Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Travelogue, Part 6, Paradise Lost.

I shouldn’t give the impression that it was all bad highways after a certain point. What happened was that the intrusion of negative event gained a larger percentage of presence than it had had. Then again, without any greater contribution than innocence, karma and limited vision on my part; along with no sense of self, I had managed much greater and more consistent negativity prior to.

Everything comes with a price. The things I was learning and the places I was learning it in all had a price of admission. It didn’t look like God was sending me anywhere no matter how well I behaved and that didn’t change much when I behaved less well. The latter gave me the appearance of impending success, what with the so-called important people I met and the exposure I gave my various arts. But the facts remain, insofar as I can see now, that I never fit in very well or for very long. I couldn’t live locked away from it all, even though I’d tried to enter the Trappist order and tried to be a part of spiritual groups. I certainly couldn’t dance with the crocodiles; wrong pheromones.

I was caught up in the awareness of the goddess, the mother aspect, in most every regard and most of everything I created was directed toward her. This may have made sense to the budding New Ager and the hippie enclave but each of these embodied variations that didn’t jibe with my own perspective. I couldn’t find lasting succor there nor among the suits and the ties. Throughout my journey the one thing I have not managed is a lasting safe harbor. I’m supposing that had always indicated the harbor within, still, everyone wants a lasting bolt hole. I guess I could say I have that now.

I worked at a lot of things prior to Hawaii. I worked in various aspects of construction which produced some very funny stories. I was a newspaper editor and for a brief while the editor of a national magazine; I can’t say I have very good editorial skills but I understand content and design and I could always get people who knew the rest. Quite often I was clown jester and confidant to those with more money than anything else and, in hindsight; I think I can say they got their money’s worth.

Before it got really bad I had a tremendous amount of fun. I had as much fun as anyone ever had. There were jewels dripping from the light fixtures and lush enveloping surges that went on forever and ever. There was blasting white light and the far off song of angels on the periphery. There were beautiful girls like liana vines sculpting and twisting up against every bend and curve. There were evenings with night skies like Battleship Galactica in full approach. There were UFO transmissions and voices out of nowhere. There was me running tirelessly through the woods like an American Indian assassin coming up on a kill I never arrived at. There was me running full tilt down mountain streams from rock to rock and never falling once. There were those extemporaneous nights on stage with a band where I made up all the songs on the spot and being told how really great it was and it always coming to nothing.

There was also the resentment and fear I engendered. But my heavy reactions were yet to come when an altogether different guy came back to take my place.

While I was trying to get my hands on all my missing money from my clients, Betty called to let me know she’d run into George Benson. I was and am a great fan of George’s and that was enough to get me on a plane for the islands.

You get off the plane in Hawaii and you know you are on another planet. My initial reaction was that I had smoked some very heavy pot and one glass of wine at the hot tub would send me to bed at 7:00PM for six weeks until I acclimatized.

Right away I ran into coke again (I should mention that coke was no less a factor and no less available than anything else. It’s just that coke makes for more serious drama- yet, in the years that it was around and even though I may have once did it for two years running, it was never addictive. When it ran out it ran out. I don’t know what everyone else is talking about and yeah, I did crack too; no big deal).

Coming across the country to LA for my flight to the islands I ran into thousands of dollars of precious metals which I had for barter and sale on arrival. Of course I ran into a coke dealing precious metals guy, heh heh. I ran out of everything and we wound up in the jungle among the centipedes. Centipedes are a real thrill. Did I mention we had a daughter? Yes, Allison had arrived in Boston and Betty took her along when she left.

Maui is composed of the most selfish, brain dead, “me first, you later maybe”, , untrustworthy, never prompt (mostly not showing up at all), deranged loser types of any environment I’ve ever encountered. It’s like every air headed, game playing, air kisser from California- too extreme even for there- had migrated to the land of pineapples and coconuts and substituted them for brains. It’s also composed of some of the most violent locals I’ve ever seen. You took your life in your hands just walking down the street or going to the beach. This could well be the best martial arts proving ground on the planet.

We finally crawled out of the jungle into a condo and I got down and kissed the shag carpet. I got a job as the head cook at a restaurant called Carlene’s and polished my chops. I was getting pretty good at accompanying myself on the guitar and played at a lot of parties. Then I get a phone call from David Mowry telling me that Rick Glover would like to come to Hawaii. Well, I’m always up for helping a guy out. Rick arrives and tells me that Susan had offered to pay him good money to kill me. This was a lie and I knew it to be so but just let it go by. Rick stayed in my home for several months, never doing much and helping not at all. I asked him if he didn’t think he should get a job in the interim. I was helping him get on the Maui Police Force. He was ex-military, a black guy from Philly who was passing proficient at kung fu. I thought that would be helpful to me.

One day I came home from work, Betty was at the hotels doing catering and there was my daughter in a dark room crying her eyes out alone. That was it, I threw Rick out. Rick was a John Reed type; bad news. He got on the police force and went to work trying to set me up. This time I was savvy and it was no go. But my name was being bandied about none the less. Rick would occasionally threaten me when I ran into him. He went to work undercover in Maui bars, entrapping people and getting them sent to prison.

