Chase R. Foxe was my PC in the Silver Age Knights of the Road. He’s a personamancer, meaning he does magic involving masks. His particular obsession is writing down the truth as seen by his subjects — gonzo journalism gone magical, in other words.
I spent nine months with the dirty squabbling hippies of Santa Fe, back in ‘67, and I came away with two things: a case of the crabs and the knowledge that all men are brothers. Oh, it’s a cliche, but I tell you one thing, good reader. When you’re covered in a layer of mud so thick the New Mexico mosquitos can’t get through it, you wouldn’t know your brother from a Chicom guerrilla. Crazy but true. So as you read this, not that anyone ever will, let Chase Foxe be your brother. Let it flow.
In the next few seconds I will find out if the magic is real. “What?” you say. “Is this the Chase Foxe we know? The man who wrote about the peyote ceremonies of the Yucatan and the strange sad sorrowful songs of the Voodoo Bikers who will not under any conditions enter New Orleans?” Why, yes, gentle reader, it is — because I think it is finally time to tell you that the truth is only what we see through someone else’s eyes. There’s no damned magic on Wall Street, you know.
If the pigs of MONARCH get their way, and we’re the only ones who can stop that, there won’t be any damned magic anywhere. If we get our way, you’ll be able to get a twist of magic with your corporate burger at the neighborhood McDonald’s, and it won’t be any kind of a bummer. How’s that for a twist? Chase Foxe, professional observer and scribe, is now the man who might just save the world — me and the rest of the League of Good Trips. Well, how the hell did that happen?
Blame Captain Trips. I always do. He’s not one of those people who carries lightning on their fingertips, but he knows the score. An old friend of mine (you’ll remember Reverend Nullity if you’ve read me as faithfully as you should) turned me on to the good Captain when I told him I was heading up to San Francisco for the summer.
I don’t think it took more than, oh, a matched pair of hazy Golden Gate Park weeks before the band found its beat: me and the Captain, and that mad history buff Merry Hayweather, and Doctor Chang with his pocket full of colors, and the ravishing Lady Silver, Ms. D’Argent. Add on the stone pacifist Hardtack Jones and Revel with his can of the Atlantan Nectar, and what do you have?
Well, you can read about us in the pages of this very magazine, or the San Francisco police blotter, whatever suits you best. I don’t make a practice of being arrested but sometimes it happens and you don’t need to practice if you get it right the first time, after all.
But this story starts somewhere particular, and it’s about time I got there. Cast your minds to the infamous Teddy the Bus, the Bus(ted), travelling down good old Highway 101 through the middle of the notably dull town known as Palo Alto. What were we doing there? Talking about the beautiful possibilities, of course!
See, the Captain had gotten wind of a top secret government plot, run out of some federal pig think tank called Project MONARCH. I won’t tell you what the cover was, because a writer’s got to have some secrets, but we knew what it was and we were headed that way. The Captain and me and Merry were laying it out, explaining how someone like Bill Bryan the Third (mark that name, kids) could grab a pen and scribble all over the beautiful history that we’ve been making for the last five years.
But, said Merry, it’s worse than that. He’s going to rewrite all the history from day one and make an American only a pig could love. Surprise, and startled eyes! No, it’s true: MONARCH had the big brainwash on, and the League was the only thing in their way. Here’s the scoop on the Plan of The Man.
Once upon a time — you can look this up — they didn’t make movies in Hollywood. They made them in a little town called Chicago, and for every dream that Daley’s pigs killed this summer, there was a dreaming actress in Chicago back when the counter ticked over from one-eight to one-nine. Edison had done his thing, and Chicago thought it’d be the place the movies got made. And it was right, for a while.
But then in a year not too far from 1915, a crazy European and one of those Chicago actresses decided they had something to say about that. You’ve heard of a guy named Charlie Chaplin, and if you’re smart enough to read my scribblings you should have heard of a lady named Gloria Swanson. You’ve never heard of a thing called the Oneiros, but that’s what they stole from Chicago one hazy summer day, and before you knew it, bam. There they were in Los Angeles.
What’s this got to do with you and me and a van named Ted? Simple! Good old Bill Bryan, the 3rd of that name, had his hands on this Oneiros, and he was going to use it to make America dream a different dream. He did not like the dream we’ve come to love and share, gentle reader. You can see why the League was a bit concerned.
And now you know what we knew as we speeded and puffed and planned. By the time we got there we’d come up with a plan so damned embarassing that it’s got to be the second thing I’ll keep coy about. Just imagine your heros getting into the government’s home away from home, there in Palo Alto, in whatever clever fashion you think best. Oh — but as you dream, add one of dear Virginie D’Argent’s conquests along the way. He’s a lad named Sam Lully, and he’s going to be ever so important.
Cut to the chase (ho ho), down in the bowels of the beast. There we are, and there’s Bill Bryan III smoking those Lucky Strikes of his with the mystic symbol of the blue circle on the pack, and you know what he’s saying to me? Nothing at all, gentle reader, for he’s too busy telling his son what a disappointment he is. Yes, it’s true, and some of you were wondering about this already, weren’t you? Captain Trips has a straight name, and his initials are BB, and if you tacked an IV after them you’d be smarter than me. I didn’t clue in until then, sad to say.
Need I mention that this wasn’t part of the plan?
Well, I never recommend violence, so permit me to draw a bit of a screen over what happened next. My editor will forgive me, since they’ll never read this anyhow. I’ll pay you back with a warning; if you ever meet a pig with a little device flashing blue lights, don’t look closely. They steal memories, you see, as if taking our freedom wasn’t enough.
When all was said and done, the Oneiros started to play, and aptly enough it was a movie. As old as the movies themselves! Up on the screen, Dorothy — you know, the one from Kansas? — was being handled as roughly as a cop at an Angels convention. The Scarecrow and the Woodsman and the Lion had her clothes off, and all the while there we were, struggling in the silent silver light.
Merry, bless him, knew when it was his moment even though the pigs had taken his memory with their evil little tricks. The straight journalists say the writer shouldn’t be involved in the story, but I say you have to live it to write the truth. This is by way of letting you know that I did a little trick (I have a few) and showed Merry how to pretend he was himself even though they’d stolen part of him.
My trick worked, just enough; Merry took our Lady Silver by the hand, and they stepped into the light, and for a moment it looked like we’d be the ones to free the Dream, free it for every hippie and freak in San Francisco and the whole damned United States. I got ready to make sure I’d be the one who remembered, because I’m the one who writes it all down. It could have been the United Hippies of America, except —
I told you Sam Lully was important, didn’t I? In the end, he was the one who stepped into the light. Maybe it was an accident, and maybe not, but I can see what he was dreaming. And it’s time for me to tell the truth one last time…
I don’t want to remember what was if I have to live in Lully’s dream. I can see it now, and it’s shattered glass. I’m going to take off my mask, and forget.
Chase the Truth, brothers. Even if you won’t remember me.
Chase R. Foxe