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Free Food began, had been ball-breaking lonely for Emmett. No one was really into the food but him and the women. In fact, if it hadn't been for those women there wouldn't have been 4 P.M. Free Food in the park everyday or any day. They were the real strength in the Haight-Ashbury community, the real Diggers. Cooking two or three twenty-gallon milk cans full of stew for two hundred people can be a goof, if you do it once a year, but try doing it for two or three days in a row, for two or three weeks, for two or three months. And not get paid--not make any money from it at all. It's a bitch!
The news media began referring to the Diggers as "a sort of hippie philanthropic, do-gooder organization based in the Haight-Ashbury"; as "Mod Monks," and as "a new breed of hip Salvation Army social workers without portfolio." No matter how deep into the streets they delved, they couldn't come up with anyone who would claim responsibility for any of the Digger above-ground activities. Emmett was enormously popular on the streets and because of this, and because he continued to shun publicity, giving the press the goby, the HIP class regarded him with a certain apprehension and dislike. He didn't care. He knew what he was doing and he just didn't care. However, the growing spotlight scene annoyed Billy Landout who split for the East Coast to see if he could rustle up anything in New York. Everyone, including Coyote and the Hun, thought Bill was an innocent, holy, little guy, but Emmett knew better. He knew him when he was a tough kid on the streets of Brooklyn, and he hadn't changed. The toughness was still there, he was just very quiet about it. William Everard seemed to have been the same way. He also pulled the same kind of a fade back in the seventeenth century, leaving the historians puzzled as to what kind of a man he had been and what type of a role he played within that Digger movement. It's doubtful Billy Landout had the same sense of history, he simply wanted to have a chocolate egg-cream at the Gem Spa candy store on the Lower East Side, that's all. After he had gone, the Hun started a rumor that Billy had left because the city of San Francisco wasn't big enough for both Emmett and him. Emmett only heard that dumb gossip weeks later, after he had just spoken with Billy long distance, and it was too late to do anything about it. It was a pretty cheap shot to take at someone, Emmett thought. "But what the fuck! Some people are just small that way," and he forgot about it.
A public health eviction notice was slapped on the Page Street Free Frame because several people were crashing there. But an em
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ployee of the Quakers, called Fish, found a new and much betterlocation right away and they moved. It was a storefront on Frederick Street with a kitchen, bathroom, a spacious interior and a large empty basement. Motorcycle Richie, Gary, and John-John transferred what stuff was needed from Page Street, and Emmett stenciled the name of the new place over the front window: The Free Frame of Reference. He thought about putting up Number Two but decided it would have been too corny. Quaker Fish got his wife to sign the lease before she divorced him and returned to her parents in New England. There was a room in the back, to the right of the kitchen, which John-John, Gary, and Richie made into a bunkhouse, building beds and stealing some furniture. It was too small to sleep more than six or seven, so everyone else who wanted to crash used the basement floor which was covered wall to wall with mattresses. The women continued to cook the 4 P.M. Free Food at their house on Clayton Street, leaving the kitchen to be used only for coffee and whatever snacks had been lifted from somewhere.
The Ford wagon finally up and died one day, and it looked like the yellow submarine wasn't going to last much longer either, being driven sixteen to twenty hours a day. Emmett and a crew of Diggers were discussing the need for another vehicle, when in the front door walked Richard Brautigan, a tall, carrot-haired, thirty-five-year-old poet wearing grandpa glasses, a peacoat and a floppy, wide-brimmed, felt hat. He also sported a golden bristled moustache, which drooped over his upper lip like a nodding eyelash. Richard called his poems "Tidbits" and he wrote quite a few for the free handbills which were mimeographed and distributed by the Communication Company, a small organization set up by two office-staffers of Ramparts magazine. Their names were Claude and Chester and, turned on by the style of the Digger Papers, they effectively replaced the need for them by printing single-sheet newspapers which were handed out along Haight Street several times a day. The Communication Company was one of the best newspapers any community ever had.
Brautigan had some news himself that day--an item about a wealthy, young woman named Flame who wanted to buy the Diggers something they could use, and needed.
"Would she go for a pickup truck?" someone asked.
"Sure," came the reply, and Butcher Brooks jumped to his feet, asking Richard to take him to her and telling everyone else that he would be back that evening with a pickup he had his eye on. And
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that evening he did return, driving a '58 Chevy pickup in great condition with a brand new set of tires. Next to him on the front seat sat a stunning redhead with long, full hair and skin the color of ivory. She was Flame all right and she soon became Brooks's old lady, living with him in another storefront on Webster S~treet in the Fillmore.
The pickup truck almost became a serious problem. Since it was registered to a nonexistent person, everyone wanted to drive it and make believe it was theirs. Emmett put an end to all that by taking the keys and either driving it himself or only allowing someone like Butcher Brooks to use it to take care of Digger business. The need was too great and it was too valuable in those terms to be squandered on tripsters who wanted to drive around Haight Street pretending they were hot-shot characters in a B movie. The truck was used as a free bus, however, picking up passengers along the streets who didn't have the fare for a regular one. This was done whenever it wasn't being used for something more important to the community as a whole. In fact every time the Diggers moved the vehicle, it was filled either with people, or stuff to be given away--it was never empty.
In the rear of the Frederick Street Free Frame of Reference was the free store, brimming over with liberated goods to be shared with whoever needed them. In the front of the place was a large space kept clear of furniture and made available as a lounge or hangout for the casualties of the so-called Love Generation. Kids who were beaten down by the mean streets or the cold, wet, foggy, San Francisco climate. Doctors would come by almost every evening to examine lines of them for things like hepatitis and bronchial disorders, sending them to the S.F. General Hospital when they showed symptoms of a serious illness. The Free Food continued to keep everybody from malnutrition except for the heavy dopers who stonerefused to get next to anything nutritional--so they died. Emmett had to be cautious about stealing meat because of his probation, and therefore the stew was usually made from a poultry stock. He met some right guys in a halfway house, however, who had just been released from Folsom and San Quentin, and they fingered some easy food scores for him. For a while things picked up, but only for a while.
It was at this same halfway house that the Quakers offered Emmett a ten-thousand-dollar-a-year job to do the same work he was doing, but as a member of their organization. They balked, how
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ever, when he asked them to give him the year's salary in advance, in one lump sum. Other churches and social organizations became interested in the Diggers and the work they were doing, but they were usually put off by Emmett's purposely hostile attitude, especially when he told them to go and take care of their own backyards, starting with the redistribution of their sect's wealth to the poor. The HIP merchants and others like them seldom approached Emmett, and when they did they treated him as if he were a combination of John Garfield, Timothy Carey and Pat O'Brien. That is to say, they showed him a condescendingly fearful respect.
The dope dealers usually stayed away, too, but one day the biggest dealer of top quality LSD, who was known as Bear, sent someone around with ten thousand tabs of white-lightning acid that had just been produced in the lab and was not as yet marketed. After the delivery was made to Frederick Street, the dealers sat back and waited to see whether the Diggers and their free giveaway were for real. You see, the ten thousand tabs were all the same color white and none of them had appeared in public. Therefore, they were identifiable. It didn't take long for the word to get around about what was being done with them. When it was certain they had been freely distributed among the Haight community, Bear came around himself to meet this Emmett Grogan and give him some more, along with seventy-five twenty-pound turkeys, in anticipation of the Human Be-In.
