Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chico guest to speak on radical politics, Asian spirituality, hash smuggling


Jerry Beisler is in the midst of chronicling his eventful life, decade by decade, in a series of books called "As the Prayer Wheel Turns." The 1970s is covered in "The Bandit of Kabul" ($29.95 in paperback from Regent Press), studded with black and white photographs of the times and the people -- from Rebecca, whom he marries in 1971 in Goa, India, to Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, to "Dutch Bob," who "tried to recruit anyone of worth he met in the Kathmandu Valley to assist him in his Hash-to-Amsterdam deals." The author signed up.

He will also be signing copies of his book tonight at 7 at Lyon Books in Chico. The public is invited to attend what is likely to be a freewheeling discussion.

An author's note sets the tone: "This book is set in some of the world's most remote and exotic locations, but you will not be reading poetic or minute descriptions of the sights, sounds or smells of those places. & There is no time for dwelling on these things during this era of endless war that produces murderous national leaders, idiotic economic policies and draconian, tyrannical laws. But the historical facts, the action and adventure, the spirit and spirituality of human beings are here; this story beings and ends in love."

It's also the story of Beisler's entrepreneurial spirit. Gravitating away from the "false-bottom suitcase parade" smuggling contraband into Amsterdam, he and Rebecca would return periodically to their ranch in Northern California where Jerry would sell museum-quality Tibetan carpets and tend his marijuana garden (now long gone, of course, replaced by "ecologically perfect nut trees").

He also helped produce music shows "for the local college crowd & about 8,000 party-hungry students." It sounds like the unnamed "state university" was Chico State University, described as somewhere between the Bay Area and Oregon, 157 miles from San Francisco, just outside the radius promoter Bill Graham insisted on when he booked his acts so as not to dilute the potential audience. For Beisler that meant "Fleetwood Mac, Santana and Taj Mahal, came through town on their coastal swings to or from San Francisco."

During a time of estrangement from Rebecca, Jerry had met a woman in San Francisco. Later, once again united with Rebecca, he received a letter from "that 'hot-house flower.'" Almost matter-of-factly she wrote: "I am going to have your baby in a few months & and someday, if the child asks about the father, I'll just say he was the Bandit of Kabul."

Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. To submit review copies of published books, please send e-mail to Copyright 2007 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.
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