Janis Jopline

Freedom’s Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose
Nothing Don’t Mean Nothing Honey If It Ain’t Free

Mt. Pleasant, Mich.
March ’72

I got to know a girl named Sara. She was a hippie chick par
excellence. We were friends and, on a few occasions, we even slept together. She wouldn’t go all the way, but since she seemed
sincere, I didn’t protest much. When she wanted to see Savoy Brown at the Grandy Ballroom, I said, “Lets go.” She wasn’t sure about the hitchhiking, but when we left she was very enthusiastic. We didn’t have any trouble getting down to Detroit. Once there, I became extra excited because I found out John Mayall was the other band on the ticket. Two great blues bands for one price was a bargain I hadn’t counted on.

The Savoy Brown Blues Band was a Detroit favorite and he didn’t
disappoint, ditto for Mayall. After the concert, the people with
whom we had arranged to stay (Sara’s contact) never showed up. We were on our own and not very happy about it. We didn’t really want to get a motel room because at the concert we found out that Janis Joplin was playing in Ann Arbor (another 50 miles northwest)on the  following night. We wanted to
go to that concert too, and we needed all our money to buy tickets. I suggested we go to my cousin’s (who didn’t live far from there) and ask him if we could crash at his place. When we arrived, after 2 a.m., his wife answered the door. We probably smelled like marijuana, and we were of course, stoned, but I was a bit shaken when my 235 lb cousin shut the door in my face.

When in need, go to a university. So back on the street, we
started hitching toward Wayne State University. An American Indian picked us up. After hearing our plea for help, he told us that he knew an Arab medical student who could probably help. I was just a wee bit apprehensive; there we were, Sara and I, sitting in the front seat with a drunken Indian, driving down a deserted Detroit street at 3 a.m., and heading to an unknown destination. We pulled up to a building at the university, walked up some steps, and came to a door. After knocking on the door, a light came on and an Arab student greeted us. His English was bad, but he seemed friendly enough. After speaking some unintelligible words with the Indian, the Arab gestured to Sara to take the couch. The couch flattened out; it was just large enough for both Sara and I to stretch out on. But, before we went to sleep, we did manage to catch some of the Arab’s story.

Back in Saudi Arabia, his family was rich and they were feuding
with another Arab family. He, the son, was targeted for death. His father, in order to hide his son, sent him to Wayne State
University. With this story in mind and with the possibility that an assassin might show up at any time to kill the Arab student, we didn’t get much sleep. To make matters worse, the Indian (who had left) staggered back into the small apartment and started to undress. Everything happened so fast, I thought this was it for Sara. I raised myself off the couch as I prepared to defend both of us. I breathed a lot easier when the Indian grabbed a blanket and curled up on the floor. It was light out before we were able to go to sleep.

After thanking the Arab for all his hospitality (the Indian left
while we were still sleeping), Sara and I hit the road for Ann
Arbor. When we arrived, we checked into getting tickets for the
concert, but, not surprisingly, they were all sold out. Our search
for tickets lead us to group of hippies living in a large house.
With help from these people we scored two upper balcony tickets for the Joplin concert. We were also invited to stay with them. We appreciated that, especially after the previous night’s activities.

The James Cotton Blues Band performed ahead of Janis and they were excellent. If we were not so exhausted, I probably would have enjoyed the concert more. We were too far back to see well, but during the encore, when Janis sang “Ball and Chain,” we were able to crowd up along the railing overlooking the stage. Maybe it was me, but even though Janis put on a very energetic performance, I couldn’t help but feel that she was just going through the motions. It was probably me; I was so tired my body ached. Back at the place we were staying, Sara and I were too tired to party. I hoped our hosts were okay with that. We had no choice; all we could do was sleep. In the morning, we hitched back to Mt. Pleasant.


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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