surfing the stardust

Archive for the month “August, 2016”

Sunset Ghosts

I have had only one experience that I could possibly call SUPERNATURAL….
I’ve never been sure that it was, but, I had just talked to my old friend Peter and he agrees that it was a strange evening. So I thought I’d recount it.

I do believe that there are probably more than a few sentient beings in this enormous spread of billions of galaxies – many of whom may have powers well beyond ours.  So I open about UFO’s although I’ve never seen any myself.
I’m unsure about parallel universes or dimensions impinging on ours…why bother?
Extrasensory perception? Probably.
Don’t know about time travel but certainly flying in a slight haze in the upper deck of a 747 from Portland to Amsterdam with a valium under the belt could be construed to be some primitive method of teleportation.
I think our next big breakthrough will be figuring out how to get close to the speed of light and expect that to happen in the next thousand years.
Angels? – sure.
Devils? – no need – enough of our own.Unknown-4

…But I do pride myself as being a sort of sceptic of the Sherlock Homes type – there is a natural and causal reason for almost everything that we experience as bizarre, unworldly, or miraculous – it’s just hard to believe it sometimes.

Well that covers pretty much everything for me.

Except for that early spring evening in San Francisco in 1968.

I had recently returned from a combat year in the Vietnam War and was very grounded in reality.  But I was living in San Francisco and as the say “the goddess was loose”.

The City was full of neo-pagan things.  Everyone was talking astrology, incense & crystal shops with pyramids extant filled up Upper Grant, Haight Street, and the old chocolate factory where Pete’s grandfather and grandmother had worked, which was now a mall down by Aquatic Park. Psychedelia, kaleidoscopic, mind-bending experiences seemed to be everywhere…and their cohorts of hallucinatory substances were indeed everywhere.  The interesting thing was that the hallucinogens had taught us that we live in just one way of seeing things yet there are indeed other ways which are just as real and valid.

So when Patti Pere showed up one night talking about white, swirling ghost creatures swimming around her car, as she drove through Golden Gate Park, it was natural to think some drugs might have been involved.  That was not the case.

Patti was one of the most beautiful girls I’d ever met.  Pete had shown up at school one day with her on her arm – I don’t know where they had met but they soon became inseparable.  After we graduated and went our different ways to Vietnam and returned, their romance had seemed to lose its fire.

Yet we all remained friends, living in San Francisco, living a poem, soaking in the cold mist, singing our own songs, hanging out on the wharfs listening to the fog sounds, in the fall and winter of love and then on until Pete and I headed for Europe in August 1968 and Morocco and Firenze and Frankfurt…….. but that was later and now we were and Rod McKuen was writing and the street lights were dim, in that magic place called The City….

It turned out Lou Branson had left Santa Clara University for his spring semester and he and I were renting a house out in the Sunset where the evening fog rolled in most evenings.  Lou was doing his disc jockey gig, I was finishing up my active Army duty at Oakland Army Base.  Pete was working as a child psychologist and living with his Mom but crashing many night with us.




Patti had decided to make some bread off her fantastic looks and was a Playboy Bunny at the San Francisco Playboy Club.  (see this Vanity Fair article on the start of that now past away institution ).  We all thought that was funny-haha because she was one of the nicest and sweet girls you could meet and almost a total opposite of the common misconception of what the bunnies were like.

the Sunset District

The Sunset

Anyway one evening in about April Lou, Pete and I were sitting in our living room out on 47th Avenue near Ortega – as per standard practice in those days we were on the floor since we had no furniture, just mattresses.  We heard someone running and stomping up the front steps and then a loud banging on the door.  We recognized Patti yelling, “Let me in, Let me in”.  All three of us went to the door and Patti rushed in.

We could tell in a flash that she was panicked – her face was contorted and eyes as large as silver dollars – she looked like a woman who had spiders crawling all over her head that’s how frightened she was.  In between deep gasps she said “They are following me, They have been flying around my car ever since I was in Golden Gate Park.  They are singing to me.” …

let me do it this way – here’s what went down:

Patti, Patti, what the hell’s the matter said Greeve
Are you ok? are you ok echoed Pete
– Oh my oh my, she gasped, oh my, oh my
Lou moved out onto the porch and taking her arm brought her into the flat.
Her face was pale, blood drained.  Her eyes wobbled like the surface of a bowl of water on a New York subway car.
If Patti perspired her arm pits must have been dripping.
We boys led her thru the arched hall and into the living room.

Greeve helped her sit down on some pillows..
what’s going on he said?
Patti’s voice jumped up and down as she said
– I was coming through Golden Gate park and these white cloud like things appeared.
WHAT! said Lou
– yes, they were all around the car
were you moving?
– yes dummy, I was driving through on JFK Drive
well what were you doing asked Pete
– You know I met Suzanne, the gal who has the oils and incense shop  off of Stanyon Street and decided to come over here to see you guys.
ok, but what are those things flying around?
-I don’t know, Pete, I don’t know.
what do they look like
-well like I said they’re white, and puffy like cloud people, or cloud children
what are you talking about?
-just what I said and they were singing to me.
Like what were they singing?
-Just melodies like humming, they wanted me to play, and they were calling to me, come out come out
Are you kidding?
…she stands up..
-they were swirling and doing spins and summersaults and calling to me
were they like angels or ghosts?
-sort of but they keep moving

OkOk wait a sit down, sit down
she sits
Start from the beginning where were you..??
-Look after I left work and headed over here I stopped at Suzanne’s…
yeah well, wait a second..did she give you any acid? or mescaline or anything
-No no guys I don’t do that you know, I didn’t even smoke any dope
-No, I was just buying some oils she was telling me about
did she put it on you?
-yes some on my arm

