Saturday, September 12, 2009

1983 - Out of the Closet

In 1983, we came out of the closet. Many of us who thought of ourselves as new-agers stopped “hiding our light under a bushel” and became more vocal about our beliefs. We stopped caring so much about being socially acceptable and started speaking out more about the issues close to our hearts. Many of us traveled spiritual paths that were still considered a little left of center and we stopped pretending. It was time to get real.

New age papers validated our growing awareness that it was indeed the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Our numbers swelled and we began to impact the local economy with our holistic businesses and our checkbooks.

I could write a book on 1983 alone but I won't. I'll give you the highlights here and go into more detail in another blog. Papers popped up everywhere, and not just in Gainesville.

Paul Hoffman’s The Last New Age Calendar appeared in stores in September, 1983. A month later the Gainesville Daily Planet entered the scene with LIBRE’s Dottie Zavada as “Publisher and Grand Sorceress.” Istvan compiled the local calendar, while Lee Glancey and Sharon Woodruff did the word processing. Oma, an entity channeled by Frankie Z. Avery, was the token non-human on the staff.

In May, 1983, while working as the office manager of a mainstream church, I launched a quarterly called New Age Gainesville, with the help of my husband, Gordon Greenwood, Dottie Zavada, Richard Greenwood, Lonnie Lockett, Ronni Gardner, and Mary Masidonski.

Michele Rippey wrote about “The Celebration”-- the first-ever event of its kind held in the downtown community plaza. Walter Busby and friends organized the day filled with love and light, laughter and letting go. It was highlighted by the absence of anything to buy.  In another blog, I've posted Michele's article with all the details of that special day.

New ads appeared: Reiki by Andy Weisberg, Soul Therapy by Alma Rose, Massage Therapy by Fay Young, Jere Herrington, and Olivia Stryker, and Peter Bensen’s Guild for Structural Psychosynthesis. We shopped for natural fibre clothes at Harmony and Lotus, and Spirit, and ate at New Harvest.

We had an abundance of groups to explore, including the A.R.E. Study Group focusing on Edgar Cayce’s teachings (Bob Scott), P’nai Or (Kabbalistic mystical tradition), Gurdjieff Reading Group (Brian Morgan), Humanist Society (Joe Courter, Iguana editor), ISKCON (Krishna Consciousness), and Kundalini Yoga (Sat Nam Singh Khalsa).

There was our long-lasting Seth Group at Royane and Ric Mosley's home, The Next Step (in Micanopy with Dr. David Saltzman), Science of Mind Study Group in Lake Butler (Vicky Woods), Self-Realization Fellowship (Paramahansa Yogananda teachings-Pam DeWitt), Sai Baba Satsang (Mike and Lee Glancey), and Yoga Center of Gainesville (Yogi Amrit Desai teachings).

We had the School of Tai Chi Chuan, Tai Chi Chuan for Women at Dragon Gate Studio, and Tai Chi Chuan Temple Style at LIBRE Center. 

We often met friends at a wonderful restaurant on SW 35th Boulevard in Butler Plaza called Cathay Tea House which was opened in 1976 by Genia Lee (Hines), who was born and raised in Taiwan. The food was exquisite and it was the only Chinese restaurant where we could get brown rice at the time. Genia's dream of publishing her own cookbook was realized in the 1980s with the release of  "The Cuisine of Cathay."

That reminded me of another old Gainesville restaurant, the Beef and Bottle at 5220 SW 13 Street, close to the northern border of Paines Prairie. It was a 520-seat restaurant with the first mega salad bar. It was popular for its live entertainment. It will be forever etched in my mind as the place where we saw a "new" entertainer for the first time who did this stand-up arrow-through-the-head routine--yup, the unknown was a very young and playful Steve Martin. One night he invited around 50 people from the audience to hide behind bushes on U.S. 441 while Steve hitchhiked at closing time. Every time a car stopped, the 50+ people jumped out and rushed the car. I guess you had to be there. I wasn't, but everyone at work was talking about it the next day.

