Friday, May 02, 2014
May Day isn’t May Day anymore. At least, not the kind of May Day hippies in LA used to pitch at me during my days in that part of the world.
I remember how excited Gil got that May Day we spent in Las Vegas, a man so wrapped up with LSD, he used to get high when he stopped taking the drug.
For him, it was about the green and flowers his missed back East.
I never knew where he actually came from, since I first met him in Phoenix during my passing through that town several times early in 1970 – side trips out of LA where I spent most of my time.
When we went looking for him again in late April, we heard he’d moved to North Vegas and so we hitched up there to find him, with the half hope we could settle there (which did not happen).
Gil was a conflict of intentions, a man who on one hand strived to be “a player,” someone on the inside of the velvet ropes with both feet planted firmly on the red carpet to wealth and success, and yet at times, he ached for simple things, and I remember standing beside him at the Burger Chef burger grill as he talked about May Day, and how back east somewhere he lost his virginity – if not around the May Pole, then in some similar personal ceremony he wished he could get back to, yet somehow had been diverted from by his ambition to become someone important.
I remember him describing the girl (who was not his current wife) and how attracted he was to her, not in the same way he was to the few Vegas call girls that wandered into our shop late at night, but in some way he tried to describe as “pure” yet still full of the lust of life he seemed to have lost somewhere between back then and where we were at that point.
He never gave this girl a name or even described her, as if these details were too precious for him to divulge, holding these things inside himself to ponder over when all else was lost.
For a man, who introduced me to the Manson Family during that time, such treasurers were rare.
But on that May Day I remember we both had to work, and how sad he looked, as if he knew just how far down the wrong road he had come, and though he was only a year or two older than I was (I was 19 a little more than a week later), he seemed very old and growing older fast. He didn’t even take his usual dose of LSD or perhaps not even the assorted other drugs he used to “balance his head,” as he called it, though smoked a little dope while we cooked so as not to “totally lose it,” as he generally did when he ran out of the harder drugs.
This only seemed to make him more nostalgic, and made him offer me advice as not to make the same mistake he made.
“You got a good girl,” he told me, “don’t lose her,” and volunteered to work a double shift the next day if I wanted to celebrate May Day with my girl, the way he once did with that girl long ago.
I asked him why he didn’t celebrate with his wife, and he only made a face, and told me, “It wouldn’t be the same.”
He and I parted ways on my birthday after we both – high on high doses of LSD – tried to kidnap Howard Hughes (we got as far as the lobby of the casino before the dope kicked in and we forgot why we had come, or decided it wasn’t important any more, or might even have been discouraged by the wall of a man Hughes had as a body guard). I remember sitting in the middle of the desert to watch sunrise, and how a few hours later, the Manson Family told us to get out, and me and my girl with our dog Midnight, hit the road back to LA.
I never saw Gil again. But every May Day I think about him, and how May Day isn’t ever the same as it once was, that one time when he actually got to be with the girl he loved.