From my “Missing Berkeley” series– Meeting Larry Thrasher from Psychic TV– 2000
Every day I passed by a gray building with covered windows that grace pictures of Meher Baba’ and wonder what is inside. You imagine that there might be some secret gathering of mystic people or philosophers inside planning the outcome of the world. Or is there something else going on? One day those same windows become filled with trinkets that beckon you. Little bits of joy that three people have worked hard to collect to brighten your day.
You think you recognize the man’s name that you are talking to as you listen to the magical words filling your brain. Stories of a musical group do not really register as you are too busy carefully writing down notes.You hear tales of journeys, faith and hard work while you feel like you are gazing at every small oddity of the world.
Suddenly tales of the tabla and India are somehow introduced into the conversation and you hang on to every word. Originally you are told, part of the treasured items came from a store on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. The rest found their way by themselves to be loved, cherished and sold. Of course not everything can be perfect in this little store of wonder.
Suddenly stories of the city wanting them to comply with their beige canopy world rules fill your ears. Understanding completely, you nod your head as you have gone through the same thing yourself once upon a time. You know first hand that creativity and passion seldom mix with the straight edge population of the world.
Then you hear his thoughts of turning part of the store into a place where artists might build an art scene from scratch, like in the film Cool School. Life should be nothing but a world full of art and music without rules and regulations.You seem to return back to conversations about India where merchants are not suppressed like they are here and hear that India is all about life, community and culture.
He speaks about poverty being worse than what you have seen in the film Slumdog Millionaire.People in India are far happier than in America but their biggest fear is of globalization. Even with the high poverty level, people are very well educated and there is more brain power there than there is in America.As I am shown a very old Victorian knife taken out from inside the counter, I hear how each time he steps on Indian soil he feels like he is home. The smells of diesel and curry that fill the air are now very comforting to him.As I feel the smooth canvas bags made by the organization Prithvi I am told that the money received for these bags are for the village women that construct them to make their lives better. I hear about non profits I have never heard about like: World Sisters United, Kuya International and other groups that have merchandise in the store or receive support.
You realize that you were right in your assumption that this curio shop was exactly what you had thought it was. In two hours you had been fed visual curiosities and had answers about some of the world that you had no idea about. I walk down the street looking at his name in my notebook. Wading through the files of my aging mind it finally clicks. I have just enjoyed a couple of hours of conversation with Larry Thrasher who used to be in the band Psychic TV.
You start to remember a few of their songs but instantly the strains of the tabla overtake you as you do not want to lose the soundtrack of the last few mystical hours.
This was written early 2000- Life is a mystical and tragic thing. It is a journey often full of fear, when it ought to be full of hope. It’s fascinating to look back on your life and feel as though most of it was a precursor to the rest of it; to what was always supposed to be. Thanks to Sage, Larry and Timigin for their hospitality. Linda SeccaspinaI could have written a lot more about Larry Thrasher but this was about the story of the curio shop and that was not my mission. Psychic TV was a famous video art and music group that performed psychedelic punk, electronic and experimental music.