My Present Best Friends

by Richard Grossinger on March 14, 2010

My Present Best Friends
This piece was originally part of 2013: Raising the Earth to the Next Vibration, but once my website was created, I decided that it made more sense to remove it from the book and place it here.

This whole thing started as a game between Lindy and me to name our ten best friends (not including each other). I kept going.  It is far from an official list: many people are missing either because I have lost touch with them or because they play some other role more significant than friend. In many cases it’s close call: friend whom I have internalized as such and count on, a buddy with whom I  hang out, or a teacher or professional colleague, or a transient or infrequent enthusiasm?

These rubrics strike me after the fact: Best friends are emotional more than intellectual, that is, hanging out rather than engaging by opinions and ideas. I get tired of talk-talk-talk on the implied assumption that we are holding up the universe together. Plus many of my closest friends I either didn’t like or actively disliked at our first meeting or impression, apparently a good omen for creative interaction and depth.

Ron Sieh: My one-time martial-arts teacher, Ron is always on a heart level, even when he’s trying hard not to be; he innately deepens you as he demands, “What’s happening; what do you feel, right now?” Blue collar, simple, direct, he is wise from decades of training and practice. He carries a spiritual prerogative without any casual authoritative trappings. Nothing is wasted with him; he transmits dharma and authenticity, even over a beer, even when talking pop culture or nuts and bolts, jobs or relationships.  He is an intense guy but also a trickster and tease and as light as the cloud hands of t’ai chi ch’uan.

Paul Pitchford: I don’t see him much these days, but during the seventies he initiated me into t’ai chi, meditation, and diet. His lessons and their terms resonate forever, making me who I am. He shows up, and we go for a walk, two aging ex-hippies. Everything we say scrapes bottom of what we are, where we have been, and how we come to know each other.  We don’t have an easy camaraderie, but each item of it is a big whale or a wave with deep roots, and I use those metaphors because they come in cosmic and wide-angled packages.  As well as the High Priest of Diet, Food, and Chi, Paul will forever be the Pocatello kid, a romantic hippie falling for floozies, a Zen pledgemaster and countercultural mallrat, and a persnickety gadfly.  That’s why I adore the guy.  Much more than if he were some sort of American lama.  I mean, he’s the one who threw out all our aluminum cookware one day in the late eighties because he thought that we’d be too attached to it to do it ourselves.  He is also the one who observed that a bee stinging my finger picked exactly the acupuncture point that he would have worked on.

Chuck Stein: We became friends in 1959 at Horace Mann and have stayed in metaphysical dialogue since, though I am ever the romantic and he is ever the intellectual and, sorry, artiste—that way from the beginning. He helped me get my writing and occult practice started—immeasurable bonuses of early friendship.  Chuck is a peripheral baseball and hoops fan, a radical politico as well as a poet, a philosopher, and committed Buddhist: sort of the core recipe.  We also rub each other the wrong way.  For his taste I am too wrought up all of the time, and  to me he is wrought up only sometimes but, when he is, wow!  Over fifty years we have learned how not to elicit those cranky sides of each other, how to pass calmly at sea in a breeze, leaving treasures in each other’s boats.

Philip Wohlstetter: We were best friends from kindergarten through sixth grade, then lost touch until our mid-fifties when Phil read my writing about our childhood antics. He is the most umcompromising political-literary friend that I have, alert to Marx, New Cinema, international fiction, the nature of money and neo-colonialism, yet with plenty of old Park Avenue pomp left.  He is prone to late-night monologues and diatribes about the state of America or the world, always with a fresh angle on things but ever relentless.  Still a bit bossy in the way he was in grade school when our subjects were baseball cards and the Hardy Boys, he is now good-humored and self-reflective about his non-stop insistent enthusiasms. He is not much interested in the psychospiritual side of things, but so what?

Kathy Glass: With her I have carried out an ontological Platonic romance over the last twenty-plus  years. She is a hippie wild-girl and a tough old Indian warrior, a wide-eyed Southern Baptist ingénue at the same time as a timeless Shiva mage.   In her I feel my own alternate existence; that is, if I had not been shackled with my particular limitations and family traumas and if I had been born a woman. Our dialogue is incessant and unconditional—R the male cosmos-seeker, K the street-smart sybil chick. It’s a cliché, but she seems like someone from another lifetime; she also tends to restore courage like good medicine.  She is a palpable herbal and physical presence.  Her voice and smile transform a room.

Robert Simmons: He manages to keep bringing things back to a core transparency, finding ways that we can chart a course through our potential disagreements. He trusts me and has faith in me plus the generosity and courage to say so, even when we both know I am wrong or grumpy and dull. He yearns to cultivate transparency, both ways. He is generous by practice rather than instinct, as he is determined to remake the world as love.

Rob Brezsny: He was de facto my main student at Goddard in 1972 and we have been friends ever since. Rob teaches and transmits magic, abandonment, commitment to the anima, devotion to the muse, instantaneous pop divination always. He insists upon loosening tarot and telekinetic knots and turning things upside-down.  Rock musician, astrologer, novelist, and performance artist, he dispatches a very high energy all the time.  He wrote “Sex Magic for Shortstops and Second Basemen” for my original baseball anthology in the late seventies, and he invented pronoia: how the universe is conspiring to shower us with blessings. Like all good friends he sees me, always has, and allows himself to be seen by me, always has.

Eugene Alexander: Therapists don’t count as friends, but I’ll make an exception here. Gene always finds where I am emotionally and reveals layers of my life that I have lost. He is the solid buddy, push-hands and spaarring partner, empathic male guide that I never got to have during adolescence. Maybe he can’t do it for every client, but we also just hang out, share life notes and, when necessary, commiserate.  He has proven to me that we all have the same bodies and hearts and, even when we get in each other’s way and piss each other off, we still love.

Ahad Cobb: I rarely see him anymore, but I have experienced him at heart since he showed up at our house in Maine in 1970 as Frank Zero, a wandering hippie poet. Equal parts sacred-slang minion and Vedic astrologer, he shares his path openly and always reestablishes a sincere bond, no matter how much time passes between occasions.  Like once we passed in the airport and were instantly on a karmic level, third eye to third eye.

Mary Stark: She has been my most conscientious and inspired reader, and she puts so much care, concern, and fuss into my work and me that, though we have only met twice, I could not consider her anything other than a long-time and loyal friend. She is now my literary executor.

Robert Phoenix: A physically huge cosmic clearing station—part gonzo journalist, part street tarot-reader, part fantasy-football fan-jock—Robert receives and transmits baseball and basketball trivia too at the same level as memos from the Pleiadian Star System and conspiracy theories about 9/11. He embraces life and intelligence with the reckless enthusiasm of a guy who doesn’t mind falling. He is relentlessly good-humored, resilient, and hopeful, even though he never met an apocalyptic fantasy he couldn’t entertain, from contrails to Oklahoma City to Mars.  He has the most uncannily cheerful way of calling a spade and spade.  I met him in the late nineties when he lived in our Ninth Street warehouse with his dog Cosmo—an otherwise-homeless employee of Mondo 2000, one of our renters.  I knew right away that he was one of the good guys in this world.  Since then he has become a father and a householder of sorts, but he is always a pilgrim and grail quester.  Check out his regular podcasts.

Cybèle Tomlinson: I used to joke that Cybèle was the kind of girl I thought I was looking for when I found Lindy—the arty sixties prototype: yoga master, bodyworker, poet, musician, Diamond Heart practitioner—only she wasn’t born yet, though her mother Claire, also my friend, was playing piano at the Village Vanguard then. Cybèle  comes from a lineage of Ivy League philosophers and mathematicians, but she is herself pure mute presence, like a hummingbird vibrating too fast to see. Now that she has a husband and young sons—married to a Jain from India who is more American than she is—I don’t go for long walks or practice Breema with her anymore. But the time when we did so in the early nineties is timeless.  When we run into each other at the Farmer’s Market, we summon our whole history in a glance.  On the rare occasions that we get to talk, we can still confide, and I instantly remember our innate rapport and what understanding another human and transparency feel like.

