Family Rambles

1 May 2011



Elise in her modeling days. Can you tell she’s Hawaiian?


The reign of Tutankhamun was a “return to normalcy.” After the wild, liberalizing years of Akhenaten, the boy king reversed Akhenaten’s reforms. He changed his name from Tutankhaten to Tutankhamun, “Living Image of Amun,” signaling a return to Egypt’s traditional religion.


Ted Ashford, Mike Pendergrass, Dave Getz, Kathi McDonald, Peter Albin, Sam Andrew. Big Brother and the Holding Company, 1970s version.


William Marcy “Boss” Tweed, the Grand Sachem of Tammany Hall, died of pheumonia in the jail that he as a member of the city’s Board of Supervisors, had authorized to be built in 1859. Ludlow Street at Essex Market Place, 12 April 1878.


Alexa Patton, daughter  of my brother Bill’s daughter Gabrielle.


The future always looks rosy in LaLaLand. Of course, no one can remember the past, so no need to worry about that.


The good guys always wear white hats. Peter Albin.


In a cancer cell, the genetic material has for some reason been changed and that cell can grow abnormally, uncontrollably and invasively. Caner cells can form a tumor and cells from that tumor can break off and travel by blood to other parts of the body. This is called metastasis. The thing to find out is why or how that original genetic material has been changed.


Quick sketch.


The Washington Arch in Washington Square, New York City, like The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, was originally a temporary structure of wood and plaster. Everyone liked the Arch so much that money was raised to make the Arch permanent. I played under this Arch with several musicians and two dancers many times.


Kari Borle, my brother Lee’s daughter.


“I woiuld have made a good pope.”  Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994)


Automobile, 1980s.


From the Hebrew for “faint,” chalosh, comes the word chaloshes. A chaloshes meal is disgusting, revolting, nauseating. You know, kind of like how Gefilte Fisch looks.


Diana Andrew, Dan’s daughter, lives in Tennessee.


Even though the District of Columbia is not a state and has only a nonvoting delegate in the House of Representatives, the Twenty-third Amendment, ratified in 1961, gave district residents the right to vote for the president and gave the district electoral votes equivalent to those of the least populous state.


Seriously geeky dudes, but they weren’t geeky enough so they had to form a barbershop quartet. I love four part harmony. Okinawa, Japan.


I will always cherish the first impressions that I had of what’s her name.


Narada Michael Walden and Lynn Asher. I love two part harmony also.


The De Young Museum, San Francisco, is covered with thousands of copper plates, each embossed with designs based on the shadows cast by Golden Gate Park’s canopy of trees. This pattern should become apparent as the copper takes on a green patina in a few years (say, 2015). I’m not sure i quite understand the layout of the new De Young yet. Maybe after twenty more visits?


My sister Lillian’s son Paul Bullis. And the beat goes on.


The sphinx often combines the body of a lion with the head of a human, although ram- and falcon-headed sphinxes (sphinges?) are known. I remember reading a Scientific American article years ago which posited that the sphinx form occurs naturally in the desert where the wind carves the rock, and that the Egyptians merely capitalized on this happy accident when they made the sphinx.


The view from The Hawaiian Village actually looked like this once. 1957.


Sloth, the trait, not the animal, is one very terrible weakness. It engenders many of the other vices that flesh is heir to.


Can you believe how good looking they are? Ben Nieves and Sophia Ramos. Guitar player and singer with Big Brother and the Holding Company.


At the Chambers Street subway station, Chambers and Hudson Streets, New York City, on 22 December, 1984, electrical engineer, Bernhard Goetz, shot four African-American teenagers on an IRT subway train as it pulled into the station. Goetz claimed that they had tried to rob him. One teen was paralyzed and brain damaged. Goetz walked up to him and, although he was already bleeding from a wound, said, “You don’t look too bad, here’s another.” The jury awarded the teen $ 43 million in damages. Bernie Goetz lived in the same building on 14th Street, Manhattan, as Myra Friedman, an old Big Brother and the Holding Company friend, and biographer of Janis Joplin. Myra knew Bernie well. Crime and Race in America. To say there are no easy answers is vastly to understate the situation.


The Woman Problem. I love titles like this.


Mike Wallace: “Why do so many jazz greats seem to die so early?”

Billie Holliday: “I want to bend this note, bend that note, sing this way, sing that way, and get all the feeling, eat all the good foods, and travel all over all in one day, and you can’t do it.”


Here is a man who lives the life he sings about in his song. Tom Finch exemplifies The Age of Aquarius. Truly a good person. He plays guitar too. Quite well.


This is what a pretentious drummer once misquoted to me, both as to source and to actual words:

Reporter: What is jazz?

Louis Armstrong: “Man, if you gotta ask, you’ll never know.”


These islands are to the southeast of Okinawa, Japan. Elise’s father Lui Piliwale  iives on Saipan.


The B vitamin AKA The Enabler:

B1 present in whole grains, nuts, legumes, helps the body release engery from carbohydrates.

B2 whole grains and leafy vegetables helps body release energy from  fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

B3 (niacin) helps release energy from glucose, present in whole grains, fish, dairy products.


