Category: AsEverWas

Foreword to AsEverWas

Estranged from his parents at an early age, Hammond made up for the loss by exerting his sense of adventure, coupled with an uncanny ability to socialize positively with just about everyone he met. Consequently, where others might have faltered, he moved from scene to scene – first on the West Coast, later in Europe and Morocco – almost magically protected by his innate bonhomie and easygoing lifestyle, while having extraordinary and often hilarious adventures.

We first met in San Francisco in the late 1960s when the Haight-Ashbury was the Mecca of the American youth diaspora; draft dodgers were leaving for Europe, and particularly England. Though Hammond was clever enough to dodge the draft without having to emigrate, the cost of freedom had become too expensive, and he split the US with his wife Wendy and headed east. As Hammond and Wendy passed through London we met again, this time in the squats of Prince of Wales Road, a half-derelict inner-city zone where all you needed to steal a house was a jimmy and a lookout.

All sorts of happenings and counterculture events were flowing in a continuous stream. The underground press, arts labs, psychedelic nightclubs and sheer exuberant street life, coupled with the international exchange of ideas and experiences, made the cities of Western Europe a cultural melting pot. For a life-artist like Hammond this was evidently more than just fun.

Adept at writing, staging spontaneous events and ingesting neuroactive substances, Hammond swam through the culture like a salmon in familiar ocean currents. He could have become a well-known poet or a masterly oil painter, a filmmaker or a travel guide. But the thing about generalists is you never know where they are going to pop up next. And through the whole of AsEverWas runs his laidback delivery, serious yet very funny, with an old-world politeness reminiscent of Alistair Cooke’s Letters from America (and unlike Mr. Cooke, Hammond doesn’t suffer from the impediment of a hungry ego).

The dramatis personae of AsEverWas include many figures, both well known and little known, too numerous to name. But to pick a few at random from a cast of hundreds, look out for poet Allen Ginsberg, author William Burroughs, singers Nico and Carmen McRae, streetwise Hube ‘The Cube’ Leslie, musician Pete Townshend, Digger Emmett Grogan, and TV presenter Kenneth Allsop. Or the cameos of actor Del Close, an unreformed happenings artist (who later wrecked my own piano in a Notting Hill church hall, but that’s for another time). Then there are the funny episodes. I can’t even remember laughing so much as I did at the surreal absurdity and nail-biting suspense of Hammond’s Moroccan adventure.

One other thing, this is a true story, all of it. And the fact that it stops at 1976 can mean only one thing: watch out for the sequel folks. Hammond has returned to his artistic root and he’s riding high.

John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, London, 2002

Posted in AsEverWas, News & Views

Foreword to AsEverWas

Estranged from his parents at an early age, Hammond made up for the loss by exerting his sense of adventure, coupled with an uncanny ability to socialize positively with just about everyone he met. Consequently, where others might have faltered, he moved from scene to scene – first on the West Coast, later in Europe and Morocco – almost magically protected by his innate bonhomie and easygoing lifestyle, while having extraordinary and often hilarious adventures.

We first met in San Francisco in the late 1960s when the Haight-Ashbury was the Mecca of the American youth diaspora; draft dodgers were leaving for Europe, and particularly England. Though Hammond was clever enough to dodge the draft without having to emigrate, the cost of freedom had become too expensive, and he split the US with his wife Wendy and headed east. As Hammond and Wendy passed through London we met again, this time in the squats of Prince of Wales Road, a half-derelict inner-city zone where all you needed to steal a house was a jimmy and a lookout.

All sorts of happenings and counterculture events were flowing in a continuous stream. The underground press, arts labs, psychedelic nightclubs and sheer exuberant street life, coupled with the international exchange of ideas and experiences, made the cities of Western Europe a cultural melting pot. For a life-artist like Hammond this was evidently more than just fun.

Adept at writing, staging spontaneous events and ingesting neuroactive substances, Hammond swam through the culture like a salmon in familiar ocean currents. He could have become a well-known poet or a masterly oil painter, a filmmaker or a travel guide. But the thing about generalists is you never know where they are going to pop up next. And through the whole of AsEverWas runs his laidback delivery, serious yet very funny, with an old-world politeness reminiscent of Alistair Cooke’s Letters from America (and unlike Mr. Cooke, Hammond doesn’t suffer from the impediment of a hungry ego).

