WE VISIT MR. ZEITGEIST; or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Jann Wenner 
Being the personal narrative of a Contributing Editor to Rolling Stone(1968-1975)
By David Dalton

From Gadfly July 1999


I can't remember how the magic object came into my hands, but it was sometime in November of 1967 that I saw the first issue of Rolling Stone. There it was—perfect in every way—as if some alchemist of the Zeitgeist had x-rayed our sleeping brains and overnight come up with a self-portrait of a generation.

That dowser of the Zeitgeist was Jann Wenner. While it is true, as Jann often says, that he would never have begun Rolling Stone without the guiding hand of the visionary San Francisco columnist Ralph Gleason, Rolling Stone was clearly Jann's baby from the start. Gleason, by the way, is the one who came up with the name. Jann wanted to call it Electric Newspaper. (Maybe it is Jann, not Al Gore, who should take credit for the Internet.)

Jann's genius was to use the contradictions within himself—youthful rebellion and a passion for order—to put a frame around the roiling, tumultuous '60s. Rolling Stone was to become our Domesday Book, a record of what was happening and what should happen, a blueprint.

The look of Rolling Stone, as much as anything, separated it instantly from any countercultural newspaper that had gone before. It was designed with a fine italic hand by Robert Kingsbury. Neat nested borders and Oxford rules, sometimes two sets of them, ran like graphic watchmen around pages of Times Roman text. To contain the unruly content, but also to say, Look! Take this seriously! Except for the Rick Griffin Hell's-Angel-on-acid logo, there was barely a whiff of the underground paper to it. It was classic, elegant, readable and tight.

"I had a sensibility about doing things clean and neat and orderly and well designed and presentable," says Jann. "The look of these underground papers didn't appeal to me at all." The subject of an article in Rolling Stone might have been mad hyenas howling in the interstellar night, but the writing was (generally) clean, clear and expository—hippie journalism without the rant, rhetoric and occult trappings. This was understandable, when you consider that Jann's background was in straight journalism. "My real interest and background was more in reading the daily newspapers and working for real news organizations like NBC News and Ramparts, which was a pretty slick operation."

Jann was an enthusiastic and inspiring editor, often plunging along with his writers into some wild cause or passion of the moment. An article I presented to him on Charles Manson shortly after Manson's arrest (cowritten with the criminal procrastinator David Felton) was a case in point. Buoyed by my initial (and deluded) assertion that Manson was a fellow hippie being railroaded by the fascist Los Angeles Police Department, Jann at first wanted the cover to read: "MANSON INNOCENT." In recent years, Jann has played down his more radical impulses, perhaps in the service of making himself seem more savvy or adult, and perhaps to close the gap between his current fat-cat status and the former "tail-wagging hippie."

Soon after I had seen that first issue, I called Jann and said I'd like to do something for Rolling Stone. "What do you do?" he asked. I told him I was a photographer—one of three acceptably hip occupations in the 1960s (rock star and drug dealer being the other two). A month later I was in England. I took photographs of Yoko Ono's exhibit in the basement of the Indica bookshop, the show John Lennon came to see. I sent the photos to Jann, and they were published in the second or third issue of Rolling Stone. I then shot some photographs of Stevie Winwood, Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi at Traffic's rustic cottage in Berkshire.

"The pictures are great, man, but we need a story to go with them. Do you think you could pull something together?" asked Jann. He had that supreme hippie faith that you could do anything you set your mind to. And so I began writing for Rolling Stone. My photographs, in any case, weren't all that great. And the captions were getting longer and longer, viz: "You'll never guess what happened thirty seconds before I took this picture."

One of the great things about the old days at Rolling Stone was that articles could go on at epic lengths. Small books unfurled between those crinkly pages. Once, when I'd interviewed Little Richard at great length, Jann asked, "Can you get more?" I did, and, at some point, running out of questions, I asked Richard some of the same questions again (how did you write "Long Tall Sally," etc.) to which he gave completely different answers. When the editor at Rolling Stone asked which answers to include, I answered, "Both." Richard was so pleased with the cover story—"Little Richard: Child of God"—that he papered his living room wall with it.

