Memories For Allen Cohen
From Sharon Ruth Skolnick:To Allen Cohen, sweet philosopher, heartful spirit, honest friend. Fellow
word-magician, wise innocent, bi coastal prophet, unsung rabbi, socio-optimist,
universal dreamer, singer of inner songs. Reclaiming your love, the poem you
wrote at the end transcended life and death: the most graceful leap I ever saw.
As you told me at your wedding: You went from "'tragedy and death' to
'Onward!'" Onward, Allen! And thank you. Go with God and our love.
From Aron 'Pieman' Kay
hey i remember hearing about allen back in 1967 when i saw my first copy of
the sf oracle at the free press bookstore in la.....that along w/the la free
press and the berkeley barb set me on a long term path i am still traveling
upon .......i did meet allen briefly at the 1987 summer of love reunion at golden
gate park. i did tell him he inspired me to fight the good fight....
Aron 'Pieman' Kay
The San Francisco Oracle / The Psychedelic Newspaper of the Haight Ashbury (Digital Re-Creation) The S.F. Oracle, published straight outta Haight Ashbury from 1966 to 1968, was one of the most unique and beautiful publications of the '60s. It will be remembered for its extraordinary graphic design (by major S.F. artists), its groundbreaking printing techniques, and for capturing the cultural explorations that would define the 60's through articles, interviews and poetry. Now, all 12 issues are available again, on cd-rom, with restored brilliance! View every page exactly as they appeared back in the day, then print 'em out and read it on the bus if you choose. And you're either on the bus or off the bus. Also included is a 30 minute DVD interview with publisher Allen Cohen
Our condolences and best wishes to Allen's family and friends.
From: Gerald Nicosia
I am the last stages of revision with my editor of big cover story for LA
TIMES MAG on John Kerry and the FBI--a story I hope will help him get elected
over Bush. I need to get this done but will be with you all today in spirit, and
I hope there will be an actual poetry reading for Allen later that I will be
able to participate in. I know Allen would want me to get this important work
done. God rest his spirit.
Best to you all,
Allen Alive, poem for Allen by Gerry Nicosia
From: hammond guthrie
I will be there in spirit - mind and prayer - wishing you all the best of the
moment in praise of Allen - honoring his life...
this today from Charles Plymell - and thought to send it on to you
AsEver - Hammond
Allen's poem is a beautiful Oracle. I accept it as my religion, too. What
else can there be? I know I passed off the newspaper as too new age before there
was a new age, but Allen put the Haight on the map. I moved near the corner
of Haight & Ashbury in 62. By 63 there were streams of cars going down the old
Russian neighborhood, people hanging out their windows buying the Oracle.
Richard Brautigan & I sat at a cafe near Stanyon St. marveling at the traffic jam.
I got to see Allen when he came to a reading i did in 96. S. Clay Wilson and
Donahue and Glenn Todd were there. Glenn is an old friend from Wichita as was
Allen Russo, who went to work at the Oracle. Glenn set type for Andrew Hoyem.
By this time, I was honored to see Allen and have him attend. Most of the old
folks are gone, but somehow we never considered age. That's because we made
our own age. I just turned 69, but my head is somewhere else. The 60's in S.F.
changed everything. Most of society blames that period for one thing or
another. After Kennedy, we never recovered. We became a nation of soulless consumers
of all the wrong things. I thought everyone would change with the new
millennium and that we would realize our historic errors that were revealed at that
time, then move on. But no, we went backwards into the dark unknown of
technological age. I still can't believe how far we regressed since the Haight Ashbury
days. Of all the poetry of that day, the message of Allen's poem is still in
the seed. That seed will always be there, hidden in the horror of the obvious
that we have fallen back into.
I was privileged to know Allen when we both lived in the Haight back in the 60s'.
He was also the inspiration for the song " If You're Going to San Francisco" -- the earliest anthem to the Hippie Culture.
He was a kind and generous -- and very talented --human being, and he cared very deeply about his friends and the world at large.
The "gathering of the tribes" that occurred in G.G. Park is still a topic of conversation whenever us "old" hippies meet.
Tim Leary was there, Ginsberg, Ferlenghetti -- and the day was made more incredible by the sight of the Hell's Angels
actually baby-sitting for others in the park.
Later that same night, and after much "vintage" wine and not just a little of Owsley's LSD,
it was determined that the "hippie culture" had reached its acme that day, so all that was left to do
was hold a "candle-light" ceremony and bury the glorious dream, casket included. Allen was right,
because it wasn't too long afterwards that the "sharks" begin to circle and the 2nd hand clothes we bought
for a couple of bucks, became the new "genre" called "Mod" entered the lexicon -- even GreyLine Sightseeing Tour
buses routed their way along the streets.
