First he gets murdered - then his adventure begins
The train begins to slow for the next station stop. But
wait! Looking ahead I see smoke. There is a riot at the next
station. It’s in flames and swords and crude hatchets are
swinging. Bodies, some limbless, are hacked and strewn about
the area up ahead. A bullock cart is placed on the tracks by
the mob to stop the train. The mob sets fire to the
With a jerking sensation and sound the train gradually picks
up speed again. There is no alternative but to keep going and
crash through the barrier. Hang on! With a violent crash the train charges into the blockade
throwing fire everywhere. We’re all jolted on the roof. Some
passengers fall off. I see fellow travelers impaled by crude spears
and hacked with blades by the raging mob. I got to hold on
here. HOLD ON! - ‘Unnh!’ The train is too strong. The engine knocks aside the burning
bullock carts and keeps on going, faster, towards the Holy
Land of Rishikesh at the foot of the Himalayas.
I pick myself up after being thrown on my back by the loud
crash. Many of my fellow squatters are gone, fallen into the
madness. The roof is half empty. Oh, thank God! He saved
me again. Looking back I see the burning station growing smaller as
the train moves on... I cling to the roof of the train, the engine
smoke choking, catching in my throat. I cough: ‘Akh Akh!’
‘Hey Bhagavan, meri raksha koro!’ - Oh God, protect me!
The Sun is setting quickly as the train continues chugging
along the open landscape and darkness overtakes the sinking
daylight. God, it’s getting cold!
Bricks and big rocks begin to rain down onto the ghats. Some
of the Indian women jump into the river. My God, they’re
going to die! Some people are hit by the bricks. ‘Yikes!’ There
is pushing and some of the crowd falls into the river. Others
are trampled under foot as the evil bastards invade this
sanctuary striking at anyone they can kill.
I look up and see some of the hooligans running down the
steps. How can I stop them? Oh God, am I ready for this? I
stand up holding my trident and beg the rioters to stop killing,
‘Nahi nahi!’ Suddenly a certain shot is fired into the crowd. It’s like all
sound stops except the echo gun blast: BLAM! I hear nothing
but a zinging sound and see a bullet coming, spinning toward
me. Thaaap! ‘Ulp!’ I feel choked as something hot rips through
my neck. ’Akh ghh!’ The force of the bullet knocks me
backward off the bathing ghat into the swirling current with
a splash. All is black. Am I blind? ‘Huh? Kya hum mar
chuke hai?’ - What, am I dead?
I can make out a shaking light and hear the approach of suction
noises. Like howling wind. I feel racked with a chill. ‘Ahhuh?’
I hear my rapid fearful breathing, fast thumping heartbeats, growing fainter.
I grasp out. Where am, ‘huh?’ I feel like I’m hanging onto a
cliff made of ice. Cold. I helplessly slip off with a sickening
falling sensation. Then the noises. Oh man! Talk about scary! Howling wind
and suction sounds. I see the blackness form into a glowing
orange-pinkish winding tunnel and I’m helplessly swept
through the twisting flow. Past old memories – hazy flashes:
orange robed sadhus, forests, family members, baby stuff, the
kind face of a mother turns into ice. I’m dragged, rushing through the glowing tunnel...
‘Hey, er, check out this little trick I came up with,’ Glenn says
to Greg. Glenn reaches into a small, battered suitcase next to
his amp and pulls something out. It’s a light bulb. ‘I’ve been
conducting some experiments with light and sounds,’ he
continues.’ We all look at each other like, ‘Uh oh.’ Glenn
checks himself, not wanting us to think he’s a square or
‘Anyway, I soldered a bulb from a brake light onto a guitar
jack.. Now if I plug this thing into my speaker output..’ Glenn
plugs a light into the back of his amp, ‘..and one into yours,
Greg.’ He reaches behind Greg’s amplifier. Greg’s like, ‘Hey! That thing’s not gonna blow up my amp
or anything, is it?’ ‘Oh no. At least it shouldn’t – providing the output
transformer has sufficient..’ Glenn checks himself again. Greg
looks skeptical and nervous. Steve and I snicker to ourselves.
Finally Glenn is ready. ‘OK, let’s do that last number again
and, er, hit the lights would ya, Duane?’