The original editorial offices were in an old printing loft, a huge space in a grungy area of San Francisco (just down the road from the seedy Mars Hotel). At the center of the loft was the art department, presided over by the benign presence of Robert Kingsbury and the sarcastic British badinage of Jon Goodchild. Around this Copernican center the magazine revolved, people smoking joints, blasting music, gossiping, musing, trading pataphysical jokes and somehow getting the issues out. Jann was the boss, but it wasn't a role he insisted on. He encouraged his employees to spar with him. He was a good negotiator in other people's disputes, and many arguments were settled over a peace pipe of local weed. But he was hardly the unchanging voice of sweet reason. He could just as easily be willful, capricious and sarcastic. He fired and re-hired people, often the same day. During interviews with job applicants, he would characteristically ask, "Have you taken acid?" (The correct answer, in case you're ever asked, is "Yes, but I don't do it anymore.") Jann, in short, was young and impulsive. In fact, none of us had grown up.

As long as Rolling Stone remained in San Francisco, it retained its independent character. But outside the gates of Eden, things began to go awry. Among purists, the move to New York is often thought of as the beginning of Rolling Stone's fall from grace. But for me, the descent began long before that. The first hint of loss came when, one day, at the poky New York branch office, I happened across a pile of reader questionnaires. "What is your annual income? What make of stereo system do you own? How much do you spend on clothes, eating out, movies? What make of car do you own?" There was not one question about attitude toward drugs, the government, social conditions. It was clearly all consumer information geared for the benefit of advertisers. It was naive of me—this is what mainstream magazines do—but I was shocked. I hadn't noticed that Rolling Stone had become a mainstream magazine. To me, the straight press was the evil empire. What would be the difference now between Rolling Stone and any other slick magazine?

By the time Jann moved Rolling Stone to New York in the mid-'70s, I was writing books and contributing fewer and fewer articles to the magazine. Eventually my name was struck from the masthead. When I happened to pick up Rolling Stone in the intervening years, I reacted more and more grumpily. What had become of our youthful ideals? The content and fervor seemed to shrink as the magazine grew glossier and plumper with advertising. In place of (as I remembered) half a dozen articles of Homeric length and utopian passion, there were now, generally, two rather skimpy and elementary pieces, one of them a shamelessly undisguised puff piece about some undeserving flavor of the month. The bulk of the magazine seemed to be taken up with half-page gossipy items about people I'd never heard of or music biz events at which celebrities were seen swanning in foolishly inventive ways. Even the level of literacy seemed to have declined. You can imagine, enlightened reader, my horror at finding "Jane Austin" spelled thus. Where was Charles Perry now that we needed him?

With notable exceptions, the quality and drive of the writing had gone, along with any trace of irony. Except for P. J. O'Rourke's pieces—the kind of articles labeled "humor" in magazines like Playboy—the edge had been blunted. The skeptical attitude toward the doltish cavortings of late capitalism and its follies seemed to have vanished entirely. Such banalities were now embraced with the sweaty clasp of a PR flack. A cover story on Britney Spears that in the past would have been treated with Nabokovian wit (not at the expense of Britney herself, of course, but of a massive, multimillion-dollar industry turning out such frothy teen pornography). Come to think of it, the video for Britney's "Baby, One More Time" seemed to make more fun of itself than the Rolling Stone article.

But just when you're about to dismiss the whole sorry business, Rolling Stone utterly surprises you. Following the frivolous lads cavorting in khakis and tight swimsuits among the whiskey and Diesel jeans ads comes "The Sadness at the Heart of the World," a wonderfully moving piece on the forgotten tribes of the Brazilian rain forest. The next issue's profile of the petulant little Ecstasy eater Eminem seemed disturbingly objective—yo! this is shock rap, dude—and devoid of any passion or quirky flash of insight. But the article on AIDS researcher Dr. David Ho and the great (and suspenseful) piece by Jon Katz that follows two Internet nerds as they escape from a stultifying Idaho town to find jobs in Chicago provide a glimpse of the old Rolling Stone, a magazine in which the writer really gets involved. And, to be fair, in almost every issue of Rolling Stone is at least one article that would fit quite seamlessly into the original magazine.

But if anyone ever asked me what I thought of the current Rolling Stone, I'd say it was so glossy I didn't know whether to read it or Turtle Wax it. In short, I had worked myself up to a nice lather of righteous indignation about Rolling Stone, and Jann in particular. Without, of course, bothering myself to think the scaly thing through—all those confounding questions that inevitably arise when one confronts a leviathan of pop culture. I just ranted and sighed. "Jann has betrayed us!" my self-righteous demon self was yelping. "Sold us out for a mess of potage!" (Tens of millions of messes of potage, actually.)

