Full text articles by and about the Diggers (2)
Berkeley Barb, Oct. 21, 1966, p. 3
The Diggers were born in the Haight-Ashbury the night Matthew Johnson was killed at Hunter's Point.
The next night, Diggers' signs appeared all over the Haight, telling people to ignore the curfew. By Friday, the first of the Digger Papers appeared on the streets. Its mimeo words were aimed at "showing the gap between psychedelica and radical political thought," a Digger told BARB.
Word spread from mouth to ear that the Diggers would provide free food in the park panhandle. About 75 people showed up with bowls, spoons, and more food.
Last Monday, officialdom began sniffing at the Diggers' stewpot. Health Department noses poked in. They were advised that it was a picnic.
The flics cited a car for having 2 wheels on the grass -- while it was delivering food.
So far the Diggers are still feeding over 100 people for free daily at 4 pm. They have stoves and refrigerators now, and are looking for a roof before the rains come.
Besides the food and the Diggers Papers, they may, they say, soon do something about painting the
Haight-Ashbury, and do something about cars," which they abhor.
By George Metevsky, Berkeley Barb, Oct. 21, 1966, p. 3
In the afternoon, at a little before four, they come down Ashbury, cross Oak and gather around a Eucalyptus tree in the Panhandle.
They wear wide eyes, tattered clothes, and talismans around their necks. Some are in their teens, most in their twenties, and a few are closing in on forty.
They talk about anything, smile about everything and do what they want to do with the food that they bring to each other.
They are THE DIGGERS. And everyday at four o'clock they provide anybody with anything to eat.
The first time I noted them I thought it was a picnic. The second time I thought I was hallucinating. The third time I had to stop. And I sat down with them and ate food and discovered that I didn't but I did.
I talked to a young girl with bare feet and hair that fell over her shoulders and whose name began with an N.
"Who are the Diggers?"
She smiled: "I don't know. I'm not a Digger. Are you a Digger?"
"FUCK THE DIGGERS!!!, shouted a kid with a scar and everyone laughed and repeated it.
I asked him whose food it was. He said it was free.
"Yes, but who donated it? Who's laying it on?"
"It's free because it's yours," came a reply.
A yellow micro-bus pulled up onto the grass, the side doors flew open and somebody threw out a thousand apples. A hippy with a blanket for a robe started throwing them into the air yelling: "Food as Medium!" Another stuffed a tree trunk with lettuce. Another fed a bunch of scallions to a great Dane. One poured some stew into a hole in the ground and claimed he was feeding his archetype heritage. Most of them, however, sat around and ate and smiled and gave each other cigarettes.
There was quite an assortment of food. Most of it was good, some of it was hot, all of it was healthy: Shopping bags filled with day old bread, wooden crates of tossed green salad, a ten gallon milk container steaming hot with turkey stew, and apples all over the ground.
A patrol car pulled up to the curb. A sergeant got out and stood in the street and watched. Somebody invited him to dinner, but he shook his head no. And, after a while, he left.
Someone started mouthing a harp, someone else a recorder, then a flute and everybody's bowls became drums beating out a song against the 'Evil Auto' and the noise it makes and the accidents it involves and the war it supports and the air it pollutes and the monopolies it feeds.
The cars gushed up and down the streets of the Panhandle with a steady roar while their drivers stared out of windows wondering what was going on. Some of them knew. They stopped and passed food to the DIGGERS. Sometimes a cake, sometimes fruit, sometimes a bushel of radishes. A farmer in Carmel dropped off a box of tomatoes via a friend who was on his way to Oregon who promised to bring something back with him.
He was thanked, but warned with a chuckle: "If you have to buy it, the DIGGERS don't want it!"
Everyone was relaxed. Words were used to sparkle eyes, break mouths into smiles, letters into tongued vibrations and meaning in-coherent.
The DIGGER PAPERS reflect this kind of atmosphere. They're mimeographed sheets with words jammed onto them and DIGGERS hand them out once or twice a week on Haight street around six o'clock. Nobody seems to know who writes them, but most agree that the DIGGERS are behind autonomy.
An orange PAPER is headed COOL CRANBERRY HORSE-HAIRED MOUTH CLUTTERED WITH APPLE CORES and begins "and so, I suffered an awful frenzy of collapsed assumptions." The footnote at the end reads: "Regarding inquiries concerned with the identity and whereabouts of the DIGGERS: We are happy to report that the DIGGERS are not that."
