By Dion Wright, excerpt taking from page 57
…In the natural course of things, we went down to Big Sur a couple of times to visit Branaman and family. I was still somewhat foolishly in awe of Bob Branaman for his unwavering commitment to doing everything HIS way. He was winding up, at long last, his work on FUX Magascene. It's hard to imagine how he put that chapbook together in the mud and grunge of his Anderson Ridge quasi-yurt, but he did. Susan had changed her name slightly to Sue Sun, and lived up to it. How odd to look at this pampered child of privilege so happy in the Stone Age. She did glow, no doubt about it. Maybe she had always glowed. Probably. My wife, although she looked like Elizabeth Taylor, never glowed. By then, in fact she absorbed energy like a black hole. I noticed that Bob looked her over pretty appraisingly, like an old horse trader checking out a young filly. I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd folded up her lip to assess her teeth.
Jane Chipmunk accompanied us on the trips to Big Sur. She remained attached to Branaman with a strong bond, from her side at least. I continued to believe that junk was the glue. One time when we got there Bob was feeling “icky poo”, as he put it, and was testy because Cosanyl cough syrup was being put on the prescription list. He had stacked up a few cases of it, but the end was in sight. The deal on Cosanyl was that it contained a derivative of lettuce which had a narcotic effect. The ingredient was condensed. One would have to eat a couple of truckloads of lettuce to get the amount of pain-killer in one bottle of cough syrup. Hooks. I still didn't see why anybody would pursue addiction.
Bruce Conner had been making some noteworthy art films which had generated a certain degree of chatter on the circuits. One of them, Cosmic Ray, featured Bob Branaman's ex, Beth Pewther, and another featured Janie Chipmunk. One or the other of them was doing a wild and out of focus naked dance to Ray Charles's Shake That Thing. Bob Branaman, not wanting to let any moss grow on his creative schtick, also had started filming. He had a silly little 8mm camera that he took everywhere, and used with the same approach that he brought to other media. That is, he tried to be as random as possible, never looking through the view-finder, and pressing off film in a spontaneous way from any imaginable angle. He supposed that something would emerge from this unconscious method which would have artistic value. I was with him in a downtown San Francisco elevator one time when he was seriously frightening the be-suited folks in there with us by whirring his camera into their noses, ears, arm pits, down onto the tops of their heads. As is the mode in the City, nobody said anything nor made eye contact, but those eyes were bulging and rolling in an amusing way.
For some unknown reason, Lawrence Ferlinghetti had joined forces with Bob to make a movie called Goldmouth. I was their chauffeur around San Francisco for a few days during the making of that film. Ferlinghetti must have been fascinated by Bob I suppose. He was a writer, after all, and he had a script, abstract and non-linear as it may have been. Within whatever structure implied there, he and Bob sort of felt their way around the city for spots to film in, bearing with them that gold mask which gave a center of some sort to the project. They didn't talk much, except to say stuff like “Turn left at the next corner”, to me. I thought it an interesting experiemnt, and God knew what kind of a creative summit meeting of personalities, but in the end, a really dumb movie.
Alan Russo was in town, and I saw him from time to time where he was staying at David Omer Bearden's place. As I disclaimed, my sense of poetry is marginal, but I did think that Dave Bearden was brilliant, and by far the best poet in sight. That was a place where great and intelligent conversation happened, and where I met Neal Cassady. Neal was a connoisseur of good talk, which he seemed to regard as a contact sport. Once he had the ball, it was hard to get a word in edgewise. I didn't even try, although Cassady kept looking at me and making those multi-level remarks that could be interpreted in a number of ways. He made several references to “that German thing”, which he could probably infer from my physiognomy. I was still pretty down on the Germans in those days, and found the association discomfiting. Whatever that may or may not have ultimately meant in the cosmic scheme of things, on the mundane level I ended up in the absurd role of driving Neal Cassady, one of the world's legendary drivers, around San Francisco…
(Copyright 2011 by Dion Wright. Used by permission.)