During the summer of 1960 I traveled throughout Mexico with a high school buddy of mine. Before leaving we shopped around for a suitable vehicle eventually finding a used 1951 six-cylinder Chevy panel truck that was in pretty good shape for a pretty good price. Over a period of a few months the two of us outfitted it like a camper with fold down bunks, table, sink, stove, and portable toilet. We got a bunch of new fanbelts, radiator hoses, inner tubes and tools, then, early one Saturday morning we crossed into Mexico at the Tijuana border with no idea how long we were going to be gone.
From start to finish the trip took all but a few days short of the whole of the summer of 1960, with the two of us ending up having seen the pyramids in Mexico City, the Great Pyramid of Cholula, Palenque, and a whole bunch of other Mayan ruins in the Yucatan. We stopped whenever we wanted and stayed as long as we wanted. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. Eventually we made a decision to return home. We headed north along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico through Vera Cruz then westward inland toward central Mexico turning north along the spine of the Sierra Madres and exited back into the U.S. through the Nogales gate just at the end of summer.(see)
Not long after we returned from Mexico my buddy moved from the beach community we both lived in before we left for Mexico to the beach community just north of us called Hermosa, eventually buying a hardware store there, the same hardware store he had worked for part time while in high school. In January of 1961, four months or so after we returned from Mexico, without me even realizing he knew a girl of such high ranking stature, he got married, eventually becoming a distinguished member of the community. As he was becoming more and more distinguished I was doing other things.
On May 1, 1960, one month before my buddy and I left for Mexico, a long time friend of my stepmother, a woman infamous in her own right named Brenda Allen, but going by the name Marie Brooks, got married. Three short months later, in September 1960, her husband, Robert H. Cash, reportedly a former U.S. Navy pilot, because of her nearly pre-ordained infamy, and of which he claimed he was totally unaware of, filed for divorce. Starting during the Spring of the next year, from roughly around the middle of March 1961 to sometime into the next month, i.e., April, Allen was in court in Los Angeles on-and-off related in some aspect to finalizing that divorce. At some undisclosed point in time during those court proceedings Brenda, knowing there was a connection between me, my stepmother, and Johnny Roselli --- because the last time she and I crossed paths was through that connection --- had a letter hand passed to him in Las Vegas asking if he knew how to get in touch with me. The letter contained a business card from a lawyer and a note asking me to contact her.
On the weekend of April 29th and 30th 1961, unrelated to any of the above Brenda Allen stuff, but made more clearly in Of Cobras, Scarabs, Maseratis and Zen, I was in Las Vegas. On Monday May 1st I visited Hoover Dam for a few hours then drove south for a little casino action and other possible extra curricular activities in the El Rey Club located about 40 miles south of the dam in the little speed trap town of Searchlight. Roselli had one of his gorillas deliver the letter, which had been opened, through to me on the 1st while I was in Searchlight. A couple of days later I called the lawyer who told me Brenda had left a message for me.
Over the phone the lawyer said the message asks that I meet her outside her old place in Long Beach on Wednesday the 19th at 10:00 AM. Well, the 19th fell on Wednesday in April alright, but I didn't get the letter until May 1st, so, as it was, I wasn't in a position to call the lawyer until after May 1st. I presume Brenda got the letter to Roselli sometime before the 19th, apparently thinking I would get it right away. However, while looking at the calendar I noticed that July has the exact same dates for the exact same days, meaning that in July the 19th also fell on a Wednesday. So, although it wasn't likely, not knowing what Brenda was thinking of or up to, just as a precaution I went to her old address on East Ocean Avenue in Long Beach on Wednesday the 19th, but after waiting over two hours beyond the designated meeting time she never showed.
ERIN JOANNE O'BRIEN
Six months before, in January 1961, Erin Joanne O'Brien sued for divorce from her then husband. By the start of the summer of 1961, she and her husband, if not fully separated, for all practical purposes were, and apparently had been separated on-and-off over a period of time, although their divorce wasn't actually finalized for whatever reason until January 1963.
It was several months into O'Brien's 1961 divorce and separation period, combined with the time and place of Brenda Allen's request for our meeting, that O'Brien and I inadvertently crossed paths at the Long Beach Museum of Art. The spot Brenda Allen chose for she and I to connect was right outside of where she used to live, which just happened to be on the same street the art museum was located on, probably less than three blocks away.
Although it was atypical for O'Brien to generally be in the area, she was raised in Long Beach and graduated from high school in Long Beach. As she related it to me, on that particular day she was or had been visiting family or friends and was in the process of revisiting old haunts in Long Beach in a nostalgic sort of way when the two of us met. For me it was one of those magic, happen-so-rarely sequences men dream of, that for some unknown, mysterious reason, a coming together of time, place, and universe just happens:
"(A)s I was walking around the gallery in the museum --- and totally unprepared for such an event --- I saw a woman that up to that point in time I think was absolutely the most beautiful woman I had ever personally seen in my life. Unwittingly staring at her almost as though I was frozen in a trance, she turned from the exhibit painting on the wall toward my direction and when she did the two of us made eye contact. The exact moment our gaze connected it was a though my life force had been sucked out of me, my knees even buckling from the weight of me standing. Having lost a total sense of dignity and somehow feeling a need for air I immediately went outside, crossing the short distance across a park adjacent to the museum overlooking the ocean. Within minutes if not seconds, for reasons I am yet to fathom to this day, the woman was suddenly standing next to me saying something like, 'Didn't you like the exhibit, you left so abruptly.' I don't recall what my answer was or how one thing led to the next, but soon the two of us were agreeing to have lunch together, although instead I ate breakfast, at a little restaurant she knew just a couple of blocks away called The Park Pantry.
