Parking in Mountain View on a Friday night is a bit of an adventure. Fortunately, finding the bookstore wasn't. Books, Inc. is of a breed that's dying in most places in the country, but not in the SF Bay area--the independent general bookstore. The selection may be a little smaller, but it's still a big store, and the selection is interesting. When I arrived I went up to the second floor, which is just a little loft cafe, and had a "Mexican mocha," a mocha made with Ibarra chocolate--dark chocolate with coarse sugar and cinnamon in it. I've used it to make hot cocoa before. I sat down with the mocha--which was absolutely wonderful--and watched the Pranksters, and their audience.
You'd think that such an archetypal 1960s phenomenon would draw out a lot of fifty-somethings who were college age when Kesey was out doing his acid tests. And, you know, you'd be right. I think more than half the audience was comprised of people the Pranksters had intersected with previously. The show they gave was a mix of amateur performance art and readings from the two new books they were promoting, Kesey's Jail Journal and Spit in the Ocean #7. The latter one is a remembrance of Kesey by dozens of writers and Pranksters, nominally the last volume of a very sporadic literary journal Kesey edited. The former is pretty much what it says it is--a journal of odd musings kept by Kesey when he was serving his sixty day sentence in the Santa Cruz jail.
The event was--well--trippy. It's odd to meet characters from the book you just read, including a couple major ones. I heard "Mountain Girl" tell the story of Kesey's arrest her way; she wasn't one of the featured speakers, it seemed, but she might well have been the best.
At some points I wandered out, around the bus. It's a (mostly) road-worthy art piece, covered with oddities. I overheard two people talking about the skeleton. Grizzled Bearded Guy: "You know, those are Kesey's bones, right there. They cleaned 'em all up." Thirty-Something Guy, not sounding too surprised: "Really?" Grizzled Bearded Guy: "Well, that's the rumor I'm startin' now. Sounds good, doesn't it?"
I talked with one of the people who'd ridden down on it, on how she'd ridden on top of the bus when they were taking the coastal highway between San Francisco and Sebastopol, and how alarming that was, given how the highway twists up and down along the rocks. I bet.
Just before I left, after the talk, one of the Pranksters handed me a business card that was made to look up like the King of Hearts, with Kesey's face, reading "SpitFurther JailJournal BookVenture 2003." He said, "All the information is on the back." Naturally, the back was blank.