Thursday, 20 May 2010

And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?

From the January 20, 1967 (Issue 75) edition of the Berkeley Barb:

Unless the East Bay's only living coffee house, The Jabberwock, gets a swift transfusion from the hearers of folk beasts, it will lie down and curl up its toes, alongside the now extinct Questing Beast, Berkeley's second-last coffee house. The diagnosis: starvation. No bread.

The Jabberwock was roaring during the summer and early fall. Rock bands drew large crowds, and the 'Wock was flying high. Then came complaints about the night-time noise. The choice was to turn down the sound, or close. The Jabberwock decided to sing more quietly in a folky way. Lighting, amplification, and the stage were rebuilt for the return to the softer sound. A small group of people in mid November formed a Jabberwock workers' co-operative to breathe new life into the coffee house. But old bills, inherited errors in bookkeeping, and new unavoidable expenses hacked away at the cooperative effort.

This week, The Jabberwock opened with $4 in the bank. The rent is long past due, and the friendly, patient landlord is starting to twitch. The workers at the Jabberwock say they are beginning to feel forsaken by Berkeley's lovers of folk music, wherever they are. The house stays nearly empty. Is it because of the quality of the performers? The feel of the coffee house? The Jabberwock doesn't think so.

"In the past months we've had traditional performers and people we think are doing new and interesting things in music. It's the only place in the Bay Area where new performers are completely welcome to try new things." Manager Dan Paik pointed out. He mentioned John Fahey, The New Age, Mark Spoelstra, and the Sweets Mill Mountain Boys as examples of known and new musicians recently at The Jabberwock.

To avoid the quick death of the moribund folk beast, they will hold two benefits. The first will be Monday, January 23, to pay their bill to the Berkeley Free Press - which is also ill from lack of funds. A marathon show next weekend, January 27, 28, 29, will--if successful--revive The Jabberwock and put it back on its trail of exploring new folk sounds. It will begin around 8 PM each evening and will end only when all the performers drop out, probably around dawn.

If they can stop the flow of red ink, the Jabberwock workers hope to make the coffee house a center for all the performing arts, open to anyone who would like to use their stage and sawdust. Meanwhile, they are seeking donations of an (at least 25-wait) amplifier, 2 mikes, 2 speakers, filing cabinets, advertising, sculpture, curtains, artwork, beer mugs, chairs and small round tables, candles, cups, and a huge Silex coffeemaker, And money.

In trade, they hope to offer a focus for an East Bay renaissance in the performing arts.

For the January 23 benefit for the Free Press bill, The Smokey Grass Boys, Larry Hacks, The New Age, Phil Marsh and other folk musicians will play, "All we really need to make it is for enough people to come and listen to what's happening in folk music here," Dan Paik said.

So the next two weeks will show whether Berkeley is a place that can support even one scene of traditional and new folk sounds. And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Bill Ehlert's Oregano

The following article was published in the May 20, 1966 (Volume 2, Number 20) of the Berkeley Barb. It is a story about the Jolly Blue Giant, or simply Jolly, Bill Ehlert who was the owner of the Jabberwock - a coffee house on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley.

Sadly Bill passed away in October 2007, but he did tell me that he never got his can or oregano back.

“Pot” Bust beat With “Lie” Test

Bill Ehlert, owner of the Jabberwock coffee house, passed a "lie detector" test on Tuesday. Charges of possession of marijuana were dropped the next day.

Ehlert told Barb he was asked a number of questions about possession, use, and sale of marijuana. Then he was asked whether he had knowledgeable possession of an envelope of fresh-cut marijuana. He told them "No".

"The polygraph and its operator both said I was telling the truth, which I was," Ehlert said. The polygraph measured his respiration and blood-pressure.

The "possession" charges were made on February 23, after the Jabberwock management called the police.

"I had left the Jabberwock about 2 a.m., and left William Tallman alone to clean up. Around 3 a.m. Tallman pounded on my door and said three cats were at the Jabberwock smoking pot, and wouldn't leave" Ehlert said.

"I went back with Tallman and we asked them to leave .They wouldn't. I signaled Tallman to call the police. When the police arrived, I placed the three under citizen's arrest.

"The police searched them and found roaches in their possession and in the ashtrays where they were sitting," he said. "The police looked for a stash on the premises, and left.

"Then Tallman and I discovered a pan and strainer with fresh debris. We called the police again, they returned, and searched again. This time they found another strainer with old, dried debris, and a pan with 20 or 30 seeds and a cigarette roller in it. We were arrested.

"Later, at the jail, they told us they'd found an envelope of raw, fresh-cut weed in plain sight on the floor of the main room. Ehlert paused in his narration. Then he said, "Oh yes, and they confiscated a five-pound can of .oregano-which I still haven’t gotten back.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Wooden boxes in Chinatown and the bumper sticker ...

