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Dios mio, you too? Am I your first one? I’m so sorry!’ exclaimed Aurelia and held a hand out to Juno.

‘Me too what? My first what?’ wheezed Juno, hastily rising without taking the offered hand. She was all but punched back over by the bundled mass of boundless air rushing and swirling around Aurelia. Her hair stood on end. So this was what real Magic felt like. Juno reeled.

‘You’re a witch, true or not? And you can feel me, true or not, just like I can feel you?’ Aurelia made to steady Juno, but seemed to decide against it at the last moment.

Still wobbly on her feet, Juno considered Aurelia’s sweet face, her cute little nose, her luscious lips, and, at last, her warm hazel eyes. They looked… trustworthy.

‘So you’re class A?’ she asked finally, brushing sand off herself and trying to sound like it was something she said every day.

‘With endorsement,’ replied Aurelia real quick, in the tone of one asserting that although she’d stolen a cake she hadn’t actually eaten it. ‘But this is the class B bit. I’m sorry that you fell over. Same thing happened to me on my brother’s thirteenth birthday, and again on mine. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.’ She looked Juno up and down. ‘So you’re with the other gringos?’ she said then.

On the spur of the moment Juno decided to be honest with Aurelia. Ish. ‘No,’ she said. ‘I ran into your cousins in Florida. I worked a few things out when they talked about… you. I came here to… to meet you. You’re right, I’ve never met another witch before.’

‘Neither have I,’ said Aurelia. ‘There’s of course my…’ Her last word was drowned out by a fervent crescendo from the crowd.

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It was late afternoon, and it was hot. The wind was in from Africa, and the night before Juno hadn’t slept. But she now was as ready as she’d ever be. She had a plan.

Nobody greeted her on the tiny quay under the great cliff. Juno knew why that was. It was the day of the wrestling competition. She made her way along the seafront that had become familiar to her by now, passed alley upon empty alley of plain white houses scrambling up the rock, until she rounded its tip and could see the crowd gathered on the beach. She’d heard it a while.

She also knew that she wasn’t the only stranger in town. About a dozen or so hippies were around. Northern Europeans, Juno figured. They slept on the boats they’d arrived on, and mostly hung out on the beach. The locals mostly ignored them, though they were happy to sell them rum. Juno was hardly going to blend in, but those flower children would make things easier for her ’til her big moment came.

She crept along the back of the beach. An entire butterfly colony fluttered in her belly, yet she was composed. Not knowing what witching licenses the other two had was definitely a drag. Would they recognize her as a witch right away? Would they know she recognized them? Would they, horror of horrors, be able to read her mind?

One thing Juno wasn’t worried about was that Demetrio mightn’t be attractive. It was hardly gonna be a problem. You’d have to be pretty darn stupid to be a warlock and ugly.

There was no way she could see what was going on at the waterline. A couple hundred hollering villagers blocked the current fight from view. Juno sat down on a rock, her hair and dress billowing in the thermal wind. She cast her eyes up to the hazy sun. ’Bout half past five. Nearly time for the final.

Next thing she knew she was lying face down in the sand. Something had tipped her clean off the rock. Panicked, Juno’s eyes raced down the long shadow beside her body to the figure that was throwing it. A young local woman. Unknown. Pretty. Big boobs. Aurelia.

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Who’d caught the biggest marlin season after season these past ten years? Who was always the last one standing after more rum had been fetched? Who’d won the wrestling every single time since he’d turned thirteen?

It was the same guy in every case. He was chesty cousin Aurelia’s brother. His name was Demetrio. He had to be a warlock.

 

Back on the boat later on, Juno felt a lot more scared than she’d been outside the bar. She’d obviously looked in her crystal ball, and had seen uncle Aurelio holding an al fresco late-night clinic at some kind of bamboo-roofed counter on a square, and Isidora chatting loudly across an alley to her cousin Cristobella while they were both dumping their trash. She’d tracked down pretty much everyone she’d heard of in fact, but, though there sure was a lotta talk about him from men and women alike, she couldn’t flush out Demetrio, nor his sister, the buxom Aurelia. That had to confirm it.

She lay shaking on her big bunk in the bow. So this was the moment. Finally, a real warlock. And probably a witch into the bargain. LA seemed a long way away.

