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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Neat Story from Ramblin' Jack

Remembering the Panama Hotel and Restaurant in San Rafael. My mate Katrinka worked there for six years or so up to a couple of months before we left for Asia. She booked people into the hotel, hosted, and was in charge of the music which was great. Mainly jazz but some folk and mixed. One person I enjoyed seeing there was Ramblin' Jack Elliot.
 

Ramblin' Jack lives in Marshall over on the coast in Marin County. He came in every few months to hear a band and usually played something with them at the end of the night. I think the lead singer is his girlfriend. He used to hang out in the bar at Marshall and had a reputation as a heavy drinker. Think he got over that because he was always clear and fun to talk with at the Panama. We talked about legendary producer Bob Johnston whom I've known and who helped me out with music and Jack said he'd done an album with Bob. I told him Bob and I had had dinner there not long before. Bob was an early producer of Dylan and Jack was a mentor to Dylan and a protégé of Woody Guthrie. I asked him if he read much and he said he read a lot. Another sign of not drinking. He gave me his address so I could send him a copy of Crooked Cucumber, a PO Box with RJE for the name. I don't do that much cause I have to buy them. He said he didn't know much about Zen but that Woody Guthrie had taken him to a home in Topanga Canyon in about 1956 where they met a guy who was into Zen.


I said I'd heard a story about him and Mic Jagger and wondered if it was true. I told him the way I'd heard it and he said that was close and told it this way. He had been bumming around Europe for five years or so with his mate, being a busker and getting by, and one evening late in London he was standing on a platform waiting for a train and there were some boys on the other side waiting for their train. Just them and the waiting. He said he took out his guitar from the case and played them a half dozen cowboy songs and then waved and rode off. Twenty years later he met Mick Jagger who told him he'd been one of those boys and that the next day he'd gone out and bought his first guitar.