Who Is Wavy Gravy?

detail of Rorshach painting –  photo for full shot

Maureen Owtlaw Rorschach painting
Maureen Owtlaw Rorschach painting

At the end of every painting class Maureen Outlaw folds up her disposable paper palette and creates a Rorschach painting. Sometimes they are quite beautiful like this weeks’ (shown above). They are always nicer than Wavy Gravy’s tie died t-shirts. That whole tie dyed thing is so tired looking I am always surprised to see it still around.

I had heard the name but really had no idea who Wavy Gravy was. He seems to have been everywhere in history and last night he and his fish named after the master graphic artist, Saul Bass, were sitting right behind us at the Little Theater for an advance screening of a new documentary about him and his lovely wife. She almost stole the show. The documentary was made by Odetta’s daughter and she was sitting next to Wavy.

The movie started with footage of Hugh Romney (his previous name) in the Village doing poetry readings with the big Beat names. He opened for the giants of jazz when they were still mostly unknown. He roomed with Dylan. He hung with Moondog, the Dead and the Merry Pranksters. He served free food at Woodstock along with members of the Hog Farm commune where he has lived for forty years. Seven of those years were spent on the road with the commune as they traveled across Eastern Europe and into Pakistan in buses.

He answered questions after the movie while wearing a red clown’s nose and that is really the best description of this guy, “a clown” in the most flattering use of the word. Ben and Jerry have named a flavor after him and he has joined their ranks in raising money for the most worthwhile charitable organizations.


2 Replies to “Who Is Wavy Gravy?”

  1. Hugh (Wavy Gravy) officiated at the reception of my 1st marriage. He had arrived in Santa Fe and was touring the plaza in an convertible with a huge Styrofoam cowboy hat, and my (now ex) wife and I were walking thru the plaza after having just gotten married at city hall. This was back when I was a long hair, peyote & ‘shroom eating hippie…when he saw us he yelled for us to head down to the Santa Fe River as the “Nobody For President” rally was about to begin. He & fellow hog farmers toured the country back then (in a bus, natch) during presidential election years and did political satire by throwing these rallies where “Nobody” ran for President, Nobody kissed the babies to win votes, Nobody made apple pie better than Mom, etc.

    Once we were there, and after the theater of it all, he learned we had just gotten hitched and so the gathering became an all night celebration. Wavy & I had a mutual friend in Red Dog, who ran the hippie Grapevine Answering Service off the plaza, and was also a member of the Hog Farm. There used to be a Hog Farm commune up near Dixon (south of Taos).

    He had just written a history of the Hog Farmers, which he gave me. He’s just one of the nicest Clowns one could meet.

  2. moondog slept in my bed once, on jackson street in bloomington. not with me in it tho…i was somewhere else.
    how did i know that moondog had been sleeping in my bed? because the next night, when i got into bed, it was all crusty and nasty. so i asked my room-mate about it, and he told me that moondog had played a show the night b4 and didnt have anywhere 2 sleep afterwards so he offered him my bed.

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