I got an inkling of how things were going when I stayed in Switzerland in 1989. Turns out the place I rented was where Tim Leary stayed after he’d bust out of prison. 1970 I think. There’d been a plan to blast Hawkwind from a helicopter with strobes to make it look like he was being abducted by a UFO. Only, the chopper didn’t have an 8-track, and – I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Not physically anyway. I was 3, and my interests didn’t run much beyond Lego and haiku.
Anyway, Leary’s in Switzerland, and in the room I spoke with his ghost. The weird bit is, he was still alive. Leary said he had stuff to tell me, and I wasn’t in the mood. I was tired after a long flight. Needed sleep. Hour later I get woken up by this sprit sprit sound. Leary’s opening up all the tinned drinks from the bar. And at this point, let me tell you, I was pretty much broke. Couldn’t afford hotel snacks, let alone Swiss ones. Only reason I was there was to raise money.
“OK, you’ve got my attention,” I said.
He grinned that beaming way he had and handed me a can. And that’s when it happened.
Leary told me about his place in LA. How the front door was always open. With a sign saying Come Inside making it clear he wasn’t joking. And people did. Skaters. Physicists. B-boys and b-girls. Hustlers and priests. Painters. Jocks. Short order chefs. A few stray dogs.
And when he told me, I could see this place. It wasn’t just his words. I could feel it, and I knew this was home. Anyone’s home. An open house. It was bliss, oscillating through me and out of me and everywhere –
And there was a knock at the door of the room.
My eyes were streaming as I opened it – to see a kindly-faced woman in her 50s.
“Come in,” I said, ushering her through the door. “Tell me about yourself. This place is yours.”
“My name is Maria,” she said, showing me a bucket with dusters and polish and rubber gloves. “This works better if you’re someplace else.”
There was no sign of Leary. I gave Maria a 237ml can of bitter lemon and went to speak with the investors I’d come to meet. I had the whole vision now. On the plane I had the core of it: a software system that would be created collectively. And that was exciting. But now it wasn’t just about computers, and open source. There was open house, open heart. A new trinity.
photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/