Tag Archives: Whisky A Go Go

The Boys Are Back In Town

Rocktown Magazine (Let your eyes feed your ears)

By Leonard Bingo

Sunset Boulevard was still reasonably quiet when I sat down with master keyboardist Homer Gibson and the notoriously difficult yet ultra-talented Denny (Killer) Kane. After all, it was still mid-morning, but the news hit my ears like a thousand cars inching along the Strip with horns blaring on a Saturday night.

Gibson, wearing his trademark vest, Bermuda shorts, and Powell River Kings t-shirt, is almost unrecognizable now after decades of hard rock star living, but Kane, in his dapper business suit and shirt that reads ‘Welcome to Orillia, home of Lightfoot and Kane’, looks young and healthy, possibly because of having his blood drained and replaced in Switzerland a decade ago.

“We’re putting the band back together again,” blurted Gibson as I sipped green tea while the pair chugged beer and ate homemade brownies they said came from one of the many female fans who regularly sent the legendary Carnaby Knights  gifts from MILK (mothers interested in licking Knights). MILK members have dedicated their lives to the band since the rockers burst onto the scene in 1964 with their massive hit ‘You Don’t Know Me But I know You (Cause I look Through Your Bathroom Window), and never gave up hope of sleeping with at least one of them, preferably Kane.


Early Carnaby Knights, before they shook the world. “We had no idea” said Homer. “The girls, the money, the fame. We weren’t ready yet.”

The two of them waited while I digested the news. The Carnaby Knights hadn’t been together in many, many years, and it seemed unreal that the band  would consider such a thing now. All four continued to live lavish lifestyles, compliments of record sales and previous world tours, and they had their successful solo careers. But now this. They’re getting back together. My tea grew cold as my head swirled.

“Why now?” I asked. “You’ve nothing left to prove. The Knights were the best, but can you do it again?”

Kane ordered another four pints for him and Homer, and looked me square in the eyes. “You bet we can, because we rock. The Carnaby Knights folded up shop way too soon. We were neck and neck with Zeppelin, we had outsold the Beatles, and women voted us the hottest rockers on the planet, but we quit because, well, we didn’t see eye to eye on a bunch of things.”

The beer arrived, and I noticed Kane and Homer looking at each other. Getting the news out was big for them too. And they seemed like old friends once again, after all those public and insane quarrels we all knew about.

I finished my tea and ordered a double tequila. It was too early for beer, but I needed a something to fully take in what I was hearing.

The Carnaby Knights were my favourite band, there was no question. Gibson on keyboards, Izzy Brash on bass, Bobby Folsom on lead, and Dougie Jumpstarter on drums were groundbreakers. They had changed the world through their music, and had become known as gurus to the guys in Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Yes, even the Fab Four had asked for tips more than once.

And then there was Kane, whose vocals sent crowds wild and women into a frenzy. He was what Robert Plant aimed to be, with vocals that ranged from soft to ear shattering, melodic to punkish, sensual to violent. No one sang like Kane, and we always understood that this was a guy born to rock.

Together, the boys’ music was magical, the true inspiration for Pet Sounds and Sgt. Peppers, and of course the genius of Pink Floyd. Waters and Gilmour will certainly flip when they hear the news. Jann Wenner is gonna be pissed when he gets wind that I landed the scoop. But Rolling Stone was certainly no Rocktown, and the two legends wanted to tell the world through the biggest and best rock rag. So they had called me and I was there to meet them within the  hour.

“We were bored hanging out at our pads with all the dope and champagne and beer and entourages and swimming pool orgies” explained Kane. “So I rang Homer. I said, hey Homer, let’s put the band back together again, and after Homer slept on it and woke up in late afternoon a couple of days later, he called and said he was all in.”

I saw a problem though, and wasn’t sure if now was the time to bring it up. The world knew about the band’s fights over the years, the slandering of each other in the papers, the drunken episodes at the Roxy and Whisky, and the night at the Troubadour when they yelled out lewd remarks to Linda Ronstadt and were promptly thrown out into the street. Even worse, the club and Dan Tana’s restaurant next door pressed charges after Homer took a dump in front of the ticket window and drove his Harley through the high-end eatery.

“What about the other guys?” I finally asked, and the pair guzzled their beer and paused for a minute. Finally, Kane let it out after ordering four more.

