My hippie daze at Rochdale!
(a badge of liberation)
This evening, I was quite shocked when I stumbled across a discussion board on Facebook, which shed a searing spotlight on a self-styled author – by the name of “Lone Wolf” – who published a nasty piece of fluff in the name of Literature (total bullshit!) which he alleges is a truthful non-fiction historical novel written with noble intentions.
Although I have not read - “A Wolf Among Sheep” - it is quite evident from the hateful references posted on the discussion board at Facebook that "Lone Wolf " willfully elected to wrongfully twist and distort the truth because he obviously has an axe to grind with someone for ending up a total loser in life! (himself?)
The slurs (outright lies) he hurled in my direction - contradictory in nature when posts are reviewed on the Internet at a myriad of web sites - were nothing short of mean-spirited “pot-shots” (simply acid-laced barbs) dredged up to get back at moi (pay back?) because I snubbed the hapless hacker months ago when he was fervently engaged in a fact-finding fishing expedition to drum up juicy material for a book he was toiling away on.
For example, out-of-the-blue one day - “Lone Wolf” (a total stranger to me) - fired off an e-mail my way to determine if I was a one-time resident of Rochdale (known by my birth name Don Holyoak).
It should be noted that I changed my name legally to Julian Ayrs when industry folks began to have difficulty prouncing and spelling my name.
Because my days at Rochdale were so memorable – some of the happiest days of my life were spent there over the course of a few short eventful months - I responded to “Wolf” with open arms.
I get nostalgic for the past, in my “old age”, after all!
In a nutshell, I was quite generous (and giving) with my time.
In fact, I graciously provided details about my days at Rochdale - especially in view of the fact “Wolf” either had a very “poor memory” - or was not the individual he purported to be.
Did he ever reside at Rochdale - as he so vigorously claimed - or was he just a sad wannabee inclined to cry-the-blues because he missed the boat a few scant decades ago?
At one point, a red flag went up, when Wolf put a strange question to me which didn’t make any sense in the grand scheme of things.
At this point, it became evident to me that Wolf was not only “pumping” me for information, but trying to “rewrite” Rochdale history!
In fact, it became quite obvious – I am not stupid, after all – that he was trying to drum up “dirt” on me – and other Rochdalians - for some inexplicable reason.
At that juncture, I informed the odd-ball correspondent, that his question was out-of-line.
I immediately cut off all ties, and made a point of dispatching his future e-mails to the “spam” box once they ceremoniously arrived, without reading the bodies of the messages therein.
I'm no fool, nor am I a masochist, after all!
Curiously, a couple of weeks ago, I was surfing the Internet when I came across a short post on a Rochdale web site, wherein Wolf made mention of me.
In view of what transpired previously, I was surprised to find that “Wolf” spoke so flatteringly.
In fact, I could not find fault with anything he wrote.
I remember thinking at the time:
“Gosh, I hope my biographer is “that kind” when the curtain falls on me.”
Then, something strange happened after that, which sent me for a loop.
For instance, tonight – when I was conducting some research for a feature I am penning, I noticed a reference to “Lone Wolf’s” book posted to an open forum Facebook discussion page.
What an eye-opener!
In a nutshell, the writer attacked “Lone Wolf” for his disparaging remarks about the former residents of Rochdale (and me, in particular), and tore his so-called non-fiction historical novel to pieces.
In particular, I was shocked to read an excerpt about me, which was written by a vicious “Wolf” scratching at the door and obviously howling at the moon.
"Many former Rochdalians have re-invented themselves. And they have re-invented Rochdale College to suit their new identity. Don Holyoak, the quintessential Rochdale hippie in 1969 is now a prissy "artist" who pretends he was never a hippie. He wrote, "I spent two semesters at Rochdale College in 1969." Semesters? Fuck off, bullshitter! There were no semesters in Rochdale and he also lived there in 1970. It's ridiculous for him to claim he spent weeks on the road with infamous drug dealer Rosie, yet knew nothing whatsoever about drugs. You can't have it both ways and retain any credibility. He wrote about Judith Merril waving good-bye to him when he left Rochdale. This was impossible because she had moved out many months before. And as a so-called "writer", Don Holyoak really should discover the paragraph. I've never seen one in his "Tattler" blogs, so his writing looks less than amateurish."