The Human Be-In was the brainstorm of the Haight Independent Proprietors and their market researchers and consumer consultants--who'd pointed out the need for national publicity, if the HIP associates hoped to merchandise their hippie paraphernalia to the international department store chains and to the smaller shops throughout the country. The HIP merchants were naturally afraid that Emmett and the Diggers might seize upon the moment to disturb their sweet, lovey-dovey courtship of the media by revealing the unstrained, unclean truth about the Love Ghetto. That's what the gifts of acid and turkey seemed to Emmett to be about--sort of a HIP version of a Jaycee basket of cheer. The Diggers had been working in the community for over four months, and even though the HIP merchants claimed in interviews to have helped, they never gave them a hand with anything. The acid was to have been their insurance against any outbursts to the press, but it didn't work out that way because it wasn't sold by the Diggers, so there was no debt owed. The only reason Emmett accepted the fowl and dope dona [end page 267]
tions in the first place was that it wasn't entirely up to him. Theothers, like John-John and Gary, all dug the idea of themselves in the benevolent roles, giving away free acid to the people they knew on the street. All the street people were handed five hits of LSD apiece, and were asked to share them with others. But if they dealt the five to someone, for some needed cash, or swallowed all of them, or flushed them down the toilet or whatever, that was okay, too. It was free, it was theirs, they could do what they wanted with it.
The ironic part of the bribe was its total unnecessity. The HIP merchants didn't have to worry about Emmett's talking to the press and exposing the dreg of casualties in the Love Ghetto because he was cultivating his anonymity as a line of defense; a first line of defense against being devoured by a glut of cheap, fashionable notoriety; self-protection from arrest, prosecution and anything else that might impair his ability to perform. He wasn't denying his leadership by doing this, he was just seeking to maintain a distinctly low profile of himself as a leader. The Haight-Ashbury was jampacked with reporters from every medium, and Emmett never said a word to any of them about the "Love Generation." The only scribe he did speak with was Poet Allen Ginsberg, who came to the city to counsel the HIP merchants on the structure he felt the Human BeIn should take. He invited Ginsberg over to the Frederick Street Free Frame one evening to hang out with the people there. He came, bringing Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert along with him. Many things can be said about Allen Ginsberg but only one really matters and is completely deserving: he's a good person and there aren't many around. The same didn't seem to be true of Leary or Alpert; and the young street people sitting close together around the floor in the Free Frame of Reference seemed to understand that. Especially one very young girl whose eyes were flirting with vacancy. As the two LSD shamans pitched their psychedelic banter, riffing about the transcendental importance of an inner life, this little girl stood up and announced, "You don't turn me on!" She held her ground and kept repeating the same accusation: "You don't turn me on!" And the others agreed with her and also began to chant, until everyone was shouting--"You don't turn us on! You don't turn us on!"--forcing the two of them to leave with a good man who should have known better than to squander himself on a pair of charlatan fools.
That's what the young street people were bitching about. They weren't worried about what either of them were saying or particu
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larly concerned about the truth or falsity of it. Their beef was withthe way they were saying it, and neither Leary nor Alpert could carry the tune. But there they were every time you turned around --on the covers of magazines, on the radio and TV, all over the fucking place--representing them, the young people, the alternative culture. Two creepy, whiskey-drinking schoolteachers! It was sad and the young people in the Free Frame that night rejected out of hand the lie they were fed by the media and felt disappointed in themselves for having ever believed in the psychedelic duet.
Adjacent to the Free Frame of Reference was another storefront which had been leased by a Krishna consciousness group and fixed up for the arrival of His Divine Grace, the Swami. The dozen or so members of the Krishna commune were vegetarians and they used to eat an afternoon and evening meal while sitting around on pillows in a circle on the straw-matted floor. The only other activities these disciples seemed to engage in at their storefront, which they called a temple, were chanting mantras and listening to lectures by their Swami-Guru after he arrived from the East--the East Coast, that is. The disciples' heads were all shaven and they served their Swami twenty-four hours a day, believing that "if the spiritual master is pleased, then one can make great advances in the spiritual life." Nothing displeased the Swami more than "the disorderly bunch" that gathered inside the Free Frame of Reference next door to him, "clattering about like rowdies" and "creating a deafening din" which made it nearly impossible for his disciples to meditate. It didn't disturb his meditation, of course, he was a pro. His major ire, however, stemmed from the fact that the Diggers grabbed up most of the surplus from the Produce and Farmers markets, making it difficult for his disciples to elicit any religious offerings from the men who worked in the two wholesale outlets.
One night when Emmett was showing some movies in the Free Frame and the audience's laughter was particularly loud, the Swami became exasperated. He halted his talk and one of his disciples went to the pay phone on the corner and telephoned a complaint in to the park police station. The cops were evidently pleased by the call because they came immediately. The station was only around the block from the Free Frame and it was easy for them to mass together for a crackdown. A sixty-year-old lieutenant led two dozen cops and two paddy wagons the short distance. W. C. Fields' film The Bank Dick was being screened on a sheet draped across the front window and Emmett was standing by the door. He saw the cops begin to
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arrive. Little Robert, a tough, young Indian with some Chicano blood, long black hair and nobody, also saw them, and he locked the door after Emmett went outside to speak with the officer in charge about whatever it was all about.
There were cops all over the street now, and all of them were staring at the images moving around on the sheet-covered front window. There are several scenes in The Bank Dick where Keystone Cops chase equally bizarre robbers, and one of them was being projected at that moment. While Emmett was talking over the fire laws and the alleged overcrowding of the premises with the lieutenant, the Cops were running all over the screen after a pair of bank robbers, one of whom's name was Repulsive Grogan. It was a very funny scene with a hilarious chase sequence and plenty of slapstick laughs, but none of the cops, who were standing in full view of the images being projected on the sheet in the window, seemed amused. Not one of them even cracked a smile or made a joke, in fact, they even appeared to be embarrassed. Watching the flick over the lieutenant's shoulder, Emmett could also see that the coppers were eyeing him with obvious annoyance, apparently feeling he had planned everything that way to make them look stupid. Their looks were getting Emmett a bit edgy because he knew what they meant. He was glad the cops felt like assholes, just the same.
The lieutenant wasn't a prick but he was an old man who should have been retired. He informed Emmett that the gathering inside the Free Frame was in violation of all sorts of fire codes and health regulations, but he agreed that his patrolmen didn't have to enter the premises and that there was no need for any arrests. The crowd could exit in single file, he said, without any fear. Emmett nodded for Little Robert to open up and he went back inside to inform everybody about what was happening. He did it quickly and all of them got to their feet and began filing out onto the sidewalk.
The lieutenant was standing by the front door, with his men positioned in back of him making nasty cracks to the dispersing crowd. Just about everyone had left when there was a loud noise from inside and to the rear of the building. Emmett turned in time to see Patrolman Kerrens, the rat himself, come crashing through the kitchen window, knocking over all the food being warmed on the stove and the piles of plates used to share it. He was running up toward the front with his right arm raised and waving, shouting that he found an outfit, a set of gimmicks. He was lying, of course, hav
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ing brought the works with him when he jumped through the window.
