The MOST (Morning Star) Newsletter

A Project of The Peregrine Foundation

Volume I, No. 2

P.O. Box 460141 / San Francisco, CA 94146-0141 / telephone: (415) 821-2090 / (415) 282-2369 MOST Staff: Ramon Sender, editor; Pam Read Hannah, assistant editor; Baker Bart, Occidental Correspondent

The MOST Newsletter is an open forum for fact and opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from within and from outside the Bruderhof. The opinions expressed in the letters we publish are those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflects those of KIT editors or staff.

What Go 'Round Come Around"

Here's a second issue of the MOST newsletter just to whet your appetite. But don't get the idea it's gonna get to be a monthly unless y'all write in. We're trying out our brand-new bulk mail permit, which should keep our tongues from getting furry licking stamps. And we promise that we'll improve our lay-out, our spelling, our aura -- what else? Badaba! Your MOST faithful staff 


The annual May Day celebration on The Ridge was a great success. The weather was absolutely perfect, up into the 80s now and then with a cooling breeze from the ocean every half- hour or so. All the 'regulars' attended, and the music courtesy of Gordon Stubbe and Bishop on guitars -- and Cliff Langlois (Quinn's dad) -- was terrific. Delia played mandolin and Ramon pumped away on the same old squeezebox he's had all these years. The May Pole was tapped up to "You Are My Sunshine," as requested by Kumbaya, and all in all, it could not have been better. The food was delicious, and the party was followed by a sweat, courtesy of Kingfisher. Phone conversation between Ed Walkinstik-Man-Alone and Ramon Sender: Ramon: I remember when you arrived at the ranch in your VW bus with three monkeys. Ed: Yeah, Frankie and Johnny. Frankie died at Morning Star. She's buried over across the creek. I have so many memories of the place! I photographed a large portion of the place over the years. I remember the day that Lou said, "You see that building standing over there?" He was talking about his studio. "Well, I see you're building a motor home. I don't want to see that building when I get back from India." So I built the Solar Chariot. But it's impossible to get back and remember everything. Every memory is special. I sit back and reflect on them continuously now. But now I'm back into music and art. I have my own business now, Eagle Drum Native American fine arts and crafts. I've taken up the teachings of my great- grandfather in flute-making, the American Indian flute. In fact I'm teaching this year at the Napa Valley Folk Festival, and I have a tape coming out in July. That's been great. I've been hanging out in Napa Valley and Calistoga and playing pretty regularly down there. You'll see us exhibiting our wares at pow wows and street festivals. The business is getting very well-known as a scale for quality. We've been doing it since aout 1986, and it grew from a show box of stuff on a card table until now we carry nearly a quarter million dollars worth of art and artifacts. Every once in a while the Limeliters get ahold of me and I go on the road with them as road stage manager and do what I can. Well, you know me, if I'm not doing something I go bonkers. As if I don't have enough to do. Ramon: Do you have any addresses that we ought to have? Ed: There are a lot of former Morning Star people down in Eugene, Oregon. I think the middle of July the country fair goes on. Tipi Dan lives in Corvallis, but he's down south somewhere right now kicking back in the sunhine. He wanders in every now and then. He's still putting around on a bicycle and really looks good. What ever happened to Ray Morningstar? Ramon: Joanie saw him on the street here in the city two winters back and reported that he didn't look at all well. I think she got him a jacket or something to wear. I went down the next day to try tind him, but I couldn't. I asked a couple of homeless people and they said that yes, they knew him but didn't know where he was. Ed: Oh for crying out loud! I miss the old fellow. He was really great. He was one of Lou's best friends. You know, your newsletter just shocked the socks off me! And what ever happened to Coyote and them? Ramon: I just saw him and Denise at May Day. We'll be collecting more and more addresses and finding more people. Ed: I like hearing from the rest of the gang. I know Eve is down in Eugene, and the father of her baby is down there. Looks like a lot of them settled right in that general area. One thing you could do is sent a letter to any of the food co-ops and asked them to post it, saying "Looking for former Morning Star and Ahimsa poeple," you might get a good response. And if I run across anyone, I'll get their address off to you. What's the status on the Morning Star Scrapbook? Ramon: We're getting down to the last few copies. There's a rare book dealer who's charging $50 a copy in his catalog, I notice. The originals were lost, so when these go, that's it. And I guess we ought to hold on to these last ones and auction them off or something! Ed: Well, I've got lots of photos here, and also the Morning Star court records. One funny thing, when I had to go to court and they wanted me to swear 'So help me God' on a bible, I said I couldn't do it because according to Santa Rosa Superior Courth judge, God had been found not to be a person, neither real nor artificial. And it was upheld by the Appeals Court too. So basically it's illegal in the state of California to take an oath on God's name, since He doesn't exist in that state. Phone conversation with Karin: Karin: I was all prepared to get to the ranch on May Day, but when I picked up Brian in Santa Rosa, he chose a different activity, and so he and I hiked up the Oat Hill Wagon Road above Calistoga and had a great day. But I sure miss everyone of the old group, and when I got your newsletter and read the piece on O.B., I cried. The whole letter was very moving. I read every word and am hungering for more. I heard about your recent book Death In Zamora, Ramon, is wonderful. Unfortunately my time gets so caught up in DOING things -- that's me DOING that! Anyway, I confess I haven't read it YET! I would love to be included in this MOST, please. I've lived in Calistoga for almost 10 years now. My current spouse works in the vineyards with his own equipment and is a very talented gardener (among other things). I have my own small jewelry company and a traveling sales rep who gets me orders. Pilvi is 20 and living in Santa Rosa and wrking full-time at a music store. He has his own band and they practice out here in one of my sheds, and they're serious about their music in a fun way. Brian is my other son (9 yrs) and he lives with me part-time and goes to school at a 'Waldorf' in Sebastopol the other part. I'm very proud of both of them! Thanks so much for thinking of me and let me know if I cal help! Blessings! Love, Sara Rosalee Ransom: Ah, it was a pleasure to receive the MOST! Yes, it's okay to put me in the 'address book.' I've just returned from India, my third