> Seth Returns Back Story
Seth Returns Back Story - Episode 1
Seth Returns Back Story - Episode 2
Seth Returns Back Story - Episode 3
Seth Returns Back Story - Episode 4
Seth Returns Back Story - Episode 5
Seth Returns Back Story - Episode 6
A Tale of New Drugs, High Journalism, the Search for a Spiritual Awakening and the Failure to Find One
Return to Normalcy
I incurred a nasty case of culture shock coming back from Wyoming to California. I was a little uncivilized from my solo activities out West...
That's because I did some gigs in the mountains there where it would be just me in a double-wide trailer on some oil field. After a dry hole (no oil) or a wet hole (oil) they would wrap things up on the site and take all the trailers but one off the camp. Then guys like me would inhabit those trailers alone for up to two months at a time as security. I listened to Larry King
on the radio, the only station I could get, usually, and the news. I had a mean collection of cassettes because I belonged to the Columbia Records Club
thing, where they would send you new cassettes each month, even though you didn't want them to. I also had a cheap little electric guitar and a Fender amp and I practiced a lot. Smoke on the Water
Smoke on the Water, man.
Did a lot of reading out there with the coyotes and eagles and groundhogs. I read all of John D. Macdonald
's superbly written crime novels. I was obsessed, actually. Ya see, I was in isolation with my imagination as my only friend. Perhaps you can relate. I spent hours analyzing his writing style and dissolving into his characters. He had this way of drawing you into the story from the first sentence. Pretty good trick. You would have to read his novels to understand my meaning here... Go ahead. You know you want to. What, are ya scared?
So yes, I got a gig as a sous chef and eventually worked my way up to chef in a quaint little restaurant called the El Paseo
in Mill Valley CA. We served French Cuisine of a high caliber and the wine list was top notch too. Fortunately for me I was not drinking, yet. The place was in central Mill Valley in Marin County CA, the home of many well-known musicians. The waiters would tell us what famous rock star was being served - Sammy Hagar
for example - and we would give the dish the star treatment: extra care, extra quality, extra butter
After work I would retire to my apartment just over the restaurant. That place was also quite quaint, in the Spanish Colonial style. I enjoyed my life there. That's my old apartment in the upper left of the picture. Coincidentally, Sammy Hagar later bought the place and made a go of it. The worm keeps turning...
You may quote me on that. (Photo by Craig Lee)
High Frontiers #1
Then in 1983 another plot point to the story my life materialized. The Pacific Sun
is a local weekly newspaper in Marin. (synchronistically, we were on the cover of the PS many years later with the Seth Project. I was an avid reader of the Sun because at the time there was not much else in terms of alt media from which to choose, other than the Coastal Post.
, a snappy little muckraking paper out of Bolinas. (synchronistically, my wife Carol Joy, whom I would meet in 1989, would go on to be a star reporter for the CP. I know! I too am amazed!!)
A classified ad in the PS caught my eye. A guy named Ken was looking for people to help him put together a psychedelic magazine. As you know, because you are an ardent, almost compulsive reader of these messages, I have had a love affair with these accoutrements since I was a pre-teen. So I had to call him and I did.
Within days we were putting together High Frontiers - The space age newspaper of psychedelics, science, human potential, irreverance and modern art
, at RU Sirius' direction. (RU Sirius was Ken Goffman's nom de plume. Mine was Somerset Mau Mau) And in a startlingly brief period, I thought, we had pulled together some material on Timothy Leary, Albert Hoffman, Terence McKenna and Stafford and Eisner with a cartoon by Zippy the Pinhead. We wrote some copy, culled some primitive graphics from the public domain and borrowed the money necessary to print the First Issue.
Ken and I bragged to each other that we had effectively "tweeked the paradigm" with that first issue. Years later I discovered that we may have done just that. Maniacal laugh. Brief coughing fit.
Read it Here!
High Frontiers #2
a photographer with a big vision AND a big proboscis, presided over the construction of the HF number 2. It took quite a bit longer to put it together than the first issue, as the Nose was a meticulous sort. Number 2 included articles on Ram Dass, Robert Anton Wilson, Paul Krassner, Terence McKenna, Nick Herbert, and of course some pieces by Somerset Mau Mau and RU Sirius et al. But the thing dragged on so long that I found myself distracted by the New Drugs
and other enticements. So what we had here was a rich compost of earthly delights, and some not of the earth. Maybe Arcturian?
Read it Here!
The Abysmal Depths
Cutting to the chase: I started drinking again and began mixing the drugs of the era - MDMA, 2CB, LSD
and some other yet to be identified substances, as well as T. McKenna mushrooms - with alcohol. This had the synergistic effect, as you quite well might imagine, of pushing yours truly over the edge of an already precarious psychic construct and into The Personal Underworld. I was spending so much time in the Personal Underworld I decided to buy a pair of night goggles.
Personal Power Outage
With a powerful explosive force equal to the effects of 1,000 sheets of Acid
, I launched from the High Frontiers headquarters in Berkeley and landed back in Marin. All I had was my van and a portable typewriter. To make ends meet, I applied for and got a position as Chef at a restaurant in development called La Bamba
. It was to be an upscale authentic Mexican cuisine restaurant in Tam Junction in Mill Valley.
They were tying the opening of the place with the premier of the movie La Bamba, the story of Ritchie Valens and his song La Bamba. Lou Diamond Phillips, the star of the movie, would make an appearance at the restaurant opening. It promised to be quite the event. However, I didn't make it to the premiere of La Bamba the movie and the opening of La Bamba the restaurant. My muse, Bacchus, had something else in mind.
Will Mark continue to obey the stern dictates of Bacchus or will he discover a benevolent Goddess to play with instead. Tune in next month for Episode 7 of The Seth Returns Back Story.