This is mainly about Phillip Wilson but there's a nifty Suzuki
story at the end. Thanks to Jonathan Green in Kentucky for
connecting me with Lloyd Kahn on this story. - dc
In 1954, [Richard] Zanuck and I and Phil Wilson drove a 20th Century
Fox Ford convertible down to Mazatlan. Zanuck and I were looking for surf,
and Phil came along.
Phil was an extremely powerful guy, and the Mexicans had never seen
anybody like him. Kids would come up to him on the street and ask to feel
his muscles. One kid in some small town said to him, Carlos Atlas! It was
a pretty good time in Phil's life, he was comfortable with himself, and he
was great with all the locals. A lot of laughs and good vibes.
It was Easter week and one afternoon we went into a Mazatlan waterfront
bar where there was a Norteņo band and a lot of nautical people, everyone
drinking and having a good time on a sunny afternoon. We got a beer and,
of course, everyone in the room noticed Phil. Pretty soon a pretty drunk
guy came over and challenged Phil to arm wrestle. Phil, who had never lost
an arm wrestling match, was brilliant. All the people in the room were
around the table. They locked hands and Phil started pushing the guy's arm
down; he got about halfway there, then got a worried look on his face, and
wham! - the Mexican slammed Phil's arm down. The place went wild. They
bought us beers all afternoon.
A year before that, Phil got knifed in the abdomen in a fight in Palm
Springs; the local guys were pissed because Zanuck had a local girl as
girlfriend, there was a party, the heaviest dude challenged Phil, and when
it was obvious he was outclassed (out powered), someone threw him a knife.
There's a very interesting account of Phil meeting Neal Cassady (complete
with pseudonyms) in Spit in the Ocean #6, in an article titled the day
after, written by Kesey.
Phil took me to the Zen Center in the early '60s. It was very small
then, but there was Suzuki Roshi. Phil told me that one morning he went to
Zazen after taking acid. After the session was over, he bowed to Suzuki
Roshi, who looked at him and said, I like to get my enlightenment bit by