Speaking for all of the Mamas and Papas, I'd say that the absolutely most beautiful freaked out cat-- kook, if you prefer that word-- we've ever met was the late Joe Gould, the author of The Oral History of the World. Joe was so old by the time we first met him in Greenwich Village that nobody could remember when he first arrived or how long he'd been collecting notes for his History, But according to the best estimates, which means the ones you got from old pushcart owners and not Joe himself, he was on the scene before Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and the rest of those 1920s guys. Joe himself always claimed that he was "a contemporary of Walt Whitman." And as heavy as he looked, you better believe you'd believe him!
He made his living for what it was worth by selling little books of poetry, foreign newspapers and stuff in the coffee shops around Macdougal St. Strangely enough, that's how most of us and here I don't just include the Mamas and the Papas, bu the Lovin Spoonful and the rest of us who started on that scene-- including Dylan-- first heart about The Beatles. That is, we bought one of the funny British rock magazine that Joe was selling then. That was more than four years ago. It seems like an eternity now in terms of time--minutes and hours. But Joe Gould and his nutty Oral History of the World, which he always carried around in little-kid-school-notebooks, is still real. If you'd pardon me for a second, I'd like to take time out to cry. I just remembered a friend I haven't seen in awhile.
You'll have to forgive Cass. She and Joe were very tight, and his death tore her up a lot. But I guess that's true of all of us. Like I know I couldn't talk to anyone for a week after I heard that Dick Farina had checked out.
Dick was Joan Baez' brother in law, married to her younger sister Mimi. He and Mimi were a great folk-singing team with one groovy album to their credit at the time he died. In addition, Dick was a really promising writer. What made his death so sad was the fact that he checked out in a motorcycle accident on the way home from a party celebrating the publication of his first book Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me. Dick was the kind of guy who many people would call a kook too. But everyone on our scene loved him. To get away from the sadness, I guess our really favorite kooks are the gang of nuts who run the B&H Dairy Resturant on Second Ave. and 8th St. in New York City. They are somwhere else altogether!
The B&H Is this little Jewish Resturant, about the width of two closets and not much deeper in length, that serves the greatest green pea soup in the world. In addition, it's one of the funniest places to eat in the world--chiefly because of the guys who run it. Of course, like most funny places, it's impossible to describe to anyone who hasn't been there. However, try to imagine a little resturant that is always crowded with New York cab drivers, artists, actors, unemployed musicians, professors, gamblers, Catskill Mt. comics and assorted local guys. And let them all do their own funny things, against a background dialogue by four of the funniest, most insulting waiters of the B&H. Well maybe not quite the essence. I guess the essence is really that when Sol and Lenny and Sarge and Norman know you're uptight for money and hungry, they fill the bowl of green pea soup a little bit fuller and throw in an extra hunk of buttered pumpernickel on the side.
If you don't think that's kooky by today's business standards, you don't know what business is all about. And if you don't think we love the guys at the B&H for all of the extra hunks of buttered pumpernickel they gave us when we were uptight, you don't know what the Mamas and Papas are all about.
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