journey. It was like going home again. But curious thing, my life is also full here, and Taos is pretty Third World anyway -- and spiritual too! So who went anywhere? We have a very living, healing Hanuman Temple here with kirtan and various annual celebrations. I drop by almost daily for a hit. India is here too. So. . . my life remains the artist's struggle., touring and getting gigs. The show announced on the reverse side of this letter is one of my favorites. [see next page -ed] It's got the goddess Kali in it. Oddly, I'd been thinking about Quinn a lot lately -- even though I never MET/SAW him or his mother. I was just visiting Star Mountain, saw his dad Cliff and he told me about Quinn. So sorry to hear about Sunny's death. Much love to all, Shoshana (Betty) Schwimmer 5/17/92: I loved reading Chapter 10 from "Home Free Home" in MOST! You're welcome to print my name and address, and to say: I'm living happily on the land in West Virginia as organically and spiritually as possible, with my wonderful partner, John. My partner at Morning Star, builder Chuck Herrick, died in a car wreck in May, 1968, on his way to tell the Peace and Freedom Party about ecology (before anyone but scientists knew about 'ecology'). He was the founder of the movement that led to People's Park. Any news of Pam Reed? Life is good here! [Some excerpts from Shoshana's newsletter] I've been reading Andrew Harvey's "A Journey in Ladakh." He goes to the very north of India, a last place where Tibetan Buddhism survives. He's on a spiritual journey and has done lots of reading and self-searching. Walking the rocky hillsides of 5600-foot mountains, he's drawn by the golden light and stillness to a new awareness. He never understood how people in India could wait for hours, say for a train, and not be bored. (He says we in the West were trained to lots of mental stimulation. In Ladakh, Harvey becomes like them, not waiting, but more present in each moment. And as I journey with him, I "get" some of it too. Then he spends time with an old Rimpoche. . . The old Rimpoche is full of love for his people; he gives endlessly to them when with them. The rest of the time he's an old man meditating, disciplining his mind and letting go of Ego, so he can give... I glimpse letting go of Ego, which I had pooh-pooh'd before. I love the Rimpoche! Harvey's given me a teacher! What a gift! I go to music practice and see how Ego/fear of disapproval makes me tense about making mistakes. I let go of that and see that it's just music, tunes. I simply let go of emotions and try to play my best (Jean Ritchie said "When you're scared, just remember the beauty of the song."). . . I see how the Ego is constantly involved in trying to feel good. It complicates everything. How simple to just play the tune.

Around The Planet

Just some brief takes on different folks: first of all, Uncle David's Family Fun Store in Occidental is always a good place to check in when you're in the neighborhood. You can always leave messages or your address there. We'll put Uncle David's on the mailing list so that there'll be MOST copies there. Flash! Bob Sharp has been rated as the third top Tai Chi Chuan amateur competitor in the Master Class. That's top level stuff, Bob! Good going! White Feather is part of a group of ranch folks who are looking for some large acreage to lease-option in Sonoma County. If you're interested, drop her a line. She's especially interested in hearing from "Old-timers." Hey, that's us! Maya works as head technician on the night shift at KRON. Hillbilly Dave now has a silver and goldsmithing business. Bill Wheeler reports that he's thinning the pine forest towards the back of the land, those same trees that he planted in the mid-60s.

Off The Planet

Over the past years, a whole lot of ranch folks have died. We'll try gradually to catch up on everyone, but Old Tex comes to mind, David Lee, Harmodious, Sola, Eros, little baby Orioray. Yon died of cancer recently also. And then there was sitar- playing Joseph from the Back Of The Land whose partner Martha Dayamata wrote an amazingly beautiful description of his death called "Nature's Way to Die." Here is a part of what Martha wrote: One month that was all and it was up our first night alone together free from the constant flow of friendly visitations as tho' he knew those few hours were the only ones in which he could dance his dance of death and go only I would be there would be graced to be a companion of DEATH, his death as intimate as the coupling of man and wife to beget life so intimate was our coupling to beget Death which is another Life. So hard to understand holding Death in my arms, yet I was not taken to a new Space but I was taken to view a new Space Joseph's body died and his spirit lives on in another place whole portions of myself died and my spirit lives on in this plane. "What do you feel, Joseph?" "Pain, terrible pain, Martha." and he clutched at my chest and pressed with all his might "Like that, only it is as though someone were squeezing me so hard, right out of here!" "We are separating, Martha. "I have to give it up." From the bottom of his feet to the top of his head IT came in one big convulsive ripple his entire body was bound so tight like one caught in a steel trap Joseph's strength every bit of it all at once holding on to a body and yet letting go at the same time. he did not breathe in ever again his heart did not beat ever again and he maintained his contorted, frenzied shape for many minutes panic wanted to set in panic that urged me to pick him up and rush for help yet I knew his contorted, frenzied shape for many minutes panic wanted to set in panic that urged me to pick him up and rush for help yet I knew with dead certainty there was no returning this time and to go off running into the dark woods of the night was to let fear grip me and forsake my Beloved in the greatest moment of his life, dying that he might have new life and in that moment when I saw how he held on and yet had to go how painful the holding was I screamed out with a voice I had never heard from myself so deep, so loud so desperate Joseph don't do it this way "Let IT go -- LET IT GO!" I was shaking him in my arms not screaming but bellowing from the very depths of my being to his and he heard me and he went. Thank you, Martha. Your words are truly amazing. Some day I hope you will allow us to publish the whole text, because it deserves to be read widely. In memory of Joseph and all the other brothers and sisters, young and old, who have gone on ahead, here is a quote from the Katha Upanishad: THAT is not born, neither does it die It sprang from nothing, nothing sprang from it Unborn, eternal, everlasting, ancient THAT is not killed though the body is killed If the slayer thinks he slays, If the slain thinks he is slain, Both are deluded. THAT slays not nor is slain. Smaller than small, Greater than great, In the heart of all creatures THAT resides, Lou Gottlieb has been giving some thought to the problem of homelessness, and has written the following: A FRESH APPROACH TO THE PROBLEMS OF THE