It hit me like a ton of bricks the other day when I listened to the title song from The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. I suddenly understood what the Beatles were doing with that song, album, and movie.
Chris was placed in the trap in 1967, at age 14, shortly after he got his first electric guitar (and LPB1, an early Electro Harmonx distortion pedal), and about the time he was sent to the Christian boarding school, Canyonville Bible Acadamy. Ray Shelton, who had transferred from Hollywood High, was 16 years old.
Walt Grace, desperately hating his old place
Dreamed to discover a new space and buried himself alive
Inside his basement
The tongue on the side of his face meant
He’s working away on displacement
And what it would take to survive…
John Mayer – Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967 (released 5/22/2012)
I find myself vacillating from sheer horror, to complete disgust, to a state of blank detachment. We are talking about a very young teenager now. 14. A child.
So I keep stepping back. First I thought it started in 86, then 81, then 74, then 69, now 67. Could it possibly go back any farther than freshman year at Canyonville Bible Acadamy?
There is one more possible red flag, the incident which spurred Chris being sent to Canyonville. A friend of his had some musical gear stolen, and Chris found out who had it, then told his friend. The friend was able to get his gear back. For this, Chris was called a snitch and bullied to the point that he no longer felt safe in Longview. So his parents sent him to high school in Canyonville, where Chris’ mother (born 1933) had also gone to high school.
This incident is a red flag because of the mob-bullying (which seems to be a hallmark of the Northwest contingent) and the fact that the incident was repeated in reverse (mirrored) in 1981. That is when Napalm Beach’s gear was stolen from their van after they opened for the L.A. band, X, and 18 year old Sean Croghan later told Chris who had taken the gear, so that Chris could get it back.
A favorite strategy seems to be to find a person’s weaknesses, then to use any means available to stress and agitate that person to the point that he or she explodes (“button pushing”), and then to point the finger, and say “look at him/her behaving badly!” using that instigated “bad” behavior to further harm or smear a person.
In our case, it doesn’t matter where we are, or to whom we are speaking. We are supposed to accept the idea that we are not entitled to privacy within the walls of our own home. That whatever we say, wherever we are, can, and will, be held against us.
I don’t accept it. Everyone deserves some privacy. No one deserves to be locked in a box and watched.
There was so much amazing music that came out in 1967, when this all started. Here is a list of Rolling Stone editor Robert Christgau’s “40 essential albums of 1967.”
Reginald Kenneth Dwight became Elton John in 1967. Chris’ father was named Elton Harley Newman.
Elton Newman was born in Longview Washington in the 1930s and worked 18 years as a planner for the Boeing corporation in Seattle, New Orleans, and Mississippi. Some of Elton Newman’s work was connected to the military and to NASA. Elton Newman’s father was a Longview, Washington logger named Ogden Gould Newman. Ogden worked most of his life for Weyerhauser, pulling greenchain.
The first Rolling Stone was published 9 November, 1967. 1967 is also the year that Kurt Cobain was born in Aberdeen, Washington. This is probably why Cobain shouted “OBITUARY BIRTHDAY” in the In Utero song, Milk It.
Chris loved, and loves, playing live, and recording his music. He was, and is, a virtuoso guitarist, a great songwriter, and a top rate vocalist. Years later, Chris’ musical innovations, and the credit for them, was copped by other bands (especially “Seattle” bands) because that was part of the game. “So rudely forced.”
At 61 years old Chris feels like he has nothing to show for all his life’s work. Sometimes he blames himself, sometimes he’s angry, sometimes he thinks that’s just the way it is. I don’t blame him for not seeing what I see, all things considered.
My mother underwent hypnosis experiments at Stanford in the early 1960s. She told me how they were able to regress her to a childlike state, where she really believed, talked, and behaved like she was six years old. They told her to forget what had happened during the sessions, but she remembered that much. What else may have happened? They told her to forget, and she forgot.
When you allow someone to hypnotize you, you put a lot of power into that person’s hands, don’t you?
One thing I do know: Chris didn’t, and doesn’t, deserve what was done to him.