By: The Phantom Street Artist Lost Angeles, Ca
On the early morning of August 29th, 2011, the world lost a beloved friend, Father and a mentor, Jack Shields. Many stories have been published in the media saying how Jack passed away in his sleep, but he died doing what he did best, which was representing his son Jake Shields as his Manager. As a true testimonial Jack was Jake Shield’s representative since 2002, where he and Billie negotiated sponsored contracts with some of the biggest brands in MMA industry.
Few knew that Jack Shields was also a Poet, a Songwriter, a Spirit Guide and a devoted Father and Husband who grew up in Oakland in the early 1940-50′s. Poetry, Music and the Arts were constant companions to Jack Shields. Jack’s life was filled with his vocation of expression as the essence of his being. It was during the heyday of the San Francisco Haight-Ashbury period where Jack first discovered his voice during the counter culture revolution influenced by impending storms of the Beats.
In the years after World War II, the term “beat” was often used by poor, under-appreciated black Americans where it was used to mean “beat down” or worn-out. But by 1949 the new generation of poets and authors fused and appropriated the term with a different connotation and meaning, The signification of the term “beat” as a movement was historically quoted by its elder statesman Jack Kerouac who would redefine it as a generation of creative, “ individuals who espoused mystical detachment and relaxation of social and sexual tensions.”
The Beat Generation school were referenced by literary critics as a group of American post-WWII writers who came to prominence in the 1950s, as well as the cultural phenomena which they both documented and inspired. The collective movement was first founded in NY by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, and William S. Burroughs. By the mid 1950’s the movement migrated West to the Bay Area, where it assimilated itself with a group of individuals known as the San Francisco Renaissance, later the affiliates were pegged by cultural critics as the renowned Beat Generation poets. Visionary poets and initiates like Phillip Lamantia, Gary Snyder and Michael McClure joined the movement at its headquarters which were centered in North Beach. The Beats expressed the new language of the time, whose radical content and cadence were mixed with the metaphysical language of metered trance and motifs as form.
The central figures of the Beat Poets, all with the exception of Burroughs ended up in San Francisco in the mid-1950s where they met and became friends with figures who were associated with the San Francisco Renaissance. The Beat poets magically conjured poetic motifs and mime language from the Post Surrealist School which was developing at the time in the United States. Collectively the movement was prominent in San Francisco which complimented and influenced the young ingénue poet who had just completed his military service. After leaving the 101st Airborne Army Infantry with an honorable discharge, Jack began to identify with the counter cultural movement in writing spoken word prose and narratives to which he later performed.
At the end of his life Jack had produced and amassed a prolific body of profound expressed intimations. You can read a complementary excerpt of Jack’s mystic poetic vision titled, “Way Back. Way Back” By the Author Jack Shields
Memory and imagination spark creation
The long memory
Whole body’s intuitive intelligence
Originating the future now
Creating the creature we become
Biosphere, clouds drift together
Intelligence emerges, language, leaping frogs
Inner & outer worlds intersect
Utterance & understanding
Strategy is strength
From chaos to cosmos
Is to conceive the ground around you
Dark loam, deep root, fruit of family tree
Tell, retell, retain, and remember
Cellular memory, multi-cell, single cell
The deep well…
The great ancient Marcus Aurelius wrote of how a man’s place is among his relationship with community, “He who does not know what the world is does not know where he is, and he who does not know for what purpose the world exists, does not know who he is, nor what the world is.” This defined the purpose of the ancient metaphysical cosmology. Like the Ship leaving the harbor in the twilight morning fog, it was Jack who intelligently sourced the Beat Poets and their metaphysical cosmology in cultivating his distinguished voice and language.
After years of writing Jack became the well crafted visionary mystic of Mt Ranch, Calaveras County who complimented musical arrangements with his spoken word diatribes placed on a palette of lyrical sonic landscapes. Jack expressed himself without end as the true mystic does that faces and embraces the world with total acceptance of his fate. Jack shared his creative revelations with his wife Billie, who was his life long companion and collaborator.
Billie recalled how on Oct 12th 1970, Columbus day when she and Jack departed the Bay with hundreds of people in a Caravan of school buses to start “The Farm” in Tennessee in what was called the biggest social land movement in time. The movement was called the “Back to the Land” movement which was archived in American History. It was there in Tennessee that Jack started his family with wife Billie raising three sons who all wrestled. In 1979 Jack returned to his beloved state of California from Tennessee with his family, choosing to reside in the Mt Ranch community, within reaching distance of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Calaveras County.
Over the period of his life, Jack co-found many bands including Loco Amor, Planet Pulse, and Gathering of the Hominids which appeared on several Alma Melodiosa recordings. Jack’s Poetry and Music have always echoed the vast depth of his endless quest and personal inquiry for Philosophical and Spiritual enlightenment. His findings were selflessly shared with the many in his community through expression.
The intent of Jack’s words and songs gracefully opened minds without force and inspired many Artists beyond recognition. William Blake once hermetically expressed that Life and Love were destined to be our lives greatest teachers as Jack Shields referenced the maxim as a source for his creative inspiration.
In Jack’s last few years, he shifted his focus from Music to his true devotion of family in guiding and directing his son Jake Shields’ MMA Career… Many in our fight community were profoundly affected by Jack’s simple presence in life sharing sensitivity, compassion and understanding as his virtue.
The Memorial service for Jack Shields was held on a bright Saturday afternoon, on Sept. 24th 2011, in Mountain Ranch, California where Jack, spent much of his life.
In late September as leaves began to fall, Hundreds came from far and wide across the state to celebrate his life, not as a memorial but to honor his great testimonial existence as a celebration… Jack leaves behind Billie his wife of 41 years along with his 3 sons; Clement, Jake, Quinn and countless grandchildren.
Jack’s legacy as a man of letter was born from his mystical writings which will be archived in a soon to be released publication.
“Now drink from the well, for all of to tell the Aquarian Water Bearer, a Unitarian Street Fighter to give let live giving 4 the living endless celebrations of mystic vision…..one of the rare souls who kept it realz, the Great Poet Mister Jack Shields.”