Click. It’s all dark. We start playing ‘You Don’t Have to Go’
again. As the music gets louder the lights in the back of the
amplifiers glow brighter and then dimmer along with the
volume of the music. It’s an eerie effect in the darkened room
and we’re all excited. Greg looks over at Glenn and nods
with approval at the improvised light show, as the music
continues. Oh man, visual music! Rad! Poof! Suddenly there’s a soft explosion, a flash, then darkness.
The music stops. I hear Greg’s anguished voice, ‘Oh, man!
Not my friggen amp!’ Then Frank: ‘Dude! Not my friggen house!’
We blast out about twelve blues numbers and finish off with
‘Goin’ To New York.’ What the? When we stop playing the
crowd is silent. Jeez! Gulp! Then all at once the audience
swarms around the stage pulling us down and hugging us
and buying us drinks. I spot Steve with a group of blacks. One dude tells him, ‘Way
I figga, yo all playin’ betta blues than old Jefferson las’ night.’
‘Thanks, we love the blues,’ Steve smiles.
Another black dude says, ‘Man, y’all the blues brothas, fo
sho.’ All the other blacks start talking at once and they’re all slapping
us on the backs and praising us. God! Look at friggen John
Peel! What a huge grin!
After the gig, as we’re outside loading the stuff into the Uhaul
trailer, two carloads of white-trash rednecks screech to a
halt in front. One is a pick-up covered in primer, the other a
Chevy convertible. Three rednecks jump out and come over
to us. One asshole pushes me, and Steve immediately jumps
in between. ‘Sh*t, what you pansies doin’ here in nigga land?’ this dick head
asks. Steve’s like, ‘Man, it’s cool.’ He points his thumb over his
shoulder toward the front of the club. ‘We just played here,
in this club.’
This other redneck looks surprised. ‘Man, what? Y’all played
here? Fer them niggas? What y’all, some kind-a nigga lovers
or somethin?’ ‘Come on man, we’re a band,’ I plead. ‘We’re not against
anything, except war!’ Another redneck shouts, ‘Bet you nigga lovers think y’all hot
shiit! Huh?’ ‘Naa man, it’s cool, no big deal,’ Steve and I try to cool down
the scene, but these dirtbags won’t let go. ‘Ta hell with you, whatcha call my buddy?’ one screams.
‘Nothin, man, nothing!’ It turns into a pre-fight standoff as the 10 rednecks start
Thinking fast, I glance around, spot Aladdin’s
‘magic lamp’ on the street, I quickly pick it up, rub it, make
my wish, and...‘Poof!’ In a cloud of smoke twenty black dudes come pouring
out of the club and surround us. Ouuuuo! Heavy! ‘Bad To The Bone!’ Yeah, crank it up!
One brother shouts, ‘Hey white buoy! What cho all doin
messin with our soul brothers hea?’ He turns to a huge black
dude and says, ‘Hey Leroy, cho think we goin’ burn some
white trash taa-night?’ ‘Shit, blood! I ain’t prej’dist or nothin,’ Leroy slurs in
perfect Jive, ‘but I just hate honkies!’
First dude is like, ‘Yeah man, time for some turkey jerky!
Whatcha say, bloods?’ All the black guys start shouting and some pull out knives,
and some lead pipes, which they show off.
Would you believe? We start out pretending to be English,
and we actually become a British band, in real-live London.
‘How in the world did that happen?’ Well, it all
started with John Peel, at Hollywood’s crazy Pandora’s Box
rock club. A mighty wild night that would really change our
lives. We’re on stage. The club’s lights are out. The only light is
the flashing coming from behind our amps. We’re playing
The Yardbird’s classic, ‘I’m Not Talking’ – in OUR style.
And we’re just coming to our long freak out solo, where we
leave the stage with music on auto-pilot. No sh*t!
The music suddenly jerks to a halt, and into the microphone
I shout, ‘I’M NOT TALKIN’ Then the band comes in together ..CRASH!..and again jerks
to a stop. I finish the rap, ‘THAT’S ALL I GOTTA SAY!’
Drum roll. Feedback: ‘Bhuzzzzzz’ Whoa, here we go. Glenn
begins amazing shrieks and screeching sounds in Indian raga
style, and all the guys get their guitars feeding back in different
tremolo speeds, some fast, like ‘wah wah wah’, some slow,
like, ‘woo woo woo.’ The guys remove their guitars, lean
them against their amps, and we all jump off the stage into
the audience, leaving the guitars feeding back. Moe is the
only band member on stage, keeping the beat. The lights
flash in sync with the screaming feedback, accompanied by
Moe’s pounding drums. The scene is unreal.