Elizabeth Andrew, my brother Stephen’s daughter.


American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West to Columbus Avenue, and West 77th to West 81st Streets, Manhattan.  Radiolariia are here. Apatosaurus lurks.


Cheryl Little Deer. She was a living example of an ancient Chinese curse: May you be born a beautiful woman. I loved her.


A shandeh far di goyim is behavior that is a shame for the gentiles to have to see. Yiddish.


Grace Walton and Anthony Vitale, my sister Paula’s son.


Although the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, the courts have ruled that there are legitimate limits to that freedom. The government may ban libel, restrict obscenity, and punish words that present a “clear and present danger.” The Roberts/Scalia/Clarence Thomas Supreme Court has ruled that corporations have the same freedom of speech that individuals do. Shameful and almost as corrupt as the gift to George W. Bush of the Presidency when he had lost the popular vote, and, very likely, the electoral vote as well.


Two great singers, Mary Bridget Davies and Koko Taylor.


Roos House, 3500 Jackson Street, at Locust Street, San Francisco. Bernard Maybeck designed this house in 1909. Leon Roos was a philanthropist who gave California its first seeing-eye dog. His father helped found Roos Brothers, clothiers. When I first went to university, I wore clothes from Roos/Atkins, as did every single other callow youth of that period.


Cathy who lives to the west of Saipan.


The situation is so strange in the theatre today, that an actor is lucky to be miscast.


Ben Nieves and Sam Andrew demonstrating the passion that has enabled them to win the tractor pull in several states.


The Early Dynastic Period in Egypt dates from 3,000 years BCE, or quite a bit longer than we are now living after Christ. This period following the emergence of Egypt as a unified kingdom evolved social and religious institutions that would endure for more than three thousand years. I love the art of Egypt, but especially Coptic Art, characterized by beautiful portraits done in encaustic in the Hellenistic period in Egypt.


This is how Dr. John plays Tipitina. The magic happens in those sixteenth note triplets.


At 350 Fifth Avenue, New York City, on 12 December 1900, Mark Twain introduced Winston Spencer Churchill to an American audience in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Ballroom. “He is the son of an English father and an American mother… behold the perfect man.” Twain wrote an autograph to Churchill: “To do good is noble; to teach others to do good is nobler, and no trouble.”


James Gurley at The House of Blues, Hollywood. James was kicking out the james that night.


All right then, I’ll say it. Norman Mailer makes me ill. Go ahead, ask me, i want to hear it. Who is Norman Mailer? Mwahhhaaahhhaahha.


Why this girl is as pretty as Sophia Ramos. Could it be because they are related? i love her hands.


“I don’t want realism, I want magic!”  Blanche DuBois. (Tennessee Williams)


Bruce Harrah-Conforth, Sam Andrew and Michel Bastian.


Oliver Rousseau built a beautiful series of houses in the Sunset District, San Francisco, 1930s. Henry Doelger built the largest number of them, but Rousseau built the most elaborate, with façades that suggest chateaux, Tudor half timbers, castles in Spain with balconies, grillwork and tiles. Practical and comfortable with living areas above the garage, light bringing atria, step down living rooms and open beamed ceilings. These are works of art for the Irish/Italian, and now Chinese, firemen, plumbers and other working class people who live in them.


Kacee Clanton and Vie Le in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.


In 1938, the Supreme Court ruled that the government must provide counsel for defendants in federal court trials who cannot pay for counsel.


Las plumas. The feathers.


Litvak/Galitzianer: The center of the Litvak world was Vilna (Lithuania), the Jerusalem of the north, a world of study, logic, intellect. Galitzianers lived in Galicia, Austrian Poland, center of prayer and emotions. To Litvaks, Galitzianers were irrational and uneducated. To Galitzianers, Litvaks were dry and cold fish. So it goes. We all need someone to look down on.


Joel Hoekstra is tall, so Tim Robbins must be REALLY tall.


Those California cuisine restaurants where the food is a work of art on the plate? How many hands created this, how many fingers?


Kari Borle lives in Brainerd, Minnesota.


The Flatiron Building, Fifth Avenue, Broadway and East 23rd Street, Manhattan, is an antique now. She was built 1901-1903, and was called The Fuller Building. There is a flatiron building in every city that i know of, even San Rafael, California. Big Brother and the Holding Company used to live near the Flatiron Building at The Chelsea Hotel between 7th and 8th Avenues on 23rd.


Very fine guitar player, Chad Quist.


Some antibiotics work by restricting the growth of bacterial cell walls. The bacteria’s increasing mass can no longer be kept intact by its cell wall, and its contents spill out of the cell. Human cells are unharmed since they do not have cell walls. Antibiotics are made from natural substances that micro-organisms produce to hinder other orgnaisms’ growth. Penicillin, for example is derived from a fungal mold.


A dream is a wish that your heart makes.


“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Frederick Douglass.


I did this one very quickly and without thinking.


