1944 - 2005
Photo 1 --> April 1968 ~ Rollover to--> January 1997
Norman Raichstat would definitely be placed into the "One of the Most Unforgettable Characters I Have Met" department. I knew "Normie" from the old neighborhood since I was in Junior High and he was part of our "tribe" throughout the sixties. One of the brightest guys around, he went all out experimenting with all the sixties had to offer.
I recall one crazy, blissful day during the 1967 Summer of Love. Norman and I were on a winding back country road in Woodstock, New York, standing up on the seats and periscoping through the sun roof of a VW bug. So there we were jettisoning like a wild mouse with Bobby Applebaum at the wheel singing Beatle tunes at the top of our ever loving lungs. We were quite ripped on acid this particular day, paying a visit to the great folk artist Clarence Schmidt.
Which reminds me of this poignant aside. Clarence was renown by this time in the seventh decade of his life. He had been featured in LIFE magazine for assembling an entire acre's worth of everyday junk and common household objects which he had cleverly re-fashioned and tacked onto the exterior of his home and garden. This assemblage was either perceived as en enormous eyesore by passers by or communally embraced and revered as "Folk Art." We chose his life's expression as something in between. Now Clarence was a dear old man and his art definitely made much more sense on psychedelics. The outcome of all this is that when he was seventy five or six a fire of unknown origin blew it all away. He went into a deep, deep depression but finally snapped out of it and declared he was starting all over again. Imagine...an entire lifetime's worth of work. At the time I recognized this beloved soul and his karma as epiphanic. A man's entire life's work and indeed his entire reason d'étre disappears right in front of him. Clarence's immobilizing depression and eventual ascension through rage and defiance has always made quite an impression on me. But back to Norman.
The last I've heard from Norm was when he visited San Francisco in the early Seventies. He was busy marketing homemade wooden frames for the then popular water-bed craze along with multi-faceted glass pieces you wore around your neck (see he's wearing one here) and put up to your eye to simulate psychedelic visions. I think these 'jewels' were actually discarded lampshade ornaments.
*Update... Norman was just seen in New York, is now married and is the proud father of a lovely daughter. He teaches Science at the High School level and is a professional artist.(If you didn't see the mouseover- here's what he looks like lately Jan. 1, 1997)