Memorial Day is a sad day for me, as I reflect upon all the deaths from wars over the centuries. I am grateful to my grandfathers Ralph “Spike” Martin and Phil Daughtry for their hard sacrifices in World War II and before and after that as the caring, troubled men that they were. They lived long after the War, both damaged in different ways by battle. My grandfather Phil (over on the British front) was wounded in the gut from shrapnel, I believe. He was never the same, his body riddled with health issues for the rest of his life. My other grandfather Spike, from Georgia, U.S.A. was hardier in constitution and lucky to have not been physically injured. He also served in the Korean War. But, his mental trauma came through in violence-filled daydreaming and the occasional out-of-the blue loss of temper. Nevertheless, they were both good providers and loving grandfathers. I honor their memory not only today but all the time, as much as I can.
I was about nine years old when I first met Berkeley, CA native and poet Julia Vinograd, who just died at the age of seventy-five. A year or so before our meeting, I’d seen her picture on the cover of one of her books of poetry my parents had laying around the house. She looked so unique and sincere in the photo and in real life, a lone woman blowing bubbles everywhere she went.
One day on (most likely) Telegraph Avenue, around late 1975/early ’76, I told Julia about seeing her on the cover of a book. She replied matter of factly, “That was me,” and blew another bubble. Shortly after this on another occasion while again walking along, but on Shattuck or a street other than Telegraph, she asked my parents for directions, looking vulnerable. “I’m lost,” she said with a frown and sad puppy eyes. My folks gave her directions to wherever she’d requested. She then limped away in her long skirt and ever-present leather cap with pin-on buttons attached to it.
At yet another time in 1976 or early ’77 in Berkeley, I saw Julia read at a large gathering of poets, a short-statured woman with a long, dark braid down her back, leather cap in place. She stood before the mic looking small yet focused and determined. I remember only her over and above all of the other poets who read that evening.
Julia was a shy, expressive loner who cultivated her eccentricity with a sense of dignity and fun, all of which I could very much relate to being in my own ways, odd fairy child that I was. She was a Berkeley icon. I’m glad I got to meet her and witness her fun bubbles in 1970s downtown Berkeley. May Julia Vinograd rest in peaceful eternity, blowing bubbles while floating happily on a big one of her own as she recites poetry to the universe.
I’m thinking right now about family, including extended community family, such as those folks I grew up knowing who were friends of mine and/or of my parents. A few days ago, a man named Dale Pendell, father of Marici Pendell and grandfather of Scarlett Macdonald, shed his mortal coil due to cancer, aged 70 years. He was nothing short of brilliant, a deep thinker who wrote out his thoughts in poetry and informational books about entheogenic substances. (Feel free to look up “entheogen” if you don’t know what that means.) Like my father, he had a restless spirit but settled down in later years, grounding himself in hearth and home with a woman, Laura Pendell, who cared for him deeply and who he, to my knowledge, loved back fully. Over the years, largely due to my moving out East, I lost touch with Dale. I was able to hear about how he was doing from time to time through his daughter, my mother, my sister, and my father. He was an active participant in the progressive, West Coast hippie and poetry movement I grew up within, which played a huge part in molding me into the person I am today. What I’m left with right now is sadness and humbleness, a sense that I am carrying a tall order inside me, which is the commitment to live the values of creativity, intellectual freedom, justice and fairness for all, and other powerful ethics and strivings that would take a lot of time for me to list off here. The threads run deep throughout my psyche. Dale lived genuinely from all of these principles, wild and selfish though he could be in his younger years. But, without his wildness, I don’t think he could have pioneered the way he did in life. I am certain his books and ideas will become more well-known templates of thought over time, even if in small cultural and intellectual circles carrying them like sacred flames. I only hope I can help keep his wonderful legacy going through how I live my own life. The world lost a great man and I’m so honored I grew up knowing him. Dale Pendell, may you dance with the Divine now and always, wild and free.
[Pictured from left to right: Robyn Martin (another long-time family friend), me, and Dale Pendell on September 30th, 2006. This was at the wedding of my father Philip Daughtry to Rita George-Daughtry. It was the last time I saw Dale in person.]
Once in a rare while, a loss of someone hits me harder than I imagined it would or should. Such has been the case for me with a friend of mine, who died suddenly on September 29th. This is what I wrote about him elsewhere:
Rand’s presence was fully present, including his love. Right there, emanating from him. Amazing. If only more people in general could be themselves like Rand was able to be, the world would be a better place. Earth has lost a profoundly wonderful human being in Rand, though his soul lives on, including through us all who knew and loved him, the way he loved us. I feel this is our charge in the world now, to lead with his love mixed inside of us, to live from that place of solid authenticity and calm yet fierce love. That is a big part of Rand’s legacy and it’s up to each of us to pass it along through living honestly from ourselves, our and his love.