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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

books, music and poetry influences in 1969

Hi Sam and Tom,

Glad you enjoyed listening to the Humble Pie Song "30 days in the hole"  :  )-  The CD is still sitting in my old boom box in the laundry room, ready for whenever I need a little inspiratioon or a trip down memory lane.

I'm basically always available for a chat - one of the benefits of retirement. Pick your time next week and it should be fine for me.

Like I said on the back cover of EPID, I'd definitely read my Kerouac. I'd read his classic "On The Road" in high school, but reading "Dharma Bums" a few years later was probably far more important to my developing belief system.

As I also said on the back cover blurb, I was shy bookworm until I fell into the Eel Pie hippie lifestyle. My Brit dad was a big fan of George Orwell (altho Orwell's progressive politics and inquisitive mindset didn't seem to rub off on him). Orwell's adventures in "Road to Wigan Pier" and esp. in "Down and Out in Paris and London" were almost guidebooks for me for surviving the somewhat outrageous lifestyle I was thrust into after I resisted the Vietnam War.

Of course I'd read Basho's "Narrow Road to the Deep North", and styled myself a 'pschedelic Basho' in one of the early chapter headings of EPID.

A quirky book from my dad's bookshelf which resonated during my UK years was "Lavengro: The Romany Rye".

In the youth hostel visits of early days in the UK I carried around a copy of Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver's bio, "Soul on Ice".

Even tho reading was generally frowned upon as a waste of time in the commune, I remained a regular reader, and for some ungodly reason the first Christmas, while down with a horrible bout of flu, I read Norman Mailer's egocentric "Advertisements for Myself".

Another Eel Pier, Jumbo, exposed me to some of the 60s crop of Brit poets like Adrian Henri - I remember a horrible pun, his?,  about 'Liverpool's horny handed tons of soil' or somesuch.

While staying at Debbie Squires's (Little Debbie) house for short periods I listened to her eclectic, and in retrospective very tasteful, collection of late 60s music albums. I remember listening to the killer new Stones' album, "Let It Bleed" there. She was also a fan of fellow Canuck  poet turned musician Leonard Cohen. Also Moody Blues, Incredible String Band, Tea for the Tillerman, etc..

Of course THE BEATLES remained godlike figures for me and many other hippies. Surprisingly, tho, some Brit hippies didn't seem as taken with The Beatles as hippie avatars as we had been in North America. Those with avant-garde  pretensions preferred Pink Floyd's albums (oh, and I did attend a Floyd concert in Hyde Park - I remember the big buzz was having huge speakers placed around the site).  

Of course I'd pretty well memorized the lyrics to every Bob Dylan album up to my exile. Some of the lyrics were so pertinent to my situation - think "Like a Rolling Stone" - 'how does it feel, to be out on your own, with no direction home, a complete unknown, just like a rolling stone'.    

There are a lot of events I didn't cram into EPID. I wanted the book to be a scan, a concise overview of my adventures representing a kind of everyman hippie. Events I believe omitted from EPID include attending the Doors Concert at Dinner Key Auditorium in Coconut Grove, Miami, the night he was busted for obscenity. Then I flew to England a few weeks later in time to attend The Stones memorial concert for Brian Jones in Hyde Park. I really felt I was on some sort of dharmic hippie wavelength for a year or two in 1969. Also a bit earlier I'd  heard Hendrix in a high school gym on Miami Beach, The Velvet Underground on Miami Beach, and The Grateful Dead at one of the first Miami love-ins, The Jefferson Airplane in a Fort Lauderdale amusement park, etc. etc. .

memories, memories!

The tail end of the 60 was a time of wild experimentation and creativity for the human race. Evolution even ("Hair" - we're evolving thru the drugs  ;  )-

peace and best wishes!

Canadian Chris  ;  )-

On 2018-09-19, at 7:28 PM, Sam Gillett wrote:

Love it. Funny - Read so much about Newcastle Brown, nearly every piece on Eel Pie pays it it respects. Tried one the other day - not good. But apparently Heineken brews it now, which might explain things.

As Tom said finished 1st draft now. Lots more work to do, as I'm sure is the case with any 1st draft.

Would really love to get the chance to speak to you about the kind of books, poetry, and music you were into at the time. Are you free anytime next week to chat?