Little Robert caught Emmett's eye, and he slipped downstairs to the basement. It was a smart move. There were a few needle freaks crashing in the cellar and they had probably left behind their spikes when the lieutenant had ordered the place vacated. If the cops found their paraphernalia, Emmett would be rousted and probably convicted on a narcotics charge, but Little Robert's snap thinking insured that nothing was found in the basement.
Kerrens's shouting triggered the other coppers standing out front and they surged inside, actually, bowling over their rusty-gun lieutenant, as they moved. Seeing Kerrens running toward him, Emmett blew it and caught him full flush in his guileful mouth with a roundhouse right which he hooked practically from the floor. Kerrens galloped Smack! into it, his legs kicking out from under him as he smashed Bam! onto the floor, stretched flat. He went down so fast and stiff, it was just like the rapid-speed antics of the Keystone Cops in the Bank Dick movie, which no one bothered to shut off. The coppers almost stomped on the cold-cocked Kerrens as they all piled over one another for a clear shot at Grogan--imitating the Keystone Cops on the film-screen, who were also colliding into each other while attempting to apprehend the other Grogan. It was a comedy, all right, with cops mimicking cops, and Emmett thought he was dreaming. The last thing he saw before a blackjack put out his lights, was Repulsive Grogan firing at the Keystones from the back of a vintage convertible roadster driven by W. C. Fields who was mouthing some astute observation about the poor quality of modern firearms compared to the sound reliability of the flintlocks of yore.
The cops tore the Free Frame of Reference apart and destroyed all they could. They poured the foodstuff on the kitchen floor and added water until it became slop. They ripped up the clothes hanging on the free store racks and threw paint over them. When everything was smashed and broken, they brought Emmett around and dragged him into a squadrol. They drove him away, and the crowd which had grown to about five hundred, remained quiet. No one else was arrested. Little Robert snuck out of the Free Frame while the two sets of cops were trying to pounce on the two different Grogans.
At the park police station, Kerrens was still shaken, with a split fat lip and a swollen mouth, and Emmett thought he was going to
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catch one hell of a fucking beating--the kind of beating that doesn't give you time to worry about disfigurement, just allows enough thought to hope you'11 continue breathing after you pass out. His partner drove Kerrens to the hospital for treatment, and Emmett wondered whether they were going to bring him there, too, because of the way his forehead had been cut by the sap. The lieutenant was still peeved at having been disobeyed, disregarded and kicked aside by his men, and he ordered a plainclothesman to drive Emmett to the city prison. He wanted the prisoner to be booked and locked up downtown because he felt there would be more trouble for him if he put Grogan into one of the back cells where the rank and file could get at him and probably beat him to death. Needless to say, Emmett felt that the lieutenant had made a wise decision.
The next morning he woke up in the felony tank, all bruised and very sore. After a lump of oatmeal for breakfast, he was taken downstairs for arraignment. The courtroom was filled with spectators and a murmur rose as he entered. Both his eyes were puffed, but he could see the familiar faces of people he knew, sitting on the rows of seats in the gallery. He returned their signs of encouragement with a smile before turning to face the bench. He felt good that they were there, good that the people were behind him, good that he wasn't alone.
Butch Hallinan, the eldest son of the famed attorney, Vincent Hallinan, was his lawyer. He had tried to get Emmett out on bond earlier that morning but no bail had been set. He was being held on a probation hold because he violated his probation by getting himself arrested, and bail could not be posted or set without the approval of his probation officer. The P.O. was in the courtroom, seated alone near the empty jury box.
The prosecutor began to read off the charges that were filed against him and--as they always do--he simply read aloud the number of the penal code that was alleged to have been violated and not the name of the crime it represented. As the prosecutor was mouthing off a whole string of these numbers, he came to one which no one seemed able to identify--not him, or the defense counsel, or even the judge, who finally asked his court clerk to look the number up in the California book of penal codes. When the clerk located its meaning, he brought the lexicon over to the bench and his honor announced that it meant maintaining and operating an opium den. The courtroom burst into lau~hter, and the judge had to gavel for
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order before continuing. "It says here that there has to have been an Oriental present at the time of the offense in order for this to be a valid charge. Was there an Oriental present when this defendant was arrested, Mister Prosecutor?" The courtroom began to convulse, and even the judge seemed to think that it was mildly amusing for he pointed out that "no one has been arrested or charged with this crime, since the year 1891."
When order was restored to the court, Butch Hallinan began the defense argument by shouting that the cops and the D.A.'s office were harassing Grogan and conspiring to violate his rights guaranteed under the Constitution. He was getting a bit carried away but the judge calmed the proceedings by asking him to approach the bench with the prosecutor. Emmett's P.O. joined the huddle and his honor accepted the prosecution's advice and dismissed all the charges against the defendant. The tremendous deluge of unfavorable publicity that was bound to stem from the opium den charge, the prosecutor felt, would surely lead to other charges that the police had infringed upon the rights of the defendant and so forth. These claims would probably be accompanied by an outcry of "frame" and it all wasn't worth it, as far as the assistant district attorney could see.
Emmett was impressed because they even dropped the charge of assaulting a police officer, and after a brief chat with his P.O. he was cut loose. Several reporters from both the establishment and underground media tried to interview him when he was released from the city prison. Their persistence finally forced him to break the story in the press so they would all quit trying to scoop an exclusive out of him. He did it by contacting a radical weekly that had just begun publishing and wasn't going to last very long--The Sunday Rarnparts. The newspapers were apparently hot about his story because of the mutiny angle and he was careful to emphasize that part in the short interview he telephoned into Ramparts. He said the lieutenant "seemed to be getting on in years and his men showed him nothing but an incredible disrespect. He lost charge wllen his subordinates pushed him to the ground out of their way and actually ran over him in their absurd, uncontrollable and childish anger with me for having accidentally knocked off one of the patrolmen's hats. It was sad and certainly disgraceful for the bystanders to witness how a bunch of grown police officers disregarded their lieutenant and commander in charge, tossing him aside as if he was a piece of trash or something." The story broke under headlines on the [end page 273]
front page of the citywide weekly and it caused a mild controversy at city hall. There was serious embarrassment for the park station's commanding officers. They were quizzed by other reporters who investigated what became "their discipline problem" with probing questions that disturbed the status quo of the station house for a while. It wasn't much of a revenge, of course, but it did offer a bit of satisfaction. And a week or so later someone fired a few rounds through the front window of Kerrens's house as he sat down for supper. Apparently the bullets weren't aimed at him, just a few warning shots, splintering a glass and the salt and pepper shakers. Emmett wondered who'd done it, and also what sort of a cordial prank he could pull on the swami in his Krishna reservoir of pleasure. But he forgot about all of it when he cooled and resigned himself to the fact that there were more important things to do than begin a religious war.