"She said she may have been to the museum before but couldn't remember a specific instance, only stopping in for no other reason except to do so, then she saw me. She said when I left so abruptly she was overwhelmed with the strangest inner feeling, as though she had found something valuable I had lost and she had to return it --- yet she had nothing except for a strange feeling that felt so real."
FIREHAIR: Queen of the Sagebrush Frontier
THE RAZOR'S EDGE: Eye Contact Sequences
She was unlike anybody I had ever met, most certainly not like anything that inhabited the two South Bay coffee houses, the Iconoclast or the Insomniac I hung out at, and totally unlike any of the other females and flight attendants hanging around the infamous Flying Jib in Redondo at the time.(see)
I was truly in heaven, with at least for me, the rest of the year slipping smoothly by, possibly because of that strange feeling that felt so real and the strength of it's strangeness, we were able to override any number or mitigating factors, to such a point we saw each other as much as possible. Then, sometime around the middle of the following year I received a confirmation letter from the Selective Service informing me I would be inducted two or three months before the end of the calendar year and would have to report on a given date at a given time and place. Although I hoped she and I could stretch what we had until I went in, the second I showed her the letter it was over.
Truth be told, it was quite clear I wasn't going anywhere and she was, if she hadn't already. Because of her out of nowhere unexplained rebuff, i.e., if I was not being dumped, at least I was being more-or-less forgotten to death, I instead spent some of the summer of 1962 throwing myself into some rather intense Zen meditation sessions that nearly broke me mentally and almost killed me physically. So too, I know that on July 9, 1962 I went to the opening of Andy Warhol's first one man show ever, held in Los Angeles at the Ferus Gallery, although at the time Warhol was not well known nor had I really heard of him. After that I went crawling back on the marlin boat owned by David J. Halliburton to recoup. I spent the rest of the summer forgetting by hooking up with old friends in Cabo, many whom, at least the female variety, worked the hotels at night and sunbathed on the yacht during the day. In the meantime I played the bereaved lover, licked my wounds and wondered why the sunbathing women always seemed to be able to find the bottoms of their bathing suits but never the tops.
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In June 1968 Andy Warhol was shot and pronounced clinically dead and remained dead for well over a minute pushing into two before the medical team was finally able to revive him. When Warhol and I got to know of each other through a mutual acquaintance because both Warhol and I had similar near death experiences, upon the death of our acquaintance, he sent an unusual sized package, about three feet by three feet square and around three or four inches thick in care of me to the studio of an up and coming artist he knew in the Santa Monica/Venice area of California. Inside that carefully wrapped package from Warhol's studio in New York, was a three foot by three foot signed by Warhol artist's proof print of Marilyn Monroe, which I still have.(see)
On Halliburton's boat the Twin Dolphin I was a general all around crew member, but most specifically a sander of wood. The skipper had seen how beautifully done the wood on my immaculately restored 1940s Woodie Wagon was one day and loved the craftsmanship, skill, and care that went into it so much he wanted me to do the brightwork on the Dolphin. Ever watchful for the security of his boss, after a thorough background check and vetting process, along with an incident that involved the saving a young girl that fell into the marina and a person I call The Lady on the Dock, the skipper hired me.
THE LADY ON THE DOCK
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"While in Cabo, although the Twin Dolphin was outfitted as a marlin boat it was just as much a yacht as well, with the boat and crew, that is the skipper and I, being at the discretion and whim of Halliburton, and thus then by inference, through requests, his cronies. When one of his non-fishing high-ranking cronies came down on some anthropological mission and wanted to go to a speck of land sticking up out of the Sea of Cortez somewhat north of the city of La Paz called Isla Espiritu Santo along with a few other places, we were tapped to take him. In the process, once moored, being thus then recruited from a sander of wood to an equipment bearer, I in turn was able to visit a number of sites and observe first hand in a controlled fashion in prehistoric settings, the Caucasoid-like elongated skulls and red ochre painted bones of the original inhabitants of the Baja Peninsula, the Pericu."
Most of the middle and all of the last part of the summer of 1962 had gone by since receiving my draft notice with no contact or communication with or by Erin. However, less than three weeks after my actual induction Erin met some rich-ass heavyweight USC dude enrolled in the graduate-level film school who, in the following year and with barely a year of service behind me and being nothing but a lowly PFC, she married --- a play on the old gone off to college (him) while I remained nothing but a dunce working stiff (in the Army) trick. Rumor has it they had twin daughters and from all that I can tell she and her husband remained married.(see)
As has been presented further back in the text, a number of months had passed in Erin's 1961 divorce and separation period before she and I inadvertently crossed paths at the Long Beach Museum of Art. The rest of the year slipped by, and as I have mentioned previously, possibly because of that strange feeling that felt so real and the strength of it's strangeness, we were able to override any number or mitigating factors, to such a point we saw each other as much as possible. That as much as possible was impacted, or at least hampered, somewhat as Erin was heavily into the hurry up and wait process of completing two episodes almost back-to-back of the TV show Laramie during that exact same period and another for the short lived series King of Diamonds. One of the episodes of Laramie aired just at the end of 1961 and the other in April of 1962, at basically the same time as the King of Diamonds episode. It wasn't long after the airing of those two episodes that I received my draft notice.
During that same time frame I had a couple of things on the burner too. Other than mentioning to Erin that I ended up at the art museum because a friend of my stepmother was in the process of a divorce and asked for some sort of undisclosed help in some fashion I didn't go into any details. I did so because not everybody is receptive to the likes of someone with the reputation as Johnny Roselli, and not knowing Erin at all during our initial stages, Roselli or his role of having the letter delivered to me, wasn't brought up.
