Pink Flamingos in a Purple Swamp
June 30, 2016
Back around 1974? I lived briefly with Aurora Jellybean, aka Virginia Shaw, a well-known Northwest artist. Tom Robbins, who was a frequent visitor, used the essence of her name to create the character, "Bonanza Jellybean", in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Or maybe Virginia created her name from Bonanza’s? I guess I don’t really know for sure.
Before I moved across the street to Aurora’s big white house, I lived in a small duplex, spray-painted with the name “The Getto”. (Craig was never an ace speller.) My duplex partners were Craig and Dede Higman. One day, the health department folks came by and flushed some purple dye down our toilets. As expected, the swamp behind our house immediately turned purple. In response, Craig made a midnight raid into suburban Mount Vernon, and stole a couple of pink flamingos to stand in our purple swamp.
Aurora died of cancer about ten years ago. Craig died of a brain aneurism last week (June, 2016). We are all getting older, passing on.
Why do I tell this story? Is it the Glory Days of an old man? Yes, but... In looking back at those who have passed, and a lifestyle that is fading into history, out-shouted by the Trumpism of modern times, I ask us all to remember the artists, poets, songwriters, philosophers, and unsung minimalist jokers of the 60s and 70s. As a gallery-owner said about Virginia’s paintings, "She never made a painting that is dark. She wanted to get people high."
We made a lot of mistakes in those days. We all know that. But it was a groundswell rebellion against darkness. A call to passion. This is ultimately my message in my upcoming book, Crocodiles and Ice. Stay tuned.