All Fucked Up
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2002-01-07 21:12:43 (UTC)

The Chief and His Kid

"One flew east, one flew west. One flew over the cuckoo's nest"--
Children's poem. But in the case of The Chief, he flew over the heads
of conventional society

Ken Kesey died a couple of months ago on a Saturday morning. Woke up,
turned on the radio and heard it: "Ken Kesey, novelist of One Flew
Over The Cuckoo's Nest and acid guru, has been oficially pronounced
dead at 61." In the commotion to get myself out of bed to hearken
this news, I fell to the tiled floor, knocking over a vase. "Get back
to bed; it's 5 a.m.!!" dad roared. I jumped back onto the ship
printed covers and raised the volume. That disgusting red-faced Brit
Davie Jones was singing "She's aaaaa day dream believerrrrr and a
home coming queeeen!" No more on Mr. Kesey. I was fuckin' pissed

Early last year around this same time I decided to call Ken, unaware
of where the conversation would go. In a strangely deep up-country
"Uhh.....Mr. Kesey??"
"This is I"
"Hey, uh....I need some help on my homework"
(I myself have no idea where that came from.) The response that I
recieved came as a huge surprise and resculpted my notion of
humanity: "Sure; no problem, kid." Thus, a friendship between man-of-
the-world/kid-of-the-streets ensued. Well, he wasn't wordly in the
sense of being extremely knowledgeable in terms of academics, but
I'll lay it on you straight-- Kesey was aggressive w/words...a true
artist w/the written and spoken word. He put on a spectacle each time
he spoke-- and on my half, I was a lout compared. One anticipated
call after another, one stupid question after yet another. However,
Kesey saw no question as being stupid; he saw all questions, however
rhetoric or bizarre, as being essential pieces to the puzzle of human
existence. "The human being is made of questions, my dear" he'd say,
while on other ocassions he'd challenge me w/his famous, "Ask
anything. Anything you have on your mind, kid"

Being that Ken was one you could always joke around w/w no offense
taken, I think by taking his above words to heart and asking a
million questions per call, I might have drove "The Chief" to his
grave. Just fuckin' around. "Why'd you ride around in a crazy Day-Glo
painted bus, Ken?" I'd ask like a stupid ass child, "And whose idea
was it to name it FurthUr?? Hey, and what is acid like??" "Well...."
he'd proceed w/precise care, pausing as if to carefully answer. "And
why'd you ever stop writing, Chief???" I'd dare ask, cutting the
advanced writer off in the same manner you'd expect an over-zealous
Christian would cut a non believer off when he dared divert the
subject from Jesus. Not a care in the world

"What is it w/you, kid?" Ken would jokingly ask. "Well...the only
answer for that is that I stopped writing because I wanted to be a
lightening rod rather than a seismograph. Catch my drift?" "Of
course," I'd answer naively, pretending to understand the old dude's
every word. "And about that acid thing...well, if you ever want to
experiment firsthand I think it'll be best if you visit my commune
and give it a try. Don't want you to have a come down the first time,
you know. Acid...taking it is like glimpsing into Nirvana. Any more
questions, kid?"

I may have had many questions to ask The Chief, as he was called,
then, but when I dig into the subject matter now, I can only think of
one: Why is it when someone as truly important and talented as Kesey
comes along, he, for the most part, is widely ignored, while all the
attention is directed as to who's dating who in Hollywood and other
such unimportant nonsense?! Sure, Cuckoo's Nest sold a million copies
and the film was a major box office smash, but all the credit went to
Jack Nicholson (I mean no offense to J.N. I loved him in Easy Rider) hell of an amazing country, for sure....but when it
comes to writers and other visionaries, America, as a whole, loves to
defang the artist. What the fuck is up w/that?! America needs to take
action to reclaim it's sanity...if it ever had any. WAKE UP. This is
no longer that beautiful country of the Fillmore Auditorium
and "opening doors" that Kesey once wrote about. This is urban
hell...appocalypse now....and we're all gonna die before we even
realize that we're alive. As for The Chief, Kesey....he's left us in
his trademark tragically hip style: a lightening rod to Nirvana.
R.I.P. Ken

I think I now understand what Kesey meant by being a lightening rod--
it's better to be beat than to be beaten. Write a couple of novels
and blow out the flame, leaving the rest going, "Awww!" That is what
Ken did for proof, he's left me w/a moony, carefree attitude
toward life. It's like....realizing for the first time that you are
really alive

"I moved in w/the strangest guy. Can you believe he actually thinks
that I am really alive?"

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