ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
My path to finding Rhythm and Harmony)
A Memoir of David August
As told to Ron Hardy by David August
The passage “ On Earth as it is in Heaven” quoted from ” The Lord’s Prayer “ is intriguing as well as thought provoking when you truly examine it. When, where and how can one find the tranquility, peace and harmony which exists in Heaven while still in physical
form here on this earth? Wow! That’s a big order to fill.
In the late 70’s heading into the 80’s the Black community of San Francisco, CA was on a roll. “Ain’t no stopping us now, we’re on the move” was the vibe of the city as well as the vibe blasting on Black radio stations and all through the night clubs in San Francisco. The hit song from the duo McFadden and Whitehead, “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” echoed the sentiments of San Francisco’s energy at the time. I too was in the mix myself. Finally over over 21 years old. Still without the knowledge of what exactly I wanted to do with my life but the journey was very exciting and adventurous up to this point with a lot of twists and turns.
I met a nice little lady named Joyce Jackson. She was college educated and worked as a Human Resource Officer at the Bank of
America. I was making good money myself for just going to school. The school paid me 400.00 a month through the CETA program and I was also getting over 350.00 a month from my Veterans benefits. I was making more money than many people on unskilled 9 to 5 jobs. I had no bills to pay I just floated between Joyce’s house and my oldest sister Eula’s house. I was running in the jet-setter
click with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Both of my other 2 sisters had new cars and loaned them to me regularly but San Francisco is the type city you don’t really need a car. The jet-set click upper echelon of Blacks were
living a G. Q. magazine type lifestyle. From the corporate world to the street world the game was booming. As a collective Blacks were ahead in the game. Nightclubs, after hour Speak Easy joints and Black owned businesses were booming. Prosperity across the Black community in San Francisco was evident. We could see the light so we thought.
One night in October of 1978, I was kicking it at a typical house party gathering. We typically would congregate at someone’s apartment before hitting the club scene later in the wee hours of the night. I was chilling playing my girl a game Backgammon. I decked out in my green silk Christian Dior shirt with my green wool tweed pants bottomed off by my green lizard Bally shoes. I remember distinctly when the girl’s step father came into the apartment where we were at. He was a merchant Marine. He said he just came home from a long trip. He yelled out to everybody in the room, “Who wants to play baseball.” He was referring to Free- Basing cocaine. None of us knew what he was talking about. Free Basing was brand new to the scene. He took some powder cocaine and put it in a vial along with ether and water. He then shook it up real good and began to draw out the ether with a eyedropper. He then put the liquid on a plate. He
began drying the plate with a hair dryer. Wah la the liquid turned back to a white powdery substance. He then pulled out a big pipe and started to smoke the white powdery substance. The procedure looked very intelligent, scientific and intriguing. I think the process of making it captivated a lot of people’s attention and their interest at the onset of this epidemic. This new trend devastated and demolished the black community in San Francisco as well as Black communities all over the USA.
This was something new to us and the world. No one knew at that time or had any sense of how devastating Free Basing cocaine would be to the world.
To my credit I held back for several months before I tried it. My girl friend Joyce fell victim to it that night. Her corporate job soon went down the drain. The majority of jet set paced Black nightclubs dried up quickly along with the Speak Easy’s.The party people and jet setters were stuck at home Free-Basing cocaine. Cocaine was roughly $2,000.00 an ounce during that era. People were going through a ounce of cocaine quicker than they went through a gallon of milk.
There were many Black families in San Francisco whom had acquired property creating a generational wealth class of Blacks. During and after World War there was huge influx of Blacks arriving to San Francisco . They found good paying jobs. They invested in property and businesses. A great portion of this wealth was lost early during the Free Basing epidemic. Eventually this highly destructive drug hit the masses in the Black community in the form of what was called Crack. The
difference between Free Base and Crack was the way it was manufactured. Crack was made without using the chemical ether. Crack was made by cooking the cocaine in water along with baking soda. As history and psychology suggests , the masses couldn’t wait couldn’t to try this new trend. It’s a common place knowledge throughout all civilizations and cultures that the masses want to do what the elite people are doing. Crack in the Housing Projects and Black populated neighborhoods took off like a rocket in the sky.