INNER CITIES: A MODEST PROPOSAL George Bush is being unusually perceptive when he says, "Things aren't right in most inner cities of our country." He is calling for a "A fresh approach." A fresh approach requires recognition of the fact that among the underclass in our country there is a certain component -- perhaps the youngest and brightest -- for whom life in the mainstream of contemporary society is a lethal environment. They are alienated and desperate, not because they are unemployed but because they are technologically unemployable. Their labor power is no longer needed in the production of the goods and services which our society requires. They are allergic to working at jobs that can now or soon will be done better by a robot, and their number is growing with every major layoff that corporate America resorts to increasingly in order to remain competitive. Talk of job core opportunities is a joke to these people because the goals and incentives offered by life in the mainstream are insufficient inducement for them to do that kind of work. They are trying to survive in a lethal environment. George Bush and Jack Kemp cannot grasp the mind set of the truly desperate. Bush and Kemp have great difficulty understanding people who would rather bum on the street than earn chump change flipping burgers to come up with the rent for slum housing. Talk of enterprise zones, tax incentives to empower the physical proximity of employment no longer has any meaning for the truly desperate. Even assuming funds were to be made available which is very doubtful, resucitating the Head Start, Job Core, Medicaid, and Food Stamps all over the United States will not prevent a repetition of the Los Angeles riots in other cities where the situation for the under-class is as bad or worse. A repetition of the Los Angeles tactic in Chicago when the wind was blowing would be horrendous. What do they want? It seems obvious that right now many need leisure to figure out what is worth doing and obviously prefer the precarious leisure of the streets more than they fear unemployment, incarceration, starvation or homelessness, even though police harrassment and social opprobrium intensifiy their desperation and make this way of life a lethal environment. We dare not underestimate their desperation because new and very dangerous ways of expressing desperation have been devised in Los Angeles. Starting with simultaneous fires in a thousand different places of business for openers. Just because billions are found to fight the Gulf War and/or bail out the Savings and Loan swindlers does not mean that any real money is going to be spent in the inner city. The desperate know that. So any a fresh approach had better be inexpensive or it won't be given a shot. An alternate, free rent, life style should be made available to those for whom the inner city is a lethal environment. An alternate life style based upon the tradition of intentional community in the United States. The hippy communes of the sixties can point the way to a solution. The Bureau of Public Land Management controls 16,600,000 acres in the State of California alone. As a pilot study, I think a dozen quarter sections of that land located far enough away from the nearest neighbors should be open to any and all who feel they are on the brink of madness. It would be premature to begin designing these new towns until we see who takes advantage of this opportunity. It's possible that no one will show up. That's okay, no money has been wasted. Let's not worry about housing, food, clothing etc., etc. The first comers will be real pioneers. That's a good social role. Let's see who shows up and what they want/need to stay there. There'll be time enough to plan and build later on. One of the fringe benefits of making some kind of rural retreat or a new town available to people on the brink of madness is that a re-tribalization of America begins. A tribe is a group of people living together without written rules. The absence of the tribal relationship in contemporary society is one of its features which makes it so inhumane. There is nothing to fill the gap between the disfunctional family and the oppressive society. Like minded people living in close proximity is the healthiest enviroment on earth especially for kids. The only way to guarantee good behavior on the part of the people in these new towns is to deed the land to God. "This land belongs to God, behave accordingly." If there are a dozen or more such pieces of God's land then each will start to build its own tribe. This Western hemisphere land longs to be lived on tribally. And one of the principal problems of intentional community will be solved by the land, namely, who gets to stay and whoUs gotta go. If you donUt like the people here go to another new town and see how you like it there. There are communitarians alive today with vast experience in this kind of commune living. Many of them could be persuaded to move out on this land and show by example what they know to those who want to learn. I am willing to bet that when the common interest is defined people who will not work in the inner city will accomplish great tasks in the common interest. We've gotta do something to relieve the pressure and this won't cost a lot. Let' s open our Bibles (The New English Bible) to Numbers Chapter 35, Verse 6 -- (The LORD speaking to Moses.): "When you give the Levites their towns, six of them shall be CITIES OF REFUGE in which the homicide may take sanctuary." It's about time to establish at least ten CITIES OF REFUGE in California where the even the murderers -- or potential murderers -- can be free from prosecution. because the next expresssion desperation on the part of people whose labor is no longer needed might well include homicide along with arson and burglary. Given the right "set and setting" the desperate can start figgering out what is really worth doing. Making love, gardening, all artistic endeavor, cooking, entertaining and educating children, athletic contests, these are a few suggestions for Goof 'n' Ball Park, the starship of the fleet. God had better be legal owner of the city, so that the answer to the question "Who's in charge here?" is an index finger pointed heavenward. Divine guidance must be harnessed to solve the problem of technological unemployment. We are headed into an epoch of compulsory leisure. as many recording engineers will learn as soon as everybody has Audio Trax booted up and running on their Mac-centered Midi set- ups. No suggestion for the amelioration of the human condition -- or even the avoidance of the Los Angeles Intifada -- can possibly succeed if it's not fun. The problem, nevertheless, is serious. An article from the November, 1975, edition of the Northcountry Constitution: Goldmining The judge's gavel comes down hard on the table; again he proclaims that he will tolerate no more outbursts from the audience. Steve Gomperz, attorney for the defense, looks frazzled as he requests a five-minute recess to enable him to speak to the source of the commotion: Zeke Isaacs, a lean and bearded