I still dig the earthen pottery, it’s the best, wondering if you still fire up, I know a lot of folks gave it up in the 90’s, a lot of the good ones, but I’m still keeping the faith, filling the soul with strong, multicolor vibes that shine through my smile in the park.Rock on, see you on the other side,
As almost any sensible Milkweg ’77 attendant knew, blankets were communal and up for grabs. You were the bummer, my man. It was a post-private property gathering from its inception, largely funded and promoted by the Dutch Communist Party. Only a total dumbass would freak about about a blanket, bro.
To answer your other question, yes I am still active in the earthen pottery community. I teach a class on porcelein three times a week in an abandoned 19th century toilet factory in upstate New York. Stop in if you’d like to patch things up. Yours,
All blessings and light to you, as we enter the time of change.I know the gold within you, as well as the acrid mercury accompanying its extraction.
I am your sister.
I will hold a space for you, a space of emptiness, and you will abide. Sister Hannah Of The Sky
Dear Sister Hannah,
I remember you so fondly. We sat by the fire in the Sedona and you sang Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night.” Well not only did you help me through the night you helped me through my four long years in Arizona. I’ll never return, as I’m sure you know but to you my spirit shall return always.
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We climb acoustic mountains. We bush wack through the thickest sound anomalies of the most diverse rooms in different cities, different states, different spiritual locales. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it’s damn hard work. Tonight we had to discover and play at enough volume to drown out the room’s natural echo without overhwelming the ears of the audience and/or the band. It was damn precise work. Difficult work. But we did it. We measured the acoustic characteristics of the room and delivered what had to be delivered–and overwhelmed the audience’s ears. Very loud turned out to the the appropriate volume.
Bandidos is an enlightened space, what would be called a sacred or higher consciousness spot in books on religion, but bars have their spiritual aspect too. It’s a sprawling brick building with a rough stone foundation, built in the 19th century and with many identities over time, including a mortuary (bodies were stored in the winter in spaces through the foundation into the earth). Owners and guardian angels Scott and Amy have created a remarkable restaurant and bar, with the best mojitos, steak, and halibut overall composite rating perhaps on planet Earth. The whole staff is brimming with intelligence and good will, and they know how to have fun. RW and PL realized that they weren’t prepared for such a combo, being thoroughly trained by L.A. to view a smile with suspicion. But they got over it. The crowd wasn’t huge, but they danced all night, and the Hawks became kind of a rock band, volume being the key ingredient, turned way up. We played Mike Stinson’s “Take Out The Trash” and it was the #1 dance tune by a landslide, with everyone up on the floor.
Stinson can rock by proxy. This is mountain country after all and a twelve pack of Coors Light is never far away. Mike’s spirit hung in the warm July air above the room, marking it’s approval with a ghosty Virginia chuckle only we could hear.
Later, young Siberian named Ole really dug the band. We whilred and whirled to the music. On a work/study visa, he was drinking as much as he possibly could before having to return to the fierce Russian steppes. I said, “Good luck back in Russia” and he laughed hard as if I was making a black sarcastic joke. We saw him walking/stumbing his bike back up the main street atr 3 AM. Ole, I hope you make it.
John Denver is a bit of a hero of ours. Right up to the end when he nose-dived the experimental light aircraft into the Pacific. We believe that at the moment he was humming the tune to one of his timeless melodies. Was it “Country Road,” “Annie’s Song,” “Rocky Mountain High,” “I’m Sorry (For the Way Things Are in China)?” Well, we have driven all this way to pull inspiration from the very same hills and peaks that fueled his epic career. And it’s working. This is the land of no unpleasant vistas. In Los Angeles we consume quantities of mental energy blotting out a landscape of urban greed and low ethics, near hostility to the notion of creating beauty. Out here mother nature rules, and human detritus barely marks the hills, valleys, crests, and rumbling distant peaks.
An hour’s drive from Bozeman through rainshadows and rainbows on aforementioned valleys and peaks brought us to a gem of human detritus, Virginia City, Montana, once the capital of this blessed state after the biggest gold boom in America, before a second gold rush somewhere else stole the capitalship away. The town is as if frozen in time, with a pristine 1876 courthouse and beautifully preserved old wood frame houses lining the highway and climbing the dirt road hills. —–