Momzer is Hebrew for an illegitimate child, but it is used in Yiddish for a mean-spirited individual, bitter, vengeful, hurtful, negative, a farbissener. Frau Farbissener in Austin Powers would really be a farbisseneh which is the female version. Gey in drerd, Momzer.


Joan Getz, chanteuse stylistique.


Clark Walker and Stanley Mouse, Petaluma, California, 2009.


The only way to remove a Supreme Court justice is by impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate.


“Which is more musical; a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing by a music school?”      John Cage 1912-1992


My father and I out by the oil derricks.


The Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill, San Francisco, restored by julia Morgan after the 1906 earthquake. Silver baron James G. Fair’s daughter Tessie replaced his mansion with a hotel. You have to see the Tonga Room in this hotel to believe it. Total kitsch, psychedelic Pacificana. Big Brother and the Holding Company were in the lobby of this hotel for the film Petulia starring Julie Christie and George C. Scott, actually a very good film.


She haunts me from across the street while I am painting.


Irving Berlin died at his longtime East Side home, 17 Beekman Place, 22 September 1989. He was 101 and he was the Howard Hughes of show business. Irving Berlin played everything in F#. He had a piano specially made so he could play in that key but could choose how it would sound in the other keys.


During Akhenaten’s reign in the fourteenth century BCE, the Aten became the one deity officially worshipped in Egypt. Akhenaten ordered that references to other deities be deleted from Egyptian monuments.


Francis Ford Coppola, Marlon Brando and Bill Graham. You notice Bill is doing the talking. That’s a shock.


I’ve only met two perfect people in my life and I didn’t like either one of them.


The preternaturally lovely Dana Anderson, Jim Nichols, a prince among men, and i am sorry I forget this person’s name. She’s cute, though.


The five basic tastes are bitter, sweet, salty, sour and imari, a Japanese word for the taste associated with monosodium glutamate.


Dandy Barrett was the star of our high school class on Okinawa, Japan. She was talented in many directions, and I always wondered what happened to her.


We all know how to get to Carnegie Hall. It’s at 156 West 57th Street in Manhattan and it was built in 1889-1990. I like 57th Street. I used to go to The Art Students’ League, across the street and farther west, to draw from live models. Big Brother and the Holding Company rehearsed at The Steinway Building, also across the street in 1968.


This is a good man and a great photographer, David Peters, San Rafael, California.


“Avoid running at all times.”   Satchel Paige  1906-1982


My friend Ayris Hatton sculpted this at the same time and from the same model as I did when I made the work called Donatella. Ayris’ version is more true to life, and i like the color of clay that she used.


One sure way to invite inspiration into your life. Work regularly at what you are doing, even a little bit a day is good. This makes a good, nourishing environment for inspiration to come and stay.


In the Netherlands with real Netherlanders. This was a good band. 2003.


I asked an Israeli once if people in his country spoke much Yiddish. He practically spat. “Yiddish is a dead language,” he snarled. I understood his contempt because Yiddish is, after all, a dialect of German. The Yiddish word Mentsh is the same as German Mensch. Both mean “human being” and both can have further, more complex meanings. “Yeder mentsh hat zein eigeneh pekl,” a Yiddish saying is perfectly understandable to a German speaker. “Each person has his own pack.”


Jan Sullivan and Elise Piliwale.


When I was about twenty, I returned from Europe, and I was sitting on a bench one day in Santa Monica. There were two women on the other side and they were speaking a very strange German. I understood it, but couldn’t place the dialect. Yes, it was Yiddish. It took me years to realize that.


Murphy’s Law, Photo Division. Have you noticed yet that in a group of people on Facebook, every single person will be identified except for the one who is by far the best looking? (Jeff Beck just put out a wonderful CD with Joss Stone, interesting sounds.)


All congressional districts should be the same size, but for many years state legislatures gave more representation to large, sparsely populated rural districts than to smaller, heavily populated urban districts. In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled that all legislative districts must be equal in population.


Peter Albin and Karen Lyberger.


“The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.”   Hannah Arendt  1906-1975


Jennifer Espinoza is getting cuter all the time and her bass playing, always good, is becoming ever more proficient. If she keeps this up, she’s going to make a big noise. I am going to ask her to sing a gig with us in June.


The Haas-Lilienthal House, 2007 Franklin Street, San Francisco. William Haas made his money in the grocery business and built this house. His daughter Alice married Samuel Lilienthal and shared the house with William’s widow after 1916. The house was saved from the 1906 firestorm when firefighters blasted a firebreak along Van Ness Avenue.


With the Minnesota Andrews. Edie, Jason, Kirsten Amundson, and Lee.


This is about Clinton Hart Merriam (1855-1942) who was a naturalist:

His field work in the West gradually concentrated on the great state of California not only because it offered many interesting problems but because more than anywhere else his passionate love for forests and mountains was gratified. He explored every nook and corner of it and finally built himself a home in the depths of the redwoods of Marin County near the village of Lagunitas. This house now belongs to one of the Haas family.

Big Brother and the Holding Company are sitting on the porch of this home here.


Steve, Zia, Elise. Beautiful people.