I continued to remain silent about Roselli all through the period of time that elapsed from the meeting in the museum to the ultimate demise. However, during a good part of that same period, in a pure coincidence of timing in that it never happened before nor happened afterwards, I was, as a go-between, conducting some business with Roselli in behalf of my stepmother, as found in the following:
"(My) first meeting of the series with Roselli was on Sunday July 2, 1961 in Los Angeles with the other two in Las Vegas a few weeks later during the last two or three days of July. I remember the July 2nd date well because it was the same day Ernest Hemmingway was found dead from a gunshot wound first reported as an accident but later a suicide.
"Following the L.A. meeting and consultation with my ex-stepmother with Roselli's conditions, the aforementioned other two meetings in Las Vegas transpired at the end of July, one on the night of the full moon over coffee at the Desert Inn(i.e.,July 28, 1961), the second three days later during the early morning hours in the casino at the Stardust (i.e., July 31, 1961)."
JOHNNY ROSELLI: MAFIOSO
Any silence perpetrated by me was consciously done based on several co-factors as I perceived them. One, the assistance I was rendering my stepmother on her behalf relative to Roselli wasn't typical of any regular on-doings I would normally participate in --- therefore, in a sense, as a one-off deal, it wasn't anything I would be continuing on any sort of a long term basis so I felt there was no reason to bring him up. Secondly, even though it may have been excessively grandiose on my part to think it so, I didn't want to impact adversely any favorable momentum that might have impeded the two of us from moving forward by having Roselli in the picture. And third, after I discovered who she was, career-wise, I didn't want anything to come back and haunt her in the same fashion as to what happened to actress June Lang and her career.
The second thing I had on the burner during that post-high school pre-draft period was a growing and continued deepening and upwelling of a certain embryo-like spiritual insight, particularly as it related to Zen. It was all forced to a head as the time shortened just prior to my involuntarily imposed departure for the military, the exact same 1961-1962 period as the woman from the museum and the business transactions for my stepmother.
At the start of my junior year of high school a highly unusual man moved into the house next door, a man who would eventually become my Mentor in things spiritual. The first time I saw him I was set aback by the calm serenity he seemed to abide in. Over time he revealed he had studied under the venerated Indian holy man the Baghavan Sri Ramana Maharshi at his ashram in Tiruvannamalai, South India between the wars. As the years passed and I got to know him I began asking him then nearly begging him to "make me like him." Time after time he brushed me off.
Finally, I guess, thinking he would never get rid of me he began making a few suggestions. He began gently coaching me through the finer subtleties of deeper and deeper meditation; he urged me to read a whole raft of Zen related books; and eventually it was he who sent me to do "real" study under a Japanese Zen master.(see)
He told me he would soon be leaving, but prior to his departure a highly honored Japanese Zen master was visiting the United States for a short time and since what I seemed to be seeking and what Zen is paralleled, suggested I see him. He had taken it upon himself to make the arrangements for me to attend the sesshins under the master, re the following:
"The sesshins ran from four in the morning to eight at night. About thirty people attended and we sat in two rows of fifteen facing one another across the room with our backs toward the wall.
"By the final day our numbers had diminished greatly and though the master spoke in private with the others, he refused to have private consultation with me. When the last day finally ended and we were leaving, thanking heavens we even survived, the interpreter came to me and said the master wished to speak with me. The master told me three of the our group had realized Kensho and berated me for not being among them. He said I had vast opportunities in my daily existence far beyond most and had not fulfilled the expectations of either him or my mentor. I thanked him, bowed, and left."
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds
It should be brought to the attention of the reader that my attempts at study-practice under Yasutani Hakuun Roshi turned out less than successful, eventually in the process returning then to my mentor a few years later, post-military, with much more positive results after sending me to study under a man of great spiritual prowess named Alfred Pulyan, an American Zen Master with neither Zen nor Buddhism.
ERIN O'BRIEN AND JAMES GARNER AS SEEN IN THE 1957 MAVERICK, EPISODE 6, SEASON 1, STAGE WEST
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COMIC BOOK VERSION OF MAVERICK- EPISODE
CLICK GRAPHIC FOR FULL ILLUSTRATED STORY
Timewise, prior to meeting Erin, and initially unknow to me until later because I really didn't put the two together, she was beginning to make a splash on the acting front. She had a starring role in the pilot for 77 Sunset Strip that was made just as much as a movie, filling a 90 minute time slot, titled "Girl on the Run." Erin playing the girl on the run. She looks fabulous in the role, especially so wearing attire of the day rather than western style outfits. She also does her own singing which came interesting to me because she was a singer having her first singing performances before live audiences in Bixby Park in Long Beach while still in high school. Interestingly enough, the Park Pantry, where she suggested for breakfast when we first met, is named after Bixby Park, the restaurant being located directly across the street from the northeast corner. You can watch Erin and hear her singing ability in the Sunset Strip "Girl on the Run" episode by clicking the image below:
COLLEGE AND AFTER THE ARMY
When people see photographs of the person I met in the museum, people that know a certain gorgeous raven-haired beauty I met in college and took to see my Mentor, swear she is the exact same person. Although she is a near exact duplicate, I can assure you such was not the case, any doppelganger aspects being pure coincidence. As it was I didn't start college until after the Army. As found at the source so cited, speaking about my mentor and the raven-haired beauty after my discharge from the military I write:
"(He) really didn't want anything to do with me, saying the military 'had brought out the beast in me.' He mellowed over time, especially so after he reneged enough to allow me to introduce him to a gorgeous raven-haired beauty I had met in college. She had just turned 21 by a few months when we met and I was a little beyond my mid 20s although well shy of 30. He liked her immediately and thinking of the Samsara world that a woman of such enormous beauty could see something in me, I might still have after all, some inkling of redemption left."(see)
The purposely left unnamed fellow-student I met in college that I give title to as being a gorgeous raven-haired beauty, a direct quote I use from a friend of mine used to describe her, had only turned age 21 by two months when we first crossed paths, she having just finished community college after earning an AA degree at the end of the fall semester. She had applied to Otis Art Institute and Chouinard's, now known as California Institute of the Arts, and been accepted by both, planning to start one or the other in the upcoming fall semester. Because of having met me, at the end of summer and before school started she appeared in a brief dancing scene in one of the beach party movies, most specifically the last in the series called The Ghost In the Invisible Bikini..
