Excerpt from California's Over
by Louis Jones
A hand-crank Victrola, missing its crank; a lot of first editions and rare bound galley proofs, by writers in Farmican's circle; a leather box filled with ivory sticks for casting the I Ching; orange-crates of records from the fifties and sixties, "Odetta Sings," "Charlie Parker," "My Son the Nut," "A Child's Christmas in Wales," "Son of Word Jazz," "Flower Drum Song"; a box of old bent shoes; a trunk of dress-up materials like feather boas and top hats; a box of reel-to-reel tapes of parties in the fifties and sixties, where it was customary to leave a tape recorder constantly running to record whatever happened (including songs sung in the Farmican kitchen by Tim Hardin, two members of The Weavers, and that woman folk-singer with the flutter-strangle vibrato); a gold-encrusted medieval reliquary with crystal windows, like a lantern, which contained a wad of toilet paper bearing a streak of (purportedly) Rimbaud's shit; boxes and boxes of Farmican's correspondence, which I was to send off to the auction house's autograph-and-document appraiser; the actual heavy blue gun with which Farmican shot himself, still tagged with the Marin County Sheriff Department's cardboard disk on a string around the trigger; another, identical, gun, with the words "+Not This One+" written on its barrel in White-Out erasure fluid; other now-archaic writing materials like carbon paper and onion-skin; a bartender's towel, framed under glass and identified as the towel thrown into the toilet upstairs in Vesuvio's Saloon on June 10, 1960, by some discouraged writer named Ed Dunkel in a "Formal Throwing-in-the-Towel Procedure"; an elaborate HO-scale model railroad crushed under a ton of congealed New Yorker magazines; an ornate wooden table, later identified as a "Huerter" table, which the appraiser on the scene beheld with a weak-in-the-knees look, immediately shrouding it and standing guard beside it, unable to stop petting it and murmuring, "This is an important table"; scrapbooks, clipped book reviews and newspaper articles, especially
archives of the publicity surrounding the battles with police and National Guardsmen over People's Park in Berkeley in 1969, in which James Farmican figures largely. It was only four days I spent at the Farmican house, in its basements and attics, "Lifting, Hauling, Sorting, and Filing," under the direction of experts and appraisers from a San Francisco auction house. But in here upon this inconsequential computer screen (with its blessed annihilating delete button, present always to add anti-matter to this matter and, soundlessly, bring me back again to the original empty light-square, the infinite combination of all integers, positive and negative, equaling zero), inside this light-box I can reconstruct every molecule of those four days in 1973, with a saturating omniscience possible only years later„ as if a wrong turn might be found, or some error, before which my life was filled with all possibility fanning everywhere, after which I began to fuse into this single wrong man at 555 Idylberry Road.