Matte’s Blog

Phoebe and Jim

How fascinating it is to be living in times when political discussions begin with “when sanity is restored…” and end with “…from a scaffold erected on the White House lawn”.

I met Jim and Phoebe from Palo Alto in the late spring of 1976 at an EST training and found them delightful. And clearly it was reciprocal because shortly thereafter they called me up and invited me to join them on a Point Reyes hike.

It was a wonderful day. From the Visitors’ Center, we took the Bear Valley Trail that mostly followed the creek, crossing it repeatedly on stepping stones. It was cool and shady along the creek with lots of ferns and other low-light vegetation, and we hiked and talked all the way to the coast and then turned right along the cliffs for half a mile or so until we could get down to the beach, where we ate sandwiches we’d picked up at a deli on the way. Then we reversed our route 4.5 miles back to the Visitors’ Center. Nine miles seems like a long way to me now, now that i can barely walk 9 yards, but we were young and fit, Besides, they’d provided white crosses (slang name for dexedrine) to perk us up.

We all had such a good time that they came to the city to hang out with me the following Saturday. And that was so much fun that they invited me down to dinner at their home in Palo Alto the next weekend.

Dinner was early so that her 12-year-old son from a previous relationship could eat with us before he was packed off to bathe before bed and we could do a blitzkrieg washing of the dishes. When we’d done that i announced that i needed to go pee. At which Phoebe squeaked as a look of shock and horror swept her face, and, too late, i realized that the boy had not yet emerged from the bathroom.

And more importantly, to me, that Phoebe saw me as a child molester just waiting for an opportunity to go into the bathroom and ravish her kid.

And worse yet, that there was nothing i could say to walk it back. So i just muttered that i couldn’t expect them to believe anything i said, dashed out, pissed in the alley, and drove home.

Afterwards i realized that there were some bitter ironies. First, that the only person in that household to whom i was sexually attracted was not her son but rather her handsome husband who’d escaped unscathed when he spent the night between EST sessions at my place. The other was that, not being a pedophile, i’d paid so little attention to the kid that i hadn’t even been tracking where he was and that of course if i’d seen the bathroom door shut, i’d have remembered he was in there.

All that too late though, so there was no further contact either way.

Meanwhile, an interesting assemblage in San Francisco.

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  1. ckm3
    Posted 7 December 2013 at 09:18 | Permalink

    For most people, what stays in Las Vegas is the money.

    Most excellent turning of the phrase

    • Matte Gray
      Posted 7 December 2013 at 14:26 | Permalink

      Many thanks.

  2. Chimpus_Dorkus
    Posted 21 December 2013 at 19:59 | Permalink

    Ouch. Poor bb, here’s hoping you have some good holidays etc to cheer you up and a speedy recovery.
    Be careful, will ya?!?

    • Matte Gray
      Posted 21 December 2013 at 20:50 | Permalink

      The holidays are most definitely cheerful, the recovery is progressing apace, and the caution level has been dramatically increased.

  3. Posted 24 January 2014 at 12:08 | Permalink

    Thank you for remembering Barry. And for loving him, as I did. I am glad he got to see a loving face before he died. You are right, he wanted to go out on his terms and it was never going to be pretty. Barry, even though he’d be cleaned up, was always disappointed after falling or having a heart attack, being picked up by ambulance, treated and then dumped right back onto the streets… He gave up hope for a place indoors after realizing that even that level of frailty was not enough to deserve housing in this city. he did admit to me he would have preferred to live inside. As you said, he was not crazy. 🙂 Again, thanks for the love and kindness you and others showed him. I know he appreciated it.

    • Matte Gray
      Posted 24 January 2014 at 12:26 | Permalink

      Since i wrote that account i’ve been back to the makeshift shrine several times and have talked with folks who knew him longer than i, people who were also there the afternoon before he died and to whom he also expressed very clearly that he did not want to go to the hospital. Some of the people who knew him better are organizing a little wake for him on the 1st of February, and i’ll post more details here as i learn them. Meanwhile, a useful resource is, with an article on 22 Jan that has extensive comments.

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