The Human Be-In was publicized as a "Gathering of the Tribes," but it was actually more a gathering of the suburbs with only a sprinkling of nonwhites in the crowd of three hundred thousand. It was a showcase for beaded hipsterism with only one stage for the assembly to face. On it sat the HIP merchants, their consultants, and several psychedelic superstars, while the Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Airplane and The Grateful Dead played their sets over a PA system guarded by Hells Angels who were asked to do so after several incidents had occurred. The turkeys had been made into thousands of sandwiches under John-John's supervision, and the bread was salted down with crushed acid. Gary organized the free distribution of the sandwiches to those who looked like they needed something to eat, physically or spiritually. Afterwards, Emmett walked to one side of the stage and stood below it, watching the socalled luminaries of the alternative culture. He felt a sense of anger and despair over the way the Be-In had been set up and presented. Their advertising had assembled three hundred thousand people, and all they gave them was a single stage with a series of schmucks schlepping all over it, making speeches and reciting poetry nobody could hear, with interludes of music. It was even more incredible to Emmett that the crowd crushed forward for a better spot where they could stargaze at the feeble spectacle. The HIP merchants had invited the Berkeley radicals to participate in the Be-In, as a placating gesture to the left-wing, liberal media. They were more than happy to come, of course, and were represented on the stage by the babyfat runt himself, Jerome Rubin. All made up in the image of a true
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Russian theorist complete with a Trotsky-Stalinesque moustache, he called for a marriage between the Haight-Ashbury and Berkeley tribes, proclaiming that "our smiles are our political banners and our nakedness is our picket sign!" He was awed and shaken by the enormity of the crowd and several times he seemed about to wet his pants, ecstatic over his getting to speak to so many at once. But he was afraid to begin sounding like the cornball square he is, so he gave up the microphone after a few minutes and sat down to ask his gooseberry, Stew Alpert, whether he had come on like a hippie or an old straight. Stew Alpert is to Jerome Rubin what Clyde Tolson is to John Edgar Hoover and he was quick to assure him that he flashed everyone with his ability to make hip-sounding remarks and even shocked some with his new image. Timothy Leary followed and he seemed to be a bit juiced, only able to mumble, "Tune-in, turn-on, drop-out," once or twice to the crowd before he sat back down with that same old shit-eating grin all over his face.
Allen Ginsberg, like everyone on the stage, was pleased with the giant, press publicity-engineered turn-out of people. He even appeared to believe that the mere assembling of such a crowd was a superworthy achievement in itself, negating any need for further action. In a way it did. Since the body count of three hundred thousand assured the HIP and their friends of worldwide media coverage, why give the press anything to photograph or write about other than the people who gathered? That way it was one great big fashion show, that's all.
More ham chewers trouped up to the mike and kept saying how wonderful it was with all that energy in one place at the same time. Just being. Being together--touching, looking, loving, embracing each other--that's what it was all about, they said: "The New Consciousness!" Then, the mantra began: "We are one!" "We are one!" Three hundred thousand people shouted repeatedly that they were one, and Emmett just sat on the grass and watched them pretend, wondering how long it was going to take before people stopped kidding themselves.
Someone parachuted out of a single-engine plane into the middle of the meadow and several thousand people began swearing that they just saw a vision of God. Poet Gary Snyder ended it all by blowing on a conch shell and everyone turned toward the falling sun and walked toward the Pacific Ocean to watch the dusk from the beach.
Later that evening and throughout the following week, the mass
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media kept applauding and broadcasting the news about what they called the dawning of a new era for the country and for the world. They pointed out that everything had been peaceful with no fights among the gigantic crowd of three hundred thousand. Well, no large, serious slugfests, at least. Just a few dozen minor stompings. The love shuck was given momentum by all the coverage, and the press even began calling the Love Ghetto of Haight-Ashbury things like "Psychedelphia" and "Hashbury." The HIP merchants were astounded by their own triumph in promoting such a large market for their wares. They became the Western world's taste makers overnight and built a power base upon their notoriety and their direct line into the mass media. The city's officialdom began to take the HIP leadership class a little more seriously. They held public conferences with them about token problems, like the rerouting of the municipal buses to avoid clogging up the Haight Street traffic, which was already overburdened with squares, shopping for a farout pulchase to bring back to suburbia.
Emmett was angry. He didn't give a fuck about how much bread the HIP merchants were making, or particularly care that only a chosen few in the community were actually benefiting from these profits. He was simply angered by the outrageous publicity that the Haight Independent Proprietors had created to develop new markets for the merchandising of their crap--angry about how their newsmongery was drawing a disproportionate number of young kids to the district that was already overcrowded--thousands of young, foolish kids who fell for the Love Hoax and expected to live comfortably poor and take their place in the district's kingdom of love. Angry with most of the heads in the community who were earning a dollar doing something, like the rock musicians, and kidding themselves by feeling that all the notoriety was good and would bring more money into the underground and expand the HIP shops, providing more jobs for those who wanted them. The truth was that the disastrous arrival of thousands too many only meant more money for the operators of fly-by-night underground-culture outfits, the dope dealers, and the worst of the lot, the shopkeepers who hired desperate runaways to do piecework for them at sweatshop wages. It was a catastrophe and there was nothing to be done except leave, or try to deal with it as best one could. Whenever someone sought to reveal the truth of the situation, they were put down, ignored or dismissed as being unhip by the longhaired, false-bottomed hipsters who had money in the bank. Emmett understood that he might be
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making a mistake by judging his anonymity more important than exposing the hype that was going down, but he felt it would be dumb to open his mouth to the media. He would only end up as down payment for the future of a mob of middle-class kids who were just experimenting with hunger--youngsters who were playing hooky from suburbia to have an adventure of poverty. He felt that most of them would return to the level of society which bred them but he also knew that some of them would never, ever get back home to compare their stories of wantage with their parents' "You'll-never-know-what-it-was-like" tales of the Depression.
"Emmett Grogan" had become an anonym to the public and he understood that. It would have been relatively easy for him to have captured the media spotlight, gain recognition, and finesse his own acclamation as a leader by broadcasting to the youth of the nation, telling them to stay where they were because they had been deceived. But it already seemed too late to stop them. They were thoroughly duped into coming to the Haight-Ashbury and they were eagerly on their way and there was nothing to be done. He decided to continue in his attempt to effect something substantial and relevant to cope with the oncoming invasion, instead of exchanging his anonymity for the notoriety which would have accompanied his denunciation of the HIPs as pigs to the press.
He had been dealing in Free Food for over four months now, and things like Free Food do something to a person when he keeps them going for a long time. They tend to give him a healthy respect for reality and a deep disdain for the fake political ploys of the fraudulent Left. And so, he went on as a Digger, doing things that were, at least, pertinent and to the point of some community need, and he left the performance of trivial, unavailing antics to the fatuous publicity seekers who were most of the self-proclaimed radical spokesmen of his generation.
His seemingly resolute adherence to anonymity confused the political careerists, and he enjoyed watching them try to figure out whether he was just a sucker or someone with an angle up his sleeve. But he never thought about the semantics or tactics of politics long enough for him to become bitter. His work kept him too tired and busy to want to hassle himself about mere words and people who did nothing but use them. There was, however, a large group of men in the city who functioned only with words, but whose use of them was very important to Emmett. They were the poets who first broadcast the news to him--the news that he now needed to know. They had
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all come to San Francisco for a sort of reunion, using the activity surrounding the Human Be-In as their point of convergence. Emmett wanted to meet and speak with all of them and was knocked out when Richard Brautigan told him that the poets felt the same way about the Diggers and wanted to have a poetry reading for them.
