Old Man from the Mountain

wandering around the labyrinth and bumping into the walls


Cerritos, California,
July 25
former hermit from the mountains of Southern California and Marin County exurbs, now resident in Cerritos SoCal. Ex: ditch digger / deck hand / carpenter / actor / artist, graphic designer & sign painter/ waiter/ bartender / restaurant manager / drug dealer / federal fugitive / assembly line worker / technical illustrator-writer / industrial, manufacturing, quality assurance engineer, manager / semi-retired consultant / playwright, producer, director / novelist wannabe and general dilettante staring dementia in the face and hoping they find the silver bullet before my brain rots.

Jmac1949's Links

AUGUST 26, 2013 6:49PM

1970 – Jill, Kent State & "A Continual Roar of Musketry"

Rate: 19 Flag

Jill: It’s been a while since I posted a Memory.  This is because I’ve been hoping to make contact with Jill Baskin, who over forty years later is still plugging away as a professional actor.

I have loved many people in my life in many different ways.  Jill Baskin has a place in my heart very high among the four women with whom I “fell in love.”  Over the six years that we knew one another, our relationship evolved into many expressions; but in the end when we parted ways, it was an act of love.  She’d found someone who she wanted to marry; but there was no way that he could deal with me in any part of her life, so she asked me to let go.  We said good-bye, parted ways and that was that.

Last month I found her agency, called, got their email and asked them to forward this message:


My but you've been busy in these last few years.  I have to say I'm quite impressed with your performance credits.  After all this time I feel pretty sure that you probably remember me; but I'm not so sure that you may want hear from me.  For the past eighteen months I've been posting my Memories on a site called Our Salon - mostly for my niece, nephews, step-son and their kids - and after 117 posts I'm finally up to that point in 1970 where you and I are about to start getting to know one another.

Tom L. has been a huge help in my recollections from our time together at the Odyssey; and I've touched bases with Norbert Weisser, who, in turn put me in touch with Susie, Alan and Jacob.  I sent them all links to my posts about the Odyssey at the Our Salon account JMac1949 - Memories. http://oursalon.ning.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2bjp4sb2j2wk7

Susie got back to me and set me straight about some stuff and Jacob has replied as well.  In any case, click on the link or copy and paste the address into goggle and you can read what I've written about my time with the Odyssey so far.

Again, I'm not sure of your situation or inclination; but if you're up for it, I'd love to have the chance to sit down and chat with you the next time I'm down in Southern California on business - which will most likely be late August and again in September.  I'm really hoping that we can at least talk over the phone.  Every time I talk with Tom or Norbert, some new old memory gets uncovered in the cluttered attic of my brain and I find more grist for the mill.  Hoping to speak with you soon,


This is my contact info:…

So far Jill hasn’t replied to my email, and that is as it may be.  As I wrote this, I recalled a very short poem that I composed about Jill around 1972.  I don’t remember if I ever showed it to her:

My lover has a mirror

            on the ceiling

                        over her bed.

It was a gift from her lover,

            or her lover’s lover,

                        I’m not sure.

I think she is my lover.

John Filo's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller minutes after he was shot by the Ohio National Guard.

…Kent State…:  “On Monday, May 4, 1970, a group of 77 Ohio National Guard troops from A Company and Troop G were ordered to disperse students at Kent State University who were demonstrating against the invasion of Cambodia during the war in Vietnam.  They fixed bayonets on their M1 Garand rifles, began to advance upon the hundreds of protesters.  The students retreated, throwing rocks and bottles at the troops.  According to eyewitnesses, at 12:24pm, a Sgt. Myron Pryor turned and began firing at the students with his .45 pistol.  A number of guardsmen nearest the students also turned and fired their M1 Garand rifles at the students.  In all, 29 of the 77 guardsmen claimed to have fired their weapons, using a final total of 67 rounds of ammunition.  The shooting was determined to have lasted only 13 seconds, although John Kifner reported in the New York Times that ‘it appeared to go on, as a solid volley, for perhaps a full minute or a little longer.’[26] The question of why the shots were fired remains widely debated.” - edited excerpt from Wikipedia.

