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How I Met The Rolling Stones

Recounting the famous English rock band's concert that shouldn't have happened at Altamont.

Everyone has to deal with stuff in our own way. I’ve been off-and-on sick for a while now and the sick got pretty bad.

I decided to get over being sick once and for all, so I went to the doc and got examined and got the right advice and the right stuff to put the “bug” away.

Getting off my work-a-world routine and getting a lot of rest was top on the doc’s list. So, I packed it in. For me, when I’m sick, I turn on the TV, make sure I have plenty of extra blankets to stay warm, juices in the fridge and I sleep in two- or three-hour spurts and watch whatever is on the TV between the sleep spurts. In the end, this all worked, I am very glad to say.

This time around, I stumbled into a couple of pieces of video in and out of the sleep that I definitely wanted to revisit when I wasn’t so totally focused on the one thing, like on “getting well.”

I stumbled onto one of those video pieces the other night and it just really grabbed me. It was a documentary about the early career of the Rolling Stones. It’s titled, “Crossfire Hurricane.”

While I’ve always liked the Stones, and I know the words to lots of their songs, if just by 50 years of exposure, I am definitely no super fan. I don’t follow all the details and in and outs of what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong.

This movie gave me a much greater depth of knowledge of what the Rolling Stones are all about. And in the end, when the titles nearly finished rolling, the individual members of the Rolling Stones were listed as the executive producers of the film. I had to smile at that. It was a good movie.

But there was one part of this retrospective that was very uncomfortable for me. It was the segment about The Stones' free concert at Altamont in 1969.

In the mid 1960s, Jack Kerouc, Alan Ginsberg and a handful of others were the prominent and influential personalities of the beat generation on the West Coast. These guys were in their mid 40s and 50s and I wasn’t even 20 years old at the time. I never met any of them on a “one-to-one” basis, but I was an avid follower of their antics here, in our special neighborhood of Northern California in the '60s.

At some point in time, it became common knowledge that the beats were involving the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in their going-ons. The Hells Angels were becoming a hip thing.

During this time, I was living with about a half dozen young hip couples in an old hunting lodge that had been converted into small, informal apartments. The lodge was located in the Santa Cruz Mountains in the obscure and dusky neighborhood called Zayante. Zayante was located on a sand mountain fairly evenly distant from Ben Lomond, Scotts Valley and Felton. It's out-of-the-way location offered me the opportunity to leave my car at the lodge and hitch-hike down to the more mundane communities where my friends lived: Santa Cruz, Soquel and Aptos, along the beaches. I liked to hitch-hike because it forced me to overcome my extreme bashfulness and chat with strangers.

On one such excursion, I was thumbing a ride out of Aptos to get back to the lodge and it was near dusk. I was anxious to get some sort of ride as walking up Zayante Road in the dark, with no moon, was no easy matter. Parts of the walk were as black as pitch. You would simply be walking on faith and any distant speck of light you might find. This time at Aptos, my thumb was out and my pea coat was buttoned up tight on the on-ramp to the freeway. The evening fog was being pushed on shore and it wouldn’t be long before my prospects would get very dim.

I was on the beach side of Highway 1 and before it really got dark, from across the freeway over on the Aptos town side, I heard a familiar and distinctive sound, the deep-throated lugging of several Harley Davidson motors. I heard them get stuck at a stop light and idle, then throttle up and come over the overpass, their bright headlights nearly blinding me as they approached the on-ramp where I was standing.

As I shielded my eyes against their bright headlights, I heard the motors rev down and come to idle. They pulled up next to me, the sounds of strong motors and wet gravel getting squished by heavy tires filled my ears. The thick smell of oil rolled over to me. “Where you headed?” they asked me.

To read this post's conclusion please visit www.lgartbridge.wordpress.com

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Gary Hinze January 18, 2013 at 09:24 PM
Ed, I'm glad to see you have beat the bugs and are back to doing what you do so well.
Ed Bellezza January 18, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Me too, and thanks for the support.
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) January 19, 2013 at 12:38 AM
Thanks for the awesome post, Ed. I love The Rolling Stones! I dedicate this to you, my friend! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpZ3dVpE_pY
Michelle McIntyre January 19, 2013 at 01:56 AM
What a cool post about the Stones. I saw them with Seal in Oakland in the 1990s. What a concert! I have some name dropping to do myself. I met Neil Young at a conference in Half Moon Bay a couple of years ago and my husband had a meal with Deep Purple while he was on a non related business trip to India. He just ran into them and hung out with them one day. Fun stuff!
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz January 19, 2013 at 02:54 AM
It's always Good to see a Great Band! I saw many in my younger day as well!
ms March 09, 2013 at 10:52 AM
Critic and musicologist Robert Palmer said their endurance and relevance stems from being rooted in traditional verities, in rhythm-and-blues and soul music while more ephemeral pop fashions have come and gone. Thanks. Regards, http://youtu.be/7m7QEilKvRk | green coffee bean extract

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