Recorded February 25, 2007 on luver.com
As Steve wrote when Frank passed away, “I first met Frank way back in 1968 on the quad at the campus of Cal State San Bernardino … I was the young hippie riding a skateboard to class and he was, Frank … in the chair with his pointer and board. We instantly connected and soon were stirring up controversy and trouble in that little pond.”
Steve is now a registered nurse in Oregon. He is also a musician and has played bass with Les Gendarmes du Swing, the Wild Whiskey Boys, The Primal Music Syndicate, Mescal Martini, the DadoSa Band, Jazzmind and many others. He played upright bass with Frank and with Frank’s Cherotic All-Star Band a number of times after catching up with Frank again in 2006, including several performances in Los Angeles when Frank toured there as part of his campaign for President. Steve gave a “fiery passionate introduction speech” for Frank at Il Corral, an underground music club in L.A.
This interview is a look into the history of the 1960s, 1970s, and beyond through Steve’s and Frank’s stories. At the same time, they share an alternate approach to life that endures, and talk about how the small acts we perform in our daily lives and relationships have deep and powerful effects.
Below is an excerpt from the book, Deep Conversations in the Shaman’s Den, Volume 1.
Frank: I met this dude 40 years ago in San Bernardino, California. He was barefo …
Linda: He was barefoot.
Frank: On a s …
Steve: Skateboard …
Frank: Throwing a Frisbee. Playing a harmonica.
Linda: All at the same time. (laughs)
Frank: He turned into one of the most important people in my life. What does that say about my life? (laughter) Steve Emanuel!
Linda: Take it, Steve!
Steve: It’s always an honor to be in the presence of Frank, to be perfectly frank, which is something it is impossible for me to be, but anyways. Yeah, Frank and I go back quite a ways and we’ve had some rather amazing and unusual experiences together which we will probably speak about in a little bit.
Frank: He is (Frank sounds) taller than …
Linda: Taller than you! That’s not talk show etiquette … the host is taller than the guest. (laughing)
Steve: Well, I’ve never been much for etiquette! (laughing)
Frank: Do you remember the first time you saw me?
Steve: Oh yeah, man, Cal State, San Bernardino. (Frank sounds) That was just a small campus, there really wasn’t much to it at that point.
Frank: And a new campus.
Steve: And a new campus too, and so … It was only the second year the thing had been there. There weren’t even any dorms or anything. So, everybody had to live off campus, which was kind of fun, actually. It was better that way. ’Cause there was this funky neighborhood mostly near by and … which was a real mixed up neighborhood, that’s where we met our mutual friend, Louise, she had this hippie commune down the street from where I lived and so …
Frank: Really, it was before I met Louise.
Steve: Yeah, right, well I introduced you to Louise ’cause I found Frank on campus and gravitated towards him ’cause he was about the most interesting thing on that campus, you know. There were some pretty girls, I will admit (laughs).
Frank: Why was …
Linda: Frank interesting?
Steve: Well, look at him … he’s interesting (laughter) period. What the heck, plus I rapidly found out he’s a rather outrageous character and you know, that’s the part that I liked the best, was the fact that he’s just, you know, out there! And I being somewhat out there at the time myself, you know, it was a logical association, shall we say, it fell together pretty easily, and, um … it was a neat time, you know. It was 1968, things were kind of really hopping, you know in terms of the changes that were happening to the way people thought about things especially in the college situation where people’s … You know, it was just a real new era. I mean, it didn’t last very long, but it was a very new era while it lasted for those four or five years that it was like that. It was just really, you know, very expanding to the way people thought and felt, the way they acted. The kind of relationships they had with each other were … a lot of it was really new … much of it didn’t last! Most people did not have the emotional equipment or the endurance or whatever, to really pull that off, you know. Every once in awhile I’ll run into somebody who knew you back then and what happened to poor Frank (Linda laughs) … well, I’ll tell you, bro … you know, he’s not doing quite so bad as you might have expected (laughing).
You know at that time when I first met Frank and we were first palling around with each other, I don’t know, it just, it seemed real natural … you would be you, the way you are and I would be me, the way I was, you know, we’re both kind of societal misfits, in our own peculiar way. Maybe I elected to be that way, but I really didn’t have any choice either, you know what I mean. I was going to be like that. You know, you grow up like you’re going to grow up. And you’re raised the way you’re raised and I grew up in a bohemian atmosphere. There was always all kinds of people throughout the households that I grew up in. Artists and musicians of all types, and races and ages and all that stuff.
Frank: I grew up …
Linda: Military dad, ex-Mormon mom …
Steve: Yeah, right. He came out of this horribly repressive situation and then that caregiver you had back then was a mother fucker. (Frank sounds)
Linda: The guy who pulled the gun?
