Friday, September 11, 2015

October 1968: Wild Man Fischer's Merry-go-round


As Stoney, Jeff, and I prowled the strip, we ran into Wild Man Fischer, clenching a tape recorder, one of those portable Juliettes, blasting a song from his new album An Evening with Wild Man Fischer.

He shoved it under my nose and shouted, “Hear my song?”

C’mon let’s merry go, merry go, merry go round! Boop boop boop!

Merry go, merry go, merry go round! Boop boop boop!

Merry go, merry go, merry go round! Boop boop boop!

Me and you can go merry go round!

It’s very easy, just go up and down!

C’mon, c’mon let’s merry go, merry go, merry go round! Boop boop boop!

--“Merry-Go-Round,” Wild Man Fischer

“Yes, Wild Man, we hear it.”

“You like my song?”

“It’s a cool song.”

“You wanna buy it? Only ten cents.”

“Not today, Wild Man. Thanks, anyway.”

A pest, but harmless--probably a rich pest. He fit his name; he was manic, always wound up tight, fast like a fly or hummingbird. He even looked manic: eyes practically popping out of his head, his hair, black and frizzy, stuck out at all angles. He wore a loud yellow shirt with blobs of red, orange, and green, and flip flops, though, sometimes, only one, even when it was cold. Plus, he was constantly running around the strip with that tape recorder.

I’ve heard that he’d spent some time in a mental hospital.

“I’ll play it again,” he said, pushing the rewind button.

“That’s okay.” We inched away.

I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but he had a way of getting under your skin. And then he’d be off to the next group of freaks. They were all out tonight, unusual for a week night: Julius Caesar, drag queens, streetwalkers--a circus. We verbally sparred with Caesar, an old dude, his Roman soldier costume stolen from 20th Century Fox. He harassed tourists, the middle-aged straights who arrived on the strip decked out in Hawaiian shirts, Bermuda shorts, straw hats, and sunglasses, big clunky cameras around their necks, loud voices: “Hey, Herman, look at the dirty hippies.” Everyone was a dirty hippie because the straights couldn’t distinguish between groups that populate the strip.

Caesar yelled out his standard slogans: “LBJ is a necrophiliac; he digs dead dudes” and “All the way with LBJ; Lady Bird Johnson is a nymphomaniac.”

What a freak; his slogans angered many of the gawkers, who turned red.

Some even yelled back, “America: Love it or Leave it.”

Caesar paid no attention to the counter-yellers--like he was in a trance.

What a nark.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated.

Memoir Madness Excerpts: Table of Contents


Before the Institution

Prologue: Caged

Chapter One: The Crystal Ship

Chapter One: Blue Moons

Chapter Two: Dark Side

Chapter Two: Flying Solo

Chapter Two: Weed and Seeds

Chapter Two: Funny Little Naked Clowns

Chapter Two: Decision Time

Chapter Two: Thirteen Tabs

Chapter Three: Wallich's Music City and Eleanor's Radio

Chapters Four and Six: New Year's Eve, 1968--Fire

Chapter Eight: Rudy

Chapter Ten: Cops

Chapter Eleven: The Luckiest Hand

Chapter Twelve: Downers

Chapter Twenty Three: Sioux City Blues

Chapter Twenty Four: ..."While I Kiss the Sky"

Chapter Twenty six: The Miracle of Google

Chapter Thirty: There Must be Some Way Outta Here

Chapter Thirty Eight: What to Do With My Life?

Chapter Forty One: My Country 'Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Tyranny

Chapter Fifty One: Nabbed at the Bus Station

Chapter Fifty Three: "Let's See What the Police Have to Say"

Chapter Fifty Four: A Possible Scenario at the Police Station

Chapter Fifty Six: Driven

Chapter Fifty Eight: Driven 2

Memoir Madness Excerpts: The Institution

The First Five Days

The Other Patients: Perky Penny

The Other Patients: Carrie the Cutter

The Other Patients: Joyce

The Other Patients: D.J., The Mighty Sage

The Other Patients: Anna on the Lam

Proving My Sanity

Memoir Madness Excerpts: After the Institution

Denise's Tips

Leaving Sioux City: Dee Dee

Epilogue: A Short History of the Cherokee Mental Health Institute

Memoir Madness Excerpts: Flashbacks (Fall 1968)

October 1968: Rev. Arthur Blessitt and His Place

October 12, 1968: A Mother's Warning

October 12, 1968: The Birthday Party

October 1968: Wild Man Fischer's Merry-go-round

A media-rich version of these excerpts (with photos, artwork, videos, out takes, essays, etc.,) can be accessed here.


About Memoir Madness...

Memoir Madness: Driven to Involuntary Commitment (Amazon)

About Memoir Madness: Driven to Involuntary Commitment...

Christmas Eve, 1968: history is made as Apollo 8 astronauts deliver their Christmas message from orbit around the moon.

On earth, at The Crystal Ship, a rock and head shop near Hollywood, California, Jennifer Semple listens to the iconic broadcast and, through the fog of drugs, ponders the future.

In the ensuing days, the 18-year-old girl experiments with LSD and other drugs; juggles a crumbling relationship with a notorious drug dealer; and tries to make sense of life at 2001 Ivar Street, a Hollywood, California, apartment complex where hippies, drug dealers, freaks, strippers, groupies, college students, Jesus Freaks, counterculture gurus, drag queens, rock stars and wannabe rocksters, svengalis, and con artists converge during one of the most volatile periods in history.

Then her grandfather finds the girl and coaxes her into returning to her Iowa hometown, where, unknown to her, she is still considered a minor.

After a series of events and blowups with her grandparents, she is dragged into the Iowa court system and involuntarily committed to the Cherokee Mental Institute in Cherokee, Iowa.

While incarcerated, she corresponds with Jeff, a new boyfriend, and also interacts with other patients: Wolfie, a psychopath who preys on other patients; Penny, a 17-year-old unwed mother; Carrie, a teen cutter with strange obsessions about rats; Joyce, a young married mother enthralled with “10 ways of suicide”; Drew, a young man facing a stiff prison sentence for possession of marijuana; and D.J., a 42-year-old mentally challenged man and 25-year resident of Cherokee, among others.

Finally released from the institution, Jennifer flees Iowa and settles in Pennsylvania, where she still lives today.

As young Jennifer narrates her late 1960’s memoir, how will the older and wiser Jennifer, now voluntarily returning to Cherokee as a visitor, reconcile that painful time in her history with her current ordinary life as a wife, mother, grandmother, and teacher?