Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Paul Williams Tribute Issue: PKD Otaku

"We ought to remember, here in our PKD niche, that Paul 
was multi- faceted. He is certainly going to be
best remembered by the public as a music journalist, a genre he essentially created with his magazine Crawdaddy. To his friends and family, of course, his memory will run much deeper. He was a journalist, true; he was also a husband, father, brother, son, colleague and friend. That he was a good friend to a California science fiction writer named Philip K. Dick was a lucky accident for both of them – and for us. I like to think that, somewhere, Paul and Phil are sitting around a kitchen table, fiddling with a tape recorder, listening to Moby Grape on the stereo, talking about the universe and life, reality and what passes for reality; relaxed, laughing, enjoying each other’s company once again and maybe forever."

An excerpt from the editorial on Paul Williams in the new
PKD Otaku Issue 28
 by Patrick Clark

*     *     *
"On my shelves are 13 volumes of Theodore Sturgeon’s Short Stories. They wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for Paul Williams. It was his mis- sion to do for Sturgeon what he had previously done for Dick (he men- tioned as much in the later PKDS Newsletters). He began the Sturgeon project before his ac- cident, but tragically was not able to write the story notes for the last two volumes ‘Slow Sculpture’ and ‘Case and the Dreamer.’ The whole set being eventually published sequentially, volume by volume, be- tween 1994-2010. It was Paul who dreamed it. He succeeded. I treasure the stories and I am grateful to Paul for making these beautiful volumes possible."

An excerpt from  Nick Buchanan's tribute in PKD Otaku

*     *     *
I never met Phil, so I made it my mission to meet Paul. Once I had decided (in the late 90s) to write a novel with Philip K. Dick as my “Guide to the Other Side” I soon learned that Paul was the Key Master to the PKD Gate. His name was turning up everywhere. He had been the first
one to sort through the massive Exegesis pile of papers and devised the manila folder organizational system. At that time access to the Exegesis was as elusive as an an- cient codex. Lawrence Sutin’s In Pursuit of VALIS had only whetted my appetite in my search for what was “really real” for Phil. I was convinced I had to read more.
Another book I found early on was Welcome to Reality: the Nightmares of Philip K. Dick (edited by Uwe Anton with an introduction by Paul Williams.) This guy again, I thought. The open of his intro is particularly eerie now:
(Paul Williams) "Many years ago (I was 20 years old) a close friend of mine died, a young writer for a New York news- paper. After the funeral, about ten of us... gathered in a nearby apartment and talked about our friend who was gone. As we talked it was like he was still there, not just the memory of him, but his actual presence, so real it amazed me. I realized at that moment that we live on not only in our own bodies
but in the conscious- ness of the people we’ve touched, all the people who have truly felt our pres- ence in their lives. This was not an idea I had but an obser- vation—I could see, feel, and hear my dead friend alive in that room.
“In 1982 another good friend of mine died, the writer Phil- ip K. Dick. The per- sonal loss for me was great—no more late
night phone calls, or talking enthusiastically with him in his southern California apartment while he sat with twenty different cans of flavored snuff in front of him, taking a pinch from each can in suc- cession. But because I’m also a writer, I found my- self worrying about all the brilliant work Phil had done that hadn’t been published yet... I realized, perhaps instinctively or perhaps guided somehow by my dead friend’s spirit, that the way to keep Phil alive... was to gather the people who loved him, who had been touched by him, and in whom he still lived... his readers. So with the support of his heirs, his children, I started the Philip K. Dick Society.”

An excerpt from E.J. "Jami" Morgan's piece in PKD Otaku

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sound of the Big Bang, Giant Orbiting Mirrors, 15 Kilometer Towers, And Download Ships...

On Monday Alexander and I visited Paul's oldest dearest friend, David Hartwell, an editor at Tor Books, at the La Jolla Shores Hotel for dinner. David had told me about this trip to San Diego over 3 months ago and we had hoped he would be able to visit his friend one last time, ..alas. 

La Jolla Shores boardwalk at dusk. David was in town for a symposium at the new UCSD Arthur C Clarke Center for Human Imagination. On Tuesday and Wednesday there were panels and lectures on all kinds of cool crazy stuff, the agenda offered talks on: Starships and the Fates of Mankind, Noah's Ark Eggs and Warm Blooded Plants and more wild sounding titles. 