From LIFE magazine 1939. All over the world in the 1930s and 40s there was the cult of the Strong Man. People felt some kind of need for a strong leader. This was the only time we elected a President to three terms. Fascism appealed to a lot of people. This was a close call. These are Americans here. We have to watch out right now, right here in this country because partisanship is becoming more extreme every day. This Fascism is a right wing disease, but, remember, Joseph Stalin came from the left. We need to keep our feelings calm and keep our faith in each other.


Elliot Landy and his wife. Elliot took some very sweet photographs of a lot of well known people. Iconic photographs.


On 6 December 1965 at 213 Park Avenue South, bstween 17th and 18th Streets, Manhattan, Mickey Ruskin became owner of Max’s Kansas City, a restaurant (specialities: steak, lobster, dried chick peas) and music venue that would be the center of underground New york culture for the next sixteen years.


Adriana, really good artist, in Santa Barbara. She’s a sweetheart.


I was a regular at Max’s Kansas City for almost the entire time that it existed. The rest of Big Brother and the Holding Company had gone home to the West Coast, but I waved the freak flag in the 1970s with David Cohen, Larry Poons, Larry Rivers, David Bowie, Deborah Harry, Lou Reed, Andy Warhol, Divine, Iggy Pop, Sargent Shriver, Sid Vicious, Cary Grant, Television, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the New York Dolls, Tim Buckley, Patti Smith, and a cast of thousands, many of whom were far more interesting than anyone listed here, especially me.


Randal Myler and I watching tech rehearsals for Love, Janis.


Part of the Pacific Exposition in 1915. You can see The Palace of Fine Arts here on the left. It is the only building remaining out of all these. Hard to believe that THe Palace of Fine Arts was originally made out of papier maché. Later the building was remade with more durable materials.


David Rokeach, a fine drummer and a fine human being. Love, Janis rehearsals, San Francisco.


Trying to get a good look at my mother in Salt Lake City.


Happy Trails To You Till We Meet Again.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company





24 April 2011


Anyone who says he understands women is missing a great deal.


I was born in California because my mother wanted me to be near her.


Was it a good thing that Noah made the Ark? Hard to say sometimes.


Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow.


Happiness is good health and a short memory.


A life spent making mistakes is better and more industrious than a life spent doing nothing.


Catholic women are allowed to avoid pregnancy by mathematics, but not by physics.


Hamlet in Brooklyn:   To be…or fageddaboudit.


He never gave anyone a break and he didn’t have a kind word to say about anyone for forty years. No one measured up to his standards, except for him. You’ve got to admire a man like that.


California is a great place to live if you’re an olive.


Thank god for Congress. Otherwise we wouldn’t have a lot to laugh at these days.


If you’re going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country, like Monaco.


The only way I’m going to hear heavy breathing is if I run around the block.


Peace. That brief scary interval between this war and the next.


Mas vale tarde que nunca. It’s as hard to be late as it is to be on time.


Thanks to improved freeway systems worldwide it’s possible to travel everywhere and not see a damn thing.


Republicans think they know more than you ought to.


Barry Bonds and anyone else should be able to take any drug they want to. I mean, come on, he’s just a baseball player. Leave the poor guy alone.


Now Donald Trump is going to run and Sarah Palin is urging him on? Perfect.


Jack Teagarden and I played on the same tiny stage once. Okinawa, Japan.


Eat whatever you want. Just don’t swallow it.


If Jesus was Jewish, why did he have a Mexican name?


If you really take care of yourself, eat the right foods, get to sleep early, rise early, you could end your days being taken care of in a nursing home and living far longer than you really should.


I never had a sense of humor. What got me started in this whole business is that at an early age I could do a perfect imitation of Porky Pig.


Some, maybe most people become more interesting when they stop talking.

(Thank you, Dale Burkhardt, for this image.)


There is nothing so absurd but that some crazy musician has played it.


If you want to act like a man, act like a good man.

(Photo: Max Clarke)


Big Brother and the Holding Company play like King Kong one night and Fay Wray the next.


At my age, every new person I meet reminds me of someone else.


Rub a dub dub

Three men in a tub

And that’s on a slow night     (sign in a San Francisco bath house)


I don’t go to the gym. If I’m going to die, I want to be sick.


Bad spellers of the world Untie!


Happiness and even unhappiness are temporary, and often imaginary.


I stopped reading newspapers and I feel so much better now.


At one point I did a lot of gigs with Peter Tork. He’s so famous my grandmother has seen him on television.


Sex is no one’s business except for the one and a half people involved.


See how long you can go without thinking of yourself.


The other side also has another side.


The shortest distance between two points often has orange cones on it.


Watch out for number one, but really watch out for number two.


I have spent a lifetime reading the classics and I am not even going to have enough time to read all of those. Why would I read a best seller?


She stayed longer in five minutes than most people do in three days.


Belief in the hereafter is not what I’m here after.


I wonder how much of what I say is actually true.


Frank Sinatra? How to explain what another age found miraculous? Nat King Cole and Ray Charles, from almost his same era, could each of them sing a jazz standard far better than he could. What was all that fuss about?


