In addition to The Beatles, Donovan, and Mia and Prudence Farrow, also present at the ashram during this period was Mike Love, lead singer of the Beach Boys. According to Paul Saltzman, Love “dressed like he’d come to India on safari, often wearing a white British colonial-style pith helmet, with long coats and accessories straight out of the wardrobe department of a Hollywood film studio.” (That’s him with George above, sporting the hat but not the wardrobe.)

Which reminds me, it was around this time that John Lennon wrote “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill,” inspired by “a guy in Maharishi’s meditation camp who took a short break to go shoot a few poor tigers, and then came back to commune with God.” He really did go hunting with his mother and returned, apparently, full of remorse — which begs the question, why bother in the first place? But at least John got a song out of it, and I got an alias.

Anyway, back to Mike Love — according to Saltzman, he was something of a hustler:

He seemed out of place at the ashram. He was cordial in an aloof, star kind of manner in stark contrast to John, Paul, George, and Ringo, who had no airs at all. Mike was known as the man to see if you needed something. He had stocked up on the various provisions unavailable in the area, and apparently traveled down to Delhi and back to restock his ad hoc ashram store. He supplied the Beatles with rolls of Kodak still film, camera batteries, and one-hundred-foot rolls of movie film. It was also said, quietly, that chocolate bars, alcohol, and hashish might be available.

Love was not, maybe, the most spiritually attuned guy around. In his book With the Beatles, Lewis Lapham — a journalist who was at the ashram at the same time as Saltzman — attributes this priceless quote to him: “On a very gross level of vibrations, man, the only thing that keeps me going is the thought of a Max’s sandwich at the Stage.”

Despite literally minutes of research, I have been unable to determine what exactly was in a Max’s sandwich. I can tell you that the Stage Deli was open from 1937 to 2012 on Seventh Avenue in NYC, close to Carnegie Hall, and was known for showbiz-themed dishes such as the Mamma Mia! Sandwich, the Marvin Hamlisch Quiche, Sid’s Caesar Salad, and the Dolly Parton Triple Decker.

Wandering down this internet rabbit hole, I ended up in Bloomfield, Michigan, which has a Stage Deli of its own. There is no Max’s sandwich on the menu, but there is a “Papa Obbie,” which is lean corned beef, muenster cheese, banana peppers, and hot mustard on open-faced rye toast. And on a very gross level of vibrations, man, that sounds really good right now. It may be sandwich time.

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