"Hippie Hill" became a gathering point for all of us.
Bill Graham and his concerts; Janice J. hanging out at the Drogstore; the "Dead" just hanging out.
The "Airplane and Grace Slick" and the free concerts in the park. The "Diggers" served-up free food,
and one of its members became an actor who now calls himself "Peter Coyote".
"Those were the days, my friend -- we'd thought they'd never end;
for we were young and sure to have our way" -- or words to that effect.
How little we knew. How strongly we believed.
So long, Allen and God Bless you on whatever patch of green you now
inhabit and where your great Soul reposes.
Those of us who knew you then, know what we have lost.
Those who didn't, will never know the joy you brought into this dra
b world and what they missed by not being in your presence.
Allen attended various parties and salons at my studio.
Saturday night I went to Dan Kottke's 50th birthday party in Palo Alto. He
may live another 50 years, but we never know. I could say the same for any of
us. It is important to appreciate our friends and the sacredness of life at
I lost two friends this week. One, Henry Polard, a very sweet man, a fellow
Buddhist, and art patron of mine, died the 23rd, which was the birthday of
I was with Daniel the day I met Allen Cohen. It was in 1993 or early 1994.
Dan had lent him $10,000 to publish the Oracle Anthology, and the just
released book was selling in a booth at the Arboretum in Golden Gate Park.
Two people I work with in the Installer's Union, Albert Neiman and Jerry Gardner, were
with Allen at the booth, as well as his wife Ann, who he recently remarried.
I was one of numerous people who have volunteered to take care of Allen in
the last half year. Mostly, I just made him food a few times. He didn't want
to eat much.The last time I went over to where he was living prior to his
remarriage, to me he looked like he was very close to the end, though soon after
other people were telling me he was looking better. I spent a lot of time with my
mother in the last six months of her life before she died from pancreatic
cancer, and was with her when she died, and he was looking like she did near the
end. Albert was there that day, also Allen's roommate and I guy named Mike Oak,
as well as Alan Moore, the butterfly guy .Albert and I juiced him some organic
vegetable juice, which he refused to drink, said it was too pulpy. Albert
and I drank it instead-it is the kind of thing that is good to drink even when
you are healthy.
Daniel had two friends die this week, also Eric McMahon, who Dan introduced me
to, had Buddhist ceremonies including readings from the Tibetan Book of the
Dead. If you are still alive when I die, make sure someone does the Sukhavati
and readings from the Book of the Dead for me. A Dzogchen master was present,
Dan wanted to know the distinction between Dzogchen and the 4 main schools of
Tibetan Buddhism.Dzogchen is Tibetan Buddhist. It is direct experiencing of
the primordial mind, luminosity and emptiness. All buddhist practices are
designed to understand our own inherent purity, basic goodness and the nature of
mind.here are just different techniques to see what is already your true nature
Sunday I attended and helped with a Sukhavati for Henry Polard at the
Berkeley Shambhala Center. It is a traditional ceremony to celebrate the life of the
deceased, send them on there way in the light, visualizing positive things
for them and releasing our own grasping hold on them. A photograph of the
deceased is burned at the end. I was the person standing by with a pitcher of
water should a fire start. The large photo and the stick it was pinned to did
fall over from its large bowl of rice. I was very pleased that I extinguished
the flames so gracefully that I neither drowned everything in the water nor
allowed the flames to burn a hole in the beautiful piece of fabric which was
decorating the table the speaker was performing the ritual on.
Buddhists say that all beings have been your mother, and that is why you
should be kind to them. After Henry died I felt inspired to be his mother in his
next life. I bought lots of cookies for the Sukhavati for folks to eat at the
reception, like a good Mom. (Although this is how I developed a weight
problem in my own family as a child).
One of things I liked about Henry, who just died, was how enthusiastic he
was. He really encouraged me in my art work and my spiritual practice, and
really took an active interest in everyone's lives.
When I told him I wanted to go to Vajrayogini Abhisheka last fall in Vermont,
he said,³You must go, you must. It was the most incredible, important event
of my entire life.
Very few members of my Buddhist Sangha have actually come to my studio, or
attended my art events, but he came to my Open studios more than once, and bought
paintings from me twice-the ultimate sign of encouragement to an artist!
