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Sardines and Razor Blades

In Sex Drive by Stephanie TheobaldLeave a Comment

It is day seven of my Little House On the Prairie experience In the Mojave desert. It has been freezing cold and windy and as you can see, I am in fullest Grizzly Adams mode.

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Still, guests came around yesterday to Olivia’s house. A couple in their early 60s, Rob(erta) and Bill who live in the Joshua Tree area. Olivia had told them about my book, “I told them you’re writing about masturbation,” she said.

“So is it a 30 second read?” Bill jested.

“If you’re a man, maybe” I shot back. I’m not usually very good at spur-of-the-moment one liners. I actually liked them both. They do the odd stint at bartender/waitress when there are fancy dos in Palm Springs. The wife also works as a carer for a 78-year-old woman who who used to be the wife of head US Hell’s Angel, Sonny Barger, the gnarled hell-raiser written about by people from Hunter S. Thompson to Tom Wolfe in The Electric Cool Aid Acid Test. She (Sally, although Bill and Rob told me that’s not her real name) came up in conversation because I was banging on about how great the fish culture is in Spain- how I love sardines and Rob turned to Bill and said, “We need to buy Sally some sardines.”

It turns out that the Hell’s Angel wife has lots of food she can’t eat because it reminds her of her time in prison. She was imprisoned in each of the five different states she lived in. She was on Death Row at the time when the last woman in California was on Death Row. She says she can’t tell Rob what she did because she says, “You’d be scared of me” even though she is only four foot something and 78 years-old. She still has long nails and toenails because those were her weapons when in prison. And she used to hide razor blades in her big hair. She had her first child at the age of 13 ad was a heroin addict from the age of 12. Bob says she’s the toughest woman he’s ever met.

So there you go, another HBO series in the making direct from the High Desert. The “redneck Jew” was out of town, buying motorbikes in Arizona. He’d have loved the bike conversation but, alas he’s going to vote for Donald Trump which might have set the cat among the pigeons with Bill and Rob.

Here’s the back of Bill and Rob’s car:

car plates

After they left, I came across some interesting books on Olivia’s house bookshelves. One is by Laura Archera, the controversial violin-playing second wife of Aldous Huxley. Both she and Huxley were prophetic in seeing spiritual development, mysticism and the exploration of the mysteries of the “energy” thing were going to be big in the late 20th and 21st centuries.”

Archera was Italian and during the Second World War she wasn’t able to practice as a musician so she sought other ways to expand her creativity and awareness. I found a first edition book by Laura Archera, published in 1963 called You Are Not the Target which, as I flicked through it this morning, seems totally contemporary. A self-help book we would call it today.

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The book consists of a series of exercises or “recipes” as Archera calls them to transform bad energy into good. In the “Converting Energy” chapter she recommends juggling different “energies” around: Pure energy (“Imagine the enormous amount of pure energy concentrated in one small flower, in one piece of fruit, in a single seed which can become a forest.”) creative energy or a moment when you felt good and “destructive energy” or a moment when you felt terrible. You re-live good and bad moments (as opposed to just remembering them). The more you juggle the different types of energy around the more you become a director of the energy you want to feel. There’s also a chapter called “Dance Naked with Music” which I thought had been invented by Regena Thomashauer the multi-millionaire head of the “School For Womanly Arts” in NYC. Archera says to dance naked in order to really experience what freedom means. Thomashauer has tweaked the idea a bit. She tells women to do the dancing in front of a mirror. And the first song should be angry, the second sexy, and then you go into your male-controlled office with this whirling Dervish energy unleashed and you sock it to them. Archera says something similar. “Use this recipe whenever you must do something requiring especially controlled behaviour; use it before an official function or a difficult interview.”

Huxley admits in his introduction that the book has forced him to “practice what, as a theorist of human nature, I had always preached.”

He was skinny, 6 foot 4  and with scary fish bowl eyes behind thick spectacles. Some things are best not to imagine. By the way, here’s an earring that Olivia bought me when she got back from her trip to make the documentary. A spider. It turns out we ‘re both trying to get over our phobia. Olivia reckoned that this would help. I don’t have a pierced ear so I’m keeping it in my make-up mag for the time being.

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