This article, if truth be told, began when young Jayson Whitehead, our fearless editor, wanted, for whatever reasons, to meet the legendary Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone in his lair. At the reception desk we found an astonishing four-foot stonecrete "W" (for Wenner Media), like something Scrooge McDuck might have set up. Well, Jann was never one to affect false modesty, and there is something endearing about his unblushing embrace of wealth and fame. Just when did Jann's Napoleonic cult take root? As far back as the San Francisco days, when "the staff" dubbed him "Citizen Wenner."

The corridor to Jann's lair in New York seemed endless. It was as if Charles II had built an orangery along one side of the giant office, but instead of espaliered miniature orange trees, behind the tasteful little panes of glass were... people! The offices of the superdrones. Elsewhere, the atmosphere was as hushed and genteel as a library, except for the insect-like clicks and hums that arose from the hive of cyberbees, pale and fearful in the green light of the terminals.

Jann's office was spacious, tasteful and sparse. A sepulchral light filtered into the room from the frosted windows looking out onto Sixth Avenue. Jann was charming and gracious in his perpetual two-day growth of beard (did he get himself one of those Miami Vice razors?). He offered us coffee and sweets from a tin.

We began with a few generic questions. What were your favorite interviews? John Lennon, Bill Clinton and Mick Jagger. What did you want to be when you grew up? First he wanted to be an architect (shades of Atlas Shrugged) and then, "I kinda liked the idea of being President of the United States, I think I'd do good at that." How had he first realized that Rolling Stone was going to be big? "When we got a letter to the editor from Charlie Watts after the first issue. You know, right there was an indicator—oh boy, I mean people are taking it seriously!"

After we got this out of way, we moved swiftly on to our burning question.

"Jann, I occasionally rail on about this," I said, "but at what point did Rolling Stone, which in the beginning was part of the counterculture, become purely an entertainment magazine? Maybe I'm just confused by the glossy paper and all those ads, but Rolling Stone now looks just like Spin or Entertainment Weekly."

Jann looked at us with a vaguely pitying squint. He seemed genuinely perplexed at the stunning naivete of the question. We were like peasants who, having been handed magnetic pass-cards by the concierge, ask, "Where are our room keys?"

Jann: "Well, the people who in the early days were saying we sold out were either very naive or very disappointed, or people who had been somehow along the way been rejected by Rolling Stone's employees or were ex-employees or otherwise, because maybe they legitimately felt we were selling out. I think basically it's a kind of sour grapes. But we are not selling out, we are maintaining our independence amidst everything and going our own way. It's an outrageous thing to use expressions like 'hip capitalism' and 'hippie entrepreneur,' which were popular tag words at the time—I mean, how antique is that as an idea? Everybody wants to make money."

But, really, the sour grapes thing is a bit of a red herring. You don't have to be a disgruntled ex-employee or rejected writer to be ambivalent about Rolling Stone. Many of those who deplore the current state of the magazine are, after all, readers. A 1970s T-shirt read, "Is Jann Wenner tragically hip?" But hipness is not Jann's curse. Jann's curse is promiscuous McLuhanism. Jann is Mr. Zeitgeist, and when the Zeit changes, Jann shifts gear.

Jann: "Times changed and the culture evolved, and as the culture got broader and more and more popular, the mainstream media started coming to it. So what you've got now is a situation where the New York Times can cover rock and roll and counterculture events almost with the same authority that we can."

"But," I objected, "while it's true that the New York Times has drifted towards Rolling Stone's style, at the same time Rolling Stone has drifted towards mainstream journalism, covering things the same way they would."

Jann: "But it's not because we sold out. Times changed and we were responsive to it. Many people imitate the Rolling Stone style, and not just the copy-cat magazines—establishment media as well. I mean, the look of the establishment media and what they cover today—it's hard to tell sometimes whether it's news or entertainment."

At this point Jann, like some drug dealer, withdrew a wad of bills—hundreds, fifties, twenties—which he methodically began to sort and put in his wallet. For a moment I thought he was going to toss a C note to Jayson and say, "Here, son, get yourself a decent tape recorder."

