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See Here, Now! - SEVA Benefit - Wavy Gravy turns 80

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See Here, Now! - SEVA Benefit May 22
Wavy Gravy turns 80

By Stephen D. Gross

You’d think that any Gravy that’s been sitting around for 80 years would have congealed by now but that’s not always the case. The Wavy kind as we know it, has been kept warm, is lovingly stirred and according to savants, has developed more character and become tastier with each passing year. Now it’s embarking on its ninth decade and it’s still cooking.

Let us say “Yum!”

Born in an Albany suburb where he took walks with Al Einstein (yeah – that one), Hugh Romney emerged from West Hartford high school a ‘beat’ poet, and aware of the benefits of the G.I. Bill, he committed 22 months of his life to letting the Defense Department feed and clothe him. 

He became infused with the new emerging counterculture and disguised as a “normal” person in his argyle pullover, he infiltrated the cellar clubs of Boston and NYC never suspecting his clown clone would color the lives of millions of people. 

His story has been told by many, he’s the focus of “Saint Misbehavin’”, an insightful flick about his life and interactions with the famous and near-famous from General Omar Bradley to Bob Dylan, law enforcement people and rebels, the versatile and creative Hog Farm, his 46-year marriage to Jahanara (nee Bonnie Beecher) their children and grandkids, his runs for political office, his role at Woodstock… a half-century of compassion, healing people, unifying generations of rogues and renegades and raising the quality of people’s lives.

But what is he up to now?

“it’s been a great ride,” he extolls, and his passion for life and inclination to help people has never diminished. 

He’s currently excited about his wife’s birthday gift to him, a “mobility aid” called the Alinker,  a new invention created by Dutch designer Barbara Alink for her aging mom. The user can be upright and actively moving, have their hands free, experience no stress on the lower limbs and sit with good posture, all the while feeling stable and safe. 

The Gravys first heard about it from former Grateful Dead lyricist, Wyoming cattleman and Harvard professor, John Perry Barlow, who adores his. 

Wavy is also thrilled about visiting with his friend Mac Rebinnac (aka Dr. John), while he and “Mrs. Gravy” are in New Orleans for the Jazz and Heritage Festival. The NOLA trip is Wavy’s gift to his sweetie, Jahanara, for her 75th birthday. 

Another source of excitement: A former basketball player and team manager at W. Hartford’s Hall H.S., Wavy has been a GS Warriors fan since the days of Chris Mullen and Tim Hardaway. He’s “tried to explain to Mrs. Gravy the Higher Consciousness and Cosmic Vibe” of basketball but “Sometimes,” he says, “thinking gets in the way of thought”

A Bucket List? “I’ve done everything twice.” If he were the King, he would like to see the Wealthy pay more taxes, but he’s too busy adoring his grandkids to dwell on political matters. Ezra is seven and the three year old, Nadia “likes climbing up my side and playing with my teeth.” 

Wavy may be the only American to have had his teeth tie-dyed.

We also spoke about who, if given the choice, he would like to invite over for dinner. He mentioned W.B. Yates, e.e. cummings and Meryl Streep as well as Jesus, Buddha and dozens of other folks.

Wavy is also planning on attending, in June, his daughter-in-law’s art exhibit at the Main Line Gallery in Haverford, PA.

His plans for 4/20 involved heading down to Slim’s in San Francisco where the Annual Gathering of the Tribes was featuring Moonalice along with desserts, raffle prizes and controlled chaos.

But the SEVA foundation remains foremost in his heart and mind. A non-profit Berkeley-based health foundation founded in 1978 by Dr. Larry Brilliant, Ram Dass, Wavy and a few others, with Steve Jobs as a major contributor and early advisor, has restored eyesight to almost 4 million people suffering from cataract blindness in places like Tibet, Nepal, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Seva also works on health projects in Native American communities.

SEVA - Tibetan patients give thumbs up for successful treatment

Along with a significant early contribution, Jobs also donated computer equipment to analyze eye care and survey results in the original Nepal program.

A Sanskrit word meaning service to others, Seva’s vision is “a world of healthy and self-reliant communities and its mission is “to prevent blindness and restore sight worldwide”.

80% of the world’s 39 million blind people could see again if they had access to an eye doctor and the $50, fifteen-minute long cataract surgery. Fortunately, this is what the Seva Foundation provides.

Much of the cash raised has come from musical events arranged by Wavy whose very long list of friends such as Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt, have stepped up time and again to perform for the eradication of blindness.

Wavy’s 80th birthday celebration at SOMO Village Event Center on May 22 in Rohnert Park, is such an event, and some dozen groups will perform. General admission is $50 and VIP tickets, which are $150 include VIP parking, a collectable laminate pass which allows access to the VIP lounge, next to the stage and will feature  a no-host bar and plenty of rest-rooms, a limited edition silk-screened event poster by Mike Dubois and access to the after-show birthday party, featuring an all star jam hosted by Hot Buttered Rum

For Wavy (and sightless folks around the world) this would be the best birthday gift of all.

Details for the event may be found at seva.org

Wavy Gravy B-Day BENEFIT May 22nd in Rohnert Park

#WavyGravy #SEVAFoundation