More Waldo Culture for Outsiders...the Brotherhood of Waldos
There is more to the Waldos than just the beginnings of the catchphrase ‘four twenty’.
The Waldos were on a consistent humor plane 24/7. Their comedy antennas were up all of the time ... each creating or observing comedy individually and taking it back to the group, and also creating comedy together as a group.
The Cornerstone— the Essence of Waldodom...Waldo culture—is their comedic antics and private jokes in the form of slogans, imitations, catch phrases, and codes. ‘420’ code was the tip of the iceberg of Waldo culture... only one item of a much larger body of humor vocabulary. (It cannot be overemphasized that ‘420’ was viewed/shared as a private ‘joke’ ...and always said with a smile.)
As much as 40% to 50% of all conversation within the group was comprised of comedic antics in the form of verbal Waldo catch phrases, slogans, imitations, physical impersonations, and codes. The main purpose of these was to amuse each other, but also served to identify recurring types of people or situations...and quickly call their ridiculous bull.
The Waldos impersonations and catch phrases often functioned as the Waldos therapy. We dealt with numerous problems and issues simply by doing in-private impersonations of other people that were part of the problem. Or exaggerated comedic bits of our very own selves immersed in the problem. If you couldn’t or didn’t crystallize a comedic impersonation or catch phrase yourself, the other Waldos had your back and would dish it up for you... to help you laugh and relieve the tension of the problem. At times, some of the antics bordered on (satisfying but funny) primal scream therapy.
The Waldos were way too busy looking around the next corner for the next adventure, and too busy in the quest to crack up the other Waldos to wallow much in anger, self pity, jealously, etc.. They mocked and moved on to more mocking. (But they also may have been too busy with the humor to sometimes seriously tackle some other problems,... and the can was kicked down the road.)
One cannot understand all of the Waldo humor or perceptions without covering the source or origination stories of some of the jokes/antics/catch phrases. These are covered in a separate Waldo dictionary, and must really be accented in stories personally told by the Waldos. But even without stories of catchphrase origin being revealed, extended friends outside of the Waldo core group would sometimes discover and latch onto Waldo shtick, which can be extremely catchy even without any context. Just the ‘sound’ ... the very wild vocal intonations or histrionics that went with the sound, and the opportunity to go unbridled with it, was enough for it to catch on.
Beloved Physical Locations
The Waldos had an inventory of scenic-spectacular places to regularly congregate. Mostly all were physically high-ground points with knockout redwood forested, mountain, or coastal views. They would congregate at these places to smoke out ‘420’ and relish the scenery, as launch points for hikes, or to share personal issues. In those 1970’s moments then and there, they truly ‘got it’ ...they understood how extraordinarily beautiful these places were and how special it was to be able to share them. And in-the-moment, the Waldos were totally stoked-vocal appreciative about it.
Some special spots included: Golden Gate Bunker Overlooks, Top of Mt Tam, Muir Beach Overlook, 360-420, Alpine Lake Overlook, Stinson Overlook, Dominican Gold Grade, Alpine Dam, Cataract Falls, Ridge over Spirit Rock, The Woodacre Camelback.
The Statue of Louis Pasteur (origin of the 420 story) was on the San Rafael High School campus and therefore was not really a cannabis safe place to spend a lot of time. It was not a hang-around hangout spot. It was never up-on-the-mountain spiritual. Louis Pasteur statue congregation would be for a very quick smoke, or a quick meet to go look for the Pt. Reyes cannabis catch, or a meeting place to go to some other safer less-bustable smoking place.
The Waldos hung out on ‘the wall’ and were named after the wall —a ledge in the center of the San Rafael HS campus but ONLY during school hours, between classes, when they were supposed to be at school.
The Waldos did not hang out for long anywhere; they did not kill time and there was never a lack of things to do. There was always an agenda and always a mission to complete, fueled by 70s art culture, insatiable curiosity, and primary safari scout Steve’s (or Dave’s) new mission goals/assignments.
The Enemy and Danger of the Times
Marijuana was illegal, and the consequences were very real. Smoking, transporting, selling, buying, hiding and communicating about marijuana were all secretive, and a lot of energy went into it. The air was charged with danger and lookouts were needed. At any sudden moment you might have to run from the law or authority, or use your wits to quickly outsmart. Quite often, real adrenaline flowed. The Waldos were a Brotherhood of (cannabis) Outlaws...a team of Comedic Desperados, and every time they successfully evaded or wittingly escaped together, the brotherhood/bonds grew stronger. The prospect of getting busted had even higher stakes with Waldo Jeff whose father was a high level narcotics police officer.
The Waldos didn’t always have rolling papers or manufactured smoking pipes... and sometimes had to be inventive to figure out new ways to fabricate a pipe to smoke. Each successful team-effort... McGuivered or Gillian’s Island-primitive smoking device...was an eternal bond of the Waldos. There were Coke can pipes, orange and watermelon pipes, toilet roll pipes, and more.
