Oh No, It’s The Lookouts Again!

THIRTY-FIVE YEARS AGO I pulled one of the dumbest stunts of my life: I started a band with a 14-year-old bassist who’d never played bass, a 12-year-old drummer who’d never played drums, and considerably older me, who’d been playing guitar for 20 years without ever getting much good at it. There was no reason to […]

Thanks for Nothing, Hippies

In the interest of full disclosure, yes, I was a hippie, and yes, I was at Woodstock. I’ve spent most of the intervening half century pissing off the hippies and making fun of the grandiosely styled “Woodstock Nation,” but I can’t deny harboring a smallish soft spot for them somewhere in my too-often hardened heart. […]

Does Marijuana Make You Stupid?

Full disclosure: I smoked marijuana, often on a daily basis, for 26 years, from 1967 to 1993. During the lean years of the mid-1980s, I grew the stuff to supplement my income, and sold a few pounds to the drug dealer who would later help write Proposition 215, the medical marijuana ballot measure that started […]

The Definitive Word On Pot

I started smoking pot when I was about Bieber’s age. In fact for more than 20 years of my life I would have sworn that marijuana made me smarter, wiser, more moral, and probably even more handsome. In reality, as most people who knew me during that time will happily tell you, it made me […]

Going To Humboldt

One of my big regrets about the Potatomen — yes, I’ve had a few — was that we never finished a song we started back in 1994 or so called “Going To Humboldt.” And when I say “we” I probably should say “I,” because I was the one who fell down most badly on the […]

(It’s Not) Rocket Science

How do you run a successful indie record label in the year 2012? Ask as many scenesters, hipsters, music business “professionals” as you want; the answer you will hear most often, frequently punctuated by bitter laughter, is “You can’t.” Ironically, I heard the same thing 25 years ago when – against all odds and defying […]

Spy Rock Memories, Part 11

Udo died in the autumn of 1991. He’d been driving alone late at night, so no one ever knew exactly why or how his car wound up at the bottom of a ravine. The best, most likely guess was that he’d swerved to avoid a deer and lost control. We buried him in Little Lake […]

Spy Rock Memories, Part 10

From my back door the view stretched at least 30 or 40 miles. The hills fell away until they reached the Eel River, then began to climb again until they turned into the full-fledged mountains that lined the horizon. To the west of the river there were hippies, homesteaders, and a diehard handful of hillbillies, […]

Spy Rock Memories, Part 9

Everything did change, not all at once, not in an obvious, visible way, at least at first, but the wheels were already in motion. Life on Spy Rock unfolded peacefully and quietly through the rest of 1988 and into 1989. I barely noticed winter that year; spring was bright and full of promise. The Sweet […]

Spy Rock Memories, Part 8

I don’t know how much time passed before I woke up. It might have been half an hour; it could have been a few minutes. My mind had lapsed into a state that was as dreamless as it was dreamlike. I was reminded of how the nuns had described limbo, the nether world where innocent […]

Spy Rock Memories, Part 7, Continued

Before driving back to the city, the girl I had befriended in the city and I took a walk up to a stately rock formation that was straight out of one of those misty mountain Chinese scrolls. The previous winter a flock of wild turkeys had hung out there, following me around like puppies and […]

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