Here I am toasting Reading In The Rain, a six week county-wide reading project wherein everyone within shouting distance of the Big Wakonda Auga will be reading Kesey's Sometimes A Great Notion.

Reading in the Rain is the perfect thing to do to recognize Kesey's greatness as a writer. The words will rise up into the sky from hundreds of readers. Kesey will enjoy it. His bus will be appearing all over town with the Pranksters whooping up the event, celebrating Kesey's greatness as a performing person of the people. That will make Kesey laugh."

Reading in the Rain is going on all over the country. I've received emails from Oklahoma, Wyoming and New Jersey saying they are reading Sometimes A Great Notion, too.

-- Ken Babbs

FEBRUARY 11, 2002

Along with the mayors of Eugene and Springfield and other illustrious notables like the Slug Queen, the governor and the Nike Swoosh, the pranksters will exhort the gathered masses to hoist the petard and hitch the trousers to a star else what's a reading project for? A six week endeavor climaxing with an April 1 and 2 showing of the movie of Notion at the same McDonald Theater with stops enroute at all the book stores and the library so gas up the bus, sharpen up the paint job, crank up the sound system, Further rumbles again.

Izzy Whetstine. "What, me read?"

Alan Saporin from KLCC radio; the MC

Press conference was a roaring success, held in the lobby of the McDonald theater, a very classy location. Everybody was supposed to hold their talks to three minutes so they put me on last, knowing I could not be contained but I fooled them by setting the timer on my watch for three minutes and finished before the alarm went off. In a joyous gesture of wild abandon I lit a smoke bomb hidden behind the lectern and disppeared in a red swirl of cascading color only to get drenched by the sprinkling system that gushed all over the mayors, the assembled press and TV reporters and the remainder of the notables gathered for the occasion. Oh me.

James Cunningham. He came up with the idea.

I told them Kesey's spirit was very much alive and he would apporve of the Reading In the Rain project becaus it cut across all personal agendas and everyone on every side of every coin could agree on one thing, much like the way we were all affected by the tremendous windstorm than knocked out evryone's power last Thursday. Equal before the forces of nature. No sides involved there.

One of the speakers at the press conference was Bev Smith, the U of O women's basketball coach. I thought she gave the best talk. She said where she grew up in rural Canada she didn't read in the rain she read in the snow. She said reading excites the imagination and you use your imagination to deal with the sworld. What you read goes into your mind and creates thoughts which come out as words which are transferred into actions and the actions control your destiny and that is the way you change the world.

-- This report filed by Ken Babbs

oh why, oh why can't I be up in Oregon now. This Reading in the Rain business sounds great! I'm currently reading SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION for the first time, and I'm sucked up in it.

I just wanted to let you know that this Okie is envious. oh why, oh why the hell am I way out in Oklahoma?

ted vanderveldt,
envious okie and GREAT NOTION reader



The conference room, 2nd floor, getting started, setting up the microphones, mingling with the crowd, Babbs on the left, Phil Dietz on the right.

Yer host, almost wid dah most, K.B., introduces the troupe and they read from the numerous emails people wrote in about Kesey; many of them saying how Kesey changed their lives, through his writings and also from personal meetings.

The stage. George Walker on Left, Babbs in middle,
Claudia the kid, John Swan on right. Babbs starting right off reading from an email: "This is from a guy in Russia: Ten years ago I moved to Siberia to live and teach. I was a hippy and in the good sense, I still am though already fifty-two years old. I have made a good life here and rarely looked back. But today I am lost in nostalgia. I have been building my new bookshelves today and placed prominent on the top, my favorite book, Sometimes a Great Notion."

John Swan plays his guitar and reads in a singalong voice: "My clearest impression was of a burly bear of a man, strong yet gentle. He didn't act like somebig literary hotshot and was kind enough to give me a lift out to his farm where he told me to just make myself at home."

Izzie Whetstine: "We won't see those stubby fingers do sleight of hand or hear that raspy voice tell tall tales. He toughed our hearts, made us smile, wrote some damn fine stories and put on some really great shows."

"From New York, a short email: 'He was a hottie of the mindfields, an inspiration to the multitoods, a tootle for the noodle up there with Dr. Suess.' "

Zane films the whole durned thing while George is trying to get the amplifier working for his Axaphone.

George remembers a good email he just read: "Grand compassion. this allowded kesey to give the gift of a smile. I read Notion before they made the film and as an Englishman living in OIxford the message of strange liberation reached me across the Atlantic. It was an America I could love."

Simon just read a great email: "Kesey's making the good spirits laugh and has the bad spirits in a good natured lead-lock wrestling pin. Cosmo Captain at the wheel, flash of lightning, superheroes! It's in us to be superheroes!"

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