If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.


A loud, screaming baby with a full diaper cannot with total honesty be regarded as a thing of joy and beauty.


A lot of things don’t happen at the right time and some don’t happen at all.


In books with mirrored covers, there is seldom much reflection.


I was so shocked to be born that I didn’t say anything coherent for almost a year.


Every morning I read the obituaries. If I’m not there, I pick up my guitar and start practicing.


I know two tunes. One of them is Piece of My Heart, and the other one isn’t.


It’s difficult to be sad when you’re eating pasta.


My eyesight is getting worse, so everything is starting to look more beautiful to me.


Those silly songs that get stuck in your head for days? Some people are like that.


If it’s just too crazy to say it, you can always sing it.


People who think they know everything are very annoying to those of us who really do.


Try to discount as much as you can both praise and blame.


If you go to Russia, take food and toilet paper. They have those things there, but it may take a while to find them.


A clear conscience is often the sign of a short memory.


A wise person is always beginning.



I’ll see you next week.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Enough Is Enough.

17 April 2011

Doris:     I’m a Jew. l was born a Jew. Do you hate me because of that?

Harry:     And if our parents converted to Catholicism a month before you

were born, we’d be Catholics. They’re clubs. They’re exclusionary. They foster the concept of “the other”…so you know who to hate.

Doris:     That’s enough!

Harry:     A question: lf a Jew gets massacred, does it bother you more than

if it’s a Gentile or a black or a Bosnian?

Doris:     Yes, it does. l can’t help it. lt’s my people.

Harry:     They’re all your people.

Doris:     Burt is right about you. You’re a self-hating Jew.

Harry:     l may hate myself, but not because l’m Jewish.

(Deconstructing Harry: Woody Allen)

President Obama needs to talk with Israel about the creeping settlements in “The Holy Land,” a misnomer if there ever was one. If any other nation were doing what Israel is to her neighbors, Israel would be the first to accuse. The occupation of Palestine –illegal, inhumane, and inconsistent with Jewish values –has lasted forty-four years and is only augmenting daily, yearly. Israel seems to think that the rest of the world is too preoccupied or too stupid to see that she is making an immoral land grab in The Middle East, and then blaming the people she robbed from when they finally protest in senseless and suicidal violence. This is a cowardly, calculating, cynical game and it’s time for it to cease.

The United Nations Security Council made a resolution condemning the Jewish settlements. The United States with characteristic lack of resolve, voted against the measure. Germany voted for it and Benjamin Netanyahu called the German Chancellor to complain. Angela Merkel replied,“How dare you? You are the one who has disappointed us. You haven’t made a single step to advance peace.”  Yes, it was Germany, and, yes, if anything she understated the case.

Prime Minister Natanyahu is not going to move from his present position. It is up to the other nations of the world to point out his egregious wrongdoing in this “settlement” matter. There are many Palestinians who have the keys to their houses, houses that they can see everyday, houses that Israel has taken from them and given to Israelis. Do you think this hurt is going to disappear just because many clever words have been used to disguise it? How would you like it if someone took your house and gave it to someone that you really don’t like?

There is a lot of unrest and revolution in The Middle East right now. Things are in flux. This is a good time to correct some wrongs that have existed a long time. The United Nations is considering a vote to welcome Palestine as a member whose territory includes all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. This may happen in September. Thoughfful fair minded Jews and concerned people everywhere know that Israel cannot keep encroaching on other peoples’ lands and goods without some kind of reckoning happening. Anyone with a brain, but especially with a heart, knows that there is something seriously wrong here, and that wrong will be corrected one way or another, no matter what specious arguments are put up to defend the status quo.

Israel has settled hundreds of thousands of her citizens inside the West Bank and East Jerusalem and acknowledges that she will have to withdraw from much of the land that she now occupies there. In the United States, The Republican Party, the deny evolution, deny climate change, deny Obama citizenship Republicans, are siding with Israel. Doesn’t this tell you something? Why are they siding with Israel? Because they believe every word in the “Bible,” and the Bible says that the Jews are God’s Chosen People and the Republicans want to be on the right side when The Rapture comes. I repeat. Doesn’t this tell you something?

Two things are sure: Israel has a right to exist and Palestine needs to be an independent state. I hope that when the time comes everyone can think clearly and make the right choices, and stop doing evil in “God’s name.” It would be best if Israel and Palestine could work this out by themselves and I fervently hope they will.

We wrote our own songs, played jazz and rock and roll, had a lot of gigs, cut a record. My first band The Cool Notes, with Jim Como who is now a studio player in London, and Marty Bonin who is probably a general in the United States Air Force by now.

Here’s to people who make toasts. And to beautiful women.

Janis Joplin and Peter Albin in our satin and velvet phase.

Jim Wall, Mary Bridget Davies and Ben Nieves surrounded by restless natives.

Vicenza, Italia.

That’s a loooonng engine under there. A straight 8, or a V 12.

Jym Fahey, the Snake, charismatic, musical, Irish Spring. Lucky Charms.

This was such a pretty place, Anapolis, Maryland. Peter Albin and Tom Finch.