Jann: "Of course, we also got more professional—slicker, with better design, better writing, better research—so it became a more and more professional product. So maybe what you're responding to isn't so much the content as the professional product.

"The real truth about what happened is that the counterculture became the mainstream culture. Mainstream culture today has come over to our culture. Rock and roll is all over every television commercial. I am sorry we have lost our outsider status, but, on the other hand, there is a kind of pleasure in hearing the anthems of my time being played on commercials. With enough people hearing 'Give peace a chance,' perhaps it will affect their consciousness.

"And what, on the other hand, would people rather Rolling Stone have done? Once something becomes really popular, let's not cover it anymore? Because the Stones are in the mainstream, maybe we should stay away from them? We'll just cover really obscure phenomena and stay at one hundred thousand [subscribers]? It was never my charge to myself to remain obscure and small. I want to operate on a big stage, you know, and have a voice in public affairs and socialize with the country."

Jayson: "There's definitely some change, though, between having John Lennon as Private Gripweed on the cover and having Jennifer Aniston from Friends."

Jann: "Well, one's a television show and one's a movie. Jennifer Aniston is definitely not John Lennon, that's for sure, but give me John Lennon today alive and we will put him on a cover. Friends is really as relevant today to the way society sees itself and thinks about itself and discusses itself as the Beatles were then. It's not as artistic, it's not as original and daring, but it's how the culture sees itself today.

"When Rolling Stone started, music was the only medium available to young people to express themselves and share ideas. The jukebox and the radio—that was the tribal telegraph, you know. A shared community of values. Now everything is open to young people and their concerns and values. Television, newspapers, books, every medium imaginable."

He's a slippery one, that Jann. But we weren't going to be sidetracked by this quasi-anthropological pig-in-the-python sophistry. We've seen enough flashy pop sociological memes to know one when we see one. Jayson goes for the jugular.

Jayson: "Do you feel you somehow diluted your art by having to pander so much to marketing?"

Jann: "That's a loaded word, but actually today you have to pay a lot more attention to marketing, absolutely. We take money from these people, and we use this money to create a magazine quite a few thousand times better than the magazines put out many years ago without money.  Marketing, production and all that are much more relevant to what we are doing today. Nobody wants to pick up a newsprint rock magazine that looks like Rolling Stone the way it was after its first two years. Quarter fold, newsprint, black and white. People don't want that anymore, just like people don't want scratchy records anymore. Their ears are tuned to high production, very technologically advanced stuff. If it still looked now the way it did in 1969, you wouldn't have very many kids saying, 'Gee, what a wonderful publication, I must read that.'

We bantered on about a number of subjects, such as his reputation as a shameless celebrity hound. He prevaricated. "They were more, you know, heroes whom we admired." But one has to bear in mind that in the early days of Rolling Stone the truly abasing Babylonian aspects of celebrity culture had not yet taken hold.

"I think we all wanted to meet these people," I said. "They were one of us. I think my ambition, if I may be so ridiculous at this point in history, was to be a rock evangelist, to tell the story and be part of my generation."

I thought Jann might find this a little naive. But not at all. Considering the ruthless old media dragon he's supposed to be, beneath that corporate epidermis he's far more nostalgic and idealistic than he is generally given credit for. He waxed on quite eloquently in the grand, old hippie pentecostal manner.

Jann: "In our opening statement, we decided to quote the Loving Spoonful song, 'Do You Believe in the Magic?' That line, 'that's the music that will set you free.' I mean, that's a very evangelistic proposition. It certainly tied into the notion of the drug culture of the time. Everybody was taking LSD or smoking marijuana and proselytizing for drugs, you know, saying, let's turn everybody on. Music was everything. It changed America. It changed me.

"It just transports you. And back then, you were waking up with the great social evolution. And it all linked up with the coming of age of a mass group amidst a social background we were rebelling against. A grey, dull, restricting, repressive society that was very set in its ways. We had rebellion on our minds. Not just youthful rebellion, but rebellion in general. Everybody's hopes, dreams, aspirations of freedom. Kids today are coming of age in a very liberated America. As they say, what have you got to rebel against? Even school is cool today."

In mid-speech, Jann reached over and pointed to some scratches on my wrist. "S&M?" he asked nonchalantly. "Iguana," I replied sheepishly.

