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Love Street

Rawley's cousin, David, showed up at the Funky Mansion from Carolina to help out for the summer as the equipment roadie.  One of the record company executives owned the old run down farm house off of Old Galveston Road.  He let the band stay there in the Funky Mansion though there was no hot water.  It was in Pasadena off of Interstate 45.  Rawley and David were busy loading the van for the gig at Love Street Light Circus and Feel Good Machine with the amps, speaker boxes, mixing board, microphones, cords, guitars, drums, and the usual gear.  The rest of the band members timed their arrival after the loading was finished, too late to help as usual.  Love Street was on the third floor of an old abandoned warehouse on what used to be the old Houston ship channel. The port was originally built in the 19th century.  It was in a part of downtown Houston called Allen's Landing.  This section of downtown was where all of the rock clubs were located and had become somewhat of a gathering place for hippies.  There were bars, pool halls, and all-night coffee houses where officers of the law would keep the peace and make an occasional drug bust.  Love Street was a club for the young crowd.  The bar in the back of the club did not sell alcohol and had a soda fountain with stools and wobbly tables with red and white checkered table cloths. There was a place in front of the stage where rows of giant bean bag pillows were placed for hippies to crash out and dig the sounds.  Upstairs there was a large balcony with a catwalk near the ceiling where Wizard performed his light show magic.  The projections of weird multi-colored amoeba and plasma shapes that resembled squirming microbes and spider webs of geometric design covered the walls and the screen behind the riser that served as the stage for the band. 

As they drew closer to Allen's Landing near the Old Quarter, Escalante pulled up sideways into the alleyway between the freight storage warehouses next to the old wrought iron fire escape and parked Dominique's old red Rambler station wagon.  The stairway was the entrance to the Love Street club where they were going to play that night.  They saw a small green space that served as a park underneath the nearby bridge that passed over the ship channel.  The side of the warehouse was lit up with a large sign which spelled out Love Street in  rapidly blinking yellow lights.  The sign was lit up but it was too early yet.  Things did not get going until around ten o'clock.  Some hippies had gathered in the green space and were milling around looking to score.  When things started happening after midnight, they sometimes went until the wee hours.

Escalante and David, the roadies, climbed the fire escape to the third floor to see if the club was open so they could start to unload the equipment.  Everyone around Allen's Landing was convinced that the hippie generation was going to find the path to Nirvana by the use of psychedelic drugs.  They were convinced that the benefits which could be derived from lysergic acid or LSD would change the world into a place of peace and love.  In addition to acid, the flower children were great advocates of other hallucinogenic substances that could be obtained from such organic sources as peyote, mushrooms, and cannabis sativa.  At first, most hippies never used hard drugs and never took them intravenously which was not the case with some of the other segments of society who were addicted to heroine and meth.  The hard drugs were more prevalent with the criminal elements of society and the dealers who pushed drugs sold whatever they could sell to make a buck.   As time passed eventually more people got addicted.  They would take just about any drug that they could get their hands on without much hesitation. as long as it was a turn-on. 

Rawley could see from his place on the fire escape at the front of the warehouse the small grassy park with benches where the hippies sat and smoked pot.  He could see the fog rising from the old Houston ship channel.  It was beginning to rain and the mist rising from the polluted blackness of the old canal sent a reverberating chill up his spine as the ripples from the tar pitch black water lapped at the banks of the water's edge.  He heard the faint sound of a freighter's horn moaning in the distance.  The gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar finally broke through Rawley's transfixation from down below the fire escape as a skinny guy with long white hair played for spare change as he plunked at the strings with a unique blues style and licks that only he, Johnny Winter, could play.  There was a small group sitting cross-legged in the grass listening intently.  Johnny had tried several times to book his band along with his drummer John Turner and bassist Tommy Shannon and finally got his chance after camping out on the bench for so long.  His long skinny neck with the blood veins swelled with strain was partially covered with his long pearly white hair dripping with sweat.  He was really jamming.  His bended head crooked over the fret board as he searched for the blend of chords that gave the sound his inimitable style. 

