...the messianic experimentalism of the Dead, Big Brother and other bands who were playing timeless ragas and experimenting with feedback and other psychedelic effects that re-created revelatory roaring, chills of ecstasy and awestruck wandering. p.73
Back in January, when the Trips Festival planners had struck it off so well with "Chronicle" music columnist Lou Gottlieb, he had mentioned to them that he had a ranch out in the country, thirty-one acres of land in rural Sonoma County he had bought four years before. It was out in the woods near Occidental, technically in the township of Graton. If they ever wanted to get away from the city, Gottlieb told them, they could stay there. He was planning to move out there himself and devote eight years to studying piano, with the aim of debuting as a classical pianist at the age of fifty.
It was a tempting offer. Ben and Rain Jacopetti were dissatisfied with the progress of their Open Theater in Berkeley. As for Ramon Sender, he was facing a crisis. His Tape Music Center had been sustained by a small Rockefeller Foundation grant, on the understanding that it would be increased if the Tape Center affiliated with a college. Sender wanted to avoid college affiliation, but the only alternative he had been able to think of was for all the artists involved in the Tape Center to reduce their collective budget by living communally, and the artists hadn't bought it.
So he left the Tape Center on its own and went down to the desert country of the Southwest, visiting the hand-to-mouth Drop City commune that was forming in Colorado near the New Mexico border. He came back to Berkeley talking about sun worship and moving to the country. After Marin County sheriffs rousted him and his girlfriend Joan for bathing nude in the woods, he recalled Gottlieb's offer. In March, Ramon and Joan, the Jacopettis and Stewart and Lois Brand went up to have a look at the farm. It looked good: woods and apple trees, and even a stream.
The Brands didn't stay long. Sender had told Brand's old roommate Steve Durkee about the spiritual qualities of the desert, and the Brands soon went down to Sollux, the commune Durkee was building in New Mexico. Later in the spring the Brands went on the road with the USSCo light-show exhibition and ended up back in San Francisco.
By April the Jacopettis had tied up their loose ends in Berkeley and moved to the ranch, Gottlieb had moved up to stay, and they were joined by a jeweler-poet friend and the filmmaker Bruce Baillie. They settled into whatever they wanted to do as Gottlieb's guests. Gottlieb was studying piano. The Jacopettis were studying yoga. Sender was sun-worshiping and making regular trips to the San Francisco metaphysical bookstores. Every evening they gathered to read scriptures aloud. They thought of converting the place into a Hindu ashram and affiliating with Sri Aurobindo's Auroville in India. They even discovered that the place had a spiritual-sounding name when Joan found some old documents showing that it had been known as Morning Star Ranch. pp.84-86