EEL PIE DHARMA - a memoir / haibun - © 1990 Chris Faiers
Chapter 3 - The Day We (Sort Of) Met George HarrisonIt was late summer. A bunch of L'Auberge regulars decided to take a Sunday trek to see George Harrison, who was rumoured to be living in a little village named Esher. We hopped on the double-decker bus in Richmond, and after an hour or so of riding we arrived in Esher. The ten of us were a scraggly lot, all would-be hippies trying to grow our hair long, the girls dressed in shawls and long skirts and granny boots.
Our goals were the standard ones in 1969 - California Jon, Canadian Peter and a couple of other guitarists had made a tape, and wanted Harrison's opinion of it. I had a copy of my just printed haiku chapbook, Cricket Formations, and I hoped to get up enough nerve to present my poems to my idol. And of course we all wanted to meet a real live Beatle!
Harrison was my favourite Beatle, largely because he was the one closest to me in physical appearance, with his craggy face and dark hair. I had modelled my haircut and clothes on Harrison for some time. I also thought he was the most interesting Beatle because of his enthusiasm for Eastern mysticism.
Someone had gotten good directions, for we actually found Harrison's house without a lot of trouble. Located in a very staid, upper-middle-class suburban neighbourhood, the house stood out like a psychedelic advertisement. A high fence bordered the large lot, and the house was painted a myriad of colours, like something out of the movie Yellow Submarine. We were all entranced to be setting foot in a sacred preserve of Beatledom, and after knocking on the door and receiving no answer, we boldly began surveying the premises.
"MICK & MARIANNE WUZ HERE!" was spray painted on the front wall, and this further consecrated the property. Our rock heroes actually lived here, visited with each other, slept together, and had probably done these wild paintings on acid trips like our own. We were all strengthened in our faith as true believers in hippiedom.
Some of the group camped by the front door, and the guitar payers started scratching on their ubiquitous instruments. I wandered around, and found a pair of George's jeans hanging on a clothesline. For a fleeting moment I was tempted to steal them, to see if my hero's jeans would fit.
An invitation inside was not forthcoming, although I believe Patti wanted to ask us all in. We were all so enthralled at meeting George and Patti, awkward as all involved had been, that we decamped and blissfully headed back in the dusk for the bus to Richmond.
Several weeks later, a few members of the entourage went back to pick up the tape. Apparently a record contract wasn't immediately offered, but Canadian Peter did have some good news for me. " George Harrison told me to tell you that he really liked your poetry." I was thrilled, even though I now realised that Harrison was a mere, awkward mortal, and I was no longer in his thrall. As a postscript, I note that George Harrison's first solo album, All Things Must Pass, had the lyrics printed on the sleeve like poems. I like to fantasize that maybe my booklet had some subtle influence, but that's wild hope and speculation ...
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Yesterday, Feb. 25, would have been George Harrison's 68th birthday. I was reminded of this while listening to Jian Ghomeshi on CBC Radio 1 yesterday morning. Born Feb. 25, 1943 in Liverpool, George died on Nov. 29th, 2001. The above brief chapter from my memoir gives some small measure of the appreciation for the love and respect I've held all my adult life for George.
It is probably not wise to blog while one is marginally high -"impaired" - but both George and A.C. Bhaktivedanta again provided enlightenment to my life in December, 2003. I was suffering from an extended series of kidney stones, I counted 17, and doctors at Campbellford Hospital pushed to admit me for deyhydration and treatment. Being thoroughly stubborn, the doctor reluctantly agreed to let me convalesce at my home in Marmora, and every day I would visit one of the local trails here in rural Ontario to walk off the incredible pain from the kidney stones.
During one extended hike on the Trans-Canada Trail from Callahan's Rapids Conservation Area, I had to scream in pain while urinating blood. On the snowy return walk home I entered into a state of walking meditation, and in extremis, I asked the cosmos the cliched questions of 'who am I?', and 'where am I headed'? First one spirit guide, and then a second, popped into my consciousness. It was George and A.C. - they comforted me as spirit helpers, gave me guidance, and appeared again, far more physically, much later that night - their late-night presence finally became so overwhelming that I had to appeal to them to stop - the manifesting proofs of their spiritual presence - the obviousness of their beings, the otherworldly incense smells, etc. etc. - I knew they were going to persist until I fully acknowledged them - which of course I did - and they finally desisted.
So to George and A.C., together in Brahma, I give eternal thanks.
In another post I'll put up my 1969 meeting with A.C. at the London, England, Hare Krishna Centre.
Today my familiar, Chase, and I explored the 'den trail' at Callahan's Rapids Conservation Area. We slogged through the snowy cedar forest beside the Crowe River, small and large dens everywhere. Thoughts and prayers to George and A.C. ... namaste ... : )
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Chapter to appear in second edition Window Fishing (HIDDEN BROOK PRESS, 2014)
Nice to hear from you, & thanks for including my piece in the second edition of HBP's Beatles' collection WINDOW FISHING. I still reflect on the 1960s, the Beatles & resisting the Vietnam War almost every day.
A 20 word bio is a fun challenge. Maybe I can make it into a kind of minimalist poem, or at least a string of odd descriptors ; )
I'll send you another email with info on this summer's Purdy Country LitFest. It's hard to believe we've reached our eighth year! This summer we're focusing on the life & legacy of Pauline Johnson as we've worked our way back through key figures in the tradition of Canuck People's Poetry. Terry Barker's new book on People's Poetry is scheduled for publication soon with Synaxis Press - it'll be an interesting read for sure.
Canadian born VN War resister, seminal haiku/haibun, 19 collections, over 100 mags & anthos, Acorn Award, village librarian, coordinator Purdy Country LitFests/ZenRiver Gardens
phew! got the word count down to the twenties ; )
peace & poetry power!
Chris ... & Chase Wrfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff!
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On 2014-06-18, at 9:38 AM, email@example.com wrote:
Would you please send me a brief 20 word bio for inclusion in the second printing of Window Fishing. Your piece appears in the Encore section of the book.
all good things, John B.
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