Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80

Wavy Gravy – Counterculture Saint

Back in 1976, my pal Stacy seriously injured her back. She was at the Bay Area osteopath’s office waiting room for a pre-operation exam when an odd, rumpled guy also waiting struck up a conversation.He empathized with her and described his own history of back problems, dating back to a police-administered beating at an Anti-Vietnam War Rally.When she was called in for her exam, he asked “Could I have your address and phone number?”

A couple days after her treatment, she was laid up in bed and her boyfriend was cooking her breakfast-in-bed when they heard a knock at the door. It was Wavy Gravy, the guy from the doctor’s office with bouquet of flowers in hand.

“I wanted to stop by and see how you were doing. And, looks like you are in good hands.”

That’s Wavy for ya.

Gaia’s MC

I first met Wavy thru early Rainbow Gatherings. I was on the planning team and Wavy was co-MC with Fantuzzi of the annual Peace Pole Pageant. The pageant has representatives from all the various groups giving a five-minute presentation that the entire crowd joins in on. The Hari Krishna’s get five (everyone sings along); the Love Family gets five; the folks who believe the spaceships are about to land get five (“Sure would blow my mind.” ~ Wavy)…and Wavy made it all work.

Later on in the 80s, Wavy would come to Breitenbush Hot Springs, our intentional community/retreat center, with Ram Dass for some ten-day retreats with 170 people. We were in the midst of trying to end the liquidation of the Ancient Forest surrounding the springs. Ram Dass set aside one day of each retreat for a silent hike in the forest. Even after Ram Dass’ stroke, he’d still have the hike when he came. He would have a group of Breitenbushers drive him to a car-accessible trail access point a mile out and when the long, silent line of hikers came around a corner, there would be Ram Dass sitting bundled up in his wheel chair in silence, a Goshawk feather that dropped in his lap woven into his hair.

Later at dinner, Wavy and I would make a presentation to the guests and get them to write letters opposing the logging plans. Wavy then came on his own to a couple of our pro-forest protests. At one of them, a reporter from the New York Times who was going to quote him, asked, “Is that Mr. Wavy or Mr. Gravy?”

In the evenings, we would sit around discussing the state of the universe – “Reasoning,” as our Rasta brothers and sisters call it. Wavy helped immensely in our eventually successful effort to protect the forest. He brought his pal Ken Kesey and others on board. The forest where the hikes occurred is now part of a Late Successional Reserve (LSR) and the protected trees still stand.

Peace, Love and Granola” and Native Rights

Wavy has been there since the beginning of the Counterculture. He famously was MC at Woodstock (and the two follow-up Woodstocks). He is still a communard – an integral part of the Hog Farm Commune. A veteran, Wavy was, as mentioned, a fixture at Peace Gatherings.

Wavy and the Hog Farmers were early supporters of the American Indian Movement (AIM). They colluded in the takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) HQ in DC back in November of 1972. While there, they discovered plans to “Terminate” the tribes – a land grab disguised as “Assimilation.” The Klamath Nation had already been Terminated (the test case) and others were in the line of fire. The discovery led to massive publicity and the end of the Termination scheme. The Klamath Nation was “Restored.”

When Wavy arrived, Russell Means was weaving eagle feathers into the hair of the young warriors. He looked up and saw this tie-dye-wearing knucklehead with an arrow thru his head and got furious. Dennis Banks stepped up and said, “Cool down. He’s a clown.”

Wavy and his AIM buddy John Trudell then joined in on a number of environmental causes. They again shared a cell with their pal and John’s roommate Jackson Browne and 1900 others at the huge 1981 protest against the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.

clowns

Flower Geezer extraordinaire: “In 20 years, I’ll be 100!”

John Trudell used to talk about how “White people seem to have few Elders. They have a lot of Oldsters, instead.” But, John saw Wavy as an Elder; as do many Natives and other peace-loving, planetary citizens

On May 22nd, about three thousand gathered to celebrate all things Wavy for his 80th Birthday. Wavy, as always, had set it up as a benefit for the SEVA Foundation, a fabulous group he, Ram Dass, Dr. Larry Brilliant, Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy and others co-founded. SEVA has carried out over 3.5 million operations curing blindness around the planet, primarily in Nepal. Wavy also got SEVA to initiate forest planting/stewardship projects on five continents, including one on Lakota land here in the Midwest.

