Bob Dylan in my lap.....




I was 19 years old and working part time nights as a bus boy at Max's Kansas City which was a major gathering spot for musicians, poets, and artists like Robert Rauschenberg, John Chamberlain, Jasper Johns, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and was also a favorite hangout of Andy Warhol and Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe.  Patti Smith in 1974 opened on NYE for Phil Ochs.  Debbie Harry of Blondie was also a waitress there.  Bob Marley and the Wailers opened for Bruce Springsteen there in 1972.

During the day I babysat for america hoffman; the 3 year old son of Abbie Hoffman - the famous political / social activist; part of the Chicago Seven, author of Steal This Book etc.  In 1973 the police entrapped Abbie into a drug deal and in early 1974 he skipped bail and went underground.  I was living in the West Village and Abbie Hoffman's wife, Anita, asked me to babysit for their only son America.  I was excited to be babysitting for the legendary Abbie Hoffman.  Her apartment was under constant FBI surveillance.

I'd pick up america and hang with him from 3 to 5 until Anita got home.  She didn't know it but I had a big crush on her.  She was 32 years old at the time.  So I was excited when Anita invited me to a concert at Madison Sq Garden.  The concert was called An Evening With Salvador Allende: The Friends of Chile Benefit - it was organized by Phil Ochs - another big protest / folksinger from the 60's / 70's.  Phil Ochs came to NYC in the 60's to be the best songwriter in the village.  He is quoted to have said: "then I met Bob Dylan and decided to become the second best."

Phil Ochs organized the concert in memory of Allende and other victims of a CIA supported coup to oust his government.  Ochs invited Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Dennis Hopper (fresh from Easy Rider fame) Dave Van Ronk, Joan Baez, the Beach Boys, the Pentagon Paper's Daniel Ellsberg, Melanie, Tom Rush to perform.  For whatever reason the concern sales were bad and Ochs was threatened with cancellation until two days before the concert he asked his old friend Bob Dylan to take part and the concert sold out in minutes post the announcement.

So May 9, 1974 I go with Anita Hoffman to Madison Square Garden.  And instead of sitting in the audience, we are ushered backstage.  I am watching all these folk singer legends when word spread that Dylan had showed up well ahead of time and passed the hours drinking with old friends Dave Van Ronk and Arlo Guthrie.  When Bob went to perform his 15 minute set he was so drunk that he had to be propped up by the other performers. 

But I was thrilled to see Bob Dylan up close - I was already a huge Dylan devotee.

After the concert we were led into the dressing room where Dylan was literally holding court amidst all these stars - the star of stars - Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Dave Van Ronk, Patrick Sky, Tom Rush, Melanie, Mike Love and Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, Daniel Ellsberg etc.  Dylan was completely drunk and berating a young band member, unmercifully about his sex life.  Dylan was brutally sharp and harsh - but everyone - all those stars - were laughing at Dylan's remarks at the complete expense of this young poor guy.  They all laughed whether it was funny or not.

Post the concert Phil Ochs invites all to his Central Park West place for a party.  Dylan insists that he wants to take the subway there.  (This is 1974 when Dylan was at one of his super peak fame periods.)  Dennis Hopper convinces Bob that he is Bob Dylan and that he just can't take the subway - not a valid option.

So we go through a secret underground labyrinth like tunnel, way below the Garden, and exit onto 8th avenue sidewalk when a young fan rushes up to Dylan, grabs his hat and runs off.  Dennis Hopper bolts after the kid and makes a flying tackle of the fan and retrieves Dylan's hat.

Someone commandeers a yellow checker taxi cab and with the entourage we enter the cab.  I find myself sitting in the back seat with Joan Baez on my left and Phil Ochs on my right.  Then the cab door opens again and Dennis Hopper pushes a very inebriated Dylan into the cab.

He stumbles into the cab, lands on his back, and directly onto my lap.  Bob Dylan is staring up at me with the bluest of ice-blue eyes.  With a multitude of thin spider thread like scars under each eye - I guess the result of his motorcycle accident back in the 60's.  Bob Dylan is laying very comfortably across my lap, his head maybe 2 feet from mine, and he continues to look me in the eye probably trying to figure out who the hell I was.

Me - I had died and gone to heaven and I was hallucinating that the Pieta / literally Jesus Christ was in my lap.  I cradled Dylan's head in my lap while Dylan kept asking me "Do you see stars when you cum?" and "What's so great about cumming?"

At the party Dylan sat on the floor drinking a bottle of scotch and talking to 3 young women.  But I was pretty much still in shock to clearly assess what was going on.

I met someone at the party who introduced me some time later to a cool artist also living in lower manhattan. Her name is Kim.  We ended up going out together for the next year and eventually amicably split up.  I ran into her about a year later and she was carrying a bass guitar and she said she was seeing a musician named Thurston.  By 1980 everyone knew Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth.

Years later while I was living in a mud brick thatched roofed hut in West Africa, I wrote to Bob Dylan telling him I had the largest collection of Dylan tapes in sub-saharan Africa.  In my book, then and now, Dylan is a national treasure - so I cut him a lot of slack.

ps: Abbie Hoffman committed suicide in 1976.

Phil Ochs committed suicide in 1989.

Both suffered from bi polar disorders.