Very best


On Wed, 15 Aug 2018 at 04:16, Chris Faiers <> wrote:

The lyrics include a description that sounds an awful lot like the Eel Pie Hotel ballroom:

'you take a greasy whore
and a rolling dance floor'

also 'Newcastle Brown
it'll sure smack you you down'

(first time I visited the dance hall I bought a booze can bottle of Newcastle Brown from a rusty fridge)

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Garth Turner is a financial god

Hi Garth,

In the early 1980s I was living in a housing co-op in Toronto, living out the tail-end of the 1960s hippie lifestyle. Before the co-op I'd rented a house in TO's east end, splitting the rent with buddies. And before that, I'd actually lived in a hippie commune - more accurately a squat in an abandoned hotel on the outskirts of London, England, after opposing the Vietnam War and skipping countries. Shoulda come straight back to Canada, where I was born, but then I wouldn't have written my book, Eel Pie Island Dharma - Amazon available - about the experiences. (and amazingly a movie script has just been written based on the book, yet another story)

The hippies stole from each other, my east end room mates kept moving out to go back to school, get married, and get away from living with a bunch of aging dudes in a pseudo fraternity. The co-op was OK for a few years, but some of the board members were bossy, and then I dated a woman who had bought her own little house. That she could afford to do so on a meagre income similar to mine sparked my curiosity, while the neo-socialism of the co-op began wearing thin.

I desperately looked around for advice, and lo and beholden, there was your financial column in The Toronto Sun. Of course I had to hide my interest in your column from my leftie friends, and even hid your book under a pile of Marxist-Lenist dogma to keep some shreds of my progressive reputation.

In the mid-1980s TO real estate took a major set back, and I was able to buy a rundown semi in a termite zone just west of The Beaches. Hard to believe now - I scooped it for $45,500 in 1985 when my salary was well under $20K a year as a desk clerk for Toronto Public Library.

Three years later the TO real estate market was booming again, and I sold my ratty little semi for $150K - triple what I'd paid for it. I'd also paid off the second mortgage through thriftiness and a few nice triactor wins at Greenwood Racetrack, and followed my poetic dream of retreating to rural Ontario. After that big score (for a Canadian poet) I haven't had a mortgage since. The neat little bungalow I bought for $60K north of Belleville has allowed me the freedom to write bad poetry (and hippie memoir), knowing I'd always have a place to live without fending off thieving hippies, shiftless room mates or bossy co-op board members.

The spin-offs from my minor real estate success have been quite the ongoing stories. Because I was the lowest paid staffer at the library, all the other staffers decided they had to buy houses if a lowly clerical could. At least two of those co-workers now own mansions in The Beaches worth millions (wish they'd kick a few bucks back to the hippie/poet clerical who'd pushed them so many years ago). Et tu my leftie friends, all of whom had scolded me for being a capitalist for buying - horrors - a house. My rebuttal to their socialist silliness was the rhetorical reply, "what's progressive about making some landlord rich?" After all, the basis of Marxism is owning the means of production. So why not ditto owning your own residence. Eventually the old comrades moved out of the co-ops and bought houses, and a few have actually thanked me in recent years for the wisdom I gleaned from your columns and books.

The success stories of real estate financial independence have continued in my rural existence. I helped convince a blue collar buddy to buy a bank power of sale, which he did over two decades ago for $30K. He's had an ongoing run of bad luck with factory jobs - getting laid off time after time as Ontario deindustrializes. But as I'd advised him, buying the small village house at such a low cost and then paying it off in a decade has assured him that he'll always have a roof over his head, even when he's unemployed. As a bonus, the bungalows in our village are on the outer rim of affordable housing for TO and Oshawa retirees, and our houses are now worth almost $200K.

My blue collar friend's bro is far more materialistic, and when he finished university he couldn't get a decent paying job in Canada. He moved to Japan to teach English, where he made a good salary. His initial investments with a distant relative were a disaster, so he desperately wanted financial advice. I told him to buy rental real estate, which he did. He invested in several multi-unit buildings in the closest small city, letting his tenants pay off the mortgage. I told him how to leverage his net worth from the first building to buy more buildings, and being a natural entrepreneur, he followed this advice. He also married a wealthy Japanese woman, and eventually inherited the family estate and business. With his Canadian real estate investments, he could have retired in his early forties. But he's the kind of person who could fall into a swimming pool of dog poop and find a way to prosper. He's now enjoying life and a new career promoting Japanese tourism and getting featured in TV ads in Japan.

So belated thanks, Garth! The advice I gleaned and then shared  from your columns and books has literally enriched the lives of many  of my friends and acquaintances over the decades.

peace, prosperity and poetry power!

Chris (Faiers)

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

First draft "Eel Pie Dharma: The Movie" completed

On 2018-08-14, at 12:42 PM, Tom Hanson wrote:

Dear Chris,

I’m very pleased to tell you that today at 17:38 we completed the first draft of Eel Pie Dharma - The Movie. It took us just over a year, but we fucking did it! It’s 111 pages and needs a hell of a lot of rewriting but we finally got to the end.

We’re elated to have finished, but the hard work begins now.