The arrangements were quickly made for a reading to be held in Gino and Carlo's bar in the beat section of North Beach. It was advertised by word of mouth, and by a newspaper columnist as a "benefit for the Diggers." So many poets showed up to read that night, and so many people came to listen, that the gathering had to be divided in half between Gino's and another bar, forcing the poets to walk back and forth to each place if they wanted their poetry to be heard by everyone.
The people who made up the audience that night had been reading news stories and had been hearing about the Diggers and "their philanthropic social work" for months, but never anything about where the Diggers got the money to do all those things. So when the word went out that the reading was to be a benefit for the Diggers, they naturally assumed that meant a donation. But it didn't. There was no admission or cover charge or money collected in either bar--it was all free. Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder accidentally passed a hat around Gino's for a collection, however, while the Diggers were arranging things at the other location. When Emmett and Coyote arrived, the money had already been collected and the hat was given to them. But, instead of accepting it, the two immediately asked for everyone's attention and announced that there was a mistake. "The only type of benefit that could be thrown for the Diggers is one where everything is free!" Then, they gave the hat to the bartender and told him to count the money out on the bar in front of everybody, and to continue buying rounds for the crowd for as long as the bread held out.
"That's a Digger benefit!" laughed Coyote, and everyone applauded.
And Gary Snyder remarked to Allen Ginsberg, "Did you see that? They gave it all away--back to the people!" The money lasted a long time because there was a lot of it in that hat. "An awful lot of it," Emmett had thought when it was handed to him. It was far into the morning before the sound of poetry turned into conversation, and everyone agreed that a good time was had by all. The only other
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poets the people would like to have seen there that night were Charles Olson and Gregory Corso, but they were well represented, even though they hadn't been able to make it to San Francisco.
Emmett admired all the poets but valued one in particular because, unlike most members of the Beat Generation, he spoke about the discipline of Eastern philosophies with more than abstract knowledge. Gary Snyder went to Japan and became a Zen Master. On returning to the United States, he wrote a poem which the editors of the S.F. Oracle wanted to publish in their psychedelic paper as an example of his new work. He gave it to them but they only ran it in the first couple of copies of an early edition, pulling it out of print because, they claimed, it was "too hostile" to be compatible with their mild approach toward "consciousness raising." The poem simply seemed to indicate the need to relate man back to nature by calling for the correction of man's overall white, AngloSaxon way of thinking with American Indian, Japanese and Hindu thought. At least it seemed that way to Emmett, and he asked Gary Snyder if it was all right for him to have it printed up by the Communication Company and given away free. It was and he did.
ON THE MEN IN WASHINGTON. PENTAGON
om a ka ca ta ta pa ya sa suaha
As you shoot down the Vietnamese girls and men in their fields Burning and chopping, Poisoning and blighting,
So surely I hunt the white man down in my heart.
The crew-cutted Seattle boy
The Portland boy who worked for U.P. that was me.
I won't let him live. The "American"
I'll destroy. The "Christian" has long been dead.
They won't pass on to my children.
I'll give them Chief Joseph, the Bison herds,
Ishi, sparrowhawk, the Fir trees,
The Buddha, their own naked bodies,
Swimming and dancing and singing
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That my children may flourish
And yours won't live.
hi 'ni~wn ' 7rit~1. 'ki 'ni
A short time after that poetry reading, there occurred an event which was a turning point in the lives of many people. Several Diggers were still members of the S.F. Mime Troupe and they also belonged to the radical Artists Liberation Front, an organization comprised of Bay Area artists who sought to make visible the latent and often evil stupidity inherent in the American government's handling of our city, state and country's affairs. They would attempt to accomplish this through the sponsorship of art exhibitions, films, plays, concerts, or any event which had an educational theme geared toward heightening people's awareness of what was being done by politicians in their name.
Emmett, Coyote and the Hun frequently talked about the wealth of talent represented in ALF and discussed various ideas for getting them all to work together as artists on one giant project, on one colossal "liberating" event. The only real difficulty in organizing such a collaboration was finding a suitable location where the entire ALF membership could freely convene to perform en masse. They mentioned this one afternoon during a conference with two Methodist ministers who were also officers of the Glide Methodist Church. The parish of Glide Church is the Tenderloin or the Times Square district of San Francisco, making it one of a few churches in the world with a congregation composed largely of prostitutes and homosexuals of either sex. Because of this, Glide Church naturally placed much importance and effort on working to relieve social problems and to insure the welfare of its parishioners, as well as on maintaining a foundation which studied their sexual habits and did statistical research in conjunction with the Kinsey Institute.
When the two ministers pressed the topic further, they were told that the Artists Liberation Front simply needed a place to hold "a carnival of the performing arts" or a "happening." The ministers
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conferred for a moment, then gladly donated the use of any space or facility in their building, including the church itself with its cathedral-like interior. They did this without actually knowing what they were committing themselves and their church to, and Emmett and the ohers made a point of not telling them more of their plans than they thought was wise.
Later in the day, they telephoned around and arranged for the people they felt could organize a meaningful ALF event, to meet that night in the basement of Glide Church. By g P.M. everyone who had been asked to come had arrived and the planning session got started. There were poets Richard Brautigan and Lenore Kandel; Quaker Fish who acted as brilliant soft-pedaling liason with the Glide officialdom; Claude and Chester and the Communication Company; Coyote and his full-out blond Louisiana old lady, Sam, who had a distinct and widely known penchant for undressing any time socially; the Hun and his woman, Judith, a fine dancer and body psychologist extraordinaire; Butcher Brooks and Flame; Emmett and Natural Suzanne; Slim Minnaux and NanaNina, and soft, warm, beautiful, lonely Fyllis, who was jinxed with always being in love with someone else's man, more Diggers, more ALF members and a dark-haired, powerful-looking man of medium height who arrived with his wife, Lenore, and stood by himself during the entire meeting, periodically staring at Emmett with his intense, black eyes. The man's name was Tumble and he was thirty-three years old. At first, Emmett became confused by the attention Tumble was giving him, but quickly dismissed the looks to ccrncentrate on the discussion at hand.
The talk began with everyone asking each other what sort of improbabilities they would like to see happen in the different rooms, and it didn't take long for the suggestions to become bizarre. After a while, the separate offices and rooms of the Glide Church building, the interior of the house of worship itself, and the outside area and adjacent parking lot were marked off and designated to different groups of persons at the meeting. These individuals were to use the space or spaces they were assigned, and their various talents to design and create an assortment of permissive settings or scenes in which they themselves and others would be able to act out their own fantasies. They named the event "The Invisible Circus" and decided that in order for it to be effective it had to run for an entire weekend or a full three-day period. They also resolved to limit publicity to word of mouth with the exception of one thou [end page 281]
sand tricolor poster-handbills of a sketched circus-wagon announcing The Invisible Circus as a seventy-two hour environmental community happening sponsored by the Diggers, the Artists Liberation Front, and Glide Church, with the time, place and date. Emmett was enthusiastic and he worked hard on the event, whenever he could get away from the Free Frame of Reference and the Free Food for a while. Like the others involved, he wanted to show up the feebleness of most public gatherings, like the Human Be-In, by providing an ample opportunity for everyone who came to enjoy themselves as active participants in the happening, not passive stargazers.
