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“Millbrook West”

A Poem by Christopher Scott Buck, inspired by Timothy Leary & Trip Master Michael Hamman

On the occasion of Michael’s 70th birthday and his arrival to San Francisco 50 years ago during the Summer of Love



Tell us something we may not all know about Michael?


I can’t believe you’re making me do this


I’ve returned from the Hitchcock Estate in Millbrook, NY

And from the Human Be-in, right here in San Francisco in the summer of ‘67

To play the holy fool once more?

Like a captain-obvious pitchman?


Let’s get this straight:

Michael is no more a contractor 

Than Jesus was a carpenter


Have you never read Shakespeare?

Friends, please:

Turn on, tune in, and get yourselves hydrated!

Get hip to this shit.


I’ll cut to the chase:

Michael Hamman is a high priest of the League for Spiritual Discovery:

I placed him here myself in ’67 to carry on my important work


When he was bushwhacking his way to the front door of this Barn

It was me, in 97, who whispered in his ear:

“If you re-build it, they will come”

When the building was rehabbed and ready to be rented

It was me, who whispered “remember the summer of love Michael”

It was me who whispered “fuck it” and rented it for far below market rate,

So the arts could thrive once again in the dot-com boom of San Francisco


Back to the Shakespeare reference?

All English majors know that the objects that appear before us,

Or that appear in any literary narrative,

Represent more than the objects themselves


I put you in a barn, among sand dunes, and added a fucking sheep, 

And it wasn’t obvious enough?

Then I had to throw in the virgin mary, Shirley, to make the holy trinity more obvious?


Friends, it’s captain obvious speaking here now:

Let me introduce you to Trip Master Michael!

An American original:

Our guide through this thing we call life

On this planet we call Earth

In this neighborhood called Bayview Hunters Point

Or India Basin, before that


The greatest quality of a trip master

Is to allow us to do our own thing

While keeping us from jumping out of 7th floor windows

And when was the last time Trip Master Michael

Got on your case about something?

This guy is a real enabler, in a good way


Has he not provided the safe space we all needed?

The safe place for rigorous discourse, 

The space for tinkering, 

Tinkering with our tools, DIY’ing ourselves to a pleasant afterglow,

Tinkering with our minds,

Allowing ourselves to be who we are, with no judgements passed,

No criticisms made.


A local artist wants to create a human-sized mouse trap, down here?

No problem. 

You want to have a three-night, four-day wedding party out in these sand dunes?

Cool. Just pack out what you pack in, 

And have a contingent of ladies ready for when the cops show up, 

So the PoPo can be escorted gracefully through the grounds

And are sure to return to the Bayview station to report back that,

“There’s nothing to worry about down on Earl Street, captain”

And are soon spotted, ducking back in after their shift is over


“Re-build it and they will come”

Are we talking now, about Michael’s years of service

On the Bayview Hunters Point Redevelopment Agency’s 

Project Area Committee?

Or about his membership on the India Basin Neighborhood Association

And their collective effort to save and rebuild the Shipwright’s house, just down the street?


Or are we talking now about The Beach,

A beach I discovered by kayak in the Shipyard,

Which Michael and gang pressed the United States Navy to preserve. 

The Navy’s incredulous reply at the community meeting: What beach is that?!

Knowing that you need to name it, to preserve it,

On the fly, they generously offered: Buck’s Beach – discovered in ’07 by a local kayaker.

Soon there was a post card campaign that followed, 

The Beach was added to the map, and SF Weekly even picked it up.

Buck’s Beach it is; it says so in the EIR


You come in friendship, and leave with a beach:

There’s probably another metaphor in there somewhere.

“Re-build it, and they will come.”

Enter Danelle Morton, a supposed writer for The New York Times, Bay Area 

Do you think your karma is so good Michael, that this was some accident?

As a high priest of the League for Spiritual Discovery, 

You know that there is no such things as accidents, Michael.

She enters the scene just in time to get a good feel for the place.

Fits right in at the dinner parties. 

Her daughter and their ukulele playing band of gypsies taking a break from aimless travels, 

A great addition to the holiday party.


“Re-build it, and they will come.”

And yes, now we are talking about Build Inc’s entrance 

Into this shape shifting, psychedelic adventure.

Here comes the anxiousness that trip masters warn the uninitiated about,

That you’re likely to experience some intense anxiety somewhere along this trip.


But you are too far into this journey to be scared anymore,

There’s no need to jump out of windows,

And the hyper self-actualization self-realization coursing through your synapses,

Oh this is good, this feeling, if you can just hold on, 

Like a pleasant fever chill, you see a way forward, 

Everything connected like a river,

Looking back at how you arrived here.

Like that guy in the youtube video laughing & crying

At a double rainbow in Hawaii,

Maybe this whole thing could turn out okay, after all.


And it does, it does turn out pretty darn well, after all

Your former roommate Danelle Morton really is a gifted writer

And she pours her heart and soul 

Into this amazing portrait of Michael, the Barn, Shirley

And Saun the sheep

And other wonderful casts of characters,

Published in San Francisco Magazine as “An Inconvenient Barn”

That is pretty damn good karma, to now have your own

Inspired chorus of writers & poets throwing literary flowers your way.


To the uninitiated this may just be the Barn,

And fair enough to call it Hamman’s Kingdom,

That does have a certain ring to it,

But let me whisper one more time:

You did re-build it, and they came, 

They came to Millbrook West.



Congratulations on your 70th “trip” around the sun

I am appreciative and grateful for your generosity,

Trip Master Michael Hamman.

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