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Wavy Gravy uses music & humor to unite people to assist Seva in restoring sight

Updated: Jul 4, 2022

In January 2022 I did a post with the title:

This post introduced readers to the sight-saving, sight-restoring work of Seva in under-served parts of our shared planet. Use this link to their website to get a quick overview of their mission, philosophy and history. Included among the founding members were spiritual teacher Ram Dass, and Berkeley activists Wavy Gravy and his partner, Jahanara Romney. You can meet them in this fun and informative 19-minute video interview hosted by Seva's Director Kate Moynihan. It just so happens to include photos of some of the members of the Grateful Dead.

FYI - Bob Weir is listed on their Team page as both a lifetime board of directors member and an honorary founder, along with Steve Jobs. Bob also serves as a musical ambassador for Headcount - an organization that greets concert goers and encourages them to get registered and vote. Here's a 2020 post I did about this effort.

JOIN US: Eileen and I have supported Seva's healing work for years.

--Wavy's describes himself as a "chocolate head" as he tells the story of a 50th birthday gig held in his honor - a story that includes a bathtub filled with the sweet, brown delight and a scuba diver...

Introducing Wavy Gravy

--his song and its message are sure to open your heart to this compassionate human being. I found mention of a poem with this name in a 2009 chat on Internet Archive.

At the end of the post you'll find links to more Wavy Gravy.

I chose the above caption for this section for ME...SEE, prior to watching the "Conversations with Kate" video, while I'd heard Wavy's name, I didn't know anything about this preeminent clown and social activist - who, among his credentials includes being the emcee at Woodstock, the official clown for the Grateful Dead and having a Ben & Jerry's flavor named in his honor - as did Grateful Dead's leader via their Cherry Garcia - a sure cure for the after-show munchies.

Recent Board of Directors meeting with staff and board (can you find the clown?)

Early Board of Directors meeting, early 1980s (Ram Dass lower left, Wavy lower center)

Opening the Eyes of Children

Many Cambodia children do not have access to eye care services. Seva trains Cambodian doctors and provides infrastructure so that Cambodia can provide care to it's own citizens. (In 2014), over 70,000 children in Cambodia received eye examinations as a result of Seva's work. 1/2 of children who go blind in developing countries will die within the first year. By preventing and treating blindness, Seva provides opportunities for life to children around the world.

Celebrating Ram Dass: SEE Here Now

"When I got involved with Seva, it was like putting on an outfit that multiplied my capacity to be involved with the relief of suffering a thousand-fold. Because this group had such extraordinary diversity of skills and talents and preoccupations, if you will. And we were able at the same moment to do something that was sophisticated scientifically, and that was financially large-scale and responsible andat the same moment be involved with the individual human heart."

– Ram Dass: Seva co-founder

"This servant of God

Whose light burned bright on Maui

Now illuminates eternity"

– Wavy Gravy

Ram Dass: Healing Spiritual Blindness

My Ram Dass Testimony (short version) - In 1972, while at a critical juncture, I spent a weekend with Ram Dass, as I sat in my apartment and read his Be Here Now. Through the text and illustrations in the brown pages, he introduced me for the first time to a G-d of love in the person of Jesus...Here's a Hindu guru opening my Catholic eyes to a version of G-d I'd never met. See next image...Amazing!!!

When Monday came, I called my Dad and asked if I could see him. I had no idea what I was going to say but I KNEW I had to go. What happened at that encounter changed our rocky relationship. As we met, I looked at Dad, saying, "How come we've never been able to express our love for one another..." That's all I could get out and then hugged him. That first embrace was mostly one-sided but it created an opening for healing. A few months later he and I made a men's retreat and shortly afterwards, my Dad and Mom accompanied me in my '65 VW Bus, as we drove across the country to California, where I would begin the next leg of this adventure called life. Thanks, Ram Dass!!!

Let There Be Sight

--Video includes an actual cataract removal surgery.

--Turk Pipkin chronicles his journey into the Himalayas with a Seva medical team for a remote surgical eye camp in Nepal that restores the sight of blind people who've been carried across the mountains by their family members. The modern miracle of restoring sight to the blind is a moving testament to Seva's work to provide eyecare across the globe. Special thanks to Jackson Browne for the use of "Doctor My Eyes", courtesy of Open Window/Criterion Music. See song link further down the page.

Wavy - a Pied Piper Using Music to Connect People

These lyrics from "One More Saturday Night" and the meme seem to describe Wavy's raison d'être - use music and humor to gather people together to help fellow human beings in need:

"Then God way up in heaven, for whatever it was worth

Thought he'd have a big old party, thought he'd call it Planet Earth"

“Seva has done an incredible job all over the world helping people who really need it. I am proud to be one of the many who followed Wavy and his friends down this particular yellow brick road.”

