About the Cosmic Staffers Project: We are actively soliciting photos, fliers, and associated media concerning former staffers at the Cosmic Aeroplane. A host of talented writers, artists, performers, and entrepreneurs came and went through the back doors as the public thronged the front.
Jamie Gael: My Days at the Cosmic Aeroplane
The following article is very much about myself. It is the way that I see and remember my world. But as you will see if you read on, everything that I have to say about my life achievements and roles, were deeply affected by, and rooted in, the amazing concentration of unique people, free thinkers, open minds, and daring steps grouped at the radical Mecca that was Cosmic Aeroplane that launched all that was to come, for me.
Thanks, James R Gallegos, aka Jim Gallegos, aka Prydydd ap Donn, aka Jamie Gael.
I started at the Cos at the age of nineteen, in the summer of 1979.
I had just completed my first year in Theater in Cedar City, and was anxious to get back to my fiancee, and to make some extra money for partying. I heard by word of mouth that I should check with the Cosmic Aeroplane – a friend had heard that there might be an opening. So I went.
I had been there before, many times, and to the Blue Mouse Theater. It was a hippie stoner rock and rolling Dream. And, sure enough, in the downstairs headshop no less, there was a part time spot. I interviewed with Tony, and then also with Steve and Ken. They agreed that I had the “experience” needed, both from my past jobs, and my , uhm, personal pursuits (?). I was transfixed and transformed. I started right away. There, I met and became friends with Brad Collins. Tony, Brad, Ken and the bookstore manager, Jim Taylor: all were going to play profound roles in raising my horizons, and altering my adult life, much for the better.
I had grown up in rural Crescent, a now nonexistent area between Draper and Riverton. I lived right on the Jordan River on a sixteen acre working farm. But I had always been a precocious student, was already a skilled performing musician, and had finished my college entrance exams and the ACT in the top 2% of the nation for my grad year, ‘78. I was destined for more urban ideas.
Pagan occultism had already reached me, and I had found the Cos to be the Only reliable source of new editions of Occult books, and my selection and reading were very much watched over and guided by Jim, although it took me a year or so to understand what he was doing and why. In that arena, it turned out he was Far more advanced than I. He was one of the people that my life would Not have been the same without, he steered my away from sensationalism, and the silly pretend Darkness that dissatisfied youngsters are so good at.
In the meantime, Tony was introducing me to facts about the materiel and collected paraphernalia that surrounded the choices of the customers of the headshop. After a break-in period, I started being able to handle shifts alone. But a lot of times, it was Brad Collins and I down there by ourselves, killing time or helping customers. I had no idea then, that Brad would also be so influential to my future. In ‘79 and in ‘80, he tried very hard to introduce me to a New music and sound, well outside my experience of the musical universe, which focused almost totally on classical piano performance, and acid-rock, especially Black Sabbath (which met two fantasies at once), and Led Zeppelin (who, in Jimmy Page, were also rather occult times), all tied up with Pink Floyd.
But he wanted me to listen to these sparse, noisy records, cheap live recordings, they seemed to me; basement vinyl, no production at all. Raw. I didn’t yet appreciate it. It wasn’t until ‘81, when I finally went to my first Live Punk show, 45 Grave, that I FELT this new music.
I still Love Sabbath, Zep, and Pink Floyd, at least the albums during that period before deaths or personnel changes, but Live, Punk was a whole new cutting edge, and what I wanted to do on guitar and onstage was changed. Punk was a place I could Really be “Bad”, getting out my angers, my dark thoughts, my dissatisfactions, all in an environment that was “reasonably” safe, and where those expressions were the norm.
I joined a band my friends put together, called Avon Calling. I stayed until it broke up, after being invited to tour England with the Subhumans. We couldn’t go, and the ensuing tensions made our usual problems seem even worse, and we eventually disbanded after playing a storm of shows at the Indian Walk-In Center, where – guess who – Brad Collins was promoting the shows. He also opened Raunch Records, which still thrives.
