The Coastal Post - August 2000

Harry Pothead And The Curse Of Bolinas

By Stephen Simac

When this reporter was last heard from I was lost in Bolinas, unable to exit a strange time warp entered unwittingly when I went weird at the wye.

Wandering, lost in the town that fought to save itself, but in this parallel universe everything was for sale and the town of pot smoking hippies was a fable of the past.

The stores only sold antiques, brand name raiment and tchotskes, the churches were galleries and museums. The school in Gospel Flats was now stables and polo fields with miles of redwood, "horsy fences" for the estates of the town. The lagoon was dredged deep enough for a yacht club and heliport with daily service to San Francisco. Beaches replaced with rock climbing seawalls to protect the cliffside mansions.

The firehouse was combined with a celebrity rehab center/country club, soccer and quidditch playfields were a championship golf course, and the bed and breakfasts only accepted visiting royalty and eco-tourists.

There was no community except for workers and their industrial racket. Most spoke little English, were too busy to hang out, many were deaf. After the workers trucked north and the restaurants closed Bolinas was a ghost town. Raccoons and coyotes roamed the well lit, paved streets of the Mesa and downtown.

Every house was a second or third home, estate sized with double mounded septic systems. Houses were packed with gourmet food, antiques. fashionable furniture and the latest electronic devices, but the owners were seldom home. I lived well, but it was lonely. Without broadband internet access, I might have perished.

Tie Dyes and Birkenstocks

Here though, nothing was as it seemed, it just took longer. I finally found the last hippie, living in a minivan down by the river. He was suspicious at first, but a bouquet of dried flowers got him talking. Harry Pothead had a strange tale of bewitchment and the Curse on Bolinas which I couldn't take at face value, because his whiskers obscured it.

"I'm a frustrated transient now, but I used to be somebody important.

When I was a boy, I was special. I was on top of the world, my adolescent adventures were all the rage with the raised on gameboy crowd.

Single-handedly I saved a generation of Americans from certain illiteracy, but now I'm washed up like Richard Brautigan in Bolinas, registered for the Dead Poets Society.

I was raised on fantasy, Narnia, the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings. I was sure I was a changeling, left by the elves. Trouble was those people looked too much like me to be strangers. They laughed at me, said the oak doesn't grow far from the acorn.

When the letter came telling me I was to report to the Hogwash School of Wizardry I left those muggles behind without a second thought. Now I don't even have a family.

Oh sure they taught us magik at Hogwash school, we played endless Dungeons and Dragons, but mainly we smoked lots of pot. I see now I've been living in a fantasy world, my life's gone up in smoke and here I am, living in a minivan down by the river, can't even get a job as a motivational speaker."

He started the minivan up and began driving slowly around. "Gotta be careful, the ears have walls. It's all because of the Curse on Bolinas by the evil Queen Esprit. She's in league with Lord Voldemort, whose evil forces drive SUV's, Selfish User Vehicles. Her palace is hidden behind that hundred foot tall cypress hedge." he pointed up.

I had noticed the trees when I came into town through a gloomy tunnel, eucalyptus looming on the right and craggy cypress on the weird side.

There used to be a mesa hillside with poppies blooming there, I thought I recalled.

"I was told that all the witches had left town by a sweet old hag, who offered me an apple. Right before I took a nap and woke up in this time warp." I woke up with a toad tongueing me.

Johnny Golden's Garden

Harry shook his hair, sadly, "That old trick. Ever since Gooden Golden left after her trailer got redtagged, only the wealthy, evil witches and wizards are left. They control the town and the powerful geomagnetic currents here.

They colonized Bolinas, beginning with the east coast clans in the 70's, who blocked growth with a water moratorium. They saved the mesa from hundreds of affordable homes to allow even wealthier clans to buy up acres of brushland on the mesas for estates in the 90's.

The wealthy witches insidiously bought up house after house. They knocked down the smaller ones, scraped the ground bare for septic mound fields and built monster homes to store their amulets and spell binding charms. Now they have woven their curse into the warp and the weft of the place."

