Went on a joy ride with Neal Cassady driving Ann Murphy’s 52 Pontiac across Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, pedal-to-metal, broadsliding into the gravel lot in front of The Ark, right up to the door, where Neal leaps out, enters the Ark, leaving me stranded without even $1.50 admission in my pocket. Eventually hitched a ride back to Haight and Stanyan. One of the last times I saw Cassady but not the first time he ditched his less interesting amigos. 50th anniversary memoir continues.


Cassady and Murphy, 1963 ©Allen Ginsburg. Ann’s Pontiac.


12/26/66. ©Kelley/Mouse Studios.



50 years ago, I was standing on Van Ness at Sutter, palm out panhandling for spare change. I’d spent the last of my cash brought from Albuquerque about an hour earlier at Zim’s coffee shop, on a Christmas Eve burger. Bitter reality was setting in for the holidays but I was determined to raise enough cash to get in to the Avalon, right across Van Ness, for the Family Dog show with Grateful Dead, Moby Grape and Steve Miller Blues Band (from Texas.)

Things were looking grim. Only about $1 of the $3 admission had been scraped together, when up walks Jerry Garcia carrying his guitar case. Weird.

I met Jerry and Bob Weir two days before, when my “roommate” Neal Cassady took me to the Dead’s pad on Ashbury Street, not far from our apartment on Carl. One of several mini adventures with Neal I’d been on. This time, Neal left me sitting in the front parlor while he and Jerry went in back. About 45 minutes later, Bob Weir asked me what I was doing there? I explained arriving with Cassady which seemed to annoy Bob. 30 minutes later, I left the Dead house when Neal never came back. Typical Neal.

Jerry recognized me, also saw I was panhandling and bumming ciggies from passersby. “Hey man.” said Captain Trips, reaching deep into his pockets and literally piling everything he had in my grateful hands. About $4.00 in change, 1/2 pack of Pall Mall’s. Jerry Garcia was a mensch.

I was in. The Avalon was aglow inside. Early arrivals sitting around on the dance floor or dancing to Christmas music playing. The Grateful Dead’s biggest fan wandered around with a grateful grin, waiting for the Owsley aspirin to kick in. Also standing on the floor near the stage was Paul Butterfield, who I recognized from his Elektra album covers. Little Butter introduced himself to Big Butter. What a sweetheart Paul was. So sad I never got to see The Butterfield Blues Band live when they were residing in SF. Big Butter was there to see Steve Miller, making his California debut. Miller Blues Band was opening. They were very good. Big Butter left after their set.

Next up, Moby Grape. My first time seeing them, too.

This clip from Monterey Pop comes close to what I heard at The Avalon.

Skip Spence was the center core of Moby Grape. The former Jefferson Airplane drummer now playing a Martin electric guitar was just as electric onstage. The energy, power, musicality of this band was contagious. Owsley enhanced dance floor was swirling. One of the top 5 experiences I had in Frisco, 1966-67.

Check out their first LP.

Many great records made by SF bands in 1967. None better than this. Never better than 12/24/66 at The Avalon.

The Sun Records Story. Big River with DJ Butter

Sun splash

The Sun Records Story on Big River with DJ Butter. One hour podcast. Click arrow to play.

Sam Phillips has been receiving much deserved appreciation and attention since the publication of Peter Guralnick’s  Sam Phillips, the man who invented Rock n Roll. This episode of Big River first aired on Radio Free Joshua Tree in 2013.


BB Blues       BB King

Rocket 88     Jackie Brenston and Delta Cats/Ike Turner

How Many More Years   Howlin Wolf

Easy     Jimmy and Walter

Just Walkin in the Rain   Prisonaires

Feelin Good       Little Junior’s Blue Flames  

Good Rockin Tonight   Elvis, Scotty and Bill

Turn Around   Carl Perkins

Hey Porter       Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two

Mystery Train     Elvis, Scotty and Bill

Blue Suede Shoes   Carl Perkins

Folsom Prison Blues   Johnny Cash

Boppin the Blues    Carl Perkins

Get Rhythm   Johnny Cash

End of the Road   Jerry Lee Lewis

Claudette   Roy Orbison

Breathless   Jerry Lee Lewis

Raunchy       Bill Justis

You Win Again   Jerry Lee

Who Will the Next Fool Be?    Charlie Rich

Whole Lotta Shakin Goin’ On   Jerry Lee Lewis


Big River logo

Podcast theme: A musical trip down the mighty Mississippi River, up Highway 61, Minneapolis to New Orleans. Jazz, blues, R&B, country, folk, rock n roll, boogie, cajun, zydeco, pop, funk,–all roots, routes, bayous, trains, cities, hamlets, and muddy roads, the essence of great American music. Host, DJ Butter, spins mostly vinyl and a few historical yarns between classic tracks and stuff you probably never heard before. Picking up followers like hitch hikers on Highway 61. Take a cruise on the riverboat.

Hunter S Thompson’s Nixon Obit.

Hunter S Thompson’s scathing satirical yet so true obit of Nixon. HST at his best.

Clip from the obit in Atlantic Monthly, 1994.

These are harsh words for a man only recently canonized by President Clinton and my old friend George McGovern — but I have written worse things about Nixon, many times, and the record will show that I kicked him repeatedly long before he went down. I beat him like a mad dog with mange every time I got a chance, and I am proud of it. He was scum.

We could sure use Hunter Thompson right about now to take a blowtorch and a pair pliers to the President-elect.

Link to full obituary:


Boycott Putin’s Peacock, NBC.


Here I am on the floor of the 2000 Democratic Convention shooting a feature for NBC News with Richard Schiff (won 2000 Best Supporting Actor Emmy for his role on The West Wing) during Gore’s nomination celebration.

Hard to believe what 16 years has done to my opinion of NBC. From this feel good moment to today’s sad state of affairs. From Jimmy Fallon patting Don Ponzi’s pompadour on Tonight to Lester Holt’s Trump fellatio on Today to Billy Bush grabbing pussy with the Donald on Access Hollywood to Trump’s weekly sexual assault/office party, The Apprentice. Never mind Holt abetting treason on NBC’s version of the Presidential Debate, 2016.

The Peacock Network sold the farm to Russia. Boycott NBC, Today, Tonight, TOMORROW!

PS: No reflection on Richard Schiff who was a mensch, even tried to get Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue; also at convention) to go out on a date with me. I kid you not. She did not, but it was a sweet shoot-down.