December 9, 2009
George Harrison, Eric Clapton, And Me
I of II
Review by R.E. Prindle
Boyd, Pattie: Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, And Me, Three Rivers Press, 2007
I don’t believe in boogie bars,
Macro biotics or souped up cars.
I don’t believe the price of gold;
The certainty of growing old,
But, I believe in you.
Perhaps it’s because I lived through the era experiencing what I did and vicariously the rest that I was thoroughly charmed by Pattie’s autobiography. I hope I will be excused for calling Pattie by her first name throughout but Boyd sounds so brutally unisexual eliminating amything but female sexual aspects that it doesn’t seem fitting and I don’t wish to sound formal otherwise.
This part of the review will cover pretty much Chapter 3: Modeling, 4: George and 5: Mrs Harrison. The chapters brought back the glittering memories of the sixties, memories created more by magazines and television shows than reality for most people but perhaps more or less real for some. If it wasn’t real for Pattie than it probably wasn’t real for anyone. But then it’s hard to tell where you are at any given moment in time.
She was there in what was called ‘Swinging London’ at the time. From a distance it was just dazzling. We were entranced by the possibility. As the late great Roger Miller put it: London swings like a pendulum do. By the time I got there in the seventies the pendulum was stationary. Pattie herself began life as a hair stylist but in a top notch salon. While there she was given an intro to a modeling firm and was lucky enough to catch on. From the looks of the photos whe was in the Twiggy line. She could have become a high fashion queen.
And London was a place where staying on top of fashion was a full time job. The scene was perhaps best captured by Ray Davies and the Kinks in their song: Dedicated Follower Of Fashion. If memory serves it was written about Marc Bolan.
…his clothes are loud but never square
It will make him or break him
So he’s got to buy the best
‘Cos He’s a dedicated follower of fashion.
He does his little rounds
Amongst the boutiques of London Town
Eagerly pursuing all the lates fads and fashions.
Pattie was in the thick of it mentioning the people she associated with, mere names to us, like Ossie Clarke, Twiggy, Mary Quant, David Hockley, photographers, artists, fashion designers who were realities to her although the glitter is brighter than the shabby fabric beneath. But then, how else could it be?
One feels envy at her luck. I was on the West Coast viewing it all from a distance with wonder, but owning a record store. By the time I got to London in the early seventies the swing had swung. Carnaby St. was deserted when I strolled down it all alone past the shops empty of customers. What sounded so good in song looked effete in reality. Of course I was straight Beverly Hills, dressed completely Eric Ross, quite a standout, but strange and exotic to Londoners.
Oh well, there were always the great book stores.
Pattie had begun her career as a fashion mdoel when she received a call to appear on the set of the Beatles movie in progress, A Hard Day’s Night. I suspect that George Harrison had seen her about town and requested her by name, only a guess, but he certainly glommed on to her when she arrived. Honorable intentions too. The couple got together and it was on. Thus she entered the charmed circle of the Beatles. You couldn’t get no higher.
The Beatles? Who cared really? other than the millions. Whatever was happening there passed me flatter than the Grateful Dead, and that’s flat. I was cool to both the Beatles and the Stones. I wasn’t really a dedicated fan of anybody; I liked certain records- Superlungs by Terry Reid. The first Jeff Beck with Rod Stewart when he still had intact pipes, the second with Bob Tench wasn’t bad either, lousy cover. Beck apparently hated vocalists because he played so loud, on purpose, I was backstage once and watched him do it, that he blew out their pipes. Donovan’s Sunshine Superman was tops, Procol Harum’s first, Alan Price’s This Price Is Right, stuff like that. Dillard and Clark, Flying Burrito Brothers’ White Line Fever, some Johnny Rivers. Nice stuff. Two or three Byrds.
But, the Beatles were gods and here were George Harrison and Pattie Boyd trying to fashion a normal lower middle class life in a hundred room mansion. The Beverly Hillbillies in London. Good luck boy and girl. And that was not taking into account drugs. Pattie’s story of the maniac dentist sends a chill through the marrow; a real demon dentist, the Sweeny Todd of the profession. Lord, deliver us from evil. It was he who introduced Pattie and Harrison to LSD, surreptitiously of course. Spiked their coffee just as they were about to leave his house.
