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The MOST (Morning Star) Newsletter

Volume I #1

A Project of The Peregrine Foundation

P.O. Box 460141
San Francisco, CA 94146-0141
telephone: (415) 821-2090 / (415) 282-2369

Staff (so far): Ramon Sender, editor; Pam Read Hannah, assistant editor; Baker Bart, Occidental Correspondent

"What Go 'Round Come Around"

A BIG HELLO to all of you dear friends, brothers and sisters, survivors and graduates of Morning Star and Ahimsa ranches! Since this is more or less the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first graduating class of 1967, and since the magic of desktop publishing has arrived to make newsletters easier, here we go with a serious try at establishing a network to put all of us in touch and catch up on everyone's news. Please photocopy this and mail it to others. Also, write or phone in with your mailing address and the addresses of anyone with whom you are in contact, general news about births and deaths, and tell us a few things about what you are doing now!

We can't mail you future issues of MOST if we don't know where you are!

So what's the Peregrine Foundation? It is a charitable public foundation whose purposes are as follows: "To provide charitable support and educational assistance to individuals and families who have been uprooted from totalitarian sects, religious cults and intentional communi-ties." Also to create an archive of materials and network folks together. I think our tribes qualify as "intentional communities," so I'm including us. And a newsletter seems wayyy overdue as a way to keep in touch.

The first project of Peregrine involved the setting up of a newsletter called "KIT" (Keep In Touch) for the survivors/graduates of an abusive Christian sect called the Bruderhof. I had a personal involvement with this group in my early twenties, and my daughter grew up there, married -- and died of cancer. It's a long story, and if there's room in the newsletter sometime in the future I'll tell it. But now that the staff has sharpened its skills for a few years serving this group of wanderers, it seems an opportune time to widen things out to include our unique and far-flung tribe that evolved in the '60s-'70s in Western Sonoma County.

Anyway, this is just an opening "Hello out there!" I'm continually amazed at how closely connected we all remain. Even when we haven't seen someone for years, when we meet again it's just like Old Times! So welcome aboard, Old Timers! Badaba! Your Editor

"And Meanwhile, Back Off The Ranch"

Deaths in the Family: O. B. Ray, Zen monk and beloved grandpa, died November 11th, 1990 at 66 years of age.

Sunny Supplee, mother of Quinn, died in a tragic auto accident on Maui earlier this year. There was a memorial for her at the beach, as well as at Star Mountain Ranch. She was very active as a midwife, and will be very much missed by her friends and family.

Status/addresses needed: Please send us anyone whose address you know for a sample newsletter!

"Cannabisco Michael Hubmay" was a distributor out of Inglewood, CA, to head shops in the '70s. He bought sight-unseen a large quantity of The Morning Star Scrapbook, and, since we are running low on copies, we need to contact him and see if he still has any. By the way, hold on to your copies, folks! The originals went down the Russian River in one of its annual floods!

News

Pam Read Hannah graciously has agreed to come on board as contributing editor, and Baker Bart as Occidental Correspondent. So that's a beginning! I spoke with Laura Koewing Horton who is living in Berkeley She's currently unemployed as a television program producer, after working in the newsroom of a major TV station for some time. And... she's about to become a grandma since her daughter Nihila is having a baby! Congratulations!

Her brother Al Koewing lives in Colorado and works for the post office.

Bliss Buys married Jim Cochran on St. Paddy's Day. They have a desktop publishing business, Bliss publishing an annual guide to antiques and a monthly art/antique tabloid.

Alicia Bay Laurel's business, "A Wedding Made In Paradise," is doing very well on Maui. Recently she discovered a new avocation as a jazz vocalist, and is singing a lot. "Diony is living on the Big Island," she reports. "She may buy some land next to a hot lava flow. Robbie Friedlander is managing a flower garden on Maui. And Sylvia Clarke Hamilton is totally launched as an artist, with a lot of gallery coverage. She does ink drawings and oils of flowers and landscapes. Mary Garvin lives in Florida where she was working for a while for a nature conservancy group. She's bought some land and is going back to nature. Billie "Vishnu" Gottlieb made the Maui gossip column by graduating from college with plans to go on to Cornell Law School."

