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Captain Beefheart and his magic band of tubers td Mon Jan 1 11:23:25 2007
This appeared in my email today. "Don" is Don Van Vliet, better known as Captain Beefheart.

FROM: Rene Gemme

Don came to spend a couple days with me at my place ... as usual, he popped some street acid someone gave him ... he wanted something to drink. I reminded him he left his orange juice and various alcoholic drinks in the fridge ... so he wandered into the kitchen, didn't turn on the light because he claimed acid made it possible for him to see in the dark -- like a cat. I could hear him opening cupboard doors, looking for a drinking glass. As I was a bit buzzed on weed myself, it was too much of an effort to tell him which cupboard the glasses were in.

A couple of months earlier I went to a friend's big pot luck Thanksgiving Day bash and my task was to make a big, traditional based yam/sweet potato casserole dish ... I had bought a huge 15 pound bag of yams -- but of course couldn't possibly prepare all of them, so when I finished I put the remaining potatoes, in their net bag, up in the cupboard. I was seldom home then and forgot about the unused pototoes.

Don found the potatoes when he opened the overhead cupboard they were in, while looking for a drinking glass. Any kind of tuber of the potato family, left in the dark for a couple of months, will grow long tendrils while seeking root space and/or sunlight, and that's what almost ten reminaing pounds of yams did, grew lots and lots of two to three-foot long tendrils. When Don opened the cupboard door in the dark, hundreds of long, thin white tendrils cascaded down on him. He let out a shriek like James Brown's opening volley in "I feel Good", but about an octave higher. Seonds later, he bolted out through the kitchen door, ashen, eyes the size of boiled eggs, still screaming and waving his arms franctically. Bits and pieces of severed yam tendrils were flying everywhere and hanging from his hair. A huge cluster had plastered itself to the front of his shirt, another hung from his pocket. He started flashing that he's been attacked by aliens hiding in my kitchen cabinet.

It took me two hours to get him calm enough to understand what happened. By then he was in a full blown "heart attack" mode, one of his frequent panic attacks. ... he had to be transported to the UCLA Medical Center at 4:30 AM where they were becoming well acquainted with him. "Back in town again, Mr. Vliet?" asked the intern/resident who had already dealt with Don on previous occasions. "What is it this time? Another heart attack? Or were you attacked by space aliens?"

"How the hell did he know?" Don asked me, absoutely stunned. "Is he psychic?"

Several times after that, when the topic came up, he asked me not to tell anyone that he'd been freaked out by a bag of yams. because, he explained, 'It's kind of embarrassing. You know what I mean?'