Then the stuff came on, a little like the Airplane’s song, White Rabbitt- one side makes you larger, one side makes you smaller. Pardon me for writing myself into the story but the pen is in my hand:
Happened to me once. I was down in Berkeley at what was supposed to be a party. Pot parties in that time and place meant everyone sat around self-absorbed looking out vaguely at what could possibly have been you, or possibly just empty space. This particular set played draggy jazz so possibly they weren’t even looking out, their eyes were just open. As I was to learn it wasn’t pot. I had never smoked before anyway. Nobody could have ever been busted for whatever it was I smoked. Nothing was happening except the draggy jazz, maybe John Coltrane going around in fifths, and I was getting bored so I said I was leaving. As with the dentist of Pattie’s experience I was abjured not to leave. I never knew really what it was until I read Pattie’s story. It hit me a couple blocks down the street. The ’tobacco’ must have been laced with acid.
Getting out of the maze of streets of Berkeley always required a little concentration on my part anyway and now I didn’t have any. I didn’t even know where I was or where I was going. Fortunately for me the car drove itself. I did have to keep my hands on the wheel though it wasn’t always uppermost in my mind. The car did strange things when I took my hands off the wheel, wandering here and there. A voice spoke saying: Keep your hands on the wheel.
The car found its way to the MacArthur Freeway which, although it was a road I knew by heart I couldn’t recognize. Plus everything had turned a shiny patent leather black, the highway just glittered and shown so. Colors had disappeared; the lights of the cars shot through my eyes to the back of my brain. They were all driving very slowly it seemed but passed me going very fast. Of course I was driving about twenty-five per which was as much as I could handle. I got in the slow lane. A good thing because it seemed like I was going around this curve for twenty-five minutes. Everytime I looked it seemed like I was in the same place. I decided to put my foot back on the gas.
The next problem was that the sky and highway were bonded together. Fortunately the car was able to separate them and they moved apart before us- the car and me.
My next big problem, after a seeming eternity, was that in order to make a left exit to Castro Valley I had to cross three lanes dotted with cars moving at varying speeds in different lanes. I had to time it just right to get in between cars in two different lanes. Sort of a Rubiks Cube kind of problem. While I was dithering my car changed lanes for me and I was on the off ramp with a smile.
An underpass lay before me where the most miraculous event in my life took place. As I began to enter the underpass this set of ram’s horns, you know, like a male sheep, began to grow from my forehead. Great white curling things they were, magnificent. It was at that moment I realized I was Master Of The World. Just as I was about to assume the mantle I came out the other side losing my spectacular rack and my crown. While I was pondering the imponderable my car finding its way back gliding noiselessly up the street into the driveway where it pertly came to a halt. Heaving a sigh of relief I got out and entered the house.
I don’t know what I looked like, perhaps fierce because of the loss of my horns, but my wife and mother-in-law seemed to run from me. Entering the kitchen I saw my brother-in-law about to have some tacos he’d cooked up. The guy was a wizard with hamburger; he could do things with hamburger than no chef had ever done. I had issues with him which I won’t go into. When I saw the tacos I became ravenous and wanted them. He was experienced. He took one look at me and realized the situation his hand stopping before his open mouth.
I didn’t hesitate, I remembered being Master Of The World. I snatched his tacos from his hands saying: I want those. He was knowing. He made no resistance, just said, sure. Smart move because I wouldn’t have taken no for an answer while still feeling superhuman. I wolfed those suckers down; best tacos I ever ate. But now there were fireworks going off in my head. I got in bed and watched the light show going off behind my closed eyes for a couple hours. I woke up grouchy and ragged. I took care in the future to make sure that never happened again. Wherever I had been I didn’t want to go back. I sure missed those horns though.
Apparently Harrison and his band mates liked it going back repeatedly. But then Pattie discovered that old fraud the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his Transcendental Meditation. What a fraud. She turned Harrison on and the band followed. First it was Bangor, Wales and then on to the big temple in the Himalayas of India.
