• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
Christopher Fons – Conor McMullen
The Centrism of Elizabeth Warren
Nino Pagliccia
Peace Restored in Ecuador, But is trust?
Rebecca Gordon
Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough But Trump Has Done Much Worse
Kathleen Wallace
Trump Can’t Survive Where the Bats and Moonlight Laugh
Clark T. Scott
Cross-eyed, Fanged and Horned
Eileen Appelbaum
The PR Campaign to Hide the Real Cause of those Sky-High Surprise Medical Bills
Olivia Alperstein
Nuclear Weapons are an Existential Threat
Colin Todhunter
Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?
Sarah Anderson
Where is “Line Worker Barbie”?
Brian Cloughley
Yearning to Breathe Free
Jill Richardson
Why are LGBTQ Rights Even a Debate?
Jesse Jackson
What I Learn While Having Lunch at Cook County Jail
Kathy Kelly
Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen
Maximilian Werner
Leadership Lacking for Wolf Protection
Arshad Khan
The Turkish Gambit
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Rare Wildflower vs. Mining Company
Dianne Woodward
Race Against Time (and For Palestinians)
Norman Ball
Wall Street Sees the Light of Domestic Reindustrialization
Ramzy Baroud
The Last Lifeline: The Real Reason Behind Abbas’ Call for Elections
Binoy Kampmark
African Swine Fever Does Its Worst
Nicky Reid
Screwing Over the Kurds: An All-American Pastime
Louis Proyect
“Our Boys”: a Brutally Honest Film About the Consequences of the Occupation
Coco Das
#OUTNOW
Cesar Chelala
Donald Trump vs. William Shakespeare
Ron Jacobs
Calling the Kettle White: Ishmael Reed Unbound
Stephen Cooper
Scientist vs. Cooper: The Interview, Round 3 
Susan Block
How “Hustlers” Hustles Us
Charles R. Larson
Review: Elif Shafak’s “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World”
David Yearsley
Sunset Songs
October 17, 2019
Steve Early
The Irishman Cometh: Teamster History Hits the Big Screen (Again)
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail