Victor Levine’s Spec Time Trilogy of books tell a fictionalized version of the life of Boulder singer Jon Cells, who really existed in the 1970s. The latest volume, Spiritualized, is out now and it sees Cells in 1978 Boulder. Levine will read from and speak about the book at the Boulder Book Store on October 29, so we chatted.
Yellow Scene: Tell us about the Spec Time Trilogy – it’s a fictional story based in fact, right?
Victor Levine: Yeah. Spec time is a concept that is very familiar to people in the arts. We do things in the hopes that it will become something. ?The trilogy fictionalizes the career of a cosmic brother who passed away many years ago, musically into three phases and I compressed time into four days apiece. The story of his aspirations is consumed by the greater story of the time and place. It’s based on the idea that you can do what you want but there are limitations based on the time and place.
YS: Tell us a little bit about Jon Cells…
VL: I thought that he was a good archetype for a lot of musicians who had a very similar experience. He started as a folk singer, and when he came to Colorado he evolved into a rock format. That’s all historically accurate.
YS: What defines Boulder music, and separates it from the Denver scene?
VL: Boulder, in the 1970s, was a cosmic hotbed. A lot of things happened at that time, and very specifically Boulder. Denver, at that time, was a very different scene. The more progressive and possibly affluent people came to Boulder and were living experimental lives. Boulder was very small, most of the people knew each other, and a lot of things came out of it.
YS: What can we expect from the Boulder Book Store event?
VL: I’m gonna do an extensive Powerpoint presentation. I cover a lot of topics in there. One of the driving things of the books is that there’s a connection between the Tibetan Buddhists and the Native Americans. There are a lot of levels of connection in the book. The song “Uh Oh” really typifies what was happening. It was a time of discovery when nobody really knew what was going to happen. There was some tension about it too, post-Vietnam. Drugs played a part, and pop-culture. I think it’s a fair time stamp of that period. It was about vegetarianism, Buddhists, herb tea and that kind of thing. That was all against the backdrop of the establishment.
YS: Two of the three books are written – are you working on the third?
VL: Oh yeah. The first book is based in Boulder in 1978. The second book is four years later, 1982 in New York. The third book is set in LA in 1986. There are some recurring characters and recurring themes. I consider it historical fiction.
Victor Levine will be at the Boulder Book Store at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 29; 1107 Pearl St., Boulder; 303-447-2074.