In Praise of Bobby Faust

I’m trying to think of where it was that I first met Bobby Faust. It must have been at a party with the 6th Street crew down in the East Village somewhere, probably at Terry and Dave’s apartment. He was part of the Rainbow Family when I joined up and came over to the 8th Cannabis Cup to play the role of the caterpillar in the Alice in Wonderland On Weed fantasy that Garrick Beck had written just for the event.

When I started planning the first World Hemp Expo Extravaganja (Whee!), Bobby quickly made himself an essential part of that operation, in effect becoming one of the original founding members of the Temple Dragon Crew. I didn’t realize at the time Bobby had a very strong connection with the Merry Pranksters, apparently having first met up with that crew at Woodstock.

Funny how many of us were actually at that first Woodstock festival, including me, Bobby and Fantuzzi. The whole reason I planned for Whee! to happen in Eugene, Oregon, was so we could pull the Pranksters into the movie, which was to re-start the non-violent hippie counterculture by uniting all the greatest shamans we could find, a list that included the Gaskins, the Pranksters, John Trudell, John Sinclair, Paul Krassner and a few others. I assembled an army of over 200 volunteers to build hippie disneyland on a shoestring in an empty field. I thought we were well on our way to healing the sickness infecting America with our positive vibrations.

Bobby was my right-hand man at the second Whee. For some reason, I’d decided I didn’t want to sit at Mission Control this time and supervise the stage for a second year. Instead, I wanted to prowl around and check on all the problems and issues everywhere on site and make sure grifters and hoodwinkers weren’t running amok. I spent most of my time checking for wristbands because the venue didn’t have a proper fence and anyone could easily sneak in. My objective was to give away wristbands to anyone who actually couldn’t afford one, but also collect admission from those that could.

Because of his short stature, Bobby often had trouble getting around, but once I gave him a golf cart he could drive with no problems, he became one of the hardest working members of the crew, buzzing around the venue solving all sorts of problems all day and night.
Later on, when the Pranksters invited me onto the Grandfurther Tour, which was their historic second trip across America and into Canada, Bobby joined me and Andre and 622 on that incredible adventure. The Pranksters were happy to see me, but overjoyed to see Bobby. In fact, Kesey considered Bobby one of the most magical people he’d ever met and he told me so.

When it came time to visit a Phish show, we found out where the lines were because the Pranksters and Bobby got in free and became part of the improvisational show Kesey put on, his way of telling Phish they were the new Dead Tour. Meanwhile, Andre, 622 and I had to buy tickets into the show and then sneak backstage, where we climbed up to the top of Further and just hung out there for most of the show.

Unfortunately, Bobby had a stroke and passed over at 11 am on February 3, 2014. This news comes two days after I learn Rene Ricard also unexpectedly died from a brain tumor. What can I say, this is shaping up to be a somewhat painful year.

Me & My Meditations

SRI PADA, SRI LANKA

As an infant, I was trained to get on my knees every night by the side of my bed, clasp my palms together with fingers extended upward and say the same prayer every night. Only I always had a queasy feeling about that prayer….”if I should die before I wake.” Why even bring up that concept? Something just didn’t feel right. I mean, don’t you get what you ask for?

Can you imagine if millions of kids went to bed every night in that same position across the world saying: “Now I lay me down for the night, I pray my friends will never fight, a day will come we’ll all live in peace, and all these negative energies will finally cease.”

How long would it take to manifest world peace if we got something like that going in a major way I wonder? I doubt many of the religious institutions will pick up on this idea, however, much less spread it to their congregations.

I was in the 6th or 7th grade when my older brother finally clued me into the fact our Lutheran upbringing was basically a Santa Claus story. I was absolutely furious. “Why the hell didn’t you tell me sooner?” I snarled. I felt like I’d been walking around acting a fool believing some white-haired dude lived in heaven and was watching over me? It shattered not only my religious faith, but also my faith in my parents to tell me the truth, although my mom was real sheepish about the whole fiasco when I confronted her and said she’d only pretended to go along to please my dad’s parents who’d grown up in south-eastern Kansas. They went to their graves believing in that white-haired dude in the clouds.

I didn’t deal much with religion or spirituality for a long time after that and was basically a punk for many years with no moral foundation. It wasn’t until I was sitting on the hill on Yasgur’s Farm that I finally got zapped. Probably Wavy Gravy helped that process since he was the main emcee and what a wonderful job he did.

But the 1970s was a terrible time for my generation, at least those of us that choose to fight against the establishment. We were herded off on a trail to nowhere, and gradually watched our entire scene diminish and fade away. But it didn’t fade away. Around 1990, I went to my first National Rainbow Family Gathering, and plugged back into that spirit I’d felt at Woodstock in 1969.

I went to a lot of gatherings after that and even organized many on my own, only I called mine the World Hemp Expo Extravaganjas (WHEE!). I had started the concept with the clinical “World Hemp Expo,” but Ken Babbs told me it would be a million times better with another “e” on the end so it sounded like fun. The fun vibe was my main trail at the time and always had been. Babbs and Wavy were both Pranksters, although Wavy just dropped in for a brief time before starting his own group, the Hog Farm.

When Abby from Daily Beast interviewed me, I started talking about the people I’ve known and studied under, a list that includes John Cage, Julian Beck, Jasper Grootveld, Ken Kesey, and Wavy Gravy. This is basically the whos-who of Improvisational Ritual Theater, the art form they pioneered and I struggle to keep alive even though most people don’t know it exists and a some people even claim I’m a fraud mouthing a bunch of mumbo-jumbo and have no art at all? Abby had never heard of Wavy Gravy, but I think she did recognize John Cage. Maybe not. Her interview has yet to appear, which makes me think the bosses on high killed her story on 420.

Anyway, after I started going to gatherings, I’d usually be the first one up on peace meditation day, often a Sunday, or in the case of the National, always on July 4th. There’d be silence throughout the camp that morning until noon. I’d be the one who got up before dawn, however, in order to be the first at the peace pole, so I could sit there for hours, burning incense, taking a few hits of pot every hour or so, but focused on one thought, please bring an end to violence and the suffering it creates, and keep that thought until the OM broke out at noon, followed by a big drum circle and dance.

I know both John Lennon and George Harrison approached meditation the same way. When they discovered it, they’d chant for hours until both lost their vocal cords and had to stop.

Does this meditation have any positive effect? Well, it always leaves me feeling cleansed and energized. I’m always very sad to leave the natural world after living in a forest as an environmental monk for a few weeks. And I look and act like a road dog for a few days before I morph back into my Babylon identity.