Nothing could be further from the truth!
For good reason, I have decided to set forth the following pertinent facts, to set the record straight in my defense.
For starters, I have never “pretended” not to be a hippie.
On the contrary, if anything, I have boasted ad nausea over the years about my bohemian days at legendary Rochdale College (and elsewhere).
I am surprised folks haven’t rolled-their-eyes and urged that I "shut-up" already!
In fact, when I first stumbled on a website that was created to exalt Rochdale and its infamous cast of characters, I immediately posted a truckload of recollections for posterity's sake.
In that post, I discussed my days at the “free” college openly and freely.
And, I bragged about performing in the streets barefoot, being arrested for dancing on a police car on Baldwin Street, and-so-forth-and-so-on.
By the way, Ms. Merril was in attendance on Baldwin Street the day I was arrested.
In fact, Judith tried to pull me out of harm's way, when a squad car slowly cruised through the protestors in the street.
Wolf is a liar, flat-out!
In addition, the scurrilous author accused me of falsely alleging that I waved “good-bye” to Judith (a well-known Science Fiction writer who was a personal friend of mine) who once resided at Rochdale during my heady days “in residence” there.
According to “Wolf”, Judith wasn’t residing at Rochdale that eventful day – at which point – he inferred that I was a liar!
In addition, he scoffed at the “notion” that I headed out on the road in a VW bus with the notorious drug-dealer “Rosie” (Bob Rowbothman) just shy of my 18th birthday (May 6th).
On both counts, Wolf libeled me, in a bold-faced deceitful effort to damage my name and reputation.
As I have noted on my blog - “The Tattler” - I was a ward of the Children’s Aid Society when I was a student at Rochdale.
Youth protective services actually paid my rent, which can be proven, by virtue of documented evidence on record at that agency.
At one point, when my social worker quizzed me about my future, I turned to Judith for advice.
The generous down-to-earth writer invited me to move into a spare room at her “new” digs in a quaint neighborhood she had just relocated to just south of Rochdale (Cabbagetown) after she quickly exited the controversial high-rise on Bloor St. West (a hop-and-a-skip away from U of T) amidst allegations of rampant drug use at the College.
My social worker was consulted to determine if the Society would have any objections to Judith becoming - in essence - my “foster mother”.
Just because Judith was not residing at Rochdale on the day I left for Vancouver in the VW van, doesn’t mean she could not have waved me off, as I stated in my "memoir".
What kind of idiot would surmise such a stupid thing without verifying the facts first?
Rochdale residents can attest to the fact that Judith was a constant visitor at Rochdale - even after she relocated to her two-level home down the street- especially in view of the fact an extensive collection of books she donated to the "free school" were on the shelves at Rochdale!
By the way, Celebrated attorney - Clayton Ruby - was hired by Rochdale to represent me in court on the charge of causing a disturbance.
Ruby established that the disturbance did not erupt until the police took inappropriate action against the protesters.
For good reason, the case was dismissed against me.
The whole incident was captured by Morely Markson - a documentary filmmaker - who used the footage for his insightful chronicle of the times:
(Revolution of the Electric Family)
The documentary also featured John Lennon and Buckminster Fuller and won an award at the Cannes Film Festival (1972).
It should be further noted that when TIME published a feature article on Rochdale, the respected magazine (the Canadian Edition) published a photo of my "black" room on the 6th floor.
I was thrilled because Raquel Welch graced the cover!
That dude, Wolf, has all the intelligence of a slug, eh?
Talk about getting your facts screwed up and jumping to ridiculous conclusions!
But, his falsehoods – and hateful digs – persisted.
In the paragraphs published above, Wolf infers that I never knew “Rosie”, and that I did not make any trek across the country with him and his motley band of friends.
Rosie is still alive - until I am advised otherwise, of course - and can confirm that he was my next-door neighbor on the 6th floor (his ashram room was two doors down from mine) and that – indeed – we crossed the country together in a VW van.
At one point, we were actually pulled over by an overzealous cop (in Alberta, if I recall correctly), which sent the fear of God in all of us at the time.
