THE NUTMEG POINT DISTRICT MAIL

the Avram Davidson electronic newsletter

Vol. V No. 5
24 January 2001
ISSN 1089-764X

Published bimonthly by whim and fancy for the Avram Davidson Society.
Contents copyright 2001 The Nutmeg Point District Mail and assigned to
individual contributors. All rights reserved.

Henry Wessells, Editor.
Cooper Wessells, Honorary Secretary.

All correspondence to:
TEMPORARY CULTURE
Post Office Box 43072, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043-0072
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 SPECIAL YEAR OF THE SNAKE ISSUE

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A Journey in the Haight Ashbury, 1967
By Hugh Leddy

That summer I lived in the Haight Ashbury. Avram shared Ethan with
Grania and I called on either or both.  There were some hilarious
stories stemming from Avram's rococo manner and style as he encountered
various flower-wearing representatives of the "Love Generation" -- but
on each side, the overwhelmingly literate Avram and the postliterate,
monosyllabic flower children, there gradually developed a genuine
tolerance if not a fond liking for the other.

Avram won the respect of many because "He's like from another planet! Ya
know?"

The fact he also wrote books carried almost no social cachet.
Another friend who, as it happened, was a classicist non-beat poet
encountered a similar response. Richard Gumbeiner, who loved Graves and
could and did spout for hours on things like the meaning of  White
Goddess and North Wind Rising and the evolution of Western culture,
once was challenged in The Drog Store Cafe on Haight with the sentence:
"Hey, man, where did you pick up all this stuff?"

Gumbeiner looked up blankly and said, "I read it in a book?"

His audience, which had been following every word, immediately lost
interest.  "If I had lied and said, 'I saw it in a vision!' they would
have been hooked forever," he told me later.

Immediate experience was the key.  Personal mind-blowing rapture was all
that was sought.  Nothing else would do.

Avram did not subscribe to this prevalent notion.  And he was not a man
who followed the popular fad . . . to the contrary, he often set the
style and others (at least those who still read) tried to follow.
Usually without success.

But he did try LSD, just once.  And the reason he tried it, I think --
he never said why -- was his conviction that a writer owed it to himself
and to his audience of readers to have as wide a grasp of human
existence and experience as it was possible to reach.

So, as he told me, he had been given a tab of acid a week or so before,
and one evening finding himself alone in his apartment, he decided to
try it.  Washing it down with a swallow from a half glass of cognac or