NOW PAY ATTENTION, CLASS
No, my wife said. It's leave the confines of language. She was right, but I thought both applied. It was in keeping with what went on when I talked to her A.P. English class, for they were reading Sometimes A Great Notion by Ken Kesey.
Not that I talked about the book. I asked them if they were ready for a psychedelic experience and when they said yes I passed around eucalyptus leaves and had them all take a whiff, jumpstart the morning with some aromatherapy. Then we went totally non linear, jumping through Kesey's bio, gosh I forgot to tell them about his fake suicide and subsequent hiding out in Mexico when Ramrod and the Three Stooges came down and rescued Hagen from the Guadalajara prison. But I covered the marijuana bust in La Honda that caused Kesey to jump bail and split the country.
It all worked out okay in the end although some may have been confused when, in talking about Cassady, I morphed into his rap, "Going wrong this curve set up for that, unless you've got a flat or a supension change even but what it amounted to I found you could throw into reverse anything under ten miles an hour . . ."
And of course the bell rang, ending round one, but not before I got Kesey out of high school, through college, book writings, working at the nuthouse, the bus trip, making the movie of the bus trip and gasp gasp at the last minute, writing the website address on the -- can't call it a black board or a chalk board anymore, it is white and shiny and you write on it with a sort of sharpie.
They blithely and lithely tripped out of the room and I collapsed back into my normal life as mild mannered capn ken, putting my shirt on and covering my acid test poster T shirt. Psychedelic Man will emerge again another day when needed to rescue the planet from impending doom.
I left singing, "Give me land lotsa land neath the starry skies above, don't fence me in. Let me wonder over yonder . . . ride to the ridge where the west commences . . . don't mind hobbles but I can't stand fences . . . gaze at the moon till I lose my senses, don't fence me in."
-- capn skyp
"I liked the story of your son rolling the eucalyptus log off a cliff onto a car." -Ariana
"I never knew most of Springfield's mills weren't for logging." - Sean
"Thanks for telling us the bust story. My mom liked it but seemed a little weirded out." - Kyle
"The aroma therapy woke me up." - Chris
"I like it when you talked about 'dime' loafers because of inflation." -Caitlin S
"I promise to start taking Spanish and to keep taking art clases so I can communicate in Spanish . . . or with sidewalk chalk." - Erin
"Thanks for the non-linear guidance through several moments in time." -Julian
"My favorite story was about how you threw the drug detective into the bathtub while someone was taking a bath." - Caitlin M
"I loved seeing the dipped VHS cover of the bus movie." - Ashley
SATURDAY, MAY 27, 2006 BACK TO SCHOOL
I spoke at Pleasant Hill High School yesterday, two AP English classes. They have just finished reading One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesy and since Kesey lived in Pleasant Hill and his kids and my kids all went to school there, I was able to fill them in some of the things we did around the local area.
Kesey was always grousing about the cars speeding past the school on Highway 58, plus the trucks, for the road is a major east west route for traffic wanting to go to California on the east side of the Cascades.
Kesey arranged a meeting with the superintendent of the schools and an official from the Oregon Department of Transportation. I went along with Kesey to the meeting, out in front of the school near the highway.
Kesey was argufiying for a speed limit, saying it was too dangerous, something bad was going to happen, and the supe and the official nodded wisely and tried to give him their undivided but I could see they already had their plans and they were being nice just because he was Kesey, local hero and famous author.
"You will be taken by surprise," Kesey was saying, "when you least expect it . . ." And just then a loaded log truck came whipping in off the highway, hung a hard right in front of us and went racing along the bus driveway past the district office and the bus barn and, without pausing, swung left onto Enterprise Road leaving us coughing in the dust.
That ended the meeting. Not long after there were 20 MPH signs in front of the school with a flashing light that came on in the mornings and afternoons when the buses and students were coming and going. You go from 55 to a crawl but it is worth it.
FRIDAY, JUNE 2, 2006 CLASSES UP THE MOLASSES
Tuesday, did two classes at South Eugene High School where my wife teaches. They were reading Kesey's Cuckoo's Nest, so I regaled them with cuckoo tales, one of which Kesey told me never got into the book or the movie. He was working at the nuthouse looking out the window at the big yard and a bell rang and down below a garage door rolled up and out came the patients, each pushing an old style reel lawn mower, and round and round they went willy nilly all over the place, Kesey amazed at the sight, and soon the bell rang, they pushed the mowers back inside, the door clanged shut and now kesey was full of wonderment for every stitch of grass was mowed sweet. Made him appreciate chaos theory.
I also told them about the time Kesey and I crawled through a tunnel to a cave looking out over the Pacific Ocean. It was used by coastal lookouts to keep an eye on World War Two enemies coming in submarines to surface and shell the coast, thereby destroying the artichoke crops and starving the Americans but little did they know at that time we had moved on to avacodos which grew down around Los Angeles. We were still stuck on the A words. While we were sitting watching the ocean we saw the Tsunami from the Alaskan earthquake of 1964 rushing toward us and we scrambled back through the tunnel and made our escape before the water trapped us. Close call.
Thursday morning the South Eugene Advance Placement students came out to Kesey's farm in Pleasant Hill to visit the buses, first was the old bus sitting in the orchard.
Before they arrived, the bus barn had to be cleaned up. When Zane took the bus to Las Vegas for the Acit Test fortieth year anniversay last Halloween, they had to replace the engine before they left. The old engine and the old engine parts have sat leaking oil ever since.
"Seems doable," Zane said, and we piled everything we could lift into his pickup and then used the engine lifter to pick up the old engine and set it on the back of the truck. We took everything to the metal recycling bin at the Rattlesnake dump and in a heaving hefting smooth move toppled the engine into the metal bin with a most resounding crash that could be heard all the way to Dexter.
The students took pictures, they climbed on top, they got inside, they experienced the bus fore and aft, the sound system was on, the music played, they talked over the microphones and dang it if it hadn't been raining we would have gone for a ride, but this was the next best thing.
GO TO SPRINGFIELD HIGH SCHOOL