Steve: Yeah, right. So you know …
Frank: I called the Black Panthers …
Linda: When the guy pulled the gun.
Steve: It was funny, back then, because you know we had our little SDS chapter. They weren’t even called the Black Panthers back then, you know, they’d kind of listen to you every once in a while.
Frank: They hid me for two days.
Steve: Yeah, I vaguely remember that whole situation. (Frank sounds)
Frank: And I talked to Moe (Frank sounds). I did not know him …
Linda: Moe? You talked to him but you didn’t know him.
Frank: But I said I need a place to go. He …
Linda: He was a fellow student at the campus?
Steve: Yeah, right.
Linda: You didn’t know him but you told him you needed a place to go. So, he set it up.
Steve: Yeah, right.
Linda: What did he set up?
Frank: A house and his two friends were my attendants.
Linda: So he set all that up. (Frank sounds)
Linda: And you knew Moe at that point (to Steve)?
Steve: Yeah, I knew Moe. Well, you know, it’s a small college and … less than a thousand people there.
Frank: In fact, you moved into the house.
Steve: Right. (Frank sounds)
Linda: But you guys already knew each other?
Steve: Yeah, right. (Frank sounds)
Linda: And you moved into the house through Frank?
Steve: Yeah, more or less, yeah (Frank sounds). I had a lot of households back then. (laughs) (Frank sounds)
Frank: You was the first who dared to help me drop acid.
(Steve laughs, Frank sounds)
Steve: I helped everybody drop acid (laughs) (all laugh). Yeah, you know, I wasn’t scared, you know, I give a lot of people acid, and you know, I didn’t see why Frank should be any different. (laughs)
Frank: People would give me pot …
Linda: … but they wouldn’t give you acid.
Steve: Yeah, they wouldn’t give him acid. You know, I don’t know, LSD was always and probably still is my favorite mind-altering substance and, um … I was into it back then. I thought it was good for people. I realized it wasn’t good for everybody, OK. But for people that I felt had a strong inner character, it was quite a transformative kind of experience. I think more than anything else it really changed people’s minds about what was going on at the time. It was like a shortcut to figuring out that there was a whole different way of perceiving things. And that there was a whole other realm of consciousness beyond ordinary thought and there was a whole different way to interplay with your senses beyond just the usual way you did it. You know. In my personal life, it completely changed the way I looked at things and it affects me today. Not that I have flashbacks all the time … I wish … it’d be nice … it’s just a fundamental shift in attitude that happened when at certain significant experiences that I had under psychedelic drugs that really made me lose the distance and separation that I had between my self and the world and myself and other people and kind of … that has really endured. The fact that it’s all one cosmic world and one cosmic cosmos and that our … what was funny is there’s some books now, written by physicists that explore the relationships between ultimate physics and (Frank sounds) transcendental meditation kind of things … and also, I had this book … well, the preface is this, you know, one of the first times I took LSD was at this outdoor concert, one of the first big outdoor concerts in the L.A. area. I whacked down some LSD with this friend of mine and we got this revelation about how it really is, how this whole thing works. And it was this whole reality comb theory of existence. We had this comb that funneled down, like all the possibilities and then there was like, your little brain down here that filtered it into this line that was hooked to the reality of the world. Well, a few years ago I found this book on Tai Chi that’s actually a really gnarly, very extremely sophisticated book on Tai Chi, and here’s this same damn diagram in that book. Basically explaining the same thing from a 2,500-year-old Chinese idea. Which then indicates to me, well then, my idea was not just a psychedelic flash. (Frank sounds) It was actually tapping into a certain version of reality that is shared by a bunch of people. That is a legitimate way to look at things. I mean, obviously, we create this entire reality with our brains. Our brains are completely responsible for all this stuff. You know what I mean? Well, you say, when I die does it all go away? Well for me it does, but still, every single person creates the universe by the act of being here and thinking and experiencing it makes it be what it is. And, if we … if our senses were tuned slightly differently, it’d be a completely different universe, you know. Which would get to be real interesting with people like synesthesia. People that see, read everything in colors. All the letters have colors, every time they read them. Or when they hear music, it always comes out in colors in their mind. And that one note will have the same color every time for that particular person. Well, on psychedelics you’d experience that every once in a while, you know for two hours or three hours or something like this. Some people have that permanently.
Frank: Especially hiking on someone’s shoulders through the woods at Big Bear …
Steve: Oh, Big Bear?
Frank: In the winter on acid.
Linda: Which was your experience!
Frank: Or trying to eat dinner …
Linda: Oh, with your mom feeding you? At the dinner table with your mom and dad and brother (Steve laughs) … on acid.