Thursday, July 16, 2009

Taylor Camp


Every Artist's Aim
“The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life. Since man is mortal, the only immortality possible for him is to leave something behind him that is immortal since it will always move. This is the artist's way of scribbling "Kilroy was here" on the wall of the final and irrevocable oblivion through which he must someday pass.”
William Faulkner

Once upon a time, Richard Nixon was President. Man took his first walk on the moon. Wages and prices were controlled by the government. “The Pill” changed sexual behavior. Roe v. Wade made unborn children a political fulcrum. A war was fought in far-off jungles of Vietnam, on the streets near UC Berkeley and on our black and white television consoles in our livingrooms.


Dateline: Santa Fe Springs, California. Karen Gould, Joyce Stone and Lydia Lent (that’s me) served coffee for 10 cents a cup- no charge for refills or smiles at Sambo’s Restaurant. On occasion, black sedans with plain hubcaps and government tags would pull into the parking lot. The Spanish speaking busboys would climb the ladder to the roof until the cars pulled away.






























(Joyce, Karen, Lydia at screening)

Across the Pacific Ocean, life was being lived in a different dimension. The culture was being fought in a clothing optional hippie enclave at the end of the road in Kauai. At about the time the local officials were attempting to take charge of the situation by enforcing vagrancy laws, the brother of Elizabeth Taylor, Howard, and his wife, bought property adjacent to a state park. Their intent was to build a family home. When Howard went to the local officials with plans drawn for building permits, he was informed his property was going to be condemned for parkland- so forget building. Howard bailed the hippies out of jail and gave them permission to camp on their unbuildable property. Taylor Camp was born, lived and died. An experiment in living which was at the same time was idealistic and confrontational: a microcosm of what was happening Statewide, perhaps washed with serenity by the waves of the Pacific Ocean.


The trade winds of time lifted the three of us Californians along different life journeys where our paths seldom crossed. Karen married and moved to Washington State for a very long time. Joyce- I lost track of after my wedding. Joyce had a brother, Bob, whom we looked up to. Not just because he was 6’4” tall. He was just darn polite- very quiet- and so talented with a camera. Bob moved from the Westside of LA to Maui.


Fast forward to June 2009. Bob Stone was coming to Santa Monica for a special preview screening of his feature length documentary about Taylor Camp. I didn’t know what to expect. Karen from some PR gathered it might be about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. It was more than that.


Director Bob Stone teamed with John Wehrheim to create a film with the authenticity of Ken Burns. With the opening notes of Iron Butterfly thumping In a Godda Da Vida- I was born again, seventeen. Reliving the story of my generation, as seen through the eyes of those who chose to seek their personal Eden at Taylor Camp.





















(L-R John, Bob)

Bob and John captured the crossroads of innocence and tumult in photographs and interviews of both the campers and the locals: who often felt invaded by the counter culture. Bob and John thoughtfully recorded the price of free love in the death of Minka, who died of AIDS, because at 21, she had a relationship with a male who did not know he was infected.

The portrayal of life in this Eden is undeniably romantic. Children were born. They played. But there were no major injuries or deaths. Drugs appeared to be more available than clothing, particularly marijuana. But there were no major medical incidents. Probably not so much from wisdom as from the good fortune which shined on this Eden. I was a bit edgy that the resident Vietnam Vets who went there bore such bitterness towards our country. But, that is who went to Taylor Camp. So my concerns were eased by truthfulness.

Comfortable as I am in this middle-class existence, the housing appears flimsy. Dangerous, even. But to some of the campers, it was the most permanent life they had known. For some it was respite from war. For some, from drugs. For others, a place to escape abuse.

The movie transports the viewer to a time the fabric of our society needed stitching up. The preview edition transported me back to those formative years, when the world outside was ripping apart. We were a generation that hurt. We worshiped freedom, rebelled against authority and sought spiritual enlightenment, not always wisely. These were years when the Beetles Song, “Helter Skelter” inspired the infamous Manson Family Murders. The movie, by pulling me away from my comfort zone, made me confront my own prejudices. Why did a group of young families, disillusioned military veterans, surfers and candidly, druggies, converge on the paradise known as Taylor Camp. To what end?

In the end, Taylor Camp reminded me how powerful the beauty of nature is as a healer. I left with an appreciation for the continuity of people who chose to deal with life differently than I. Many people my father would have riled about as worthless hippies- grew into productive, well-adjusted citizens.

Director Robert "Bob" C. Stone didn’t understand the full scope Taylor Camp would become.”It started out as a 15 minute slide show as a fund raiser for KKCR Kauai public radio. After 1,000 people showed up at the theater for the screening and after I met some of the Taylor Campers, we decided that it might make a compelling documentary.”

It does. As with all great art, the love of the creator for the story is evident.
The soundtrack alone is worth the price of admission.
The editing- the scenic interludes: awe inspiring. When the movie is over- it will stir your soul for long after.

To learn more- Go to http://taylorcampfilm.com/

Taylor Camp Cover Images by John Wehrheim.














