[Editor's note: Before the Cult comes to California for three shows -- two at Coachella, and one in S.F. at the Regency Ballroom this Thursday, April 3 -- frontman Ian Astbury offered to write us a few thoughts about his love for San Francisco and the time he's spent here. We certainly weren't going to turn him down.]
By IAN ASTBURY
"Hate Astbury" was the headline in the U.K. music media back in the day. I was chastened for spouting off an earnest youthful philosophy -- it was not cool to recite my interpretation of the Left Coast visionaries, musicians, poets, and mystics who where bleeding into my skull and opening my heart and mind. San Francisco was ground zero for me in many ways, my Varanasi my gateway to the East. India, Tibet, and Nepal where already in my DNA, and the opportunity to make the pilgrimage to the holy ground of City Lights bookstore when The Cult reopened Bill Graham's Fillmore West in December 1985 was a transcendent moment. The Cult had traveled to Japan earlier in '85, and that was the consummation of my love affair with the East. But I was already absorbing the wisdom of Allen Ginsberg, Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, Jack Keroauc, Michael McClure, et. al, and City Lights was a place they where all connected with, a place I romanticized and still do.