Quick Sketch of My Thumbnail
"Something Good For A Change"
by Wavy Gravy
Born: Hugh Romney, May 15, 1936, East Greenbush, New York.
Sign: Slippery when wet.
Education: 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
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,
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
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.
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,
1980: "Nobody for President" tours cross-country
in the family Greyhound, which is temporarily dubbed "The Nobody
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.