THE GHOST IN INVISIBLE BIKINI WITH NANCY SINATRA
BY POOL AND RAVEN HAIRED BEAUTY IN BLUE JEANS
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To this day, except for the above so mentioned raven-haired beauty and not counting of course, Hope Savage, who falls into a can't be ranked independently special category all her own and possibly the female pharmacist at the since closed Laguna Drugs in Laguna Beach, California, Doris by name who looks at you over the top of her glasses low on her nose through the height of her pharmacy window --- the museum lady, albeit having since those heady 1960's days become a little wobbly in stature, still stands as absolutely the most beautiful woman I have ever personally met in my life. Well, maybe second, or maybe --- naw, I can't do that to her, but who's counting anyway? It all stems from a young man's past perceptions from a bygone day. Although I have to admit, when that which is, got around to entering into the early 1980's, a person I met in 1964, Madame Nguyen Cao Ky, arguably found floating precariously close to the top spot.
MADAME NGUYEN CAO KY
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IN THE END, ONE LAST SIGHTING
For a good part of the summer of 2007 I was travelling in Europe. Sometime after my return a friend of a friend contacted me telling me a former college professor of mine, and of who I had worked with as a colleague in the same department after graduation, and who, after retirement moved to Twentynine Palms in the California high desert, had recently died of prostate cancer. His wife, or widow as the case may be, was planning on tossing his ashes in respect to his personal wishes, at a place called Giant Rock, said to be of great spiritual significance to Native Americans and others, that he had become excessively over enamored with after moving to the desert.
The former professor, highly popular with the students wasn't so highly revered by faculty. He was never granted a Full Professorship from his long held Associated Professor position, and although not on an official level but more behind his back, he left quasi disgraced amongst his peers. Hypocrites that they were, he had divorced his first wife, who coincidently, had the exact same married name as the woman Erin O'Brien played in Stage West, and married a graduate student of a much younger age not long after she graduated. From then on it was as though he had a communicable disease. A few short years later he and his graduate student wife separated, and although they never divorced she moved back east and he moved to the desert. It was she who was doing the ashes thing.
Even though he was popular with the students and helped hundreds and hundreds of them in one manner or the other, and even though it had been a lot of years for most of them, I was surprised at how few of anybody attended the ceremony, with only a handful showing up. Some were attributing it to the day, date, and time of it all, but the former graduate student, come wife, come back east widow had selected the timing of it because she said it had some significance to him. In any case the ceremony was held during the middle of the week of the first full week in November of 2007. When it was all over, since a number of the few that had come to Giant Rock were from the Los Angeles area, someone suggested we go to a favorite watering hole he apparently held in high esteem in Palm Springs and raise a drink to his passing.
While I was in Palm Springs it was many, many years after the fact from having seen or met Erin for the first time at the art museum. Although she didn't see me, or didn't recognize me if she did, I clearly saw and recognized her, accompanied as it was by another woman, a woman I took to be a younger sister. The last I heard Erin, who at the time I saw her in Palm Springs would have been age 73, lived somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Why she and her sister would be in or around Palm Springs in the early part of November 2007 is something I'm just not privy to. Although I have some photographs from that 2007 Palm Springs encounter, albeit from a distance, I've never got around to making them accessible online.(see)
WITH DEEP SADNESS
It is with deep sadness and a heavy heart that I have received notice from sources that include Erin's sister Sheila, that Erin Joanne O'Brien passed away May 20, 2021 of natural causes at age 87 in her home in Seattle, Washington.
For those who may be so interested, the gorgeous raven-haired beauty I met in college and introduced to my mentor passed away in 2017. Madame Nguyen Cao Ky died December 21, 2016 at Hoag Hospital, Newport Beach, California, age 75.
THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT PERSONIFIED
AND NOW THIS
Because of my rather low profile mundane existence and lifestyle amongst the masses I never expected again to be in a position to be granted or become a second time recipient for an event of such significance or magnitude to repeat itself as the meeting between Erin and myself. However, such was not the case, although it took 50 years or so before any type of a remotely similar occurrence was to transpire. That remote occurrence involved an unusual convergence of the supernormal perceptual state known in Sanskrit as Siddhis, myself, and a woman of exceptional beauty, spiritual acumen, intellect, and natural talent by the name of Phyllis Davis. Why she was able to carve out time for me or did so, is on it's own in itself a miracle, and still for me remains a little beyond comprehension.
PHYLLIS DAVIS CIRCA 1980
It should be brought to the attention of the reader that the eye contact sequence presented in part below and found in full above, was selected for use in THE RAZOR'S EDGE: Eye Contact Sequences from the novel The Razor's Edge by William Somerset Maugham.
"(A)s I was walking around the gallery in the museum --- and totally unprepared for such an event --- I saw a woman that up to that point in time I think was absolutely the most beautiful woman I had ever personally seen in my life. Unwittingly staring at her almost as though I was frozen in a trance, she turned from the exhibit painting on the wall toward my direction and when she did the two of us made eye contact. The exact moment our gaze connected it was a though my life force had been sucked out of me, my knees even buckling from the weight of me standing."
THE RAZOR'S EDGE
EYE CONTACT SEQUENCES
Another thing worth mentioning is that my former high school and travel through Mexico buddy, who I was so close to in those traveling days but lost track of after our return from Mexico and never reconnected, out of nowhere a couple of years ago suddenly and unexpectedly died of a massive heart attack.
