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Bob Alexander: Springtime in Santa Barbara

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violenceBack in 1971 a couple of good ol’ boys grabbed me outside of a bar in Amarillo Texas and pounded me into the ground like a human tent peg. They didn’t like the length of my hair.

A couple of years later I was walking down De La Vina Street in Santa Barbara in the late afternoon when a guy sped by me in beat-to-crap white pick up truck, screamed out, “YOU EFFING HIPPIE,” and threw an unopened bottle of coke at my head. It missed by inches, exploded against the rock retaining wall on my right, and instead of a concussion … I was covered in broken glass and dripping soda pop.

The beating in Amarillo was pretty bad. It could have gotten worse but luckily for me, the bartender had an idea about what the good ol’ boys were up to, and came out and stopped it. But the “Pop Bottle Incident of 1973” had a greater impact on me. The thing in Texas I chalked up to, “What the hell do you expect? You’re in Texas for chrissakes,” but the lucky near-miss in Santa Barbara really shook me up. I was in Southern California, one of the “sane” states, where a long hair could walk around without getting stomped.

It was one of those Golden Blustery afternoons of Springtime in Southern California. A great day. The wind was in the palms, clouds scudded across an impossibly blue sky, and I was feeling just fine. I was having one of those moments where you feel absolutely 100% comfortable inside your own skin and with the rest of the world. And instantly everything completely changed. Everything changes when you realize someone hates you, I mean honest-to-god hates you, just because of the way you look.

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