Alex Grey: I see him once or twice a year at best, but the connection of spirit and dharma is always there in a spirit of gentleness, mutual appreciation, and intentional compassion. It is a friendship whose greeting voice is an appreciative exchange of mutual respect.  Alex has mastered between a dead-serious and gleefully playful presence at the same time.

Patricia Fox: She’s my yoga teacher, so she transmits a consciousness and care for my body; she bears the intention of the ashram with her everywhere, enfolding her spiritual presence into hikes and social events while being just a regular old girl too, and a bit of a silly, compulsive one at that. She makes a wonderful combo with her partner Charles Rasmussen, an abstract expressionist painter, whose presence is as spacious as his native Oregon sky and as wryly evocative as the ceaseless off-primary colors he juxtaposes in his acrylics.  Last Halloween in Bass Harbor she dressed as a showgirl and he and his brother enacted a chainsaw massacre.  They teased Lindy and me for coming costume-less.  Now that’s a yoga teacher and a painter!  (For the long version, see The Bardo of Waking Life, pp. 384-386.)

Paul Schroeder: “We’re doing ‘slow’ now,” he says, “everything slow. Slow is the new fast.” He is a polymath intelligence, an unerring observer, and a locator of presence in landscape. Like me he is married to a Hough: Mazie is a stalwart New England blend of intelligence and sweetness even as her lineage-sharer my wife, Lindy, is a Colorado version of the same. Paul and Mazie house-sat for us in the early eighties in Berkeley, then disappeared for twenty-plus years until we met them again at the 2006 Bangor Folk Festival. After attending a “Somalians in Maine” presentation, Lindy began a conversation with the moderator. Paul, overhearing, called out, “I think you guys already know each other. Mazie Hough, that’s Lindy Hough.”

Robert Sardello: The kid from Trinidad, Colorado, was an unknown friend for decades before I met him and, since then, we have been catching up. He is a collector of lost esoterica, a secular priest, a penetrating witness, and a guide into the emotional tones of the mysteries.  If you wonder about psychic authenticity, sacred commerce, mortuary priorities, love and the soul–all big big topics–he is your guy.  He is a reliable confidante on life passages and high vibrations, and that can be said of few people.

Andrew Lugg: I didn’t see him and Lynne for almost forty years and barely communicated with them during that time, but everything was still in place, exactly as I had left it in Ann Arbor, 1969, when we picked up in Quebec City, only mellower and more prized for its calm durability.  He is a cool thinker, a Wittgensteinian philosophy, of great warmth and humor.  A walk with him never departs from matters of aesthetics or epistemology, but he is unerringly funny, even daffy at times.  Watching some ridiculous teen behavior in Quebec, he declares, “This is plain embarrassing.”  I say, “Andrew, they gotta be doing something.”  He says, “Yes, but does it have to be that?”  I also credit him with the great comment, upon our getting reacquainted and me (wrongly) assuming he would be interested in the fact that I wrote cosmology and embryology books in the interim: “I am always intrigued by the fact that, whereas people like you are very interested in science, it does virtually nothing for me.  I figure things have to work some way, and I could care less which way they do.”

Elizabeth Beringer: I don’t see her as much since she moved to San Diego, but she is reliable and present, even in absence, someone who will always have a serious, dharmic response to anything without being liturgical. She is the rare person who, in the worst crisis will be available, truly, with not only experienced compassion but the sort of proper advice that almost no one else will know how to locate or speak from the heart.  She is a soul who doesn’t back down, yet is human to the core.  She may not be my closest active friend, but she is the one whom you would want in a foxhole, existential or other.

Paul Weiss: I identify with him, engage in mutual assistance with him, and learn from him. The head of Whole Health Center in Bar Harbor and my chi gung teacher, Mr. Cloudy Hands Becoming Swimming Dragon is a playful Taoist master, a contactful, restless seeker, and, as he puts it, “just another shmuck.”  He teaches about the lightest, most smiling “energy” classes I could imagine.  And he gets my writing  well enough to wonder, “Why isn’t everyone else saying what you are.”  Now that’s someone on my wavelength!

Amini Peller: She carries a great teaching and has that special combination of spontaneous insight and the uncompromising courage to use it as necessary. She passed on the “craniosacral pulse” to me, a true gift, and she showed me the colored landscapes of the auras. When I lost hope, twice, she had the magic words; in 1992, placing the most explicit and intentional mudra on me and speaking in precise cadence: “It is wonderful, to see someone, evolving.”  She is also a true changeling, a figure of utter transformation, and one of the few natural shamans I have met.

Terry Leach: It’s not often that one’s favorite Major League ball-player becomes a friend, but Terry exclaims with pleasure and delight every time I call him out of the blue, so he’s a friend all right.  Often our conversation is about this or that detail involving the fate of his memoir that I published. We also have a rare meeting at a bar or beach in Florida. He asked me recently on my cell, as I stood at a red light, what I was doing and I told him that I was studying at the Berkeley Psychic Institute, adding with slight defensiveness, “Well, you have to do something with your time.” His graceful response: “My wife knows what to do with my time: mow the lawn, cut that branch, move the furniture.”

We all need buddies like Terry, however we come by them. He also has lots of commonsense lessons for me, just the way he did for those minor leaguers on the endless bus trips between small towns. He instinctively mentors.  He knows how to coax the best out of another human being, and he does it with modesty and gentility.  He never took the Major Leagues all that seriously.  Now that he’s moving furniture, it’s more teamwork, new friends.

Dave Insley: We’ve only seen each twice; it’s his music that connects. I know a soul-mate and buddy when I see one, even across the honky-tonk “Careless Smoker” divide. With Dave it’s just pure mutual recognition that can’t be refined.  I haven’t heard him play for a few years now, but one of these days I’ll get myself to Austin and take a seat at a bar.  We’ll talk between sets or afterwards.  He gets what Lindy’s about too—silent recognition.

Suzanne Taylor: She’s my aunt, and relatives absolutely don’t get to be on this list, but she’s only my stepmother’s brother’s former wife, so she makes it on obliquity. A generous and gracious host of her own spiritual salon, she’s a genuine elder, an indomitable psychic and political seeker who has made up a lot of ground in later years. I’ve seen her, as she’s seen me, grow and change over the better part of a lifetime.  Now she’s queen of the crop circles, and she’s unflappable at it.  Now matter how often she loses her cool, she returns to a reasonable position.  I have learned that I can rely on her to be sane, even at her craziest and to look out for me and my kids, always, even when her own brood is in disrepair.  She’s the best sort of cheerleader because she doesn’t take shit and is also consistent and fair.  As a blogger, she’s the esoteric Ariana Huffington.

Jerry MacDonald: He was our boarder at my father’s house, playing the role of Terry Leach for me early—the laid-back buddy. A former semi-pro ballplayer and high-school history teacher, he has always projected a core joy, marred only by his superstitious Catholicism, such as getting downright nasty in support of George W. Bush, with everyone in the family except me. We hit a lot of fungos on the Grossinger Hotel baseball field in the sixties during my teenage years when he provided the humor, ease, and sympathy of a gracious soul who rolled with the punches and knew how to toss a modest punchline back. In fact, “Jerry MacDonald” is my generic term for “nice guy.”

