Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Wierd and Gilly,
And The Spiders from Mars.
He played it left hand, but made it too far,
Became the special man,
Then we were Ziggy's Band.
- From Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie
In the middle of bad acid trip and hitching down highway five on a hot Spring day in 1974. The decision to drop LSD before thumbing back from Chico to Berkeley seemed fucking crazy as I watched cars that looked like metal monsters zoom past me. Especially since I was hungry had no money no beer and no one with me. Bowie's Ziggy Stardust was flowing up and down my brain although the lyrics were looping around themselves not making any sense and my thumb at times looked like it was the size of a football and the heat felt like it was frying me and my shirt -- oh my fucking god my shirt -- it was a light gray with white buttons but it was pulsating I swear to god. I couldn't tell the difference between my sweat and my breath which was a weird thing to think about making -- as it didn't -- any sense. No sense. Then a cop pulled over.
He was small town local cop from whatever the hell little city this was I'd been let off near by a friend who was visiting an uncle in the town. The cop got out of his car and looked about nine feet tall and a thousand pounds and had tusks and sunglasses that reflected the universe and I was more in awe than scared. I put my arm down. It felt futile to hitch with a cop approaching me.
Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo
Like some cat from Japan, he could lick 'em by smiling
He could leave 'em to hang
Here came on so loaded man, well hung and snow white tan.
"Hey there son," he said in a voice that sounded like 12 echoes reverberating through the whole Sacto Valley. The cop was trying to seem friendly, he even smiled but it was awkward and had he just turned into a pig in front of my eyes? No way he was like a pig cop which was too weird given how some people referred to cops as pigs back then. I said something to him like "glthchplfllg." I hoped it sounded intelligible and not insulting and he was growing as he approached me then shrinking to the size of a turnip and I was freaking out but what could I do standing there with a cop approaching me and cars careening past with waves of steal flowing out of them.
"Son, you know you can't hitchhike on the highway?" The words swirled around outside my ear and zipped through my brain yet somehow registered. I hadn't mentioned that I was tripping on acid to him, had I? But he knew. I knew he knew. Why play this game with me? I was going to jail for drugs for trippin' in public. I was toast man, toast. I was also thinking how Nixon was president and that he was an asshole and this cop and Nixon were probably friends. Both pigs and assholes and pig assholes and I was just about to go to jail forever. My dad would not understand and I was never coming down from this acid trip which was now starting to mix with bad reality to be really really bad I was fucked.
"Well you can't. You can be at on ramp gabul fabbing roxtlyem schlpooopm...." I had started to lose what he was saying and it was freaking me out then...Then. He searched me. Thank whatever that I wasn't holding though I'm pretty sure he was checking for weapons. As if. "Gabul fabbing...nxchpuky, there son, okay?"
Then he told me that he should bring me in as in arrest me -- implication: he's a nice guy -- but that he wasn't going to be a hard ass with me because...again I don't know I was just trippin' off the fact that his hat was growing straight up and had reached a cloud. Why didn't he feel this happening? And had he been talking to me for like two days and was I over their on the overpass watching this conversation or was I here the whole time and holy hell I would never get acid from Ned's friend again; hell I would never ever touch the stuff again. Ever. That is if I ever came down from this trip. Hell no I wouldn't so much as have a glass of wine with dinner if I ever managed to come down off this. And why did he keeps saying "gabul fabbing nouyiexch pglifft"?
So where were the spiders while the fly tried to break our balls?
Just the beer light to guide us.
So we bitched about his fans and should we crush his sweet hands?
Next thing I know I'm sitting in the backseat of the cop car which is weird because its like a cavern inside and I was looking at me from somewhere else. It was in reality (whatever that is) a really short ride though for a second I think he's taking me all the way to Berkeley. The giant pig cop drops me off at a place where I can hitchhike and wishes me a nice day and shit and I thank him a whole lot and he speeds off and I wonder did I say anything really bad like calling him a pig and guess I didn't because he was nice to me and is my hair sweating, is oil coming out of it? Where am I? Is this me hitching or am I watching me and if I am where is my body I can't find my body and am I in it? Oh I'm not so sure and there are trails coming off the passing cars....
Then one stops. It's a big van. The door on the side slides open. "Hi" comes from these shrill girlish voices and it's a bunch of young queers. "We're going to San Diego!" they trill. "Come on in." "Uhh no thanks I'm just going to Berkeley." The door closes and the van is gone.
That was too weird in normal circumstances. Trippin' it was utterly outrageous. If it really happened. Who could tell. But San Diego sounded normal, so I think it did.
Ziggy played for time, jiving us that we were Voodoo
The kids was just crass,
He was the naz
With God given ass
He took it all too far
But boy could he play guitar.
My arm goes back out with a thumb up and it looks like its elongated. The sun is changing color and why did I drop acid in the morning a morning I was going to hitch 175 miles? It was a few minutes or a few hours or maybe a few months later that another car stopped. Two guys in the front each several years older than me. They say nothing as I get in and tell them I'm going to Berkeley. "Your lucky day we're going to Oakland so you're set."
It was hard to sort out the circumstances and whether the woman in question was a prostitute but it was pretty clear they had enjoyed themselves had a lot of sex with her and were reliving the glory. Even stone cold sober and undrugged this discussion would have been strange to me but heavily under certain influences my mind was awhirl at what they were talking about. I was 20 and had long since lost my virginity but a threesome seemed like something from movies and not anything in real life. But it also occurred to me they were just making shit up to mess with my head. If so I could have assured them that they didn't need to do a damn thing to mess with my head given the state it was in.
Making love with his ego Ziggy sucked up into his mind
Like a leper messiah
When the kids had killed the man
I had to break up the band
I'd been with them for maybe 20 miles maybe 200 maybe 2000 light years when -- without checking with me if it was cool -- they pulled off to stop at a market. I'm sitting there feeling everything but the worst part is when its nothing like I'm straight all of a sudden and I know this isn't right that I'm still in the middle of the trip so feeling normal isn't at all normal and is ultimately quite terrifying and why should they have asked me if it was cool to go to a store. It was their car. Gabul fabbing. One of em dashed into the store and minutes later returned with a bulging shopping bag. The passenger pulled out two long necked sweating bottles of Budweiser. It was at that moment that I realized my mouth felt like the Mojave Desert. When the driver asked "you want one, man?" I do believe I was the happiest person on the planet Earth. I gladly and gratefully took a bottle and nothing has ever tasted better.
Best of all, fears of a total mid acid trip freak out had vanished. My high had mellowed instantly.
The rest of the car ride was like skimming down a water slide in slow motion with colors dancing above my head. They were talking but it all sounded like "gabul fabbing and blahs and yaks" so whatever. It was getting cooler outside as we neared the Bay Area. When we got to Berkeley I was coming down from the high and it was a soothing nestling back into Earth. Onto. Among. I don't know maybe amid or amidst. Anyway I was on Earth even my brain was settling into a semblance of normal with very little gabul fabbing. Though still some.
They dropped me off in downtown Berkeley about a twenty minute walk from my Dad's house. I couldn't go straight there though because my mind was still spending some of its time dancing in the cosmos. I walked over to a park and bummed a smoke off some hippie and we talked for a little bit. After awhile his old lady showed up and she was really nice and I ended up telling em about my trip and how the acid was wearing off and I was killing time before going to my Dad's place. They thought I was a really cool dude which some people did back then when I was high. Finally they had to split and I was ready to go too.
My dad was glad to see me and gave me beer and after I showered we went out to dinner with my step mom. It had all worked out, the day I mean, and I went to sleep thinking the world was a pretty okay place if you were at all lucky.
Ziggy played guitar