“We don’t want them back,” he said angrily. “Brash was boring, he never drank or popped acid or anything that he should’ve been doing. Hell, he even stayed in his room and read books when we had our swimming pool orgies. Folsom could play, man could he play, but he was beginning to think he was bigger than the band. Don’t forget, he almost ruined us when he told the press the Knights were bigger than Sinatra. And Jumpstarter just wasn’t what we wanted in a drummer. We thought there were better guys out there, and it was a drag that he seemed to be liked by the groupies a bit too much. So after our last gig, the one when we headlined the Isle of Texada, I told Brian (Saperstein), to take care of it.”

“So now we’re looking for new members, but Clapton’s basically retired, Jack Bruce and Hendrix are dead, and Ginger Baker’s an asshole. But it’s okay, we’re starting to put the word out. Maybe we’ll be three-piece band now. Just me, Homer, and maybe Neil Peart. We’ll see. I might give (Jeff) Beck a call.”

I scribbled in my pad at a furious rate and ordered another double tequila. Eleven in the morning wasn’t too early now. “What’s gonna happen when you’re ready?” I asked.

Homer put his beer down and looked at me. “We’re gonna be huge again, that’s what’s gonna happen. We’ll start by cutting an album, maybe call it ‘The Carnaby Knights Are Back in Your Face’, and we’ll tour. Probably kick it off here in L.A., and then New York, Chicago, Paris, London, Powell River, Drumheller, Moose Jaw. Really man, I can’t wait.”

Then, while I was still slightly dazed, they simply rose and left, leaving me with my thoughts and the bill. How I’d always wanted the Carnaby Knights to play again, and now it seemed it could happen. The Knights’ music was timeless of course, always innovative, and yes, definitely unequaled.

I paid the bill, closed my notebook, and walked out onto Sunset. I could picture them again, rocking the nearby Hollywood Bowl and hopefully the Carlson Club in Powell River, where it all started, all those years ago. The news made my day, my week, my year, and I hustled to the office to file my story.

Where they were now I wasn’t sure, they had quickly disappeared down the street, but I know where I’ll be when the time comes. At their first show of course. And I’ll be in seventh heaven.

It had been a long and winding road, but the Carnaby Knights will record one more time at least, stand on stage, rock the world like they used to, and drive women insane once again. It’s unbelievable. And it’s beautiful.

Below, the Carnaby Knights at the peak of their career. But the infighting was just beginning.

 

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.

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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 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.

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Cheering For The Kings I Guess

It’s taken the Los Angeles Kings only nine games to remove the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues from the playoff picture, and when is it going to get hard for them? If they keep going like this, the major studios will come calling.

I’ve decided that I’m hoping the Kings go all the way. They’re the one NHL city I can almost accept right now, I suppose because they’ve been around since 1967, the first year of expansion, and for me that’s some solid history. Along with Orillian Jiggs McDonald handling the first play-by-play.  (The other new teams were St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Minnesota).

Heck, I’m just trying to find a team to cheer for. And it wasn’t going to be Philadelphia.

So why not L.A.? And besides, they win by default  because I could care less about the other teams playing and I like going to Los Angeles. It’s that simple. I thought I might be cheering for the Rangers because the Big Apple is so great, but I haven’t seen many Ranger games, and the ones I have seen, I forget.

And of course, L.A. has magnificent palm trees.

The L.A. Kings were born when the Sunset Strip, a few miles west of the Fabulous Forum, was filled with long haired youth toking and provoking and often forgetting underarm deodorant. The Doors and Janis Joplin blew it out at the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, the streets were abuzz, crowds gathered at the Troubadour and Pandora’s Box and at the theatres to see Dustin Hoffman seduced by Ann Bancroft. Things were hopping, and definitely, the players from that first year in LA were in their new city at a very cool time.

Although I suppose being on the hockey team got in the way of a lot of things.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were my favourite baseball team back then, but I see in checking the Dodgers 1967 season that they finished 28 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, so I guess they sucked at that time. But regardless, palm trees grew behind the outfield walls at Dodger Stadium and the team once boasted the sensational pitching duo of lefty Sandy Koufax and the righthanded Don Drysdale, who were even more important than palm trees.

L.A.s a good place with great weather. It hardly ever rains, unlike where I live. It’s on the ocean, and there’s some nice neighborhoods, and of course some not-so-nice neighborhoods. I’m sure you’ve seen both in the movies. Also, the freeways are ridiculously packed and drivers on regular streets are on their horns to the guy in front of them about a millisecond after the light turns green. I know about this quite a bit.