Our most contemporary local bands were Maimed for Life (Aldine Strychnine) and Victims Willing ( Brad and Brent Barker). We three debuted at a frat house show together. We have all been friends ever since. Avon Calling and Maimed for Life played on the most historic punk show of local fame in 1984, at the Rock Against Reagan outdoor protest, to a crowd estimated to be between 1 and 2 thousand people, on the plaza in front of Abravanel Hall.
Blogmeister’s Note: The MC of Rock Against Reagan was Salt Lake radio legend Michael G. Kavanagh — prominent supporter of the Cosmic Aeroplane since 1967.
Read the whole issue online: Salt Lake Area Music (SLAM) Number Three
Avon Calling reformed for a reunion in 2012, and played Five shows with those old friends. Maimed for Life has been resurrected, and Victims Willing has been a local punk staple for thirty years. We have again, in 2012, shared stages, and continue to influence younger hard-core musicians.
On the Occult side, My reading from the fountain of information available to me there eventually led me to be one of Three Pagans to begin the First Public offering of the Eight Great Pagan Festivals, of Sabbats every year. At that time, American Witchcraft had taken the form of Wicca, a modernized British-American religion, based on the resurrection and flourishing of British Witchcraft begun primarily by Gerald Gardner, after the Laws against Burning Witches was repealed in England in 1951. That’s right, as shortly ago as 1950, you could Still legally be executed for Witchcraft in England. Things had come a long way in the thirty years since, spreading widely among the California Feminist Movement, and then to many, many others, to the point that recently, Congress approved the Pentacle as a fit grave marker for pagans buried at Arlington. Witches and Pagans also have won tax free status for their officially registered groups, under the same laws that protected our Dominant local denomination from further persecution. And so, on a Midsummer of Quickbeam Circle was formed here, and lasted for 14 years before the springing up of new groups , primarily from attendees of those public events. The Diversity of views, paths, Religions, and related Druidic, Shamanistic, Norse and Native American paths and lifeways grew to a point that Quickbeam was finally allowed to pass on. It has since multiplied into Uncountable working public and private Pagan groups of all types in our City. I personally was the first “real” witch to be interviewed but a Utah newspaper – the Ogden Standard Examiner.
This might read like an autobiography of my personal growth, but here we come to why I have submitted this short bit to the project – In my mind, I owe All of that – the reading, the heightened awareness of the effects of various substances, the deepening of my lifetime of Occultism and Pagan Leadership, a huge phase of my musical development, all to those two brief years at the Cosmic Aeroplane.
I have since gone on to having my own publishing company in the ‘90s, (New Renaissance Educational Resources); winning Best Piano in 1992 by the Private Eye annual reader write in; the Grand Prize in an International Poetry contest, which included publication; Three Children’s books, the best of which – “Young She and Grandmother Tree” – was purchased by Children’s Dance Theater, and seen by thousand of kids and parents in it’s run at Capitol Theater. It was then also presented at a Utah Arts Festival, as well as on a trip by said Dance company to London, where thousands more heard my story of environmental awareness, and the need for forest conservation, the Sacredness of the Trees.
I all, I hope that I have became a better person, and found my truest self during my time there. It was fun. All of it. And that’s not a candy coated reminiscence. The stories of how much my efforts, and the effects of Blue Boutique, Raunch Records, Smokey’s Records, New Renaissance, Ken Sanders Rare Book, and so many other that can trace their origins there in those pivotal years, are for others to tell. Thank you for your time, and Thank you Mike, for asking !!!
Jamie Gael performed a Farewell Concert on August 20, 2016
Jamie Gael has made plans to relocate to Europe, and is making his move.
Jamie originally posted this essay as a comment in Cosmic Staffers Project V.1 — This version is illustrated with photos supplied by the author, plus some re-digitized memorabilia from the SLC Punks Facebook page, marked with an asterisk.*