gold miner from Denny, California, who is here with half a dozen other miners to support Paul and Sue Anderson, owners of the Vista Lee Mine and defendants in this case. After a few low murmurs, from the attorney, Zeke's voice booms out again. "I can't help it!" he says, "When these sons-of-bitches sit up there and lie like that, I just can't help myself!" Gomperz shrugs helplessly at the judge and the hearing resumes. This is, officially, a Bureau of Land Management hearing on the validity of the Andersons' claim. But later today the president of the Western Mining Council will term it a "kangaroo court" and many miners agree. They point out that the prosecutor is the United States Government (Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service) and the judge is also an employee of the United States Government (from the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management) while the defendants are a 28-year-old gold miner and his wife who can't even afford the $75 to $100 it will cost to buy a transcript of this hearing. The Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service are indeed closely related; they do each other's job on occasion. In 1957, these two branches of government issued a "memorandum of understanding" giving the Forest Serivce the right to conduct certain operations which were previously the province of the Bureau of Land Management. One of these, the examination of mining claims to determine validity, is a basic issue of this hearing. It is also a nebulous issue because the validity of a placer mining claim rests on what is called the "prudent man test." According to the Bureau of Land Management, this means that "a valid discovery has been made where minerals have been found and the evidence is of such a character that a person of ordinary prudence would be justified in the further expenditure of his labor and means, with a reasonable propect of success." The problem lies in the definition of "ordinary prudence" and "success." The miners feel that a man who is able to support his family and his mining operation and still break even is prudent and successful. But the Forest Service sees it another way. In the words of Dave Wright, district ranger of the Big Bar district which encompasses Denny, "It must be a profitable venture to begin with. . . if a guy's breaking even he's not making a profit, but if he's making something over, then he is making a profit of sorts. Then the determination has to be made, I assume, whether that's sufficient enough value to warrant a good and valid claim or not." If a claim is judged invalid, the occupants are evicted, their gardens are destroyed, their home, buildings and any personal belongings left behind are burned. These lands then, public lands, are not open to those members of the public who simply want to make a living but only to those who want to make a profit. And it must be conceded that most of the Denny miners are not interested in a high-profile low-risk type of life. If they were, they wouldn't be gold miners. Like the prospectors of the 1800s, these men are miners because they derive joy from taking risks and testing themselves against the wilderness, and not from profits. As such, perhaps, they do not belong in the 20th Century. They certainly look out of place in the courtroom, as if Jed Smith and ol' Jim Bridges had been suddenly dropped in the middle of Eureka City Hall and didn't know quite what to make of it. They are uneasy with courtroom etiquette and fancy city lawyers -- as uneasy, I suspect, as the lawyers would be if they were in the hills facing a bear or fording the river in high water. But soon the miners will have even more reason to wish they had never risked coming to the city, for as we leave the courtroom for noon recess, we are immediately aware of a strong police presence. There are four uniformed officers in the hallway, plainclothesmen in the lobby, and two manned squad cars in the parking lot. Dave Wright and Ron Bassett of the Forest Service are there, backed by Federal marshalls who proceed to serve each miner with a summons charging him with trespass on Federal lands and requiring him to show cause, within twenty days, why he should not be evicted. The reaction among the miners is mixed. Zeke crumples his summons and throws it to the ground in disgust, others seem to be in a state of shock, and one seems close to tears. Jay and Sue Dahl have been served, even though they COMPLIED with the mineral examination and have a letter from the Forest Service stating that their claim is legitimate. Lynn Weber has been served in spite of the fact that he won his hearing last year and has a permit to mine from the State of California. When we return to the courtroom, there are no more outbursts, only a dead silence as the Government's case drones on. According to Dave Wright, the Forest Service plans to serve every occupied, unpatented mining claim in the Big Bar district, a total of 150 families, with a summons. The Government claims that these people are squatters, and the picture they paint is one of lazy hippies living on government land and contributing nothing to society. But the miners I have met in Denny and surrounding areas are some of the hardest- working people I have ever known. It is a tough life and a lazy man just doesn't make it through the winter up here. During the winter the road is often impassible, the rivers are high, and you can't run down to the store for supplies because there is no grocery in Denny. For the miners in the back country whose cabins are often ten to fifteen miles by trail from the nearest road, it is imperative they work hard during the short summer, cutting and splitting wood, tending gardens and canning the produce, repairing roofs and making plans for wintering the animals. Here, as Paul Anderson says, "the cabin gets warm because you put a log on the fire, not because PG&E supplied your place with gas or electricity; the food comes out of the garden, tilled and nurtured and cultivated by hand, and not in some plastic Safeway package." At Zeke and Katy Isaac's cabin, there are checklists tacked up on the house and the woodshed ennumerating the amounts and types of wood used last winter so Zeke will know how much he needs to cut. The only way to get supplies, or people, to Zeke's is by cable -- you sit in a little wooden box suspended more than 100 feet above the river and pull yourself across. . . The kind of man it takes to be a gold miner is almost by defnition not a prudent man. There are, however, prudent and profitable mining operations, like Anaconda Cooper for instance. Perhaps they should be ebcouraged to expand gold mining in Shasta-Trinity National forest. But before that can happen, all these scrappy individuals will have to be rooted out, and that's not going to be easy because they're just not being prudent about this thing. here they are, up against the United States Government, and they plan to fight. They know it's not going to be easy. Paul Anderson says, the small miner has an enormous job fighting the Forest Serivce. They have