I was able to talk Alexander's teachers into letting him ditch school for a day so we could take in a day of physicists and science fiction authors at the Starship Century Symposium. They agreed so long as he 
could tell the class a bit about what he'd seen and heard. 

Alexander: "Most of the talks were pretty interesting. Not all of them were about building a starship, like the talk on a 15 kilometer tall tower, but they all seemed really interesting, and it showed how we'd have to advance in technology a lot for these things to become real. Like, for example for the starship, we'd need to advance in rocket engine technology instead of using old rocket fuel. Nuclear-thermal rockets were talked about. For the tall tower an advancement would be how to keep the steel from buckling and also how to keep the wind velocity from knocking it down-using things like jet engines to push back the high winds."

Thanks to David Hartwell and Gregory Benford,  we were able to get passes to the sold out event. Gregory is a science fiction author and an astrophysicist and a long time friend of Paul's via the sf community. He had this to say about Paul Williams 
at File 770 
“He was a stone sf fan from junior high, deflected into rock, but with the instincts of a fan and the smarts to see where rock could go, following the curve of sf and jazz and earlier American inventions. His kind of cross-conversation invigorated all fields he touched, from Dylan to Sturgeon to Phil Dick to all those idiosyncratic visionaries who lurk among us, bless them all in their fevered pace.”

Talking to SF writer Allen Steele

In front of the Theodore Geisel (aka Dr Seuss) Library UCSD

This is Freeman Dyson on the right, he is an influential physicist, a free thinker and visionary and his talk on what it would take to move us outside of this solar system was colorful and mind-expanding. Images that stick with me: plants that grow on ice, sail-starships, eggs that contain DNA for life and are made for terraforming planetoids, sleep-ships (like in 2001 Space Odyssey) vs "download"-ships which contain human-cloned DNA, and giant mirrors orbiting distant planets-far from the sun- which are able to reflect enough light onto that world to make it 'habitable'. Not only that, ...Dyson is 90 years old. 

  Dr. Jon Cramer is seen here on the left, he's a Professor Emeritus in the physics department of the University of Washington (and in fact, knows Alexander's grandfather, Bob Williams, who was also a physics professor at UW). David Hartwell very thoughtfully, brought Dr. Cramer around to meet with and talk to eleven year old Alexander. He told us about his recent experiments and discoveries including the sound of the beginning of the universe.

Alexander on meeting Dr. Cramer: "It was pretty cool that I could understand some of what he was talking about, like the Quantum Entanglement Theory, which is about two particles being linked together and being able to send messages back and forth between those particles. However I did learn some new things such as being able to send those messages back in time. It was pretty cool that I could meet and talk about these things with him." 

The after-after party, with me and Gloria B. Lubkin from 
Physics Today

All photos by David Hartwell
except the photo of me and David and Greg, which is merely my iphone

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 19th

Paul's birthday, May 19, 1948....

I just stumbled upon 2 big files full of Paul photos I've never seen these before. I'm thinking they are from mid 70s, must check w/Sachiko on that. 


This business of grieving and also gettin' on with one's life is challenging. You still got ta work, you still must have a social life, you still got to pay bills. 

And what about that list everyone refers to, the stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I'm not sure if I'm in anything different now than I ever was. However, I do catch myself suddenly, now and then, quite unexpectedly and rather like a sunny-day-down-pour, crying my eyes out. 

It happened two weeks ago while driving up to Los Angeles. I was listening to a song on Stew's album The Naked Dutch Painter, I think the song is called Angel Dust. At any rate, some songs-at the right time-hit a funny bone and -boom- there I was sobbing my eyes out passing the controversial San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, and wondering if I could drive through the crying or if I'd have to pull over. Then as sudden and surprising as it started, it ended, and I drove on, safely arriving at my destination. 

I don't know how it's supposed to work, but nothing about my experience with my own emotions has ever been about rules. They are mysterious, unavailable alot of the time, need a little time and coaxing, and are not predictable. And if there is a difference in the way men and women experience feelings, I don't really see it. I have seen both men and women use their emotions to manipulate or get certain reactions from others. I've seen stonewalling. But I think we are all in the same soup of trying-to-figure-our-own-selves-out together. 

