I've been thinking for months, maybe years, to think of what to say to you. All good
things, of course.
I wrote the letter to Leon Russell
this morning... which I guess you ought to read to put the rest of this in context. The
more I think of my "relationship" to you, the more complex this one gets.
I thought "your story" began at Arcata High School... and then it ends up
going back to when I was a young child.
An artist named Robert Vestal - whom I believed was a successful artist (odd, he, like
other people I came into contact with later, claimed their wives were named Mary, but they
never lived together, claimed they weren't divorced, and I just kept wondering about those
relationships... and then there's Let It Be. And, then, there's the Vestal Virgins).
The gallery that displayed his work was the Cupola in Santa Cruz, California.
Bob bought my grand parents place just below where my parents lived at the top of the
hill. Everyday, on my way home from school when I was like 7 or 8, I would stop by his
place for cookies and milk (like most of the other people on Lockhart Gulch Road who would
call when my sister Linda and/or I and our dog Duke didn't stop by from time to time).
Bob always had an easel set up for me and a canvas anytime I wanted, and he and I spent
a good deal of time painting, side by side, acrylics and oils. At one point, I was there
painting a dark blue sky over the mountains, with white stars that I made like tiny
asterisks - I was going for the look of the painter that used tiny dots to paint a lion I
think.... I painted alot of fractals and flowers and things... almost always started with
flowers... and I particularly love roses...
This one day, I'm standing beside him painting when he took this incredible portrait of
John F. Kennedy's face, and started putting white wash over it, and I looked at him with
what must have been the funniest face in the world, and asked him why in the world would
he want to do that with such a beautiful painting... of John Kennedy of all people.
He said something like many artists cover up secrets or treasures or something like
that, to be discovered later. He said doing that would make it mysterious, and would make
it more valuable later if and when someone discovered it.
Over the course of weeks and months, he proceeded to paint it over in an abstract that
I'll always remember because it, too, was beautiful. It's how I learned to use a paint
knife. Beautiful grays and blues with shades of red and yellow and green.. subtle... With
it, he also taught me about how paint is not just to provide color, but texture as well,
and to not be skimpy with applying it in bold, tactile layers. He went through alot of
At one point, he got injured in a surfing accident at the same beach in Santa Cruz
where there was I think a Franciscan or Carmelite Convent. Never thought of that before.
Anyway, so instead of painting for a while, I'd get to his place, fix him his nightly
Manhattan after supper, and read him books in bed while he recovered.
Bob was like a father to me in many ways. Kinda kooky. Nice man. Had a white Firebird
convertible the first year they came out. He'd take me, and sometimes my sister, out to
movies and stuff. And, he'd take me out bottle collecting around the little known
historical points around the county. He had a friend named Louis Nye who looked just like
the actor/comedian Louis Nye, funny guy, claimed he wasn't that person.
This was the same time I was forming the "Junior Beatles", getting into music
and, in fact, there was an old time "record cutter" in my Grandma Alma - Nana's
- house on the same property that I had been promised that ended up in a museum in Auburn,
California, instead. Alma Hergrainer - or Voeth - I assume the person who gave my mom the
books to give to me.. Thomas A'Kempis and the Vespers...
Amazing how this story grows and is so inter-connected.
Bob introduced me to an unknown singer named Barbra Streisand... "My Name Is
Barbra". Loved it. Where the Boys Are.. I remember walking around my grandparents
place (then his) singing those songs and beginning to sing them, like all the Doris Day
songs I used to sing in the patio in the grove of redwoods at home up the hill through the
So, then, Funny Girl comes along... loved 'em all. I mean love 'em. Still do.
Especially the roller skating :} And Omar Shariff... made it easier to almost get through
Dr. Zhivago a few times.
And then, the John Lawson (?) Leon Russell Connection... and being a DJ in high
school at Arcata High. I swear, to this day, I think about The Way We Were and think about how I've always been a bit confused,
because it seemed my real life was like both your and Robert Redford parts, and, from time
to time, reversed with someone I was in a relationship with... etc. Holographics and
universality of art as it applies to any given individual and all that...