I never met his wife, at least after they were married, or any of his kids. Nor do I know if he ever related to them of our travels together or if he ever knew himself how important those travels were to me and my life. In later years I saw him dining with friends or family across the room in a restaurant one night, but never went over to talk with him. If he saw me or not I don't know.
For the full extent of my buddy and my trip to Mexico during the summer of 1960, with us ending up seeing the pyramids in Mexico City, the Great Pyramid of Cholula, Palenque, and a whole bunch of other Mayan ruins in the Yucatan as well as more on some of the early Redondo Beach connections (the first link) please visit the following:
ERIN O'BRIEN: OBITUARY
THE MAYA SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB
ERIN O'BRIEN, JAMES GARNER: 1957 MAVERICK EPISODE
BUT, WHAT IF IT HAD BEEN THE FEMBOT?
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR(please click image)
THE WANDERLING: BEFORE ERIN O'BRIEN, WAS FIREHAIR
AND SEVERAL OTHER EARLY INFATUATION EXPERIENCES
LOUIS L'AMOUR: STAGE WEST
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SO HOW DOES IT ALL PLAY OUT?
THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
After crossing out of Mexico and ending up in the bus station in Nogales at the end of the summer of 1960 for a short time and convincing myself that two men among the other passengers sitting on the other side of the room were Carlos Castaneda and William Lawrence Campbell, both of whom I had met at one time or the other, I got up to pay my respects and ask what the two of them were doing in Nogales. Before I was able to get up someone put their hands on my shoulders from behind, gently inhibiting my ability to stand. It was my buddy. He basically picked me up under the arms and dragged me out to the truck, all the time me trying to tell him I had two friends in the depot I needed to talk to.
Later on, waking up after sleeping in the back of the truck while motoring north I moved to my usual spot in the front seat on the shotgun side. I asked my buddy why he didn't let me see my two friends at the bus station. He said I couldn't have been at the bus station long enough before he arrived and figured there was no way I could have any friends of any stature in such a short time. Taking it upon himself he simply took me out to the truck, threw me on the on the bunk in the back, and headed home.
DON JUAN MATUS AND THE NOGALES BUS STATION MEETING
WILLIAM LAWRENCE CAMPBELL
THE PACKSADDLE STATION AS SEEN IN STAGE WEST
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The draft was still looming over my head and the fact my long term semi-on-and-off high school and after girlfriend --- who had gone off to college while I remained home being nothing but a dunce working stiff --- hit me with the fact she had met and fallen in love with some hunkering down stud and they were planning on getting married didn't help.
"When I first graduated from Redondo Union High School, the job I had lined up as mentioned in the above quote, I thought was going to be a life long dream job --- a job I considered would be my career forever. It didn't quite work out that way. Without even breaking 18 months with the company, in a preemptive strike to ward off a potential or rumored corporate restructuring or take over, they started reducing the level of their work force. The area I worked for laid off upwards of around 90 people, and in a classic last hired, first fired scenario, I was caught up in it. With so many of us suddenly laid off in the same work related field, many of them with degrees or training from Chouinard, there just wasn't enough positions available in the industry to soak all of us up, especially for a bottom of the rung in-house on-the-job trainee like me."
TIKE KARAVAS: Of the Redondo Beach Historical Museum
During the roughly 18 month period that I lived in Hollywood following my graduation from Redondo High I stayed at a place owned by a man named Don, a long time acquaintance of my Stepmother. His house, the living area of which was built on top of a two-car garage had no front yard, back yard, or side yards, and was so tightly crammed in between neighbor's houses you could hardly slip a playing card between them. The whole garage door front of the house was only inches off a narrow twisty car-parked congested street a short distance after entering the Hollywood Hills just as the hills began to rise up off the basin floor, and for me, only a short walk to catch a bus to work.
The living arrangements, with no charge to me, had been set up by my stepmother the summer before when I was working for no pay as an intern or "gopher" or a "runner" as they are sometime called. Don was a gay guy about 45-50 years old whose primary claim to fame was that he knew the movie actress Elizabeth Taylor, and according to him, when she was in town they would have private little out of the way luncheons together regularly. Every time I asked if he would take me along sometime he would always tell me she wasn't comfortable with new people or people she didn't know.
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Weekdays were always filled with work, at least for me, while the weekends went pretty much nonstop around the clock, that is until Sunday evening. By then everything sort of wound down or stopped. Invariably on the weekends, and well before those winding down Sunday evenings rolled around, Don would drag himself home with one or two, or by the end of the weekend several often underage, always broke, runaway Midnight Cowboy types under his wing --- mostly off Sunset or Hollywood Boulevards or some other equally slug infested environ. Finding me there, although I had my own room, they thought I was one of them ending up with me usually spending an inordinate amount of time fending off diametrically opposed lifestyle approaches.
After a basically sunrise to sunrise to sunrise weekend and the weeding out of some of the more undesirables Don would quiet down and sit back and watch TV and always at the top of his list was, after the series started, Maverick. Since the next day was Monday and the start of the workweek for me, after the weekend I would typically join him kicking back, in the process I saw most if not all of the early part of the first season of Maverick, all in order and when they were first released.
In the Fall of 1957, after nearly a year and a half living at Don's house, I spent Thanksgiving and the end of the year holidays with family members back in Redondo. The month prior to Thanksgiving, on what I am sure was one of my very last weekends at Don's before moving back to Redondo after being laid off, I watched an episode of Maverick with him titled "Stage West" based on a Louis L'Amour short story called "That Packsaddle Affair." One year later, although I hadn't gone back to see Don nor been in contact with him since I left, on the anniversary of that last weekend with him, he sent me a brand new unfolded crisp copy of a just out Maverick comic book that had an illustrated version of that exact same episode of Stage West the two of us had watched together that last weekend.
