This is how I found out, from a post on Facebook:
It was John, more than anyone, who first turned me on. Which means he had a great influence on my life. &, therefore also as my son (the second of three) Ohav (he’ll be 47 this month, & he arrived here yesterday from Tel Aviv for a month’s stay with us, which he does mostly every year) remarked laughingly & rightly, he had a great influence on quite a number of people who never knew him, all of my sons in particular.
I first met him 50 years ago, when Nitza & I were living in Melbourne for a few years. I was 30 & he was 18. I was the working as the sub-editor of The Australian Jewish Herald, a weekly newspaper that ran for several years in Melbourne. One day John came into the office in High St, St Kilda, to visit his friend (& by then mine too) Peter Weiniger, the newspaper’s young reporter. That was the beginning of an intense & beautiful friendship. (I soon learned, by the way, that I knew his father Sam, in whose clothing factory I ‘d worked or as a dispatch & pay clerk some time before I left Australia to become a member of Kibbutz Nirim across the UN-policed border with the Gaza Strip.)
Soon after this, I remember, John & I sat in my car for hours talking about so many things. This was my first contact with a “head” – already a buzz word then for people (mostly young, of John’s generation much more than mine) who had tuned in to the new wavelengths of consciousness with the aid of substances old & new, legal & illegal. Many of them then would have identified with the saying (coined in 1964 by Jack Weinberg but often wrongly attributed to Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, the Beatles, and others) “Don’t trust anyone over 30”. I was just over 30 then, & for as long as I live I’ll continue being grateful to him for having trusted me despite that. If he hadn’t I might not have escaped the fate of so many of my generation who never experienced the entheogenic or psychedelic wonders of reality made accessible by psychotropic plants & compounds…
I was almost ready for it, though not so evidently to myself at first. I was disgruntled about much that was happening with myself & in the world. For myself, I was OK with Nitza, & with working for a living for now while trying to write a novel, but for quite some time had been feeling frustrated & pretty hopeless because I had no real idea what the novel was to be about or like. & in the world – the Viet Nam war, nuclear proliferation, collective & individual alienation, exploitation, discrimination, deprivation, abuse, population explosion, subjugation of indigenous people in colonized countries, you name it, & no prospect of positive change; & to my thinking then the hippies I’d been reading about were just into escaping from it all…
My thinking (& much more) changed after I first turned on. That, though, took more than a year after that first meeting with John. Actually, a few months after we’d met quite a number of times, & after many vivid description by John of what I might see & feel if I tried it, I agreed to smoke a joint with him. We were alone in the apartment Nitza & I were renting in Redan Street, across the road from the “Own Your Own” flat my mother had bought with the reparations money she’d finally received from Germany. Nitza was out, painting or etching at the National Gallery Art School in town. I took a few puffs, but started feeling nauseous, & had to throw up. It’s not for me, I decided.
A few months later we moved to a terraced 2-story house in Nelson Road, South Melbourne, & I got a new job as an afternoon-shift proof-reader for a trade-printery not far from there. Our first son was born. I didn’t want to call him John, it was too Christian a name to my mind, but I was thinking of John when I suggested the name Jonathan, Yonatan in Hebrew, & Nitza agreed.
I was glad to be a father, I felt so much love for our new son. & glad too that my mother could joy in her first grandson & hold him in her arms (& even laugh when once he pissed right in her face). It was to be only a brief joy for her: she died of a stroke a few months after he was born.
John still visited, & we still talked of many things, cabbages & kings, but he didn’t try to push me to try again. In the meantime, however, I’d met another sweet & amazing young head who lived further up Nelson Road, Al Katinas (a brilliant photographer too), whose enthusiastic & entheogenic talking about his experiences & understandings again made me start thinking that there indeed might be something here for me. At this time too I started finding all kinds of articles in the newspapers, especially in Life & in Time magazines, about Haight Ashbury, about Timothy Leary, about what heads were experiencing. & one evening, while watching TV (which was still only black&white), I saw a news report of heads tripping near a body of water (I don’t remember if it was a river or a lake), & saw not only how blissed one or some of them looked as they were looking at the surface of the water, but also, through some blessed magic of the cinematographer, something of what they were seeing there, & something in that sparked something in me (I’ll return to this moment below) that led me to decide: yes – I’m going to try LSD. But to get myself ready for that I’ll take a few months of getting stoned.