The Beef and Bottle became the Brown Derby in 1977. It lasted until 1994 when it could no longer compete with the restaurants popping up all along Archer Road.

Please forgive me if I left you out. I didn’t even get to ask you if you were in the audience when they performed Hair: An American Tribal Love Rock Musical here. When was that trip back in time to the idealistic, psychedelic days of the 1960s anyway?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

1983 - The Celebration on the Downtown Plaza

Michele Rippey wrote the following article about "The Celebration" for NEW AGE gainesville's premiere issue in May, 1983. 

The warmth of the sun and lots of mutual affection poured upon "The Celebration," on March 26th, in Gainesville's downtown Community Plaza. This day of light, laughter, and letting go, brought together some of Gainesville diverse Aquarian interests for a day of education, play, and entertainment. The day was highlighted by the absence of anything to buy.

Information booths around the Plaza included representation from Eckankar, Arica Institute, Life Streams of Jacksonville, Rajneesh Meditation Center, Kripalu Yoga Mandal, Siddha Meditation Center, Florida Institute of Wholistic Health, The Birthplace, Florida Massage Collecive, The Florida School of Massage, Meher Baba Study Group, Paul Hoffman's Transformational Information System, Plenty, the service arm of The Farm, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and the Summit Lighthouse.

Golden and the earth people brought a variety of solar-powered devices, physical fitness apparatus, and shared live grasses and popcorn. Their presence added a special dimension. All the groups set up their own displays and used the day as a time to talk with and touch those around them.

Entertainment flourished. Great appreciation goes out to all who participated: The Kitchen Table Boys, Smiling Hearts Club Band, Stan the Fixit Man, Tom Savage, Christian Youth of Today, The Backporch Cloggers, George Tortorelli, Jubal, John the man in white, Skip Hendry, and the Star Band. A special thanks to Claudio Belfort who led Sufi dancing, to Don Grooms and Prem Dhanesh of Modern Music Workshop for sound equipment, and to Jim Weaver of Priceless who worked the sound board most of the day.

The initial inspiration for this day was to make available a time and space for people to get together, have fun, and share in whatever ways seemed appropriate to them. The concensus is that "The Celebration" genuinely provided this opportunity. The last words are "thank you" to everybody who enjoyed the day.
Thanks, Michele
Next blog: 1983 - NEW AGE gainesville

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Light Streams and Amrit and LIBRE, Oh my!

In 1982, when hardly anyone owned an intimidating computer, Paul Hoffman borrowed a Radio Shack TRS-80 from Dottie Zavada and joyfully launched our first alternative directory, Light Streams, Gainesville DNA (Directory New Age). 

Leslie Rigg added her Osborne computer and before long they published the New Age Calendar. Were we surprised to discover that much more was happening here than we had ever imagined!

I couldn't be happier. Finally a new age directory of our very own! I just read on  Paul Hoffman's website that he intends to write about DNA-Gainesville  himself  so I'll leave that in his capable hands. Paul has been a world traveler, ending up in Gainesville before heading for California. He's been in the Berkeley area for quite a few years now. He is probably best known as the guy who makes and distributes  EarthSeals, stickers of the famous Apollo 17 shot of the whole earth from space. He has sold over 13 million of them in the last 20 years--by donation. Paul is so multi-talented he defies description. Check out his Facebook page to see what he's been up to. He's listed as Paul C. Hoffman.
His website is .

Another well-known person is our ForeverFriend, Walter Busby. He and my Gordon were friends and fellow professors in the College of Education at the University of Florida until they retired--Walter a Humanistic Psychologist and Gordon a Behaviorist. Walter had tremendous foresight when he introduced Gordon and me in 1979, and for that we will be forever grateful. I met Walter at the Temple of the Universe. He was there during the early days when Yogi Amrit Desai (Gurudev) spoke at the Temple. Phil Kairalla had encouraged me to go hear this very special guru, so I did, though I could never have anticipated what an impact it would have on my life. I was instantly blissed out by Gurudev's loving energy and all that shakti! I had never felt that kind of unconditional love before, except from my father who had made his transition into the Light in 1966. Fortunately for me, Walter was there to explain that what was happening to me was perfectly normal!

