A Quick Sketch of My Thumbnail

From "Something Good For A Change"

by Wavy Gravy

Born: Hugh Romney, May 15, 1936, East Greenbush, New York.
Sign: Slippery when wet.

: P.S. 16, Albany, New York. William Hall High School, West Hartford, Connecticut. Volunteered for the military draft in the fall of '54 and was honorably discharged after twenty-two months of service in the United States Army. (I am in no way recommending the military as a career choice. The Korean War had just wound down and I figured it was a reasonable assumption that I could slip in and out before the next little war rolled around. It was a dumb decision on my part but it helped pay for my college education.)

1957: Entered Boston University Theater Department under the Korean G.I. Bill. Started jazz and poetry on the east coast at Pat's Pebble in the Rock on Huntington Avenue in Boston. After a year and a half, defected to the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater in New York City. Graduated in 1961.
1958-1962: Attended Neighborhood Playhouse by day, served by night as poetry and entertainment director (with John Brent) at the Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village. (I went from being a published teen-aged beatnik poet to hip comic tongue dancer right before my very eyes.) Was married to Elizabeth by a blind Harlem Street singer and preacher named Reverend Gary Davis in the Gaslight.

1962: Moved to California at the request of Lenny Bruce, who became my part-time manager. Recorded "Hugh Romney, Third Stream Humor" for World Pacific Records. (I recorded this live when I was the opening act for Thelonious Monk on the night the great Club Renaissance closed its doors forever.)

1963: Joined the Committee, an improvisational theater company in San Francisco. Daughter Sabrina born. Purchased a condo in Marin City and a Packard Caribbean convertible in Hollywood. Tuned in, turned on, and dropped out -- way out. Entered deep space. Left wife, daughter, and stuff and journeyed to northern Arizona to join up with Hopi Indians and await the coming global cataclysm. (The Hopis said I was early but let me hang out anyway and regroup my head.) Connected with interconnectedness of everything and surrendered to Law of Sacred Coincidence.
Returned to Los Angeles and regrouped life. Divorced wife, gave away stuff, and began to float aimlessly on the ocean of one thing after another.

1964: Financed free-floating lifestyle through sale of single ounces of marijuana packaged in decorator bags and containing tiny toys. (The dubious apex of this short-lived profession was when I scored a kilo for the Beatles.) Met Bonnie Jean Beecher at her restaurant, the Fred C. Dobbs. She put peanuts in my hamburger. Together we survived L.A. Acid Tests and in 1965 we married each other. We also married the Hog Farm. The Hog Farm is the name still associated with our expanded family. We acquired it while living rent free on a mountaintop in Sunland, California, in exchange for the caretaking of forty actual hogs. Within a year of moving there, the people engaged in our bizarre communal experiment began to outnumber the pigs. At first we all had separate jobs. I had a grant to teach brain-damaged children improvisation while teaching a similar class to contract players at Columbia Pictures. Harrison Ford was one of my students. My wife Bonnie was a successful television actress. Joining the scene were musicians, a computer programmer, a race-car driver, a telephone company executive, a cinematographer, several mechanics, and a heap of hippies.

1966: We performed light shows and energy games at the Shrine Exposition Hall in Los Angeles with Cream, Jimi Hendrix, the Jefferson Airplane, and the Grateful Dead. The Shrine holds ten thousand people. On Sunday afternoons we had free happenings on our mountaintop. Maybe a hundred people in open celebration.

1967: We scored a couple of old school buses with funds earned as extras in Otto Preminger's movie, Skidoo, and outfitted them for our exodus. I underwent my first spinal surgery and joined the caravan of Hog Farmers in New Mexico.

1968: Summer Solstice. Accompanying our extensive entourage was Pigasus Pig, the first female black-and-white hog candidate for president. We debuted our traveling road show at the Los Alamos proving grounds and set off cross-country to share our open celebration with the rest of the free world. (Driver! The United State of America! And step on it!) We were a light show, a rock band, a painting, a poem, an anti-war rally, an anthem for freedom and change. Mostly we were a palette for the audience to blast off from, and the audience was also the spaceship and the star. Bought twelve-acre farm in Llano, New Mexico.