The dramatis personae of AsEverWas include many figures, both well known and little known, too numerous to name. But to pick a few at random from a cast of hundreds, look out for poet Allen Ginsberg, author William Burroughs, singers Nico and Carmen McRae, streetwise Hube ‘The Cube’ Leslie, musician Pete Townshend, Digger Emmett Grogan, and TV presenter Kenneth Allsop. Or the cameos of actor Del Close, an unreformed happenings artist (who later wrecked my own piano in a Notting Hill church hall, but that’s for another time). Then there are the funny episodes. I can’t even remember laughing so much as I did at the surreal absurdity and nail-biting suspense of Hammond’s Moroccan adventure.

One other thing, this is a true story, all of it. And the fact that it stops at 1976 can mean only one thing: watch out for the sequel folks. Hammond has returned to his artistic root and he’s riding high.

John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, London, 2002

Posted in AsEverWas, News & Views

AsEverWas

As Ever Was

When the counterculture was busy being born in Los Angeles and San Francisco in the mid-1960s, Hammond Guthrie found himself in the midst of hipster heaven, somewhere between late Beat and early Hippie. A budding painter and writer, he quickly made friends with many of the musicians, poets, performance artists and street people who were blazing trails into new lifestyles.

Realizing that life was meant to be a total trip, a non-stop adventure, he left the West Coast with his wife for England and immersed himself in the alternative scene in London – the world of International Times, the UFO Club, Arts Lab, inner-city squats – with a writing gig at Time Out magazine.

Moving on to Amsterdam, he befriended Provos and free-living bohemians, while building a promising career in the art world – the Stedelijk Museum even bought his paintings for their collection. But in the early 1970s the trip took a surreal turn. His wife started taking free love far too literally, and her amorous escapade with a drug dealer entangled them both in a nerve-racking intrigue in the twilight zone of Tangier. Hammond’s Moroccan mission was to spring five Americans, including his wife’s lover, from 60-year prison sentences for wholesale hashish smuggling.

Here he tells it all in his playful style, with a keen eye for absurd detail and an unflagging sense of humor. Among the hundreds of famous and not-so-famous personalities he encountered along the way were the Buffalo Springfield, Del Close, Max Crosley, Richie Havens, Nico, Carmen McCrea, Allen Ginsberg, John “Hoppy” Hopkins, William Burroughs, Simon Vinkenoog, Kenneth Alsop, Pete Townshend, and Emmet Grogan.

Reviews

AsEverWas, along with Ed Sanders’ Tales of Beatnik Glory are the two most important tomes I’ve seen recounting those decades of the twentieth century. — Larry Sawyer, Editor, Milk Magazine

Hammond takes you places you want to linger and others that cause you to shudder with fears you might not know you had. It was the sixties, but you haven’t read this story before. — Comment on Amazon.com from a reader in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Hammond’s book may be one of the quintessential freak histories. — Michael Simmons, LA Weekly columnist

It brought back memories I’ve never had! — Gary Fulkerson, singer/songwriter

I laughed, I cried. It’s a marvelous book written in intriguing conversational style, bringing back wonderful memories from a wonderful time. — Herbert Gold, novelist and journalist

AsEverWas captures the story of countless others who lived on the fringes during an era when the country was at an important crossroads. Anyone who was alive during these turbulent times and who gives a damn about just how we got here should read this book — John Aiello, poet and journalist

Helps you see, feel and understand the moods, people and places that shaped an extraordinary decade. For its style and its lessons, Hammond Guthrie’s memoir is a rare and important achievement. — Stew Albert, co-founder of the Yippies

I’m blown away by the stories – [he] really [has] seen and done it all. Just fascinating and, unlike so many of the other accounts I’ve seen, [Hammond] actually does remember. — Jeff Tamarkin, author of Got a Revolution

What a marvelous surprise lurking beneath the cover of this one.Jacket Magazine

Posted in AsEverWas, Our Books