Sometime in the early to mid 1970s, I set off to find myself, although I wasn’t even certain that I had been missing. Armed with pen and paper, and with the words of Kerouac, Salinger, and Thompson reverberating in my head, I headed down the psychedelic super highway of hallucinogenics. Hurtling headfirst at record breaking speeds, I found myself in Amsterdam, careening through a maze of idioms & isms, made palatable by copious amounts of sex, and drugs, and rock and roll. I was determined to ingest and inhale everything this deliciously, sordid city offered, fueled by the hallucinations brought on by my drug addled mind.
I checked into the Hotel Cok, on Jan Luykenstraat, renting a single room on the top floor with a view of the canal. There was a bar in the hotel basement which was run by Julian, a drugged out, French ex-patriot who introduced me to lager & lime. I spent a great deal of time hanging out with Julian, and we shared a fascination with drugs, and a love of music. We spent some afternoons in the bar as Julian introduced me to Moving Gelatine Plates, Magma, & Art Zoyd, while I flooded his brain with The 13th Floor Elevators, Spirit, and The Blues Magoos. We listened intently, having sampled the newly arrived hallucinogenics, and took turns chasing away the pterodactyls who had congregated just outside the door. And in The Hotel Cok, one summer morning, during a bout of existential ennui, I met Tessa.
She was insanely beautiful, with long blonde hair, green eyes, and legs that never seemed to stop, and worked as a maid in the hotel. We became inseparable after she walked in to my room to clean as I was standing there, naked, having just emerged from the shower. While I was uncertain what I was supposed to do next, Tessa was quite willing, and more than able to perform on her knees. We spent all of our time together from that moment on. She referred to it as dating, and who was I to argue with the older woman who was consistently offering herself to me. In the mornings we would head over to the Amstel Brewery tour, sampling several types of beer, and at night, we hung out at The Melkweg, a club located in the Leidseplein, the hub of Amsterdam’s night life, lingering in the hazy fog of the drugs that were readily available.
In the afternoons, as both Tessa & Julian worked, I was free to roam the city, seeking inspiration and motivation to continue my quest. One particular afternoon, I went to The Museum where, after having dropped yellow submarines, I stood in front of a painting of penises. There were hundreds of them. Some were riding bicycles, while others were eating carnival foods. There were some in top hats, and little ones, running with balloons. I have no idea if what I saw was really there, but it was an enjoyable piece, whatever it was.
When I returned to the Hotel Cok bar, Tessa informed me that there was a free concert in Vondel Park that night, with Golden Earring set to perform. By the time we arrived at the site, thousands of people had filled the park, setting the stage for what I hoped would become the Dutch Woodstock. We found a spot on the grass, and sat back, drinking mushroom tea, and drifting in and out of places I had never been before, or after. There were Police on foot and horseback, patrolling the grounds, presumably to keep the paranoid schizophrenics, and, I hoped, the dragons at bay. The atmosphere was wonderfully psychedelic, with people dancing to music that had not even begun to play. There was a roar from the enormous crowd when the band took the stage, and I sat in awe, as they opened with a 45 minute cover of The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High”. Sometime during an intense solo, in a foolish attempt to reach the heights being sung about, Tessa & I ate peyote buttons, that Julian was able to obtain through a smarmy, South American Art Dealer who appeared to look like a goldfish. I have no recollection of how many we ate, or for that matter, any thing else that happened that night. I awoke the next morning in Vondel Park with Tessa in my arms, and my pants nowhere to be found.
On the days when Julian had to work, Tessa & I would borrow Julian’s Vespa and head out to wherever the road took us. Inevitably,we found ourselves at some point in the day, hanging out at Dam Square. the meeting place for all of those who had no idea what they wanted, and really didn’t care to find out. It was filled with hippies, musicians, and artists, all banding together to protest against war, or taxes, or some plan to stifle their freedom of creativity. They were peaceful protests, the kind of protest one would expect from a crowd who had heavily ingested hits of acid that were being passed around in small wicker baskets. There was chanting, and singing, and the occasional panic stricken scream from someone in the midst of a bad trip. Tessa and I would occasionally wander off to the Damrak and contemplate threesomes with some of the hotter girls that she would pick out, sitting in their windows, dressed in leather, or lace, or both.
Trush, a Danish tourist from Copenhagen, had recently left her husband, and was trying to start a new life. She had been sitting alone at the bar most of the morning, Julian informed me. Tessa went over to speak to her, and before long, Trush had joined our little group of misfits. Julian said that he was attracted to her mind, that she gave him a mental hard on. It didn’t matter to Tessa or I what he said, we both knew it was her enormous tits. Julian made Mushroom tea, and we all sat around for what seemed like hours, drinking tea, listening to music, and watching the giant iguanas crawl across the walls. Bad Company was playing on the bar’s stereo. We drank lager & lime, and ate Bitterballen, a weird, deep fried meatball, which surprisingly tasted better than it looked. We ate, and talked, and drank more magic mushroom tea. As the title track of the album began playing, Trush started dancing, swaying back and forth to the music, and removing her clothes. Julian felt the need to stop her, although I suggested that we let her dance. I must have drifted off into some far away place where Trush was completely naked, brought back only by Julian insisting that Tessa and I take her to her room. As high as we were, we scaled the 4 flights of stairs, and managed to get Trush into her room still partially dressed, and safe. Once inside, Trush continued to remove her clothes. She was beautiful naked. Tessa and I were both staring at her incredible body. Tessa and I looked at each other. It was decided. This was the dream. I had heard that Danish women had no inhibitions, and it turned out that Dutch girls don’t have many either. When we left her, we returned to the bar, but quite exhausted. I was certain that Julian knew exactly what we had done.