Betty and I broke up and I seamlessly moved in with Anita. Anita; what can I say, one of my great mistakes. We got on well but I was attracting a lot of other female attention and had been pretty clear from the jump that I wanted things more open. Sure Les... everyone always says everything is okay until it isn’t. But hey, I was a jerk too. Anita got involved with some coke people and she went full bore into it. I had decided I was just going to drink. That was what everyone else was doing. The restaurant closed down and then a backer and I reopened it. Anita was a waitress there. This actually happened before Betty and I broke up. What a scene that place was, that’s a few chapters all by itself. Anita and I flew to the East Coast after that venture failed for a terrifically bad visit to all my friends. I’d met George Benson by this time and we had become friends. I was driving a 64’ Corvette Stingray and imagining things were on the way. George loved my tunes and wanted to do some. However his manager had ‘first refusal’ on all songs and wouldn’t let him do mine. I hooked up with George in Philly along with Anita for a visit and found this out; George was on tour. We came back to Maui, no idea what to do.

I got a job as a DJ at the main radio station and did really well. I then got my own jazz show, the first one on Maui and even the mayor was calling me up telling me how much he enjoyed it. Many times in my life things could have gone up one way or another but was not to be. I’m on the radio playing all the songs of the day and doing my jazz show- late night stuff and Anita is out doing coke with her friends and doing her friends to. I started losing it.

I met Bud, the birdman, Clifton and Franklin Russell, along with some other very good musicians and started putting together my first real album, ‘Jew’s From Outer Space’ into the mix comes this guy Jim- I can’t remember his last name now. I’d helped him out several times in the past. He comes and tells me the Hawaiian mafia is going to kill him if he doesn’t replace 5000 dollars he owes. It came around to me arranging for them to get some coke to save his life. I’m living in a house in the jungle, trimming buds for a living and working on my music. Call me stupid, I helped him through Anita’s contacts. These people were sourced right to South America. A lot of coke changes hands and it turns out to be the cops. Busted! So there I am facing 60 years mandatory in a state with the highest conviction rate in the country. Rick Glover turns out to have been involved. It took my good friends, Paul Dumont, John Fuchs and Howard Coon 90 days to bail me out. Bail is very hard in Hawaii. I go out on the Fourth of July dripping with irony.

I record Jew’s From Outer Space and it’s a winner. I move in with Anita’s parents and get a job at Paradise Fruits. Paradise Fruits is a life saving world for me. It’s a 24 hour combination restaurant, deli-food store and gathering place. I become the Deli Lama. I worked at Paradise Fruits on and off for years, it was a life saver; thank you Gerald, Roger and Mark. My lawyer tells me that he can’t win. I fire my lawyer and the prosecutor goes bananas. I serendipitously get a lawyer from the private sector who is taking some of the overflow from the public defenders office. He’s a former mob lawyer from Detroit named Bruce Metz. This guy has tattoos up and down both arms and a bad drinking problem. He’s a hard guy too. You wouldn’t want to mess with him.

He and I together orchestrate a defense. Meanwhile the prosecution just figures they got me sewn up. In the meantime, my judge retires and my prosecutor goes to Oahu. I get a virgin prosecutor and a brand new judge without a courtroom. So court gets held in a sunny large meeting room in a brand new building. You can see how we (through the grace of God) avoided a courtroom filled with old entities where the walls dripped despair. We blew them out of the water. They never saw us coming. I had a crowd of fine witnesses, including about nine very physically beautiful women; one of them was the runner up in the Miss Maui pageant. At one point the prosecutor goes to her and tosses Jew’s From Outer Space on the table and asks, “What about this?” She says, “Yeah, that’s Les’s album.” “Well.” He continues. “What? She asks, “are you trying to say Les is anti-Semitic?” “Well?” he asks. “Have you heard it? It’s in praise of the Jews” she replies. “Well, then, what about this Herpes of the Mind?” I know he wishes he could take that back. The courtroom erupted. The jury couldn’t stop laughing. Throughout the day, occasionally there would be an outbreak of laughter. The prosecutor turned away form her in anger and tripped over his briefcase; another huge outbreak of laughter. Space constraints forbid my going into detail. You should have been there. I was acquitted on all counts. I remain the only person in Hawaiian history to walk on 3 class A felonies by virtue of entrapment. I guess you’d call that payback from before.

The head prosecutor later said that I and my girlfriend were two of only three people that never cooperated with his office in his eight years there. That made me feel good. I could have blown the lid on a major operation but I never did, not through all the threats and intimidation. Rick got bounced from the force and went back to play with David Mowry and Boucoup Blues. He must have told more lies there because no one from there ever speaks to me anymore. Now I see he’s gone from the band. I imagine there’s a story there too.

Someone fired a gun at me a few weeks later while I walked near the beach at my place in Kihei. I’d broken up with Anita and was going out with a beautiful lady I later met up with in LA. I will always regret that the speed of my life didn’t allow for including her. I flew off to Santa Rosa to see Richard Yerxa, then down to LA to meet up with Bud. Bud was a standup comedian and he and I together had been doing an act on Maui. We hit the clubs there- I just don’t have the space for all of this so I’m going to fast forward things- too many things happened.