So Patti had come into the living room of our flat and had sat on one of the pillows in the otherwise empty living room. So, to try and make sense of this confusion here’s a recap:
Around 7 pm on that cool spring evening she had left her apartment in the Marina headed over to see Louie and me. She had decided to stop by an “oil shop” which a friend had told her of. The shop was run by a very mystical woman – perhaps a good witch – and she sold a vast array of different oils. Patti had tried some of them. She maintained the witch swore that none had any psychedelics like LSD or THC. Patti did not take any drugs or alcohol so I believed she had probably tried to vet the oils well.
She left the shop near the Panhandle and

Golden Gate Park hovers

Golden Gate Park hovers

proceeded to drive down through Golden Gate Park. Suddenly, as she wound through the massive, dark corridor of cedars and ocean pines, two or more bright balls of shimmering white light appeared, hovering around her moving car.

The lights were moving smoothly around the windows: front and back, side to side. As they appeared and swung around and around they began to sing a wordless, unearthly song. Patti fought to maintain focus on the curving park road.
Then the objects began to call to her in light and charming voices: “Come Out Come Out – Come Out and Play with us”. She was not frightened, she could sense these things, creatures of some type really, meant her no harm. They were friendly and wanted Patti to join them. She said she thought they must be ghosts. As she left the park, and entered the avenues by our flat, the light balls continued to sing and swirl in their strange dance.
As Lou and I listened, and Pete questioned her, we were telling her quietly that “things are ok, you are with us now, we’re by you, don’t worry we’ll take care of you”. Patti maintained that she wasn’t scared, particularly. She didn’t think they meant her harm – it was just so weird, so unexpected, so otherworldly. But she was definitely unsettled, her eyes were almost panicked. They had a vacant look, staring off into another realm.
Abruptly Patti jumped up and ran to the front window. “They’re there” she gasped, “They’re there, can you see them”?. Then she turned swiftly and ran through the dining room to the back kitchen window. “They’re there, can you see them? They are flying around! Outside the apartment. Moving so fast. Can you see them? Can you see them?” She ran back and forth through the 3 openly connected rooms; living room, dining room, kitchen. You could stand anywhere and look from the front window to the back window; she did that, turning from window to window, moving swiftly or running back to front.

Pete and Lou moved to and fro with her touching her arms and her back, slowing her down a bit. Making sure she didn’t crash or trip in her obsessed dance. Looking out the windows with her, seeing nothing ourselves. As our concern mounted I turned on all the lights in the three rooms, made sure the doors were both locked, checked the windows too.
Finally she stopped. They had disappeared for a moment.

Patti sat down, breathing hard, looking all around, trying to calm herself. As she put her hand on her chest she lay back on one of the big pillows. “What is it Lou? What is it?” she said in a light pant. We tried to calm her. In a few minutes she snapped upright with a start – “There they are – they’re back. They’re singing to me again. They are begging me to come outside and join them. They want me to join them.”
I was now getting nervous. I didn’t believe in supernatural apparitions, UFO’s, ghosts, or goblins. But Patti, despite being of the emotional sort, had never been known to see things or hear things. Clearly she was under the spell of some type force. I didn’t know what to do.

Then a thought occurred to me.
In my bedroom I had a hand made, yarn “god’s eye”. Red, blue, and yellow thread wound into a diamond shape around two eight inch long sticks, with some beads embedded here and there. I had gotten it at a street fair in The Haight. It was a Mexican or Southwest Indian artifact I believe. I scurried into my room, retrieved it and brought it out to Patti and Lou.Unknown-2
There was a good sized nail pounded into the upper center wall of the arched opening between the apartment’s living room and dining room. It had been left by some former occupant. I grabbed a chair, climbed up on it and then carefully and firmly hung the god’s eye on the nail in the arch wall. Then climbed down, put the chair back, and went over to the pillows where Lou and Patti sat. As I sat down with them I said:

“Here Patti, I’ve put this god’s eye up there. It will keep any evil spirits away.
“If these ghost are good ghosts then we have no problem, and you can just sit down, relax, and enjoy them.
“You don’t have to go out with them.
“If they are bad or evil the god’s eye will protect us.
“They cannot bother us with this here”.

Then, at that exact second, without the slightest warning or provocation, the god’s eye fell from the nail to the floor, slamming into the hard wood, and all the lights in the house went out.

All three of us screamed in the pitch dark like howler monkeys in a Costa Rican rain forest. Louder than a Blue Cheer riff in the Avalon Ballroom. We yelled and yelled again, and grabbed each other, and screamed some more.

Blue Cheer - first heavy metal band

Blue Cheer

The lights remained out for two or three minutes and then as fast as they had gone out, they came back on. We were in shock.

The ghosts, the god’s eye falling and the lights all going out…all at once..with no human provocation.

So that’s my one and only brush with the otherworld.

It doesn’t sound like much but there is no explanation for it. Lou, Patti, I…we all talked it all over, looked at it from umpteen ways and always agreed on the details. Lou is dead. Patti lives down towards Monterey. I believe Pete in Cortona will still corroborate them although his mind is not what it once was – must be the sangiovese.

Later, the next evening, I went over to a sometimes lover who lived across the street and asked here if her lights had gone out. “No” she said, “No, no lights went out. I’m sure because if they had my two girls would have been scared”. Strange.

I have written about synchronicity in this blog before but this was not that – this was something else. What? I don’t know.


Post Navigation