Tag Archives: John Belushi

Quarry Night

The Habs allowed three shorthanded goals during their tiresome 5-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, and I don’t want to talk about it.

How about a historic acid party at a limestone quarry outside of Orillia in the late-1960s instead?

A party where we climbed the flat sides of the place in the dark with water and rocks 50 feet below, whoopin’ and hollerin’, with brains soaked with mind-bending chemicals, probably never considering even once that we could kill ourselves.

It was a grand party, just me and the rest of The Boys, doing what we did best. Partying. In fact, we were such good partiers that some teenagers in town weren’t crazy about us showing up at their doorsteps. Something about them trying to keep their parents’ house nice.

A few didn’t mind, I guess. At least I like to think so.

Yes, the quarry party was a beauty, taken to a new level when we saw the lights of cars coming in, cars filled with people a few years older than us, who had brought their own drugs and music, and we all bonded in a fuzzy sort of way.

I won’t go into too many details. There was that time when one of my friends saw a guy wander off, and when he came back, my buddy checked where he’d been and found a bag of pills that we all shared when the older bunch weren’t looking.

A couple of us sat in the back of an older guy’s convertible and listened to the first (and newly-released) Led Zeppelin album on his fancy 8-track car stereo, and after about the third listening, the guy yanked the tape out and we swore mightily.

We calmed down when he inserted Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline, also a new release, and I fell in love with that album so much that when someone asked me if I wanted to go to town with them to get some MDA, I said no, Bob Dylan’s bringing me my MDA.

And just recently I found out from one of my buddies that a girl there that night with the older guys, the girl with the cowboy hat, was Cathy Evelyn Smith, who later on would serve time in California for injecting drugs into actor John Belushi, which killed him.

Me and the other Boys still talk about the quarry from time to time. And years after the fact, I entered a contest at CHEZ 106 in Ottawa, with a free CD of the choosing to those with good stories about the 1960s.

I told the quarry story, and they sent me Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline.

One final note; that quarry was where the limestone came from to build the old Catholic church in Orillia. The church where I was an altar boy. And where, as an altar boy, I set myself on fire lighting candles.

And when I look closely at my picture below, I sure have a long finger.

altar boy

me (2)



A Criminal Gets Busted

I’m cheering for the L.A.Kings in these playoffs. Not because of any player, or who they’re playing, or because they’re behind in the series, or any of that nonsense.

It’s because Los Angeles is where the Sunset Strip is. A great street. Where I got busted and spent a week in jail for doing something so despicable, so heinous, it makes Al Capone look like Scotty McCreery.

The Sunset Strip is part of Sunset Boulevard, a big honkin’ main drag which runs from downtown L.A., past Dodger Stadium, and all the way through Beverly Hills and Santa Monica to the ocean. The Strip is just a small part of the boulevard in West Hollywood, beginning at the Chateau Marmont hotel to the east, and ending just beyond the Roxy Theatre and Rainbow Bar and Grill, a mile or so away.

It’s a street of clubs, giant billboards, some real fancy restaurants, and a fair amount of good-looking women in short skirts.

Lots of great music. Lots of history, from the golden days of Hollywood, when Humphrey Bogart got the daylights beaten out of him by his third wife Mayo Methot on a sidewalk outside a Strip restaurant; through the crazy sixties with protests in the street; and into later years when John Belushi and River Phoenix died and where celebrities have always gone to be seen; and where the sordid Phil Spector mess began at the House of Blues.

Unfortunately, it’s also the place where I was picked up for breaking an 11 p.m. curfew set for anyone under 18, which isn’t exactly a horrendous crime, but it was enough to spend a week in jail for.

There was an 11 p.m. curfew in place for anyone under 18, because of riots there the previous fall. I was stopped by a cop at the curb, just after I’d come out of Whisky a Go Go, and when he saw I wasn’t 18, he cuffed me and took me to the local cop shop, and the next day they shuffled me off to this place with large walls where they gave me some institution clothes and said I’d get my stuff back when I was released.

So I found myself doing this. One minute I was on the Sunset Strip, movin’ and groovin’, and the next minute I was in a juvenile hall playing checkers with my new Chicano friends.

A week later they called out of the dining room and told me my parents had sent money for a plane ticket back to Toronto. So I got my own clothes back and a man drove me to the airport and actually walked me right to my seat on the plane.

When I landed in Toronto, I could’ve kissed the ground. Maybe I did.

I was 16. I had taken a train to Vancouver, and a bus to the border. Custom guards thought I was a runaway, but I told them I wasn’t and if they didn’t believe me, phone collect to Orillia and ask my parents. And they did. And when my mom informed them that no, I wasn’t running away, I just wanted to go to Los Angeles, they said okay and let me go.

From there I started hitchhiking, sleeping near the side of the highway every night, and I can remember the sound of cars zooming by as I lay in my sleeping bag with my eyes closed or looking up at the sky. I got lucky at one point when a potato farmer going through Oregon picked me up and took me all way down past San Francisco to Watsonville.

We hardly talked. Maybe he didn’t speak English very well.

Eventually I made it to L.A. I took a bus in from some point, and I was excited and anxious. Probably starving too. Probably smelled pretty bad. But it was all okay. It was the sixties.

I’d always wanted to go there, ever since I was a kid. Ever since I’d watched The Shaggy Dog and Leave it to Beaver and My Three Sons and cheered for Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale and rest who played at Dodger Stadium, where palm trees rose behind the outfield bleachers.

Then when the Strip became one of the hippest areas in the country, with club bands like the Doors beginning to explode worldwide, I decided I finally had to go there and I did.

Two weeks later I was in jail.

Last fall Luci and I spent a week on the Strip, and I took some pictures of some of the clubs, including the legendary Whisky a Go Go, the Viper Room, Rainbow Bar and Grill, and the historic Troubadour, which is down the hill a block or two away.