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Ken Babbs at Powell’s

April 23, 2011

Ken Babbs Brings Down the House at Powell’s

Legendary Ken Babbs of Merry Prankster fame was at Powell’s last night to read from his newly published novel “Who Shot the Water Buffalo?”  Written while he served as a Marine helicopter pilot in Vietnam but then shelved for decades, the book was reworked and refreshed and released to much anticipation.  Hundreds of young hipsters, aging boomers, veterans, and at least one Hollywood celeb turned out for the standing-room only reading or should I say performance.  Babbs began by requesting that the audience, “sit down, relax and let the time machine take you back” after first showing us he was still rockin’ the Day-Glo by pulling up his pant leg to reveal striped socks – a nice contrast to the crisp white dress shirt, penny loafers and leather flight jacket with his squadron insignia patch (HMM-163, South Vietnam, 1962-63).
Babbs was in great form as he acted out parts of the reading in his radio-ready voice joking and laughing along with the audience.  Funny, warm and irreverent, he shared memories of the Prankster days with Ken Kesey – at one point blaming LSD for a computer glitch.  On a serious note, after a slide show of photos he took while serving in Vietnam, he said, “veterans need to keep speaking out about these stupid wars.”  He is currently working on a new book called “Cronies” about Kesey and the friends he made in the ‘60s.  Written in the burlesque style, it mixes facts with his imagination.  Can’t wait!  Thanks for coming to Portland Ken!
If you want to follow Babbs’ blog and find out about tour dates go to
Portland fan Bill Reinhardt is pictured above with Babbs.

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