Will The Circle Be Unbroken?

11 October 2011

 

 

We are on Okinawa Sunday 16 October.

 

The first time I came to this island was 27 July 1946, sixty five years ago. We were the first American children on Okinawa.

 

Look where we left from, Fort Mason, San Francisco. I taught music there at Blue Bear School of Music in the 1980s.

 

Notice that the trip to Okinawa took two weeks on the USS David Shanks.

 

Years later, in 1958, we returned to Okinawa, and, when we left in 1960, my father, an Air Force officer, was stationed at Hamilton Field, Novato, California. This is the base hospital. I think my brother Stephen was born here.

He said, “Yes, you can.”

 

An auto repair shop on Okinawa in the 1960s.

 

It was an adventure being on Okinawa both times, and, of course, I am thrilled to be back. 1946, 1958 and 2011. This island has meant much to me.

 

In my next week’s writing there will be many photographs of the island as it is today.

 

David LaFlamme (It’s A Beautiful Day) and I at The Whisky a Go Go, Hollywood, California.

 

Elise Piliwale and Lizzie looking out at the rain.

 

John Dylan Whitcomb Myler learning the tricks of the trade from his father.

 

We did a play called Love, Janis, together. Well, he wrote and directed it and I was the music director. A great experience.

 

Okinawa 1960, the last time I was here. Jimmy Grant, Larry Henson (my rhythm guitar player in The Cool Notes) and Jim Mason. So I have returned after 50 years, probably the largest closing of a circle in my life.

 

Cathy Richardson and Mary Bridget Davies who did Love, Janis, with us.

 

Duking it out with James Gurley.

 

Vesper who has excellent social skills. She’s a dynamo.

 

I see her almost every day across the street from this mannikin.

 

My father (Andrew) at the Okinawa “Officers’ Club,” 1946.

 

These guys are on the other side of the world, Europe in 1944, near some jumping off place.

 

Mädl. She lives somewhere below.

 

With her.

 

It was difficult to leave Okinawa in 1960. We formed serious attachments there and really never got over the place.

 

I began university that year and we all went to the Surf Theatre in San Francisco to see such films as Otto e Mezzo (8 1/2). Marcello Mostroianni didn’t care much for Anita Ekberg, but he loved Anouk Aimée. I was right there with him on that one.

 

 

Alton Kelley, Gretchen Golden and Yossarian Kelley in an iconic photograph by Irving Penn.

 

This is that baby Yossarian as a man. He looks like his father.

 

L’Avventura, La Dolce Vita, Il Divorzio all’Italiana, Le Chien Andalou, Viridiana,  La Strada, Rocco e i suoi Fratelli, Giulietta di Spiriti, Throne of Blood, Rashomon, Woman of the Dunes, Street of Shame, Zéro de Conduite, Au Bout de Souffle,  The Horse’s Mouth, A Taste of Honey,  and, three or four years later in that same Surf Theatre, Hard Day’s Night, were an education for us, as important as classes at school. More important perhaps.

 

Big Brother and the Holding Company saw Hard Day’s Night in that same theatre, the same night, as The Charlatans, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Country Joe and the Fish. We were on our way.

 

School was out.

 

Forever.

 

Nick Gravenites remembers a lot about James Gurley from 1961, 62, 63. I love hearing these stories.

 

Tom Finch’s daughter, Makenna, named for Makena Beach, Maui, where I lived with James Gurley off and on for a couple of years.

 

Allen Ginsberg on a beach in Japan shortly after I left Okinawa.

 

Among the first 1000 to die in Iraq. I thought I could paint them all.

 

Big Brother opens for Quicksilver.

 

Elise Piliwale and I in our avatar phase. Study for a painting.

 

Joel Jaffe, a prince among men, runs Studio D in Sausalito, California, and Matt W. helps him a lot.

 

We did a recording session with the woman who is the most illuminated, Shiho-san. She is a big star in Japan, and she is on Okinawa this week.

 

Joel with some of his other friends, Maria Muldaur, Joan Baez and Jane Fonda.

 

Andra Mitrovich, so beautiful, so warm, so great with an audience.

 

On Don Aters’ porch in Kentucky.

 

Our home town guitar player Tom Finch with his daughter Makenna and wife Tara Coyote-Finch.

 

Etak is a good guitar player too.

 

Chris Leighton ! Patti Allen-Lehman ! Hot stuff. Chris is such a great drummer. We had some beautiful gigs together. With Chris on drums it was always like, “Hey! This is the big time.”

 

Our little friends. We put these people on the inside of an album cover, and I wish we had done this on every recording we did.

In many cases here, most cases, really, this is the only image of these people we have.

 

Norton and I wrote a couple of songs together. One of these days I will find that tape. Norton and Lisa Buffalo.

 

We’ll see you next week with some photographs of today’s Okinawa.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company

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