Anne-Marie Molnar: It helps to be seen, especially when you are in disguise to yourself and think you are someone else. That doesn’t go away, though Anne-Marie and I have gotten together only a few times since the seventies. We operate naturally at a level of meta-perception, seeing through the secular world and its forms and noting to each other the subtle colors, essences, seasonal nuances, and other auras.  I see her as a kind of aerier Gaston Bachelard from The Poetics of Space, rarely missing the interior of a thing.  Yet she’s also a Jersey girl who can do great Frankie Valli imitations.

Elliott Spiker: I don’t know this Maine near neighbor and retired USGS geologist all that well, but I love hiking and bike-riding with him, or Lindy and me with him and Karel, and he is a natural and wise channel of service, he always lends a willing hand. (Sadly, after soon I wrote this piece, Karel took ill suddenly and passed. Elliott’s community spirit and dignity shone and modeled life and death for all of us through the ordeal.)

Dusty Dowse: We would have shunned each other as classmates at Amherst and probably did, me at hippie Phi Psi, him at party-central Psi U. But now he’s my big brother, a droll hiking or sitting-around companion, a superb practical teacher (whether of tying a fishing line, baking bread, Internet transfer of songs, or cell biology) and a source of boundless pop-culture and political static, though we disagree on just about everything epistemological (remember, he’s a mainstream microbiologist).  Dusty may be the life of the party, but he is capable of the most sobering drop-in tour de force. Check out (below) Stu Johnson and also p. xxxv of my book Embryos, Galaxies, and Sentient Beings. Very little slips by him, and he’s great to be with.

Stu Johnson: I can’t name the whole Class of 1966 at Amherst, though I feel a bond with the group as such and its individuals, a bond that grows over the years.  At different reunions I end up throwing in with different new friends: Dave Culverwell, Stu, James Dittmar, Bruce Leopold, Al Leisinger, Paul Dimond, et al. I have made more of a connection with each of them now than when we were students at Amherst.   I see Stu only at our class reunions every five or ten years, and we would have avoided each other as undergraduates too—but we have a mysterious bond and share an unconscious wavelength of shadow selves.  Or maybe it is that mystical connection for both of us with everyone in the class, no matter how removed from extant interests and lifestyle—he is my stand-in here for that.  BTW Stu is a Defense Department military analyst, proof enough that college years do make bonds that last the whole life through.  Or as Dusty toasted the last living member at the 25th Reunion, “Don’t be scared, buddy.  We’re all with you!”

Wendell Seavey: Since we met on the wharf in Bernard, Maine, in 1969 we have powerfully shaped each other’s lives. He is the legendary mate you’d want next to you in battle or on a boat in the turbulent North Atlantic. A lifetime fisherman and laborer, he is the bloke who summoned Lindy and me back to Maine in 1996. His deep embodiment in a spiritualist and psychic context and as a working-class warrior at the same time helps make the world safe for its inhabitants through all its spheres, those common men and women who are turning the Great Ship around.

Mark Ouimet: We almost lost our friendship when he quit our publishing company for the corporate world after committing to us long-term, but he is a friend again—buoyant, funny, restless, touching, evasive, a bit of a con artist, but he can’t help that. Possessed of a signature energy and pure intelligence, he is a charmer, a force of nature, and the consummate salesman. A “Jerry MacDonald” type, he has evident depth and caring and, though you might at times wonder who the real Mark is, you never question that, when and if you found that guy, his charisma and charm would be grounded in a honest heart.  (The time that my stepmother Bunny came to a Publishers Group West party in New York before a BEA, Mark was alert enough to call her “the most elegant woman in the room.”  Which reminds me: he notices and tracks who we all are (salesman!), and it actually delights him.

Michael Wagner: It’s mostly nonverbal, as he’s my bodywork teacher and craniosacral therapist. Once upon a time we studied together; now I’m his client. He knows me by touch; I know him by touch; and we both learn each other’s subtle energy and pass sacred advice that way. I have watched him transmute himself from a hardass sniper into a gentle angelic shaman. During my treatments he likes to hand me a short mantra to meditate on. The most recent one was: “You made it!”  He is a true spirit guide and a friend at the same time.

Frank Lowen: Frank’s a bodyworker too, and we see each other rarely, but I enjoy his sheer presence, his hip physics-and-consciousness rap. He’s sweet, he’s innocent to a fault, and he’s committed to service and teaching—fun to be with and always apt with a universe-cutting insight or gesture. I think in a past life he was a saint who chose to be reborn as a healer and innovator, a gate-keeper of the inner organs.  He sometimes seems too wide-eyed and trusting to exist in this world, especially in such a sophisticated role, but the gods must have seen fit to let him through.  He’s the one who pointed out to me once that there are people who have mastered the art of being able to change anything in the universe but, guess what?  No one who acquires that skill ever uses it.

John Hunt: A former motocross racer and pro bowler, he is a curious guy who seeks intimacy openly and yet always seems to be working on disaster in one form or another—which makes him accessible.  He is an authentic nut and eccentric, as he views life with a kind of cynical detachment and spiritual fever at the same time.  I met John originally as a publisher of spiritual audios, and we collaborated in various ways throughout his whole career, none more quirky than getting Johnny Cash to read Kahlil Gibran for a CD.  John is also one of those humans who preferred cats to children to the degree that he cultivated a shockingly large menagerie and knew every one by habit and personality.

David Ulansey: All I have to do to find him these days is to stop at Café Gratitude on one of my walks to or from work. He sits there on the stuffed couch and chairs with his computer and cell, charming a new coterie of young ladies. He is cosmic rage contained in humility and shame. Querulous, apocalyptic, and recreationally depressed, David is the friend who is on the side of the angels, though in a way that makes the angels ever weep.  He adopts the most maddening positions on crucial topics but then is almost always on the point of tears—the depth of his rage in crisis with the depth of his empathy and the profundity of his cosmic intimation.  David was one of the first subscribers to Io in the early seventies, and that’s how I know him.

Michael Palmer: Whenever we got together (back in the day—it used to be every few months, now it is totally dormant)—we had wide-ranging, intellectual, artistic conversations for an hour or two.  An eavesdropper at a nearby table in a San Francisco café once thanked us for a “rare intelligent dialogue” as we rose to leave.  It was a warm, unpretentious post-graduate discussion of the universe, from poetics to politics to community narrative, as I always felt myself trying to rise to Michael’s high aesthetics, discrete, philosophy, and Eurocentric views.  We share tangled roots in midtown Manhattan, and we played some ball together on Berkeley fields; we took in a bunch of games at Candlestick in the same eighties.  But Michael’s a recluse, a man of carefully measured words and tones, sort of an elitist.  I am maybe too kitsch, even corny, for his taste, so we don’t get together anymore, though we live around the same Bay.  Yet over a lifetime he is a really great friend, particularly in the sense that different lives parallel and support each other silently.  It’s good to know he’s still there, and I hope he feels the same about me.

David Wilk: He was just a kid when we met, but then so was I, except that I had already started a family and he was still an undergraduate at Yale.  He became a surrogate younger brother.  Those six years of difference mean nothing now, and he has raised his own family of kids.  We shared a vintage gestalt of poetry, publishing, anthropology, counterculture, used cars, pop culture, New York sports teams, and Jewish family connections from the prior generation.  We named him (ex post facto) our son’s godfather because he and Robin got along so well among leggos and matchbox vehicles and highways (1971: Lindy and I were 26, David was 20, Robin was 2).  David and I interviewed Gary Snyder together for Io/12 (BTW David’s own magazine then was called Truck).  He and I then walked the hills of Plainfield, Vermont, in October, 1973, trying to dial in the Mets faintly so as to hear if they won the division in a rainout-rescheduled game against the Cubs the day after the season ended.  We were present in the car (Lindy and Ed Dorn too) when Robert Creeley went bonkers and pretended to try to cause an accident while I was driving.  Then we were out of touch for most of thirty years.  He showed up in 2005 at my brother Jon’s memorial service and helped me with the Tibetan Book of the Dead and scattering the ashes, following Jon’s suicide in Westport, Connecticut, near where David lives.  We may have taken different paths, but the basic landscape didn’t change.