And what about the Maestro\ himself, Lou Gottlieb? He's living in L.A. and currently "experiencing the Revolution." Although he retired from the Limeliters in December, they are still on the road. Hey Lou, you're not a youngster of 65 any more! Come home! (We'll be publishing his memoirs soon, by the way, so keep tuned in.)

Letters

Ramon Sender 4/29/92: Well, I'll start off -- and excuuuse me if I toot my own horn! I'm living in San Francisco with my wonderful wife Judy. We've been married for ten years, and it's been a true blessing. She's been a wonderful stepmother to my 3 sons. Jonathan (32), the oldest, is working on the post-production music for a new Children's Television Workshop series titled "Ghostwriter" that will air this September. He lives in New York, played electric bass with a group called 'Konk' for years (they have a few records out) and also composes songs. His last one, "Got A Lot Of Love," is getting some air play. Andrés (31) is concentrating on his painting and building his first lute, as well as nursing his grandma. Sol Ray, whom many of you will remember, graduates from college this month. He's a Comparative Religion major with a minor in Art (hey, it's not an MFA, but what did you expect?), very involved in his painting and music.

We'll be in England this summer to put on a conference for the KIT newsletter folks I mentioned above. Sol Ray will come along, and perhaps stay on to absorb the museums. We'll return to put on ANOTHER conference for the U.S.A. KITfolk in Massachusetts, before celebrating my American Mom's 92nd birthday with her.

As for myself, I published a memoir about my Spanish mother, killed in the Spanish Civil War, in 1988 with the University of New Mexico Press. Research for this took Judy and me to Spain for two summers, and we met over sixty of my Spanish relatives, some of whom knew me as a two-year-old. Amazing! And for me, a very healing experience to find my birth mother's story and learn who she was. If you're interested, hunt down: "A Death In Zamora," by Ramon Sender Barayon (my mother's last name).

I haven't had as much luck publishing my novels, which seem to be too West Coast or too, um, something for New York's Publishers Row. So I've been concentrating on two more non-fiction manuscripts, which are circulating around right now. More news about these as things happen.

Otherwise, I keep busy editing other people's books, occasionally writing for The Whole Earth Review, and co-hosting a couple of forums on a computer teleconferencing network called The Well. For those of you who have computers and modems, you can reach me via TeleNet/UseNet e-mail as: rabar@ well.sf.us or on MCI Mail as RBarayon

The Well is an amazing 'virtual community' of 6000 or so people all chatting and interacting in about 100 conferences on-line. It feels tribal and 'extended family,' although it's been growing so fast that it's hard to keep up!

Sol Ray's mother Joanie is married to a writer named Joseph Sutton. They have an eleven-year-old, Raymond, and Joanie has carved herself out a career as a talented storyteller and teacher at a local girls' school.

Others who keep in touch: Zen Jack Bridgstock, Cable Car John Nelson, Louis the Lion Kuntz, Rosalee (Sara Ransom), Rena Morningstar. Later!

Occidental Walking Report
Wm. D. "Bart" Beck

Ranger Rick Kaufman is often seen keeping the town clean. The county sends him a small check each month as our town remains debris-free. Nancy Collins is often about. She's always good for a hug and a kiss, and some very good company. She always stops to offer me a ride (if I'm on the road walking) in her Audi. Nice car. Nancy is happily married to a saintly young Englishman, and is working as a cook for the catering service at a Bodega Bay bed and breakfast inn.

We miss Clown Day here in the Big O, and are doin' our best to keep our streets and abodes safe for all, and especially clowns! Please return to Occidental, Zero! IMPORTANT: When you write us your address, tell us if you want your address and/or phone number listed in the next newsletter. An 'address book' will follow!