                          

In the morning she was still afraid, though. Suddenly those years in California had fallen off her, and she felt like that girl in her bedroom in Vancouver again, fretting why it was that Magic folks seemed to avoid each other. Now she also wondered for the very first time why she’d never once come across another witch or warlock in LA, which otherwise attracted everyone under the sun. And then here there were two at a time! She so wanted to go to that island immediately, and so didn’t. There was no way she could stay away from the place, but it scared her witless to think it was a mere heartbeat away.

Maybe that was the problem, she eventually figured. Maybe she oughta travel the proper way, to get used to the idea of arriving.

A short while later the Mayan sailed out of Key Largo towards the rising sun, with Juno at the bow big-eyed and jittery like an excitable mermaid.

 

Since it was Juno doing the traveling and not Jock it obviously ended up being only kind of proper. Ish. The trade winds were favourable, but not favourable enough. In the fastest journey ever undertaken by a sixty-foot wooden schooner it took her just ten days and nights of watching Demetrio’s village to cross the Atlantic, and on the last day of March, 1968 A.D., she stepped ashore at her destination.

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She came to when she heard Jock introduce himself in her best school Spanish. ‘Isidro Betancór León,’ replied the guy in the middle, who had the most impressive moustache and was clearly the eldest, and shook Jock’s hand. ‘Parsibál Betancór León,’ said the dude to his right, no doubt his brother. The one on the left was Cristobál Moreno Betancór and, as it turned out, a cousin. Jock was now asking whether they’d allow him to buy them a drink, which they generously permitted. For once Juno read Jock’s tactics loud and clear. She knew there was something about these guys, but she didn’t know what she was looking for. They needed to be got to talk.

She kept the drinks coming while the cousins explained the game and let Jock in on a trial round. Ojos De Brujo was played by matching the number of dots on the two previous domino halves by addition or subtraction with that on the next one. Thing was, said the cousins, a spooky kinda symmetry always developed in the game, no matter whether you added or subtracted. Juno added another round to the two previous ones and deducted it from the bartender’s memory.

The game was soon sidelined and then abandoned when Jock got the guys talking. They’d all been in the States less than a year, and were all illegal. All three of them worked at a local refrigerator plant. They were outrageously homesick. Home was a tiny island, part of an archipelago in the Atlantic, off the coast of, of all places, Africa. Juno’d never heard of it. Turned out that nearly everyone in the joint was from one of these islands.

It was when they’d reached this point that the guys really got talking. Two rounds later Juno felt like she knew their whole damn village. She’d heard all about second cousin Otilio’s fantastic sweet rum, aunt Begonia’s famous chowder and cousin Aurelia’s breasts, how everybody helped catch the tuna during their migration and how there was a big party afterwards, what happened at Cristobál’s sister Isidora’s wedding when the rum briefly ran out, how the best wrestler in the village was determined every year in a contest on the beach with a big party afterwards, and what went down at uncle Aurelio’s inauguration as mayor when the rum ran out for longer than it took to sing the village song. Another round and the cousins had left no doubt that the sun shone more brilliantly in their village than anyplace, the wind smelled sweeter, the sea rolled with more grandeur, and that all in all paradise came a real poor second.

Juno sat bored stupid under Jock’s skin as all this washed over her. It took a good few pretty hard pinches and nudges from him for her to see it. But once she’d finally cottoned on, she saw the constant in the stories clear as day. A spooky kinda symmetry had developed in the guys’ talk.

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Nevertheless she couldn’t not go in. She’d almost stepped into the bright rectangle on the sidewalk, and the cloud of smoke and jumbled talk above it, when something made her freeze. Something on the back of her neck. Something in the air. Something like danger, but also irresistible. Juno knew she had to go inside, but very uncharacteristically felt a little afraid. She sought courage in something she hadn’t done in nearly four years.

All eyes converged on Jock when he entered the shabby bar room. No danger at all seemed imminent, though. It wasn’t cards everybody was playing. It was dominoes. Groups of young-to-middle-aged men were huddled ’round the tables, all modestly but tidily dressed. They clearly all knew one another. There wasn’t a word of English to be heard.

Nothing interesting then, Juno tried to tell herself while the hairs on the back of Jock’s neck told her different. It was clear she’d have to stay and find out why.