Michael Brownstein: We could have met in 1965 or 1975 or 1985, and I don’t know why we didn’t—it took till 2005.  In the meantime our lives shadowed each other’s through New York intellectual, political, and artistic milieus.  We always knew of each other’s existences, though by mild caricature rather than as people.  We finally connected through our parallel spiritual, mystical, and ontological quests.  We share a subtle, almost Proustian metaphysical nostalgia and the faint coloring of a past-life connection, which is probably this life (too), telegraphed psychically back and forth, despite our almost opposite paths through the same territories.  Michael is pretty tough in an old SDS/St. Marks/ayahuasca-initiate poetry sense, and I am, by comparison, innocent and sheltered.  We share an outrage/rage about the way in which the world is fucked up, but Michael’s is a more realized and functional anger.  We have drifted apart recently because I am super-psychological in my analysis of personal conflicts, and he is super-Buddhist in trying to detach and make them go away.  Problems arose, and our different approaches didn’t exactly make us closer afterward.  We all get diaphanous as we age in such different ways.

Gordon Dale: Occasionally one meets a person with whom, despite all their cultural and historical differences, they gracefully pick up a subtle dialogue as though they had been talking all along.  This émigré from Winnipeg who lives just over the hill from me outside Berkeley ended up in Northern California by a series of accidents, the main one being marital.  His gentle but droll banter evokes other lands and other times, as he approaches the world with a uniquely odd-angled wonder and a callow drop of satire.  He is selling nothing, which may seem de rigeur but is not these days.  To find someone who is simply there, not selling at all, is a gift.

Miha Mazzini: Part wild-man, part philosopher, part raconteur, Miha brings an Old World Balkan charm and emotional precision to his interactions.  Generosity of spirit arises in him naturally and, though he is not a naïve man (in fact we Americans are the naïve ones), he maintains a refreshingly stubborn innocence and enters into personal matters with a demanding purity.  He keeps his eye on the ball and the ball in play.  Occasionally he teases or challenges me, calls me on stuff I customarily ride roughshod over, in part because he is coming from a different culture, a more nuanced, more serious etiquette.  He is continually sincere and enthusiastic and very funny and smart.  Plus, for a wild-man, he is gentle and kind.  I try to remember that, in our interactions he is always speaking my language; I don’t get to know him in his home voice (Slovenian).  [See my 2006 Europe Travel Journal for adventures with Miha in and around Ljubljana.]

Cecil Brown: I have to catch Cecil at the 120-miles-per-hour clip at which he’s generally moving, and then I have to match his energy.  He’s always brainstorming, inventing, stirring up, synergizing, breathing creative energy over a new or refurbished insight or mission.  Or, if he’s down, I need to find a way commiserate without making matters worse or becoming his gloom’s target.  He’s an artist, an original hiphop innovator; he’s also an old-fashioned intellectual who got a late start in the old South: North Carolina plantation lineage.  He’s an absolute genius at the nuances of, for lack of a better trope, black-white relations, so I am made more conscious always, in a good way, of my intrinsic racism and have to witness myself at it without self-conscious witnessing because it’s usually the “self-conscious” part that’s the problem.  Cecil’s the one who invented “nigger” as a positive self-identifier (and I helped republish his sixties novel The Life and Loves of Mr. Jiveass Nigger).  He’s also a man of the hour—it’s good to have a friend who reads and participates in these troubled times with a deep compass.

Andrew Harvey: Being friends with Andrew is like being friends with a galaxy or befriending another dimension on Facebook.  Everything spews out from Andrew elegantly and eloquently, bursting with divine passion and neurotic, visionary enthusiasm, while he is always trying to express love in its elemental form: innate Buddha being.  It’s a roller-coaster; it’s redemption and celebration, as Andrew supplies huge amounts of energy.  He is the kind of angel who provides spiritual food to live on, especially in such dark, mysterious times.  He puts his heart on the pulse of the universe, and he works to cultivate the compassion and training to transmit and transfer it, in daily discourse and in tonglen practice.  He gives me the equivalent of a contact high—a contact epiphany—along with a contact terror of this insane world in which we are both alive.  We feuded in the late nineties but then did a truth and reconciliation excercise to reclaim our friendship and banter.  Fasten your seat belts, as the dumb mantra goes, when you make touch with Andrew; he is a street lama and romantic pilgrim.

Harvey Bialy: Our connection exists only at the deepest and most serious level.  At every other level we tend to get on each other’s nerves and end up spatting or feuding (see the Mexico trip on this website).  Over forty-five years of knowing each other well, we have spent very little time in actual contact or communication, by choice.  Yet we are innately linked.  Harvey provides karmic friendship, whatever that means.  To me it means severity; blind, even reckless bravado in the face of a magical, often-antipathetic cosmos; unflinching transparency; but (also) neurotic acting out, to the fullest and always.  We meet at that particular bend at which each person is an asshole (to the other), but we are in the rough together, and the whole sober stage and setting is invisible to just about everyone else.  By now it is literally a discourse on the super-highway of life and death.  Harvey is a fixed point; it won’t change; it has to be there; it won’t go away.  Friendship is that too.

Samuel Bartos: Sam Lipskin at Amherst, this Muktananda-devoted pianist and back-and-forth changeling, both insider exhibitionist artist and outsider hadji in exile, has always been in my life; he is like the Sam who accompanied Frodo, only in our case through the perils of American culture. Now, in his sixties like, he has gone back to school to become a progressive lawyer. I get frustrated with Sam for long periods, but his loyalty to what we shared so long ago is irreplaceable.  I love the fact that he is enthusiastic about the law, but it also brings out the blowhard and bully in him in a way that the piano and Hinduism didn’t.  Those were always his mute grace.

Ed Mondazzi: The old values with this guy: loyalty, generosity, heart of gold, soul, shirt off his back. How about, “Why should you rent a car? I’ll drive you (three hours to New York), I’m not doing anything much right now.” Inventive to the point of ingenious, hilarious in the process, Ed is first-generation Connecticut Italian. You can read more about him in Chapter Fifteen of the publishing history on this website. Hanging out with Ed and Sonya in Windsor is a high point of our life.

Paul Auster: We were friends at a remove in Berkeley during the mid-seventies, before Paul became a noted novelist, back when he was a translator and poet, married to his first wife. We played some ball together, talked sports and stayed in touch for a few years. I visited him in the Hudson Valley during transitional years for both of us. Eventually we moved to Berkeley, and he ended up in Brooklyn. Then we dropped out of touch until I began reading his fiction, really liked it, and renewed our connection after a lapse of some ten or so years. The real friendship has arisen another twenty years later, in our sixties,, as we have the same sports deconstruction, intellectual curiosity, and sense of irony and wonder, though otherwise, our interests and orientations could be more different. At least one annual dinner with Paul and Siri has become essential for feeling in touch with not only the life of the mind but the reckless and hopeful spirit behind all art and knowledge.

Recently Deceased

 

Roy “Skip” Rappaport: Mentor, apologist, and confidante, he saw Lindy and me through children, academic and marital crises, and our major life milestones. A sometimes cranky ally, he modeled adult behavior, intellectual integrity, and emotional vulnerability. An honest broker, my thesis advisor in the Michigan anthro department, Skip never bought my alchemy, shamanic Dreamtime, the Face on Mars, or Buddhist epistemology, but he was always in there, fighting it out, providing aid, generosity, and commitment. He was the honorary father who sponsored my male-clan membership and the first to demand mainstream excellence from me in a way I could respect and understand.