There are many wondrous stories of their Indian sojourn at the ashram. The upshot was that the holy man liked girls as much, perhaps more, than the rest of the fellows. This tore a rent in his spirituality and disillusioned the group who left in a huff.
Pattie does tell a good story about Ringo who was wary of spicy Indian food having had digestive problems as a youth. He took along a suitcase full of Heinz Baked Beans. Imagine going through customs with that. Imagine watching the guy in front of you opening a suitcase full of cans of Heinz Baked Beans. US Customs would have made him open each can on the spot. I’d be laughing yet.
After their marriage George wanted her to give up the job of modeling. she had regrets but as far as modeling went she was getting old. Younger women were pushing up. The Twiggy look was dated from the start anyway. She might have been near the end of her career whether she liked it or not.
Couple intesting points before this idylic phase of her life and life with George Harrison ended. Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull came to their house one night. Jagger wrote on the Harrison’s wall: Mick and Marianne were here. Strange action for guests. The only thing I can figure is that Mick was marking out the limits of his territory like one of the big cats who go around peeing on bushes to set up their territory. As a Beatle and tops of the pop world it was incumbent on each Beatle to establish their priority, their dominance over the lesser princes. When Mick wrote that on Harrison’s wall without demurrer he was establishing dominance over his superior. Eric Clapton would later do the same when he took Harrison’s wife while defeating him, as some say, in a guitar duel.
If you watched the 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame show you saw Jagger and Bono dueling it out for the crown. A very haughty Jagger beat Bono into absolute submission having him groveling before himself worse than Obama before the Emperor of Japan. Jagger was so taut that after he flipped off Bono he almost dismissed the audience but then caught himself and gave a dismissive back hand wave in acknowledgment. That was somethin’ else man.
Jagger as leader of the Rolling Stones also foisted Allen Klein on the Beatles also demonstrating the priority of the Stones over the Beatles. And lastly Jagger, how shall I say, induced Bob Dylan to open a show for the Stones placing Dylan therefore beneath the Stones. I would have to say that the Stones have finished as the undisputed Kings of Rock of Roll. There’s always more going on than you think.
And then Pattie and Harrison were in attendance at the famous first drug bust of Jagger, Richards and Marianne Faithfull. As Pattie tells it she and her husband left the party at 3:00 AM. Immediately after they left the police raided. She believes the fuzz waited until they left as they were Beatles. The Beatles were thought of as clean at that time while the Stones and Marianne were monsters. She may be right. If the type of glamour achieved by the Beatles and Stones was new to them and difficult to manage perhaps the same was true of society. The Phenomenon of the British Invasion was so spectacular that you just had to stand back and ask: What’s this? So maybe the cops did honor The Top Of The Pops.
Whether she was slapping back at Mick for writing on her wall by the observation I can’t tell although both stories found a prominent place in her narrative. High school never ends.
The contest for her favors by Harrison and Clapton is very complex, a lot of psychology involved. I’ll have to work on it some but that will be covered in my review of the second half of the book to follow.
April 30, 2007
A Mother’s Eyes
The Baby Marie.
Dr. Anton Polarion
Well, yes. What is this Baby Marie you ask. I’m going to tell you even though it’s a story I’m sure you won’t be able to understand. It is perhaps the most real story ever told but it’s reality will probably be too transparent for meager intellects. I almost said, like yours, but I didn’t because I want to retain your sympathy at least to the end of the story; after that you’re on your own and I don’t care.
You think that’s just a little bit too truculent do you? Well, maybe it is but I have my reasons which I am not going to divulge to people like you. Not least is the way I was treated as a child. Not only by strangers like you but by my own mother. I had enough problems with those others all my life. They gave me psychological complexes that it took me a long time to resolve. But then the unkindest cut of all was my mother.
You say, oh pshaw, everyone has those kinds of problems. I’ll grant you that but you’ve got them in spades and haven’t resolved a single one. I’ve got a clean slate having resolved them all. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. Well, so maybe everyone does have those sorts of problems, what’s that got to do with me? Let everyone else live their own life; I’ve got me to worry about. Besides if this generalized public you talk about is any kind of example look at the world these mutants have made. I’d laugh if I weren’t terrified.
