For those of you who have spent time reading this blog over the past 6 years, you have come to know that I have an affinity for the counterculture of the 1960s and 70s. And truthfully, affinity is not the word. Passion is the word. Desire is the word. Fire in my belly is the phrase!
In looking back on my childhood it almost feels like I lived the short history of early rock ‘n’ roll between ages 10 and 20. At age 10, I was a card-carrying member of the Roy Orbison fan club, with nearly every 45rpm single he released playing on my mini-turntable at night, and hanging on my bedroom walls by day. By age 13, I not only discovered the Beatles, but also owned every record and could proudly sing most every lyric to every song they recorded – and eventually come to play most of them on the piano or guitar. By 14 I was hanging out on the weekends with my best friend Charlie, pawing through huge stacks of fake books with songs by the Grateful Dead or Bob Dylan. Friendships grew strong by way of those songs, and together, he and I began feeling the ethos of an era we both have come to enjoy as a certain center point in our creative and professional lives. By age 15 the Jefferson Airplane, the Byrds, and any other gods and goddesses of the San Francisco sound owned spots at the top of my list and I was carefully articulating my own wardrobe to emulate the moves they made between ’67 and ’72. When my grandparents traveled to Arizona, I asked them to bring me a brown and beige Navajo blanket that I could make into a poncho, like the one Steven Stills wore at Woodstock. Unearthing my dad’s square-toed stovepipe boots that same year was a serious thrill, and I clearly remember pairing them with overalls, a headband and not much else on hot July days in Wisconsin. By 16 my guitars went electric and I was playing in bars with rock and roll bands of my own – a game I would play for years thereafter, and something that still shines a little light on me today when I travel home. By 20, I felt like I knew it all pretty well, and even if I didn’t (having not actually lived the era myself), I certainly knew the experience of having every Baby-Boomer I crossed paths with say “How do you know all of this stuff? It’s like you’re one of us…its like you were right there with us all 30 years ago!” Maybe I was there with them. Or maybe I’m here in this incarnation to cast a new spotlight on what is so clearly a very special moment in our cultural history that still resonates today.
This collection of experiences became the hand that held mine as I stepped into a corner of the complex and powerful history of our country that still excites me, still inspires me, and has prompted a new body of work that is now taking shape and bringing MC into the exciting potential of 2012!
Almost exactly one year ago I said out loud in my studio, “That’s it! I’m doing it! But first I need a sign – I need the world to tell me ‘YES! Now is the time and this is the time to do it!” The “it” I was speaking of was a project – a BIG project – to celebrate and honor the clothing and style of this era that I hold so close. What can it be? A book? A film? An exhibition? One of those? All of those? None of those, but something better? I was not, and am still not completely ready to say exactly what that “it” will be, but the work has started and the time has come to start sharing it all with you.
And as frosting on the cake, the universe heard my call and gave me what I asked for. A sign. That very evening as I was leaving the studio, I turned on my phone to see if I missed anything pertinent. After noticing a missed call from an unfamiliar area code, I listened to a voice mail in which a the gentle, calm and loving voice of a woman said “Hi Michael. This is Isis Aquarian calling from The Source Family. You don’t know me, but I have found your work and I love what you’re doing and simply felt compelled to call you and see if there is anything I can do to help you…” My sign had arrived and there was nothing subtle about it! Need a sign, MC? How about a phone call!?!
Isis and I started a dialogue that was exciting, enriching, and became one of several signs that I needed to keep moving with this inspiration that I’ve felt looming for so long. And before I knew it, I was flying to LA to meet Isis, spend time with her around the city visiting the original Source Family mansion, meeting magazine editors and book publishers, and connecting on a level that is carrying this project into the future. A month later that energy picked me up and carried me to San Francisco where my previous visits with Scrumbly of the Cockettes led me to meet Rumi Missabu and Fayette Hauser, two other very special faces in their wild and eclectic family of hippie-acid-freak-drag-queen-inspired costume that enlivened the Bay. A mere week after that, I was in a car and on my way to Sebastapol, staying at the home of Alexandra (Jacopetti) Hart, a true heroic voice of the counter culture and celebrated author of treasured Native Funk and Flash – a book that opened the doors of my mind to the wonder and potential of clothing.
The ride is getting faster and wilder, and the wind that it blows around me feels great! I have St. Steven as my co-pilot, and we’re ready to buckle up, follow the call and embrace this journey, sharing every part of it with you all along the way.
With Isis Aquarian of The Source Family, LA, California