Nostalgia

Chapter 10 from "Home Free Home"
First Ridge Settlers

Upon the Ridge, the influx of people wrought sudden and shattering changes in Bill and Gay's life. Bill and Gay made an honest attempt to be open and understanding, but at times they just wanted everyone to go away. Their garden was raided for vegetables, cars roared through to the back of the land, shit was left everywhere and, along with the people there came dogs in increasing numbers. Dogs! It was only a matter of time before they raided the neighbors' sheep.

Beatrice and Willie B. moved over from Morning Star with their boy André, two dogs and two horses. Beatrice leveled off a place for their tent while Willie B. watched. He never was one for doing work, but he made up for it with his music. Thor, his stallion, soon became impossible to control. He kicked or bit anyone who tried to interfere with his daily raids on campsites, destroying tents in his efforts to get to the grains and oats. Finally he was given away because no one had the heart to castrate him.

Of course, along with the gentle flower children there came the Impossibles. Nevada drove in one day monstrously drunk, weaving on and off the road, taking out the fencing as he came. He ended up in Bill's studio, haranguing him about Jesus, Morning Star and his single-handed conquest of the North Koreans. If Bill didn't listen and agree to everything he said, Nevada threatened to punch him out.

On May 10th, 1968, the temporary injunction against Morning Star was made a permanent injunction that continued to forbid Lou or any of his agents from operating an organized camp, living in any structures except Lou's studio, exposing private parts, etc, etc. Also Lou was ordered to tear down all illegal structures - which now included the Upper and Lower houses - and clean up the place.

Aware that the permanent injunction would bring even more refugees to the Ridge, Bill tried to establish some minimum rules: bury your shit, no open fires in the fire season, no building in the open meadows - the cows have to eat too. Some people cooperated while others just laughed.

"We didn't come here to be told what to do!" Gay: "To put in a toilet according to the county's regulations would have cost each person six hundred dollars. Inasmuch as this was out of the question, we evolved a human waste disposal method acceptable to almost everyone who came to live with us. When one's bowels began to move, one took a shovel in hand and a brief walk in the fresh country air to select the perfect spot for a donation to Mother Earth. Afterwards, the hole was refilled with dirt and the shovel replaced. Some people with children preferred to dig a larger hole in advance, using it until it was full. I chose to have a different view from my toilet every day. But some people who came either did not understand the importance of burying their feces, did not care or could not find a shovel in time."

By June, 1968, there were thirty to fifty settlers on the Ridge and word was spreading fast. On June 17th, Bill's birthday, Bill and Gay returned from town to find the studio decked out in crepe paper, banners and balloons. Musicians were playing, and food had been laid on the table. Whatever misgivings and reservations they had been feeling melted at this open expression of love from their new brothers and sisters. On that day, Bill realized that all the difficulties triggered by the influx of refugees were worth it. His decision to open the land, no matter how hard to maintain, was RIGHT ON. Gay: "The land was choosing its settlers. No one ever said who could or could not stay, but the natural course of events often caused people to move on. Some left feeling bitter at their inability to fit in to the budding community, but most left with a loving attitude towards the Ridge. Of the thousands whose lives crossed on the paths of the land, only one person was there from start to finish - Bill Wheeler. Two or three others were there most of the time, and hundreds were there for periods of less than one year. For many, the Open Land experience was like attending a school." Bill: "The land was open only insofar as the people on it were themselves open. When they committed 'closed' acts, they closed the land to themselves. When a person couldn't accept the lines of communications and trust of the Morning Star consciousness, when they did violence of one kind or another, they did not remain but returned to the greater society which offered specific remedies for amoral and asocial behavior - prison or the hospital. In the first five years of Open Land, during which time many thousands from every stratum of society passed through the Ridge, I did not have to tell anyone to leave of remove them myself more the five times."

One day Beatrice came to Bill and suggested they close the gate to newcomers. But Bill, already committed to the Open Land ideal, had no intention of turning back. The challenge to make a workable community was tremendous. He had much the same feeling as when as a painter he confronted an empty canvas, - a mixture of fear of the unknown and the exhilaration of an infinite potential. Bill: "The flow of immigrants waxed as the summer passed. Open Land became the ultimate absurdity, as crazy as New York City's subway rush hour. The magician poured milk in a never-ending stream into a tiny glass. The Grand Hotel remained open and never filled."