--David Crosby

Singer / Songwriter


add selected lyrics

Viewers are greeted with (don't worry - a pie won't be thrown in your face...Hmm???):

Wavy Gravy is not your ordinary clown. He certainly has had a long run since his earlier days as a poet and stand-up comic, improvisational theater artist, psychedelic bus caravan luminary, and rock concert MC, and often jokes: “if you don’t have a sense of humor, it just isn’t funny anymore.” Yet his reach extends far beyond the comic. He is devoted to “do something good for a change,” and his creative activism on behalf of peace, justice, and good humor is legendary. Along with Jahanara, his wife of over fifty years, he has brought joy and helped to relieve suffering for countless people around the globe, largely through his favorite projects, the Seva Foundation and Camp Winnarainbow. Wavy has been called “clown prince of the counter-culture” by Entertainment Weekly, “a saint in a clown suit” by Bob Weir, and “the illegitimate son of Harpo Marx and Mother Teresa” by Paul Krassner. Now in his 80s, this iconic figure from the 60s refers to himself as a “temple of accumulated error,” yet he’s always ready with a twinkling insight, a fantastic story and a helping hand. About those stories, Ram Dass said, “everything Wavy says is true, although it’s all unbelievable.”

Wavy and Jahanara were founding members. Check out their bus trip...and get on the bus yourself!

Just 4 the Laffs...

1. Hippie Test - Or, If you can remember the 60' WEREN'T there...

Earlier, I tested your awareness in time & space, as well as your visual acuity when I asked you to find the clown in the picture.

NOW...Watch the birdie...Look carefully at the bus image. How many Woodstock's do you see? If you think this is a trick question...Relax and follow the advice in the last image...

"Do not attempt to adjust your television set...and fasten your seat belt..."

--it's like you're there in the front...Awesome footage...

2. Find the Popes in the Pizza Contest

Tip: You'll score better if you're hungry.

Near the end when Fr. Guido is giving contest instructions, follow them carefully. Use tracing paper and NOT rolling paper. : ))

3. Spaceballs: Merchandising

The Pope's return the Rome left Fr. Guido with what he called "post-papal depression" - which he attributed to all the commercialization and merchandising that went on. So, my 5th-grade male mind served up this next classic.

Note: In my last will and testament, I've told Eileen that if I'm ever on life support and the medical professional tell her that my 5th-grade male mind has gone offline...she can pull the plug.

4. Commercialization of Egyptian Artifacts [well, not all facts...: )) ]

My Story: Clowning Around with Friends and Family

I’ve enjoyed dressing up in costumes...

  • With a younger brother went to Dead concert at Nassau Coliseum dressed in skeleton outfits complete with full length black capes with hoods…and we wondered why the Nassau County PD profiled and stopped us on the way in.

  • As school bus driver for a Montessori school in Queens I dressed as Santa Claus. It was interesting that one 4-year old pointed out my subterfuge to his classmates with, “That’s our bus driver - see his black beard (under my costume’s white facial hair).”

Sadly, some children grow up too quickly and lose the magic of the “wonder years.”

After dropping off my last charge near JFK Airport in Queens, the van broke down. Since it was Christmas Eve I knew it would be a long wait for our tow truck driver, so I tried hitchhiking back to the garage. Do you know - no one would stop for Santa Claus and on his big night!!! I had to wait until the wee hours of the morning for my rescue tow truck and, as a result, missed our family’s Christmas Eve gathering with my parents and six brothers and sisters.

  • With a surfing friend we took two high school girls to their senior prom at the Terrace on the Park at the old 1964 Worlds’ Fair site - dressed in white suits with tails, canes and top hats. We were the envy of all their friends, as we arrived at the formal affair in an old yellow Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO) van, smoke rising as we exited at the main entrance. I’d met my date a few months earlier when I picked her and a friend in NYC and drove them home to Brooklyn in my big yellow taxi.

Hey, Robert De Niro , eat your heart out! All’s “fare” in love and war.

As my taxi descended on their Greenpoint neighborhood, I was hoping that one of them would get out first, so I could engage the other. Lady Luck was with me that night…and the Dead’s “Good Morning Little School Girl” was wafting through the late-night airwaves… Check out this 1992 version from Chicago's Soldiers Field with Bobby doing lead vocals and joined by Steve Miller and James Cotton on the blues harp (harmonica).

  • Years later, I went with family and friends to the premier of Lord of the Rings…Yup, dressed to kill…Orcs and dragons…

Get Involved with Seva

On the Home page, hover over the "GET INVOLVED" link at the top row and pick your way to support Seva.

Thanks, tOM


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