"The music then was about the culture," Jann went on. "It was about growing up, but it also contained ideas about human life and human behavior and social norms and expectations of the world. When you heard the music of the Beatles, the Stones or Bob Dylan—change was a lot of what that music was talking about. Part of what made that music so potent was the intellectual, social and emotional rebellion it was expressing. The music was expressing all kinds of ideas about values—about what people want out of life—that went far deeper than the pre‑1960s teen-love-pop songs that rhyme. So the music itself gave Rolling Stone a natural franchise, the drug culture and radical politics. With issue 15, we wrote about the abuses at the Chicago Convention, and we happily endorsed a candidate for president, and by the time 1970 rolled around, the ecology movement started to flourish around San Francisco. We were definitely involved in that kind of stuff, and then you have this war in Vietnam, which heavily impacted eighteen to twenty-four-year-olds—our audience—because they were all eligible for the draft, hence the evolution of protesting. Plus you had the eighteen-year-olds' franchise to vote for the first time in 1972, and then in George McGovern you had a candidate who, although an older man, really captured the imagination of youth. So, let's cover that too. I mean, these were vital urgent issues of the day, and we fell in the middle of that, and it just kind of went from there."

Ferociously ambitious he may have been, but the idea that Jann was a ruthless, manipulative schemer from the beginning is misguided. Far more surprising than any nefarious grand plan on Jann's part to co-opt the counterculture and turn it into a cash cow is the stunning aimlessness with which Jann went about the whole business, like a bee on a cloudy day, just bumbling into things.

"Were you trying to create a newspaper that would cover material for a younger age?" asked Jayson.

Jann: "No, not even that. I didn't think about it in terms of age or demographics or any of those audiences, just that it was going to be about music—rock and roll music, rock and roll culture, and politics. The politics that I was interested in. It was, like, cover that subject—and I guess whatever happened, happened. The notion of audience and market came much later. When I came to New York and started meeting sophisticated people, I began to pick up a few tricks. For instance, the idea that what was on the cover was extremely important didn't dawn on me for something like a year. I remember Danny Fields saying, 'It's really important what you choose to put on a cover.' 'Oh really!?' I never studied business. I never looked at any business textbooks. I learned on the job. I made a lot of mistakes. I had a very costly business education. It was all self-taught. But I think a really successful businessperson is very intuitive, certainly in this business. How you manage talent, how you lead people, how you inspire people."

It's true; he was always extremely receptive, even to the most hare-brained ideas. He had tremendous energy and he put that energy into whatever he was doing.

"I remember that whatever idea I would tell you about—if I was really into it myself—I could get you excited about it, too," I said. "There was a tremendous openness and naivete, not only in you for starting Rolling Stone but in everybody involved in the magazine."

Jann: "Naivete is a good word. Naivete can keep that kind of approach of wonder or awe at everything that's going on in America or the culture alive. Let's take chances, was part of our philosophy. We were into anything new or inspiring. The better part of being at Rolling Stone was the editorial openness, and a sense of adventure and playing in a field that nobody else was in. Certainly, at that time, if you approached the world with a naive, wide-eyed appetite for learning, the world opened up for you.

"Of course, as the magazine began to make more money, we all had to be a little more professional, a little more mature, and for some people that was the hardest thing. They simply couldn't go along with that. We were all very young, you know. I was twenty-one or twenty-two, and the people in the office were in their early twenties. Rolling Stone was a very indulgent place to work in that sense, and San Francisco was an indulgent place to live. There were so many problems with the staff all the time. I mean, a naive hippie ethos against hip exploitation. People were not at this point ready to settle into their adult lives. They were postponing their adult lives. There was always some kind of staff revolt going on, plus you couldn't pay anybody really well. The only people you were going to attract into an operation like Rolling Stone—where they made $25 or $75 a week—were the young and immature! There was a constant turnover of people, so the managing act was really difficult.

"It's a completely different world today from when we began the magazine. The times have changed, and people who are not imaginative and not open-minded want to stay in this little cubbyhole that they might feel comfortable in, but, believe me, those people are a small minority. Our charter was to cover popular music and popular culture and what's going on with young people and politics and all this stuff, and that's what we are still doing. And yes, the look of it has changed, because the culture changed."