Vaughan Bell, a psychologist at King's College London says research shows that "we all grieve in our own way."

[P]sychologists have a sad tradition of seeing loss through their own cultural blinders and inventing supposedly "universal" theories. Even more regrettably, many have been at the forefront of encouraging people to think of their grief as having to conform to certain stages, feelings or phases to be considered "normal". Mourning has been framed as a problem, pain as something to be cured.
The idea that grief has specific stages is a popular belief and was given its most professional gloss by the Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who is often cited as suggesting that mourners pass through stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Not being able to "work through" a stage was considered a sign of psychological difficulty and therapists were encouraged to help people pass through each of the "phases". The fact that Kübler-Ross was talking about adjusting to your own impending death, not to the death of someone else, didn't seem to dull anyone's enthusiasm and her theories became wildly over-applied. But regardless of how accurately her ideas were used, the evidence for these stages evaporates under scrutiny — perhaps unsurprising considering they were based on little more than casual observation and creative thinking.
In contrast, psychologist George Bonanno has studied the course of grief by following people from before they were bereaved to months and even years afterwards. It turns out that there is little evidence for a progression through specific stages of adjustment, and even the belief that most people are plunged into despair and gradually "get better" turns out to be little more than cliché. This is not to say that sadness isn't a common response to loss, but an experience of deep debilitating anguish tends to be the exception rather than the rule. In fact, two-thirds of people are resilient in the face of losing a loved one — in other words, they are sorrowful but they are neither depressed nor disabled by their experience.
It is worth noting, however, that about 10% of people do suffer what is sometimes called "complicated" or "prolonged" grief, where the feelings of loss are intense, long-lasting and cause significant impairment, potentially needing help from mental health professionals. But in terms of the traditional concept of grief, most people experience their loss differently, something both important and liberating, in a sombre sort of way. We are left to wonder how many people have been stigmatised as being "in denial" because they are not experiencing what stereotype expects, or worse, have had their affection for their loved-one questioned due to their normal and non-catastrophic reactions.
 excerpted from Bell’s article on the Observer's website 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

San Diego Concert For Paul Williams

Gary Warth called me about a month ago and said he wanted to help with the expenses of Paul's memorial and funeral, so he called upon some San Diego music friends and put together last weekends benefit
Lots of folks showed up. I had no idea what it might be like on Mothers Day afternoon, in a bar for 6 hours, but it was a fun! 
Me with Jared Whitlock of the Coast News, and Randy Hoffman

The smooth and demented stylings of Jose Sinatra, singing the lyrics to Elvis' Houndog to the music of Sounds of Silence

Jose (seen here in predator mode), Kent and Liz Abbott from the SD Troubadour
My pal Nena Andersen bailed me out of some trouble when I locked my keys in my trunk...she had AAA

Playing Ring of Fire w/Randy Hoffman, me, Nena and, Keli Ross-Ma'u playing a solo on steel drum
The true beauty and sonic stylings of the Hoffman *cardboard box* can not be explained by mere words. One must experience it live. 

The inimitable, Mojo Nixon... proclaiming Elvis is Everywhere and why one must Tie a Pecker To Mah Leg
Photographer Dennis Andersen photograph by Dan Chusid

Great music, great friends, lots of laughs and heartfelt words about Paul Williams' contribution to pop culture and music criticism. And then after the music was done, Gary Warth made me take the spoils of the benefit home with me, a total of $1600.00. 
Wow. Thank you San Diego, I'm proud to call you my home.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Paul joined me on the second half of a 1994 tour. We drove from New York City to Chicago where I had a show at Schuba's. Before the show we met with a few friends and one, Yael Routtenberg, took our photograph. Paul had just moved to Encinitas around this time, I had just released Garage Orchestra and all was good in the world. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013


'PaulStock'-article on benefit in UTSanDiego

Here's a link to an article on this weekends 'PaulStock'...which is a benefit concert organized by the good people of the San Diego music community. This is great, gonna be fun, and will help me pay for the funerary costs and memorial. 

Thank you to Gary Warth, George Varga and everyone that is playing the show Sunday. I will see you there...