There was a boat that toured the city through its myriad of canals. Julian & I had ingested Peyote buttons, that he had secured from his South American Art Dealing goldfish. As we cruised through canal after canal, the buildings that lined the streets seemed to melt, falling backwards, and dissolving in the blue and white hues of the late afternoon sky. The sun was hot, incredibly hot, creating a haze over the city, and I felt like I was looking through a cellophane filter of assorted colors. As the boat passed The West Church, the hands of the clock which sat on on the less than impressive tower, which protruded into the air like an enormous erect penis, began to spin erratically, changing time, and changing faces. It would smile, and scowl, and then grimace. I took out my notebook and wrote ‘time is quite emotional’ in large letters. It sounded wonderfully brilliant and poetic at the time, and I was certain that I could use that line somewhere in my work.
One weekend, Trush suggested that we go to Copenhagen with her, and visit Tivoli. Julian and Tessa had to work at The Hotel Cock, so Trush and I boarded a train, and ferried to Copenhagen. Tivoli is an insanely wonderful place. If you have never been there, I suggest you go on LSD. Or peyote. The movement, the colors, and the sounds are excruciatingly mind blowing. There were clowns floating on stilts, eight miles high, with crazy smiles and red noses, laughing manically, as they leaned down to pat you on the head. I have been told that there were in fact no clowns when I was there, but I saw clowns. They had a magical wheel, that spun around high over our heads, with lights pulsating faster with every spin, and there were screaming people who seemed to be trapped on it, begging to get off, until finally it slowed to a stop, and they went scurrying off in all directions. The entire weekend was filled with drugs and sex, and I can say with certainty that Trush was as incredible in Denmark, as she was in The Netherlands.
We returned to The Hotel Cok. As my money began to run out , and I had no desire or intent to leave Amsterdam, Julian arranged a job for me at the bar. He taught me how to pull beer from the taps. It was a wonderful gig. We were high all of the time. I was making enough to cover my expenses and keep me on the far side of the moon. Things with Tessa and I had changed, at least that’s what she told me. She was upset over my jaunt to Copenhagen with Trush, and felt that she just couldn’t trust me. It didn’t matter, really, we were still sleeping together, and so were Tessa and Trush. The three of us continued to share my single room on the top floor of the Hotel Cok. There was an endless supply of psilocybin, peyote, and acid, and I somehow became quite a fan of Van Gogh. When Tessa worked, Trush & I spent hours at the Van Gogh Museum, not far from the hotel, lost in the madness I saw in the paintings. When we returned to our room, Tessa would be waiting with mushroom tea, and peyote buttons. It is interesting, I think, that I don’t remember eating much during this time.
That night we all went out to catch a screening of Rosemary’s Baby at the Cinecenter. While waiting in line, we met 2 American soldiers. They were stationed in Germany, and were on leave. They asked for directions to the Red Light District, and inquired if we had any drugs. Julian provided both directions and a couple of hits to the men in uniform. In the theatre, Tessa had a difficult time dealing with the movie. It was freaking her out. She had been raised a Protestant, and the references to the devil were unbearably frightening. I was sure the the grab bag of hallucinogenics we had taken, did little to calm her down. She was experiencing a bad trip, so I took her outside, and we sat on a bench outside of the theatre, where we waited for Trush and Julian. I held her tightly, while I watched the flying monkeys circle the Melkweg, which was just down the road. “Good thing we didn’t go there tonight.” I thought. She was getting cold, so I took her back to our room, put her into bed, and lay down beside her. Trush returned a short time later, and informed us that she saw those 2 American GI Joes whom we had met earlier get arrested for refusing to pay one of the prostitutes for services rendered. It seems that they objected to the fact that she made them cum too fast. In her defense, which she shared with the Police, how is that her problem? As she was hired to provide a service, and not contracted for any specific length of time, she met her obligation and they were obligated to meet theirs. Days later, Julian told us that they had involved the American Consulate, who arranged for all charges to be dropped, and the 2 men were returned to their base in Germany for disciplinary hearings. Furlough cancelled.
I began to wonder about my reason for coming to Amsterdam. I had set out on a journey of discovery, and while I did learn much about myself, I was now thinking that I may really need to find a place for recovery, It felt like it was time to move on. It had been one hell of a party, with an insanely wonderful guest list. I doubted that I would ever be as close to anyone as I was to Julian, Tessa, and Trush.
Julian stayed on at The Hotel Cok, acting as bartender, drug dealer, and companion to many tourists for many years to follow. I stayed in touch with him for several years, but then, as it inevitably happens, we lost contact with each other. Trush left Amsterdam before I did. She went fully clothed, and rumor had it that she had returned to her husband in Odesne, long enough to relieve him of some of his money, and headed out to The United States to begin a career as an actress. I suspect that she would have wound up in porn, as that seemed to play directly into her skill set. And Tessa, well I guess I realized that I was never really in love with her. I cared for her, but it was just about the sex. She must have realized it too, and she moved on, finding employment at an upscale, 5 star hotel as a hostess. We wrote letters back and forth for a while, but I suppose neither one of us really gave a damn anymore.
And me, well, my own memory, which I was pretty sure I would have lost in the course of my journeys through time and space was not to be trusted, and I was forever glad that I had written it all down in the notebook I carried, recording it for posterity. I left Amsterdam, content, tired, and totally wasted, still searching for whatever I would find.