Date: 5/5/2004 9:02:50
When Allen visited us in Amsterdam, and I think I can speak on behalf of the
Ruigoord community too, he reminded us of the spirit of those days of hope and
love and helped us keep the fire alive. I remember vividly how he, on one of
our gatherings in the Myster Kalvertower, read his poem about the godly
kundalini snake in all of us, waking up to God's call and rising through the
chakra's. We have read it many times since, and we will again, remembering a
pioneer, a key holder of the glorious days of the San Franciscan love days, himself an
oracle, to be honored and remembered.
Date: 5/8/2004 12:50
From: Dorothy J Beagle
I appreciated your comments when you us know he was with Annie (thank goodness)
and that he was at the end, and speaking of 'to be a butterfly.'
Thanks from my heart for everything you did for Allen who was ALWAYS
beautiful in any contact we had, with he and Annie.
Allen was always warm and loving, performances together,
last time hearing him, sitting behind him at performance (after transplant) at
Pizza place in SF, a wonderful event.
Will be remembering him at my Whole Note Series which is on 'leave' for May,
but will plan probably memorial for him on night of two 'old good readers and
in this complete poetry world as poets/publishers/emcees - BERT GLICK and
RANDY FINGLAND (he publishes many of Jack Hirschman translations
and writings etc - a JEWEL) -
love and peace in action, Jesse
From: michele trahan
I guess i'm not supposed to give an ego trip or anything, really. But the
irony is delightful and i wanna share it.
had held in my heart that Allen would be trucking around in a chair, lively
and upbeat by now. I never expected his hip surgery to happen anytime soon.
I went to another country and city to take lessons with the Dalai Lama. The
course was a more complete explanation than is usually available anywhere but
in India (11 days). I needed to sit still anyways, my ankles full of cracking
bone joints and a torn ligament. I had purchased my Course ticket about 7
The lessons of the Buddhists are "fun with details" - kinda like "fun with
Phonics" except without all the praise. Unaware of the situation with Allen, I
had the delight of trying to ignore "All" - Buddhist Basics 101 and all that.
Actually, the general drift of the teachings was an allowance within one's
existence to surrender concern in order for evolutionary grace ...a peace of style,
the compassionate instincts that bind universal appeal to the general wow.
Allen always signified to me a real exercise in communication. So this was a
general yang to his yen.
On Sunday, May 2nd, The Dalai Lama had an all-faith service. Over 10+
religious leaders were present for personal messages (2 minutes limit EXCEPT the
boldness of the Rabi-HA! maybe 5-8 minutes, i tell yah). Part of the unity prayer
included the blowing of the Rams Horns (2) - one at each side of the stage.
I've never heard rams horns before. Quite the resonance. There was this 2-4
second silent pause. A voice above and to the side of my head sez,
"What day is this?" "WHERE ARE YOU??~!!!"
i answered, "in a buddhist teaching on sunday."
Pause, snurfled giggles in the distance wow,
" ...and on the third day, he arose from the Dead; and he ascended to heaven,
where he sits at the right hand of god."
So anyways, all my life i've said "double or nuthin'"
It was my joke since about 4 or a little more (1950's). It was about how much
more life could be - or matter, or be gotten from. Kinda like a take on the
dope who tried to learn about sex for the first time with Lenny Bruce.
so since the Uttah, Allen did whudd he did - I've written again.
From: Geoffrey Cook
Thanx for inviting me to the gathering for Allen.
I may have to do a performance in the City in a garden on the 22nd. If I
can't be at the memorial in person, Norah shall, & I shall dedicate the
performance to Allen's soul. I think it will be most fitting.
From: Phil Morningstar
I didn't know Allen personally, nope. I wanted to attend the memorial on
Hippie Hill but had been out to Sonoma county and couldn't make it. I remember
those old Oracles though. What works of art they were and we took it for granted
that it was going to always be around like Kaliflower.
Peace and Love From an old Rainbow Warrior,
Morningstar Tribal Family
From: Elz Cuyna
My Friends and Family,
It's been a rough couple of weeks with the death of my dear friend, activist
and poet ALLEN COHEN. His life was a luminous gift to the world. That day I
wrote down every moment I shared with him, insuring that I'd never forget
anything he had ever said to me. When I was through, I found the list to be
regretfully short. But the impact on my life, infinite. To know more about Allen's
vision, please go to: http://www.sfheart.com/eyeforeye.html
call Elz Cuyna
"...every moment is a peace march." --Allen Cohen
I last saw Allen at the Concert for Peace in San Jose, 2001. I was amazed to
see him and became a bit unsteady on my feet ... but determined to speak to
him and not crumble into some weeping mass. And so I said the most inane
thing: "Do you remember me?" To which he dearly replied "No" and we could laugh
about the concept of connecting in memory with all the gypsy spirits of
We talked in length about the Oracle and the importance of it in the times
And now...how pertinent, really. How valid and crucial to remember the
musings and enlightenments.