Wait a minute. Wasn't I, too, once in favor of change? Change at all costs, change even for the sake of change? What a fuddy-duddy I'd been! It is now over thirty years ago that I first started writing for Rolling Stone, a span of time equivalent to that between 1910 and 1940. Or 1940 and 1970.

It's a brutal (and irresistible) trick to juxtapose, as Salon magazine did recently, a Rolling Stone cover from the late '60s showing a beefy, thuggish cop subduing a protester bearing the headline "American Revolution 1969" with a recent cover showing Jenny McCarthy in a bikini squirting a stream of mustard onto a hot dog, a variation on the perception-reality ads that Rolling Stone ran in the mid-'80s, one of the more dismaying aspects of the reactionary phase of Rolling Stone. The perception-reality ads featured, for example, a funky-looking hippie on one page (perception) and a yuppieish dude on the opposite page (reality). The very nadir of this campaign was the juxtaposition of a peace sign with a Mercedes-Benz hood ornament. Such blatant recanting of its original values is natural fodder for parody. Fishwrap magazine—whose inspired tweaking of the inane posturings of mainstream magazines is a heartening sign in the media wasteland—juxtaposed Rolling Stone's first cover, featuring John Lennon as Private Gripweed, with a recent cover featuring "Red Hot Party Girl" Neve Campbell, and pairing it with an equally vapid Entertainment Weekly cover.

But the perception-reality advertisements presented a grisly irony for those of us who labored on Rolling Stone's original shining obelisk—that living national treasure of the counterculture. And that is, of course, what rankles. Rolling Stone was emblematic of our youthful aspirations. And here was that fiendish Jayson egging me on to further heights of outrage.

Here I was condemning Jann, and for what? For his grasp of the pop Zeitgeist? For reflecting the nature of pop culture? Can I really blame Jann for what has happened to the counterculture, to my youthful ideals? Or were these mere rationalizations, accommodations to my fallen state? Pop culture is a notoriously eel-like entity that has the disturbing habit of turning itself inside out and becoming its opposite.

I was perplexed. I called my old comrade, David Felton, who now works at MTV, and after we had bewailed the sorry state of things for some time, he said: "Times are different and the kind of people that work at Rolling Stone now are different. They're nice people, but they're not like us. And there's a very good reason for that. When you and I were dealing with Jann, we were dealing with him as colleagues, friends and equals. Clearly that's not the case today. Jann, as he got older and more successful, didn't want to fight anymore. I don't mean to fight the cause, I mean to fight with us, because we were very hard to deal with. We represented a series of unmanageable, immature problems that he doesn't want to have to deal with anymore. After a while, he said the revolution is over, I've got a business.  All his other friends had businesses, and they didn't have to deal with this aggravation. So he hired a bunch of yes men and got the thing running with a certain degree of quality. Everybody does their job, everyone goes home at five. There's no hassle, no rebellion—and no fun either. For him, the fun must have gone out of it as far as being a revolutionary paper, so he probably shares all our disappointments in how limited we are. The lie about the war on drugs is one fight he still fights, and that separates him from almost every other businessman. He might actually win that one politically.

"From the beginning, rock and roll has been in bed with the Devil, and Jann has been a troublesome reminder of that from the get-go. At the same time, we have to remember that we were just writers covering the issues, but Jann was more of an activist than any of us because he started a magazine to fight the good fight. Therefore it must have been a bigger disappointment to him when he realized how much he could fight for and how much he couldn't fight for."

Old hippies are bound, sooner or later, to turn into curmudgeons. I'm disgruntled with a lot of things these days. Just look what became of my idols the Rolling Stones. Or Dylan; how could he sell "Blowing in the Wind" to be used in a bank commercial? What's true of performers is perhaps also true of magazines that deal with performers. They have short life cycles during which they reach their heroic peaks, and then they must re-invent themselves if they are to survive.

I once lamented to the philosophical Felton how sad it was that those great old days at Rolling Stone are gone. He said something profound that I've now forgotten, but the gist of it was that they aren't gone, they're all still there, in our minds and in the way Rolling Stone changed our lives.

And this is true. The first day I saw Rolling Stone it was as if a new planet had swum into my ken (to poach a metaphor from Keats' "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer") and we "look'd at each other with a wild surmise—silent, upon a peak in Darien."