Walter has always hosted the most extraordinary parties that attracted an eclectic assortment of fascinating people. In the early '80s, his Renaissance Parties became famous for food, fun and finding spiritual friends. They lasted for years and everyone was welcome. There were about 200 people at the last one I remember. Walter also founded the Institute for Holistic Education and later organized United Spiritual Gainesville.

Around this time, Mother Earth’s only store at 521 NW 13th Street had a popular bulletin board informing us about places to go and people to see. It was becoming obvious--we were not alone in our expanding awareness.

The University hosted meetings on campus for the Friends of Whales, Advocates for the Moral Reevaluation of Animal Experimentation (AMRAE), and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Amnesty International met at the UF Law School. Holly Jensen was key in keeping us informed of the activities of all these groups.

Reality Kitchen opened downtown at 6 NE 1st Avenue. Their ad said "24 hours every day- Food -Music - Good Vibes." Jim Evangelist billed it as an art cooperative, phone messenger service, post office box, restaurant, coffeehouse, and community forum. Many of our musician friends played there--David Beede, Mark Madson, the Flash Silvermoon Band, and so many more. In 1984, The Archer Road Band had a one-night-only reunion gig featuring Bruce Shepard, Chaz Scales, Melvin Bunk, Kenny Shore, and Gary Gordon. (Thanks, Gary, for reminding me of this.)

Alternative schools flourished: Lotus Land School in Archer (Jeff Davis), Dayspring Waldorf School (Rolf Hummel) at 921 SW Depot Avenue, Loblolly Learning Community at 3315 NW 5th Avenue, and Flowers Montessori School at 3111 NW 31st Avenue.

The People to People Educational Network organized free, non-authoritarian classes without the stress of grades. The 1983 schedule included former Gainesvillians, UF Physics lecturer, Joe Rosenshien and Commissioner and entertainer, Gary Gordon.

Dottie Zavada launched the LIBRE/Mother Earth Center at 604 NW 13th Street, the old Mother Earth location. LIBRE stood for Life in Balance Research and Education. We heard talks there on dowsing by Neil Kaber, Traditional Chinese Medicine by David Bole, rebirthing by Dennis and Beverly (now called Baila) Scott, and meditation by Udaya Pherigo (Biff), Director of the Siddha Meditation Center at 1000 SW 9th Street. Dottie's been in the Mt. Shasta area for a long time but I'm happy to say we are still in touch. I'd love for her to write about LIBRE herself...
Back then we could get Rolfed by Marilyn Thursby, learn about nutrition from Renee Hoffinger Shuman (who was also a matchmaker), and be Rebirthed by Claudio Belfort. Marguerite Romeis had ongoing classes in psychic awareness (which she still has) and began hosting spiritual healers from outside of Gainesville. Jackie Tatum led a Course in Miracles group at Unity, back when they were at 1240 NW 21st Avenue. Dr. Robert Glazer, Director of the S. E. Center for Bioenergetic Analysis, and Dr. Dave Suchman, gestalt therapist, led a men’s group.

The multi-talented Ramesh Patel owned the Mandeer Restaurant at 808 W. University Avenue, where we could get amazing Indian vegetarian dinners. The Vegetarian Society met there for awhile. The Full Moon Buying Club, a food co-op, was very active and met monthly. Betty (later called Bahira) Sugarman and Paul Campbell led Arica Institute trainings. Bill Payne’s classes in Silva Mind Control were popular and Donald Pratt was the doing hypnosis long before it became popular.

The Florida School of Massage, with Lee Joseph, Director, moved from 1115 North Main Street to its then new location at 5408 NW 13th Street. Today they are at 6421 SW 13th Street.

Next blog: 1983 - The Celebration on the Downtown Plaza