Allen, of course, was well known in the '60's for the Oracle and his creative
spirit and endeavors. I saw him last at the Concert for Peace in San Jose in
2001 and met a butterfly lady, also! My name is Susan and I am now a
retired teacher ....I was raised in the San Francisco bay area and gained my
enlightenment through the tenets of the beats and then the hippies of the Haight.
My husband and I have lived in many different towns and states and finally
made it happily back to Calif and have settled in Fresno where both my parents
were from. I was reading the web site for Allen Cohen when I came across the
address for Maria Mango and sent an email. I am leaving for a few months now
to go to the midwest where two of our children live....but will be back in
Calif and hope to be able to involved in some of your happenings...and would
welcome emails giving me the details. I have not been deeply involved in
butterflies except as a natural wonderment and a large poster of a butterfly on my
bedroom wall. I have plans, however, to make a meditation garden next spring and
would like to incorporate some butterfly friendly flowers. Thank you for your
work. Peace to you and to all, Susan (In actuality, my husband is Sunshine,
but I appreciate the title also)
Sweet Allen. Thank you.
People, can we be a unified force once more, or is it too late?
From: Laurie J. Boxer
It was sad to hear that Allen Cohen had passed away, yet it brought so many wonderful
and amazing memories back to me. I hung around, and sometimes worked, at the SF Oracle
during the wonderful time of 1967-68. It was a privilege to meet Allen Cohen and to be
present for that wondrous time in history. I can vividly remember what a kind person Allen was.
I can still see him leaning across his desk to shake my hand when I arrived at the Oracle
for the first time, making me feel welcome and worthy to be there.
He touched my life in a very positive way that has never left me. In retrospect, it seems a
true blessing that he lived and worked for so many years while never losing his vision or his ideals.
He was a miracle in the midst of a world that was war torn and full of madness, then as now.
I extend my sympathies to his friends and his family for the loss of such a fine man.
I know that his compassionate spirit will live on and that he will be long remembered by so many
of us whose lives he touched with his psychedelic light.
Laurie J. Boxer
Date: 5/24/2004 6:13:51
From: Jerry Copeland
Thank you Allen
for sharing your vision
for showing that truth was in living
and that there IS another perspective
beyond the politics of greed and power
which only bind mankind to death.
Thank you Allen Cohen.
May 24, 2004
I dedicate the following poem to my friend Allen Cohen,
from Alan Moore
Like the Butterfly from out the cocoon,
So we all must rise one day
Transformed and transfigured
Entering higher worlds that lay
Beyond our mortal gaze
Shrouded in veils, a mystic haze
But out there, gone, gone, gone beyond
The Divine Mother twinkles
In the shimmering pond
Surrounded by starry angels
Chanting canticles of beaming light...
ROSE LIBERTÃ @ 2001
July 24, 2004
From Nicole Savage
Our friend Allen Cohen lived his heart's true motive, to seek truth, share love,
and follow the ways of righteous (which is to do what is right even when nobody's watching)
Armed with his pen and his words, a visionary mind and compassionate heart,
he fought against injustice every chance he got. And in the end he got what he deserved.
Certainly I don't mean the cancer, nobody deserves Cancer but when we leave the divine
and slip into this human condition of the body, Cancer is something that can happen to us
just as pain will, poverty may, war still goes on and death comes for us all.
Still, Allen Cohen did get what he deserved in the end. He sowed seeds of love, beauty and
compassion throughout his life. As one of his caregivers I witnessed that love, beauty and
compassion returned to him when he most needed it.
Though all the pain and suffering of his illness right up until his last breathe, Allen was surrounded by love.
Allen was a humble man who lived very simply. He had the most wonderful sense of humor
and a truly dazzling smile. He was brilliant, honest and passionate for peace and justice,
ever willing to go out and make it better.
Wavy Gravy said, Allen Cohen was "tie-dyed to the bone." And indeed he was.
And I do believe that Allen Cohen has finally achieved for himself that which he most wanted
for all of the people he knew and loved, indeed the whole world ... Peace.
Now that Allen has gone on ahead of us. It is up to each one of us to strive to follow his example,
and to walk the talk as he did. We can best honor our friend,Allen by sharing love, beauty and
compassion with others and by not giving up the struggle against injustice for as long we live.
I love you all and pray that someday peace and justice will be the natural way of our world just
as Allen envisioned it.
TRIBUTE POEMS FOR ALLEN COHEN
ALLEN COHEN'S POETRY
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