The Marin of the 70's is calling out for help to not let it die as today's Marinite ignores or is ignorant of Marin's past.
In the 1970's, Marin County, California was a very different place than it is today. A Marin County that many of us remember what it once was. I partied with Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane and Carlos Santana not because they were friends, but because they happened to be at the same parties I was at.
Marin then had a lingo all its own and it was considered cool to talk Marineses. We sat in George's in San Rafael talking "any place or moment of past time is definitely not Marin." At Sam's in Tiburon, we drank Ramos Fizzes while smoking a joint on the patio and expound on that "only in Marin does reality occur."
Robert Redford was spotted there often enough for people to always ask if he was there when they arrived. Sometimes a gull would dump in your Brie. This event was cause for a rap on one's karma. In the Marin mind of the early 1970's, nothing occurred without a cause, often by that, which one outside Marin, considered unreal. The 1970's Marinite's mental creation had a kind of reality that was peculiar to it, and found only then in Marin. Meditating on money was only so a Marinite could live mellow. The Marinite of the 1970's thought this entire attitude was similar to the possibility for a sleeper to become aware of what exists outside one's dream. Usually, the sleeper knows only his dream. The 1970's Marinite knew only Marin. It was a funny thing that many then Marinites were transplants from the American heartland of Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and Arkansas.
For a then Marinite, daily metaphysical happenings were normal. We believed then that only in Marin County could one live universal truth.
Long raps at Zachs in Sausalito often centered on whether facts that one accepts as representing a reality were, truly, real. A Marinite of the 1970's believed in examining reality attentively and at great length, putting aside preconceived ideas, preferably with a bag of awesome Marin home grown pot close by. Interaction during the common Marin divorce was to empty one's mind of the opinions that one harbored concerning a relationship. Particularly if it involved the high costs of another divorce.
In the 1970's, Marinites were blunt and up front, and often actually considered funny to one outside Marin County. Like with most intimate encounters, Marin's favorite kind, words carried feelings private to a Marinite. In Cyra McFadden's hilarious book The Serial, a year in the life of Marin County; although one was the eavesdropper to her tale, one had to be a Marinite to be privy to her character's development of the oh so self-vaunted Marin attitude. Same for Tales Of The City.
Little time was spent thinking about taking a lover. It was the deciding whose that took so much energy. After all, there was no such thing as guilt in the Marin of the 1970's.
Marin County in the 1970's was equal to two interpretations. It was an embodiment of a Marinite's belief in Carlos Casteneda's writings of the power of the warrior. Outside Marin, Marin County was an allegory. Possibly in a manner not unlike that of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Marinites then believed they were the concrete representation of the truth in the belief that people have powers within them.
Today, it is possible to question the integrity of either of these versions. To ask whether another interpretation is not possible that will redeem this narrative from the charge of fantasy. Consider the typical Marinite outlined here. Then consider the lifestyle in which one lived then in Marin. Marinite's of the 1970's were usually young, and into only giving oblique glimpses into life before Marin County. This reticence was because life outside Marin was considered stifled and narrow, way uncool. From the world outside Marin, the young and inexperienced came. Marin told them it was not advisable to indulge in focusing attention on past events. It was cool to touch on them, but only in very brief reference. A Marinite, being a creature of the physical, sought clarification in many ways. One being lot's of sex.
Marin was a realm, and a perspective, regarded in the very early 1970's, with a union of longing and indifference by those outside of Marin. This attitude was often through a haze of Sunday morning cigarette or marijuana smoke at the Buena Vista in San Francisco, while drinking Long Island Ice Tea's, and deciding where to go for sushi, then which hot tub shop or bath house to get laid at.
In the 1970's, Marin County was a house with a view of Mt. Tam, stain glass windows, redwood decks and the Marin climate. It meant belonging to the ACLU and the Sierra Club. It was the Mozart Festival at Dominican with the Picnic of the Month in a Cost Plus basket. It was joining the Moonies and meditating on what to wear in Fairfax to the Film Festival and timing the ingestion of the mushrooms which we found clearly was superior to LSD trips. It was playing Ping-Pong on the table set up in the garage. It was walking or biking to the Mill Valley Library with the dog, then tying up the dog outside with a dozen or so other dogs. The Mountain Bike was invented in 1970's Marin. It also was when Robin Williams, later comic and movie actor, was Redwood High School's soccer star. It was walking, or biking or taking the ferry or bus. Our bikes had polite little bells we softly tinkled in lieu of a blaring horn.
We played Marin Monopoly so we could buy another house to move into and gain a few hundred feet in mellow. It was typical to live in San Rafael, then move to a higher place in Mill Valley. In the 1980's, due to the commute, the pacesetting coup was to move out of Marin to a Potrero Hill penthouse.