I spent the next fifteen years coming and going from Woodstock and Maui. I did three more albums of satirical material. I hooked back up with Bernard Stollman and signed a deal with Sony/CBS to release two of my CD’s through the Tower Record chain internationally. Unfortunately Bernard turned the business over to his psychopathic wife who took my tunes off of old warped cassettes instead of the DAT masters resulting in terrible sound. She said it made it sound more authentic. So, there I was with CD’s in all the record stores around the world but the sound quality has unlistenable. The licensing agreement expired in two and a half years but Flavia Stollman is still selling them on the ESP Disk website. I don’t know what to do about that.

I met Svargo, whom I had first met at Guru Bawa’s when she was just 13. She is one of the most beautiful, kindest and aware women I have ever met. She kept me alive during the hardest parts of this journey. Unfortunately, she was married and that didn’t change, even as years passed. I got hard in some ways and became a fearsome individual. I decided I wasn’t going to take shit from anyone or we were going downtown right there. I cried to God every night but God was going to rub my face in it till I caught on. Most of the time I was living, “Into the Void.” Coming down a huge mountain with a seriously broken leg.

I crashed and burned and went into AA for 4 years. I attended Shiatsu and Massage school at the Swedish Institute in N.Y.C. I got a TV show in N.Y.C. and Woodstock and became very successful at it. I took care of my friend Kenny while he died from AIDS and did many more things I can’t go into. I continued with my martial arts studies as I had unfailingly done in Maui. A friend started drinking again and got treated like shit. I said if this is the way they behave I don’t need it. I started drinking again. But since I knew that alcohol was a problem and since I had seen into many of the reasons for why I drank it just wasn’t the same anymore. Oh yeah, it was rough and unpredictable at first but as time passed I became able to drink again without any trouble. Today I can do it with impunity. They say it is virtually impossible for an alcoholic to achieve this but I’m living proof with enough years behind me now as evidence. I just don’t enjoy it any more. I’ll have the occasional glass of wine or even a six pack of beers with friends but it just makes me tired and interferes with my meditations.

I started writing songs non stop. I’ve quite the catalog today. I’ve never become a very good guitar player but I did learn to sing well. I started managing resorts in Hawaii and got to handle some very large properties. I drove new cars and lived well. Life was sorting itself out.

I decided that music was something I ought to get done while I could and recorded a lot of different albums. I started playing in clubs regular and getting really good responses. One day, going into a gig I saw a woman walking down the street on the other side, over a hundred yards away. I said to myself, I hope she comes in here. She did. I’d been writing songs about someone coming into my life. I’d told people I was going to go to Europe and live my life as an artist months earlier. I kept repeating it. Susanne was from Germany. Everything moved by a power other than our effort. The next thing I knew, we were married and it’s been simpatico since day one. Neither of us had ever been married. Susanne is much younger than me but that doesn’t seem to make any difference. I saw George Bush coming. I KNEW he was bad news. I was right. I went to Europe and things have just improved steadily. I’m alone most of the time. I don’t have any friends here. I know a few people. Maybe I just like to be alone.

I finished the novel I was working on and my publisher proceeded to print different titles on the cover, the spine and throughout the book and decided not to include the final edit. When I complained he told me that I had a cult following and this would make my work unique. I think he must know Flavia. I have four other novels all more than half done but I just said fuck it and stopped writing them. I’ve stopped playing music, though I still write songs. I’m in a karmic lock so I don’t think anything is going to break it till it ends. I’m done trying to get a record company or a publisher interested in me. I’ll just write when I want to and never mind success. I’m already a success in all the ways that matter. I know that I am free to create or just stare at the sky all day. I’ve intuited the secret of endless support and the end of financial concern. Even though I have nothing, I want for nothing. Even though I have nothing I can go anywhere and stay as long as I want, more or less.

My days and minutes are spent in alignment. My thoughts are to merge and be under the umbrella of God. My work is the refinement of my unruly personality; the subjugation of all my former outrages and injuries into unshakeable balance. I haven’t a clue as to why I’m here or what so many of the things that happened mean. But I live in a state of grace and I keep the company of wonderful beings who guard me and light my way toward wherever it is I am bound. For the moment, the symphony is playing in key.

I apologize for racing to the end of this like I did. I left out so many funny and strange events. Maybe I’ll write the book but right now I can’t be bothered. I’ve given up on any thought of getting anywhere. Nothing out here matters much and I wouldn’t trade my state of mind for anything this world has to offer. I’d better sign off on this or I’ll be getting into the post that rightfully should follow this one. It may be tomorrow or the day after and then we’ll be back to where we were. For now this thing will continue to continue. Something is waving at me some distance up the highway. I can’t make it out just yet but whatever it is it seems to indicate it’s going to change everything once again. Oh well, it’s not like that’s going to be something I’m unfamiliar with.


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The 3rd Elf