Rawley thought he would rekindle a conversation he was having with Dominique on the way to the club.  He said, "I still haven't shared a new revelation that I recently had with you and I was eager to tell you about it."  Dominique nodded in affirmation so Rawley continued.  "I imagine my life's spirit as a rubber balloon filled with water.  Do you know how in a water balloon the water makes the balloon all squishy?"  he asked.  "Yes." Dominique replied.  "Well, do you know how somehow the balloon always reverts back into its original shape no matter how much you might squeeze it?" Rawley continued.  "Yes, so what's the point?"  Dominique asked.  "OK," he pressed on, "imagine that the water balloon is the natural state of existence and is surrounded with an absolutely perfectly shaped transparent crystalline sphere."  Rawley explained.  "Sure man, please continue."  said Dominique quickly responding as if he wanted Rawley to hurry up and get on with it because his attention was now being diverted toward Loretta, his wife, who had wriggled between them..  "Well," Rawley continued, "The water balloon analogy is symbolic of the Id which I refer to as my 'you'.  It is centered within a surrounding clear space like a glass bubble which symbolizes the cosmos.  The balloon 'you' in the center of the glass bubble is being constantly squeezed into different positions by external stimuli, you see, and it is warped into obtuse shapes which causes the balloon 'you' to respond with a human emotional reaction.  Love, hate, pleasure, pain, joy, or fear are all the result of the cosmic stimulus.  The cosmic stimulus is beyond our control.  Peace of mind comes when these stimuli  cease and the nothingness follows.  Never stress over the stimuli because the metamorphosis back to normalcy will always follow just like the water balloon will always maintain its original shape."  Rawley concluded.  "OK then, why should we seek nothingness?" asked Dominique.  "Because nothingness was the first condition to exist in the universe and nothingness will be the last to exist when the universe ends."  Rawley answered.  "So does one find more peace with nothingness than with somethingness?"  Dominique queried.  "Yes, all human emotion is a transient experience which  takes us from nothing through something and back to nothing.  Harmony comes from no fear of the flow of the rhythm of change.  Go with the flow, man.."  Rawley said.  "Fear comes from anxious anticipation and resisting the metamorphosis.  Fear of the unknown results in panic and disorientation in time and space.  Be centered.  Do not brace against the warping which will happen inevitably, especially when you least expect it."   Rawley  continues, "It gets easier with practice.  You loose the fear of the warping stimuli because it becomes familiar.  You may even learn to enjoy it.  It is a journey, an unending story."  he concluded.  "OK, I see, Alpha no Omega." Dominique said,  "happiness is a state of mind."  Rawley explained to them that he was aware of the fact that his diatribe was somewhat belabored so he paused and waited for them to respond.  "So," asked Domi, "how does all of this posturing accomplish anything?  It doesn't put food in my stomach or a roof over my head.  What is the answer to the question of survival in an environment where survival is threatened by an atmosphere of cosmic stimuli?"  Domi's tone was taking on a challenging vibe.  "Well, you see, Domi," began Rawley's retort, "if you become aware of the external pressure which is being exerted by the cosmos onto the balloon 'you', then the 'you' becomes more sensitive.  'You" takes a moment and decides to trip out or ignore it.  You can go with the flow and take a journey or simply disregard the stimulus altogether and maintain the homeostasis staying centered inside the crystalline sphere."  "And then what?" asked Domi.  "Simply wait for the next stimulus," Rawley answered, "everything is temporary anyway, right...except death.  It's all relative.  It's not important what causes the vibrations.  It could be another person or it could be the circumstances.  We are the creator's pawns whose sole function it is to perpetuate the creation.  There is no reasonable explanation for insanity.  There is no other interpretation.  We only get one lifetime.  Most people waste it walking down the primrose path of emotional side-tracks leading to dead ends.  They hope for the cheap thrills and go on power trips.  They believe in delusions of grandeur."  Domi nodded uncommitted as he lifted his left eyebrow which could have been an expression of approval or skepticism.  Rawley was not sure.  Domi, Loretta, and Rawley sat quietly for a while and listened to Johnny play the blues.  The music made the space under the fire escape a sanctuary for deep thought until suddenly Petro Clickerman, the front man, appeared in the alleyway.  He was panting as if he were out of breath.