This Sunday May 12th 2pm
1921 Bacon St.
Ocean Beach, CA

With: Mojo Nixon, Jose Sinatra & Miff Laracy, Bart Mendoza’s True Stories, Cindy Lee Berryhill, Berkley Hart, Ric Kaestner, Jon Kanis & Listening to Rocks, The Jive Bombers

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

And Still More: Reflections on Paul Williams

  • Jim Fouratt
    a long time friend of Paul's, active in the entertainment industry and gay rights

    In these days of marriage-obsessed-media, little attention is paid to the vow of: being there in sickness and in health'. Cindy Lee Berryhills devotion to Paul Williams in “good times/bad times” is about the best example since the plague years of AIDS that I can look to, to tell people “This is what marriage means at it's core". Mutual caring and love... something that I don't think legal paper needs, or is necessary to make honorable. I know how she struggled to “be there “ as this beautiful, smart-mind, entered a dark cave of confusion and memory loss.. I also know how difficult a person with Alzheimer can be to the person they most love. She has been silent on just how hard it is in the day-to-day struggle to be present. But many of us know first hand in this kind of situation, just what unconditional love actually means. The thought of her playing him a Dylan tape in the last days and he telling her to “shut up” brought a smile to my face and a sad sigh of letting go. Cindy, your friends are here to hug and hold you and to encourage you to pick up the guitar when ready.

    My memories of Paul go all the way back to the time when I was the Editor of the Communication Company/NY, a daily news sheet put out to organize 'hippies” to the political realities of life in 1967, including the WAR. I met Paul at some show and he would drop in at my loft at 26 Bond Street and I would always make sure there were a stack of Communication Com. pay sheets at the Crawdaddy office above Sing Out magazine's office on Sixth Avenue and West Third St. 

    Paul asked me to write for him. He was amazingly kind, and editorially helpful to this dyslectic writer, as the words spilled out onto the page. .. remember, he was also editing Richard Meltzer and Sandy Pearlman at the time too. Think of those aesthetics. Ray Caviano, who later invented the disco genre, was Crawdaddy's first ad salesman. I introduced Paul to Don McNeil, a young writer at the Village Voice who became his best friend, (McNeil's writings on the late '60s youth politics and culture are so much better than Todd Gillan's). 

    When I decided to organize a New York Be In I asked Paul to join me. He and Susan Hartnet, of Robert Raushenberg's EAT (Experiments in Art and Technology), and Chilian artist and political ex-pat Claudio Badel were the anonymous team who produced the Be In, an indelible cultural happening. While others tried to take credit, it was we four that actually organized it.

    Paul moved to California after Don's accidental acid drowning in a beautiful lake, and began his career of writing and publishing meta-physical and culture critique books always rooted in music. We would meet often as our roads crossed and recognized each other as soul brothers without having to say it. I knew Cindy as a smart singer songwriter of merit . When he told me he was smitten I remember telling him "she can keep up with both your intelligence and critical love of music". And she did.

    Today I am both sad and relieved that he has finally move on . His legacy is our collective task to keep alive...and to be there when Cindy and Alexander need our support. Being an artist in these days of piracy, and now a single mom, means being poor in pocket but rich in memory and creativity
    Good bye Paul. I loved you.
    Jim Fouratt


    Stephen Kalinich
    and writer of Beach Boys lyrics 

    Paul Williams: 
    One of the sweetest men I knew, especially in this business.
    He wrote the first articles about California Feeling when I was barely beginning.
    Always a kind soul and way ahead of the curve.
    He has a lovely wife Cindy who has stood by him through it all and she has great compassion.
    Here is a guy that was blessed and helped a lot of people.
    “I wear these clothes
    of flesh
    so loosely
    for a time
    i surrender
    my nakedness
    for a garment
    of light.
    As these bones
    as i fall
    differentiating bliss
    lose memory
    of mortality
    for it is only mine
    for a brief beautiful
    with hands
    it is hard
    to touch the soul.
    Let me enjoy
    these days
    I walk within
    whatever is possible.”

    Stephen Kalinich, Jackson Browne, CLB, Paul Williams 2007
    Photo credit: Jill Jarrett


    And a very expansive piece on Paul written by Jon Kanis, as the cover story for San Diego's favorite music newspaper:
    San Diego Troubadour