He also became tight with Tumble during the time they spent realizing all the elaborate possibilities of the circus. Tumble lived in an apartment in North Beach, and often after they finished at the church late at night, Emmett would go back there with him and sit at a large, round table in his kitchen, talking about the Diggers and what they were into. Natural Suzanne would come along with him, sometimes, to watch Lenore sit at a little table over to one side of the kitchen, moving her intelligent, graceful hands quietly making the strong, exotic jewelry she sold to the large San Francisco Import Mart in North Beach. Tumble was turned on by the things Emmett spoke about and he began working with him, driving the Digger truck around on food runs and making pick-ups for the Free Frame of Reference. Emmett was very glad that Tumble wanted to lend himself to work because most of the Diggers, especially the former and/or continuing members of the S.F. Mime Troupe, had switched their attention and energies to the Invisible Circus and other guerrilla theater activities, leaving only a few who were willing to stand up under the pressure of the other work.
It didn't take long for some, like John-John, Gary, and Richie, to become bored with the monotonous heavy chores required at the Free Frame, and they would disappear during the day, returning there only to sleep at night. That left only the women, who came through like champs as usual, Little Robert, and a handful of others whenever they weren't in jail, and Emmett, who was getting irritable and very touchy under the strain, snapping at people and yelling all the time instead of talking. Now Tumble came, who was strong enough and had more than his share of the street-wisdom acquired by most men who had done terms, to lighten the load for everyone and allow them to relax a notch.
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The night of the Invisible Circus, the officials and ministers of Glide Church began to get rather nervous, wondering what they had gotten themselves into. They had accepted all the lies and halftruths liaisoned to them by Quaker Fish, but it was difficult to be deceived about what they saw with their own eyes. There was an elevator that ran from the street level entrance of the church to a large hall in the basement below, and Emmett had filled that hall with literally tons of shredded plastic he had spent days trucking over from a plastics factory. When people descended to the hall in the elevator, they stepped out into three feet of plastic strips and it was quite a struggle for them to move around, falling all over themselves as their feet got tied up in the strewn cord. Once they made it through the plastic jungle, they were confronted with a crush of people feeling each other up inside a low-ceilinged, cramped rec room that was sweltering hot because of its proximity to the boiler, and blustering with outrageous noise from a rock band whose amplified sound was so loud in that tiny space that it brought many to tears. The barren Formica church cafeteria took up the rest of the basement, and it had been turned into an R and R center, with a huge punch bowl on one of the tables filled with Tang spiked with salutary doses of acid. Upstairs, a row of a dozen separate offices had been redecorated as "love-making salons" with candles, incense, floor-mattresses covered with colorful spreads made in India, bottles of oils, perfumes and lubricants, doors with locks on their insides and all the light bulbs removed. Down the corridor from "love alley," Richard Brautigan, working with Claude and Chester, had set up "The John Dillinger Computer Service." Using the machinery from the Communication Company, they printed Flash! bulletins and news items, notifying everyone about what was going on where and how to get there and also telling them the news right after it happened. This was done by dispatching reporters all over the church to cover various events and report back to "Dillinger" headquarters to type their stories on stencils. With these stencils several hundred releases were immediately mimeographed and rapidly distributed to the crowd. One reporter even went across the street to a "Tenderloin" bar, bought a beer, and eavesdropped on a heated argument between the bartender and some of his patrons, while also jotting notes. Then he went back to the church, typed it all up, had it run off on the Gestetner, and returned to the bar with copies of the word-for-word report of the argument, which correctly
[end page 283]
named everybody in the bar who had been involved. It nearly blew the juiceheads' fucking minds to see themselves and what they were doing only a few minutes before, described in print.
The Hun was holding a conference "On the meaning of Obscenity" with a lawyer, a minister, a police-community relations cop, and himself seated at a large table with hundreds of spectators standing around watching. Behind them was a glass display case which was built into the wall with a door on the back of it that opened into another room. In that room was Slim Minnaux who opened the rear door of the case a crack and stuck his cock through, laying it on the only shelf. While the Hun was conducting the three knowledgeables in their serious discussion of obscenity, Slim was wagging his cock around on the shelf behind them, displaying it to the audience and none of the panel could figure out what was so goddamn funny.
The obscenity conference ended with a naked couple being carried into the room on a canopied mattress by four bearers, as if they were transporting an Egyptian pharaoh. They lowered the carriage onto the conference table, and the young man and woman began making love, as an enormous sheet of paper that was taped across and between the sidewalls to hide one third of the room burst open, and a dozen belly dancers leaped through. Sam led with her milkwhite skin moist and glistening, her nipples puckered taut and blushing pink, and a black silk scarf floating against her white hair and across her sloping back which was covered with prickly heat. Judith following with the others, dancing around the lovemakers to the beat of six or seven drums, and enticing the gathered to join in their erotic warmth.
The cathedral-like interior of the church itself was alive with hundreds of people actualizing their fantasies, while someone played Chopin's "Death March" on an electric organ. Several couples were draped over the main altar, fucking, as a giant, naked weight lifter towered above them, standing on top of some sort of tabernacle in a beam of light, masturbating and panting himself into a trance. Other persons were screaming their testimony, or giving witness over the loudspeakers from the microphones in the pulpit and the missal stand and beside the altar lectern. A dozen conga drums beat their rhythms against the walls, echoing high up in the archway. A man sat cross-legged on the carpet and traced the altar-facing with a set of multicolored, magic-markers. A pair of excited doves flew round and round, while people stripped off each other's clothing in
[end page 284]
the candlelight, and clouds of smoke from a thousand burning incense sticks swirled aloft to the center of the cupola. A group of drag queens stood in the vestibule giving each other head in an orgy of mmm's and ahhh's and being looked at by a small band of teenyboppers who were turning red in a flurry of giggles. Some Frisco Hells Angels were in the back pews being entertained by a beautiful woman dressed in a Carmelite nun's habit who kept shouting for "More! More!" and they were giving it to her. A black transvestite was on his knees screaming in contrition for his sins, as he was lashed with a whip by a grinning toothless albino. An old, white-haired, bearded man announced he was god and loudly accused the overflow congregation of having taken his name in vain. "You did!" "You did!" he said, again and again. Some youngsters felt one another's recent pubescence, pantsying in the balcony, while a few naked bodies raced up and down the aisles, pedaling bicycles. Two hookers walked in off the street with a horny john and gave him some behind a statue of Christ with blood all over the front of it from a dude who had just got his head cracked during a scuffle.
It was like the set of an incredible Fellini wet-dream, and it went on and on with the sights and sounds interlacing into surreal harmony, and everyone moving, watching, seeing it all, and no one afraid, but laughing joyfully, happy, and now and then a scream followed by a hushed silence with everything still for a moment until the person who screamed would laugh and give away the joke, and it would all get back to normal again with the music wailing, moaning for a lost soul, loud like tears, as the faces bobbed up and down in a sensual parade of assumed freedom taken, making it all one big happy prickly pussy crab-lice moment of eternity.
The press got wind of the goings-on at the Invisible Circus, of course, and showed up with photographers and television news cameramen, but no one would talk with them and they just hung around bug-eyed, ogling the activity with their mouths gaping. The cops also came with several fire marshals who brought court orders that ordered the building vacated immediately because of an assortment of violated regulations which presented fire dangers, such as the mountain of plastic in the basement. Needless to say, the officials of Glide Church, who had been hovering on the brink of cardiac arrest all night, were relieved by the court orders which were announced throughout the building over the PA system and in bulletins handed out by the John Dillinger Computer Service around 4 or 5 A.M. that Saturday morning.