Bob Bagwell: He was my best friend in Vermont and always provided a heart-felt greeting, an amiably combative dialogue, and concern for me and my family.

Richard Handel: He was the embodiment of generosity and goofy wisdom, and he made the community on Mount Desert.

Old Friends with Whom I Have Reconnected Recently

 

Virginia Stangeland: We dated for a couple of months during sophomore year of college (1964), talked poetry, friendship, and life as deeply as we knew how to then. As I found out upon reconnecting more than forty years later, she went on to the Peace Corps, boatbuilding, Rajneesh, Tibetan Buddhism, and the Diamond Heart way, a path of service and suffering that confirmed why I found her interesting in the first place, in the months just past adolescence, in chrysalis. Her actual destiny was in no way foreshadowed exoterically by a pretty Smith co-ed from Milwaukee.

Eileen Shukofsky: We hung out together in Chicago in the mid-seventies when I was in town to read at the Poetry Festival. Our link was about outsider art, improv, and unlived lives then. I could not have foreseen that she would become a theologian and Catholic pastor in Brooklyn.

(Thanks for both of these reconnects to AnonymusPi, the freelance Internet sleuth who finds the unfindable as as well as those who are looking for the unfindable—and her only charge is to pay the favor forward to someone else.)

Jeff Tripp: He was the wild man of Phi Psi when I met him in 1963 in college; he breathed radical art and politics: Waiting for Godot (he produced Beckett’s play and starred in it as Pozzo, took it off-Broadway during the summer), Stan Brakhage (Jeff brought him to Amherst to stay at Phi Psi and show his experimental films), Bob Dylan (in fact, I had not heard Dylan’s songs before Tripp began playing them so often improvisationally on his guitar that I assumed he was writing them). The wild man dropped out of college to act, homestead, and romance in the Amherst area and then he disappeared. I thought that he had gone somewhere into the catacombs of the underground, but when I found him forty years later, he was a retired music-business mogul, Right-of-center civic leader, basketball coach, and as much a judgmental moralist as any delegate to a Republican convention. Jeff was always a consummate actor—he could play the hippie and he could play the patrician thug, each for decades, and with equal skill.  See him throughout the Amherst section of my book New Moon.

Pat and Sue Biggam: Lindy and I shared a Lamaze class with them in Vermont as both of our daughters were born in the mid-seventies, and now we visit on the other side of our lives as the parents of grown children: they still in Vermont, we from that other coast.

Norman Bloom: Vermont’s Beaver Pond Meditation film-maker, Norman was a bear of a guy from mystical Jewish New York whom I hung out with during the seventies and stayed in touch with for a while afterward. He resurfaced outside Middlebury in 2005, a bit mournful and hangdog (and maybe bitter) but otherwise unharmed by the loss of our countercultural era.

Andy Shapiro and Carolyn Smithson: They were my first t’ai-chi instructors in Vermont in 1974, but they were much more than that. Time with these guys was a delightful free form and ceaseless improvisational push-hands, on any hillside or among the furniture and wood-stoves of crowded cabins. They were always getting off on the hard stuff, as they liked to put it. They left Vermont for parts unknown, purportedly Rhode Island, but I found them back in the Montpelier area with a grown daughter, just like that, in 2006.  She wasn’t born and they weren’t married or formally together at the previous meeting a few decades before.

John Brady: A fellow writer, he was a bellhop when I was the mail clerk at my father’s hotel in 1963. Not long ago Lindy and I burned the midnight oil with him at his home in Newburyport, Mass. He was always the consummate journalistic pro, Sinatra fan, Grossinger’s Hotel story-teller. Lindy enjoys the late wines and chats with him more than I do these days, in fact more than I ever did.

Charles Rasmussen: Living the full life on Mount Desert with all its challenges, and the challenges of aging, being an artist, trying to live honest days, he mirrors experience and personal being well, and thus is a good companion.

Brian Swimme: I don’t know Brian that well, but the combination of intelligence, empathy, and pure joy in sharing the Green Dragon universe makes him ineluctable.

Debby Towers: My half-sister and I had little to do with each other for fifty years, and we have little except our natal family in common, but I am moved by her life and find it comforting that her voice is still there, given that, when I left NYC for college in 1962, that pretty much ended our connection. I call her a few times a week and hear about the scene at Lexington Candy where she has been a waitress for decades.

Lost Friends

 

Carson Eoyang: A fellow traveler in the seventh grade on the subway to Horace Mann, he dropped out for financial reasons and went to Bronx High School of Science. No contact since.

Jeffrey Schneider: Same story, I think.

Nelson Richardson: He started Io with Lindy and me at Amherst in 1964 and continued as editor-at-large and friend for a while. He introduced us to surrealism, pop art, minimalism, angels, and Christian mysticism. I think he went into advertising in New York; if true, a strange outcome for a former monk with Thomas Merton at Gethsemani.

Gary Monheit: He was a waiter when I was the mail clerk (1963). I last saw him playing guitar at a club in Cripple Creek, Colorado (1965).  I found someone probably him online as a surgeon in Alabama, but he didn’t respond to any queries.

Greg Dropkin: He was a good enough friend during college to drive with Lindy and me to our wedding in 1966, but this son of NASA scientists, genius musician, mathematician, and fierce nerd left the country over the Vietnam-era draft and disappeared. I understand that he has been in Liverpool for decades and that radical politics and the street won out over topology, Navaho symbolism, and the contemplative life.

Mitchell Miller: He was Lindy’s and my closest friend during the summer we lived in Aspen (1965), and he remained our best friend for another three years. We visited him in Yellow Springs where the three of us walked and talked on the railroad tracks, of which I still have an 8 mm. film, him a tall curly-haired, bespectacled icon of the Dylan/McLuhan era (in fact, he introduced us to The Gutenberg Galaxy). We drove him and his girlfriend Joanna Uribe to Colorado in 1967 and later that summer shared Lindy’s family cabin in Central City with them for a week. They both vanished into underground SDS politics in the late sixties, though I caught a brief glimpse of each of them separately and separate of each other as entirely different people years later. The Mitchell and Joanna that we knew were entirely gone.

Welton Smith: We played metaphysical games and goofed and teased across aesthetic lines during a long-ago sixties summer and then continued to exchange poems and observations for a few years afterward.  He is one of the secret lynchpins of early Io.  He was a tragic, comic figure back then and a romantic, mysterious trickster.  I don’t remember how or when we lost touch.  One rarely does: a missed address change, the movements into different lives….  I finally discovered that he died in 2006. In 1972, seven years after I last saw him, he told an interviewer: “If you don’t know all of yourself, you don’t have the capacity to love, only the capability of being in love. Anybody is capable. But capacity indicates a wholeness. The verb, the action, takes place in you because you have the capacity. That’s why bloods and whites could never share that verb in Western civilization. You have to be whole to love—and you can’t love whites. To try to love them undercuts your wholeness as a blood.”

Roy Whang (or Wong or Wang): A Korean guy, fellow graduate student in Ann Arbor in 1966, he wanted to do fieldwork in North Korea but dropped out of the program and disappeared. (Roy, having become a private detective, searched himself online, found this post, discovered himself a missing person, and called, got Lindy. When Lindy said it was Roy Whang she was talking to on the phone (I couldn’t tell, from her end of the conversation), I didn’t believe her. I thought she was joking. When she handed over the phone, he never introduced himself to me, and he said nothing to confirm who he was, to prove this wasn’t an Internet scam, so I was apprehensive meeting him. But Roy it was. It took us over an hour to remember each other and what made us friends to begin with, almost fifty years later, across a lifetime. Heart energy is sometimes as indisputable and indelible as it is elusive.)