Thanking her stars for the hunch that had made her switch genders, she made Jock walk up to the counter real slow. Some of the men nodded a hello. A couple even smiled. Seemed a pretty harmless bunch, these dudes. But the air compacted and heaved with every one of Jock’s steps.

Oye, chacho,’ came a voice just as he’d reached the bar. ‘Quieres jugar?’

Four years out of practice and still the guy managed to take over, Juno groaned inwardly as Jock rushed to plonk himself down mighty fast, at the only table around with just three men. Looked like they needed a fourth player.

No sooner had Juno caught her breath on her chair than she got totally winded again beholding her company. The three guys she found herself with looked perfectly pleasant, if pretty hairy, and not much older than her. But the air was so dense and lithe at this table she could barely inhale, while Jock’s neck hairs impaled his shirt collar. And yet the three pairs of black eyes gazing mildly at her absolutely weren’t warlocks’. Juno didn’t understand at all. Dazedly she looked around for guitars.

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The only other place on it she could’ve imagined going was San Francisco, and that had since the big bonding at Monterey definitely become too close. She was disconsolately sitting on the beach in Venice, with no idea what part of the world she should even think about heading for, when her eyes alighted on the nearby Marina del Rey. This was where David was going to moor his boat once he’d had her transferred from Miami.

It was an impulse decision. It was a sanctuary.

Unlike her arrival Juno’s departure from LA didn’t happen the proper way, and moments later she stood on the deck of the Mayan, the wooden schooner David had bought, at her mooring in Miami. Another couple minutes and the boat was leaving the calm waters of the harbour, with Juno at the bow as poised and empty-eyed as a figurehead.

For more than two months she washed up and down the Keys in the company of only her crystal ball, addicted to a show she was no longer part of. She never set foot in LA herself. David didn’t miss his boat. In between presenting Joni at parties like a magician whipping a musical rabbit out of his hat, he was producing an album for her. Jackson finally made it out of the lodge, along with everyone else, when Electra turned off the money tap, and moved back into Billy and Judy’s house, licking his wounds. No album had been recorded in the wilds. But gradually Juno saw spring announcing itself in the canyon and a new light rising in Jackson’s eyes.

On the day of the equinox she docked at last. The port was Key Largo. Two years had passed since she’d first sang Joni’s song. She wandered the streets, still adrift. Emerging as if from a dream at sunset, she looked around to find she’d strayed onto the wrong side of town. Dark eyes were rapt in dark corners, but obviously nobody approached her. At the far end of a street she saw the water in the last light. The sun stopped glistening off of it that moment. Still restless, Juno walked east towards the sea. Where the street met the empty quay was a bar. It had no name, unless it was called Esta Noche: Ojos De Brujo, as per the stained board on its wall. Warlock’s eyes tonight, translated Juno. Fat chance. Probably some kinda card game.

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My first memories are of Vancouver. Of self-changing nappies attacking me as I lay peacefully drooling. Of sitting on a potty pretty sure I’d got no idea how to do this. Of being the star performer in everything in kindergarten.

One by one my brothers and sisters arrived. Five of them. Which ideally should’ve taken the heat off of me, but actually just made me feel like the odd one out more and more. On my thirteenth birthday, amongst a great deal of unwanted action I’ll get around to presently, I came by this little banana tree. None of my family could understand why I spent so much effort on it, watering it and feeding it and finding out where it liked to stand. Or why the day after my birthday I got a paper round to earn cash. Or why I wanted to learn to play the guitar.

Or maybe dad did, but by then he wasn’t saying that much anymore. At least not to us kids.

From then on life was a constant struggle not to use Magic. I wouldn’t dare whisper a single word to my banana tree, or even wish for my fingers to be more flexible for an F-seventh. I didn’t always succeed. Like the time we went to the zoo and I accidentally freed the snake. Oh man. The grilling by the animal welfare people. The psychological assessments. The embarrassment.

Anyhow. We left Juno as she was saying good-bye to LA. It turned out to be a good-bye to the entire Pacific coast.

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Barry was right on his heels. ‘Well, looks like you gonna walk, sunshine, ’cause I sure as hell ain’t givin’ you a ride. Have a good trip!’ With that and before Jackson could open his mouth he slammed the door shut.

‘I’m sure I will, for a change!’ yelled Jackson at the silent lodge.

