In Love with Meher Baba, by Pete Townshend

Page 6 of 7

A Day With Baba's People

After I got into San Francisco and had comfortably settled into the hotel, the first person I met to cheer me up was John Sebastian. With his lady, they sparkled through the coffee shop, Mr. and Mrs. Tie Dye. They came to both shows in Berkeley and tie dyed a boiler suit for me. Even without knowing about Baba they live and breathe his love, as does everyone I suppose, but in them it is a fairy tale of color and good vibes.

Terrible thing. The show at Berkeley that night, marred only by the disgustingly heavy presence of that fiend of inopportune comedy, Murray Roman, was the best we did in the States that tour. The sound was great, if a little loud for such a small place, and the crowd just super-aware and alive. I could smell a lot of dope, but I think a good many people are beginning to realize that it is a bit of a risk getting high to watch the Who. Keith Moon might do something terrible.

After the show, I met a lot of Babafriends. Including Rick and Allan Cohen who had stayed with me in England and Cindy Ceteras and her three small girls who is now living in England. There were quite a few others there. They were cool, and it goes without saying that they allowed me my pop star exhilaration that night as Keith and I and the gang destroyed what was left of our minds and bodies and hotel rooms that night.

In the morning I visited the Murshida. Her presence always astonishes me, it's easy to tell just how much high level work Baba is doing through her. Her eyes are calm and tired, but her life frantic and ordered. We talked about her work and my desire to make a film, of the special Happy Birthday record/magazine we had made in London to celebrate Baba's birthday. The Murshida had not taken to it with unqualified praise to say the least. I think she forgave me and my pals in the end for allowing our egos to breathe using Baba's name as an umbrella. He is so much like a father, like a friend, that it's easy to forget that he is also God Almighty. Being with Murshida reminded me of the fact, it always does.

Next day Rick called me and took me in his '60 Continental into the 30-mile queue into Berkeley from S.F. There was a bus strike I think. First stop was a house called Meherstan which is the "light" center for young Berkeley Baba lovers. We arrived, and it seemed like there were quite a few kids. A couple of guys were in groups and asked me all kinds of things about the band and our equipment, another guy who got me to take off my shoes ran a macrobiotic foodstore, Robbie Basho, a guitarist who works very much like John Fahey and whose music I like a lot, was there with a tenth as much hair as he had had in a photograph I had seen, and as usual there were beautiful girls. I talked a bit about Tommy, how it had all come about, I compared their center to our own in London, and we talked pretty formally about life with Baba in general. I talked about dope and my trip, why and how I had stopped using it, and watched knowing smiles from young people flash as I spoke of the new high that I was getting from being with Baba.

When I left I was faced with the seemingly impossible task of saying goodbye, and hugging more than 30 people. It happened though only after I had recovered my shoes, which someone had put outside as though they were infected.

As I hugged people I had never met before in my life like they were all my aunties and uncles, I was reminded of something that happened to me in a Boston hotel lobby where I met and spoke to a Baba lover called Peter Potter. We sat on a couch rapping about Baba, and it was out of the corner of my eye and ear that I became aware of an old war dog cussing and swearing about our dress and haircuts, warning his wife that he would lick us both with his hands tied behind his head. Seeing as he was crippled, and needed sticks to walk I doubted it, but he believed it.

As we spoke, he cursed. We got round to the subject of how difficult it was to give a sincere and friendly Baba hug to someone, and what an ego loss it was. I suddenly realized and saw that Peter Potter had too, that we were going to have to get this thing together in front of this old man sitting there (who had got his wife to remove his jacket and was limbering up for battle). We sat for a while, but we knew we had to get it done or sit there all night. It really is difficult sometimes even without public disapproval. We got up, both went bright red and hugged like there was no tomorrow. We expected it and it came, "See, I told you so! Queers!"

After Meherstan we went to the home of Robert Dreyfuss, the guy Baba told to tell the West about dope, and I met several Baba lovers of the 20-year-oldish variety who seemed obsessed with chiropractry and small Indian cigarettes rolled out of a single tobacco leaf called Beedies, that smell just like dope. Memories? That day ended with a superb meal cooked by Cindy at her home in the hills, which doubles as Rick's information center, a game of basketball in the dark and many bruises sustained by efforts to entertain Cindy's three kids. I slept badly in her house that night. It's funny, but I usually do after a day with Baba lovers, particularly when staying away from home.

After nightmares various, which Rick dismissed as my "catching up with some important karma," I was glad to see daylight. It was with some relief that I got back to Who tour routine that day. Being with Baba lovers can be the most exhausting thing ever, it must have been even more wearing to have been with Baba. You feel like so much is happening to you even when ostensibly nothing is. With two final Baba hugs with Rick and Allan I split with the band for Dallas.

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