Typically such an offer of goodwill and friendship wouldn't carry much weight beyond what it meant between say Don and I at the time. However, neither of us had a clue as to the downstream outflow that was to follow, nor did Don ever learn of it in later years that I know of.
Although neither of us knew it at the time, it just so happened that the woman who co-starred and received equal billing with James Garner in Garner's own series as found in the Stage West episode of Maverick and who showed up as well in the comic book version, albeit drawn more-or-less ambiguously, turned out to be the exact same woman I met several years later in the museum. Re the following:
"At the time the Stage West episode was being filmed O'Brien was being groomed by Warner Brothers for greater things. The studio held her in such high regard that she was billed alongside James Garner at the beginning of her first Maverick episode in 1957, a gesture shared by very few actors during the entire five year run of the series."
LOUIS L'AMOUR: THAT PACKSADDLE AFFAIR, STAGE WEST
The image below left is a graphic of the cover of the Maverick comic book that Don gave me. By left clicking the image an online version of the comic comes up with the complete illustrated "Stage West" story. In the story you can see how the artist rendered the various characters including the woman Erin O'Brien played. The book cover graphic just to the right has within it's contents a printed version of L'Amour's original story, "That Packsaddle Affair." By right clicking the image and going to page 113 you will find the complete unabridged story as L'Amour originally wrote it. Just below the two book cover graphics is an online video version of the Maverick episode of "Stage West." By watching it you will see what I mean about Erin. So too, by going to all three you can compare how L'Amour's story was adapted and changed to fit the various formats.
MAVERICK, SEASON 1, EPISODE 6. OCTOBER 27, 1957
STAGE WEST, FULL ONLINE VIDEO. FREE, NO SIGN UP
Although I didn't really have a chance to follow Erin's career very closely over the next few years because of doing military stuff, she, after marrying the USC dude seems to have pretty much wrapped it up.(see)
Be sure to go back and see IN THE END, ONE LAST SIGHTING
I have to admit, as found in the ONE LAST SIGHTING section of the above main text and linked back to below, I was more than surprised seeing Erin O'Brien in Palm Springs in 2007, especially after having not laid eyes on her in person in 45 years. Although fully aware that it is not unusual for someone to change in some fashion over time, it's just in Erin's case not only was I not expecting to see her, I never really thought of her other than how I had seen her last in 1962. It reminded me a great deal of seeing Margaret Runyan Castaneda, the ex-wife of Carlos Castaneda, a couple of years before I saw Erin as found at the source so cited:
"Where I had stayed the night before there was a crime drama on TV in which the lead detective said a suspect's car was 30 years old. In my mind's eye I pictured something like a big black 1940s four-door Ford with big bulbous fenders and long running boards all along the sides. Instead, the suspect's car turned out to be a 1975 Chevy. A similar, albeit reverse misconception transpired when I first laid eyes on Runyan. While it is true years had passed since her heydays with Castaneda in the early 1960s I was actually set aback realizing she was now 84 years old."
MARGARET RUNYAN CASTANEDA
Be sure to go back and see IN THE END, ONE LAST SIGHTING
THE BEST OF
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THE BEST OF THE MAUGHAM BIOGRAPHIES:
SPIRITUAL GUIDES, GURUS, AND TEACHERS INFLUENTIAL IN THE RAZOR'S EDGE:
LEFT, TWIN DAUGHTERS CIRCA 1974. RIGHT, SHE AND HER HUSBAND CIRCA 1985
WITH DEEP SADNESS
It is with deep sadness and a heavy heart that I have received notice from sources that include Erin's sister Sheila, that Erin Joanne O'Brien passed away May 20, 2021 of natural causes at age 87 in her home in Seattle, Washington.
My younger brother, who had lived in Redondo Beach steadily since the summer before he started the sixth grade through to his ultimate retirement in his mid sixties, decided to sell his house and move out of state. While cleaning out his attic he came across a long forgotten cardboard box stashed away that at one time belonged to me, a box that was so heavy he could barely move it because it was filled from top to bottom with nothing but Zen and related books.
When it comes to reading, my page Zen Enlightenment in a Nutshell offers several suggestions, otherwise, for those who may be so interested, most if not all of the books that had been found in the box, including a few others, can be found graphically presented on the following list:
BOOK LIST: ZEN BUDDISM
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
THIRTY MINUTES TO ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT
One of the books in the box, the one recommended by my mentor titled ZEN BUDDHISM: Selected Writings of D.T Suzuki (New York: Anchor Books, 1956) I carried around like a preacher with a bible the last year of high school and several years afterward, barely let it out of my hands. Anytime anybody said anything about anything, and much to the chagrin and distress of almost everybody around, out would come my book...always ready with a 'Zen answer.' Then one day, like the ancient classic Zen master Te Shan, who out of the blue threw ALL of his commentaries and books on Zen into a pile and set them afire, reducing them to nothing but ashes, something was different. Somehow I just didn't need Zen books much any more.
There is a continuing discrepancy lodged against me on a seemingly regular basis by what I call the number crunching nay saying sect when it comes to the timeline regarding my use (or possible not being able to use) Suzuki's book while in high school. The implication being my senior year and the book's publication date don't coincide, Suzuki's book not being published until the same month I graduated.
It becomes grist for the mill because of having written that my brother reminded me of how I used to carry the book around with me like a bible my last year of high school and several years afterward. Anytime anybody said anything about anything out would come my book...always ready with a 'Zen answer.' Of course, in writing what I did I am repeating what my brother said, how accurate or how well he was able to remember or recall what actually transpired relative to the time period we are talking about here, that is, me being in high school, is another question.
Many people cite that the book was not published until June 1, 1956 giving me absolutely no time to carry the book around like a bible in high school, thus me doing so just couldn't be so. Disregarding any possible error in my younger brother's ability to remember accurately what I did or didn't do in high school, an edition of the book WAS published and made available January 1, 1956 (see) to the general public --- giving me at least half a school year to carry the book around with me 'to always be ready with a Zen answer.'
