Thursday, June 22, 2006

Another San Francisco Dead Author

I didn't realize it at the time we were there, but Washington Square Park in San Francisco is associated with a dead alcoholic writer besides Jack Kerouac: Richard Brautigan. While idly web surfing today, I was reminded that Brautigan and his wife posed next to the statue of Ben Franklin (see previous post) for the cover of Trout Fishing in America. It's been quite a while since I read that one, but I think I still have it packed away in a box somewhere. In a more accessible box, I have a collection of stuff my mother never threw away, including a church youth magazine entitled Youth (clever, eh?) dated September 24, 1967. The lead article, "Haight Ashbury and the New Generation," seems even today unusually progressive for the Church of the Brethren. It was written by a minister at the Glide Memorial Methodist Church in Haight Ashbury. One reason I've kept this magazine is that Brautigan's poem, "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace," is reproduced in the article:

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

And so on for two more stanzas talking about pines and electronics and deer strolling peacefully past computers. Pretty crazy stuff for 1967! One of my first composing efforts was setting this poem to music, sitting in my room with my dad's no-name acoustic guitar (which I also still have).

By the way, I wore a pair of glasses pretty much like the guy on the cover of the magazine in the sixties. Eventually mine had the obligatory white fabric tape holding them together after I wore them playing football.

Before I quit for the night, I'm going to post one more relic from the box--my first publication:

It's a riveting tale of our second grade class's field trip in 1961, visiting the local telephone company office, the fire station, and riding on a train. It was neatly transcribed by our teacher, Mrs. Snider and put in the mimeographed yearbook she made for us.

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