By the way, near the end of our trek, all the passengers on board came down with a nasty case of the “crabs”
The whole gang of us (hippies!) were forced to check into a small Motel, so that we could purge our ravaged bodies of the blood-sucking little buggars!!!
Oh, Wolf also labelled me a “bullshitter”, because I allegedly stated that I attended two semesters at Rochdale College.
He boldly asserted that there were no semesters at Rochdale - or any curriculum - for that matter.
For starters, if you check Judith Merril’s resume, you’ll notice an entry on her resume which is mighty curious.
In her school credits, Judith Merril acknowledges a degree, which was apparently earned at – you got it - at Rochdale College.
Moreover, I should like to point out - that when I referred to my own registration at Rochdale - the references to “two semesters” were not out-of-line when the facts (and documentary evidence in support) are scrutinized in their entirety.
“Lone Wolf” was unaware of one vital piece of information that ended up landing him in hot water – and ruining what little credibility he possessed – in the process.
For the record, I should like to reiterate that the Children’s Aid Society paid my rent for the fall “term” (September to December, for example) – and the “spring” term too.
The Society also provided me with monthly “tuition” (expense funds) to cover vouchers for daily meals in the Rochdale cafeteria, art supplies, clothing, etc.
Coincidentally, David Hamilton - the brother of my English teacher (Mrs. Van Opedenbosh) at West Hill Collegiate - was a tenant in the ashram room right next door and he can attest to Rosie's residency on the 6th floor as well.
Also, it should be noted that David Hamilton - who was a student at U of T - purchased one of my abstract expressionist paintings.
In fact, my original art works are in private collections around the country.
The Vancouver Sun wrote a feature on me when I exhibited my "Graffiti" paintings at the gallery owned by Nelson Skalbania.
The profile features a publicity still of me posing in front of two of my creations. So, those who are interested in reviewing my work, have only to peruse the archives at the daily newspaper on the West Coast in B.C.
So there, bozo!
After spreading despicable lies, and totally misrepresenting the facts, Wolf was inclined to take one last swipe.
Although he admitted he never read any of my posts on my blog – “The Tattler’ – he somehow found “grounds” to attack my skills as a writer.
In so many words, he spouted off, in his book, that I needed to discover the paragraph (and inferred that my skills as a writer were amateurish).
Again, he failed to research my background, to determine the true facts.
For instance, I was published by Coach House Press when I was a lad of 17 (during my stint at Rochdale College).
In addition, the CBC broadcast -“Cottage Cheese” - short story I penned when I was residing on Vine Street in Toronto and attending Humberside Collegiate (which was well-received by their listening audience).
In 1982, I was a regular columnist (a recognized journalist) for the Province Newspaper (Southam News) in Vancouver (B.C.).
Today, I am also expected in show-biz circles in my capacity as a Film Critic.
Not to toot my own horn, though, Wolf!
I am just setting the record straight so your lies may be held up to close scrutiny – and for all the civilized world – to scoff at!
In the final analysis, Wolf – you’re a despicable human being - who should be avoided like the plague.
Thank you to the unknown stranger, by the way, who posted this observation on the Facebook site to set the record straight in my defense.
“Don Holyoak was a sweet 17 year old kid in Rochdale and Reg Hartt is an expert on cinema who showed films that were unavailable until the advent of home video. Both men contributed to Rochdale, and never did any harm.”
As to all the other hogwash “Lone Wolf” slung in respect to Rochdale, and a handful of the celebrated residents, I am not prepared (or inclined) to offer up any defense on their behalf.
At 17, I was essentially a dreamer, who soared to great artistic heights, totally unaffected in a fantasy world of my own choosing.
In the final analysis?
I was simply an artist, with my head in the clouds - who cared little about politics or the alleged shortcomings of institutions (or social butterflies flitting this way 'n that for whatever reason) - bitter cynical losers have always been inclined to run into the ground without rhyme or reason.
In sum, Rochdale was a special moment in my life - and no asshole (especially not one with all the personality, charm, and intelligence of a worm) will ever be able to take that away from me (or the delightful few who I crossed paths with in that era who deserved a kinder gentler assessment from the “Lone Wolf”).
The little "Mother" of Science Fiction!