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During the eight or nine hours since it began, over twenty thousand people had passed through the Invisible Circus and there's no telling how many would have finally showed, if it had been permitted to continue. When it was forced to end, the few thousand who remained went out to the Pacific Ocean to herald the dawning of the sun, and to roast pork sausages over a bonfire for breakfast, listening to Michael McClure play his autoharp and sing his song, "Oh, Lord, Won't You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz" with Freewheelin' Frank singing, too, and beating on his tambourine. Even though a dozen reporters spent nearly two hours at the church, not one line was written nor one word spoken about the Invisible Circus in the news media. It had been too incredible to explain, and so it and the fantasies that were realized during its brief existence became personal memories cherished by the people who were there and were part of an event, the likes of which has never been seen again in the city of San Francisco.
The Invisible Circus proved to be a much-needed respite for Emmett who got himself blind-wasted, but was back on the street the next afternoon with Tumble, delivering the Free Food to the throng in the Panhandle. A few Diggers, like one talkative twentyfive-year-old named Tobacco, got it together during the week and hustled rent money for several crash pads. There were three on one block alone and they slept over 120 people a night with only two rules enforced: no needles or sets of works and no weapons allowed. Besides the four or five people who lived at and operated each of these crash pads, there were few others older than eighteen. They were runaways.
The runaway situation had become critical since the Human BeIn, with the kids not only running away from something but running to something. The myth of the Haight-Ashbury had been manufactured to appeal to the young and they were running as fast as they could to it. White middle America was outraged that their children were leaving, and since a runaway has no constitutional rights, and is merely the property of his parents, they demanded their return. The liberal Democratic senator from Connecticut, Abraham Ribicoff, proposed a bill which would have brought the FBI into the search for runaways and further called for a computerized system of federal investigation on behalf of "American motherhood" and its preservation. San Francisco Juvenile Court Judge Ray J. O'Conner became publicly irate and said that all the Digger
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leaders should be jailed for contributing to the delinquency of minors by harboring runaways.
There was a montage of runaway photos tacked to the "Wanted" bulletin board at the park police station and Police Chief Cahill ordered his men to begin "daylight raids" along Haight Street. These raids were quickly renamed "haul-ins" by the kids because the coppers would sweep everyone up off the street, not just the very young suspected runaways. Within a short time the S.F. police department formed a special team to conduct these haul-ins which also rousted kids sleeping at night in Golden Gate Park. This tough special cruising force was named the S-Squad or the SS, and each member of this team had a particular fondness for cracking their billy clubs upside the kids' heads.
The SS didn't discriminate either, they arrested everyone, even a couple of HIP shopkeepers and a couple of their straight customers. It was getting to be bad for business and the HIP merchants formed another ad hoc committee for police-community relations. They were aware of the power base the Be-In gathering had afforded them and they spoke with Chief Cahill about the overzealousness of some of his men in enforcing Penal Code 370 or public nuisance, on persons who had money in their pockets to spend in their stores. Afterwards, they held a press conference stating that they were all going to work together to solve the problems that were occurring in the Haight-Ashbury and the chief publicly agreed to see them whenever a discussion would be helpful. The newspapers quoted the merchants as saying it had been a "cordial, meaningful meeting" and carried a story listing all the HIP merchants' names, the names and addresses of their shops and what was sold in each of them. The papers also mentioned a statement by one of the owners of the Psychedelic Shop who proposed to arrange for some sort of a finger signal and mantra chant with Allen Ginsberg to clear the streets, so that whenever P.C. 370 was being violated, the crowd would disperse as soon as the signal was heard, and no one would have to be arrested.
Well, that never happened but the HIP merchants did sponsor a Council for the Summer of Love, which was supposed to have been a service to aid the thousands of kids who were coming to the Haight when school let out. It just turned out to be a clearinghouse, however, for a bunch of bad artists and their equally bad art. The only thing the council tried to do on behalf of the expected hordes was ask the city to purchase an outlandish tent larger than two
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football fields where a hostel could be set up for the kids to crash. Since the size of the tent seemed so preposterous, they didn't get it, and of course they naturally never thought of hustling the bread for it themselves. The Haigllt Independent Proprietors also created the HIP Job Co-op to locate employment for those who wanted it. The trouble was that most of the jobs available were for unskilled labor or office workers, and since the kids had a better educational background and were white, they took the openings away from the unemployed minorities. Even the post office jobs promised to San Francisco's blacks during the "riot" were given to the newly arrived hippies because of their higher scores on the department's examinations. This aroused the black and Chicano communities, causing friction and animosity between them and the longhairs who began arrogantly to consider themselves the "new niggers."
The apprehension generated by the approaching so-called Summer of Love also led to the creation of three other organizations which were regularly funded by proceeds from benefits, as were all of the community's organizations, except the Diggers. The first of these organizations was Happening House founded by Leonard Wolf, a professor at S.F. State, who once pleaded to be arrested during a naked dance recital by Jane Lapiner at the Straight Theater on Haight Street, to publicize his solidarity with the community. And he was. In fact, he was the only person arrested, the coppers finding it difficult to refuse him, since he kept insisting. Afterwards, he opened Happening House with a few of his fellow academicians and they called it a "community center," but it was really only a teaching venture where faculty members from S.F. State taught classes, and their college students planned artistic diversions for the amusement of the kids who were flocking to the district.
Huckleberry House, the second organization, was as lame as its name. It was started with money from the Glide Foundation which also salaried the staff of ministers who operated it. It was basically a referral center where some runaway kids would come when they became disillusioned with the Haight-Ashbury. Their parents would be notified, and the kids would be given room and board for a couple of days, until their family made the necessary arrangements for their return home. It was a nice, mild, safe, responsible way for the church to become involved in "hippiedom" and the hierarchy was probably glad that the turnover at Huckleberry was as slight as
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it was. But, no matter how minimally, it did relieve a desperate situation.
The last of these enterprises was the Switchboard. It was also a referral center, but really worked as an answering service for messages from parents to their runaway kids. Each week, they published a long list of names in the Bay Area underground papers like the Berkeley Barb, notifying persons that they had received messages for them. The more relevant side of the Switchboard functioned by locating bed space for travelers in volunteer crash pads, and advising people in trouble about "free" lawyers, and providing a "free" bail service in collaboration with the Vista O.R. Project. The Switchboard was the only one of these operations that did any amount of substantial work for the welfare of the Haight community.
The Diggers had developed their medical services and health examinations at the Free Frame of Reference to a point where some of the doctors were even making house calls to treat people who were too sick to move, or had too many sick children at home to leave their house. These services were not restricted to the hip alone. The word about them spread among the other poor people, the blacks and Chicanos, and they, too, took advantage of the free health care. The doctors were mostly young and worked as residents in various hospitals around the city. To protect themselves from any sort of possible malpractice suit, they had a form mimeographed which each of their prospective patients had to fill out, giving the doctor involved permission to treat him. None of the patients ever complained about any treatment they'd received, and in fact they had nothing but praise for the doctors. A large part of the antibiotics and other medicines used in the treatment of the patients was hustled by a few nurses and the doctors themselves from the pharmaceutical houses in the area.