Me and the other guys go behind the crowd to see how it
looks. It’s spectacular! Mind-blowing! The bartender even
closes the bar to watch the spectacle of the world’s first-ever
psychedelic light show. We all stand with him looking as our
unattended guitars wail away in controlled feedback, the likes
of which Hollywood, and the world, has never seen.
John Peel is standing with the band, and has to shout into my
ear to be heard. ‘Rick! RICK! Look at the crowd!’ We both
see the crowd, hypnotized, all their eyes on the near empty
flashing, screaming stage, their mouths just hanging open...
‘Ha!’ I laugh. John is straining his voice to tell me, ‘Rick, I know we’ve
tried the record companies here. All they want is what sells: pop music!’
The stunning sounds suddenly get louder. Glenn has climbed
back on stage and starts an Indian raga-riff, making it feed
back even more. Moe keeps the steady beat, along with Steve
who also joins in again. I’m still standing behind the crowd with John. I ask him,
‘What? What did you say?’ ‘I THINK YOU SHOULD MOVE TO LONDON!’ he
shouts into my ear.
Steve is pissed at this cold attitude: ‘Bad publicity? Surely
that’ll be good publicity for us. Nobody supports the war.
Even the Beatles spoke out against it.’ ‘Good publicity for the group, yes,’ responds the lawyer, ‘in
the eyes of certain segments of the public at least. But it won’t
reflect well on the Phillips-Fontana organization. They’d say
we were harboring a fugitive. It could make things rather
sticky with some of our American affiliates too.’
‘It’s out of the question,’ interjects Baverstock with authority.
‘We’re overlooking a very important factor too. If the group
takes off here – which I believe they will – we’ll want to break
into the American market. The group will need to tour there.
No, no, we need to find another solution. There could be
millions of pounds at stake here.’
‘Precisely. So what do you propose?’ asks Peter.
Another of the lawyers has been examining my draft notice.
‘There could be some legal recourse,’ he says. ‘Mr. Brown is
a uniquely talented individual, and he is legally contracted to
our organization. As such a cause could be made for his
exemption on the grounds that he is a necessary, skilled worker
under contract to a respected international corporation. If
we prepare the necessary papers and affidavits I’d say we’re
on fairly solid ground.’
‘Yes,’ Jack agrees, ‘It’s just good business sense – even the
Yanks can understand that. They respect money above
everything else, after all.’
‘Don’t we all?’ quips Peter.
Everyone in the room chuckles at this remark with the notable
exception of us five band members.
David picks up the ball. ‘And Mr. Brown and his group are
also under an exclusive management contract to our company.
All this is in writing and legally binding.’
‘OK,’ Peter adds, ‘so between our legal chaps and yours we
can put together the necessary paperwork and your people
can file it over there in the States.’
Jack glances at his lawyer. ‘I should say so.’ Then he looks at
me, ‘Looks like you’re off the hook, kid! You can just
concentrate on making music for us instead of running
through the jungle shooting the Viet Cong!
I’m thinking, What the hell is a Viet Kong? Some kinda huge
Oriental monkey? ‘Well, not quite,’ says the lawyer, still looking closely at my
papers. ‘Mr. Brown will have to present the paperwork to the
US draft board in person.’ I hear my voice on Planet Mars, ‘In person?’
‘You mean go back there?’ Tony looks stunned.
‘Yes.’ ‘There’s no way around that?’ asks Jack.
‘I’m afraid not.’ I’m thinking out loud, ‘But what if...?’
BRRRRRINGGGGGGGGGGGGGG! Huh? What the f**k? Is that a fire bell? Are we on fire?
I sit up. WHAT? I’m sleeping on the top of an Army bunk bed! It’s dark.
BRRRRRRRINGGGGGGGGGGGGGG! All the lights turn on ...blinding after the dark room. The
goddamn bell stops. WHAM! BAM! The two doors burst open and huge booted
drill sergeants come marching in like the giants from hell.
The four marching drill sergeants stop in the center of the
barracks and one of them, a huge black DI bellows out, ‘Well
well, lookie hea! You all regular sleepin’ beauties! Well I got
some baaad news fo’ you! I ain’t no Tinkerbell, ya hea? Now
we gonna have some fun tonight.’