So, colorful folks gathered near Santa Rosa, CA for the festivities. Young clowns, jugglers, drummers and stilt-dancers from Wavy’s beloved Camp Winnarainbow were all around. The campers had a tie-dye booth where one could buy or create on-the-spot their own tie-dyes.

Excellent music, with Wavy reprising his MC role, was presented by a stellar line-up of groups and singer/songwriters.

First up: Quiltman and T traveled from the Warm Springs Nation in Eastern Oregon to do an honor song for Wavy on the occasion. Typical of Wavy, he asked instead for an Honor/Remembrance song for “my good friend, the great John Trudell; who is now roaming the cosmos, representing Indigenous people everywhere.”

quilt

Quilt, T and Wavy honor the magnificent John Trudell

Don’t tell me this clown ain’t got no soul, you just gotta poke around…”

The great Harmonica man John Popper was on hand and he put in a full day’s work sitting in with The Dead Winter Carpenters, The New Riders of the Purple Sage, the T Sisters and the wrap-up act, The Yonder Mountain String Band. Wavy played along on his one-stringed gourd, air guitar and his kazoo.

popper

John Popper

The New Riders and Popper played a superb version of Dead Flowers with the crowd dancing and singing along.

Half-way thru the lineup, it was Birthday time. Steve Earle led the crowd in singing Happy Birthday to Wavy. That was followed by a parade.

Earle, one of our treasured troubadours and a Peace Champion like Wavy, then put on a fabulous solo acoustic set. His Jerusalem may well be the most hopeful-for-Peace song of them all.

earle

Steve Earle

Counterculture redux

Yes. Wavy Gravy is a Counterculture Elder. He has dedicated his life to Peace and Justice. The back issues and age have slowed this clown down, but he remains fully engaged. His latest is doing everything he can to keep The Donald out of the White House.

I had a wonderful time. It was a diverse crowd – in age and ethnicity. I had many great random conversations with people, many I had never met until then. Often, we talked about the bad rap the Counterculture got from mainstream media right from the beginning. We all reject the media notion that Charles Manson-like creeps represented us, instead of a saint like Wavy.

We’re gonna reclaim our “Peace, Love and Granola” history. This gathering was an important part of it. SEVA, AIM, communes, Eco-Defense, Woodstock, Rainbow…all are components. Wavy Gravy has been an integral part of all.

Wavy was pleased that I, my two brothers, a sister, a couple life-long friends and Quilt and T drove so far for the occasion. I, and they, wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Trudell is right – we don’t have many elders and I sure am gonna celebrate the ones we have while we still have them. I can’t wait for Wavy’s 100th!

More articles by:

MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com

October 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Middle East, Not Russia, Will Prove Trump’s Downfall
Ipek S. Burnett
The Assault on The New Colossus: Trump’s Threat to Close the U.S.-Mexican Border
Mary Troy Johnston
The War on Terror is the Reign of Terror
Maximilian Werner
The Rhetoric and Reality of Death by Grizzly
David Macaray
Teamsters, Hells Angels, and Self-Determination
Jeffrey Sommers
“No People, Big Problem”: Democracy and Its Discontents In Latvia
Dean Baker
Looking for the Next Crisis: the Not Very Scary World of CLOs
Binoy Kampmark
Leaking for Change: ASIO, Jakarta, and Australia’s Jerusalem Problem
Chris Wright
The Necessity of “Lesser-Evil” Voting
Muhammad Othman
Daunting Challenge for Activists: The Cook Customer “Connection”
Don Fitz
A Debate for Auditor: What the Papers Wouldn’t Say
October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Suyapa Portillo Villeda
An Illegitimate, US-Backed Regime is Fueling the Honduran Refugee Crisis
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail