[sixties-l] Memorial Held for Novelist Kesey (fwd)

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Date: Sat Nov 24 2001 - 18:08:32 EST

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    Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 17:05:15 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Memorial Held for Novelist Kesey

    Memorial Held for Novelist Kesey


    Wed, Nov 14, 2001
    By JEFF BARNARD, Associated Press Writer

    EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Laid to rest in a casket painted in psychedelic swirls
    of purple, yellow and orange, novelist Ken Kesey took center stage
    Wednesday for one last time in a theater where he did magic tricks in his
    Eulogized as a teacher, trickster, writer and seeker of truth, the author
    of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Sometimes a Great Notion" was
    also remembered for his performances of old-time medicine shows and
    children's stories.
    "We were, and still are, astronauts of inner space," said longtime friend
    and neighbor Ken Babbs. "We go where no man has gone before - and bring the
    wife and kids."
    More than 1,000 people gathered at the McDonald Theater with friends,
    family, and members of the Merry Pranksters, the band of revelers who rode
    with Kesey on an LSD-fueled cross-country bus ride that helped define the
    1960s and was immortalized in Tom Wolfe's "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test."
    The memorial service concluded with a recording of the late Jerry Garcia
    and the Grateful Dead singing, "We Bid You Goodnight."
    Pallbearers loaded the casket with rough rope handles onto the back
    platform of the latest incarnation of Kesey's psychedelic bus, Further, for
    a final trip to the Kesey farm in Pleasant Hill, to be buried in the back
    yard next to his son, Jed.
    A lone piper played "Amazing Grace," and people in the street yelled
    "Further," and "Hail the chief!" as the bus drove away, clanging a big
    brass bell mounted on the roof. The theater marquee carried the farewell
    message, "Sparks Fly Up, Ken Kesey."
    "I never rode the bus," University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer
    said. "Did I know his merry pranks? No."
    But Frohnmayer recalled that Kesey was an untiring supporter of the
    university where he earned a degree and later taught. The school honored
    Kesey several times, and when Frohnmayer's daughter, Kirsten, was struck
    with leukemia, Kesey sent a box of books, each one inscribed personally to
    a member of the Frohnmayer family.
    "It was just an act of incredible empathy and kindness," Frohnmayer said.
    His novels will endure in the state that became home to Kesey as a young
    boy after his family moved from Colorado in 1943.
    Guitarist Mason Williams played "The Water is Wide," and recalled
    performing with Kesey in Christmas shows and the touring production, "The
    River Show," with Kesey playing a fire-and-brimstone preacher.
    "If you want wonderful chaos, Ken was exactly the right guy," Williams said.
    Kesey's final performance came in a movie showing his preacher character,
    and mourners sang along as the image of Kesey led them in the hymn, "We
    Shall Gather At the River."
    In recalling 43 years with his friend, dating back to a Wallace Stegner
    writing seminar at Stanford University, Babbs refused to clear up the
    controversy over the spelling of the name of the bus - Furthur or Further -
    that Kesey considered his greatest work.
    Home movies from 1964 show the original bus being inscribed with the
    misspelled word Furthur as its destination, but the current bus carries the
    name Further.
    "He said, ^A'That's one of the best things about it, nobody knows,"' Babbs
    said of the spelling. "Let's just keep that one going."
    After "Sometimes A Great Notion," came out in 1964, Kesey found the act of
    writing tedious, and came to prefer creating stories to be acted out at
    once, or movies drawn from the Pranksters' adventures on the bus, Babbs said.
    Kesey died Saturday at age 66 from complications following surgery to
    remove a cancerous tumor on his liver.
    His legacy will be to inspire people to be kind to others, Babbs said.
    "The person isn't gone. The spirit isn't gone. It spreads out over more and
    more people and spreads the load," Babbs said. "He says our job is nothing
    less than changing the world."

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