Years ago I was involved with a woman who was friends with Camella Grace. Camella worked for a video company called RetinaLogic, whose most famous client was the late Timothy Leary. One day out of the blue, I’m told that Camella is coming to Seattle for a visit, and was it OK for her to stay with us in my house. I said sure, and then learned Camella would be bringing her boyfriend Sean. Sean Lennon.
When I got home from work one night, I learned Camella and Sean had arrived and were downstairs. When they came upstairs, Sean started talking to me about peanut butter. They stayed a day or two, and I took them to Boeing Surplus, for some Seattle “color”.
Some months later Sean was kind enough to return the favor. We were invited to stay with him and Camella in New York. Sean had a wonderful loft in the village, with the twin towers in view. Inside his loft was a stairway that led to his open sleeping area. On the wall next to the stairway was a poster. The typography caught my eye, and I realized it was the original poster his father John had used as the basis of the song Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite! Indeed, the poster is remarkable enough to warrant a website of its own.
Sean and Camella had a party on one of the days we were there.
Strangely, this is the only photo I have that was taken during my stay…
I remember the movie 2001 was playing on a big TV and Sean’s mother called him in the midst of the festivities. We went to the roof above his loft and I marveled at the gridlock of Manhattan at rush hour. All in all it was a wonderful time, and I could see how warm and charming Sean really was. This all took place about 1995 or 1996, so I would have been 33 or 34, while Sean was only about 20 or 21. I could still relate to him well, despite the age difference. I attributed this to his “worldly” upbringing.
Time passed, and with it, the inevitable dissolution of relationships. Sean and Camella broke up. Camella had moved out of Sean’s place in New York and was now living in LA. She was assisting Timothy Leary by putting his papers online. Today this sounds fairly prosaic, but in 1996 it was still rather cutting edge. Camella invited us to visit her in LA.
I’m pretty sure this photo is of Camella, sitting in Leary’s motorized wheelchair.
Camella had a very nice apartment in Hollywood, about a block off of Sunset. I seem to remember it was near some huge and famous guitar shop. As we settled in as guests, I began to look through Camella’s library. At the risk of sounding sexist, a lot of her books seemed to be the things that men would own and read. Lots of heavy history and non-fiction. One book stood out; a first edition paperback copy of Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book. I understood that first editions of this book were quite rare, and thus valuable. I instinctively picked it up and looked at it. On the inside page was a hand written note that read ” To John and Yoko; your album “Two Virgins” motivated me to write this book – Abbie”. Well now! Here we had something that might be valuable on the order of Sean’s poster!
I asked Camella about the book and got a strangely oblique answer; “It was part of the settlement” or something like that. Huh, I was under the impression that Yoko had intervened and had asked Camella to pack her bags and leave… But that was based on hearsay, so I don’t honestly know. I doubted there was any “settlement”, and I simply assumed the book had been taken from Sean. I got a feeling, though, that Camella simply didn’t venerate this book as I did. I cannot deny that I secretly hoped that Camella might give me the book when we departed for Seattle. I was making no secret that I was twitterpated by the book, and I casually “left it out”. I knew deep down though, that it was probably stolen from Sean, and that as much as I might want it, the moral thing would be to return it to him.
Enter Page Hamilton, lead singer of Helmet. He was in LA for something or another, and he knew Camella. We all went out one night and hung out. Page impressed me as being a very smart guy, as most of the rock stars I’ve met are kind of dopey. Page and I got along well, and when Helmet performed in Seattle sometime later, I was able to hang out some more. I understand that Page was married at this time.
By this time, I was getting a subtle vibe that Camella was something of a “star fucker”, by the way she was paying attention to Page. Having been a performer myself , I was familiar with the signs and symptoms of that. Eventually we all go back to Camella’s apartment. I had left Hoffman’s book out. Hamilton, being a literate kind of guy, notices the book as I did. He picks it up and begins to look through it. But he’s not as excited by it as I was. I think you know what happens next; she gives the book to Page…
I still wonder if Page has that book….