Abdisalam Y. Mohammed: He was a Sufi student from Somalia in my Ibn Arabi Sufi course at Goddard in 1973. Who knows where the dark Somalian winds blew him?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Ed December 2, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Enjoyed your writing about Grossinger’s Hotel. I worked there in the mid seventies as a night auditor. It was a great experience living and working there. I especially recall with gratitude how well employees were treated. I felt like a guest. I lived on the top floor of Milton Berle Building. Employee dining room had great food and even waiters. I went on from there to manage and now own my own hotel. Your family business taught me how to treat employees. It was a great lesson that I went on to learn is rarely copied. I would love to visit Grossinger’s one day. Great memories indeed.

Polly Hough November 22, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Thanks to Richard and responders for an interesting dialogue, some of which seems helpful, but too much seeking to blame Hillary for losing, when she fought as hard as she could to continue what she could of Obama’s Legacy, which has benefited many, though not enough. Thanks also to Congress! I do wonder about her handlers and advisors’ thinking. Trump’s smoke screen of scandalous comments has obscured our view, and perhaps obscured the complexity of the problems. Hillary has apologized for her errors, and had the right to her point of view. I do wish that she had embraced more heartily Sanders’ populist approach and even chosen him to be her Vice Presidential contender, but I think they still might have lost. She had a workable platform, he had charisma and slogans. With work, they could have unified their vision. But neither addressed the “rigging” that I see Republicans do every day here in Utah. Is it so common that we don’t see it?
I suspect the truth of why the Democrats lost lies in the systematic cheating that the Republicans set up long ago, which was not sufficiently revealed and decried. It is time to read Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman’s,” The Flip & Strip Death of American Democracy…”, (www.freepress.org/www.solartopia.org). and look into the rigging in each state, particularly those key ones that lost her the election. She didn’t lose by that much if you face up to the weak democratic institutions we have going, and the way it allows the Electoral College system to malfunction without corrective. Let’s quit grieving and get to work fixing the damn thing. Too much is at stake. Trump’s finger should not be on the Nuclear button.

Linda November 18, 2016 at 3:15 pm

I just finished Ron Sieh’s book and would love to take lessons from him. Can you tell me where is and if he’s teaching?

Peter Beren September 11, 2016 at 1:55 pm

I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing. Peter

Vegeko December 2, 2015 at 12:05 pm

You can find pictures of here. Should I aemttpt to preface the city of a hundred spires, its lovely architecture cannot be forgotten. Search in your memory for a name of any style you can think of. Prague will almost certainly have some landmark to offer – be it from hundreds of years ago such as Romanesque rotunda or from numerous eras spanning centuries. The latter can be represented by the picturesque Prague Castle with its truly magnificent St Vitus’s Cathedral or the tiny (and that is probably one of the reasons why) fairy-tale like Golden Lane. The same applies to architectonic landmarks “remembering” merely several decades such as the precious Cubist pearls scattered here and there in Prague’s winding streets, buildings, , theaters, museums.

Richard Grossinger August 16, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Thanks for the comment. It was meant to serve a healing function itself, as there is not really a general cure for optical migraines. But no, I don’t have a lot of specific or topic-oriented feedback. Most of it is on the same level of yours: general usefulness of the book. As probably goes without saying (from my quotes and bibliography), I consider Oliver Sacks’ book Migraine very useful, but the best one is a book that our press published for which Sacks wrote the preface: Migraine Art. It is more than a picture book; it goes into great detail on the categories of auras and their effects. Richard

Jackie Perkins August 16, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Hi Richard,
I read your book about migraine auras several years ago and have reread it several
times. Thank you so much for writing it as it helps me when I have a bout of
auras with very little headache. I was wondering if you have had a lot feedback
from fellow sufferers and if you have learned anything more about them since
the book was written. Can you refer me to any other sources to help me make
peace or get rid to them completely.
Any comments will be appreciated,\.
Jackie

Jacqueline phillips December 29, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Thanks for sharing. Raised in the village of Liberty. Worked the switchboard at the G as a teenager. Went to school with Sandy. Sad it did not continue.

david hovey August 27, 2014 at 9:40 am

my mother and aunt were bauer sisters..founder of lpga golf association..i spent many summers up there..great..miss it

Richard Grossinger May 22, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Dear Jim, Thanks for writing. You were really there at the core of my time, a rare thing. I don’t specifically remember you, though. Let me know if you want the two books, New Moon and/or Out of Babylon, as I can send them for just the cost of the postage. Richard

jim blankenship May 22, 2014 at 8:46 pm

I enjoyed reading about your family and experience at Grossingers. I worked there, along with Teddy Howard, as the house photographer from 1958-1961. It was quite an experience meeting and photographing many of the celebrities and sports figures. I had been on the staff at NY Daily news in the city prior to this so I enjoyed the life in Liberty and Sullivan Co. My wife and I live in Atlanta now. We were married in Liberty in 1960……. Jim Blankenship AP Photographer,retired

Richard Grossinger January 6, 2014 at 11:10 am

Thanks, Kris. I have send the review around to our staff, and there is even some tentative thought about including it as a foreword to one of the two 50th-anniversary Io anthologies that we are releasing next year (2015). If we were to pursue that, would you like to rewrite it or perhaps punctuate it more conventionally (close open parentheses, etc.)?
I’d be curious to know your actual critique of my political statements. You don’t actually say, taking it for granted that it is obvious, though part of your point is that it isn’t obvious to me, and it isn’t. I can guess, but I could easily be wrong. For instance, it isn’t actually clear that you are not the Australian (or other) offended equivalent of a Conservative Republican.
Although I do pose those arguments seriously, they are also at the level of myth, and I speak to that occasionally. I have no special insight into political matters, but I do throw myself into the mythology for what it expresses. I think that one can be literally “wrong” and still mythologically accurate. For instance, in the case of Obama, he is not literally who I have portrayed him as, but the myth is still authentic. In that regard, you might note my Facebook post on him recently, also on this website.
Also ironically enough in this regard, enough people are ONLY reading the political parts of my writing, enough so that Andrew Harvey has urged me to collect them in their own book as part of his Spiritual Activism imprint. This doesn’t make me any less off-base any more than that that refutation is obvious.
No complain here. I’m just interested to know what you are actually saying. I have spent most of my life in America, whether in compliance or reaction.
The whole “Ken Wilber” thing is an interesting story of its own, far too labyrinthine to tell. The very short version of it is that a writer friend in Maine with whom I occasionally hiked and whose work I supported and helped get published suddenly went ballistic against me and not only made those comments about me and Wilber, which I paraphrased, but wrote such, strong threatening emails that friends I showed them to urged me to take them to the police. They were what mafia might write.
The thing that set him off was that after a hike I naively wrote a piece (like many of the other pieces in 2013 and Bardo of Waking Life) about the events on the hike and our dialogue and then sent it to him (from NYC en route back to California) with the idea that he and I might collaborate on a piece about our experiences that day. Making him a character in my piece, even though it was informal and unpublished and I was offering him an edit and a collaboration, had the effect of triggering a response so extreme that I didn’t actually believe he was serious at first. I apologized profusely, trashed the piece, and yet the emails kept coming, up to the “mafia” level. What made this all the more inexplicable was the fact that prior to my transgression in writing the piece, he had been a good friend, and I had been pretty much his main supporter in the larger world, finding him a venue in which to publish.
Now that’s the shell of the story, and the piece you comment on came out of that, is my displaced response to it. I didn’t want to repeat the original error by being any more specific and singling him out in any way. The underlying issues are probably of a whole different order.
Since then, we have mellowed out, though are no longer friends and don’t hike together anymore. Meanwhile I have had a lot of indirect contact with Wilber in the sense that two of his main students who live in the Bay Area have read Dark Pool of Light and consider it relevant to the Wilber tradition and thus have spent time with me, talking. So right after I declared myself completely separate from all that, I got brought back into it in more benign and pleasant terms.
I hope that you take a look at Dark Pool, as what I began in 2013 is brought to its culmination in there. Really what my work is about, and what I make my stand on, is not the political ideology or even the literary voice so much, but the cosmic vision, and then putting it into viable literary form. I will post this on Facebook too. Richard

Kris Hemensley January 6, 2014 at 12:47 am

I’m amazed & humbled at yr reprinting of my review… Thank you. Looking forward to reading you anew in 2014! Cheers, Kris Hemensley

Richard Grossinger September 16, 2013 at 4:21 am

They have not been updated, but I have started work on a fourth volume posted on this website. Also the fourth volume is really now the “fifth”
volume because I have rewritten The Night Sky as a de facto fourth volume. It will be out next spring. See the home page of this site for a table of contents. Also I will continue to post interviews with me about the books, audio, video, and text. Thanks for reading them and for inquiring.

