As a lifetime shirker of responsibility for cooking as a necessary component of household labor, the human potential in me for communist love and compassion demands revolution, demands I spend my daily material labor-hours differently. Perhaps in so doing I can model a better mode of being. Toward that end I pull out and peruse Ita Jones’s hippie-modernist “underground cookbook,” The Grub Bag. Brad Johannsen’s other-dimensional cover art is super trippy. (For those seeking more of Johannsen’s artwork, look for copies of his book Occupied Spaces.) Jones writes to today’s reader here in the twenty-first century as if a being from a utopian future, despite The Grub Bag‘s publication almost half a century ago in March 1971. Comrades, this is the book we ought to be reading in our study groups and revolutionary sanghas. The book began as “a food column carried by the Liberation News Service,” the news service of the Movement here in the United States in the late 1960s. Jones gives us her peace brother / peace sister salute by proclaiming on the book’s back cover, “I have always been on the side of revolution, on the side of people struggling to break the chains that oppress them. I support wars of liberation. I am a mystic. I seek to penetrate the nature of nature. I am a poet. I seek meaning. I am part of a generation that exploded six years ago and my creative energy is part of that explosion.”
After landing and grabbing a quick lunch at an In-N-Out Burger near LAX, we drop off our bags at our Airbnb, a pretty little poolside cottage a short walk from the Huntington, and begin to tour the city. Everything near and far looks amazing here in Pasadena: the trees, the hills, the restaurants, the architecture. We spend our first evening admiring the flora while walking the grounds beside the Griffith Park Observatory, and peeking in at Skylight Books, where my eye lands upon a new book in the 33 1/3 series on Fugazi’s In on the Kill Taker and Rob Chapman’s Psychedelia and Other Colours. Most of this West Coast ground of being hasn’t yet been “languaged” for me, so it’s a bit like “seeing what Adam had seen on the morning of his creation” (as Huxley says of his experience with mescaline). On the morning of day two, we drive to Santa Monica, landing for brunch at a somewhat mediocre, overpriced crêperie. After just a few short hours here, one detects firsthand the city’s monstrous antinomies, ones Mike Davis evoked so powerfully more than a quarter of a century ago in his book City of Quartz. Walking through Tongva Park, for instance, I observe homeless men and women sleeping on benches beside lush beds of what I soon learn to identify thanks to an app on my cellphone as Lindheimer’s Beeblossom, American Century Plant, Birds-of-Paradise, Tree Aeonium. Out along the Santa Monica Pier, a middle-aged topless man with glistening skin performs a rendition of “People Are Strange” while photographing himself with a selfie stick. Upon our return to Pasadena, we allow ourselves time to swim in a pool and lay in the sun. The day concludes with a dusky stroll through Bungalow Heaven, our wandering met by twin cosmic giggles: an ostentation of peafowl and an outdoor performance by Top 40 rapper Bryce Vine.