And so is the BARB.
Berkeley Barb, Nov. 25, 1966, p. 6
There has been talk of a psychedelic revolution (overthrow or return to source). It is yet to be seen. There is perhaps a germinal revolution, barely born, but already torn at and choked by residue from the past. We are at a loss for a frame of reference within which to operate freely, harmoniously and generously.
These questions are dedicated to re-discovering that province bordered by childhood and compromise, death and resurrection.
There is a magazine on the stands called ID. It has a full page ad by Bally shoes, a full page by Town Squire and a nice picture of Big Brother and the Holding Co. It's mod, camp, -- an organ of the revolution. There are tribes of natives that will not be photographed because they believe that the photographer then possesses their spirit. One might laugh, but they are correct. Big Brother had his image lifted while he wasn't looking. Whatever the revolutionary implications of his band are, none threaten Town Squire and Bally and all they stand for. By sponsoring the magazine the merchants simply attached the rock-revolution image to their product the same way they would have attached Loretta Young's in the '40s or Mickey Mantle's in the 50's.
The Charlatans recently filmed a hair tonic commercial. What is their excuse for contributing to an unlovely and crumby state of mind, a lie (people will love you if your hair's combed/breath's bright/tits big)? Is it money? Exposure? Why that's just like Jayne Mansfield. The fame/power/money trip is the old story again, hardly central to making music or beads or flutes or any disinterested act of involvement, of worship. It's a bad habit, or are the boys telling us where they really are?
Why is it necessary to pay two and a half dollars to go to a dance. What's revolutionary about that? Bands don't have to join the union. The unions don't care a damn about consumers, they're out for their slice of the pie. Why join except to get your slice? Why pay rent on a hall? Why not pressure the city into putting on block dances, parking lot dances, FREE dances. Would Chet Helm and Bill Graham oppose that? That would be a revolution; something joyous and free in America.
It seems curious that the first public manifestation of psychedelics was the dances at two and a half a shot. Liberation on weekends. Get rid of your filthy materialistic cash .....give it to me.
Where will Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead et al go but up to bigger gigs, better publicity, managers -- etc. until they are ***STARS***. Where's the revolution? Long-hair? Beautiful clothes? Would our soldiers be substantially different if we dressed them mod? John Wayne in Carnaby St. clothes.
Reaction is not liberation. Why do kids panhandle for dimes instead of tomatoes? Why steal indiscriminately. Why not ask for what you really want (or is it money?)? Why not steal from the victimizers (use your imagination) and leave the victims (use your instincts) alone?
Have we come this far to be caught in the game of opposites? If the society is A are we to be anti-A or can we make the leap to B or out of alphabets altogether? As it is now, the street scene is the subliminal content of capitalism: egocentric, competitive, and material. The reaction to lousy politics is no politics; the reaction to mind-prison Communism has been no communism; the reaction to bullshit ideology has been no ideology ... in all cases the logical obverse; the least imaginative and most obvious recourse.
Safety lies in the imagination, in harmony, in the resolution of contradictions between knowledge and action. We have lots of knowledge but it's useless unless it changes acts or frame of reference. We live in a society which is structured in such a way as not to admit knowledge which will damage it and we grow up with these same dichotomies. nice man like Ralph Gleason writes for an organ of our contemporary consciousness; the factory owner studies the Greeks at night and gives scholarships, Africa's Voerward was a philosopher. What in his knowledge of that discipline prevented him from being a fascist?
An instant behind the professors' lectern innocent people, yellow children of God, are being sizzled by the idea that gives Sonny a yellow Chevrolet. America tells us that there is no mangled foot in the glove compartment, but some shrink stink gets us dizzy at high speeds. The teacher grades the integers of war industry, has to, always will until he stops. The only way to avoid a game is to stop playing it.
The problem is to preserve human consciousness long enough to alter it. We must recognize that tactically (though not as a principle) there is an "us" and "them" and them wants our ass. Not to recognize that is crazy dangerous. The McCarthy period, as its euphemistically referred to showed quite clearly what happened to the loner in the face of centralized oppression: thousands of people were quietly pulled from their jobs while their colleagues stood idly by or replaced them in an effort to hold onto what they had. If they hadn't stood by there would have been something like a general strike and McCarthy would have died glad years earlier than he did. Expect to face the same oppression and expression of fear and outrage that all dissenters through history have faced.
Things are going well but should go better. They can only go better when we investigate our own directions and see which are outmoded reactions from the past and which are true.