One day a black man with an intense gaze appeared at the studio door. He asked permission to settle his group on the land. This took Bill by surprise, inasmuch as permission was seldom asked. Ultimately a sign was posted on the front gate that read, 'Land permit to live on not required.' That man, Ray, and his four male disciples settled down near Bill and Gay's garden. Bill gently suggested they might find another campsite further from any immediate neighbors. Moving behind the goat pen, they built a large plastic dome with a tiny entrance to crawl through. The walls, covered with photographs and religious decorations, were dominated by a large photo of Gurdjieff whom they considered their guru. Women or sex seemed to have no place within their tightly disciplined existence. Once settled into their 'monastery,' as they called it, the 'Gurdjieff Boys' proved extremely energetic and a fine addition to the community.

O.B. Ray came that first summer as a permanent fixture. Sufi philosopher, father figure, lover, superlative good-karma marijuana farmer (he gave away all he grew), his large tent was always available to anyone needing a place to sleep. After surviving three bloody landings in the Pacific with the Marines during World War II, O.B. had been assigned to guard a desert island with two other soldiers. The other men went crazy, but O.B. loved it so much that he asked for an extension of duty. On that island he discovered the purpose of his life - to do nothing. That is what made him the happiest. After the war, he was, in his own words, 'forced into slavery' driving a cab in San Francisco for seventeen years before getting turned on to Zen by Suzuki Roshi. He retired to Mt. Tamalpais for a year to meditate, take acid and write a book about his religious experiences. O.B.'s laugh was a wonderful thing, and could be heard from one end of the land to the other. He was a font of wisdom and mellowness at all times, a great sage and much beloved tribal elder. O.B.Ray: (excerpted from his book): "The basic nature of things is inhuman, impersonal, impartial, indifferent; it is neither cold nor hot, neither soft nor hard, neither good nor bad; it has no particular color, no particular form, no particular texture; it has no emotions, no feelings, no thoughts. It is not made up of such things as molecules, atoms or electrons. It appears as a brilliant light, vibrant, modulating. (It seems to be pure energy). It is not seen as if there were a light and someone was looking at the light. The light is experienced immediately, without the object-viewer relationship. The seer becomes the light and all characteristics vanish or become meaningless. The basic nature of things never stays the same for two consecutive instants. It is in a constant state of flux, changing, vibrating, undulating, concentrating and then melting away; forever active, even at rest, reverberating, moving, waving. Yet this basic nature appears to take the form of an infinite variety of things. These forms appear to be hot or cold, soft or hard, good or bad, etc. It was never born nor was it created, and it will never come to an end.

"There is no ego. There is no soul. There is no self. There is nothing which I can call O.B. Ray."

Curly-haired Chuck arrived from Morning Star and became Bill's first spiritual teacher. A God-intoxicated person, Chuck practiced the deepest meditation for hours on end, totally oblivious to his surroundings. He spent many days fasting and in service to others, his sole possession the tattered dress he wore. His curly hair formed a bush around his head, his body well-browned by the sun. One day he came and sat in the studio, working on a piece of paper with Bill's drawing pencils. After he had labored for over an hour, Gay looked over his shoulder to see the word WONDER carefully drawn and elaborately colored.

Chuck had enlisted in the Army, had gone through basic training and received his orders for Vietnam. One day he looked in the mirror as he was about to shave and said, 'What am I doing? I don't want to go to Vietnam and kill or be killed.' He put down his razor, got a weekend pass and went to the Haight. From there he caught a ride to Morning Star and, when the arrests began, moved to the Ridge. He slept in the barn or out-of-doors and ate whatever was offered him. Chuck was loved by everyone. Later, when he went to New Mexico with the Morning Star exodus, he became a Christian, cut off his hair, put on shoes and turned himself in. [to be continued]

Okay, so this is just a teaser. Once again, please write or phone one of the numbers on page 1 to make sure you get your next issue!

BADABA!

 

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