I’ll take my own problems any day. Besides all my problems, psychological that is, have been solved since the Baby Marie came to live with me. Since then I’ve known only peace. Before the Baby Marie I only had problems with my mother’s memory and my eyes.
Yes, that old fraud Freud was right about one thing. The mother is the most important influence in a man’s life. Yes, I know, I should have said person’s but here’s a fact for you to digest, I’m a man not a woman. Let the little girls work out their own problems with their mothers. All that politically correct crap doesn’t have anything to do with my own mind so leave me alone and let me get on with my story as happened to me. I’m not going to acknowledge any more interruptions.
Speaking of fraud Freud this story doesn’t have much to do with him. All he ever did was take eggs out of other bird’s nests and sit on them himself like he was the one who laid them. If you know your sources you can write the whole substance of Depth Psychology without having to mention his name. It was all there, all the Fraud did was gather it into his own nest. He didn’t even do a good job of that. His notion of the mind is just a big joke.
Well, no matter, you have to start somewhere and Freud did at least succeed in imprinting his ridiculous notions on the mind of more than one generation. He got the ball rolling now we have to get it moving in the right direction.
No, you’re wrong. I’m not writing this from inside an insane asylum. I’m saner than you are or ever will be or even could be. If you must know I write from the lap of comfort with a beautiful sylvan view out of my window. No Landor’s cottage but then that nineteenth century quality of perfection is lost for the next thousand years.
I’d say I’ve got a tall cool one in my hand but since the Baby Marie came to live with me I’ve had no desire to drink. In fact, if I do she’ll leave. I don’t want that.
So, my mother. She rejected and abandoned me when I was five. This is where Freud comes in. Freud didn’t understand how the mind works. More specifically he didn’t know how it was organized. Not his fault really; there wasn’t that much information available at the time. He was only a pioneer. Still, he shouldn’t have let on that he knew more than he did.
Let’s skip this nonsense. Suffice it to say that the brain is divided into right and left lobes and a conscious and subconscious mind. When the brain is presented with a Challenge which it cannot successfully handle the failure becomes a fixation in the subconscious. For every mental fixation there is a physical affect. The mind automatically converts its mental failure into a physical consequence. You see, that’s where the talking cure comes in. When you identify, recognize and express the fixation it and its’ physical affect are exorcised.
Real simple, not as easy as it looks for the central childhood fixation, but simple. The talking cure is one of those eggs Freud plucked from another’s nest; in this case his benefactor and friend, Breuer. Oh well, Breuer didn’t know what to do with it anyway. He could never have hatched that egg if he’d sat on it till he was a hundred or as old as Methuselah or possibly the hills.
Now, you see, these other people gave me a number of Challenges my mind couldn’t resolve and a whole bunch of fixations with detestable physical affects. As the affects all emanate from the mind you may include mental afflictions also.
OK. So I found my fixations and exorcised them. Straightened myself out in body and mind. Got rid of my constipation, post-nasal drip, everything. There were dozens. I felt great afterwards. But after a while you forget how great it is and concentrate on other problems. The amazing thing is after you get rid of the major ones the least significant fixations demand attention thereby assuming a significance they never had. They’re easy to understand and get rid of though. After exorcising the central childhood fixation all the other stuff is an anthill compared to the mountain of the central childhood fixation.
So, now I think I’m home free but then I discover I’ve got another problem. My mother. But she isn’t anywhere in my conscious or sub-conscious mind. So where is she?
I found her way down deep below both the levels of consciousness and subconsciousness. The brain stem. There’s one Freud missed. An obvious one, too. The Brainstem. The first brain in the evolutionary scheme of things. First you have the brain stem then the midbrain and finally the pre-frontal lobe evolves. So then Man can sneer as he looks down on the other vertebrates who have a lot more sense that he does.
Now all we have to do is rise to our scientific knowledge and get rid of that miserable attitude of the bible. There is no longer any reason to enshrine that immature consciousness with its primitive monotheism.
Here’s an obvious thing you probably never thought of before. Since the brain stem came first the sensory organs are associated with it. That’s right. The optic nerves are associated with the brain stem. When you get that REM, Rapid Eye Movement, when you’re dreaming? That comes from the brain stem.
