What have you
And who are you now?
I guess it's all right now to say that more
than once, LSD inspired us. — Don Gardner
Co-founder of KPFT Radio
For almost ten years Pam Murfin and I
have lived on an isolated, worked-out
Big Thicket farm. Our lives are so different now from what they were in
It is delightful that I am remembered by some in Houston, and it's been
fun trying to organize a few sentences
that paint a picture of the last decade.
1970 was not just another year for me;
on the contrary, it was filled with intense drama. Three events stand out and
they are connected by the type of coincidence my friend Peyton Bryan calls
luck or God.
But let me digress to 1968, when
Larry Lee talked me into leaving a job
as a reporter at the San Antonio Light.
With $4,000 donated by Jubal Parten,
we opened a development office at
1200 Bissonnet for the Pacifica Foundation. We were the only employees for a
year and a half as we gathered friends
and volunteers around us and raised
$86,000 for a people's radio station, a
free and open voice, in the toughest city
in the South. We thought we were doing
the most important work in the world.
My mind floods with memories of those
difficult years. We were harassed by the
KKK and government agent provocateurs
every step of the way.
At least three times Larry and I were
faced with the decision of whether or
not to give up: we no longer had money
to pay ourselves, the project looked at
deadends, and we were always tired.
I guess it's all right now to say that,
more than once, LSD sessions helped
inspire us to the challenge.
There were many who stuck with us,
and fed us, and without them there
would never have been a KPFT.
My first dramatic event of 1970
occurred on March 1, at about 7:30 p.m.
If you had your FM radio tuned to 90.1
you heard the Beatles' "Here Comes the
Sun" vibrating from a previously silent
channel. KPFT was born that night.
One month later a woman I had
never seen before walked into the station
asking to see Don Gardner. She was one
of Houston's first environmental activists and she had a story she couldn't
get anyone else to listen to.
We fell in love right there. Our lives
were joined and surely no one could
have imagined we would still be together,
but we are.
A couple of weeks after Pam and I
met, KPFT's transmitter was dynamited
and destroyed by the Klan. The first
bombing (there were two) was a godsend. It gave us a chance to regroup.
But there was more trouble. Internal
bickerings, a severe ulcer, and fatigue
were reason enough for me to split the
scene once we were back on the air.
I was also under felony indictment
for refusing the draft and we were preparing to run from the Feds if necessary.
Pam and I wanted to get out of the
city, get out of politics, and try to build
a simpler life together. After driving over
the southern U.S. hunting "the right
place," we found it one muggy August,
1970, day in San Jacinto County on the
Trinity River. We now call it Goose Summer Farm and it is one of the most
beautiful spots in southeast Texas. It is
home, and, if I may borrow a label from
the native Americans, we have come in
touch with the Great Spirit here.
One is not necessarily more sane because one lives in the country. For five
years we lived somewhat like hermits.
This kind of life requires that you look
at yourself with unceasing honesty, again
and again. There were some very dark
times, but every breakthrough requires
a preceding crisis. Out of nothingness
was born a new faith in nature as God.
A faith that nature is and always will
be; acceptance that what is, is.
Our particular development led us to
Zen, an ancient philosophy close to our
own. Currently raging within the Zen
community in the U.S. is a debate over
whether or not Zen Buddhists should be
involved in politics, in public issues. We
found we could not not get involved in
certain issues that seem to affect us so
directly. It boils down to accepting
We had had our time of looking inward and now we began to expand.
Our search for the laws of nature led us
to cast off our prejudices against children.
After the tragic death of our first baby,
we are now privileged to be caring for
two beautiful daughters, three year old
Dawn Rivamist and baby Aurora Leah.
Both girls were born here on the farm.
We have, in addition to raising children, become active in certain local issues,
on one hand, and in certain planetary
issues, on the other. I do not view politics as I did in 1970. I believe that hearts
must change before minds will change.
For us, whether or not to be involved in
politics is not a matter of choice. A bell
that has been rung cannot be unrung.
Once you see, you cannot unsee.
Four planetary issues immediately
come to mind as important now and
tomorrow: an end to the release of
toxic/genetic chemicals into the environment, women's rights, feeding the world's
hungry, and the complete dismantling
of all nuclear technology.
Life on a simple day to day, person
to person level is so rich and full. I am,
however, deeply concerned about this
spectre of nuclear holocaust that hangs
over our daily lives.
I bumped into an old colleague in a
Houston health food store recently and
she wanted to know what I thought
about the city after all these years. All
I could think was, good luck to you all.