Speed Runs/The Golden Dawn & Epiphanies...
The Golden Dawn now available again1 click the pic!
I met Roberto sometime in the late spring/early summer of 1966 in Denver Colorado. He was about 8 years older than me yet upon our meeting and over time we became friends.
Perhaps it's best to start with a brief description of Roberto. Originally from Mayan country in Mexico... He spoke English, Spanish, his native Mayan dialect and German. Studied in Europe and in Mexico City at University. When he came back from Germany, he brought a beautiful German woman named Anna. Roberto stood about 6 ft, 6 ft 1 and had the distinct Mayan face; he was physically well built and extremely strong. A wonderful sense of humor resided in him and one of the joys of being around Roberto was his sense of fun and the way that he could explore consciousness with word/consciousness games. I will go into more detail about these later.
At the time I met Roberto I was living on the street crashing here and there, staying occasionally across from the Green Spider Coffee House at the "Speed House" which is self-explanatory in its name. Outside of busking I was working at the Green Spider for room and board which actually meant sleeping on the stage when everybody left at night... board which meant food of course, usually the fruit and cheese plate that was the house specialty and all the coffee or espresso that I could drink.
At the Spider, I made drinks for customers, cleaned up around the cafe, and when the stage was emptied of performer/s I would have to jump up and start singing/playing which would usually drive somebody from the audience to come up and take my place.
Behind the Green Spider was a dusty parking lot that included an abandoned 1951 green Hudson Hornet. When I got tired of sleeping on the stage and the Speed House (which at times was too crazy), I would make my way to the Hudson Hornet to sleep on either the back or the front seats. One night in June when I proceeded to go out the back door of the cafe to sleep in the car, I found Roberto already crashed out in the front seat. This was a novelty to me has he and Anna had an apartment just off of Colfax Boulevard at that time.
I asked him what you are doing here "Oh Anna kicked me out she found out I had been sleeping with another girl." he said rather sheepishly. We spent a good part of that late evening/early morning conversing. He talked of Anna, living in Europe, his home, why he liked Denver, and more. Our time together would be defined largely by the conversations we had, and the subtle teaching that he did, conscious or not. Is this not true in most things human?
One of the characteristics that I found that enthralled me with Roberto was his love of word play. Looking back, he now reminds me of Lewis Caroll in the way that he would answer questions. There was a Koan-ish sensibility in much that he said…
“Mad Hatter: “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”
“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
“No, I give it up,” Alice replied: “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter”
― Lewis Carroll
We often played the word games when we met up. The hours would pass as one Silly-gism after another would be punted back and forth. Little did I know that play would lead to a defining moment in my life a year later…
We were listening to:
Roberto could be an enigma, in that he offered little in regard to what kept him floating along or where he would disappear to days on end. That was part of the package deal.
The summer wore on, I ended up hopping freights to California as I shared in an earlier posting.
A month or so later, I got back from California (riding the bus all the way) I connected with Roberto a few days later. Roberto's go to at that point usually was pot, but he pulled me aside outside of the Folklore Center and said “You got to try this! Let's go down to the drugstore!!) And we did… while we were at the drugstore, he instructed me to pick up several Benzedrine inhalers, as did he. We went back to his flat where we broke the inhalers open and ingested the contents. Mind you this was kind of disgusting as there was a piece of cotton inside the inhaler with a bunch of really foul liquid. At that point I hadn’t tried speed that I now recall…
Within a half an hour it felt like the top of my head was coming off. Roberto and I were off running up and down the streets of Denver like two mad men. We ended up that afternoon again outside of the Folklore Center when Michael O'Sullivan (a well-known local) came out started talking to us and invited us to show up at a fashion shoot at the HipBone Boutique the next day... (Michael O’Sullivan had encouraged me earlier to ride freights out to California) Roberto was dressed in his usual; a serape, jeans & a traditional white shirt you see in Mexico… along with his usual sandals made out of tires (quite the thing in Mexico at that point), I was dressed in a plainsman wide brimmed western hat along with a leather fringe jacket and calvary boots... So, I guess we were candidates for what was passing as fashion then.
We spent that night running all over the place, talking like crazy and when the drugstore opened up in the morning we went in and got more inhalers and re-dosed again.
We made it to the HipBone about 1:00 in the afternoon. It was a lovely September day as I recall. the place was absolutely buzzing. First Roberto was photographed with Serape, etc., and then other clothes from the Bootique. I sat there, peaking out of my mind watching all the proceedings… Then after about an hour, it was my turn. I was posed on a chair in my western drag, and the photographer asked me to look towards the camera. as I was sitting, he snapped a photo. I saw the flash expand, then contract and then screaming light dove straight into my head and then my head snapped back...
The next thing I knew people were looking down at me and I was flat on the floor having passed out from the flash. They got me a drink and we finished the fashion shoot and the two of us went speeding down the street.
We kept hitting the pharmacies and kept going on the fourth day he dropped out and I kept going. Nothing by half measures…
Our Nights Were Blazing, Our Days, Insane:
I was up for some 5 days and nights without sleep. I found myself leaning against a wall on the street falling asleep. I made my way to my family’s home, to take a break. Three days later, the Denver Police came through the door and arrested me, taking me into custody, but that is a story for another day…
Part II of Roberto Apodaca coming soon!