Out of the Sighs, 2005. Graphite on paper.

Elise Piliwale. We had her birthday weekend and went to see Rock of Ages and the next day we heard Amy Goodman in San Francisco. It’s so much fun being with Elise. She has a vivid sense of humor, she’s sweet and very lively. Oh, yes, and an IQ of 144 doesn’t hurt either.

Janis Joplin in fine fettle.

My first groups were vocal ensembles. I love to sing those C Am F G7 songs.

Actually, I love to sing anything. Even thoughts that I have as I am walking down the avenue.

My brother Lee. He’s a helicopter man.

My friend Dario da Rold bought a new Chrysler 200. He’s happy with it, after a lifetime of owning Italian cars. OK, so now we know he’s assimilated.

Mary Ellen Loomis, Butch Brashear and Tom Powers entering this party on Okinawa with a mysterious flourish.

Doing an interview at my house, playing the Hummingbird guitar that Janis gave me.

Henry Kaiser’s lagoon and Hawaiian Village, 1957. Henry Kaiser recently came to sit in with us at George’s in San Rafael, and I think that is the back of a Kaiser there in the photo. My family owned one of these cars. Henry Kaiser, the guitar player, must be a grandson or great grandson.

Taking a rehearsal break at school. Larry Henson, guitar; Jim Como, alto saxophone; Marty Bonin, tenor; unidentified; Sam Andrew, guitar. We played all the time at school, at the beach, at parties, waiting for the bus. This was a real rock band, years before I played in Big Brother.

Lisa is such a great violinist, highly intelligent and very accomplished.

I say I am picking up litter here. My brother Bill says i am trying to look up someone’s skirt. Gee, I wonder who is right?

Assemblage, 1980s.

My brother Dan Andrew and his daughter Diana. I can almost hear Dan purring with pride here.

Janis Joplin getting a hand. Audiences loved Janis. They knew she was real.

Babs Reed, Bill Lawton, Rhoda Watson, Sam Andrew, Vicki Carlson, Bruce Read, Okinawa 1960. Not sure why we are in a lineup like this, but I loved all these people.

This is such a great photograph, isn’t it? Peter Albin.

My sister Lillian, Okinawa.

The Sam Andrew Band. Scott Matthews, Robin Sylvester, Peter Walsh, playing a benefit for The Haight Ashbury Medical Clinic at University of California, San Francisco.

Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, 1954, before it became a one way street.

Ben Nieves and i in Bethel, New York. The great thing about playing music in public is that you have so many things to attend to, plugging in cords, making sure that everything is in tune, knowing how long there is to play, the best shape for the set, what the amp is going to sound like, how closely the technical people are really monitoring everything, that there is no time for terror until the last split second before the performance begins. And then it’s too late. You have to do it.

Ye Royal Axmen. Rahman d’Amato and Tom Finch.

Waikiki from St. Louis Heights, 1957.

“In my neighborhood, if you’re dressed like that, you better be a hotel doorman.”  Fred Willard, Best In Show

Peter Kraemer at Aroma Café, 2011. Peter is unique. In every way.

Frank’s Corvette. One of my favorite shades of yellow. We’ve been through the whole “Hey, what is this, your second childhood?” thing, and it’s still a beautiful car.

Paul Bullis, Erin Homs and Stephen Andrew. One of these people could be the father of the others, and is the actual father on one of them.

Michael Joplin, Sam Andrew.

Laura Gomez on the right. I wrote a couple of songs about her.

Silvio 10 April 2011 (pen and ink).

My sisters and brothers, Paula, Stephen, Lillian and Dan.

Mary Bridget Davies, guitar player.

Jason Andrew, Kirsten Amundson, Lee & Edie Andrew, St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Switzerland’s version of a Woodstock. All healthy and beautiful.

Snooky Flowers at George’s, San Rafael, California.

Nancy Gurley breastfeeding Hongo Gurley and boogalooing at the same time.


I had an art show recently and George Fuller came to see me. We graduated from the same high school in Okinawa, Japan. George and I have been here in The Bay Area off and on for thirty years, and this is the first time i saw him since Okinawa. Odd, since we know many of the same people.

Lee Andrew, Bill Andrew, Sam Andrew, Terra Linda, California.

The Marin Town & Country Club, Fairfax, California, sitting here patiently awaiting a rebirth.

She comes and watches me paint at Aroma Café.

The always beautiful Elise Piliwale.

Kacee is shooting us.

Paula Andrew, my pretty sister. Sweet and smart too.

Joel Hoekstra’s extremely pared down effects board. When Elise and i saw Rock of Ages last weekend, we noted that the guitar player, who had learned his part from Joel, was using many of the master’s mannerisms and movements, especially at the conclusion of the show. Encore showmanship!

Marta is from Belluno, Italy, hometown of Dario da Rold. She does beautiful paintings in a fey, fairy style.

In Woodstock with Kate Russo and Rick Danko.

Chad Quist and Jennie Austin.

Maria Sorrentino, Stefania Vialetto and Ezio Guaitamacchi at my house.