(Me with Bob at screening)











Bob and Karen catching up.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

WOW! Lydia!
I must say that this is your best writing yet! You brought Taylor Camp to life for me. One word you didn't mention was "commune". I am thinking that's what it was but you never called it that.
Isn't it interesting that Liz Taylor and her brother took such different paths in life. I think I told you that my art teacher at Parnell (Elizabeth Howard) consulted with Francis Taylor, their father,in collecting some of his fabulous art collection. He was an art dealer living in London when Elizabeth was born.
I have always had such a fascination for her. She was always my favorite actress. Her brother was older and now I am wondering if he is still alive.

Boy! See? The sign of a good writer is that they make people think and remember. It sounded like a wonderful evening that you had with your old friends. (I hate to use the word old tho:)
Good photos of you too!

Very good Lydia!
XO Trisha

Anonymous said...

What a great trip down your Memory Lane, which triggered some of mine from that era. My baby sister, Wendy, experienced the commune lifestyle and there were many of them in Left Coast states. Ca certainly led the way forward from the days of the Haight in SF, the Summer of Love in '69,et al You paint a very romantic picture of those times. Perhaps it is better to remember them that way. :) Edda

Lydia said...

Thank you! I'm blushing. Interesting info you dropped in.

Taylor Camp did something more than most "documentaries" do for me. They tend to be a recitation of facts. This film shares its heart.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What a fascinating and interesting place this was Lydia....I had never heard of Taylor Camp before...NOW, I cannot wait to see this Documentary! That you were a part of this is also truly fascinating, too. And I can imagine seeing this brought back lots and lots of memories....!
Thank you for sharing all this Lydia....! I will have to wait till it is on DVD because of my confinement...If you ever know that it IS available on DVD, do please let me know.

Anonymous said...

Wow. You wrote just what I was thinking.
Karen

Lydia said...

Dear Lady of the Hills- a copy of the film is on its way to you this week. Everyone else- copies are available at the Taylor Camp website.

One point of clarification: I was not a Taylor Camper. Just fascinated at seeing the time through eyes of people who went there. Seeing how common the human experience can be over a lifetime. Weeks later, I am still thinking and feeling the film and its music. That is rare.

Anonymous said...

This is just amazing someone finally did it!!!
These weere the best times in my life living in Talors camp
I do wish to go back to the days of Peace andf love and cane spiders that were my neighbors in my tree house Ai was staying in
I had some wonderful times there
in 2000 was visiting Pri nceville. I had a lady who was giving me a facial, I asked what has happened to Talorscamp she said they closed it down from Infections and deaise. I really had some incredible times running around naked eating brown rice. I cannot thank you for finally writing and putting this out there after so so many years.
If I could wave my hand and be back there I would in a second flat.
I also recall stitting on one of the krapers out there and it was raining soo so hard it was up to my knees. It was a real shamme to go there in 2000 and see there was nothing there
I did get to meet again a few old friends friends the day while I was there
one head of it all was workinfg art a surf shop
She was so beautiful to see-I shall always have this inplanted within my soul for ever more
The lady who was at priceville my massage lady asked if Irecalled her leaviing her insoline in the stream- what times they were - such a beautiful time in my life.
Light, Love + Peace Always
www.myspace.com/friendlylight

Lady Violet Moon~
xxx

I shall have to make a blog now of thisa have thought of this many many times
I cannot tell you how deeply touched I am over reading this I cannot wait to see this all the way through
☮☮☮☮☮☮♥ Flower Power xoxo

Anonymous said...

This is just amazing someone finally did it!!!
These were the best times in my life living in Talors camp
I do wish to go back to the days of Peace andf love and Kane spiders that were my neighbors in my tree house I was staying in
I had some wonderful times there
in 2000 was visiting Princeville. I had a lady who was giving me a facial, I asked what has happened to Talors camp she said they closed it down from Infections and diease. I really had some incrediable times running around naked, eating brown rice. I cannot thank you for finally writing and putting this out there after so, so many years.
If I could wave my hand and be back there I would in a second flat.
I also recall stitting on one of the krapers out there and it was raining so, so hard it was up to my knees. It was a real shame to go there in 2000 and see there was nothing there.
I did get to meet again a few old friends friends the day while I was there
one head of it all, was workinfg art a surf shop
She was so beautiful to see-I shall always have this inplanted within my soul for ever more
The lady who was at Princeville -- my massage lady asked if I recalled her leaviing her insoline in the stream- what times they were - such a beautiful time in my life.
Light, Love + Peace Always
www.myspace.com/friendlylight

Lady Violet Moon~
xxx

I shall have to make a blog now of this
have thought of this many times
I cannot tell you how deeply touched I am over reading this I cannot wait to see this all the way through.
we would all get together and hich hik into town to get out food-
OH! what times these were~ Muahhh~
☮☮☮☮☮☮♥ Flower Power xoxo

Davidjohn said...

I truly value this awesome post that you have accommodated us. I guarantee this would be gainful for the greater part of the general population.
opsætning af havehegn