What’s as old as the brain stem? Yo’ mama.
That’s right. Freud was right on that one. That’s a main reason why your mother is the most important influence in your life. Your mother’s eyes. Never thought of that one, huh? Well, plenty of song writers have. As an infant your mother’s eyes drilling into your own as you looked up from your breast feeding established that connection to the brain stem and your own eyes.
So here’s what I found out. That connection between your mother’s eyes and your own is paramount. When your mother rejects or abandons you that connection between your mother’s eyes and your own is broken. That fires a lightening bolt right through your brain stem down below the subconscious part of the mind. At some time in your life you’re going to have trouble with your eyes.
The circumstances of the break will dictate the nature of your problem. If a scientific survey were conducted some sort of general rules could be drawn up. Heck, someone could catalog fixations and their affects. They will be the same with everyone. Nobody’s that unique. The exact form may vary but the affect will be same. We’re closer to mental health than most people think. It’s just that you people prefer to be crazy.
My mother remarried and reclaimed me when I was ten so I didn’t have any real trouble with my eyes until I was after forty. I’m younger than that now but that needs no explanation. I’ll die soon anyway.
I had to have these operations on my eyes a few years ago. I thought I would have to go blind. While I was waiting I read Sybille Bedford’s biography of Aldous Huxley. He was rejected and abandoned by his mother also, she died when he was fourteen. Then his eye problems started when he was sixteen. I realized immediately that my eye problems were connected to my mother too.
My problem was that I knew my subconscious had been cleared out long before so that my problem with my mother couldn’t be in my subconscious.
The answer was revealed as answers of that type are, in one’s dreams.
I dreamt that I went down to the deepest spot known to man and there I knelt before a well. The well was dry; there was no water in it. It might be romantic to say I filled it with my tears but that’s not what happened. You know, science fails when you refuse to observe its tenets. That’s one of the big things wrong with world now, you want override obvious truths for emotional reasons. Think about it.
Since I had identified the ‘fixation’ and expressed it, by all the rules of Depth Psychology it should have disappeared, but it didn’t. The brain stem is different than the upper brain. Returning to the surface by the way I came I woke up.
Now I did have a dilemma. I thought I had the solution to my problem but I didn’t know how to apply it.
For a couple months I could only worry about it. Which is to say that by applying auto-suggestion I hoped to have my mind show me the answer. Naturally, it did.
The Baby Marie came to me. The Baby Marie is real but she’s just not flesh and blood. She came to me as all balms do, in dreams. I almost didn’t recognize her. It was close. I might have lost her with terrible consequences for myself.
I was at a party, in my dream, strange enough in itself as I never go to parties, wouldn’t know how to act at one; didn’t know how to act at this one. Fact is for some reason I never get invited. Who’d want to go anyway? There was much hilarity and boisterousness, two qualities I lack. I began to wonder why I went. Then a man, who while he may have been an alter ego, I still don’t know, asked me to come into the other room where they were delivering a Baby Marie for me.
I’d never heard of Baby Maries so I was really annoyed; so annoyed that I could hardly relate to the situation.
This dream is related to another dream I had once and is actually a fulfillment but why interrupt this story. If you want I can send you the other one, just ask. Well, they brought in this big barrel or keg. The barrel came apart in the middle so the upper part was slid aside. I have never seen a stranger sight. The barrel was half filled with the clearest water you ever saw. Sight for the blind you might say. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Floating, not so much in, but under the water was the head of a little infant with these large loving eyes that met mine.
I can tell you I was nonplused. ‘What’s this?’ I asked truculently enough. ‘It’s for you. We got this Baby Marie for you.’ Said my alter ego in his Hawaiian shirt. ‘It’s a Baby Marie.’
I was disgusted. The idea, putting a baby in a barrel of water and shipping it from god knows where. The poor thing would drown, should have already drowned. I almost missed my connection over past grievances and meaningless technicalities. Then I realized that if the Baby Marie was still alive she must be floating in living water. That must be why she hadn’t drowned. I knew the value of living water if I didn’t understand the importance of a Baby Marie.