an unlimited budget, literally, and the miner has only a small income. . . The Forest Serivce can create ambiguous rules that the miner is expected to comply with, but not the other way around; the miner cannot create the rules for the Forest Service." from Chapter 10 of"Home Free Home," a history of Morning Star and Ahimsa ranches. First Ridge Settlers (continued) Cliff and Ellie camped in the Pine Grove below the studio, They had no income, but managed to survive with the help of their neighbors. The Los Angeles police wanted Cliff for jumping bail on a dope charge. They lived quietly, Cliff using his leisure time to learn southpaw guitar. Barely knowing a note a music when he arrived on the Ridge, he evolved into a fine musician. Whenever he was around, there were always good sounds happening. Charlotte and Bryce moved on the land, magical and highly evolved people. They built a home behind Hoffie's Hill which was a masterpiece of hippie architecture. An interior photo of Bryce sketching a pregnant Charlotte was later published in The Whole Earth Catalog, and the Ridge received many hundreds of letters in response. Bryce was a genius at watercolors, meticulously recording all the indigenous wildflowers. Also for six months he painted each dawn and sunset from atop Hoffie's Hill. The first indication Gay had of Bryce and Charlotte's presence were the wilting poppies in their garden. They used to come and carefully slice the flower to extract the sap, which they said got them high. John and Sue and their four kids drove in one day, followed by Errol and Sarah and their three children. They all set up camp at the back of the land. The presence of the children was a delight, but because their parents were on welfare, it brought political pressure on the ranch. David and Joann were another couple, David egotistic, opinionated, energetic. He and Bill had severe disagreements, especially about his police dog who was getting into the neighbor's sheep. After their baby Covelo Vishnu was born, they moved to the top of the land and built the Chapel out of lumber salvaged from the ruins of Morning Star houses. He managed to save a mural of David Pratt's for a wall of his home. BILL: "Dennis was a beautiful black man, a jive hustler inside a labyrinth of lies, with a jungle instinct for survival and a charming but deadly smile which hissed through gapped front teeth. He claimed to be a doorstep baby, abandoned by his mother, but it could have been an exaggeration. He was badly hung up on white women, hating them and obsessed by the need to rape them even if were willing to submit voluntarily. When confronted with his deeds, he said, 'Oh, that white bitch! I saw her going around balling all those guys. She's a whore. She asked for it. She didn't want me 'cause I'm black.' "I reminded him that other Blacks on the land did not have his trouble. In fact, many white women preferred going with them. Also, within the community a man was neither black, tan or white but just another brother. Most of the Blacks who lived with us worked through any hang-ups they had about their race and made a positive contribution. "But Dennis, if he was able to lure women to his house, attacked them and ripped off their clothes before unromantically possessing them. If they resisted, he smashed their faces in true ghetto tradition. For that matter, anyone who disagreed or crossed him invited violence. Although the women he raped were bitter about it, most of them took it philosophically - not experiencing it as a life-threatening situation, only an unpleasant one." Dennis was also involved in stealing, both on the land and off. He and others like him, black and white, had stored up great anger against society and focused this anger on the Open Land community, a pasture of 'sheep' they could fleece with no danger of being busted. When the patterns of his behavior became clear and his alibis evaporated in the light of numerous complaints, Bill and others tried desperately to communicate with him. Under all the rage they could see a beautiful person struggling to emerge. Dennis's pride, however, did not let him admit his trespasses. Not once did he confess his wrongdoing. Steve was another 'tester.' Short and stocky, extremely strong with knotty football player's muscles, he had an open, cherubic face coupled with a soft voice which inspired trust and affection. Even neighboring ranchers hired him for odd jobs, for which Bill loaned him his truck. That summer, a series of thefts occurred in the neighborhood. When Bill saw a brand-new battery in the old truck Steve had acquired, his suspicions were aroused. He walked over to where Steve lived on 'The Knoll' and found a path leading down the hill. In the midst of a clump of trees, he found a large tarpaulin covering something. Under it, he found the damndest collection of axes, saws, auto parts, tires, garbage pails full of foot-long salamis as well as a friend's toolbox with his name neatly printed on the top. BILL: "This was the first real crisis on the Ridge, the very thing I had hoped to avoid. Whereas Morning Star had acquired an outlaw reputation, I was trying to build a more law-abiding image. If Steve was ripping off society, then he should be returned to it to be made accountable, and stopped from using us as a shelter. Moreover, beneath that 'Boy Scout' exterior lay a very sick boy who needed professional help. I set it as my task to convince him to turn himself in and seek treatment. After a dramatic confrontation and many hours of talk, I was successful in doing so. Needless to say, we blew a few minds at the courthouse when we showed up and Steve turned himself in. "With Steve in custody, several deputies came out to the land the next day to retrieve the loot. After loading their van with the hardware, one of them said to me, 'I didn't see the food.' Since it would not have been worth it for the grocery stores to reclaim the food, it was a nice gesture for the police to give it to us. In those days before food stamps, there were many hungry people on the Ridge who appreciated it." GAY: "A half-acre was fenced off in the middle of the ranch for a community garden where anyone could work or pick at any time. Due to a devout belief in abstention from organization, the garden went through alternating periods of abundance and scarcity. It was not uncommon for one tomato plant to get weeded, watered, mulched, pruned and staked by as many as three people in one day and then be totally ignored for two months. But there was never a time when vegetables for dinner could not be found by a serious seeker. The garden also served as a social gathering spot. Mostly naked people could be seen lying in the sun, one hand gently weeding the radish patch, smoking dope and rapping with friends. "Across the road from the community garden was Bill's and my personal garden which was half its size. It was my life. I lived in it and shit in it and worked in it about three hours a day. I knew every plant and every inch of soil as well as I knew the stitches in a sweater I had knitted. Bill did the heavy