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California Genealogy and History Archives


San Bernardino County


Jim Otterstrom

Jim Otterstrom 
Nov. 14, 1945 - Jan. 22, 2011.

Date of memorial service is still being decided.

65 year old long-haired bearded California-native tree-huggin' nature-centered species-diversity-loving auto-free TV-less dissident eco-activist egalitarian luddite feminist son husband father friend neighbor organic gardening chicken-raising pine-needle-basket weaving corporate-cussin' beer-drinkin' mountain-dwelling music-loving walking bicycling incurably romantic retired postman and all around ornery ol' crank with omnivorous hunter-gatherer DNA and a long term goal of becoming very 
nutritional worm food. Stumbled into Greenwich Village and Harry Smith in 1964 (see Harry Smith's Anthology Of American Folk Music-Smithsonian/Folkways SFW 40090/A 28746-51). Became Harry's friend, assistant, and co-conspirator, but soon, finding city life way too crazy, moved on to Topanga Canyon, Calif. to skinny-dip Topanga Creek and play volleyball naked on the beach with peace loving brothers and lovely fuzzy-legged Earth sisters amidst Vietnam rage, police brutality, and great music.

Our cozy hippie hamlet - rife with musicians - included members of Canned Heat, Spirit, The Eagles, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Doors, The Seeds, Spanky & Our Gang, and Jo Jo Gunne, as well as Taj Mahal, Neil Young, Linda Ronstadt, Stephen Stills, and Barry (Dr. Demento) Hansen - plus every sort of subversive Bohemian gypsy artist writer beatnik craftsfolk imaginable.

Swept away in the fleeting intensity of a sweet enchanted time and place, I soaked it up, living, loving, listening, learning, and began to assemble, share, and pass along collections of blues, folk, jazz, & rock recordings - a bad habit persisting for over 40 years now.

Retired these days in the San Bernardino Mountains - after 30 years of public service - I do my best to make a full-time career of Earth/Life/Love worship. Like everyone, I find sorrow and suffering amidst the joy of being human, yet, with the awareness that loss and transience measure our days, I live a charmed life treasuring the beauty in rare & fleeting moments - and wishing you good fortune in your moments - I propose a toast!

So here's to a human future! A world of symbiotic pluralism, where regardless of gender, race, species, or elemental content, all matter of evolutionary creation is perceived as sacred and sentient, valued for it's intrinsic worth as part of our living body, planet Earth. A time beyond the cultural homogenization of Global Imperialism, beyond the all-consuming Western model of rampant cancer-like growth. Where 
woman, by her native strength, generosity, and beauty, wields the power inherent to the role of mother, nurturer, lover - and where man aids community while tempering his bravado with humility, respect, and awareness. To heavenly bodies, spherical harmony, seasons, cycles, life, death, and renewal. And here's to today, another awe-inspiring moment of magic on Earth of the Milky Way. Cheers!

A utopian fantasy? Well consider the alternative - the blind arrogance of a single vain species who would appropriate entire ecosystems - belonging in common to millions of complex and fascinating species - overpopulate and poison them, remaking this heavenly planetary home into a nightmarish broiling war zone of sprawling concrete subdivisions, crap-factories, garbage pits and misery.

That's simply belligerent anti-social behavior, the psychopathic fantasy of a rogue species out of balance and blooming toward bust!

The Corporate State is virtually dead, an ideology and myth proven obsolete by nature, science, and lifeitself. But we - the perpetrators of this brutal dominant culture - won't face reality until we've forced the inevitable calamitous crash.

Still, as rigor mortis looms over industrial civilization, some of us might try living simply, with care and kindness, and however possible, resisting the machine.

Love, Jim Otterstrom

Farewell friends.

'Be the change you wish to see in the world'

Mahatma Gandhi

Jim is survived by his wife Peggy Otterstrom; his children Noreen Griffin, Jimmy and Jamie Otterstrom; mother Lois Hampson; brother Kerry Otterstrom; sisters Linda and JoAnne Otterstrom and Luka Leckinger; and his furry four legged friend, Dallas.

In lieu of flowers, donations would be gratefully appreciated by the family.

"Big Bear Grizzly" Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2011
Submitted by: Peggy Hooper