Fresh out of college I was hunting for jobs, it was 1992 and prospects we not too crappy, but my first application was a computing gig up in Alaska that paid well because you had to tolerate living in Alaska. That didn’t pan out, and my next offer was a 5-week technical writing temp job for a company in Edmonds called Nova-Tech Engineering.
7 years later I finally quit.
But in between I had an opportunity to work with a particular madman named Mike Bowler. When I started work there I was working for Mike writing engineering manuals, along with his wife Gail, who was also doing temp work. She was a writer, which is to say, unemployed. Gail’s previous job was Road Manager for the Grateful Dead.
This was the proverbial hippie couple trying to go straight after all those bad trips. Mike was actually insanely brilliant after a fashion, both in terms of business lessons and general life stories. I have always remembered the following:
So, I was buying acid from this guy who looked like Jesus.
We were in Washington D.C.in a massive march against the Vietnam War, and our plan was to march up to the Pentagon (remember the Pentagon is a building so crooked that it has an extra side), get really, really high, and mentally levitate it away.
We all thought this was a perfect plan, but what we didn’t know was that the crowd was already infiltrated by a bunch of army narcs, and they were way up front. The march was organized by having instructions yelled back throughout the crowd. The narcs started yelling the wrong instructions, and instead of marching the big group to the Pentagon, we were routed down to a lower parking lot by the bank of the Potomac.
Once we all got down there, singing and chanting, we took a look around. There was no Pentagon. This could only mean one thing…
WE DID IT!
We proceeded to get completely stoned, and woke up the next morning to find the Pentagon on the hill above us, so we were disappointed that we didn’t move it very far. But felt we had made our point, and went home very proud.
This story always stuck with me, partially because it made me glad that that I never did hard drugs, but mostly because it was an insight into the world of someone who had a wildly different life experience than myself.
Over the next year of so I worked a lot with Mike, and listening to what he had to say about Engineering, business, and 1960’s rock bands, came to a conclusion.
Art was the most permanent of endeavors, and was remembered and admired the longest.
This sucked at the time, since I was a computer geek with little talent in anything whatsoever that could be interesting. Now, after spending several years working on my writing, I still think the same, but feel less concerned about it.
This all came to me as I was watching David Bowie sing Life on Mars on Youtube. It’s an old sone, and the video is just him standing in a powder blue suit. But crap, it’s amazing.
I would love if my writing were a fraction of that someday. But no matter what, I’d never look good in that suit.