A Marinite's paycheck never made it past the Monopoly Go. It was always this or that to buy. Staying mellow in 1970's Marin meant season lift tickets at Lake Tahoe's Heavenly, ten-speeds, and Cuisinarts. We listened to KKHI on quadraphonic Klip speakers powered by Pioneer receivers. We discussed our paranoid Benjamin Ficus, and almond butter from Petrini's. It was less traditional weddings now that everyone was getting behind marriage again, several times.
Money flowed as freely as the wine.
Marinites rapped to each other about how neat is was, that only in Marin did one's friends always grow and change. It was also common to lose track of how often one had been married.
Irrefutable Marin mod was authentic turquoise rings bought at the Sausalito Flea Market. Too cool was any old bracelet updated with a tiny silver coke spoon. Religion was Reverend T. of the Southern Marin Church. Sex was everywhere and always. Northern Marin had an outdoors very popular X-rated drive-in movie theatre.
Lunch was organic tofu burgers. "Get It On," emblazoned Marin's T-shirts for trolling the Sweetwater in Mill Valley at closing time. Chronological age, and even gender, didn't matter anymore as all that mattered was what was in your heart. Being bisexual was then in as androgyny was cool. Having a bisexual significant other was ok if you couldn't get into bi. A common pick-up line was to ask "Did you know that all roses are bi-sexual?" Swinging/wife-swapping was very popular. We attended the Grand Premier of Ziggy Stardust at the Castro in San Francisco.
Creative divorces were also in, after one was again caught doing the meet and greet with someone other than one's current spouse. Divorces became badges of honor one collected.
Lentil loaf for the munchies while smoking hash at The Sausalito Food Company was also cool, then going next door to Floating World for sex and listening to New Age music. Anderson's Boatworks always had interesting boats out of the water to walk by afterwards.
Mill Valley's Davood's was where getting one's astrological chart done showed you were really behind life. Doonesbury was THE comic strip for staying current. Sausalito's Phil Frank and his alter ego, Farley, later became cool. Women in Marin weren't women. They were sisters. Marin expected one to flash on one's needs right up front and then to get behind them. It was definitely unwise to raise a Marin County pet as an only animal. Panama Red was a popular name for Marin's Irish Setters. Rapping, while heavy into creating macram' pot plant hangers on lazy summer afternoons, often included how the neighbor's dachshund, while on a macho trip, raped your female Schnauzer. Sally Stanford, San Francisco's former infamous Madame, still ruled from her red chair at her Sausalito Valhalla restaurant, which had the best Caesar salad in the Bay Area. Sometimes she would join you in a joint between courses as you stood in the dark watching the Bay. If she didn't, the valet always would. Marin Joes, San Rafael Joes and Dominicks rivaled each other for the best veal. Chardonnay was the then in wine.
In Marin, the rational mind was considered a screw-up. The only really authentic thing to do was to act on one's impulses. Poppy was the name of the receptionist at one's psychiatrist. She worked in Sausalito in the back of an ark, as the front was a head shop. It was common to have a fellow Marinite walk up and say to you "How about a little dope and we mellow out, okay? It's cool. I swing both ways." It was even more common to have good raps about redefining the parameters of one's relationships. To get together at Uncle Charlies, and carry on a meaningful conversation while snorting line after line of coke. After all, we asked, isn't it important after five marriages that one knew how to relate to the sixth marriage instead of again just ego-tripping? Marin's alternative nursery schools handled sibling rivalry. Houses were then forty-nine five, and that's talking dollars. Marinites didn't have conversation. It was free-association.
Being mellow meant instead of slamming the door when feeling uptight, one sweetly instead said, "I'm gonna leave now for a couple J & B's on the rocks. After that, and I smoke a number, I know I will feel really good about us. I want you to know that." Everyone thought est was fantastic. After all, it taught one "How to be." How to relate. How to get a grasp of the space one is in. NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) was hip. Marin's children often attended a camp with counselors named Mountain Man. That is if a Marin kid could handle no TV while at camp. Fred's in San Anselmo was the place for breakfast.
Librium or Valium was the preferred doctor prescribed drug for coping when one's homegrown dope just did not do the job.
Males in Marin wore shirts unbuttoned to the belly button. After all, it was important to like the space one was in. That included one's body. Therefore, we spent hours playing Frisbee, getting high, while nude at Red Rock Beach. The only way to find it was to find the dozens of cars parked alongside Highway 1. We then scrambled down the steep hillside to usually find Lee; the naked well-built tall and hung muscular dude usually sprawled out on his back at the start of the trail to the beach. Lee's night job was as a classy Valhalla waiter. He lived with a drag-queen in Sausalito's Galilee Harbor. He considered himself a live-a-board. The city considered him a sneak-a-board. He survived the Houseboat Wars and is in the film about them, The Last Free Ride. Lee was known for his preference for older women with too much make-up and perfume who showed their appreciation with gifts.
