Austin Osman Spare, … Worst Roommate Ever!

I don’t want to start any trouble here, but can I just say how fucked up The New Age Movement is? Let’s set aside where it was spawned, by who, and for what purpose …

We’ll talk about some other time.

The point I would like to make here is that the oversimplifications, misconceptions, and deceit inherent in that pink and purple, airy-fairy, hippy-dippy crap, is more than annoying, – it’s dangerous!

But let’s talk about annoying:

It’s 1999, and everything is going really well. I live in a comfortable little basement nook high up on Fountain Street, at the top of Noe Valley.  Looking out my door to a sublimely beautiful view of The San Francisco Bay, I can’t help feeling on top of the world. Never mind the raccoons living in the walls, sleeping and farting by day and raiding my refrigerator by night. Never mind the banana slugs that slime their way across the floor, or the fact that it has no heat. The rent is only $450 a month and The Land Lady is on board with me growing weed.

That was back when the housing market in San Francisco was reasonable, but everything changes, – I can’t even imagine what that place rents for now.

It looked like all my unconventional life choices were going to pay off. I was working in the kitchen at Back Flip. I was in an incredibly stimulating  exchange program with a Sufi group. And best of all, I was still in Fresh Robots; it actually looked like I would be making a living doing comedy …

But contrary to New Age belief, spiritual growth is rarely blissful, harmonious, or as easy as closing your eyes and making a wish. Real spiritual progress comes through the “chaotification” of things. Spiritual growth is a snake shedding its skin, a house burning down, the loss of a child, isolation, abandonment, betrayal, – homelessness.

Not to say that one has to go through a never ending series of catastrophes to attain enlightenment; rather, – it is a process of stripping away the quantitative to reveal the qualitative. It’s wiping the dust off the mirror, and seeing clearly. But along the way lessons in impermanence must be learned, and for that – catastrophe is a good teacher …

The Land Lady showed up and asked if I could pay the rent early, which was no problem – I had the money. Then she informed me that her daughter would be attending SF State, and I would have to move out to make room for her …

No problem. Everything was going great – I’d probably end up in an even better hovel.

At my weekly meeting with The Sufi Group, I updated them on my situation, and they put me in touch with a girl that had a room for rent in a two bedroom apartment up above The Blue Danube.  I was actually familiar with the girl, and WOW! The Inner Richmond! Right above The Blue Danube, – everything was going my way …

At this point I should make clear that I was never “in” The Sufi Tariqa. I was put in touch with them through a mutual friend that I know from what we loosely refer to as  “The San Francisco Yi Quan School”. We decided upon an exchange program whereby I would teach them various Buddhist and Taoist methods of Self-Cultivation, and they would allow me in their “outer circle”. This outer group was made up of about a dozen people that were considering and being considered for membership in The Tariqa. They were university professors, a lawyer, a jazz pianist, graduate students, – and me. More about that some other time …

We had all been hanging out in front of The Blue Danube for years. Me, the Sufis , the girl that lived upstairs, and just about everyone in The San Francisco Comedy Scene. The guy that led the group had already talked to the girl about me; and she, knowing who I was, was  relieved and over joyed to have found someone to take over the room that had recently, (and abruptly) been vacated.

As far as I knew, She was a friendly, talkative chain smoker that drank coffee all day. Plump and pretty, she had a style that was a cross between sorority girl and bohemian. I wasn’t surprised to find out that she was a perennial student and her parents payed all of the bills.

We sat out front on the sidewalk bench, and She explained to me how grateful she was that I could move in on such short notice. Apparently there had been some drama with an ex-boyfriend – and even though she would normally prefer another woman to be her roommate; she would feel a lot safer with me there.

Big Mike Strong, – her guardian and protector.

Sitting there in front of The Blue Danube, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee by the pint glass; we watched the sun set over The Sunset and I could imagine how great my life would be: jumping on The 38 Geary, riding to work  at Back Flip, walking to open mics or whatever little gig Fresh Robots were doing that night …

It was going to be great!


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