John brought the hash, Al brought an incense charcoal tablet, lit it & placed the piece of hash on it, & thru the narrow tube of an emptied ballpoint pen we inhaled the sweet line of smoke that rose. & my world changed. An hour or so later I walked out into the street & was stopped for maybe half an hour by the sight of a tree with all its leaves & it was like I was seeing a tree & its plenitude of beauties for the first time in my life. The high of this smoking lasted into the next day: I spent the whole (beautiful, sunny) afternoon in the Alexandria Gardens, mostly lying on the grass, blissed, looking at (& seeing! & being with) the sky, the trees around, the blades of grass, worlds within worlds …
My first trip I took by myself. It was, I still believe, life-changing for me, but that’s another story: here I want to say only that I well may not have got there if it hadn’t been for John. My second trip, however, was with John. In Sydney. He’d gone up there a few weeks earlier, & after my first trip I felt I wanted to trip with him, so I went up for a couple of weeks. We took the trip somewhere near Kings Cross & John took us to a park somewhere around there. I remember John taking his shoes off & saying to them “Stay there!” & then laughing & remarking “I always say that to them”. A little? later? there was a pond in the park with a moon reflected in it & the ripples were moving & what I saw & felt & knew & was (you don’t just see when you’re tripping) was maybe something like what the tripper/s I’d seen on TV had seen, but more than that it was a déja vu, I’d seen this way before, maybe as a 2- or- 3-year old, in Poland, maybe in a foresty place my mother & I would spend the summers in before we fled in September 1939. I felt I’d felt this joyful awe & amazement at such beauty already as a child, & it was such joy to be feeling this way again.
John found me a place where I could stay with some of his friends in Glebe. We tripped there too, with a number of other lovely & loving people, whose names I no longer remember. I remember lying on a mattress & for the first time really hearing & digging the lyrics (& the music!) of Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. Until then I hadn’t really heard or listened to the electric Dylan: I’d appreciated his early folk/protest songs, to which I’d been introduced by Pete Seeger – but now, like wow x ꝏ!
Then there were more trips during those weeks, with others as well, I especially remember us driving from Glebe to Barranjoey before dawn, all of us well stoned, & John handing out the acid tickets about half an hour before we arrived to see the sun rising & soon everyone was tripping on their own in the amazing land&sea&skyscapes&spaces. Leary wrote once that it can be important when tripping to have an experienced tripper as a kind of counselor when necessary. John was such a counselor, for others, & for me.
In 1969 Nitza returned to Tel Aviv with Jonathan, & I followed her several months later. John & I didn’t stay in touch, but when Nitza & I visited Australia in early 1989 we spent visited him at the place he had in the bush. He was vibrant & it was great being with him. Here’s a photo of John & me from then that Nitza took & kept.
& then again years passed & no contact, till 1997, when Nitza & I came to Australia from Tel Aviv for about a year, to stay for some time with Jonathan & Ora, who were living in Redfern , & also to spend time with Zohar, who was living in Taree with two friends. From Redfern I made a trip to Melbourne & managed to also spend some time with John. He also took me (on the pillion of his motorbike) to Moorabbin to meet his daughter – I don’t remember which daughter, but I do remember how warm & loving their meeting was.
I didn’t see him after that. Years later he found me & friended me on Facebook, & we exchanged quite a number of messages…
I made the composite pic (at the top of this post from photos he posted on his page, overlaid on a Martin Sharp Jimi Hendrix poster) & I’ve also collated below a few of his Facebook posts from the past two years.
