You can't catalogue everything that fed your magical side, and if I start listing books and shows ("Twilight Zone"!) (comics!, especially Marvel Comics!) (sorry) we'll be here all week...but I can't believe I forgot to mention Disneyland: born right around the time I was, and quite possibly my very first experience of Magick* (in 3D and sensurround, no less!). Yeah, I know there are people Disneyland and its offspring just don't connect with; I'm quite sure it helped to first visit as an infink, when my parents were still together. Anyway, around the same time I was miserably making it through my Halloween egging (and general quest to survive Walteria), Disneyland opened both its Fantasyland Magic Store with REAL TAROT CARDS (not that I got any, but they sure looked cool), and its Haunted Mansion.** Short version: when I get a bazillion dollars, I'm gonna build a corridor with permanent thunderstorms "outside" its "windows." You just see if I don't. ;)
But that's not what I wanted to write about this time.
Somewhere in there, y'see -- right around puberty, for a lot of us -- a love of magical stories and shows and music and stuff begins to edge into...well, you know, Magick: as in, What if something like this silliness were Really True? 1968 EV was a time of astonishing changes anyway, in America and elsewhere around the world, and it changed the whole course of my own life: my mom was able to ditch her lower-paying secretarial jobs for the first of her higher-paying personal assistant jobs,*** and this meant moving us from scarifying Walteria to L.A.'s privileged west side. Let me tell you, buckaroos, privilege -- even piggybacked privilege, gained by serving wealthy masters -- changes everything, and even at thirteen I knew it: the intensified schoolwork nearly wrecked my theretofore glowing academic record, but by heaven, it makes a difference when you're surrounded by legions of the college-bound.
And that same summer, as it happens, Magick started to rise in my own life.
So you get J.R.R. Tolkien, and then "Peter Saxon"'s "Guardians" novels, and by 1970 or so?, around the time I'm co-editing Marvel Comics' official fanzine, there's Coven 13 and Man, Myth and Magic coming out right on the newsstands! (the latter with the participation of Kenneth Grant, btw)...and then my dad, who's writing a book on such matters, gives me a deck of the Rhine ESP cards (you know the ones: star, circle, wavy lines...typical conscious mind test for a largely unconscious ability, a bunch of very similar line drawings; the Thoth Tarot deck works bunches better for the purpose). And in 1971-72 there's a wonderfully cheesy TV show called "The Sixth Sense," starring Gary Collins (finally explaining our icon -- that's his head shot) -- which had several pretty cool episodes before Harlan Ellison, and Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana of "Star Trek" fame, ditched it, and it went south. I adored that show, in fact: its beautiful original theme, especially played over shots of "Dr. Michael Rhodes's" office complex (really the exec offices at Universal, if memory serves): that prismatic fountain sparkling in the sunlight, next to the lovely striated white highrise office tower....****
And by heaven, for a while it really looked like Magick, and Love and Freedom generally, were gonna catch on worldwide, no matter what The Bad Guys did. 1973 and Watergate and the System finally drawing a line: thus far and no farther, Tricky Dick! -- the same year I wrote, and with several friends directed and audiotaped, a Halloween Special for KPFK, 90.7 FM, then and now radical lefty radio for the City of the Angels. People seemed to like it, even at 1:00 in the morning (hence the title I gave it, "Thirteen O'Clock").
And by then I'm eighteen turning nineteen, and it's time for Magick to go, right?
I mean, good stuff continued to happen. In 1974 at Halloween, in fact, the same year they broadcast what I thought was Eric Burdon narrating Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher" (and have never been able to find a trace of again). Girlfriend Bell (Oh God don't ask) brought her sweet nephew Jerry over -- he who could belch the entire phrase "HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!" in one continuous and quite nervous-making belch -- and he wanted to see the spooky walk at the side of our building, and he talked me into taking him, and the lights were out (thanks to the time change, probably) and I wanted to go back and he said Just a little further and -- pure intuition time, here -- I happened to have my hand on his shoulder when I felt him vanish.
The next thing I know I'm lying on my back in darkness and the smell of dirt and leaves, embarrassed to be talking to myself. No, to be sort of moaning, in fact. So I stop. Jerry is still up on the lip of the dropoff, voice scared, calling down to see if I'm okay; quavery voice making it clear he thinks I'm not. "Yeah, yeah!, I'm fine," I say, and pretty quickly am able to rise and discover I really am just fine.
So there's your Sixth Sense in action, maybe...and if it was just some combination of the usual five, that was okay, too. Apparently I had grabbed him as he fell, and tossed him behind me, back onto the path we'd come by -- succeeding in the process in pitching myself into the wide and deep hole he'd started to fall into, invisible in that blackness. But hey, all's well that ends well.
Bottom line: I kept seeing suggestions that something like ESP or Magick or whatever could be real; and increasingly became too much the hardheaded mechanist materialist to believe it.
Just two more posts to go. Bless those of you who care! :D
93 93/93 -- AJ
* Except for the time my dad used it to save my life, just before my third birthday. Yes, I'm serious. See Layton Drive, which also details a number of my other "magical" experiences: the Indian guy with the wolf who visited Pali High, for example.
** Though my alltime fave might be the late, great Mighty Microscope ride. Once again, see: http://www.atommobiles.com/
*** To rich folk, then a famous movie and TV star. She stayed with the latter until her remarriage, to a wealthy man, in 1973. While I walked away from an inheritance which never materialized in any event, that marriage accounts for my having received the education I did. Talk about life-changing; I am grateful every day.
**** The series only survives in mutilated form, chopped into half-hours and included in reruns of "Rod Serling's Night Gallery"; recognizable from a title card announcing, "Sixth Sense episodes created by Anthony Lawrence." Serling hated this inclusion (and who can blame him?), but it's still touching (for me) to see 'em.