Reader Comment and Response

My friend Holly Willeng wondered how Ace could remember exactly how many times he's taken acid, especially if that number is in the triple digits.
I can only reply that he does, after all, remember the womb...

# # #

Rob Savoye, architect of the Rainbow Gathering's unofficial Web site, wrote:

What's happening at Freedom Hall ? The Dead played an amazing concert there in 1974...

I replied:

I was surprised and intrigued by your comment about Freedom Hall. "Freedom Hall" will be a ficticious locale in the novel, named after a similar (but equally fictitious) place in Robert Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land." What you said about the Dead performance makes the name even more, uh, serendipitous. Where is the real Freedom Hall?

Rob replied:

Louisville, Kentucky. It was one of the greatest Grateful Dead shows of all time. They played an *amazing* Weather Report Suite... etc... a truly wild show. It was 6-18-74.

A different Rob, my friend Rob DeMotsis, wrote:

I must say, "Terrific"! You've out done yourself my friend. I hate chat rooms and I believe you've recreated the chat room with great accuracy.
Line down from Houston to NY needs reroute of optic fiber connect, too much jabber.
Rob out.

Well, that's Rob. My reply:

Chat rooms may suck, but it was fun to try to duplicate one. As you may have guessed, "BatFan's" blather was based on actual comments that intruded during a chat on "writing for comics" that I attended. And the :) - - (: was likewise gathered during my research into real chat rooms. Some of that, uh, "icon art" is getting pretty elaborate.

# # #

Shortly after my novel was linked to one of the Rainbow sites, I received the following anonymous e-mail. In its entirety:

Have you ever heard of Gilpin? How about Sacred Cove in L.A. Do you know about the WEsolution and have you reached the We level of consciousness. Do you know about IT and are you ready to ascend?

My reply: No, no, maybe, yes, maybe and are you?

# # #

Another Rainbow, Wolfsong, has been following the novel closely. Some of her comments:

I was unsure at first if I was going to be able to understand everything you have written because of my lack of knowledge of some of the subject matter. But instead of just not getting it, I learned it. I know there are things that I missed even in the second read, but that's just all the more for later. I love the sidewise explanation. I can't explain why it hit such a vein for me... it may have been that I know I sometimes forget the depths of every person... it's so easy to distance yourself from those you love and forget where they came from and what made them who they are.

You know, there are certain images that just jump out at me, and the lake in this last chapter was one of them. Even before you went into further detail, I had this tremendous image in my head. Very impressive. I appreciated the founder of the wedding ceremony, etc. being consigned to hell.

I'm thrilled that my writing could elicit such a response. For years I've had an audience of exactly one, and all that kept me going was my own somewhat spare self-confidence and occasional comments from friends. I had some bad moments while I was putting the book together, wondering if it was worth all the work, if I was just wasting my time, etc. Comments like yours make it all worthwhile.

I was reading about how our modern brains are about one sixth smaller than more primitive brains. The same is true for wild vs. domesticated dogs. Some people believe it is because we don't reach our full potential because we rely on more external sources than our ancestors. Will we eventually all just have tiny brains but huge (capacity wise) computers?

I thought it was interesting...

Anyway, in chapter 2, the part about needing to feel pain. I always wonder about people who believe that to BE they must be tormented...

I assumed that God would be popping up in future installments. Bring it on, brother! I am up to the's about damn time that I started thinking again. You can only tuck certain things away in the back of your mind for so long, know what I mean?

Which is exactly what happened. I've been debating some issues of faith in my mind for a while now. When this book was first "happening" to me, I realized I could explore those issues through my characters. And because I COULD, it was a strong possibility that I SHOULD...that just maybe, others might benefit from the debate as well. Your comment seems to indicate my instincts were right.

I think it is a great idea to add something besides a chapter every other week. It just seems fresh and innovative. And even though I am anxious to get on with the body of the story, I also realize it is all part of the whole.

Good! The interstitial segments will be largely about the creative process of the book, and I wasn't sure how many people would find that sort of thing interesting. I mean, it fascinates ME, but...

Ahhhhh! I just can't get used to not being able to read more. I am really bad about not being able to put a good book down, but unfortunately, I have no choice.

Hey, Tracy is a half-Hispanic hippie chick? Cool. Does it get any better than that?

Tracy's mom (revealed in Chapter Five as Maria) is Mexican. You may recall that it was Tracy's "delicate Spanish accent" that first sent Harlan's libido into overdrive. Like me, he has a weakness for accents.

OK, I am beginning to think that maybe I am not cut out for this serial novel thing. I mean, part of me wants to beg you for reassurance that we meet Alison and Mouse again (it seems like once you hinted that this wasn't the final conclusion of this part). But I don't REALLY want to know, because the anticipation is (sometimes) great, isn't it?

I usually talk tough about liking an ending that isn't the "Disney smarmy happy" one, but I confess that deep down, I have a touch of the romantic in me, so dammit, do they meet again? No, don't tell me.

I laughed aloud at "300 women here and you can't find a tampon?" Guess I made quite a spectacle of myself. Oops.

Anyways, what was the crisis the women were screaming about? Or do you know? Humor me, make something up.

By now you know what the crisis was. And I CAN tell you that Alison will be returning in Chapter Seven. As for Mouse, well, that's another story....

With this novel, I'm never sure which lines will get laughs. Glad to hear the "tampon" line had the desired effect.

Gotta love Goddog. Too funny.

That little "She will never be good enough" turn took me by surprise. Of course, that could be because I have never had a bad trip (or any for that matter).

By the way, I wanted to ask... what was it about the chapter (or was it the whole thing) that was a struggle to put together? Just curious.

1) I had a hard time getting a handle on Annie's character, particularly the level of her dementia. Her actions are those of a disturbed person, even before the Trip. She has serious self-esteem problems, and I couldn't decide how much (or in what way) those problems would be revealed by the Trip. 2) I wasn't satisfied with the Trip itself when I was writing it - didn't feel I was expressing the rush of psychedelia, and the resultant flood of unleashed raw thought, adequately. 3) I also felt I was losing the beat stylistics in the writing itself.

The holidays just exacerbated the problems, since I rarely had time to sit down and deal with them. I do my best writing in blocks of 4-8 hours; two hours barely gives me time to get started before I've gotta shut down and go do something else.

However, when I proofread the chapter a couple of weeks later, after Gordon had formatted it for the web, I felt much better about it. Somehow, I had managed to hide all the seams.

Something else that surprised me: in the original outline, Annie went so far as to actually convert to paganism after her trip. But during the chapter I realized that wasn't in her character (she's not strong enough). When you get to that level of writing, the characters tell YOU what they're going to do next.

# # #

Finally, my sister (of all people) wrote:

By the way, "Sparky?" I'm sure it has some literary significance.

"Sparky" not only DOES have literary significance, but it's even a reference you know, believe it or not.

     It only takes a spark
     To get a fire going...

Remember "Kum Ba Yah"?

It's a hint to Sparky's real identity. Congratulations, you're the first person to catch that one.

# # #

Comments, questions, suggestions? You know the drill:

.angelheaded hipsters and visionary tics