Sharing of the Music
All of of the Waldos had great appreciation for all of the same music ... music of the 70’s and 60’s. (Not just all of the music of the 60’s and 70’s, but our music of the 60’s and 70’s!!! ) It punctuated every single auto trip. In the 70’s moments they knew how exquisite the quality and variety was—and were stoked-vocal appreciative about it. The music of the times was certainly a Waldo bond.
The latest in auto music technology was the 8-track cassette machine that had four separate channels playing one album of songs simultaneously... which you could toggle among. Music was affordable. With all of the Waldos buying and sharing music on a regular basis, and their brothers buying and sharing music with all of the Waldos on a regular basis, life was rich with sound. Moods were set. For instance, first heading out on a new exciting Waldo Safari adventure would be accompanied by more energetic upbeat music. At the end of a long evening, and a hell of a lot of pot, driving around in a barely-lit smokey car was often accompanied by softer and slower music (ex. something like Grateful Dead’s Jack Straw, or Pink Floyd’s Us and Them). And, all the country rock had us identifying as (comedic) cosmic cowboys.
The Soul of the Soul Handshake
To understand the feeling of brotherhood in the times (70’s), it is necessary to zero in on the soul handshake. Up until the counterculture beginnings in the late 60’s there was one and only one handshake, the standard traditional business handshake. This traditional straight-forward type handshake was frequently (and often still is) a cordial obligation...and not always gesture of true friendship or a meeting of the minds.
In the late 60’s and early 70’s a different handshake took over among people who were all on outside-of-the-norm alternative paths; the angled-hand soul shake. It was a one part-one action handshake....hand extending forward with fingertips pointing toward a 10:00 o’clock position. The thumb was spread away from the rest of the fingers. The hand was rounded, and the thumb and index finger formed a wide open letter C.
The angled handshake sparked instant friendship with strangers, telegraphed a greater willingness to share, and was a mutual recognition of a brotherhood of counterculture participants. You were suddenly on the same side in an us-versus-them world. The handshake connected souls and hearts. This was something more rich than the dutiful phoniness of many traditional business style handshakes.
The Waldos offered up soul shakes to each other almost daily, for numerous reasons.
Individual Waldo Profiles/background
Six foot four Waldo Dave would have to be given credit as the comedic leader of the Waldos. His impersonations were the fastest and most frequent. With great vocal and physical range, he had the uncanny personality to define and capture the essence of a personality and/or their facial mask. Although the other Waldos came up with their own impersonations of other people, Dave’s large body of work was most often copied by other guys. His impressions led to many standard Waldo catch phrases. And Dave was always witty with strangers.
Dave could do imitations of celebrities, but what he REALLY did was imitations of you, your boss, ex boss, mother, father, brother, landlord, wife, girlfriend, ex girlfriend, teacher, co-worker, neighbor, roommate, etc. His imitation of a person is particularly enjoyable when you happen to be mad at, or have a conflict with that person. Sometimes they are a voice impression, sometimes they are just a facial contortion (like Jim Carrey would do.) And sometimes they get really out of hand. Dave wants to be sure that when he dies, the Waldos will have him frozen in a block of lemonade.
Dave had four brothers, all heavily influenced by hippie culture. They were brothers from a military family that lost their father quite young, and some before they were even born. There were difficulties with a subsequent retired military career alcoholic stepfather, but the 60’s-70’s culture of the times helped provide escapes. Daves brother Patrick happened to be a good friend of of Grateful Dead Bassist Phil Lesh, and managed some of his musical side ventures. Dave was hired as a roadie for Lesh’s bands Too Loose to Truck, and the Seastones, and smoked out with rock celebs such as David Crosby, using the term 420 and spreading it around the music world.
Waldo Steve had quite good vocal range for impersonations and came up with originals, but also played comedically in other ways; there was an output flow of cerebral comedic non sequiturs (unexpectedly tripping out off-guard people with Zippy the Pinhead like combinations). A voracious student of one-liner joke books, and worshiper of nightly Johnny Carson monologues, he held a large mental inventory of jokes and patiently waited for just the right moment in life’s situations to drop them. Other Waldos copied usage of one-liner favorites. Occasionally at unexpected moments, Steve revealed some interesting props. Steve’s specialty imitation appreciated most by the Waldos, that nobody else could replicate, was his impersonation of Cousin It from the Addams Family.
Steve was the primary Scout for new out-of-the- box Safari outings/adventures. As the forward observer of the group, he mockingly claimed to be “on the forefront, ...of stupidity”. Ninja like, at times he quietly and magically disappears and reappears to the Waldos. (At times it was to go off and scout a new adventure for the Waldos, but also for other reasons.)