Larkspur, California, near Janis Joplin’s house. If “history” is “herstory,” shouldn’t “hirsute” be “hissute?”

The Porsche.

Gumbai till next week.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Una Bella Giornata, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood.

10 April 2011

Karen Deamant took this photo of Canned Heat.


Abita di lamé dorato, sandali dorati senza calze, smalto rosso brillante sulle unghie; le chiome rosso fiamma erano raccolte in cima alla testa e sostenute da un alto traliccio di fili dorati. Pensai fra me: “Se questa antenna è provvista di elettrcità, posso sintonizzarmi su Mosca e dire a Putin cosa pensa di lui.

Dressed in gold lamé, golden sandals without socks, brilliant red on her nails; her red flaming hair was tied back to the top of her head and held with an old trellis of golden threads. I thought to myself: “If this antenna is provided with electricity, I can tune in to Moscow and tell Putin what I think of him.”


Karen Deamant, Northern California, 1990.


Wilhelmina and Sam Andrew, my mother and father eleven days before I was born.


La verità è che non aveva aggiunto proprio niente. Aveva semplicemente tolto qualcosa. Quella sera memorabile, aveva bevuto un numero di cicchetti superiore al consueto e, intontita dall’alcool, aveva dimenticato di mettersi le mutandine.

The truth is that she hadn’t added anything. She had simply subtracted something. That memorable evening, she had more cocktails than usual and, numbed by alcohol, she had forgot to put on her underwear.


Credo fatum nos coegisse.

I think fate brought us together.


Hitchcock’s schoolhouse: I worked with Randal Myler on Love, Janis in several cities. When Randal was nine or so, he was an extra in The Birds. He’s the blonde kid with glasses in front of all the other children when they are running from the schoolhouse. Karen Deamant took these photos of a bird in situ and the schoolhouse itself. This is up near Bodega Bay or Marshall in California.


Elise Piliwale, an unusual person by any measure.


It takes about ten years to get used to how old you are.

Packard 1941.


in the end, everything is a gag. Charlie Chaplin.

Peter Albin and the famous fanny pack.


Cogito ergo spud. (I think, therefore I yam.)

Libyan (graphite)


Milioni di anni fa, l’amore era una manifestazione primordiale su questo nostro pazzo globo.

Millions of years ago, love was a primordial manifestation on this our crazy globe.

Karen Deamant, Paul Barbarus, 1990.


Noli me rogare ubi sint claves. Eas nunc nuper habebas.

Don’t ask me where the keys are. You had them last.


Sandra, Lindsey, Susan, Patricia, Penelope, Gary. The Remolif sisters and one errant male.


Sam Andrew, Stacy Bauer, that guy from the movies, Lee Andrew.

St. Cloud, Minnesota.


Experience teaches you to recognize a mistake when you’ve make it again.

Elise diving a drawing lesson to Brittany and AJ Hale.


I ragazzi, che continuavano a vincere, dissero: “Va bene. A dire la verità, preferiamo giocare per terra.”

The boys who continued to win, said: “That’s good. To tell the truth, we prefer to play on the ground.”


Wilhelmina Andrew, née Mann, Bridget Andrew, Sam Andrew, Jr.)


Life is too short to stuff a snail.

Babs Reed. This woman was so kind in high school. I bet she still is. Everyone liked her. She radiated goodness. One of those people, you know?


Emily holding Kieran, Luke, Shane Rollins. The first son Luke is a remarkable child, gifted, really. Kieran has Emily’s nose, though, so there is hope. And Shane’s brain.


This scene looks positively rustic compared to today. Elise’s family are musicians and they have played and sung their beautiful tunes in all of these hotels.


Ben Nieves. Talk about gifted. There was some politician on the radio saying, “We have to save Ohio,” and Elise and I thought that was so funny, but my next thought was, “Ben could save Ohio if he put his mind to it. He can do anything.” Big Brain, Warm Heart, Powerful Combination.


Primavera! Scavallandomi con gli ormoni.

Spring! Cavorting with my hormones.

Ahhh, it’s Spring again. LIFE Magazine 18 December 1944.


Prepositions are the most difficult little words to keep straight in any language. People in New York wait “on line,” but in California they wait “in line.” There is no logic to these constructions, so they are very difficult to learn in each language. We turn the lights out, but everything else we turn off. Elise says “Put it up,” a Southernism. I say “Put it away,” but i had to train myself to say that. You “freak out,” you don’t “freak off.” If you say “freak off,” people will notice it right away. Prepositions…they’re murder. They have to be memorized one by one. Even the slightest misuse of one will mark you as a non native speaker.

Tom Finch, Sam Andrew, Lynn Asher, George’s, San Rafael, February 2011.

It’s easy to make a friend. What’s hard is to make a stranger. (Although it was much easier to make a stranger in the 1960s.)

