Friday, August 10, 2007

dammasch

I have recounted before when our band (Kinetics) played at Dammasch the state mental institution (where One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest takes place), but I found the actual remembrance written in 1980. As was my way then, it goes in one long running paragraph:

It’s out in the country. Serene enough surroundings. You wouldn’t even know it was there. Trees clutter the grounds and keep your eyes off the stark brick buildings. We are playing in the “Multi-purpose Room.” People wander in and out as we set up the stage, crazy people. Crazy people? It seemed more like NW Portland to me, every one of them. They were lovely people and the best audience we ever had. We talked to a lot of the patients. Everyone is on drugs. They receive enormous amounts. They have to take them or they get shot up. They gave us flowers. Even the staff was reasonable. Of course we only got to see the neurotics, not the psychotics. They really liked the music, even though we did not play very well. Smegma played very well. I’m glad we did it with them. The whole episode has really stayed with me since we got to talk to so many people. It was more relaxed than I had imagined it. Everyone wanted pot but we couldn’t get them stoned. Everyone wanted handshakes and kisses. There I obliged.

8 comments:

m. said...

your description of the external view takes me back to college days...our campus (wu) was very close to dammasch, and to boot i think my dad may have given medical care there at times (hazy on that) and then had lunch with me at the campus coffee shop, talking blithely about some woman who thought she was crawling with insects and actually did have some breeding just under the skin that had to be removed (that i do remember but i'm not sure of the actual facility).

anyway, funny also that you compare the inmates to nw pdx, which is where i received my first diagnosis of manic depression from a former inmate of dammasch who also had manic depression.

he shouted across the street at me: "you're one of us!!" and then wanted to be treated to a cuppa strong joe at coffee people on 23rd and tell me about, well, me, via himself, as well as the books he had written.

then he showed me his driver's license without being asked so that i could verify that he was in fact the author...

i looked him up a couple days later at the pdx central. forget his name, but sure enough, there were two of his books right there in the stacks with his picture on the jacket in straighter days and everything...

my life might have been so much different had i taken him as seriously about the diagnosis as i had about the books...

my next series of diagnoses of manic depression were not to start until my thirties when my petticoats were all starting to show while on the verge of a severe breakdown...

truth is stranger than fiction, non? HOW DID HE KNOW? hum.

Anonymous said...

What is interesting to me, when I go back and review, is to see how clearly we DO view things, but we do nothing about it. Mostly because we don't have the skills, or the idea that it all will have long-range effects in our lives.


E

mary klein said...

I really like your writing, Eva - then and now. Was especially struck by, "Trees clutter the grounds and keep your eyes off the stark brick buildings."

m. said...

eva, too true. luckily i guess many times we get second, third, even unlimited chances at breaking bad cycles...

of course, then, as i just did, we wonder what would have happened if we had listened to the messenger (in whatever form) the first time around...

but "what if" thinking is just about as useful as christmas presents from distant cousins...

m. said...

p.s. i love the original post. how dear and unexpected.

Steven LaRose said...

I have to assume it was the Los Angeles Smegma, the artsy noise/free jazz band and not the german skinhead band Smegma.

Are there any recordings of your band floating around the internet?

Anonymous said...

Yes, the art noize band, Steven. It has been many years since Smegma has been based in Oregon, but they were originally from LA. They were very kind to us... to all the punks back then... we used to be able to use their basement as a practice place.

Mike Lastra made a movie called Northwest Passage in which Smegma plays, as well as one of the bands I was in, the Kinectics.

Greg Sage produced an EP I sang on... the Trap Sampler. Greg has it for sale here.


Eva

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm an editor at a book series and wanted to talk to you about this entry. Would you please email me at chrisgwnj@aol.com ? Thanks, Chris