Proud to say I’ve known Steven-Paul Fortier for years, was even his drummer for a few weeks, and I would have played the Gong Show with him except cell phones weren’t invented. He had an incredible record collection, thousands and thousands of singles, and he’d frantically play them one after the other, raving. I remember he sold me a Ventures single at the Hollywood Record Swap meet. Walk Don’t Run. He told me about seeing the Ventures and something happened. Something always happened. I was there when he chased the daughter of the Ventura County district attorney up the stairs. She was half naked. He looked like Elvis Costello. I was drunker than I’ve ever been in my life. I’d see him everywhere, a character among characters, a poet, a punk, a freak, and a tri-county man. I’ve told many a Steven-Paul Fortier story over the years (indeed, I just did) and I just found the rubber snake he used to beat on the tambourine at Al’s Bar. It was with him when he was gonged. I ought to return it to him. I probably won’t. I’m still alive he told someone recently, up in San Francisco, and added the link to his latest film. The link didn’t work. But it didn’t matter. That wasn’t the point. Does there have to be a point? It’s a beatnik world, psychedelicized, full of words and music and California sun.
Ventura, CA (UPI) Steven Fortier came barefoot to his jaywalking hearing this week but he didn’t even make it through the swinging doors when the bailiff ordered him out. The county office demanded that he return wearing something more conservative than faded khaki shorts and an Indian poncho. The 27 year old barefoot poet returned Friday. This time he just wore shorts. “My skin is my clothes. My walking shorts is my address” he told Judge Robert Soares, explaining that he was an unemployed poet with $19 to pay the jaywalking fine. Judge Soares listened sympathetically to Fortier’s story then told the you, blonde-bearded writer to pen a poem or two rather than spend a couple nights in jail. Fortier later turned out three rambling odes, the shortest 86 words, in which he cried out for mercy from “narrow-headed, pea-brained judges who pass rulings on first sight…” The judge read the works to himself, paused, then rapped his gavel and declared “Case dismissed.” Fortier was a free man. (Seen online in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 22, 1973)
We all have our Frank Capra endings. This was his.