I look out the window where it is pouring with cold rain and
blowing cold wind. Huh? The wall clock says 2 A.M.
‘Listen up!’ he continues. ‘We all goin to daa Nam. Ya hea?
We goin over there an’ hunt Charlie! And that Charlie he a
baaad muthafucka! Well, it ain’t so tidy over there, an’ one
day you all gonna thank me for this here trainin.’
‘Gee, thanks! Do you take rainchecks?’ I wonder to myself.
‘Now git outta yo bunks and hit the deck, on the double!
NOW you candy-ass sons-a-bitches! NOW! MOVE IT!!’
The four sergeants start walking up and down the barracks
banging their sticks and long flashlights on the bedposts. The
racket and noise is terrible, I stumble out of bed, ripped on two hits of lightning. I glance
around the barracks and it looks like the 4th of July, with
fireworks exploding inside the room. I’m like, ‘Oh! Maaaan! Oh MAN!’
The huge black drill sergeant walks up to me. I’m standing
next to my bunk in long white winter underwear and socks –
it is cold! The huge Sergeant puts his nose against my nose
and shouts, ‘Private Brown, is you ready fo’ some mo’ basic
trainin?’ He then turns to face the double line of dazed recruits. ‘Private
Brown here is gonna take us fo’ some BT, ain’t that right,
Private Brown?’ I try to reply but can’t find my mouth. ‘Speak up, soldier!’
Jeez, now I can’t even find my face. Sh*t! Me who? With a loud smack, the Sergeant slaps my ear with his
flashlight, causing me to see stars. ‘Muthafucka we gon’ party ta-night! All right, everybody lets
get outside to da parade groun’. Now let’s move it, soldiers,
double time, now, move, move!’
At the top of Brahma Hill, behind the Sriji Temple, is the
sacred Temple of Anger, Maan Mandira. Later that day, I’m
sitting on the dirt floor of Maan Mandira talking with Ramesh
Babaji. Ramesh wears only a loincloth. He has just blown my
mind. ‘Big killer monkey?’ I gasp. ‘Yes, yes!’ he warns me. ‘You must beware! My old mother
was bitten. Now she is in Koshi hospital. This monkey is mad! And he is bloodthirsty – so dangerous. Did you see the wound
on Shaki Charan’s shoulder? It looks like a lion bite; so many
stitches.’ Macho me, I put on a brave face: ‘Gulp!’
Ramesh continues the horror story: ‘The Vrajavasis want my
permission to poison, but I cannot agree. They may do as
they please. I was attacked but I drove him away somehow.
You must be very careful when going downstairs to bathe.
He may attack.’ I’m thinking, if you consider this monkey dangerous then
you should see my friggen high school in Riverside, dude!
But what I say is, ‘Ulp! I’ll be careful.’
At the foot of Varshana Hill and below Maan Mandira is a
small bathing pond named Krishna Kunda. It’s early the next
morning and I’ve finished bathing and mantra meditation
and I’m ready to return back up the hill. I wave to the local
children who all know me. They come running over and hand
me me a staff-like spear that is sharp at one end.
‘Yeeaah danda lea-jya!’ (Here, take this spear), the kids offer
with big smiles all around. I take the spear and thank the boys. ‘Bahu dhanyavad!’
(Thanks a lot!). All the kids just giggle.
I start walking up the stone steps to the hilltop temple of
Maan Mandira. It is deathly quiet. The hill has dark green
forest on both sides of the stone stairway winding back up to
the top. The silence gives me an uneasy feeling, but by the
time I’m about halfway up I start to feel more confident.
Suddenly though, all the monkeys start shrieking and shaking
the trees. I quickly look around and spot the dreaded killer
monkey bounding toward me at full speed.
I raise my spear just in time as it stops the big monkey just
three meters in front of me. Whoa! This monkey is twice as
big as any other monkey I’ve seen, and he’s ready to pounce.
He bares his fangs and hisses like he really hates my guts. I’m shaking inside. Face to face with death. A standoff. Slowly
I start to walk backwards up the steps. The killer monkey follows, ready to jump. I walk up a few more steps and the
monkey continues to follow. Man, this is bad!
Sure enough Paul returns that night on the Kathmandu bus,
and he catches up with us at Kali Baba’s dhuni fire cave.