He waded down the front steps, past Juno behind her log pile and onto the marginally less submerged nearby track. His adorable face looked brittle, and clearly not only because of the cold.

Juno knew that a couple miles on, where the track met the highway, the road was clear. Traffic was infrequent, but something or other did pass every now and again.

She just couldn’t let it happen. Jackson was already nearing a turn in the track, with a steep rise on one side and a gorge on the other, when a mighty sheet of snow crashed down out of nowhere, firmly blocking his path. It was all over in a heartbeat, and not one of his silken hairs was out of place.

After standing stock-still before the soundless white wall for what must’ve been minutes, Jackson turned back to where the lodge sat waiting under a leaden sky.

Tears were rolling down Juno’s cheeks as she allowed David to take Elliot’s call.

 

December 1967 was an exciting time. The Stones’ new album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, was eagerly awaited, and all things Sergeant Pepper were still riding high. LA was abuzz with anticipation of the amazing masterpiece the Beach Boys had been working on all year.

Juno spent her days running through scenarios over and over. She could find another unknown singer and start again. She could become, say, a manager or publicist. She could do anything she wanted, really. The city was putty to her.

But every option that involved her staying also meant either doing serious Magic to Jackson or seeing him look at her with that wariness in his eyes again. So when the mother of all zone alerts went off early in January, she knew what she had to do.

The second time in her life Juno departed somewhere leaving hardly a trace. It was the least painful alternative she could think of. Her divine face was a deluge of tears as she stood across the road from her favourite place and put a blanket spell on the Troubadour, for everyone who’d ever stepped through its doors to forget all about her.

Juno’s time in LA was over.

Joni Mitchell had arrived.

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Joni was back at the Living End in Detroit, just about to go onstage. Beside her stood the other guy who’d been a fixture since October. Around the same time Joni’d come by David she’d also acquired a manager. Elliot was his name, a real sharp dude with a large nose and a thinking man’s forehead.

‘I really reckon I should go soon,’ he was just saying to Joni. ‘David hasn’t answered the phone all day.’

‘I’m sure there’s a reason,’ Joni replied. ‘He only just got home. So you really think he’s right?’

‘Yes,’ said Elliot firmly. ‘LA’s definitely the place to be.’

It was then that Juno knew she’d have to do it. She’d have to take Joni out of circulation.

Joni clearly figured it was a good idea to start her set with the song that was currently a hit. She sang about angel hair and feather canyons, Ferris wheels and fairy tales coming true, and all the things that stood in the way – clouds and circus crowds, tears and fears, life being a work in process where things are lost and other things are gained every day. 

Even though Juno’d endlessly heard the song on the radio lately and the air had always sharply contracted and swelled, this was as nothing to the steadfast unfurling, the very concrete infinity she now breathed right into her soul. The entire audience clearly felt the same way. Joni’s songs clearly couldn’t be sung like this by anyone else.

It was then that Juno knew she couldn’t do it.

 

Just before Christmas Elliot landed in LA. Juno went to see Jackson that day. She’d been keeping tabs on events at the lodge and knew that things had steadily deteriorated there. There was a lot more drug taking than being creative by now. Smack was making an appearance. A bunch of Troub groupies had also found their way to the wilderness, and it hadn’t taken Barry long to become some kind of crazed decadent ringmaster. He was so high that, worst of all, he’d started playing people off against each other every time a semblance of musical activity was attempted. Jackson and Ned were barely speaking, as Ned was refusing to be used. Jackson on the other hand was continuously fried and just went along with everything.

Or so Juno thought the morning she called on the lodge. She was shivering behind a pile of snowed-under logs outside, trying to decide if she should be a plumber like last time or attempt something new, when the door opened. Onto the porch scurried Jackson, carrying his guitar case and looking unkempt.

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Juno refused to regard this as meltdown. While she just knew that as long as she kept Cass and David under a spell they were somehow lost to her, like everyone else she’d ever directly inflicted Magic on who wasn’t singing or playing an instrument at the time, Jackson was safe. Jackson was in a mountain lodge, real removed from everything. Juno was confident that she could still fix this.

 

David stayed away, which suited Juno. He and Joni were getting it on, predictably. In between he managed to buy the boat he’d gone to Florida for and sail some. Eventually he accompanied Joni back to New York where she now had a place.

