DAVID CHAPPLE SELF PORTRAIT
photo by David Chapple
(I printed this from a dupe. Like all the dupes I have, they
were collected to put in the land slide show shown to the
city. The originals would print even better. So, where is
David Chapple? Anyone know? Neil)
He's in the Yellow Pages - CHAPPLE ELECTRIC, palo alto
|photo by Michael Emrys
David goes ape
A Few of David's Stories:
When Paul Wells asked people at the Reunion if they would like to tell stories many of us drew a blank, as I did. Certainly the 70s were a wild and wonderful period, and especially for us.
I remember one time being in the barn at the Land when someone commented that the gate had been left open again, and the bull had gotten out and was now wandering along Page Mill Rd.. We were discussing what to do about this when just then Billy Wheatley drove up in his blue Ford pickup. He didn't hesitate at all. He stopped the truck, jumped out, grabbed a broom from the back, and charged the bull, whacking it repeatedly with the broom. The bull turned around and went right back through the gate, and that was that. So now I know what to do when I see a bull wandering loose by the side of the road. I am going to hope like hell Billy Wheatley shows up. Politeness will get you nowhere with farm animals.
I wonder how many people remember the story of Frank Zappa at the induction center. In the late sixties Frank Zappa got a draft notice, and was ordered to show up for an induction physical. Before he went in he slathered up his butt with chunky peanut butter. Most of the exam went routinely until he got to the Bend Over & Cough part. When he pulled down his boxers the doctor went “EEWWW!! WHAT IS THAT??!!!” Frank reached around, got a sample on his finger, tasted it, and said “ It tastes like peanut butter to me.” The doctor yelled “ OUT!! OUT!! GET OUT!!!” After that Frank Zappa wasn't bothered by the draft board anymore.
I came to California in January of 1969, and got a nice little apartment in Hollywood the first day for $75 a month. I had gone to a Quaker school in Philadelphia 1-12, so I thought the Quakers would be a nice bunch of people to look up in LA. Right at this time two Marines, Steve Davis and Neil Blanton, had decided to resign from the military. They wrote letters of resignation, and sent them to the White House. Then they took up residence at the Orange Grove Friends Meeting in Pasadena to await the outcome. This became a huge rallying point for the local Quakers, and there were about 100 people staying in the Meeting House to show support. After about a week two Shore Patrol showed up and came into the Meeting House. What they saw was 100 people sitting in silence. They went back to their car to radio in for instructions. Then they left, never to be seen again.
The Meeting House was not designed to accommodate 100 people for very long, so a number of the supporters rented a house nearby, to be known as Peace House. On typical evening at dinner Peace House had about 15 family members and ten guests, who were AWOLs, draft resisters, runaways and the like. There was an exciting mix of high-minded idealism and illegality. We joined peace demonstrations, offered draft counseling, and picketed the LA induction center. Four of our members took bolder action and were convicted of destroying draft records, a federal offense. I remember Todd Friend sleeping on the hardwood landing up to the second floor of Peace House in order to toughen himself up for prison life.
I was on the trip when we went down to see our friends who were in the federal prison at Safford AZ. We drove down to Safford in a wonderful hippie schoolbus named Beulah. I was impressed by the long stone wall outside the prison. It was about 18” high. You could step over it easily. This was definitely an honor-camp type facility. We visited with our friends during visiting hours, and it was there I met David Harris for the first time. We also had a secret mission to perform. We wanted to smuggle to our friends some contraband, which consisted of books and fresh fruit. During the week the prisoners worked mornings on building a road up in the mountains. In the afternoons they relaxed in a hogan they built at the end of the road. We left the visiting room and hurried up to the start of the road. It was winter and the sun would be going down soon. When we got there we found a locked gate which Beulah could not get through. But there was a walk-in gate next to it which was open. We walked through into a job yard with vehicles and supplies. B G jumped into a car, which had the keys in it. Five others jumped in with him, and they were off. There were too many of us to fit in one car, so I jumped into a crane. It was a small one where you drove at one end and did the lifting at the other. It also had the keys in it, and started right up. The rest of us climbed on the crane and drove on down to the end of the road, about a mile. We got the contraband into the hogan before dark, and returned the vehicles to the yard. Our exploits did not go unnoticed, however, since we failed to return the vehicles to the Same Exact Spot, and there were way too many footprints in the snow. We got away clean though, because, without knowing we were escaping, we drove all night back to LA. I remember the all-nighter because the spare tire fell out from under Beulah in the middle of Monday morning rush hour traffic on the Pomona Freeway. We were hippies. We had been up all night. We didn't know what to do. Pretty soon it was too late to do anything. We kept on going.
