The 50th anniversary of iconic rock magazine Rolling Stone arrived in November, and the party was long and loud. Origin stories have festooned the magazine and its website; a coffee table book appeared in May; Joe Hagan’s biography of cofounder Jann Wenner, Sticky Fingers, was published in October; and an HBO documentary is scheduled for November. To keep things interesting, Wenner announced that he plans to sell his company’s stake in the magazine, prompting a round of retrospective articles in The New York Times and elsewhere.
I am a nudist by nature and an exhibitionist by inclination, so when streaking became a thing on college campuses, I was on the front lines. It was 1974, my second quarter at UC Berkeley. An 18-year-old free of parental oversight, I plunged headlong into whatever I felt like plunging into. By day I studied Marxist philosophy en route to a degree in political science, but the night belonged to cheap booze, Afghan hash, and windowpane LSD.
Richard Pryor was snoozing, draped across the back seat of a car driven by an erudite, bespectacled white man named Alan Farley. It was February of 1971 and Pryor was fleeing Los Angeles, trailing personal and professional casualties: three children with three different women, a few high-profile onstage breakdowns, two parents recently deceased, a flop debut album, and one angry manager who quit after Pryor pistol-whipped him in a tiff over money.