After lots more deliberation Juno put a blanket spell on Wildflowers, for anybody who came in contact with it in any way, shape or form to forget instantly that Juno’d ever sang Both Sides Now and Michael from Mountains, the second of Joni’s songs on the album. That way the modified spell on Cass was redundant and Juno could let her go to some march in Washington she’d been on and on about. No matter, Juno figured, if Cass ran into Judy Collins there, who seemed to have made these kind of events her main habitat. Juno was thus also able to embark on a frenzy of hootenannies and performing at parties, with two songs dropped from her repertoire obviously. Some nights she felt reassured and others she didn’t. But Jackson was still at the lodge and still safe. By the time he came home everything would be fixed.

David returned to LA in December. Juno met him off the plane and switched spells, and everything seemed real normal. If she didn’t look at the small empty space in his eyes.

As her number one priority was to avoid doing Magic directly to Jackson at all costs, she now did what she’d been putting off. She went to see Joni.

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It wasn’t the first time. Joni’d got around a bit that summer. She’d constantly moved back and forth across the border and had even been to England, to support The Incredible String Band. But Juno had always been able to prevent their two worlds colliding.

She now yanked out her crystal ball. Maybe Jackson… he wasn’t that close to Canada, but you never knew…

Joni was setting up in a club. She definitely wasn’t anywhere near Canada, for she was wearing a summery dress… Juno scanned the club between shaking hands ’til she could read its name in neon behind the bar. Gaslight South. Gaslight… as in The Gaslight coffee house in New York? She hadn’t known that they had another place further south… South. Oh NO.

She was too late to catch him in the street. He’d already gone inside and Joni’d already started playing. He looked like he’d been hit by a hand grenade. There was no time…

Wham. She’d lost David.

 

As usual Juno’s book had absolutely no advice whatsoever. You couldn’t let regular folks know that something beyond their understanding was going on or you’d damage your powers, but that was it. She went ’round Cass’s place, changed the spell as planned and dragged her out to the Troub. There Juno sang her short set twice and broke hearts all night.

She was still in bed the next morning when she found a solution. She’d put another zone charm around Joni, for folks to forget all about her, Juno, the moment they crossed it, and recover their recollections while failing to recall Joni on moving away. The zone around Joni would only have to be the size of a club as she hadn’t made any records. Where Judy Collins was concerned, Juno’d just have to busk it. For a start she’d keep her album out of LA.

Juno bounced out of bed and turned on the radio. She all but dropped when out of it tinkled Judy Collins’s voice, singing Both Sides Now, one of Joni’s songs from Wildflowers. And her heart sank further when the DJ announced afterwards that the track was rapidly rising up the nationwide charts.

 

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The first thing that came to pass was Jackson going away again. Barry had finally got Electra to part with money. He, Ned, Jackson and a bunch of Billy’s hungry roomers decamped to a mountain lodge the company had rented, in the middle of nowhere in Northern California. They took some technicians and an engineer with them, planning to record an album right there, real stripped-down, real removed from everything…

Juno’d got no time at all to miss Jackson before Cass said to her in early October, ‘Look, somebody gave me this!’ They were alone on Cass’s veranda, and even the leaves on the trees seemed to freeze as Cass produced a record from under her wicker chair. Juno knew right away that something had to be wrong. The album was Wildflowers, Judy Collins’s latest. ‘Funny, two of your songs are on here,’ Cass went on. ‘Says on the credits they’re written by a Joni… what was it, something… That your new stage name?’

Bang. She’d lost Cass. Before Juno knew what she was doing she’d flung out the spell. Cass smiled at her. ‘Let’s go inside, sweetheart, and talk to the others some.’ She got up and held the fly screen open for Juno, all the while looking at her with eyes that said she had no idea Juno sang.

Juno was still wondering how to keep Cass and David apart when David got the sack from the Byrds. It came as a surprise to no-one who’d lately talked to his bandmates. But it gave David something to talk a lot about at Cass’s that night, and the following day he took a flight to Miami. Since he was fancy free now he was going to buy a boat. Not that there weren’t any for sale in LA, but off he was anyhow.

Juno took a deep breath and went home to think. After hours and hours of playing out all kinds of different moves in her head, she figured that the best thing would be to modify her spell for Cass to forget all about Wildflowers and hope for the best. Judy Collins wasn’t that well known. She wasn’t Joan Baez or anything.

