Tag Archives: the Paupers

Convict Kane

In 1967, when I was 16, I told my mother that I was going to Los Angeles. Great things were happening on the Sunset Strip at the time, I really want to be part of it all, and for some reason she said fine.

I’ve wondered about this last part quite a bit over the years.

So with almost no money and a bag of sandwiches, I sat in a seat on a train from Orillia to Vancouver and then caught a bus to the border where the customs guy accused me of running away.

I told him to phone collect to my mother in Orillia and she would confirm that I was simply on my way to LA and not running away, which he did, and shortly after I was on the side of the highway in northern Washington with my thumb stuck out, heading south.

All it took to get to LA was a handful of nights sleeping in ditches and a bunch of rides, including a long and sleepy one with a farmer bringing potatoes from Idaho to either Watsonville or Salinas. We hardly talked the whole time, which was good. I was tired, and I wasn’t all that interested in potatoes.

Closer to LA I got on a bus and sat beside a nice female college student who felt sorry for me, and at some point when the bus stopped at a restaurant, she called her folks in the city to see if I could stay there for a few days. They said no.

From the downtown L.A. bus station I went directly to the Strip which was the scene of not only young people everywhere milling about, but also bands like the Doors and the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield playing at Pandora’s Box and all the other cool clubs. None of these bands I saw then, but whatever.

But one night I went to Whisky A Go Go (it’s still there), and saw not only the Youngbloods but also the Paupers, a great Toronto band who would play at the dance hall in my hometown Orillia from time to time. I also thought that maybe I’d meet a nice California girl at the Whisky and possibly get laid, but again, whatever.

I was on the Strip for about a week, staying in various dumps far from the good parts of West Hollywood, and being careful not to be out and about after 10 pm because Sunset was under curfew to those under 18 after huge riots had taken place there less than a year before. They made some sort of movie about this riot, called, aptly enough, “Riots on Sunset Strip”.

But one night, I think after the Youngbloods/Paupers show, I got sloppy, and while walking down the street around midnight, a cop pulled up and asked for ID. He saw that I was only 16, and the next thing I knew, I was in handcuffs that were way too tight, and hauled off to the cop shop.

At the station I asked the cops if they would phone Orillia, just like at the border, and have my folks take care of business. One of them phoned my mother, collect of course, and told her that I was arrested for breaking curfew and would be sent to a juvenile hall the following morning.

At juvenile hall, with big and impressive penitentiary-style walls, I turned over my clothes and wallet, which was all I had, and put on my new prison clothes. Then I was taken to a dormitory, given a bed and blankets, told the rules, and settled in.

It all kind of sucked of course, because I didn’t know how long I’d be there. Myself and a bunch of guys who were there for better reasons than breaking curfew, played cards and baseball, and I even had to take classes in a school room where I learned almost nothing about American history.

Then one morning, after about seven days, I was eating breakfast in the big hall when I heard my name called, and an official told me my parents had sent a plane ticket and I was leaving right away. So I left breakfast, got my clothes and wallet back, and was escorted to not only the airport, but right to my seat on the plane. They took curfew breakers seriously back then.

I got to Toronto, grabbed a bus to Orillia, and the first thing my mother said to me was that they weren’t mad, although they probably weren’t thrilled about having to buy a plane ticket because they were pretty broke I think.

I told a friend of mine who’s an LA cop about this a few years ago and he said that nowadays there’s no way they’d put a kid in juvenile for such a minor thing as curfew breaking. There’s way too many real criminals, and I’d just be taking up space.

Which is what I kinda thought at the time.

June 16 1967 – Monterey International Pop Festival, Monterey, California
July 14 1967 – Whisky A Go Go, West Hollywood with The Youngbloods

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sunset 1

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Busted For Being Too Young

public enemy

This month marks 48 years since I was busted for breaking curfew on the Sunset Strip and had to spend a week in a Hollywood juvenile hall before getting kicked out of the country.

The Summer of Love, 1967, and I was 16. I’ve written about this before but had said I was 17, which was wrong. Although I suppose it doesn’t make much difference.

I’d taken a train from Orillia to Vancouver, sitting in a seat for 3 1/2 days, not old enough for the bar car, and from Vancouver found my way to the border where officials phoned my mom back home to make sure I wasn’t running away. From there I hitchhiked to Los Angeles.

I kind of remember the trip south. I didn’t have much money, and I slept in my sleeping bag in fields near the highway. I’m sure I also cursed my two buddies in Orillia several times for backing out at the last minute.

Eventually a potato farmer in an old truck picked me up, in Oregon I think, and we drove all the way to Watsonville, CA, saying almost nothing to each other as we sailed on down the highway. He didn’t care about my story, and I didn’t care about potatoes.

I guess it was just a day or two later that I made it to L.A., and the first thing I did was take a city bus to West Hollywood and the Sunset Strip, because that was where it was all happening.