After it all got sorted out with the military, Neil Blanton lived for a while in a small cabin in the woods by the Russian River. To get there he drove up a road along a tributary creek..Every summer the creek would dwindle down to a small trickle, and the people along the creek would build low dams to create swimming holes. Each fall the first big rain of the season would cause a flash flood which would knock over these dams, growing larger as it went. One rainy fall day Neil realized that this would be the day the dams went down, so he got in his car to watch the flood progress. Sure enough, the water was rising, and soon the first dam fell. As he drove alongside in his car he knew that one of the swimming holes coming up had a swim float in it. He raced ahead of the water, stopped his car, jumped out and onto the float just in time to be washed away by the flash flood. He loved it. The flood water carried him down almost to the ocean. Somehow he was able to get off and walk back unharmed. Pretty good for a plan not long in development.
Sometimes when I was at Peace House we would get together with the West side LA Resistance people on a Sunday, and go to Sycamore Canyon, which is an idyllic canyon up the coast from Malibu. It is a fairly narrow, flat-bottomed canyon with a creek down the middle lined with sycamores and oaks. It was a perfect place for taking LSD- beautiful, natural, uncrowded, and you couldn't get lost. We would spend the afternoon wandering the mile or two up to the head of the canyon, getting distracted frequently. From that point a fire road went up to the ridge overlooking the canyon and back toward the highway. I remember one day getting back to the top of the cliffs near sunset, and looking down at the ocean and highway. There was a onshore breeze hitting the cliffs, and just above our level was a visible layer of gossamer clouds. The clear air was being propelled straight up by the cliffs, and the visible layer was being turned back upon itself forming a gigantic cylinder about 500 feet high, which turned slowly and silently just above our heads. The cylinder extended up and down the beach about a mile. It was the largest moving structure I have ever seen. We could almost reach out and touch it. That was another perfect day at Sycamore Canyon. If ever there was a time I felt connected to the world that was it. I went to Sycamore Canyon many times, but I only saw the cylinder once.
While we were at the Land most of the women went topless all summer. For a man, it was a privilege to live in such a trusting community. I remember Judy Keenan saying she went down the hill for an errand. Being topless was so normal she got all the way to Foothill College before remembering she didn't have a shirt on. She had to drive back up and get one.
Somewhat along those lines, I was living in a house on Fernando in Palo Alto in the 70s. One day I got it into my head to paint the kitchen While I was thinking through the steps of what paint, what brushes etc I had a good idea. Since latex paint washes readily off the skin, but doesn't come off clothing at all, clearly the sensible thing to do would be to paint the kitchen in the nude. The kitchen was on the side of the house. What could possibly go wrong? Well, I did forget about the woman who lived in the apartment above the garage at the back of the property. Sure enough, she came by and saw me working through the high window above the sink. She thought I was working without a shirt on, which was true. She stopped and we had a nice chat about painting kitchens. Eventually she went on her way, apparently never realizing that no shirt was only half the story.
I got into the house as an outgrowth of an electrical job. The house was owned by a wealthy woman who bought it for her son, who leaned toward the schizophrenic. He could live in the front and rent out the small apartment in back, or vice versa. He decided that the really shrewd plan would be to rent out the front and the back, while he moved up into the attic crawlspace. He knocked a hole in the gable for a door, laid down some plywood decking, patched in some electrical outlets using TV antenna wire (!), and prepared to settle in. He rented out the front to a young couple who moved in during the week, and then spent their first weekend up in the mountains. This was fortunate, because only now did he realize he no longer had access to a bathroom. When they returned home on Sunday night they found that their young landlord had chopped a hole in the bathroom ceiling, and stuck a ladder through it. They called the Building Dept.
While I was living in that house I needed to prepare for the Struggle Mtn Halloween party. The plan was to make a space alien costume. I bought a whole-head rubber alien mask at a costume store, and then went to a fabric shop where I bought several yards of their loudest material. It was basically a simple poncho concept. I ran off a quick arms and legs on a sewing machine and voila! It was to be a one-use garment. Bright colors were the message here. I wore it to the Halloween party at Struggle Mtn and had a great time. I did get another chance to use it when I wore it into the Crocker bank on El Camino on Halloween day, I had to wait in line in this outlandish getup, but eventually I was able to make my deposit. The manager whispered to me on the way out that I could be arrested on any other day of the year. But it was Halloween! And I didn't ask for any cash back!
Hitchhiking was considered quite normal in the 70s. I remember on the Safford trip Dwight and Judy insisting on picking up all hitchhikers. And really, when hitchhiking what could be better than to be picked up by a psychedelic schoolbus full of friendly hippies. When I was at Peace House I took off hitchhiking north. I got rides with a photographer and his girlfriend, and with a young writer who wanted to go to sea to write. We kept in touch for months. I ran into Gary Starkweather at a Dairy Queen in Sonoma County. He was hitchhiking south. I got as far as the Canadian border, but was refused entrance because I only had $3 on me. These days I have to ask myself what I thought I was doing standing on the Canadian border heading north with $3 in my pocket. All I can say is that in those days there was a faith that a benign world would provide opportunities. That was close enough to accurate, because I was able to hitchhike from Pasadena to Canada and back on $30 or less, made some friends, and remember the whole trip as a fun adventure. After Reagan was elected everyone started talking about guns, and that was the end of hitchhiking.