That was exactly the moment the Laurel Canyon zone alert she’d put around Joni went off.

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For some reason Juno found the ride back south on Monday real hard. For the first time ever memory lay on her like unfulfilled promise. She told herself it was the comedown after the weekend, but at Morro she couldn’t stand it any longer. Luckily Jackson was fast asleep. Interrupting Billy and Judy’s excited chat about how peaceful it had all been, how there’d been no injuries nor arrests and how nearly all the unsigned bands had got deals, Juno snatched their car out of the fantastic homeward-bound train on the coast highway and transported it straight back to LA.

 

Three days later the president came to town. Jackson dragged Juno along to the Century Plaza Hotel, where LBJ was scheduled to speak, and outside which they and a few thousand others were charged by helmeted police. Jackson managed to drag Juno out double quick, or so he thought. He was used to folks being friendly in his company, so he took the couple cops who were suffering a momentary confusion of allegiance in his stride. The full-scale pitched battle that followed crystallized into a week-long Angry Arts Festival centred around the Ash Grove. Something really different once again. The old Troub gang mostly stayed at the Troub.

 

As the summer blew on Juno noticed pretty soon that Cass and David were doing smack. The constant hanging was an art form in their circle by now, but Juno knew for sure that no-one else had taken it that far. She said nothing and watched.

Jackson was hanging too, but as usual with an added pinch of purpose. He mostly split his time between Billy’s place and zany Barry’s down the road. Barry turned out to be acquainted with purpose himself. It was his idea to assemble a band around Jackson, the first recruit to which came in the person of an angel-faced and real easy-going guy called Ned. Barry was hell-bent on landing a record deal for Jackson at last.

‘You should really do something ’bout that yourself,’ said Jackson to Juno one day as they and Ned were passing a spliff around, dangling their feet in Barry’s pool. ‘You just need to write more. But what you got is incredible. Y’know, this year’s been kinda… complicated, with all this Sergeant Pepper stuff. But I reckon it’s all gonna get simpler again. Quieten down. That’s when people like you and I strike.’ He leaped to his feet, holding a hand out to Juno. ‘C’mon, I’ll play you something!’

Inside the house he left his guitar against the wall where it was and instead put on a bootleg. ‘Check this out,’ said Ned. ‘It’s Bob Dylan and the Hawks. They’ve left New York and are all living together in this house in the middle of nowhere. Tiny little town in the mountains. Woodstock. That’s where they hang out and jam, real stripped-down, real removed from everything…’

 

But nothing at all quietened down for Juno. Everything, everything started to happen at once.

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She was another one whose band wasn’t involved but who coasted around on Purple Haze. Juno didn’t know if Jackson had spotted her or even where he might be. Before she could check she got distracted by the Byrds’ set.

Juno hadn’t seen them play in a while, and hadn’t realized that David sang lead on nearly everything now. Neither had Jim, clearly, and when David just wouldn’t quit sermonizing about JFK’s murder for minutes on end between songs, Juno could almost smell the smoke gathering under Jim’s collar. Chris and Michael didn’t look pleased either, exactly. David in his fur hat, moustache and embroidered gipsy shirt on the other hand put Juno in mind of a buzzing, verbose and real happy Siberian sea lion.

Obviously a huge jam went down that night. At one point David looked as though he were going to suggest for Juno to sing, but just then spied Jim making a beeline for him and scarpered. Meanwhile Jackson spent hours in deep conversation with that zany Barry who’d been present at Juno’s first ever performance and had since styled himself some kind of rock ’n’ roll impresario. Dawn came and nobody noticed.

Jackson tripped Sunday away to the sound of a sitar from the stage. Juno lay beside him drifting in and out of little naps while the beautiful folks around her had the time of their lives. The summer sun was at the zenith of its course.

Juno didn’t fully come around ’til the Springfield took the stage in the evening. Neil was absent. In his place, though a lot closer to Stephen than Neil normally skulked, beamed David, in suit and Borsalino this time. The band weren’t as explosive as they tended to be, but seemed instead to be having a regular blast.

The couple hours after that belonged to acts from across the pond. English guys sure weren’t attached to their guitars much. One of them smashed his to pieces at the end of his band’s set, and the one after that, a sizzling frizz head who’d had the place all lit up anyway, knelt before his and set it on fire. The crowd about blazed.

