We were hanging out in front of a coffee house on MacDougall, across from the Cafe Wha? when the owner of the joint came out and offered us free cokes if we just sat in the place for a while. This was to give passing tourists the impression that this was a genuine beatnik hangout. Hugh Romney was onstage delivering a nonstop improvised monologue. I personally thought it was brilliant. It was like a freewheeling spontaneous free jazz logorhythmic solo flight of words and associations and philosophic storytelling and humour that surprized and amazed at every turn . . . like a Sterling Moss racecar spinning through the air and a cigarstore indian tapdancing in a wheatfield with sparkles in her hair. At night. When he ran out of steam he asked for word or phrase or anything at all from the audience and someone said Albert Camus and he was off again in all directions winding up through completely unpredictable and spiralling trails landing surefooted in the car crash that killed Camus which – now that I think of it – happened only two years earlier.
That was the one and only time I saw Hugh Romney who became Wavy Gravy before the decade was out. Today he is seventy. Which means he was 24 then and I was 18.
Wavy’s one of the good guys. See his site.