I know that Sam wants to write you regarding scenes etc so I will leave that to him but I thought I’d just drop you this note to let you know and to send you some positive vibes.

All the very best and thanks again for allowing us to use your amazing story.

Tom x

Image result for writing eel pie dharma

Congrats Tom and Sam!

As we babbled in awe in our hippie days, WOW!  FAR OUT! TOO MUCH!

I'm looking forward to helping Sam in any way I can with filling in the deets for specific scenes. EPID was meant to be the outline for a novel, which turned into a memoir, which evolved into a haibun - and now a movie script!!! So there are many interesting escapades and incidents which didn't make it into my pages, but which may be helpful for fleshing out your script. Last night on a whim I clicked on a youtube vid of Humble Pie singing '30 days in the hole', and ended up reminiscing and watching vids of 60s groups for 2 1/2 hours, so the memory banks are somewhat refreshened  :  )

And of course thanks to both of you, Tom and Sam, for taking such an interest in my story and the story of so many others who lived in those beautifully creative and turbulent times!

peace and continued inspiration!


Sunday, 5 August 2018

T Lobsang Rampa and Eel Pie Island Dharma

Hi David,

A friend sent me the link to your fascinating piece on good ol' T. Lobsang Rampa. What a hoot TLR must be having in Brahma or wherever dharma writer/creators/bodhisattvas pass some restorative time  :  )

Yep, count me in as another neo-Buddhist lured in by that playful old Brit bodhisattva. Imperialist era Brits were always excellent at miming the lives of other cultures - in Canada there's the example of Grey Owl, also known as Archie Belaney. Archie likely did more for our First Nations and nature writing in Canada than anyone else I can think of offhand. And there's T. E. Lawrence etc. etc. . Most of these imaginative Brit "charlatans" did far more good than harm for the peoples they emulated and imaginatively wrote about. Maybe not so much Kipling, tho.

I would have been in my mid-teens when I read The Third Eye, passed on to me by my father. My dad was in the Royal Air Force (RAF) in WW2 when he met my Canadian mother while taking training in Canada. I was born in Canada in 1948, and recently turned 70 at the end of June. TLR's The Third Eye was probably the most influential book I ever read. My parents could never agree on where to live - the UK or Canada - so they settled on moving to the southern United States. I was born in Canada, but lived in the US from ages 7 to almost 21. I was 18 at the height of the Vietnam War years, and was eligible for the draft, even tho I was only a "resident alien", as I always retained my Canadian citizenship.

I vigorously opposed the VN War and the draft, which caused a lot of sleepless nights and undoubtedly surveillance and hassles from the amerikan authorities and the draft board. What kept me relatively sane was the memory of reading TTE, so when I came across a used paperback on yoga, I devoured it. In a short time I could sit in the full lotus position for many hours at a time, and the book, with its brief instructions on breath control and mindfulness, became my bible.  In June of 1969 my anti-war effforts were rewarded with 3 draft notices in a week, and and left the US of A for the UK.

I also discovered another key aspect of my entire life at this time in my late teens. Haiku. I've been writing and publishing haiku and then haibun since 1967, so that's over half a century now!

The combination of yoga/Buddhism/haiku came together when I wrote one of the first English language haibun in1988 and self-published it as Eel Pie Dharma in 1990. Weed, one of the other Eel Pie hippie communards, graciously put the entire text online in the early 2000s, where my publisher discovered it and encouraged a professional reprint in 2012. I decided to add "Island" to the title to clarify things.

A year ago two British actors came across Eel Pie Island Dharma on my friend Weed's website, and asked for an option to write a movie script based on the book. Of course I agreed, and the project seems about to enter its second year.

Following is Weed's home page for Eel Pie Island Dharma.

I also have a blog, Riffs and Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens:

I'll sign up for your blog, and thank you for writing this piece on TLR!

peace & poetry power!

Chris (Faiers)/cricket   (haijin name)

Image result for t lobsang rampa

Sunday, 29 July 2018

ZenRiver visit and pic of Shinto shithouse

Hi Chris,

Hope all is well! Had a great day at ZenRiver yesterday. I did a little bit of grooming and mowing. Not a lot mind you as there was a small flock of Cedar Waxwings in one of the trees across the river for the entire afternoon and I had to watch them with the binocs.  Also two snapping turtles mating for an hour or so in the river right down in front and to the right of the Shaman shack. Awesome. He wasn't letting her come up for air but finally she shoved him off. As he was on top he had the chance to stretch his neck up a few times for air. I'm not sure how long they can stay under water but they did have a busy afternoon.

I didn't know there were black raspberries on the property! Pat said they're blackberries but i don't think so. Tons of wild grapes coming in too. They're supposed to make killer jam. Wine too.

Hope all is well and you're enjoying the summer!