More for the sake of the living water than the Baby Marie I accepted the gift. The water and the Baby Marie were then poured into the dry well in my brain stem down below where the sea monsters go. The eyes of the Baby Marie which were so loving replaced those of my mother who had rejected me. The connection was restored.
Unable to reach the problem through conscious Depth Psychology my mind had nevertheless found a way to resolve the dilemma. Or, perhaps problems of the brain stem function independently of the methods of Depth Psychology.
That’s how the Baby Marie came to live me completely changing my life. That’s why I don’t and won’t drink alcohol again.
The details of the dream are not clear to me but perhaps this crowd of people at the party are the people who laid my central childhood fixation on me and are offering me compensation for their crime. I certainly can’t be sure.
I suppose it right to speculate some on who or what the Baby Marie might be. Since she is a construction of my own mind that may not be as hard as it may seem.
Obviously with the Baby Marie I am born again. In fact, I had been reading Jung and I was struck by his analysis of the bapismal font and the idea of the infant being born again in that holy or living water.
I had also read of a dream of Bob Hunter’s, the song writer for the Grateful Dead, you know. He had a recurrent dream that terrified him for days after. In his dream he went down to the lowest place in the world where he stood before a black muddy river. I had no trouble recognizing this river as a symbol for his relationship with his mother. I also knew that it would take more than a box of rain to unsully those waters, but if he knew how to use the box of rain it would be a good start especially if the rain was living water. You see, he had the problem and the solution in his mind all along.
Last and perhaps most important is a song that had been playing in my memory for over fifty years. It was a song about a man trying to reach a person over the phone known only as Marie.
He knows neither her phone number nor her address. He pleads desperately with the operator to help him get in touch with his Marie. The operator cannot help him even though the man explains quite explicitly that Marie lives only half a mile from the Mississippi Bridge in Memphis, Tennessee. As it turned out Marie was merely an infant.
I had fixated on Marie, the Mississippi Bridge, the Mississippi River and Memphis, Tennessee all my life without realizing why. Why I should have done so is not clear to me. How I might have associated my unrealized problem with an inexplicable answer is a mystery of the mind, yet both problem and answer were ever present in my mind just as they were in Bob Hunter’s.
It took several decades to cross that bridge over the river but at last I have gotten in touch with my Marie.
This is a true story. You may believe it or not as you choose, but if you heed it you will find it a major contribution to the understanding of human psychology as well as your own.
That’s all I have to say. I bid you goodnight. Don’t call me, I’ll call you. Don’t wait up.
Dr. Polarion can be cantankerous at times. Don’t let his attitude in this relation fool you. He’s actually a nice guy, not as cranky as he allowed himself to sound. He’s a pretty deep psychologist, kind of look through and behind his narration. I mean, you know, he’s got literary ambitions. Wants to be another Freud. Get the Nobel prize for literature.
As a more gradual transition to Part III let me lead you through the art gallery of the mind to the Salvador Dali Room. Over on this wall here, look at this picture called ‘The Temptation Of Saint Anthony.’ This was done in 1946. I’m not sure of Dali’s sources. For all I know he may have been reading Poe.
Look down here in the corner at the naked Saint Anthony recoiling on the ground from the horse figure, holding out his cross to exorcise the demon. See that skull of death on the ground between his legs. Look at the rearing mare or the Mother Archetype, you can tell it’s a mare, look back between the legs, look at those horse shoes all askew on those enormous front feet. See those teeth showing between the parted lips, look on these baleful eyes. What could be more clear?
Then see, coming behind the Mare are the pack elephants of memory on their precarious spindly legs. Memory is like that but the bulk of the elephants is such that you know the memories must be important. The first bears a female figure on the pedestal. The Mother Archetype. See her holding up her breasts like some antique figure of Mother Earth promising all and delivering nothing. Give her a baby, that ‘s all she wants.
Behind her comes a symbol I can’t really understand. Perhaps a triangular cenotaph. I don’t know what Dali means.
Finally comes the elephant bearing the house or symbol of the self. Now, let us turn to Part III, ‘Cow Eyed Hera And Edgar Allan Poe.’