work and I did the lighter tasks, the supervising and the daily responsibilities. I was possessive of the work and the harvest of the garden, and wanted everything done just the right way. It provided the main part of our vegetarian menus, and there was plenty over to be shared." In July, a sleek-looking sedan inched down the rutted right- of-way through John Kelly's ranch to Wheeler's front gate. In it were two well-dressed and mild-mannered men with benign expressions on their faces. They identified themselves to Bill as FBI agents, and showed him a score of wallet-sized photos, carefully watching his face for reactions. How much Bill's new neighbors had changed since they left the military! Curly-haired Chuck without his natural! Gay refused to even look at the snapshots, angered by the thought of helping the military in any way to fight their corrupt wars. The agents muttered something about harboring fugitives, jail and breaking the law. There was a tense moment before they turned to leave. Masters of the soft sell, they'd collected their information from parents who had patriotically ratted on their children. "Better in Vietnam than on Open Land!" Back at Morning Star Ranch, life see-sawed between the hilarious and the impossible. John Butler returned from the Haight-Ashbury with two kilos of dynamite grass and six girls. As people crowded into the Lower House to roll joints, he magnanimously invited everyone into his room. 'Come on in, everyone! Let's get high!' It was a small room at best, but with thirty-five people it was "wall-to-wall hippie," as Lou used to say. FRIAR TUCK: "Transit Harry was another Morning Star character. A bus driver for the city of Los Angeles, he played the game of falling down and getting hurt and then collecting thousands of dollars of insurance. He lived at the ranch for a year and a half. Harry was the only affluent one up there at the time. He had the American mentality of 'You've got that? Wellll, look what I've got!' He had this great black hearse, a BMW motorcycle, a parachute for a tent and a waterbed. And a dog that everyone wanted to kill because she was so crazy. "Anyway, he decided he was going to put up this waterbed, but he couldn't figure out how to do it. He didn't want to put it on the ground where something might puncture it, so he decided to hang a bedspring about five feet off the ground between four redwood trees and put the waterbed on that. Well, it didn't quite pan out. He got the bed about half full of water before the S-hooks holding the bedsprings straightened out. The fucker took off down the hill like a giant amoeba, almost flattening someone sitting downhill in the woods, stoned out of his mind. But darned if Harry didn't patch up the holes and try again!" RAMON: "In July I visited Olompali Ranch, a new Marin County commune where Lou and Near paid frequent visits. The 750-acre ranch and its elegant mansion had been rented by Don McCoy, a wealthy businessman, who opened it up to his friends. School was being taught there by Mrs. Garnett Brennan who had been fired as the principal of a nearby school for saying she had smoked marijuana for eighteen years. Twice a week, one thousand loaves of bread were baked in a large commercial oven set up outdoors. They were distributed free to the city communes. "While visiting Olompali, I decided to move to Berkeley to be with Betty, someone I had met during '67 and just remet again. But first I had to return to Morning Star and pump up the tires of my 'cave.' So I accepted a ride from Ira Einhorn, a young psychiatrist from Philadelphia who told me he had set up some supportive environments for schizophrenics, following R.D. Laing's blow-out center concept. I gave him the whole Open Land rap as we drove up, extolling the therapeutic virtues of not telling anyone to leave. When we arrived, his curiosity was piqued and so I took him on the tour. Lou was away somewhere. "In the orchard we were approached by three winos, one with a linoleum knife, one with a drawn revolver and the third, Duke, currently the baddest motherfucker on the place. Both his arms had been placed in plaster casts because of some deep cuts received in a knife fight. I don't know who they thought we were in their alcoholic haze, but they came after us, Duke swinging his casts like clubs, yelling and screaming. The only thing that kept us from getting hurt was that the Mother Force stepped in again, this time in the form of 'Mama,' Duke's womanfriend. She stripped off her blouse and jumped between us. 'Get away!' she shouted, and we didn't have to be told twice. We started walking up the path. I didn't want to run, because I was afraid it would excite 'Tarzan,' the guy with the revolver. Later I learned that Mama suffered a fractured jaw for her big- hearted act. "We went down the road towards Lou's studio to find John Butler by the well holding a six-foot African spear. He had heard the screaming and was on his way to save us. John was so beautiful! To see him, the gentlest soul I had ever known, standing there like Huey Newton! Right behind us came the three bandidos. John's spear and stern demeanor cooled them out enough for Ira to jump into his VW and burn rubber out the back driveway. I didn't blame him. His initiation to Morning Star had been too intense. Years later I was amazed to read in a New York newspaper that Ira had been named as a prime suspect when his womanfriend's body was discovered in a trunk in his closet. "Attempting to defuse the scene at Morning Star, I finally convinced Tarzan to exchange hugs, although I couldn't talk him into handing over the pistol. That night I slept in the bushes planning my escape while I listened to Tarzan firing at random as he walked around the place. I felt the spirit of the land was mad at me for leaving again, and that this had been the reason for the freak-out. "The next day I pumped up the tires of my truck with a bicycle pump. That took a while! I hadn't turned over the motor since the previous spring, so I coasted down the newly reopened front driveway - someone had cut down the cross Don King had placed there as a roadblock. The motor wouldn't fire up! Was I going to be stranded with Tarzan and Duke for another night? I coasted onto Graton Road, fiddling furiously with the choke, the throttle and every other knob in sight. The radio was on and I turned it off. With a backfire or two, the engine caught and I was on the road again." That summer of 1968, a large exodus to New Mexico took place, mainly because of the continuing arrests at Morning Star. Residents who were found in contempt of the injunction were arrested and then given the opportunity to leave the county. Pam and Larry Read, Beatrice, David and Penny Pratt, Superman, Cindy and many more. Gina and Katy the Dog toured with the Hog Farm for a few months. It felt like the Class of '67 had graduated. Newcomers arrived in their stead, such as Choctaw Eddie who came with a totally equipped VW camper and three spider monkeys who ran around under the apple tree by the well, much to the delight of the stoned onlookers. 