So, did you ever get that song "Puppy Dog Tails"? I'm curious, because, when
he told me of his experience with being your recording engineer in Santa Rosa for that
album, he said he was going to get it to you. I don't have a copy of the recording, can't
find the lyrics at the moment (though I know most of them and have 'em somewhere).
It would be fun to hear it.
Which brings me to another thing. The PsyOps guys led me to take a course at
Evergreen State College a couple of years back... right before announcing my 2004 bid for
the Democratic Presidential Nomination :} (you know, I read more on Leon Russell's site
after writing him the letter, and I cracked up. Sounds like he acts and talks alot like I
do... and Todd too. Archetypes :}))
The course was called "Writing From Life" or "For Life".. Their
radio station that I was going to go on is KAOS. (Like, in "Get Smart" one of my
dad's and my favorite shows.)
Anyway... Evergreen... never understood what the deal was between you and Marvin
Hamlisch (The Entertainer, from The Sting) over the song. He's great too. But,
in trying to remain objective, I kind of shied away from getting too attached to the song,
even though I thought it was beautiful. And I'm glad you won the EMMY. Or was it a Grammy?
So then the lyrics... Love, soft as an easy chair... of course, for me that relates
back to Julie Andrews (whom I've always had a crush on) and The Sound of Music and Mary
Poppins... And the other one... can't remember... Henry Higgins... the Rain in Spain Stays
Mainly on the Plane (relating to the weather in the U.S., which is the same as Rome and
Spain and Egypt in a Biblical context referring not to a specific country, but to
whichever country is the "anointed" nation God has chosen to complete His Plan
to bring the Kingdom of God to this planet and the cosmos... and then there's this veiled
reference to Leonardo Da Vinci that I'm not about to try to explain)..
Of course, Alfred Hitchcock fits in because of where he lived around the summit out of
Scotts Valley above Vine Hill Road.. Edelweiss and all...
And that old joke "Rudolph the Red/READ knows rain/rehn dear". Given that
Rehn is really pronounced rain, and actually was Von Rehn. And the summer it snowed in
Crescent City in the summertime... they said the Russian "Woodpecker" was
"pinging" the west coast... the equivalent to HAARP, it now seems to me. Weather
Julie Andrews... All I Want Is A Room Somewhere... and Carole King... All I Want, Is A
Quiet Place To Live.... (sort of like when I sent out demos and said just sit me in a room
with a piano and slide food under the door.. :})
And this guy named Peter who worked under me at Pro-Tym-Systems in Bellevue,
Washington, in the original Microsoft Building (where I used to sit with my
headphones on and listen to I Would Die 4 U and Baby I'm A Star with a smile on my face
and a chuckle under my breath)... which according to a picture I just saw looks exactly
like Prince's Paisley Park...
Peter was a roadie for the Van Trapp Family Singers... Pro-Tym was made up of a few
guys from Royal Computers, an old IBM Company Spin-off... and the Blue Man Group... and my
father saying that IBM had something to do with 666 and the anti-Christ... and then there
was the 6 second glitch in the launch of the Gemini Launch because of the IBM computer
program... kind of like the six second delay on the live TV to allow for piggybacking
subliminal signals onto TV shows to Brainwash (George Harrison) Americans.
And how Bill Gates got the call from IBM because the guy they called first at Data
General was out "flying his plane"... and Traxstar... oh boy, more clues... and
the guy from Traxstar who claimed he'd made the biggest sale in the history of DG...
Anyway... all of that just to ask, "Did you ever get that song?
BTW, for the record, when Dick Armey went after you, I defended you. I can prove that
too. Right on the front page of my website. Who knows what the date was at this point. :}
Nonetheless, whether you got the tune or not, I want you to know that I've always adored your work, and you, (Atlantic Starr - Masterpiece)
and I thank you so much for hanging in there so long to keep love and music... and this
nation... in a focus of the kind of perfectionism that always creates excellence... and
harmony. And, then, of course, there's all that love that's behind it. :}
PS: It just gets weirder and weirder. I'm not playing the game anymore, though.
As it should be. Truckin' - Grateful Dead
Ta. Say hi to James for me. Loved Welby too :}