It was where the infamous riots on Sunset Strip had begun the previous fall, and where clubs that lined the colourful street regularly hired bands who would some day find themselves in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The riots arose after people who lived and worked in the area didn’t like the idea of so many long-haired kids hanging around. Police got involved, there were arrests and lots of commotion, and kids got clubbed in the head and banged around. I feel mighty confident in saying that the world “pig” flew around quite a bit.

Not long after, after things had calmed down, I showed up.

Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth’ describes a bit of the situation, which you can see and hear below.

The problem with the riot is that a 10 o’clock curfew for those under 18 was ordered. I knew about this curfew, but it wasn’t something that seemed to matter. I didn’t have a lot of places to go anyway, and walking the streets was what I did, regardless of what time it was.

I almost know the exact date when I got busted, after searching the internet for  “Paupers and Youngbloods at Whisky a Go Go”, which was the night it happened.

The Paupers played at the iconic club from July 14 to 19 of 1967, opening for different bands on different nights. I saw them with the Youngbloods on one of those nights, and was promptly busted while walking down the street afterward, which was probably around the midnight hour.

The cop handcuffed me and took me to the local station where I stayed the night behind bars, and the next morning they moved me to a juvenile hall with big walls, where I wore inmate clothing, had to get up way too early, took classes in U.S. history, played cards in the dormitory, and I had no idea how long I’d be there for. It truly sucked, and I was such a lousy card player.

One morning, while eating breakfast with my new buddies, somebody called my name out and took me to get my street clothes because I was going back to Canada. My parents had sent money for a ticket, and an employee from the prison drove me to the airport and saw me right to my seat on the plane.

Several hour later the plane touched down in Toronto and I made my way up to Orillia. My parents told me they weren’t mad at me and that was that…..

….until the fall of 1968 when I went to England for much of the winter, to the Atlantic City Pop Festival in the summer of ’69, hitchhiked across Canada three different times, and did all sorts of things, legal and illegal. I probably worried my parents sick. At least I like to think they were worried.

And one last thing to mention about my time on the Sunset Strip. I’d been staying wherever I could, and it was around this time that Charles Manson and his girls were beginning to set up shop in the L.A. area, including hanging around the Strip. All it would’ve taken were a couple of friendly young Manson ladies offering me a place to stay and lots of loving, and I easily could’ve ended up in some seriously wrong company.

I guess getting busted for breaking curfew might have been a good thing. Although it didn’t seem so at the time.

PaupersLATimesWhiskyaGoGoJuly1967

Sunset Strip in Hollywood, at corner of Clark street in Los Angeles on Oct. 4, 1966. At right is Whisky a Go Go, well-known night club. (AP Photo/HF)
Sunset Strip in Hollywood, at corner of Clark street in Los Angeles on Oct. 4, 1966. At right is Whisky a Go Go, well-known night club. (AP Photo/HF)

Whisky

 

 

A Little Story I Hope You Find Interesting

In 1967, when I was 16, I told my mother that I was going to Los Angeles. Great things were happening on the Sunset Strip at the time, I really want to be part of it all, and for some reason she said okay, when are you leaving. I’ve wondered about this last part quite a bit over the years.

So with almost no money and a bag of sandwiches, I sat in a seat on a train from Orillia to Vancouver and then caught a bus to the border where the customs guy accused me of running away.

I told him to phone collect to my mother in Orillia and she would confirm that I was simply on my way to LA and not running away, which he did, and shortly after I was on the side of the highway in northern Washington with my thumb stuck out, heading south.

All it took to get to LA was a handful of nights sleeping in ditches and a bunch of rides, including a long and sleepy one with a farmer bringing potatoes from Idaho to either Watsonville or Salinas. We hardly talked the whole time, which was good. I was tired, and I wasn’t all that interested in potatoes.

Closer to LA I got on a bus and sat beside a nice female college student who felt sorry for me, and at some point when the bus stopped at a restaurant, she called her folks in the city to see if I could stay there for a few days. They said no.

From the downtown L.A. bus station I went directly to the Strip which was the scene of not only young people everywhere milling about, but also bands like the Doors and the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield playing at Pandora’s Box and all the other cool clubs. None of these bands I saw, but whatever.

But one night I went to Whisky A Go Go (it’s still there), and saw not only the Youngbloods but also the Paupers, a great Toronto band who would play at the dance hall in my hometown Orillia from time to time. I also thought that maybe I’d meet a nice California girl at the Whisky and possibly get laid, but again, whatever.

I was on the Strip for about a week, staying in various dumps far from the good parts of West Hollywood, and being careful not to be out and about after 11 pm because Sunset was under curfew to those under 18 after huge riots had taken place there less than a year before. They made some sort of movie about this riot, called, aptly enough, “Riots on Sunset Strip”.