A day is the time it takes the earth to make one revolution on its axis, right? A year is the time it takes the earth to go around the sun once. A month, too, has a basis in nature. But seconds? Hours? Weeks? Decades? Centuries? These are manmade measurements and have no natural basis. Purely arbitary. Notice that in this country our measurement of long periods of time and our measurement of money are metric, but our other measurements, being based on the body, are mostly not. Ten dimes equal a dollar, but ten inches don’t equal a foot. (“Inches” are thumbs and a “foot” is a foot.)

Here are some lovely feet that belong to Rona Walstra Avery and her beautiful sisters.


Paula Andrew, Stephen Andrew, Austin, 1980s.


Janis Joplin at The Magic Mountain Festival. I don’t know why, but I like this shot. Maybe it’s her breasts. They’re perfect. Maybe it’s that typically pensive expression. Anyway, it’s the real Janis.


My friend Sue loves plants. I cannot forbear adding here, even though it has nothing to do with Sue, that Dorothy Parker, when asked to use the word “horticulture” in a sentence, said “You can lead a whore to culture but you can’t make her think.


Lynn Asher has such a great smile.


Okinawa 1947. Concrete proof that I was indeed graduated from Kindergarten. I’m thinking that the man here who is giving me the diploma (a diploma for kindergarten!) is perhaps General Heggenberger who then gave his name to Heggenberger Road in Oakland, that runs by the Coliseum and on into the Oakland Airport. I love the looks of my classmates. Eyes flashing, smiling, eager to step out into life. Years later I came back and graduated from high school on this same island.


Karen Deamant, Karen Lyberger, Victor Skuratowicz and his wife Paula.



Sam Andrew, James Gurley, Janis Joplin, on the water.


My friend Joel Hoekstra plays in this show. He’s on the right middle, with white guitar.


Nick Suntzeff, Stephen Hawking. “Next time I am in San Rafael, and you are around,” Nick writes, “I can give you my schpeel on dark energy. I co-founded one of the two groups that discovered this stuff (and did a lot of work on dark matter), which seems to be everywhere in the universe. and in fact, makes up 73% of everything out there.” This will make for something to chat about over coffee one of these days.


Snooky Flowers and Trina Baucom. Trina said, “Snooky, would you watch my purse while I go to the bathroom?” and Snooky replied, “I’d rather watch your body.”


This Side of the Truth (29 March 2011) oil on canvas (Photo: Max Clarke) Maybe three quarters finished?


Sophia Ramos, Sam Andrew, Topanga Canyon. This was a good audience.


Elise has made our home a beautiful place. An Italian film crew is coming here on Monday to photograph what she has done, Brussels Sprouts and all.

Ezio, Maria and Stefania.


Sue makes that Cadillac look good, doesn’t she?


Bill Rude has a ski magazine, and he was the maître d’ at The Trident during the Glory Years. He knew everybody from Paul Desmond to Bill Cosby to Janis Joplin.


Sam Andrew, KK Ryder, Mark Riley, Todd Zimberg. Under The Rail, Seattle, 1990s.


Elise Piliwale making a film noir, Frankfort, Deutschland.


Elise’s mother, Carla Piliwale, and Joan Piliwale.


Astronaut Dennis Wheelock took this beautiful photograph of Italy. Did you know that Sicily was this big?


My friend Ronnie Campsey’s parents and grandparents, South Texas, 1938.


We were going to the airport one day, and Karen Deamant was kind enough to arrange this beautiful limousine for us. Photo: Karen Deamant.


Elise woke up one morning and said, “There is something wrong with Obama’s mouth. There has been an injury there.” Later that day on the news we heard that he had been banged on the basketball court. Women. They are tuned in to a whole other level. Elise said, “Where did that come from? How did I know that?” and I answered, “Maybe it’s because you were both born in the same hospital, maybe even the same bed, with the same nurse.”


Janis Joplin onstage at The Magic Mountain Festival.


All right, I will learn to read, but when I have learned, I never, never shall.

(British novelist David Garnett at age 4, to his mother.)

Ben Nieves and I in the throes.


Big Brother and the Holding Company as a horn band. That was fun.


Hawaii looking very much like Okinawa. Of course, this is in the 1950s. Neither Oahu nor Okinawa looks like this now.


There was an amazing series of gigs at this Santa Venetia Armory A film of all those concerts would be most interesting. I played in two of these bands.


Sam Andrew was laughing and Janis and Peter were serious.


During the Kozmic Blues Band adventure in Europe, Bobby Neuwirth and i got drunk with the mayor of Stockholm and walked all over town. One of the best guided tours ever.


Money like drugs is a terrible master, but an excellent servant.


Karen Deamant going home.


Snooky takes a break.


As usual, the Jews and Arabs are “settling their differences” in the true spirit of “Christian charity.”


Classmates, Okinawa. We went to school in quonset huts. We lived in quonset huts. A more simple building design would be hard to imagine. Plus, when it came time for typhoons and tsunamis, the building was simply tied down with cables.


Snooky Flowers, larger than life, from Lake Charles, Louisiana.


Kate Russo. Her name means Russian or red in Italian, and she could be all three of these. Good vibrations. Buone vibrazione. Thank you, Kate.


Nothing is said that has not been said before. (Terence 185-159 B.C.)

See you next week!

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company