The Final Jumand, plus Witchy Wonders
|J. Robert Lennon||Feb 21|
Well, I’ve completed my digital transfer of the Noving Jumand recordings and returned the albums to the Friends of the Library. I’m told by Paul, my contact there, that his distraught patron is grateful. To be honest, the records were very musty and reeked of weed, so I’m content to have them off my hands. You can get a copy here of volumes 2(a) and 2(b).
I received another nice email from a reader, who had an interesting story about the organization under whose auspices Jumand was working, the Witch on Horseback Institute for Cognitive Salubrity.
Been enjoying the Jumand recordings, thank you! If you grew up in Tburg [the village of Trumansburg, New York, pop. 1661 -JRL] in the seventies and hung with a certain crowd in high school you probably heard these records a few times while stoned. Anyway, I have some information for you about the Witches on Horses [sic] Institute, sorry if you already know this.
The “Institute” was this little storefront by the creek on rte. 96, same building Gimme Coffee is in now. It was run by this lady who seemed old to us at the time but I guess she was in her late thirties. We thought of her as kind of a burnout (she sold us the pot) but she had an inheritance and owned the building. Her name was, I swear, Jules Rainbo. The place was kind of a new age information center, with pamphlets and short-run books, plus some poetry and nudist magazines…my boyfriend and his friends would go in there and try to steal those until she started stashing them under the counter.
Jules’s mom owned a few acres in Covert, where she kept horses, and Jules and some of her disciples (not any of us, but my one friend’s big sister was one of them) used to drive up there and ride around naked on the horses doing wicca stuff and singing folk songs. So that’s where the name came from. For a while Jules had this boyfriend or maybe husband, an older guy called Chuck who’d worked up the street at the Moog factory, he had one of those big keyboards that was like a wall of knobs and wires, and he kept it at the Institute. He would play these spooky jams while people listened to stories and lectures and what have you. I saw a few of them and maybe Jumand was one of the speakers? All those old hippies kind of run together in my memory, to be honest with you. They had pulsing red lights on the ceiling and cushions all over the floor.
I think the factory moved to another part of the state, and Chuck left, but he never came back for the keyboard and Jules learned to play it. It might actually be her, not Chuck, that’s on those records. Her shop was the only place you could buy them. I know the guys who work with Kraftwerk, by the way, those were different guys! My brother was friends with them, they thought Jules and Chuck were freaks, but they were definitely around at the time.
Anyway, Jules died, sadly (not horse related), but she had a daughter (with Chuck??) younger than all of us, and now the daughter runs that shop in Dewitt Mall [in Ithaca] called Witchy Wonders, the one with the dreamcatchers and stuff. So, there you have it.
In other news, I’m now planning virtual book tour events with Graywolf that will take place throughout the spring. I’d been hoping for an in-person tour, but the pandemic has not cooperated. Starting next week, I’ll be including a section at the bottom of the newsletter for upcoming events, and I’ll put them on jrobertlennon.com as well. The events will feature me in conversation with other writers, so each one will be different. Come to them all! I will try to be entertaining sartorially as well as literarily.
A couple of recommendations: the writer Matt Bell has a good newsletter, full of craft advice and writing exercises. Also, I recently wrote the libretto for an opera based on the Chris Marker film La Jetée. (Performances of this opera got coronavirused along with everything else, but it has been written and will be staged, stay tuned!) The composer, my friend Seth Boustead, has a podcast about contemporary classical music that you might enjoy.
More next week—