Closets were no longer full, as out was in. Cruising BJ's was how one showed one was really cool about being hit on by anyone. Coping with adultery, trying to cope, and getting involved was the new space. Meaningful interaction was life imitating art. Growth and renewal meant taking the cosmic overview. It was not cool to take ego trips in religion, philosophy, social interaction or quantum physics. This belief was because Marin's Buddhism flatly denied the existence of the ego as taught in an apartment in Mill Valley.
Reading Alan Watts and books with esoteric titles was ok. So was reminiscing, while high, on the fantasies of H. P. Blavatsky, Talbot Mundy, James Hilton and Lobsang Rampa. Reading The Hobbit and the trilogy of the Ring was very cool. So was Doug Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe and Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in A Strange Land. "Don't panic" and "grok" peppered our language. To a 1970's Marinite, Tibet was the secret stronghold of the most mysterious and adept masters of the occult and magical sciences. Save Tibet was THE bumper sticker. High-ranking Buddhist monks, or lamas were Marin's teachers. A Marinite believed he/she also could grow to be a super-technician in the exercise of psychic powers.
Marinites shrugged life off as "It's all about common sense." It is not on the world that staying mellow depended on, but on the Marinite. In Marin County, the emphasis was on living for oneself. The Master, then sometimes known as Werner Erhart (my neighbor for awhile), taught that the truth learned from another is of no value. The only truth that is living and effective, is the truth that the Marinite discovered for himself, usually for much money. John Leary, a gifted Jesuit priest, founded New College in Sausalito, finding in the process, his own truth in fondling boys, starting a trend of teacher abuse that continues into today.
Marinites believed Marin County was for people whose lotus flowers grew above the level of the water. A 1970's Marinite believed Marin was for the mellow to develop their mellow and lead the Marinite to the possession of transcendent insight that is the real enlightenment. Sexual foreplay was often solely verbal. It was considered a major turn on to recount the wonderfully lucid account of the Mdhyamika School of Buddhism. It was outright orgasmic to meditate for enlightenment using a method worked out sometime between 150 and 250 BC by the Indian sage and pundit, Nagarjuna. Marinites practiced this belief also to overcome the hang-ups that follow from illusions, usually from ingesting mushrooms kept in the freezer, or caviar left out too long. For example, the illusion one is, in fact, an individual ego, because the Marin ego of the 1970's was not separate from all existence, unless it was outside Marin. The point was to realize there is no need to defend oneself or prove oneself. A common comment said through tense Marinite lips during loss of communication with ones soon to be again divorced from spouse.
Marinites then were fond of asking, "To whom should we ask to get information about the world?" The answer being "only from one's zoned out senses." Then it was important to suspect that information given by one's senses, unless they were zoned out. In Marin, one lived in the physical world. To scope it out. To say that the world outside Marin was not real though, does not mean it's without existence, as often discussed at the no name bar in Sausalito. To many Marinites, unless you lived in Marin, one had an infantile attitude. This cherished belief was because classes in 1970's Marin never intended to teach something. The object was to think, to doubt, to seek; and always to be mellow. Smoke a joint, charter a sailboat and skipper at Sausalito's Cass' Marina for the day was satisfying mellow, as more often than not, the skipper would join you and your date for a three-some. The Mountain Play grew but remained mellow.
The flaw in the early 1970's Marin though, was the Marinite only sought convenient explanations, explanations that only fit him/her and Marin County. In Marin, one was after the reflection of one's ideas as it was one's responsibility to gain enough mellow to tip the scales. It was ok then to know enough of the Marin way to act accordingly, but not for your old pre Marin hang ups to stand in your way.
Early 1970's Marin pushed analogies hard and constructed rigid parables. Such a contrast to the truly scenic elements in Marin. Ordinary daydreams were never enough for the passionate nature of a 1970's Marinite. Each was committed to acting out his or her dreaming. Scenes of dramatic; though, at all cost, mellow; confrontation were common. In the 1970's, a Marinite's sense was that dreaming would, in a flash, turn real. After all, Marinites were well into psychedelics then. Yet, a Marinite of the 1970's would cling to it as unshakable proof that he or she is not mad, but the rest of the world is. 1970's Marin was still racist, into segregation and had a small but active KKK.
Reading Carlos Casteneda was then very cool in Marin. To one outside Marin though, the genre Casteneda wrote in, was by nature inferior, unworthy of serious artistic endeavor. Yet, to a Marinite, it gave one, to use the phrase borrowed from Hawthorne, a meeting-place of the "actual and the imaginary." These realms fused readily in the Marin County of the 1970's, as socializing under the impact of drugs was common. Perhaps the life of the 1970's Marinite was a quest to be the warrior.
For many, especially after the movie The Serial came out, this Marin was an adventure to visit, just like a trip to Disney World. To the Marinite of the 1970's, it was just day to day life. Hang loose.