Monday, January 13, 2020

2400 Fulton Street - A Preview of Calif. - The New Novel by R.J. Stowell

From the Marty Balin Website: "Michelangelo claimed that he did not create a sculpture. Rather, the form was contained within the block of marble; he merely removed the excess, revealing the work of art. 'I feel the same way about music, and about all the projects I’m involved in. The projects do themselves; the music comes through me.' The same vision Marty had when he launched the Jefferson Airplane is present today. In fact, nearly everything he has worked on over the years has been fueled with his vision of art and music as vehicles for expressing a positive message. 'I still have the same attitude. I still love the positive, uplifting songs, and I believe in songs with those qualities. I believe that music can help change the world for the better.'" Marty Balin died on September 27, 2018.

The following excerpt is from Calif. R.J. Stowell's novel scheduled for publication in 2020.

1970: I stopped at a light and realized where I was. I'd come out of Golden Gate Park onto Haight Street. There were lots of groovy people, lots of long hairs and head shops and hippies sitting on the curb, and then I passed Ashbury Street and someone in an Econoline panel truck pulled out of a parking space.

I parked the V-dub and did a surprisingly good job. You didn't really parallel park in L.A., pave paradise and all, so I'd never learned. I was singing that the rest of the day. It was a new song by Joni Mitchell and that line about cutting down trees and putting them in a museum was echoing in my head. I grabbed my journal and started walking and taking notes.

A girl passed on the street. She sang, "Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got till it’s gone." She kept walking, and I sang, "Paved paradise, put up a parking lot."

I got down by the park again where there were hippies loitering at 2400 Fulton Street, a big black columnated mansion with date palms out front and a wrought iron gate. It looked like the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. I asked someone why they were all hanging out. A dude and a girl said simultaneously, almost as if they were one, "It's the Airplane House."

I hedged. "Yeah, so, what's the airplane house?" I probably seemed a bit straight to them. I had on chinos, my Chucks, a t-shirt and a Hang Ten windbreaker. I guess, to be honest, and if I were to make an entry in my journal describing myself, I'd end up looking like Jimmy Olsen. In unison they said, "Jefferson Airplane, you know?" They even said "you know" together. "It's 17 rooms and three stories; they say the higher up you get, the higher you get."

I said, "I want to see them. They're playing tomorrow night."

The guy said, "You got tickets, man?" at the same time the girl said, "You better get a ticket, man." I told them I didn't even know where it was. He said, "The other end of," and she said, "the park."

I heard someone point toward an upstairs window and say, "Jorma Kaukonen," but it was a false alarm; it was the wind and a ripple in the glass. It was interesting, this spectacle, but it was kind of odd, like this was the monkey house and the monkeys were hard to spot.

                                                  - From the upcoming novel Calif. by R.J. Stowell

The 17-room mansion at the corner of Willard and Fulton, which lies across the street from Golden Gate Park and just over the western shoulder of Lone Mountain, was bought in May of 1968 by Jefferson Airplane. There aren't many other contenders in the Haight for places where the most LSD has probably been dropped. Called "The Airplane House," "2400 Fulton" (which would become the name of JA's greatest hits LP), or simply "The Mansion" was built in 1904 for a San Francisco lumber baron, the ornate manse became Frisco’s premier party house. Quickly the house would become a magnet for fans, musicians, groupies, dope dealers and celebrities. Part-time girlfriend to "player," Paul Kantner, Barbara Langer said, "I remember one banquet when there was a big fat joint on every plate, and a roasted suckling pig with an apple in its mouth." The Airplane’s manager, Bill Thompson had arranged the sale of the mansion for $70,000 (most recent purchase price nearly $8 million), and hired Jacky Watts to handle the many details. "Thompson sent his girlfriend Judy over to see if I was hip enough. I had a great little house, black light posters all over. I had a kitty car, I was wearing paisley. I passed the hipness test." Thompson gives Jacky all the credit for the find: “The lecherous old guy who lived there liked Jacky. It was the greatest investment we ever made."