Tuesday, July 9, 2013

'The cultural mall we call America'~ Teaser Tuesday

Hosted by MizB at should be reading.

Here's how to play:

*Grab your current read,
*Open to a  page,
*Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page,
*Please no spoilers!
*Share the title and author.

My pick for today's Teaser Tuesday is Peter Coyote's Sleeping Where I Fall:

"From within, every culture appears as seamless as a dream. To Jivaro warriors, for example, head-hunting is a high social and religious duty, not the barbarity it appears to us. If you accept without question premises of profit and private property and if you pursue those ends, even in the best of faith, then eventually the cultural mall we call America will stand before you, the product of your cumulative actions. No one will know precisely how it was built or for what purpose, and like goldfish in a bowl, we will no longer be able to imagine living outside the aquarium." ~ Peter Coyote 

For memoir-writing purposes, I've been trying to get some idea of how other writers describe growing up/coming of age in San Francisco in the 70's and Peter Coyote's wildly rich and full tale of an actor's/Digger's/Free Family communal life in and out of the City is by far the most interesting! I spent my holiday weekend doing almost nothing else but living in his wild but purposeful youth. Every time I tried this weekend to re-enter my life and visit with people from the year 2013, my mind was fogged with 1970's people/places/pictures. Now that I've finished the book, I feel a little lost and wonder how he manages in present life with that many people and experiences riding his memories X 100! (The original manuscript was 700 pages long!) I suppose the way many of us do. Compartmentalize. And then write to open.

He is a man I have always felt a great affinity for and now I know why (though many of his actions throughout the book are less than admirable but...they are his truths and that comment is my stance of judgement, a thing he was trying to stave off at the time. I find him brave to tell them). Besides now being a respected actor and writer, he is also a Zen Buddhist Priest. 

Probably the most moving part of his story comes at the end as he takes his young son back to Olema Ranch near Point Reyes to show him where he spent time with the people he writes about. So much happened there, so many tribes came and went, creating stories, music, love, tension. But as he walks the land in the 90's, there is nothing left to hold the memories. No buildings, no foundations, not a scrap of wood to show that any of it existed. Just fields of grass (and one old truck carburetor.) But with beautiful writing and insights, he gently melds past, present and future with the dirt, hills and sky still holding and offering up those memories. 

If anything, I feel more intimidated at the prospect of telling my little bit of 'growing up hippie' next to this book of Who's Who in the 60's/70's. But as I let it filter and acclimate, process into my experiences, I know something is percolating. While I may feel lost (partly from just having been submerged in his world and now being suddenly without it, thrown back into the present), something is found. Though I don't know quite what it is yet, I'm trusting the process. (And hoping for Book 2: those other 350 pages!) 


  1. As an aging hippie, I wouldn't know where to start. My children's generation just don't get it; guess you had to be there. Peace, Kirsten

  2. Hi Kirsten!! Wow you have the best of all worlds with family in Paris, and your Dad in Park City....it was so beautiful there, we can't wait to go back! I hope that you have been well, Thank you so much for leaving such wonderful comments :)...my life has been hectic juggling my sons sports and my business which is getting busier and busier, with less time for the computer.
    Any trips to Paris in the future for you? I am SO overdue for a European vacation, it has been FAR too long!


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