Chapter 11 The Ridge Tribalizes & Lou Finds His Guru  

In August the Ridge was again visited, this time by two somber building inspectors answering a neighbor's complaint about 'hammering.' It was their job to enforce the building codes, and none of the structure on the Ridge were up to code. Inspector Lotspeich, who later became a good friend, was quite sympathetic and asked permission to inspect the ranch. Since not much was visible from the road, Bill agreed. The inspection consisted of driving from one end of the land to the other. Returning to his office, Lotspeich reported seeing a tent or two, but that was all. Camping without a permit at that time was still legal, although later, in response to the 'hippie menace,' local politicians passed a law making it illegal. In mid-August, Bill prepared for further visits from county officialdom. He was in the attic of his studio one day doing some repair work when he heard someone enter. He shouted downstairs asking what the person wanted, annoyed at another interruption. The person introduced himself as Corbin Houchins, an attorney whom Lou had sent over. He had spent some time at Morning Star, and one day in the orchard had enjoyed a profound religious experience which changed the course of his life. The Open Land movement interested him, and he had come to help the Ridge in its impending struggle with the authorities. A Harvard graduate and former public defender, young and idealistic, he seemed perfect for the job. BILL: "Some people have criticized me for not retaining a local attorney. There is an advantage in a lawyer who personally knows the judge and is a part of the local political picture. But I elected to retain Corbin, a brilliant speaker, who was good at reminding the judge of our constitutional rights, which were our only defense. So much of what was happening on the Ridge was indefensible. Also I saw the foolishness in attempting to defend myself as Lou was then trying to do." On September 8th, another Morning Star Matinee enlivened the courthouse. For the tenth time or so, Lou was ordered to show cause as to why he shouldn't be held in contempt of court for his failure to comply with the permanent injunction. Building and health inspectors took the stand and testified in crisp phrases to the continuing myriad of violations. In his own defense, Lou called on a contractor-friend who described his efforts to get the bath house functioning. This did not impress Judge Mahan. Don McCoy from the Olompali commune then stood in the audience and asked the judge for permission to speak. His Honor told him to shut up and sit down or he would be thrown out. "I notice the complaint reads 'The People versus Louis Gottlieb," Don continued in spite of the warning. "Well, I'm the people." "Throw him out!" the judge screamed, turning purple. Still within earshot of the court, Don began chanting "God bless all the people, God bless Judge Lincoln F. Mahan" in the corridor. That tore it. He was ordered back into the courtroom and sentenced to five days in the slammer. Mahan then turned to Lou, found him guilty on thirty-seven counts of contempt of court, fined him fifteen hundred dollars and sentenced him to two weeks in jail. Visiting hours during Don McCoy's and Lou's sojourn in Sonoma County's jail were no doubt the most colorful it had ever seen. Carloads of freaks from the two communes showed up to play music and dance while Near handed out free Morning Star apples and slices of apple pie. Lou's wife Dolly visited one day along with their two children. Dolly was having a hard time accepting Lou's philosophy, especially now that Near was living with him. The following are excerpts from Lou's letters to Near from his cell: LOU: "I am pretty sure that Mother put me and Don together for our mutual benefit. I feel certain that whatever happens at Olompali, it won't be Don who denies its advantages to the next person who comes along. And if Don doesn't, who will? "The level of religious talent in the cell is phenomenally high - the 'crimes' of these boys are all connected with consciousness and their attempts to alter it. Amazing how young these kids were when they discovered they were Alternative Society. We have simply got to stumble onto more land to open. "Corbin Houchins was here, and gave me a couple of new phrases to ponder: 'salutary neglect' and 'non-prosecution of victimless crimes.'" Later that same month, a party of officials searched the Ridge on the pretext of looking for runaway juveniles. Bill happened to be away that day, and no one challenged their presence. They had a good look at the property, cameras snapping, their worst suspicions confirmed. In spite of Governor Reagan's There will be no more Morning Stars' statement, here was another one just ten miles away. Inspector Lotspeich requested permission to make a more thorough inspection. Bill denied him that right, but told him that the studio, which Lotspeich thought was pre-code, had actually been build a year earlier. Instead of arguing about a few shacks, all that existed on the Ridge at that time, Bill suggested the studio be made a test case of the building codes. He wanted to resolve the question of whether a man had the right in a rural environment to build a house for his own use which he had no intention of reselling. BILL: "It seemed to me that the right of a man to build his own house as he saw fit was a basic, constitutional right that had been usurped by arbitrary laws designed to enrich the building industry. Since only the rich could afford to build under these laws in rural areas, the code was used to keep poor people in the city ghettos. The code was also responsible for the increasing architectural mediocrity. America was beginning to look like a cookie sheet. Although I was endangering my studio by doing this, I felt it was worth it. The building code laws were being used to close Morning Star and were a threat to every New Age community in California. I had to fight them for our survival." GAY: "Lotspeich sat quietly drinking coffee with us before returning to his office. Soon afterwards, we learned he had applied for and received a transfer to a job as inspector of auto trailers in another county. He was replaced by Zack Shaw who had already shown his great distaste for Alternate Culture by his efficient inspection and destruction of Morning Star homes." Conservative ranchers, who disagreed with Bill about everything else, sympathized with his views regarding the building codes. Many of them had been frustrated in their own building plans and hated the codes as much as the Ridge people did. All their lives they had been able to build as they pleased. Now suddenly they were being told they must pay for building permits and architectural plans subject to the county's approval. As re-spected members of society, they were not about to break the law or rock the boat - they had too much to lose. BILL: "It was up to the younger generation to confront the deterioration of basic freedoms for which this country fought so hard. The importance of building your own nest was central to the Open Land philosophy. Those who did it - both men and women - found it one of the most exhilarating experiences of their lives. Good, solid homes, tight and fit, have been built on the Ridge with used lumber, second-hand nails and old roofing. The county condemned them as a threat to health and safety, but we knew that the sterile, ugly, uninteresting tract houses which were 'legal' were much more of a threat to the people inside them." The Ridge was forming a tribe, a village, a community in a truly organic way. Neighborhoods sprang up on the land: The Front Gate, The Knoll, The Yacht Club, The Community Garden, The East Canyon and The Back Of The Land. Each evolved its own personality, its own 'canyon calls,' its own architectural character. The Knoll was of the earth; the hunters, meat-eaters and outlaws hung out there. More green and lush than the Ridge proper, the Knoll's shady paths and oaken glades hearkened back to what the land was like when the Pomo and Miwok tribes roamed the area. The Yacht Club took its name from a rowboat someone left by the side of the road near the Front Gate. People often gathered there to socialize, drink wine and play music. Karma Korners, the house where the Zen Trail from the Knoll met the Ridge Road, was another favorite spot. The Middle Of The Land with its gardens lent itself to a more sedate scene. The Back Of The Land attracted families. And for those who wanted to get away from it all on a hermit trip or a religious retreat, there was the isolated East Canyon. Thankfully, the fall rains came in August that year, relieving the fire danger and putting people on notice that winter was coming. More substantial structures would have to be built if they were to survive the cold weather. during this time some hectic building went on: the Chapel was built by David, now known as 'Crazy David,' the Log Cabin and the Triangle House also dated from this period. Lou graciously offered building materials from the Morning Star houses which all were under destruct orders from the county. In this way, the Ridge was born from Morning Star both on a physical and a spiritual plane. BILL: "One day while I was visiting Lou at Morning Star, one of the bikers who used to hang out by the well came to me and asked to borrow my truck to chase after some people who had just ripped him off. I refused. When I turned my back, he went to the truck and attempted to start it. I ran over and pulled him out. In response, he picked up a hammer and came after me. Somehow I wrestled it away from him, but in the meantime he had his teeth in my upper arm and was chewing away like it was a t-bone steak. I looked over at Lou as this monster munched my biceps. "'My God, Lou, do something!' I shouted. "Lou just stood there with an amused Gandhian-Morning Star expression on his face. 