The wealth and ” Ain’t no stopping us ” mentality changed drastically in the San Francisco Black community. We went from the player finessing lifestyle to the present day thug
mentality just that fast in the blink of an eye. Many former intellectual players ending up homeless begging tourists. The media also greatly helped in that transition. I was
there and watched it happen. I eventually tried it out.
My Free Basing days didn’t last too long. I studied Free Basing from every angle. When we all smoked together it seemed like I couldn’t get the right high . I couldn’t get a proper hit and coast through the
high. My final episode came when I conducted a experiment. Only to realize there was no true satisfaction coming out of Free Basing. It was at the beginning of the month of May in1979. I bought 7 grams of cocaine for $700.00 and commenced to smoke them by myself. I wanted to get a good hit so I could feel satisfied. I smoked throughout the night by myself
taking large hits. I was seeking to find that ultimate hit. To get in that right zone that I was seeking and coast through the high satisfied. It never came. As the sun began to rise and all the cocaine gone, I
then realized, ” Wow! I just spent $700.00 and wasn’t satisfied “. My Mother’s words then popped in to my mind.
“ If something doesn’t satisfy you, then leave it alone. It could be your girl friend or any thing. Just leave
it alone. Don’t keep trying to put a square peg in a round hole.”
After being up all night, I still went to school that morning.
While riding the bus I noticed that my shoes were a bit scoffed up and my general appearance wasn’t as
G Q and pristine as the way I liked it. Something wasn’t quite right. After much thought and
deliberation, I distanced my self from my friends that were in the fast lane and Free Basing.
My sister Judy had given me a cockatiel named Pretty Boy. He was a good companion and beautiful bird. I spent a lot of time working with and
training him. I learned how to clip his wing so I could take him outside and around town perched on my shoulder. When the weekend hit after my big smoking adventure. Pretty Boy and I went walking through Golden Gate Park. It was a Saturday morning. I heard music coming from one area. I followed and found the sounds. There was one of my psuedo friends Casper. He was jamming on his bass guitar with his portable amp. Along with him where a whole bunch of hippie looking Black and White guys playing congas along with a lot of other strange looking percussion instruments. I usually didn’t
participate or pay much attention to these type of gatherings. I was always too busy to be fooling with
these hippies plus I was too cool, debonair and slick to be caught dead with that click. This day I watched them for a while then someone
handed me a little shaker called a Cabasa. I began shaking it and got in the groove. Instantly I felt a
great sensation. This little shaker was giving me the high that I desired. When the jamming stopped I felt
satisfied. “Wow!” I thought. “ I just spent $700.00 and didn’t get satisfied but this little shaker got me
high and satisfied. From that moment on my life changed along with the people that I congregated with. I started hanging out at Golden Gate Park on Hippie Hill learning the tricks of the trade on the congas and familiarize my self with the array of percussion instruments. This was a shock to me and everybody that knew me. I was a jet setter and now I’m out there with these people who looked lost and rejected by society.
That day I found a place of rhythm and balance which was the gateway which led to me finding my “On Earth as it is in Heaven”space. I found peace and tranquility in the rhythm along with the
harmony of brotherhood playing with these strange hippies looking people. I began to faithfully be at Hippie Hill every Saturday and
Sunday learning how to play just for the sake of playing. I was hooked. I had no intentions or thoughts
of a performing, being in a band or even a career in music. My passion was just to learn and master this
new found hobby. It was mentally stimulating and physically invigorating My whole demeanor
changed. I found my zone and space to be in.One of my sister Judy’s friends asked her, “ What is your brother doing out there beating on them drums with those nasty hippie looking people? What’s wrong with
him. He used to be dressed nice and moving up in the world. What happened to him?” When I started growing Dread Locks, it was very revolutionary in the early even for San Franciscan’s in the hood during the early 1980’s.
The journey to attain one’s own “On Earth as it is in Heaven” space can be long, alienating and confusing to yourself self well as the other people in your life. I feel so blessed to have been able to endure through this process. “On Earth as it is on Earth” is a continuous compilation of experiences,
challenges and tests. Mind over matter is a huge part of finding physical and spiritual oneness on the
journey to “On Earth as it is on Earth”. One of my biggest challenges and tests came much later in life
when I decided to have 10 teeth pulled without being administered any anesthesia for the pain. This
was a huge feat for propelling me to another level spiritually, mentally and physically. I found the
keys which open the door to mastering “Mind Over Matter” which equal ” On Earth As It Is In Heaven……
Published by Utopia West Creations