4 gays killed in australia recenntly
..more information please!
There is so much hate + violence
So much killing +oppression
So much primitive fundamentalism+self-righteousness
‘Tis a world in turmoil where children suffer
The land is ravished+poisoned
The wildlife slaughtered
The oceans polluted
So much regression the planet cries/weeps for this suffering
at the hands of man
(? like a cancerous weed)
?May 26 ·
MOON OBSCURED BY CLOUDS
TRUTH OBSCURED BY OBFUSCATION
STILL YOU’VE GOT TO LOVE
THIS PLANET WE LIVE UPON
October 10, 2014 ·
YOU THINK YOU’RE STRESSED.
THE WHOLE PLANET IS STRESSED.
June 1, 2014 ·
THE WAVES. …..COME&GO….EBB&FLOW….UP&DOWN. …SIDE TO SIDE….HIGHS&LOWS…..EVER COMES….EVER GOES…..also such are the moods of men&life….(even the energies of space & spirits)………………..STATIC—ACTIVE…….CONTRACTION&EXPANSION….INHALATION&EXHALATION………….be it ..the sea..the sky…or the psyche…………..
June 1, 2014 ·
WER’E ALL HEADING TO THAT DATE WITH DESTINY! BETTER NOT TO KNOW,MAYBE.
May 31, 2014 ·
from the vaults…Book of Ditties. ….AS A TEENAGER,IN MY TEENAGE YEARS I WROTE…FORMALIZED RELIGION IS LIKE A CRUTCH TO A CRIPPLE….ALSO IT IS BETTER TO KNOW THAT YOU TRULY DO NOT KNOW THAN TO TAKE ON ANOTHERS POSSIBLE BULLSHIT…BETTER TO GROPE WITH YOUR OWN UNKNOWNING THAN TO TAKE ON ANOTHERS’ IDEAS OF HIS KNOWING NOTHING….REMAIN TENACIOUSLY TRUE TO YOUR INDIVIDUAL PERSONALITY AND INTUITION…………………………………………………………….
May 30, 2014 ·
Thanks for your birthday greetings,as it may be my last,it is life&life only&I may not have much choice in the matter___L’chaim
May 30, 2014 ·
Let’s remember the words of ALBERT EINSTEIN,that imagination is much more important than knowledge….”Logic will get you from A to B.Imagination will take you everywhere”_Albert Einstein………………………………………..ANY MAN WHO CAN DRIVE SAFELY WHILE KISSING A PRETTY GIRL IS SIMPLY NOT GIVING THE KISS THE ATTENTION IT DESERVES_Albert Einstein
May 29, 2014 ·
“ONE GOOD THING ABOUT MUSIC…WHEN IT HITS YOU FEEL ALRIGHT”…music.music…music…THE INNER LIFE…MEMORIES..MOODS..FEELINGS……..MUSIC SOOTHES THE MIND, BODY, AND SPIRIT
May 29, 2014 ·
I’ve always enjoyed my walks alone at night,stoned&usually with dog, wherever I am. …transcending time. ..during the night while people sleep….the ether is clearer the mind is freed to explore…abstractions of thought trains…to walk alone…and to ponder…and wonder…and wander…and to seek inspiration
May 26, 2014
When profound is the moment___I love that__ When intense is the experience___I love that__ When quietude comes in waves upon waves_I love that_ When my child once said “I love you Daddy”_I loved that_ when memories shine bright of experiences lived through_I love that_ When friends share my vibe&I theirs_I love that_ When machinery is tight & right_I love that_ When each day is anew with mystery still !_I love that_ When people truly smile with their eyes_I love that_ That GOD is a SMILE & LOVE___I like/love that. 2009
May 19, 2014
John, you will always be with me, & with all who have loved you & who have learned from you.
My condolences to all who feel the loss of your physical presence among us.
Blessed is your memory.