Everyone chilled again to a spacey band from Frisco called The Grateful Dead. After that, as the closing act, it was the Mamas and Papas’ turn. If you didn’t know they were all like cats and dogs you wouldn’t have guessed, and as their biggest hit’s heavenly harmonies swept up the crowd there wasn’t a soul around who would’ve denied that this flower-swathed, star-spangled midsummer Pacific coastline was the very stuff of dreams.

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When they got to Big Sur Juno spontaneously made Billy stop. As she and Jackson stood in the pale sunshine on the same brush-covered spot Jock had looked out from almost three years ago, Juno got a sudden sense of the distance she’d come and overwhelmingly felt for a moment as though some second person inside her was breaking out of and away from her through her skin, leaving her all hollow and somehow deserted. She grabbed Jackson’s hand real quick, and found herself jerkily becoming intact again. Jackson searched her face while he steadied her. ‘I did think it was pretty heavy stuff,’ he said. ‘It’s gotta be, you can normally smoke anything!’

The town of Monterey had been taken over by the love army. Technicolor motors and groovy people abounded. Even the cops wore flowers on their hats. Billy coaxed the car to the County Fairgrounds, where he and Judy went to sit in an enclosure with the other record company folks. Jackson and Juno just drifted.

There was as much music off the stage as on it, and band members were casually mingling with fans. Giant balloons and Stars and Stripes floated everywhere. Stalls sold crystals and tie-dye clothes while two dudes in an improvised sound booth had a large crowd spellbound demonstrating a weird electronic instrument. A synthesizer they called it, which Jackson thought far out.

The sound from the stage was mindblowing. It was the hugest rig anybody had ever seen. Simon and Garfunkel headlined that Friday night. Enveloped by the intense smell of hemp side by side on the still-warm grass Juno and Jackson were two specks in the singing twilit crowd, but Juno didn’t feel anonymous at all.

On the Saturday they were firmly back in their fold. Saturday was the day the Byrds played. Juno got to meet a lotta new singers and musicians and even another Rolling Stone. The Stones weren’t on the bill, due to some trouble with the law they were having back home, but Brian Jones had come anyhow and was freewheeling ’round the event like a mascot in brocade and lace. Most of the other bands Juno met were from San Francisco. Although the festival had mainly been organized by the Mamas and Papas’ camp, David acted like he was everyone’s host. Then again he seemed to be the only person around who knew everyone, all the groups from the Bay and all the groups from LA, and even the English ones.

Juno just about avoided having to meet Nico.

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Less than one week later and just when Juno thought she’d reached breaking point, Jackson returned to LA. He had the look of a guy who’d been abducted by crackhead aliens, and was clearly glad to be back. Juno was ecstatic.

Things got easier for almost everyone from then on. The dope was superb, gigs passed without incident, folks braided their hair and felt grounded. The canyon settled into an easy sun-kissed groove. No wonder they called those months in ’67 the Summer of Love.

 

Well, almost everybody felt easier from then on. David didn’t. He was too far gone on his trip, which often took him to San Francisco these days. He’d clearly found some new kind of perspective, and a new subject to talk about, in how great the Bay Area scene was and how LA bands were starting to get complacent and lag behind. It was clear that he mainly meant his own band, and that he blamed Jim for the lagging. Folks weren’t inclined to listen any longer than couldn’t be avoided, particularly Jim, who felt moved to speak to Juno the first time in years one night in the Troub, advising her what a pain in the butt David was. Juno felt moved to defend him. David still adored her songs and was her friend.

Another guy who didn’t dig the groove was Stephen. He took up the plaguing of Neil where Juno’d left off, which became more apparent at every gig. He turned off a great many other folks, too, with his often gruff and puffed-up ways.

But it was the Summer of Love, and against all odds and to the total amazement of everyone, Stephen and David became friends.

 

In June the whole of West LA decamped up the coast for something really different: a weekend-long music festival at Monterey. It was billed as a meeting between the Northern and Southern California scenes.

Juno and Jackson got a ride north with Billy and his wife Judy, joining the long convoy of cars that snaked its way along the coast road. It was like being aboard a fantastic colourful musical train. People were ready for great things, and the sound of bongos, harps or guitars came from nearly every open top and painted VW van.