Killed (and approximate distance from the National Guard):

  • Jeffrey Glenn Miller; age 20; 265ft (81m) shot through the mouth; killed instantly
  • Allison B. Krause; age 19; 343ft (105m) fatal left chest wound; died later that day
  • William Knox Schroeder; age 19; 382ft (116m) fatal chest wound; died almost an hour later in a hospital while undergoing surgery
  • Sandra Lee Scheuer; age 20; 390ft (120m) fatal neck wound; died a few minutes later from loss of blood

Wounded (and approximate distance from the National Guard):

  • Joseph Lewis Jr.; 71ft (22m); hit twice in the right abdomen and left lower leg
  • John R. Cleary; 110ft (34m); upper left chest wound
  • Thomas Mark Grace; 225ft (69m); struck in left ankle
  • Alan Michael Canfora; 225ft (69m); hit in his right wrist
  • Dean R. Kahler; 300ft (91m); back wound fracturing the vertebrae, permanently paralyzed from the chest down
  • Douglas Alan Wrentmore; 329ft (100m); hit in his right knee
  • James Dennis Russell; 375ft (114m); hit in his right thigh from a bullet and in the right forehead by birdshot, both wounds minor
  • Robert Follis Stamps; 495ft (151m); hit in his right buttock
  • Donald Scott MacKenzie; 750ft (230m); neck wound

Those were the facts, but hardly the whole story.  On May 14, ten days after the Kent State shootings, two black students were killed (and 12 wounded) by police in Mississippi at Jackson State College under similar circumstances - the Jackson State killings - but that event did not arouse the same nationwide attention as the Kent State shootings.  What followed was a spontaneous nationwide student strike on college and high school campuses, which after five years of combat and protests, forced the Vietnam War back onto the front pages of America’s newspapers.  In 1970 the toll of the Vietnam War was significant: 6,081 of the 335,790 American soldiers who served in Southeast Asia that year came home in body bags.  That brought the total US dead to 53,840 and now almost everyone in the country knew someone who had died in Vietnam.  There were virtually no degrees of separation.  Hundreds of thousands more had been wounded and the estimated totals of the dead and wounded Vietnamese and Cambodians exceeded two million.

Neil Young wrote and composed “Ohio” and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young recorded the song on May 21, 1970, at in Hollywood.  It was released as a single, backed with Stephen Stills' "Find the Cost of Freedom", and peaked at number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100.



…Leaving the Odyssey…: Amongst that year’s protests were the guerrilla theater performances by the Odyssey and The Company on the streets of Los Angeles.  I chose not to participate for fear of arrest and being exposed as a federal fugitive.  My ignorance of Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera wrapped around my unrequited love of Jill Baskin to put me off the Odyssey’s performance agenda.  THE SERPENT was one thing but, times being what they were, the revival of what I regarded as a dated Broadway musical seemed to me a waste time and energy.  My most personal reaction to what happened in 1970 was a daydream in which I held a loaded semi-automatic pistol and reflected: “This weapon is a thing of exquisite beauty elegantly designed for a single purpose, but of itself, it has no power of life or death– only potential.”

Instead of buying a gun and getting stupid, I chose to leave the Odyssey to begin work on a speculative fiction novel about an inadvertent combat fratricide in the jungles of Guatemala and the ironic political intrigues of a war crimes trial set in post-revolutionary Austin, Texas.  I’ve still got a copy of the first draft that pretentious fantasy floating around somewhere.  It was my very first attempt at writing a novel.


… “A Continual Roar of Musketry.” : Here’s the IMDb link to A Continual Roar of Musketry, www.imdb.com/title/tt0528647, where, if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the cast you will see my aka: James MacHeath.  Finally, Boland had come through and I was summoned to Universal Studios to read for a small part: Student #2 in an upcoming episode of the TV series starring Hal Holbrook The Bold Ones: The Senator.  It was five days work and paid SAG minimum which as I remember was a bit more than $800 at the time.  To my surprise when I read the script, it was a two hour fictionalized presentation of the events at Kent State, a completely scary crazy thing to put on network television in 1970 a few months after the actual event.  I had to get this part and apparently my passion showed because I was cast.

The part had another advantage in that because it was a five day shoot, it fell under a Taft Hartley provision in the SAG contract, and I was exempt from paying the chunky union membership initiation fees until thirty days after the date that Universal cut the check.  Otherwise I’d have to come up with big bucks and join the union before I could set foot on the set.  All in all it was a blissful Karmic alignment of the powers that be.