The "hip" merchants along Haight Street with notable exception (Psych shop and Phoenix) are talking about ridding the street of "loiterers" (on public streets?) and panhandlers -- the kids that made the scene they are there to capitalize on. "Money doesn't talk, it swears" so do it for free. Do it for love. That way is safety.
One more frame of reference: Man is a herd animal. Ecologically the herd is a protective device. It is also warm and comforting in the dark.
Berkeley Barb, Nov. 18, 1966, p.6
From the time we begin to call our childhood our past we seek to regain its simplicity. Its tense of presence. We tumble into drugs and cleave reality into so many levels of game. We turn our backs on the mess and walk into the woods, but only for a time. A game is a game is a game is a game and we return to the silent -- crowded -- uptight sidewalks with our pockets full of absurdity and compromise between cowardice and illusion.
Wearing hipsterism on our sleeves, we make music with mercenary groups who bleed money from any fools on the street, or we carve leather into sandals for twenty dollars a pair, or shape forms into art while a psychiatrist whispers formulae for a healthy
life-lihood into our ear. And we smile all the time and stack a stereo with names we meet at parties and scoff at all the Sanpaku people cluttering up outside. We explode the myth of seriousness and wrap our bodies in a vinyl shield to coat our minds with microcosmic awareness of our own safety. We sophisticate our tastes in order to tap dance by hassles and shove the poignancy of 'bring downs' into impersonal shadows. We focus everything towards the transcendence of daily consciousness: macrobiotic diets, hallucinogens, eastern and western aesthetics, philosophies, etc.
Our salaried hipness blankets us in the warmth of security until we masturbate ourselves into an erection of astral rapaciousness and grab whatever pleasures we might in the name of Love, always quick to contrast ourselves with middle-class man.
If there is a contrast, it is slight. Hip and middle-class (as well as communist, fascist, socialist, and monarchist) values, goals, reactions and attitudes offer different styles, but amount to the same end: personal, national, or racial success. "Rien ne reussi comme le
The Hipster, however, invites the indignation of his allies with a mockery of 'straightness' and his alienation from the social norms of morality and dress. He is the perfection of success -- liberated from the inhibitive life of bourgeoise conformity and established in a packed class of happiness which combines the highest material pleasure with a total lack of commitment to middle-class humanism.
He is hated, feared, and envied. He is a man who can sing about the evils of the world, the beauty of touch, the delicacy of flowers, and scream systemicide while margining profits into war economies and maintaining his comfort on a consumer level of luxury. (Oh, excuse me. I see. He's educating the mass and his pay is only incidental -- compared to the millions of converts he has inspired with his orchestrated love. Ho, hum . . .)
Well, when some of us get to that bracket, either through fame or fortune, we look at ourselves and remember the 'Funk" that pushed us into the Lime, and we react. We may open peace centers with our money and contribute to the cause of freedom, or we may plow ourselves into the corner of "who cares" and paddy-cake fortunes, or we may drop out all over again and go back to the woods, and stare at the preposterousness of doing our thing within the frame of a reality that can incorporate and market anyone, anything, anytime. And then we may begin to understand that if some attempt is not made to manage the world with love, it will run mad and overwhelm everything, including the woods.
And so, we stay dropped-out. We won't, simply won't play the game any longer. We return to the prosperous consumer society and refuse to consume. And refuse to consume. And we do our thing for nothing. In truth, we live our protest. Everything we do is free because we are failures. We've got nothing to lose, so we've got nothing to lose.
We're not foiled anymore by the romantic trappings of the marketeers of expanded consciousness. Love isn't a dance concert with a light show at $3 a head. It isn't an Artist Liberation Front "Free" Fair with concessions for food and pseudo
psychedelia. It is the SF Mime Troupe performing Free Shows in the parks while it is being crushed by a furious $15,000 debt. It is Arthur Lisch standing under a blue flag in Hunters Point scraping rust off the tin-can memorial to Matthew Johnson from two to five everyday. It is free food in the Panhandle where anyone can do anything with the food they bring to each other. It is Love. And when love does its thing it does it for love and separates itself from the false-witness of the Copsuckers and the Gladly Dead.
To Show Love is to fail. To love to fail is the Ideology of Failure. Show Love. Do your thing. Do it for FREE. Do it for Love. We can't fail. And Mr. Jones will never know what's happening here, do you Mr. Jones.
[Signed ---george metesky.]