‘So that’s it, man,’ he tells us, ‘the end of an era. The club is
closed and Randy and the others are still in jail. I talked to
Mohan and he says they didn’t find the guy they’re after.
Man, it’s good we split that night because the next morning
they swept the whole valley.’
Paul’s also got something for me, a telegram addressed to me
‘c/o Nepal Bank.’ He’d spotted it tacked to the notice board
at the bank. I take the folded telegram and open it. Holding
it close to the fire I read it to myself. Whoa! I must look confused, or amazed, or surprised. I start laughing.
‘Who’s it from, Hrisikesh?’ asks Dev. I’m laughing and shaking my head. ‘Oh man, it’s from our
godbrother, Shyam, and you won’t believe this.’ I hand the
telegram to Devananda who looks carefully. He too starts chuckling, then holds up the telegram for all to see.
‘“DISCOVERED RUBY MINE COME IMMEDIATELY”… Oh man, Hrisikesh, that’s too far out!’
‘Ruby mine! Where?’ Paul’s greedy ears twitch in anticipation.
‘Says here Hyderabad,’ I tell him. ‘That’s in South India. Man I’ve never been there, but it seems Shyam needs me, like, now!’
‘Whatta ya gonna do?’ asks Dev. ‘I gotta go! Man, ruby mine? Unreal!’
‘How? You got no papers?’ Dev reminds me. I think. Let’s see… ‘Well, I’ll walk in through Birganj,’ I begin.
‘Then I guess hitch a train to Hyderabad. I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but it’s a dead end here. And this is just too
cool: a ruby mine!’ ‘What about me, Hrisikesh?’ asks Dev. ‘I don’t wanna go to
India.’ ‘That’s cool. I travel faster alone. You better stay here with
Paul and Kali Baba.’
Turning to Kali Baba I ask, ‘Kali Baba, kya aap ke saath
Devananda reh setkt-hai?’ (Baba, can Devananda stay here with
you?) Kali Baba laughs. ‘Woe toe teak hai! Tum kahan janna?’ (Sure,
that’s OK! Where are you going?). I explain to Kali Baba the amazing news about a ruby mine in
India. With a sparkle in his eyes, he just grins. Seems like he is
not impressed. I bow to Kali Baba and ask his blessing: a thumb smear of
ashes. Yeah! I get up and begin to exit the cave. ‘Don’t worry,
guys, I’ll be back loaded with rubies.’ Paul and Devananda both speak in harmony: ‘Cool!’
Next thing I know I’m on an old bus driving down the curvy
mountain roads. At Birganj I make my nighttime jungle-trek,
crossing the land border into India.
I pull out a book and show it to him. ‘Ira, this Sanskrit book
I just bought and Kali Baba both say there are nine gems and
these gems are astrologically related to nine Vedic planets.
Like ruby for the Sun and pearl for the Moon… do you know
about this?’ Ira reaches into his knee-high bookshelf and pulls out a big
heavy book and lays it on the table. I look at the title: ‘The
Secret Teachings of All Ages.’ ‘This has all the answers,’ says Ira seriously.
He leafs throug some back pages, then through some front
pages, and finally opens the book near the center and looks it
over closely. ‘Here’s your answer, my friend!’ he says, pointing
at a paragraph. I take the book and begin to read.
‘The rays of the celestial bodies, striking the crystallizing influences of the lower world,
become the various elements. Partaking of the astral virtues
of their source, these elements, when properly combined,
contribute much to the well-being of man.’ ‘Wow!’ I exclaim.
‘Please continue.’ Ira prods me. ‘The philosopher Agrippa has described in “Three Books of
Occult Philosophy” the basic preparation of astrological rings
as follows.’ I take a deep breath before going further. ‘When
any star ascends fortunately we must take a stone and herb
that is under that star, and make a ring of the metal that is
suitable to this star, and in it fasten the stone, putting the
herb or root under it, not omitting the inscriptions of images,
names and characters, as also the proper suffumigations.’
I’m blown out. ‘Wow! This is it! Gems are for planets; gems
for the good planets. This is how to make real talismans. Ira,
this knowledge is a great treasure. It’s the jeweled secret!’
Ira smiles as he closes the huge book. ‘Indeed, Hrisikesh,
that’s why this book is called the “Secret Teachings of All
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