Steve had two brothers also influenced by hippie culture. He was from a driven Jewish family, with parents who were straight themselves but very liberal minded about other people’s lifestyle choices. The father was a businessman garment manufacturer... and if you came home stoned he would never mention it, talk to you about it or reprimand you...he would just be sure to make you a sandwich. His mother was a homemaker and a wildlife/animal educator for the schools, constantly bringing back alligators, monkeys, tarantulas, goats, etc. to the family home. She was also an accomplished matchmaker, and had lots of gay friends.
Waldo Mark (aka the Grav, aka the Mayor, aka The Father) was a witty equal opportunity kidder. Mark approaches everyone for a round of kidding and all are somehow disarmed and open to him. His superpower is that he has the ability to make new and instant friends with anybody; regardless of fame, power, poverty, race, gender, age, profession, class distinction, intellectual capabilities and education, of lack of education, etc., he walks right up to people without trepidation and the joking chatter begins. There are no filters... he even approaches and clicks well with scary-looking people that all others would consider dangerous and be sure to avoid....and they all warm up to him. His uncanny ability to make instant friends with security guards opened blockages and barriers to entry for the Waldos.
Sometimes called the ‘Father’ because he’s often trying to dish out advice to the other Waldos, which they completely ignore. Also called the Mayor because he ends up knowing somebody almost anywhere you travel, and they all know him. Marks hair...a Jewfro.
Mark had thee sisters all uninfluenced by hippie culture. His dad named ‘Hy’, short for Herman, was totally straight himself but thought that hippie culture was all very cool. Mellow, a non disciplinarian, all smiles, and always smoking a tobacco pipe, he was a real estate broker that took care of Grateful Dead organization real estate needs. He got Waldos onto backstage guest lists to Dead shows and took the Waldos to the shows...went himself. And got Mark sitting jobs for houses and pets while the bands were out on tour. Mark’s mom was a well known painter of Northern California Coastal landscapes.
Waldo Larry had good vocal range for impersonations and came up with originals, but he seemed to lean more to ‘antics’— fake accidents, yelping dogs, Waldo Lobster locks, fake illness, fake fights, and other sudden unexpected outbursts of deviousness. He would throw rocks at the wrong times and places. Larry was also witty with strangers.
Leave it to Larry. He lives in the most perfect Leave it to Beaver looking home—so perfect that you cannot go anywhere near the house without hearing the Leave it to Beaver theme song in your head, or start to hum it. Leave it to Larry has one exception...he’s always sneaking out onto the roof outside the bedroom window to get high. When he gets too high he is afraid of late-night street sweepers. Larry wears a curly fro, like Mark.
Larry also has three sisters all uninfluenced by hippie culture. His dad owns a furniture store in town. Mother is a homemaker, and the Waldos always enjoy Waldo Dave’s impersonation of Larry’s mother answering the phone (when you are very stoned and try and call the house to reach Larry.). The Waldos also liked to joke that Larry’s girlfriend was “a beauty”....“she has hair down to her waist,....coming from her upper lip.” At one point, the Leave it to Beaver life veered when his folks got a divorce...which were rare at the time.
Waldo Jeff, less distinct comedically, was totally in on every Waldo joke. Always a willing participant in Safari adventures, he was a key payer in the ‘Mission Impossible Comedic Team’ because there was more than a fun-vibe-on-steroids Waldos persona going on at the time. Waldos culture blossomed in the early 70s—an era heavily steeped in government/law enforcement drug suppression. Cannabis use was much more secret and furtive, and continuous activities of concealing, purchasing, and transporting weed were steeped in paranoia. A fear of high-stakes bust made life more stressful, but at the same time, it created a hyper-charged air that made life exciting. Sharing the (paranoia) predicament and a daily partnership in evading the forces of drug suppression created a bond-a brotherhood of outlaws in 70’s garb. Jeff’s watchful eye, with a family knowledge of the drug suppression business allowed the Waldos to outsmart cops most of the time.
Jeff had one older brother, and three sisters uninfluenced by hippie culture. Jeff’s mother was a very sweet homemaker. Ironically, Waldo Jeff’s father was a cop—a high level narcotics officer. He would park his car in the family home garage each evening with a day’s bounty of drug bust... a convenient rare pinch for Waldo Jeff and friends whenever they could borrow the trunk key.
Well behaved and respectful to all adults, Jeff served as a high school football team manager. Jeff was also the (handsome teen idol) David Cassidy of the Waldos and the Casanova of the Waldos.
In an era without cellphones when it was not so easy to locate each other when separated, Jeff could emote the loud high-pitched locater noise heard over distances and above crowds.
Jeff had various nicknames such as The Whistler, The Mumbler, and most often called The Doctor because... his ramblings would go on and on as “he knows a little bit about everything...and a lot about nothing.”
He is always extremely agreeable...he would even agree that a shit sandwich is delicious.
Copyright Waldos, LLC 2019