The evidence of serious gentrification was impossible to dispute if I'd been able to get a word in. "At first a local hero tried to cut down the cypress hedge on Independence Day, but they were bioengineered to respond with most vigorous growth. It was a direct action to save the town in vain. He was called a vandal and a reward was raised for his head on a stake.

The Sweatshop Queen said she must have her privacy from the peons. Rumors that she is sacrificing children to keep herself looking magically youthful, like Baba Yaga who also lives in Bolinas, helped baby-sitters scare the brats into being good. Before she'd eaten them all."

Now, he was starting to sound like he'd fallen into an acid vat and couldn't get out.

"You're a wizard, why don't you stop her." I asked him

Early Alzheimer's Club

"I'm ashamed to admit that I smoked more pot than studied at Hogwash and Pigslop U after that. I can't remember any of those spells, I can't even recall the password to the porno collection on my harddrive.

I tried to combat her, gave my best shot to girdle her, but I couldn't break through, in fact she bound me with an impotence curse.

It would be hell, if I was gettin' laid. I'm a wanted man, but the women in this town just want to suck my chi, so it's more of a blessing. The Curse on Bolinas though is something I need the brains of a journalist to expose."

Fleeting thoughts of cannibal rites, arcane ingredients, the chisel and large spoon dangling from the van's mirror, caused me to beg off. "I'm not really a journalist, just a tabloid reporter, love scandals, naked stars, that kinda' stuff. My synapses are slowing, I think I have mad cow disease, anywise this is all just RUMOR, I can't write a story based on some crackpot tales, I don't write for the SF Chronicle, you know."

Harry Pothead looked at me through a haze of fragrant smoke, the van reeked like a skunk fart. "Simac, I know you can drive a pen through the vampires heart. You've got to write about the Curse on Bolinas, tell them how the men began dying, and the children disappearing when the wealthy witches and wizards bought the town.

They carved it up into fiefdoms, driving the peons out to Petaluma. Their agents, the Realtors were drunken vultures who picked the bones of dead doughboys with out even crocodile tears."

He wiped a tear away from his beard, or maybe excess spittle. He was getting excited. "The aliens who bought overpriced second and third houses here, bought up the mesa and scraped it bare, pretended to be muggles. They were really boggarts-shapeshifters of reptilian evil, killing the community life of the town with glee to control the geomagnetic forces and worker zombie spirits they feed on.

They drove around in their Selfish User Vehicles, spraying toxic chemtrails to weaken the community. They demanded cell towers to irradiate the people, depressing them to pacify the Bolinas Border Patrol. Their heads all ended up on spikes in the Deli Museum.

Deputy Dawg was on the speed dial of their cell phones, they e-mailed Inspector Clueless daily about likely suspects. They contributed to the reward fund, it's in the millions now. They complained about campers and people living in their vehicles, canceled July 4th, Labor Day, Memorial Day, the Sun Festival, any displays of public liberation.

The boggarts bought museums to display the works of artists who could no longer afford to live here. Affordable housing sites were bought by neighbors for NIMBY GARDENS, to preserve astronomical property values. They actively drove out the work force by raising rents and calling the county on illegal trailers and shacks.

The workers and residents were like crabs in a barrel, dragging each other down, never banded together except for the occasional joint and there was less and less of that. Before I knew what happened I was the last hippie and they're coming for me."

Loaves And Fishes

I tried to calm him down, idly wondering how to claim the reward fund, perhaps some more sedation, why didn't I save that apple. Or at least the toad, but she was so demanding after the honeymoon.

"There's a bigger story here, one which resonates beyond Bolinas, to the wider world, at least to Fairfax. This curse is called down by the greedy hole in our hearts which can only be filled with gold.

Just tell them that gold is not God, greed is not good, if you only gather that which rusts and corrupts, you're sowing your seeds on asphalt. Your camel won't thread the needle, the last shall be forced, and the first lost at the wye."

None of his rant made real sense. I was still woozy from the apple, or maybe it was the toad spit.

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