'Don't worry, Bill,' he told me. 'He's never hurt anyone.' "I finally wrenched myself away, jumped into the truck and split. That was the extent of my pacifism that day." LOU: "One time I asked this Gypsy Joker -- he had on a leather jacket and all these chains, 'Why don't you take off your clothes and get a suntan?' And he said, 'I never take off my colors.' They kept their motorcycles running all the time! They'd sit on their machine and talk to you for half an hour, the motor running but not going anywhere. God, that was annoying! "One night the Gypsy Jokers came up, but this was after they had phoned for permission to visit. They camped around the well, and the police came and shook down the whole crew. They took this one guy and really searched him. The suits they wear have a million pockets, and he started pulling out this, that and the other until the whole top of the police car was covered with stuff. But he was clean, see. So the police left, and his old lady, another leather queen, sat up from where she had been lying in a sleeping bag about six feet away. She had, oh, about a pound of pot in there with her. But this guy was arrested later for a concealed weapon. He came back and asked me to write a letter to the police saying he had been invited to the ranch. And that got him off. Of course it was unnecessary for them to ask permission to come, since I never gave nor withheld it. "But these motorcycle groups operate on a funny kind of basis. Once I was talking to Paul Stefani, the head narc, and said, 'I just don't understand this motorcycle trip.' And he said something really profound. He said, 'They think they are us.' They are expressing a militaristic, solemn, warrior-caste impulse and kind of march around with a military attitude. But it's an impulse hard for me to understand, and it played a very small role at Morning Star Ranch." Shortly after Lou was released from jail, Near was arrested while taking a shit in the woods. The judge told her, "Either get a job or we'll hold you for psychiatric observation." So Near worked briefly at a job in the city and lived at Olompali until Lou got permission for her to accompany him and a group of Olompali friends on a guru-shopping, temple-hopping jaunt to India. LOU: "I had been attracted by everything Indian for about three years before Near and I went to India. I went with the specific intent of seeing my guru Mother Mira at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. She was over 90 years old at the time I saw her. It was a silent Darshan (sitting with the guru). She just looked into my eyes, and I had the impression of someone working really hard to pop me up to a new level in my spiritual evolution. It was a feeling of indomitable will and endless tenacity, a niagara of energy in this tiny lady who was an avatar in our day. I then went back to my hotel room and cried for two hours. "I saw many other high people in India, but imagine my surprise when right in the Oberoy Grand Hotel in Calcutta I encountered Parashiva teaching immortality! Well, I found myself jumping up and down, bouncing up and down. That first eyelock with Chiranjiva I never will forget even if I live to be 164,000 years old. We went from the Grand Hotel to his mud hut in Sonarpur, a suburb of Calcutta, and in the next 48 hours he did what the traditional guru would have been very happy to accomplish with a gifted pupil in twelve years, namely, he brought me to what the Zen people call 'no mind.' Unless you have experienced it, you cannot know what a tremendous help this experience is." Meanwhile Ramon toured New Mexico with his friend Betty. They visited a number of communes, meeting Morning Star folk who were busy settling in and looking for a piece of land. David Pratt had become good friends with some men of the Penitentes, an unusual Catholic sect who met in secret to perform self-flagellation and other strange rituals. Cindy was waitressing at the Thunderbird Bar in Placitas, a small suburb of Albuquerque while other brothers and sisters were staying at the Domes, a nearby commune. Shortly after Ramon returned to California, they found some land north of Taos on an arid, waterless plateau. Back-breaking efforts were required to survive there, but David Pratt began drawing up plans for the pueblo they ultimately built and named Morning Star East. Back at Wheeler's Ranch, that first summer demonstrated that the land could be open and still retain some semblance of security for the inhabitants. As the raw edges wore off, the tribe began to gel, the vibrations rose, and a group consciousness evolved. The community began to show itself capable of dealing with crises as a corporate body. The flow of immigrants continued daily, despite the relative isolation of the land and the miserable access road. BILL: "One day I looked out the studio door and saw a car drive past, windows rolled up and cameras pointed at me, clicking away. I realized that the land had become notorious, politically hot. Visits from the FBI and county inspectors seemed like black clouds of the impending storm which would threaten our existence but of whose fury, as of yet, we had no hint." As attorney for the Ridge, Corbin Houchins was laying the foundation for a legal defense which proved difficult for the county to break. But ultimately Bill's legal fees and expenses nearly equaled the amount Lou paid in fines. However neither of them questioned its being worth every penny. By the end of 1968, Morning Star had become her own worst advertisement. Most people found it unlivable, unworkable, impossible and dangerous because of the outlaw tribe living there. In contrast, fewer troublemakers found their way to the Ridge because of its isolation. A nucleus of responsible community members carried the burden of keeping things going, cleaning up the land, maintaining the water system and encouraging a quiet atmosphere. The inhabitants wanted to create an example of Open Land which was safe, happy, prosperous and a healthy place to rear children. The county understood from the start that the Ridge was different from Morning Star. In their dealings with Bill, the authorities found a more recalcitrant personality than Lou. Bill was less of a pacifist, more eager to fight. But when they realized the Ridge was as open as Morning Star, the same injunctive procedures were used to close the place down. RULES FOR BEING HUMAN 1. You will receive a body. You may like or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around. 2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called 'life.' Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid. 3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error, experimentation. The "failed" experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately "works." 4. A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A les-son will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you then can go on to the next lesson. 5. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned. 6."There" is no better than "here." When your "there" has become "here," you will simply obtain another "there" that will, again, look better than "here." 7. Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself. 8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours. 9. Your answers lie inside you. The answers to life's questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust. 10. You will forget all this. (found on a refrigerator door)



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