1969: Served as chief of the Please Force at the Woodstock music festival, where the Hog Farm administered the free kitchen and bad-trip/freak-out tent. Was captured in the movie "Woodstock" and propelled into the world press. Became good-humored peacemaker and purveyor of life support at major rock festivals and political demonstrations of the sixties and seventies. Changed name to Wavy Gravy at the Texas Pop Festival. Experienced spinal fusion and acquired all-star cast.

1970: Helped initiate an experiment of buying back the earth and deeding it back to itself. Purchased 590 acres in northern Vermont and called it Earth People's Park. Made a movie, Medicine Ball Caravan, for Warner Brothers, which ended up in England.

1971: Journeyed with two buses filled with food, medical supplies, and forty-two people from seventeen countries, to Pakistan and the Himalayas. Returned to United States and captured record for having the largest number of active diseases in a single human being at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. Upon my release, I dictated my book The Hog Farm and Friends and traveled to the west coast.

1972: Third and final spinal fusion. The surgery left me in my cast of thousands, firmly ensconced at Pacific High School in the Santa Cruz mountains. This is a center for alternative education rented by David Crosby for me to recuperate at with the whole Hog Farm. Bonnie Jean gave birth to 'Howdy Do-Good Gravy Tomahawk truckstop Romney' at the Tomahawk Truckstop in Boulder, Colorado. (he has since simplified the name to: Jordan Romney). We helped the Zippies run a rock for president and a roll for vice president (so you can always eat the vice president); I lose the rock in a New York taxicab. We traveled to Sweden for the United Nations Conference on HumanEnvironment with a contingent of eco-freaks, indigenous Americans, poets, scientists, and Margaret Mead.

1973: Blanko.

1974: The largest teaching hospital in Southeast Asia was destroyed by U. S. bombers on Christmas Day. I joined others in effort to rebuild Bach Mai hospital. Camp Winnarainbow founded in the Mendocino woodlands.

1975: Woolsey Street house purchased by the Hog Farm, followed soon thereafter by the founding of the Babylon Telephone Answering Service on the front porch. I attended the World Survival Symposium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and started a new world religion in San Francisco called The First Church of Fun. Wife Bonnie Jean takes Sufi name, "Jahanara."

1976: American bicentennial and birth of the Birthday Party, which nominated Nobody for president. I journeyed to Kansas and the Republican convention, where I was advised by state and federal agents, "Get out of here. You're too weird to arrest." Tenth wedding anniversary. Bill Graham produces The Last Waltz. I told him, "Bill, you shouldn't have."

1977: More blanko.

1978: Temporarily died in Berkeley and was later resurrected in Boulder Creek and Boston.

1979: Purchased the Henry Street house and sold Woolsey Street house, with the exception of the front porch, where we continued to maintain our answering service. The Seva Foundation founded in Heartlands, Michigan.

1980: "Nobody for President" tours cross-country in the family Greyhound, which is temporarily dubbed "The Nobody One."

1982: Began purchase of land in Laytonville, California, called Black Oak Ranch.

1983: Moved Camp Winnarainbow to Laytonville.

l984: Toured in Greyhound bus with Unreal Band for Nobody. Seva "Sing Out for Sight" concert held outside Toronto with The Band and the Grateful Dead.

1986: Turn fifty. Had mind blown publicly by family and friends at massive Berkeley benefit.

1987: Jerry Garcia, with acoustic and electric bands, inaugurated our annual fundraiser to help pay for Black Oak Ranch. Produced in cahoots with Bill Graham, it is called "Electric on the Eel."

1988: Nobody IV tour, with the rock band Vicious Hippies. We went from sea to shining sea. Busted with the homeless in Washington, D.C. Help produce Home Aid Concert for The Seva Foundation in New York City at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

1989: Woodstock twenty-year anniversary.

1990: Hog Farm twenty-five-year reunion. Ran for Berkeley City Council with slogan "Let's elect a real clown for a change." Lost election, but kept marbles, mind, mittens, and sense of humor.

1992: Became ice-cream flavor for Ben & Jerry's.

1994: Master of Ceremonies at Woodstock 2.


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