FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Through Different Eyes: Seeing the 60s

AsEverWas: Memoirs of a Beat Survivor by Hammond Guthrie SAF Publishing

Hammond Guthrie’s road through the Sixties was sometimes happy-go-lucky, fun filled and tremendously creative. A multitalented poet, painter and musician finding himself in a decade that encouraged the artist to invent cool new worlds. He portrays his many journeys and places in a newly published memoir “AsEverWas.”

There are also darker worlds in Guthrie’s life and soul. And their pain and despair get the same clear thorough treatment as the great highs and happenings that at the beginning, energized his path and pushed him forward.

Hammond starts out in southern California. His mother abandons him. His father is sort of mixed up in the American Intelligence community and is distant. There is a second wife and Hammond actually chooses military high school over family life. The school is filled with LA-Hollywood type uncared for rich kids and Guthrie learns about sex, drugs and rock n’roll.

Moving on to San Francisco the author dodges the draft and provides us with one of the best in-print accounts of the method acting involved in pulling it off.

Along the way, he encounters the Diggers, Bolinas, Allen Ginsberg, Carmen McRae, experimental film making, improv theater and the over-dosed colorful world of San Francisco’s fantastic hip. He also adds to the adventure by taking a beautiful bold wife.

And then on to post-Beatles International Times William Burroughs London and he fully feasts on its experimental artistic community. And then to ‘the dope is almost legal’ Amsterdam with its Provos and houseboats. And Hammond the painter is discovered by Willem Sandberg, a great presiding maestro of the international art scene.

Up to now the tale told in AsEverWas is filled with endlessly expanding light. The Sixties are nurturing the author, developing his multi faceted talents and preparing for a larger stage and an enthusiastic reception. He is about to become famous. And then (as it was with so many of us) the rug was pulled out from under our feet. Since we were off the ground for much of the time, it took us a while to notice the terrible turn, but it did hit allthe more harshly for our tardiness.

Hammond’s wonderful wife and pal for life gets attracted to a hard core gang of dope smugglers and there is one in particular that stimulates her fantasies. The remainder of the memoir is an account of the destruction of the marriage and the almost complete spiritual dismemberment of Hammond Guthrie. He blames himself for his wife’s alienation and gives up his art as a kind of punishment sacrifice, in order to make amends and win her back. The pair move on to Tangier for a fascinating, weirdly amusing telling of Hammond’s efforts to spring his wife’s lover from a Moroccan hell-house prison.

It struck me that the end both of Hammond’s marriage and his art does so much resemble the collapse of the whole Sixties with it’s new found passion for criminality over creativity and for an inexplicable capacity not to see the tragedy of it all.

What gets the reader through it and actually enthusiastic about the book is Guthrie’s cool writing style. When he’s describing the bitter, the sweet, Burroughs, Richie Havens, his wife, his father, Allen Ginsberg, a Dutch houseboat or a Moroccan cafe, the author is always generous in detail, ironic, gentle and insightful. You see, feel and understand the moods, people and places that shaped an extraordinary decade, even if its ending wasn’t up to its promise.

I took a different trip back then–more political and activist, Berkeley instead of San Francisco, Algeria rather than Morocco, it’s more like Hammond was a very likable neighbor than a member of my commune. Yet pouring over his life and times teaches me much about my own. And that rarely happens. For its style and its lessons, Hammond Guthrie’s memoir is a rare and important achievement.

STEW ALBERT runs the Yippie Reading Room. He can be reached at: stewa@aol.com

Read Hammond Guthrie’s poem, Invasion of the Flies, in this week’s Poets’ Basement.

 

More articles by:

January 24, 2019
David Rosen
Roe: 47 Years and Counting
Joseph Essertier
Warmongering Over Warmbier: US Hypocrisy and a Double Standard on North Korea
Glenn Sacks
L.A. Teachers Strike Dispatch #9: What We Won
M. G. Piety
An Essay on Grief
Karen J. Greenberg
Creating a Global Lost Generation
Jesse Jackson
America Has Lost Its Common Sense
Noa Mendelsohn Aviv
Rebranding Canada’s Solitary Confinement Policy Doesn’t Change What It Is
Ramzy Baroud
False ‘Victories’: Is the PA Using the ‘State of Palestine’ to Remain in Power?
Binoy Kampmark
Eyeing the White House: the Democratic Field
Russell Mokhiber
Single Payer Gold Standard HR 676 Rest in Peace
David Swanson
The World Will End in Fire
David Macaray
Celebrity Bullshit
Dean Baker
How Worried Should We be If China’s Growth Rate Slows to 6.4%?
Wim Laven
What Makes America Great?
January 23, 2019
Paul Street
Time for the U.S. Yellow Vests
Charles McKelvey
Popular Democracy in Cuba
Kenn Orphan
The Smile of Class Privilege
Leonard Peltier
The History Behind Nate Phillips’ Song
Kenneth Surin
Stalled Brexit Goings On
Jeff Cohen
The System’s Falling Apart: Were the Dogmatic Marxists Right After All?
Cira Pascual Marquina
Chavez and the Continent of Politics: a Conversation with Chris Gilbert
George Ochenski
Turning Federal Lands Over to the States and Other Rightwing Fantasies
George Wuerthner
Forest Service Ignores Science to Justify Logging
Raouf Halaby
In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High
Kim C. Domenico
No Saviors But Ourselves; No Disobedience Without Deeper Loyalty
Ted Rall
Jury Trial? You Have No Right!
Michael Doliner
The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail