Tuesday, May 17, 2011


As one of the last of the psychedelic movers and shakers that helped shape the 1960's and beyond, it's a bit strange that Wavy Gravy has never had his own full-length documentary before now. Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Story ends the long wait for fans of the '60's icon and is an inspiring tribute to one of the most colorful, witty and deeply spiritual characters of his generation.

Ten years in the making, the film, directed by Michelle Esrick, traces the arc of Wavy Gravy's life, from his humble beginnings as beat poet/spoken word performance artist Hugh Romney, to his eventual emergence as a countercultural icon and tireless force for good in the world.

Some people take acid and make great art, others take acid and go certifiably insane. After falling in with Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters, Hugh Romney took acid and soon discovered he could get even higher by helping those who need it the most. And for the last four decades he's done exactly that.

From sharing a room with Bob Dylan, to helping feed the masses at Woodstock, to crossing the Khyber Pass on the roof of a bus on the way to feed flood-ravaged people in Bangladesh, to his current status as countercultural elder statesman and hippie Dumbledore at his own performing arts camp for kids, Wavy Gravy's story is a rambling psychedelic epic like no other.

And after being at the crossroads of some of the most pivotal events of his generation, the man himself remains quite humble and down to earth, with a seemingly unassailable optimism that's increasingly rare in this cynical age.

Esrick does a great job in maintaining just the right distance from her subject and sketching her portrait from many different sources. Featuring lots of archival footage and interviews with family and friends ranging from Jackson Browne, Ram Dass and Buffy Sainte-Marie, as well as Wavy Gravy himself, the film is fascinating viewing for all students of the Sixties, and those devoted to putting their good where it does the most.

Review by Dave Paiz, Loft Cinema Facilities Manager and host of "Bat Country Radio" Saturdays from 2-4 a.m. on 91.3 FM KXCI.

SAINT MISBEHAVIN': THE WAVY GRAVY MOVIE plays Tuesday, May 17th at 7:30PM at The Loft Cinema.

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