Lenny Jarvis, once known throughout Northern California music circles as ''Mr. Everything'', was a tragic Holderlin figure whose triumphant descent from the hills of the suburban East Bay into the heart of San Francisco haute culture was followed by a descent of a different sort; ie. into disillusionment and despair. He was among the young vanguard of countercultural free spirits that not only provided fodder from East Bay high schools for San Francisco's Summer of Love in 1967 (in Lenny's hard-bitten corner of west Conta Costa County, this period was known as ''The Night Al Camus Came To Dinner''), but also played pied piper to legions of impressionable teenagers aspiring to something other than mild climate and fast foods, which, for most unfortunately turned out to be sex, drugs and rock-n-roll.
In the 1980s no one in the Bay Area held a cocktail conversation without mimicing some element of Lenny's style. Men admired him, children and dogs implored at his cuffs and sleeves, waitresses fought to breathe his second-hand smoke. On stage at the keyboards, the suave, simmering volcano ever present beneath the bearded eyes, dancing as they worked the room, the cigarette dangling just so, the left knee pumping, the gin and tonic teetering on the edge of a steaming amp, the perfect sweat stains under the rayon-shirted armpits, go go go go! Au! Aauu!
At his peak, he was indeed ''Mr. Everything''. His romantic south-of-the-border ballad ''Margaret'' paved the way for later crossover efforts by Linda Rondstadt and Ry Cooder. Popularity, artistic success, love, budding family, nice tan - a finger pop, and the world was his. But inexplicably, a dark weltschmerz lurked at the bottom of his being like one of those poisonous fish you step on in Mexico off some white sand beach.
The whispers and cruel jokes began to circulate; he had become ''Mr. Something'', then less and less, as the mysterious spiky bulb of pain grabbed him from the inside and foamed and grew and spun him once, twice, three times and more, until his friends could only watch helplessly as he wandered dizzily off the road to Oz, off down a slippery slope into a pit of debauchery the likes of which no soul escapes with mind and body intact.
musicianship, previously bad, but vibrantly so, succumbed to an apathy
of the spirit; one memorable evening he embarrassed the band and indeed
the entire house during a hot blues number by blowing a harmonica solo
through the wrong end of his instrument. His day gigs encountered
a similar gradual downward spiral, from owner of a successful tile business
to groutmaster, then to raisin sorter, then to numerous unmentionable positions
of abject servility, to window tester, to toast butterer, to toast
butterer's helper, and so on. Today, Lenny stays in a friend's tree
house in Port Costa, California, mostly dozing, waking periodically to
sip from his bowl of wine or take another fix, perhaps chuckling at what
must now seem as if it never was, perhaps charming a resident bark beetle
or a stray red-winged blackbird, before falling back into sleep's
sweet rescue. Sleep tight, Mr. Everything, and don't let the bedbugs
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