Jim Weddington September 16, 2013 at 3:31 am

I have all three volumes of “Dark Pools of Light” in nook book format. I recently heard that this trilogy has been up dated. If so I would like to recieve the update in the nook format. If this is possible.

I have been having some problems with emails. So if you can’t reach
me by email try.

Jim Weddington
105 LaGrange St.
Newnan, GA 30263

Thanks,

Jim Weddington

105 LaGrange St.

Richard Grossinger July 20, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Dolores, thanks for the touching thoughts. Time does move remarkably fast, especially because it never stops, even for an instant. But it may not be linear, so those times are still alive somewhere in the universe, as you will be.

Dolores Levine Seiler July 20, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Dear Richard, I enjoyed reading your piece. For me it was nostalgia and sadness, not only for Grossinger’s but for my life which is also nearing its end. My father was Lazarus Levine, and my husband, Seymour Seiler, married me at the hotel in 1953. He was an architect and worked with Harry. My son, now 56, had his Bar Mitzvah celebration at Grossinger’s. My daughter learned how to ice skate and ski at the hotel. I am sorry that my grandchildren could not particpate in the “Jewish” celebrations that were so wonderful there.

Richard Grossinger May 21, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Well said. Thanks for the comments.

Carol Malloch May 21, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Hello Richard,
I enjoyed reading your article. I moved to the town. of Liberty NY. in the early 70’s .
I grew up on the West coast up to that point. Liberty was culture shock . For your family to build a world class resort was a testament to their abilities . Your aunt Elaine. was a respected member of the community . She was head of the school board
in Liberty . She handled out the diplomas at the high school graduations every year.
When your grandmother died, the town lined the main st of town for her procession.
Grossinger’s was the castle on the hill and the jewel of the catskill resort.industry . Your cousins Michell and Mark went on in the hotel industry to make their mark . The problem was the weak economy and decline of the whole hotel industry that ruined Grossinger’s . Your father and Aunt Elaine did what they could do to keep people employed . Despite how your parents turned out, they are still your family and you are apart of them . Grossinger’s will be always known for it’s great hospitality . It’s just a shame how she ended up. The Catskill Mountains just reached up and took back what was their’s .

Richard Grossinger May 17, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I have no knowledge at all. The property was sold almost 30 years ago and has been re-sold many times since then.

Monique DeCicco-Jones May 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm

I am a Family Nurse Practitioner with a few ideas on the restoration of this facility via Health Care grants. Who actually owns this property and what is their contact information? My phone number is (845)292-9114. I am a resident of Liberty and often don’t read my email because I am extremely busy pursuing a PhD in nursing so please feel free to phone.

Monique DeCicco-Jones May 17, 2013 at 8:18 pm

I am a Family Nurse Practitioner with a few ideas on the restoration of this facility via Health Care grants. Who actually owns this property and what is their contact information? My phone number is (845)292-9114. I am a resident of Liberty and often don’t read my email because I am extremely busy pursuing a PhD in nursing so please feel free to phone. I pass the facility everyday and have great visions for it!

Richard Grossinger May 10, 2013 at 8:52 pm

I am moved by your bringing back the past, and it rings true about my grandmother whom, I always felt, had a dignity and grandeur beyond her public image, and also a kindness and generosity, though she also had her own hauteur and corruptness. The generation that followed just didn’t get it, not that it would have changed anything in the end. I’m not sure that “Peter” isn’t a wrong memory. It’s more likely Michael or James, my adopted half-brothers. Also possibly Jerry or Freddie. No “Peter Grossinger” in that era.

Ron Erich May 10, 2013 at 7:35 pm

So glad and sad to come upon your story. I , and my sister, worked at Grossinger’s for two summers as a waiters, earning money for college. I think it was 1965, 1966. Jennie G. offered us the jobs when she was in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and my father was her Physical Therapist. I remember the two great fun summers there. I did hang out a little with Peter Grossinger one summer and it was always a thrill went Jennie would come into the dining room and give me a hug. It made me feel important and kept the maitre d’s off my back for a few hours, at least.
So sad to see the pictures of the property in its state of abandonment. I saw that the Concord is gone also. Here in southern California one seldom sees beautiful properties going back to nature.
Thanks for your story and bringing back memories that I had almost forgotten.

Shirley March 31, 2013 at 7:23 pm

My father worked as a waiter there during the 70s. Sometimes he would take us there and I would remember swimming, skiing, or just roaming around the hotel with my sister and friend. We loved going there and my father still talks about his wonderful years there. When the hotel was closing down my father salvaged a few things, including a painted porcelain plate I believe that was hung in the dining room. I want to return these items to the family. Let me know if you would like for me to send you a photo.

Richard Grossinger February 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Last I knew, he was teaching at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco in the Somatics Program.

William McKeen February 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Quantum

The double slit experiment prove that with observation you can improve the probability of making a certain thing happen. The negative aspect of this is if focus on the particle you lose sight of the momentum. Focus on the momentum, you lose sight of the particle. Another example, focus on the tree you lose sight of the forest. Focus on the forest you lose sight of the tree. Even better one, focus on God you lose sight of reality. Focus on reality you lose sight of God.

The extreme differential of the last example can be explored in the writings of both Schopenhauer and Swedenborg.

MN February 16, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Hello Richard, I used to know Ian Grand a long time ago in Berkeley. Wondering if you have any idea what’s become of him. Thanks!

Richard Grossinger November 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Great WorK!

Richard Grossinger October 4, 2012 at 9:14 am

Thanks for the nice note. I think that the warts ARE history, always. Nothing exists as an idea(l) or in a vacuum or as its mere prototype.

Wes Gray October 4, 2012 at 8:54 am

Dear Richard,

You are an extremely talented writer. A wonderful story indeed. As the internet goes, you end up stumbling upon things you never knew. I learned a great deal about a piece of American history, warts and all. Your grandmother’s legacy is secure for eternity.

ann September 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Regarding, Dark Pool of Light, Volume Two: Consciousness in Psychospiritual and Psychic … By Richard Grossinger, I would like a preview copy. I grew up with Kimmie Ross and we just today discussed Ontology, and her future with that concept. So it was quite a surprise to read your bit on her. Though a sceptic, your writing style keeps me reading….and your education…my grandfather went to Amherst and my mother went to Smith then Univ. of Michigan to join my father (a fourth generation U. of Mich grad). You seem to have fun with your life and family so that is why I am requesting the preview, which you offered.
Thanks, Ann

Barbara Sparhawk September 3, 2012 at 8:39 am

Hello Mr Grossinger. Found you googling Goddard and there were so many cross references historically between us I feel compelled to halloo.
Goddard student in ’62, classmates Charlie Ponce, Eric Saarinen, Peter Pilafian…acted in Charlie’s moody plays, there were many and he was stark drama, the only one I remember the title of is The Cistern, me posed reciting in spotlight over faux hole center stage. I attended Riverside’s Encampment for Citizenship summer prior to Goddard, Ethical Culture Society but as a child, and took Tai Chi in the ’60’s with Professor Cheng M’an Ching on West Broadway. Lived in Chinatown, Brooklyn, bits of the states and world; only female billboard painter; still write and still paint; gallery in Big Sur 3 years, now Carmel Valley.
Interesting to find you and read your history. Goddard produced activists, something that never entirely left the molecules electrified there.

