Rasa runs the Robert Anton Wilson Trust and also runs Hilaritas Press. In his earlier days, he was a rock musician, playing for a band called Sweet Smoke. He recently posted on Facebook about his rock music days:
"I played rhythm guitar and sitar for Sweet Smoke in the early 70's when the band was living in Germany, and touring in Holland, Germany and France. It was through Sweet Smoke that I met Marlis Jermutus, and through her, Robert Anton Wilson's European agent, Tom Sperlich, which eventually led to my friendship with RAW... but that's another story.
"Someone put this bootlegged audio from a Sweet Smoke concert in Heidelberg on YouTube years ago. I recently gave the recording to RAW aficionado Oz Fritz (read his essay in the new Lion of Light). Oz is a professional recording engineer, and he was gracious enough to fix up the audio quality. Oz called the tweaking he did, "sweetening." It's still a pretty rough recording, but much better than the original bootleg, which I imagine was from some fan sitting in the concert hall with a mic with a decent portable German tape recorder.
"If you want an audio engineer's perspective, check out the EMI album where we played some of the same songs as in this bootleg recording, only we had EMI's professional recording team: https://youtu.be/YUOdBF6luio
"I have a bit of sadness in posting this video, as dear friend and amazing guitarist, Marvin Kaminovitz died earlier this year. Marvin's stunning and inventive lead guitar playing shines throughout this recording."
The video Rasa refers to is above.
Am I the the only one who thinks it's funny that Rasa was in a band called Sweet Smoke, and he now lives in Weed, California?
On the town's website, officials explain, "The City of Weed, California is nestled at the base of Mount Shasta in the Cascade Mountains and half way between San Francisco and Portland. The community is surrounded by natural beauty, breathtaking vistas, and unmatched outdoor recreation. The City is a historic lumber town which has retained much of its early 1900's charm, while transitioning into a tourist destination."
From the New York Times: "For decades, the residents of Weed, a California lumber town an hour from the Oregon border, have felt like the butt of jokes, exasperated from the repetition of the Daily Explanation: No, the town is not named for marijuana but a local 19th-century timber baron, Abner Weed. For years, the town rejected proposals to leverage the name and allow the sale of marijuana."
The 2021 Times story explains that the town has finally embraced the tourist possibilities of the name: "When they see the signs for Weed, carloads of curious travelers veer off the freeway to stop and gawk. They file into gift shops that sell 'Weed Is So Dope' refrigerator magnets and sweatshirts advertising a fictional University of Weed: 'A Place of Higher Learning'.”