But aside from that and a few other things, (okay, a lot of things), it’s a lively and interesting place to visit. I think it always has been. Humphrey Bogart liked it.

For me it would be fine to see the Kings go all the way. Why not?

Keep it going, Kings. Go Dodgers. Go Habs, next year!

 

 

 

 

A Few Tips For The Boys While In LA

Just a few tips for the boys while they’re in California.

If you’re going to be in West Hollywood at this time, it would be cruel to make the rookies buy the drinks at the Viper Room on Sunset Boulevard. They’ll be paying off their credit card longer than students take to pay off student loans. Don’t forget to pack Scott Gomez’ credit card.

If you plan on going to see live music at the Troubadour on Santa Monica Blvd, it’s cash only there, and on the 3rd, when you take on the Kings, you can probably make the late show to see the Blasters. It’s just 20 bucks. With cash only, hopefully Gomez slipped you a few bucks before you left Montreal.

If you plan on walking west on Santa Monica Blvd. to the Troubadour, you’ll walk through Boys Town, so be prepared to see guys holding hands and such.

If you want to hang out on the Sunset Strip and don’t want to pay Viper Room rates, then head over to Whisky A Go Go, but be prepared to stand because there’s only a few seats and tables upstairs.

Playing at the Whisky on the 3rd – Sam Behymer and the Bowties, Never Before, Dee Dee O’Malley, and a couple of others. Tickets can be bought at the door and they’re not saying how much. Just charge it to Scott Gomez, whatever it is.

WHISKY MENU
Hamburger w/ Fries $6.75
Turkey Burger w/ Fries $6.75
Cheesebuger w/ Fries $7.00
Veg. Burger w/ Fries $6.75
Shrimp Poppers w/ Fries or Onion Rings $9.00
Curly Fries $5.00
Chicken Wings $6.75
Chicken Fingers w/ Ranch $6.75
Onion Rings $5.50
Stuffed Jalapenos $6.00
Whiskey Fries $5.00
Potato Skins w/ Bacon $6.50
Dinner Salad (Ranch or Italian) $6.50

 

Ranch – .75
Sour Cream – .75

When you’re walking east on the Sunset Strip from the Whisky, about a block away, please pause and reflect on the fact that this is where I was picked up for being under 18 and breaking curfew back in 1967 and had to spend a week in a Juvenile Hall. You won’t have to worry about this, but just be careful with these West Hollywood cops, especially if you’ve beaten the hometown Kings only hours before. But if you need bail money, just phone Gomez.

While on Sunset Strip, get in a bunch of cabs, head east to the outskirts of Beverly Hills, and rendevous at the Beverly Hills Hotel where you can enjoy caviar at the Polo Lounge. ($180.00). Tell them to bill Scott Gomez.

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.

 

 

 

What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been. Part Two

The drive back from Vegas has been very cool, in a non-weather sort of way. We fought traffic through LA to take close-up pictures of the big old Hollywood sign up on the hills, and shortly after, cruised the Sunset Strip. The Strip brings back slightly unsettling memories for me, as it was there in 1967 when I was busted for breaking the 11 o’clock curfew for those under 18 that was instilled at the time because of previous riots, (I was only 16 and all alone) and I was thrown in the slammer for seven days and deported back to Canada.

This time, though, things are much different, as I’m all grown up and married and have some money for food and shelter, and we hopped back in our car and drove through Beverly Hills, down to Santa Monica, spent the night in Malibu and walked along the beach the next morning, gawking at all the beach homes belonging to the filthy-rich who may or may not have made their money legally. After that it was up to San Francisco where we gazed at Alcatraz from the marina, and then over the Golden Gate bridge heading north. The only time I heard from Gaston in the back seat during this whole trip was when we passed the turnoff to San Quentin penitentiary and he got all excited because he felt homesick and started to think about those Christmases and such that he’d spent there with all his old pals. Who says you can’t go home again?

There were other highlights. Salinas, from the pages of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, that Kris Kristofferson and Janis Joplin sang about in Me and Bobby McGee. “And somewhere near Salinas, Lord, I let her slip away.” There was the Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood that I went in again to see after 40 years, the place I was at just before I got busted in 1967. There was the greaser bar in the Napa Valley that is now my favourite juke joint. Just wash your hands afterwards. Actually, it’s not my favourite juke joint. It was really a piece of shit.

And there were all the beautiful palm trees throughout the trip which I have major affection for.

Now we’re nearing home, rain, reality, and the cat. I’d like to turn around and go again.