But one night, I think after the Youngbloods/Paupers show, I got sloppy, and while walking down the street around midnight, a cop pulled up and asked for ID. He saw that I was only 16, and the next thing I knew, I was in handcuffs that were way too tight, and hauled off to the cop shop.

At the station I asked the cops if they would phone Orillia, just like at the border, and have my folks take care of business. One of them phoned my mother, collect of course, and told her that I was arrested for breaking curfew and would be sent to a juvenile hall the following morning.

At juvenile hall, with big and impressive penitentiary-style walls, I turned over my clothes and wallet, which was all I had, and put on my new prison clothes. Then I was taken to a dormitory, given a bed and blankets, told the rules, and settled in.

It all kind of sucked of course, because I didn’t know how long I’d be there. Myself and a bunch of guys who were there for better reasons than breaking curfew, played cards and baseball, and I even had to take classes in a school room where I learned almost nothing about American history.

Then one morning, after about seven days, I was eating breakfast in the big hall when I heard my name called, and an official told me my parents had sent a plane ticket and I was leaving right away. So I left breakfast, got my clothes and wallet back, and was escorted to not only the airport, but right to my seat on the plane. They took curfew breakers seriously back then.

I got to Toronto, grabbed a bus up to Orillia, and the first thing my mother said to me was “we’re not mad”, although they probably weren’t thrilled about having to buy a plane ticket because they were pretty broke I think.

That’s the end of the story. I told a friend of mine who’s an LA cop about this a few years ago and he said that nowadays there’s no way they’d put a kid in juvenile for such a minor thing as curfew breaking. There’s way too many real criminals, and I’d just be taking up space.

 

 

 

We Interrupt This Habs Blog To Bring You A Special Message

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Exactly 40 years ago today, my buddy Mike and I were in Atlantic City to experience the glorious and highly-underrated three-day Atlantic City Pop Festival. It was August 1,2, and 3, 1969, and we got there a few days early, hung around the boardwalk, smoked dope, and then decided to find a ride to the racetrack 12 miles away, where the big show was about to begin.

Everyone, whether they know it or not, knows the music of many of the bands who were there. Any time you’ve ever heard classic rock at weddings and bars, on TV or movie soundtracks, or wherever your travels have taken you, then you’ve heard bands from this festival that compares favourably with Woodstock which happened two weeks later. Only Atlantic City didn’t have rain and mud.

And the lineup:

Janis Joplin was there, as were Creedence Clearwater, Santana, Procol Harum, Joe Cocker, Mothers of Invention, Moody Blues, Joni Mitchell, the Byrds, Johnny Winter etc, etc. About 30 bands in all. (Joni Mitchell left crying half-way through her set because no one was listening, and Skip Prokop of the Toronto-based Paupers told everyone that if they were about to be drafted and sent to Vietnam, just come to Canada, there’s plenty of room.

I didn’t even bring a sleeping bag for some reason, and slept for a few hours every night for a week on hard ground, with my jean jacket as a lousy pillow. But it didn’t matter. I was there for the music and friends and vibes and chicks and drugs.

I would’ve liked to have been at some of the other festivals. People talk about Woodstock, and soon the 40th anniversary of the historical event that defines a generation of baby boomers who had had enough of formality, politicians and the man, and spread the message of love, drugs, body odour, laziness, ego-tripping, social ladders to climb, and many low-lifes.

And Monterey in 1967  at the fairground, where Janis, the Who, and Jimi Hendrix broke big in North America like a tornado hitting a corn field. After Jimi lit his guitar on fire, the Who smash their guitars and amps, and Janis wail like a banshee with the blues, music took on a whole different meaning after that. All of sudden, things began to get serious. No more Herman’s Hermits. This was the real thing.

People recall the Isle of Wight, and John Lennon’s ‘Live Peace in Toronto’, and here and there and everywhere. But no one talks about Atlantic City. The lineup was as good as Woodstock, there were only 125,000 folks there instead of half a million, and it didn’t rain like Woodstock, where people played in ther mud. And going to the bathroom at Woodstock meant going anywhere. Must’ve been tough to impress the chicks when you’re squatting with your pants down.

So I’m using my Habs blog to tell as many people who read this that Atlantic City was a historic event in its own right, and when you hear soon that Woodstock is celebrating it’s 40th birthday, please keep in mind that the one Mike and I were at in Atlantic City, two weeks before Woodstock, deserves a place in history books too.

That's me on the left in white, about a year after Atlantic City. I'm with another buddy, Frank. I wish I had a picture of Mike from this time but I don't. Poor hippies didn't have cameras.
That's me on the left in white, about a year after Atlantic City. I'm with another buddy, Frank. I wish I had a picture of Mike from this time but I don't. Poor hippies didn't have cameras.