From the hand of Country Joe McDonald as published in the first and only copy of the Intergalactic Fan Club magazine Fish Rapper in May 1967. Joe and Janis Joplin were courting at the time.
Janis and I went out to see this movie, and it turned out that she thought that it was a big drag and I thought it was groovy. She said that she would stay and watch the rest of the movie and then we could go around and get some of those wooden boxes in China town, so I said OK. We went down to China town, it was about 1:30; I dropped Janis off when she saw a bunch of boxes and told me to stop. She ran out and started looking there and I asked her what to do with the car, she said to take it and park it. I started driving around and I went all around the block and I couldn't find a place to park. I got mad 'cause I couldn't find a parking place and double parked it on the corner, stopped the car and left it there. I went over to see what Janis was doing and she was still hunting around for boxes. She was fucking around with the boxes. I looked back over and saw there was a cop car over there by the car. I knew that they were going to get me for parking the car right there. So I went back and just walked over and got inside the car and drove off, you know. I figured that if they were going to do anything they would go ahead and do it.

They followed me around the corner and I pulled over and they pulled up behind me. They asked me if I knew that my car had rolled down the hill and I said "No, that I didn't know that," because it hadn't rolled down the hill.

They said, "oh, well, you were double parked."

They checked the car and they said there was a tail light out. No, they didn't see the tail light, oh yeah, they did see the tail light. So they got me for the tail light and then they saw this Fuck Communism bumper sticker that I had on the back. Two patrolmen come walking by on the beat, they talked to the two cops that were in the car and then pretty soon another cop car pulls up and it's got in it this like lieutenant person who comes over and says, "how’s everything going?" and smiles at me. I said, "just fine." He goes over and talks to the guy and gets out a book and they look it up to see what to do about the sticker. Then they have a photographer come in. They decided that its got to be photographed, but I have a choice, I can either take it off or leave it on and they'll photograph it and send our pictures to the D.A. and if he wants to press charges against me he'll do it. I said well ok, we'll do that. They photographed it and this lieutenant person or sergeant left. Then one of the cops knelt down beside the car and looked at me and said, "you know I wouldn't want my children to see a word like that." I just listened and then he said sort of to himself, "of course they're not old enough to read yet."

Then I was stopped another night. We went down to get some more boxes and got stopped on the freeway by the highway patrol for a tail light being out and they cited me for outraging the public decency, by having the Fuck Communism bumper sticker.

There appears to be a ruling, something about topless dancers, that makes it ok to have a Fuck Communism bumper sticker, and our lawyer is appealing it in court now. It will probably be dropped.

I took the car in to get the tail light fixed in Berkeley and the cop told me that if I didn't already have a ticket for that bumper sticker he’d arrest me on the spot.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Rag, Maybe…… Jon Lundberg

Due to time constraints, I have taken to publishing other folks work and hoping nobody notices. The following piece is from the January 7, 1966 (Vol 2 No 1) issue of the Berkeley Barb, and was written by Jon Lundberg, the purveyor of fine fretted instruments.

This week on the Berkeley scene we had John Fahey, Joe McDonald, Robbie Basho and others at the ‘Wock; the New Brothers, Clarence Van Hook, the Friendly Strangers with Sandy Rothman et al at the Questing Beast; and CJ Motors featuring Ian Underwood’s Jazz Mice, Jeanne Lee, the Congress of Wonders and Ned’s Mob.

Lundberg’s piece was submitted to seemingly soften the blow of Rag Baby being late on the streets. The issue in question eventually made it out but sadly ended up to be the last paper publication.

Shiftless Publishing Company (Shifpubco) of Berkeley announced today its plans for a forthcoming series of mags, baby. These latest efforts in What's Happening Journalism will be titled @ and specialized as follows:

Stag Baby - Local happenings of interest to bachelors, with some hunting features.
Nag Baby - For young marrieds.
Fag Baby - Gay nite life in the Bay Area.
Shag Baby - The comings and goings of John Paul, where to reach him at which hours of the day, schedule of Nevada trips. $5 the copy.
Drag Baby - Schedule of dull concerts, lectures, parties, etc. What's happening In Ohaha. Keep cool.
Bag Baby - Brown paper and a, new unusual format. Editorial content will be secondary to volumetric capacity. And a stakes flavor! For 25c you can get the one we're in. (or the one YOU'RE in.)

The possibilities are endless, but so, apparently, is the patience of the reading public. Publication date for the above was originally set for 15 January, but we hit a snag, baby. We had intended to use the services of the Free Press, but word has reached us just today that this organization is not only not free, but may have NO PRESS! (Each and every copy is hand lettered in Hong Kong and flown in.) This would cause an additional delay of nearly two weeks, and as our editing and layout (and ad sales) time has run into more than we had anticipated, it's not likely we'll be on the streets before summer.

In addition to the above we have projected plans tor the publication of a completely new (Vol 1 No 3) Folk scene magazine to appear sometime after the others, perhaps late next fall, and to be called RAG BABY! Watch your news stands for this one. And keep an eye peeled for the Second Coming of Christ, too.