I wrote what I did about my brother saying what he did because, in the fact that I had a copy of the book, there was no need to question his accuracy. However, for the number crunching nay saying sect, even though copies were available from January 1, 1956 onward, my mentor received a complimentary copy from the publisher well in advance of any official publication date, be it either January or June of '56. It was his advanced copy, of which he gave me, that I carried around with me all those months prior to graduation from high school and for so many years afterwards.
ALLEN GINSBERG, ET AL:
In the South Bay around that same time, but before meeting Erin, and even though the number one Beat Generation personage Allen Ginsberg read "Howl" there, and although never reaching anywhere near the level as other Beat places such as Greenwich Village --- and me not really knowing a whole lot about it in those days --- I started hanging out at the Iconoclast Coffee House just a few steps east up the hill from El Paseo and the Horseshoe Pier on Wall Street in Redondo Beach and/or the Insomniac a European coffee house that opened November 28, 1958 on Pier Avenue just across the street from Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach hoping to be or at least think I was "cool" and possibly even absorb or learn some of the movement trends. Betty Jean at the Iconoclast was cool, but of the two places, the best part for me was taking home to my place an extraordinarily fabulously beautiful young redhead, an Insomniac regular, regularly. Or at least once in a while, or on occasion. Or maybe just once or twice, by the name of Jolene. Unfortunately Jolene loved speed and sadly, dead from Bennies before having even reached the end of the 1960s. By the time I was out of the Army everything had changed. When I went in it was Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. When I got out only a few short years later it was the Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, and Bob Dylan.
Sometime around late June early July of 1972, because of a request by my father from his death bed, I drove all night from the Southern California hospital he was in to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in order to deliver what he deemed as an urgent package to his brother, my Uncle. Doing so put me into my uncle's schedule of doing things instead of the two of us designing time around me being there.
During that couple of days in Santa Fe my uncle had to meet up with, for some undisclosed reason, beat poet Allen Ginsberg, who just happened to be in town during the same period and I went along. I wasn't introduced to or meet Ginsberg, staying off some distance milling around the car as requested by my uncle while the two of them talked. However, I was close enough to see Ginsberg was traveling with a couple of hangers-on, one of which was a woman about 30 with ultra-short dark hair the other a very tall young man with full beard and dreadlocks. The young man with full beard and dreadlocks was Bhagavan Das, age 27, only just returned from India.
I never met Ginsberg that afternoon, with me being with my uncle at the car closest I came. Although it was apparent the two of them knew each other why my uncle requested me to remain by the car while the two of them talked was never clear. I could have easily overridden the whole thing if I so chose, and perhaps I should have. I carried a major ace-in-the-hole relative to Ginsberg that would have elevated me quickly with him had I selected to do so --- that ace being me having met a few years prior a major high-profile woman in his inner circle that had disappeared, a woman by the name of Hope Savage. She had been with the Beats ever since Ginsberg's top player Gregory Corso brought her into their circle. She had gone to Paris and Corso had went in search of her with no luck. Ginsberg ran into her in India a few years later and was the last to see her when the two of them said goodbyes in Calcutta in 1962. However, I had inadvertently crossed paths with her wandering in a remote section of the Himalayas since then. He would have flipped had he found out about it.
The three-photo strip above was taken at that 1972 meeting in Santa Fe. The first photo show Alan Ginsberg. The center photo has Bhagavan Das and Ram Dass shown together. The third photo shows him with Ram Dass and Ginsberg. Ram Dass, again, IS Dr. Richard Alpert, the author of Be Here Now, the 1971 book that shot Bhagavan Das to fame.
The last time I saw Ginsberg was in 1994, three years before his death in 1997. He did a fabulous poetry reading and audience interaction at a bookstore in La Jolla, California called D.G. Wills Books owned by a man by the name of Dennis Wills. Over a period of time, although totally unrelated to Ginsberg, Wills and I have had a certain level of contact through our individual research and a mutual exchange of information regarding a man by the name of Guy Hague a onetime follower and disciple of the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Hague had stayed at the Ramana ashram in 1938 around the same time and period as Mercedes De Acosta and the British playwright and author William Somerset Maugham. Although there has been some fairly high level speculation that Maugham might have used Hague as the role model for his main character Larry Darrel in his book The Razor's Edge it has proved to be not so mostly through the work of myself, Wills --- a major expert on Hague --- and the writer David Godman, another fairly adept expert on Hague, primarily through his extensive authorship of things Ramana.
GINSBERG'S POETRY READING AT D.G. WILLS BOOKSTORE, 1994
COLLEGE BRINGS THE RAVEN-HAIRED BEAUTY:
For those who may be so interested my initial attraction toward the raven haired beauty I had introduced my mentor to wasn't fostered by nor a direct result of having met the woman in the museum even though as some claimed who met them both, they were "exact duplicates." Neither of them were based on some early infatuation of Olga Greenlaw, the author of Lady and the Tigers, either. If "responsible" can be used in such matters the person more closely or most directly responsible would fall to the person so pictured below whose husband owned an art gallery in La Jolla, California.
She entered into things during my last year or so of high school. The owner of the gallery, who had an avid interest in pre- Columbian art, mounted an invitational only exhibit to show off and possibly sell some of his collection. Since most of his artifacts were three dimensional or sculptures he wanted to fill the rest of the gallery space, i.e., the walls, with compatible works. In doing so he approached his friend Diego Rivera for names of artists whose subject matter in drawing and painting of the desert southwest and Mexico would meet the criteria. Among Rivera's suggestions was my uncle, the two having known each other having worked together for The Federal Arts Program under the Depression era WPA. My uncle was unable to attend the invitation only opening nor too was my dad who my uncle asked to serve in his place. Instead I was tapped and most happily so.
