"The rainman gave me two cures
And he said, "Just jump right in."
The one was Texas Medicine
And the other was railroad gin.
And like a fool I mixed them
And they strangled up my mind
Now people just get uglier
And I have no sense of time."
(Bob Dylan, "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again)
The guiding metaphor in Peter Coyote's new spiritual biography is drawn from a line in an early Bob Dylan song. For Coyote, the twin forces Dylan identifies as Texas Medicine and railroad gin represent the competing forces of the transcendental, inclusive, and ecstatic world of love with the competitive, status-seeking world of wealth and power. The Rainman's Third Cure is the tale of a young man caught between these apparently antipodal options and the journey that leads him from the privileged halls of power to Greenwich Village jazz bars to jail to the White House, lessons from a man who literally held the power of life and death over others, to government service and international success on stage and screen.
Expanding his frame beyond the wild ride through the 1960s counterculture that occupied so much of his lauded debut memoir, Sleeping Where I Fall, Coyote provides listeners intimate portraits of mentors that shaped him - a violent, intimidating father; a be-bop bass player who teaches him that life can be improvised; a Mafia consigliere who demonstrates to him that men can be bought and manipulated; an ex-game warden who initiates him into the laws of nature; a gay dancer in Martha Graham's company who introduces him to Mexico and marijuana; beat poet Gary Snyder, who introduces him to Zen practice; and finally famed fashion designer Nino Cerruti, who made the high-stakes world of haut-monde Europe available to him.
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