Paul D. Mendelsohn August 24, 2012 at 6:44 am

Hi Richard:

I loved your piece. We must have run in parallel universes. My dad had the jewelery concession at G’s in the 50’s and early 60’s, so I spent a lot of weekends up there as a kid and have great memories. My dad was a good friend of PG’s, Jenny and Elaine and he mentioned the other day that he still runs into Elaine down in Boca. The ruins remind me of looking at the wreck of the titanic, which I also had a fascination with as a child. At G’s I had so many great memories of wandering through the lobbies, watching Jenny on “this is your life” in the lobby in 1954 (I was only 7), the ice sculptures, Lew and Simon Sez, skating with Irving, watching them break gound for the “new” indoor pool, the malts in the coffee shop, the great toboggan rides, but mostly I enjoyed watching the people. It was a great time to bond with my dad in a Camelot environment. In the late 60’s I also worked with my brother Hank in the dining room, but G’s was changing and was already not the same. I also got hazed at the one year I spent at Camp Chipinaw. But I did enjoy the horseback riding, fencing and lake area. Athough I did not like having to carry out “rocks” every time we left the lake to clean out the swimming area. I currently live in Charlotte, Vermont and would love to hear from you.

Richard Grossinger August 20, 2012 at 5:25 am

Thanks, Greg. So great to hear from you. You were my room-mate in Phi Psi at the beginning of sophomore year, a crossroads time. And you were my first stop on my flight west in 1965, the seminal summer of my life. That’s no doubt when I “performed” my orange-juice disaster. I can be very dyslexic with half a chance, and certainly back then. I am still grateful you provided that “safe house” when it counted. I’d love to hear more about your journeys. Is there a way to contact you?

John Prentiss (Greg) August 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Hi Rich. While googling “Sam Lipskin,” I stumbled on your “Best Friends” list and am glad I did. In addition to news of Sam, you shared info about other classmates like Jeff Tripp and Greg Dropkin I’d lost track of decades ago.

You remain one of the most talented, delightfully eccentric people it has been my pleasure to meet. (I still remember my father looking on in disbelief as you tried to mash a 2 1/2 inch wide can of frozen orange juice into a jar with a 2 inch top and his saying to me later, “So how come you’re telling me he’s genius? He can’t even make orange juice.”)
Take care.
Warmly,
Greg Prentiss, former screenwriter, bum, and Chief Deputy Prosecutor for Adams County, Washington, now living in the Ozarks with 6 cats

admin April 26, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Thanks, Harlan, I appreciate the comments. Probably the only thing further I’ll do on this is rewrite Out of Babylon for an ebook to come out in 2014.

Harlan Friedman April 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm

I loved this story. My father worked at the G during the 70’s until the parental units decided it was time to take the pilgrimage to Long island and set up shop there. I remember many fun days there. My first “print ad” was a shot they used of me on the playground for a brochure in the late 70’s. Please keep the stories and pictures coming!

admin March 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Thanks, Michael. Are you still around Bar Harbor? Lindy and I plan to be there around July 1 through at least the end of September this year.

michael flahetty March 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Hey Richard! We first met on Mt. Desert Island when we swapped a pizza for Somme of your books(great trade).Hope you and your family are well.Saw your son on t.v. and felt a strange sense of pride considering how little I know you or your family.Hope to see you in Maine!

admin February 25, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I really don’t remember or, more to the point, don’t think I ever knew. The number “$26,000 a day” sticks in my mind from some discussion in the mid-seventies.

Nick Pjevach February 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Richard,
couple of quick questions on Grossinger’s Resort
would you by chance remember any of the operating costs of the resort?
I would be interested to find out what some of the costs are to operate such
a large complex. (just think of the gas bill for those two boilers).
Very sad about Paul losing everything. Grossinger’s $1.8 mm loss in 1985 was
probably (or eventtually) covered by Paul personnally. That kind of loss is hard
for any one person (or family) to cover. (my father also covered losses for a
business and it ruined the last 10 years of his life-he died broke also covering
personally guaranteed debt of a business)
also enoyed your writing above
nick

admin February 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm

It’s from the 1970s, well before PDF days. Ann Arbor Microfilms made a version in the style of the day, and I know that that’s available in Maine libraries, perhaps by interlibrary loan. Some of the material appears in my books Book of Cranberry Islands and The Provinces.

Deborah Confer February 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I’m a research assistant to someone writing a report for the National Park Service on the traditional histories of Otter Cove and Isle au Haut. I would be very interested in reading your dissertation, The strategy and ideology of lobster-fishing
on the back side of Mount Desert Island, Hancock County, Maine. Is it possible to get a PDF version? Thanks so much.

Geoffrey Brown January 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Moving and sad and at the same time delightful. I grew up in Liberty, enjoyed Grossingers mostly from the outside but still able to see the place from my bedroom window. Your aunt Elaine was very kind to me when I was doing some grad school research on migrant manpower in the resort industry. Thank you for writing this.

Magdalena Ball September 9, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Thank you so much for these detailed and richly presented recollections. I’m writing a novel (as you so beautifully put it, “for curios and mementos, for jewels and heirlooms, and for memes of the elusive and illusory American paradise”) partly set at Grossinger’s in the 1940s, when my grandmother worked as a young singer (family mythology was that Jenny chose her from a competition in Central Park and brought her out to the hotel, where she subsequently met her husband, my grandfather, and changed the course of her life). Every piece of information I can find helps me to better reconstruct the setting and also illuminate my own history. Of course I would love to travel back in time and sit in the audience to verify memory, but your notes are almost as good.

David Gitin July 24, 2011 at 9:09 am

Richard, I love your ability to articulate the ‘dilemma’ (even if that articulation, including the capture as ‘dilemma’ is itself part of the issue). Snyder’s discussion of Buddhism and the Coming Revolution decades ago gave hint of this, forerunner perhaps. Andrew’s responses closely echo the talk we heard him give the other night, but good to have them here as part of the conversation. Thanks for pointing me to your website!

jonah mark bekerman June 4, 2011 at 11:16 am

wonderful reading

thankyou

elliot was going to give you a copy of breathing in the infinite

did he?

Anita Wolfenberger March 8, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. In 1964, after marrying (in Puerto Rico) to a Army man, I purchased a cookbook of Jewish cooking put out by your parents hotel. The Introduction is by your father.

I have no idea of the name of the book. The cover long ago gave way to white paper and scotch tape, the pages are missing corners and frayed all around, the book is only partly attached to what is left of it’s spine. In short it is well used.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to tell you this. I just read that the hotel is closed and am sorry to hear that. I believe I was there when I was about five or so, which would be around 1948. I have vague memories of a “talent” show of little kids.

(Mrs) Anita Wolfenberger
New Market, TN

Larry Olsen February 12, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Good Evening:
My brother, nearly 40 years ago, attended a technical competition that was held up at Grossinger’s in Upstate New York. The night before the competition, the hotel had a number of very talented people who put on various skits and songs, including “The Ballad of Irving” and a song about Washington at Valley Forge. One of the few lines that I remember was something about, “If Washington was Jewish, instead of Valley Forge, The Army would have wintered up at Grossinger’s with George!” Is this the same as the song you list on this site?
W/R,
Larry

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