A number of dignitaries were supposed to be there that night of which movie director John Houston, a collector of pre-Columbian works, was one. Among those there it was quite apparent neither I nor my high school same-age girlfriend were collectors or one of the artists. The lady in question, Queta Cabanillas, as seen in the photo below, came to my rescue, discovering quickly I was the nephew of one of the exhibiting artists. She took me right to the painting and I must admit I was a somewhat disappointed. The painting was not one of his better works and it looked small and lost among some of the other works. She had a different take on it however, saying they already had several offers and wished she had a few more of his paintings.
PROTOTYPE FOR THE REST TO COME
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If you go to the Bhagavan Das page titled Kermit Michael Riggs, about his early Laguna Beach connections, you can just catch a glimpse of the raven harried beauty standing to the left in the opening photo at the top of the page and see the comparison between she and Queta. By clicking the photo then clicking it a second time it enlarges to more than full screen size. By doing so you can see her designer sunglasses and handmade leather sandals from the sandal shop in the back of Cafe Frankenstein, with a pair of heel straps added afterwards. The raven haired beauty also shows up in a small dance scene in one of the Beach Blanket series of movies. See:
BEACH BLANKET BINGO
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MADAME NGUYEN CAO KY
"Sometime in the spring of 1982 and a year or so after being gone two years in the Peace Corps, a very good friend of mine, a onetime philosophy major that I had known in college, but somehow now having morphed into a big time computer geek, contacted me.
"She told me the man she loved was on the waiting list for a heart transplant at Stanford University and that she had moved to a small studio apartment in Campbell, California to work in Silicon Valley and be within driving distance to see him. She wanted to know if there was some way I might be able to console him as he was wrought with anxiety almost to the point of a total breakdown --- in turn adversely impacting his health and preparedness for the transplant. Before a new heart with his match was available he died."
The above quote opens an article about Adam Osborne, who was not only a friend of mine and major foe and adversary to Steve Jobs of Apple Computer fame in their early years, he also grew up as a young boy in the ashram of the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, and where I met him. Osborne is, however not the person so mentioned on the waiting list. He came into the picture because of the person on the waiting list.
In the main text of the Osborne article I write that my initial stay of several days after going to Silicon Valley turned into several weeks, then several months, eventually extending into a period pushing nine months. However, I wasn't there totally from day one day-after-day around the clock through to my departure. During that period I was sort of using the area as a base of operations just like I would almost anywhere, coming and going as needed doing any number of things. Plus, for most of that period my friend had a regular day job and mostly unavailable during working hours and just as well, often not able to put together several days back-to-back over any extended span on a regular basis either.
It was under the above circumstances that during a trip to Southern California I ran into Madame Ky, the former Dang Tuyet Mai, at her boutique. The two of us knew each other through her husband, I just didn't know she had opened a boutique. As it was, typically I would have no call to be at the particular mall her business was located, but on the day we ran into each other I had gone there specifically looking for someone. The daughter of a couple I knew who lived on the east coast had only just graduated from college and moved to Southern California and started the very first year of her very first job as a special needs teacher. The school, Gill Special Education Center, an Orange County Department of Education school site, was located in a residential area in a former elementary school about three blocks south of the mall. I had told the parents, given a chance, that when I was in Orange County I would go by to see how she was doing. The day I went by the school she had taken her class on a community outing to have lunch at the mall. While at the mall I just happened to come across Madame Ky. We made arrangements to see each other again and after that I saw Madame Ky several times, usually for tea and chat.
HAVING ICED TEAS
During one of those meetings I told her that on that particular afternoon, as soon as we were done with our tea, I would be heading out to Cabo San Lucas for a few days to stay at a hotel resort located basically right on the tip of Baja California called the Twin Dolphin owned by a friend of mine, David J. Halliburton, Sr. Embellishing the story a bit, although still true, I told her that one of Halliburton's first loves was a niece of my Stepmother who was babysitting me for the summer, a girl he always held in high regard. In turn Halliburton made it a point to ensure my stay at the Twin Dolphin was always special. With that Madame Ky said she wanted to go too. So she did, the two of us spending several days or more together at the Twin Dolphin. General Ky, thinking of me more as a monk and apparently slipping his mind that I was a onetime G.I., it presented no problem. Hah!
MEETING WARDLORDS ET AL
PANORAMIC VIEW OF HALLIBURTON'S HOTEL TWIN DOLPHIN AS IT LOOKED 1980s-1990s
LIFE TIME DREAM JOB: THAT'S ALL FOLKS
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After being laid off from my lifetime dream job before even 18 months were up only UPA, United Productions of America, the creators of The Nearsighted Mr. Magoo and Gerald McBoing-boing, gave me any sort of a real tumble, and as much as I would have liked it to bear fruit, even that was iffy. The timing of my arrival on the long-running traditional animation scene that had been in place for years before and after the war was, following my graduation from high school, in the process of not only ebbing, but drastically changing. The mid-level old hands were holding on for dear life keeping new hands at bay in order to ensure their own livelihood.
By 1959, animated shorts such as the famous "That's All Folks" Warner Bros. cartoons that had been in such demand to be shown before the feature films had fallen off and by that same year, 1959, right about the same time I was scrounging for work and getting a carrot from UPA, Columbia Pictures shut down the animation department, selling UPA in 1960, the buyer immediately turning it into a television studio.
WORKING AS AN ANIMATOR: WHAT WAS IT LIKE?
POST-HIGH SCHOOL: NEVER HIGHER THAN AN INBETWEENER
(WHAT THE HECK IS AN INBETWEENER?)
WHAT WAS IT LIKE PART II
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ELIZABETH TAYLOR, AGE 24 CIRCA 1956
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AHHH, TEENAGE BOYS, WHAT A DRAG