An ironic side note: The Senator, which lasted for only eight episodes,] earned nine Emmy nominations in 1971, winning five, including best drama, best "continued performance" by an actor (Hal Holbrook), and three additional separate awards for outstanding achievement in direction (for which I got no credit as a technical advisor), film editing and Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama. 

Next up on JMac1949 - Memories, 1970 – My First Day on the Set, the Big Speech and finally, Action.

Except for attributed video, photos and text, all content is copyrighted © 2013 JKM (an apparently ineffectual boilerplate joke?)

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Very Passionate Era! Jill will call - I just know it! R
“Kent State was a whole series of errors and the mistakes were so profound they cascaded into a calamity.

Nobody wants a repetition of that.”
another great chapter
Glad to see another chapter jmac. Those loves that are heading off in different directions sure provide material for the what-if speculations. My traveling days gave rise to a couple.

While I wasn't yet in university for Kent State, I'd taken part in a couple of anti-war demonstrations and the killings sure came as a shock. I'm glad you mentioned Jackson State too as even at the time, it was evident that white students getting killed was much more "newsworthy" than the same happening to their black counterparts.

I take it you learned the error of your ways re The Threepenny Opera. Great read again. Keep 'em coming.
Realize how much I've missed these posts. This is a good one...keep 'em coming.
Jesus. I remember that year, and not with any affection: It was awful. Won't say what I was doing, because it's irrelevant, really. I hope you hear back from Jill.
You cover a lot of ground, Jmac, as usual. I noticed the distances listed for the shooting vicitms at Kent State. The closest of the four dead was shot from 265 feet away. Of the 9 wounded, one stood 71 feet away, another 110 feet; the other seven were shot from distances ranging from 275 feet to 750 feet. Isn't it kind of hard to plead self-defense when the people, armed with rocks and bottles, are standing 250-700 feet away from you? How far can they throw? Also, James A. Michener's observation comes to mind. Interviewing local Ohioans, he was shocked to find many justified the shootings and "seemed to believe that paying property taxes gives them the right to demand that certain other people be shot." (OK, that's not an exact quote but a paraphase from memory). And it is sad but predictable that the killings at Jackson State didn't receive half as much attention or memorializaiton. [r, of course]
My wife was a high school student in semi-rural Ohio at the time. She heard neighbors saying the kids deserved it. It damned near radicalized her; it sure changed her.

I once spoke to a student who was still at Oberlin (also in Ohio) when I got there who had been there during Kent State. When Kent State closed after the shootings, Oberlin took in a lot of the students because their semester wasn't over yet and they had nowhere to go. His reaction was that students in Ohio were shocked that this happened at, of all places, Kent State. Antioch, sure; the place was full of radicals. But Kent State was relatively conservative.
Wow! the way this was set up shows an important a relative perspective. Well done, J, excellent piece. R
It was a combination of Kent State and the medical school being tear gassed at the University of Wisconsin that led me to abandon the Republican Party.
Finally, the Mac is Back on OS~~I love these memories, hell I lived a few, but nothing like your life. I really do enjoy these mac. Great Job~
I see you haven’t lost your touch, James, master of juxtaposition.
And we made it to the 1970’s! I wasn’t quite sentient yet, in 1970, being only 3.
Kent State is utterly shocking to me. To hear the details. To realize how close to the brink we were…
So much violence in that time… only 7 yrs ago a president had been murdered..then the land’s great prophet…and of course the young idealistic brother who would have changed history if president…
It’s amazing how little of this we kiddos who grew up in the 1980’s realized. Lost in the Reagan Shangra La. Smokin our pot, listening to these “old songs” as a refuge from the mechanical synthesized shit on mtv…thinking the 60’s were a better time, an era of free love & chicks in miniskirts & orgies & good drugs…
I hope this gal gets back to you so you can spill the beans.
I dig your poem, man!
I do not wish to read your novel, though, sorry.
It's all going to work out fine. Those were amazing times. I was lucky to get out of the country for a time in the seventies to India and beyond so missed lots. Your memories are so amazing. Thanks for putting them all on the record.
I can't wait to catch up on all your writing. I've always been fascinated with Kent State. Was about 10 when I saw a tv movie about it. Then, the CSand N song. Really enjoyed this, Mac. Fascinating.
This is really amazing.

You wrote:

"That brought the total US dead to 53,840 and now almost everyone in the country knew someone who had died in Vietnam. "

So the Vietnam war has left really lasting wounds in America. How is it possible that American people can still so easily become deceived to start wars? What about the political leaders like John Kerry, McCain, Obama?

