The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 108
It was early in the next week Rich rapped on the window of Sam’s office.
Sam motioned him in. “What’s up?”
“Have you heard of Joan Baez?” Rich said.
Sam smiled. “Sure,” he said coyly.
“She’ going to be in Manchester Wednesday,” Rich said. “Can I take off early to catch her concert.”
“Sure,” Sam said, “that will be fine.”
“I’d like to do a story about her; what she believes and her music,” Rich said. “However, I want to treat this a little differently than the Dylan article.”
“How?” Sam said. “I want to remain objective, but from a different viewpoint.”
“What would that viewpoint be?” Sam said.
“Well,” Rich said, “I’ve been able to find a few articles about her; they are written looking at her. I want to write it from her philosophy and perspective.”
“Do you think you can interview her?” Sam said.
“No,” Rich said. “and I don’t think I need to. I’ve read enough of her views to know what she thinks. It will be very exhaustive and quite technical, but I think I can write a good article about what she wants to convey through her music.”
Sam stood and walked over to Rich and placed both hands on his shoulders. “You are growing. Don’t let anyone stunt it.”
Rich smiled not sure of what Sam really meant. “Thanks, Sam.”
Sam patted his shoulder. “Have a safe trip.”
Rich took off from work at noon on Wednesday. It was a long lonely drive to Manchester that took over five hours. He considered asking Dennis to go with him, but he really wanted to be alone. The drive to Manchester allowed plenty of time to think. “Indeed the country was changing. Young people were becoming more involved in social, moral, and political issues. The Beatles were changing music and the way young people dressed and groomed. Marijuana and LSD were viewed as something that could free the mind rather than imprison it. I have absolutely no compulsion or desire for those things. I always want to be in a state of reality, no matter what the reality is.”
The concert was entertaining. Baez spoke between songs about burning draft cards, civil rights, marching in the streets, and questioning authority. She said LSD should be administered to every college freshman so they could get the most of their education. She said it frees the mind to explore and absorb all that is beautiful. The college students who made up nearly all in attendance were ecstatic over her views.
Rich spoke to several students after the concert. They liked the music, Joan Baez, and her message, however were stumped when ask why.
“That’s what we need to hear,” said one.
“Why do we need to hear it?” Rich asked.
“Because, it is new.”
“But is it right?” Rich said.
“Sure it is; there is no wrong. Truth is what you want it to be.”
Another conversation occurred as Rich reached his car and he asked a coed, “Why do you think Joan Baez’s message is good?”
“Like, because it is,” she said. “It just is. Some things don’t have to be questioned.”
“Who makes those decisions?” Rich said.
“You are really losing me, man,” she said. “You sound like my dad.”
Rich got in his jeep and headed back to Rockland. He stopped for a coffee and sandwich to go and jotted some notes on a steno pad. “I’m going to write this as if it was meaningful; even though it wasn’t.”
Rich arrived home at three and was in the office at eight. He was tired, but mustered feigned enthusiasm when he reviewed the night to Sam. Of course, he spoke in glowing terms of the entire event and Sam was anxious to hear the great enthusiasm in which Rich recounted the events, though muffled by sleep deprivation and the long drive the night before that could not be hidden entirely.
That weekend Rich complied a 4,000 word essay on Joan Baez and her concert. He portrayed the students as engaged and aware of the social ills of society. He handed it to Sam on Monday morning. Rich felt guilt and an uneasiness about the article, because it was filled with left wing talking points and rhetoric.
Sam called Rich over the intercom, “Rich, my office please.”
Rich was nervous about Sam’s tone.
Rich stepped in the office ready to take a tongue lashing like a man.
“Brilliant.” Sam said with quiet reverence. “If you don’t mind I’m going to edit roughly half and change a couple of words here and there. I know at least a dozen or two papers that will run this immediately. And the half I edit out, we’ll keep for another time.”
Rich smiled. “I thought you were going to fire me.”
Rich left the office that day pleased, but bothered. For he knew whoever read the piece would be completely manipulated.
The next day Sam showed Rich the finished piece. Rich read it carefully. Sam twisted Rich’s words even further than they already were.
“Looks good,: Rich said.
“You’re on your way,” Sam said.
“Thanks to you,” Rich said.
“In the next three months I want you to write 5,000 words on why you are sailing around the world,” Sam said. “The system is broken, you need to purge yourself, your soul needs to be cleansed; that type of thing and I guarantee when you return the nation will want to read what you have to say.”
Rich gave Sam a sinister smile, because it seemed a sinister plot. And Sam returned the smile.
For several weeks Rich worked with repressed feelings and guilt, for Rich was neither a patriot nor rebel. “When I set sail in the fall that will be the last time I see or communicate with Sam White.”