I know about McCain that he is a Vietnam war veteran, how can he be so hawkish? What about the others? Are there many Vietnam war veterans among senators?

What do think, if there would be a big war in the Middle East and Americans involved, would people go again on streets like in the time of the Vietnam war?
It was indeed a turbulent year. I had not been aware of the distances of those wounded until I read it here but there is one thing to keep in mind. A thirty cal. full metal jacket bullet fired from an M1 Garand rifle will and does, pass through the people killed and strike and wound others a quarter mile away. Not excusing the shooting but just stating the unforgiving physics of a bullet. When you fire at the supposed threat in front of you, you are putting untold people in the distance in harm's way.

1970 I was going through night terrors, waking up screaming, and having my family learn that under no circumstance does one approach me while I sleep or make loud noises.

I love these pieces you write Mac, you always remind me that there was a whole other world of people of that time that had different experiences than I had. Keep them coming and I'll keep reading.
Rated and remembered.....
Great to have these back and this one raises unpleasant memories in people of a certain age. I hope Jill reads this excellent piece and comes back into your life on some basis. R
Rated and Tink picked!! Great post!!

Polarization--the incessant left-right of it--was at fever pitch. Late in 1969 the Selective Service had levied it's first draft lottery. Between 1960 and 1972, President Nixon received the most cumulative votes in history. He narrowly lost to JFK, decidedly beat Humphrey in '68 (the venerable Dems fractured due to the assassination of MLK and RFK, though McCarthy was adamantly platformed as the essential voice of anti-war activists). As late as 1972 President Nixon clobbered McGovern with not only something like 60% to 37% of the popular vote, but his victory remains the all time record of lopsidedness: 520 to 17 electoral votes.

It's difficult to assess or quantify the impact of anti-war actions.

Reflection evidences that, under the auspice of 'free speech and right of assembly', the machine allows a vapid letting of steam, quickly quietly going about its design of ominous juggernaut to fulfill its intent: greed, fear, good and evil.

Note that Nixon had been Eisenhower's VP for nearly a decade. So Richard Nixon, other than the interlude of the JFK administration, held 'world power' from 1952 up until his resignation in August, 1974.

Astonishingly...war protesters were dead on the ground but the strength of the Military Industrial Complex only accelerated. Partly due to the protracted weariness of the Viet Nam War (as you say, JMAC) eventually everyone knew someone dead, maimed or MIA; let alone that dark night of pending draftees or draft-dodgers.

The older generation had barely put the bugles on the shelf from the Korean War and WW II. Their old-enough-to kill-but-not-for-votin' kids of the duck and cover cold war--the kids of the near apocalypse Cuban Missile Crisis, these kids were called to duty. With parents and youth alike it was not uncommon to hear rationalizations of 'defeating the red menace'. Much of our massive, continual mobilization was comprised of volunteers and professional career warriors as well as the non-deferred 18 year old draftees.

The domino theory was a key sound bite visual...What if SE Asian nations toppled one by one...what then? WW III?

Wikipedia has it that Mary Ann Vecchio, a runaway from Opa-locka, Florida, was labelled a 'dissident communist' by her home state governor Claude Kirk.

The blunt reality is that the establishment--then and now--does what it wants when it wants. Nobody's right, you know.

whoa. how could have I omitted LBJ...? Note that Nixon had been Eisenhower's VP for nearly a decade. So Richard Nixon, other than the interlude of the JFK [and LBJ] administration[s],* held
'world power' from 1952 up until his resignation in August, 1974.
*Lyndon Baines Johnson 36th POTUS, 1963-1969
mea culpa maxima regardin [it's]*first draft lottery

*its first draft lottery

(I've been brushing up some Kiplingesque riffs and have relocated my neon-bright orange day-glow DRAFT BEER NOT STUDENTS
bumper stuckley's souvenier).
50 years now, the same listening
I was going to school in pre-revolutionary Austin when I heard the news: "four dead in Ohio." The revolution in "Post-revolutionary Austin" turns out to have been the computer revolution, led by radical entrepreneur Michael Dell. But that's already several lives ago.

I'm enjoying the resumption of your "remembrance of things past" series. As your virtual contemporary, I'm being flooded with memories of an amazing period.