One of the heads of San Francisco's health department, Doctor Joel Fort, approved of these types of medical services, even though the Diggers had no facilities to speak of, but he was soon removed from his position on account of his "liberalism" and replaced by Dr. Ellis Sox who became quickly known as L.S.D. Sox because of his campaign against the Haight-Ashbury. He would make outlandish statements to the press about the health conditions in the Haight, claiming the possibility of dangerous outbreaks of every disease carried by rats from the bubonic plague to leptospirosis and sending teams of inspectors into the district to examine the private sanita
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tion of private house interiors, while never enforcing any of theregulations against the filthy neighborhood businesses and restaurants. Since the landlords wanted to break the leases with the hippies, who had been the first tenants in years in most of the buildings, and rent to secretaries and junior executives who would pay higher rents, the health inspections served as justification for the eviction notices that usually followed.
During this same time, a doctor named David E. Smith became friendly with Professor Wolf and set up an infirmary at Happening House which he modeled after the Digger operation. At first, everyone was glad about this new medical service and was happy that there was another benefit for the people, but those feelings soon changed. Everybody became disheartened when Smith, M.D., began his own self-aggrandizement with even more sensational press releases than L.S.D. Sox. He talked about an epidemic of "marijuana cough" and about drugs only he seemed to know anything about. One of these he called Love Juice, which he said was made by mixing DET with DMT--a concoction invented by syndicate mobsters in the East who brought it West to peddle in the Haight-Ashbury.
Smith, M.D., seemed to be more concerned with the pharmacology of the situation than with treating the ailing people who came to him for help. He seldom prescribed anything more beneficial than aspirin or thorazine, while keeping a log of his activities and compiling a mound of statistics about drugs and their abuse, which he used in his pitch for the funding of his own medical clinic, separate from any other facility. He had only been at Happening House for six weeks when he had raised enough money to open that kind of operation and cover the cost of paying himself a salary. It was an apartment on the second fioor of a building on the corner of Haight and Clayton streets and he converted it into an office complex which he called the Haight-Ashbury "Free" Medical Clinic. But it was far from being free. Just because no one was made to pay a fee when they went there, didn't make it a "Free Clinic." On the contrary, the patients were treated as "research subjects" and the facility itself was used to support whatever medical innovations were new and appropriate to the agency. And at least once a week there'd be an interview with David Smith, M.D., in the newspapers, or on the television, or in the folds of some national magazine, like Life, in which he'd expound on his feelings toward such dangerous drugs as STP, or B-2, a combat weapon and incapacitating agent created
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by the U.S. Army which was somehow being sold in hip communities across the country.
Everyone was sad that the doctor contented himself with making speeches about drugs like "68" which nobody had ever heard anything about, instead of seriously devoting himself to the care of the community's health. It was also a waste, as well as a shame.
Besides the H. A. Medical Clinic, the district sprouted a group of short-order lunch counters which sold "Loveburgers" and "Love Dogs" and gave away a "Love Guide" to the HIP shops. Film producers, like Sam Katzman, used the community as a location for cheap, Hollywood quickie-films like The Trip and a young entrepreneur started a firm that rented one or more hippies for parties called Hire a Hippie Unlimited. Storefronts in the area were being leased for forty thousand dollars and Grayline ran a bus tour through the district for tourists. Droves of evangelists descended on Haight Street to bring the young people closer to Jesus, and the S.F. police department jumped on the publicity bandwagon by organizing a series of ridiculous narcotics raids for reporters, which only netted an ounce or two of grass. An example was the "Super Jean" fiasco where the cops claimed to have broken up one of the Bay Area's biggest dope rings but really only arrested a harmless pothead.
The street people of the Haight reacted to the police harassment with Sleep-Ins at night in Golden Gate Park to protest the city's ordinance against such activities, and with Mill-Ins at the main intersections of the district to demonstrate for the repeal of Penal Code 370 and express their belief that "the streets belong to the people!" Realizing that the overly centralized Haight-Ashbury was only necessary for the shop owners, the older residents of the area-- folks who had been there a while and had their own pads--started to move away to Marin County and Berkeley, trying to get out before the "Summer of Love" arrived. The underground press continued to ignore things like this migration of the old-timers from the Haight and remained concerned with other, more frivolous matters. For example, the straight merchants in the district tried to con everyone into believing they'd get high from smoking dried banana peels and the underground papers got wind of the story. The Berkeley Barb even devoted its entire center fold as a pullout, which explained various recipes for browning and baking the banana skins and described several methods of smoking them, once they'd been dried. [end page 291]
A thing like that would have been funny but it happened all the time, causing the Diggers to blast the underground press for printing nonsense rather than publishing the news the people had to know, and serving the people they claimed to represent. The Diggers also called for a conference among themselves, the HIP merchants, and anyone who was actively involved in the Haight-Ashbury, to discuss what could be done for and about the waves of young immigrants heading for the district. Because it was neutral territory, the basement of Glide Church was used for the meeting, which was more than well attended. The main figures or speakers at the conference sat on a dozen or more chairs that were arranged in a circle in the middle of the one hundred fifty to two hundred spectators. Emmett sat next to Tumble, Coyote and the Hun, facing the editorial staff of the S.F. Oracle and the members of the Haight Independent Proprietors association.
The meeting began with Coyote asking the shopkeepers what they planned to do about the continuing constant assault on the community by the cops. He was answered by one of them who read a proposal that had been adopted by the HIP merchants' recently formed organization, The New Community, and drafted by its Ad Hoc Committee for Better Police-Community Relations. "We invite all law enforcement officers, news personnel, firemen, health inspectors, judges, barristers, detectives, narcos, military personnel, and state and local government representatives and their families to join us for a meal--a dinner--to advance our understanding of each other and promote community goodwill and service."
Emmett couldn't believe he heard that and said so. "Are you serious! Haven't we been through that 'Take a Cop to Dinner' rubbish before? You gotta be kidding! When are you guys gonna take your fingers out of your assholes and--"
Another HIP merchant interrupted by commenting, "We used 'Love' successfully in dealing with the media during the Human BeIn, and Tim Leary said that if we continued to share our love with the other establishment agencies, and with the persons who run them, we'll eventually win our right to--"
Emmett jumped up, cutting him off. "Lookit, nobody wants to hear that dribble, understand! The only relevant thing to our situation Leary ever said was that 'Tune-In, Drop-Out' metaphor of his, and the only right anybody'll get by following his advice is the right to go mad--to become a gibbering idiot! What do you think we are, chumps? We don't wanna hear that shit! You're the only ones doing
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well by 'Love,' and all we wanna know from you people, you who're using the Haight-Ashbury as a marketplace to sell your cheap artifacts of the so-called New Consciousness, is what and how do you intend to affirm your responsibility to the community? Huh? How?"
A bearded shopkeeper muttered something about the HIP Job Co-op being affirmation enough of their responsibility to the community.
Emmett remained standing and shot back, "Yes, the HIP Job Coop! That's a fine example of what's going on here. Sure, it manages to get some helpless runaway girl a job. A job in an attic-sweatshop making dresses for a dollar an hour! Say it takes her two hours to make a dress. That's two dollars, right? Well, then the people who employ her--the incense-burning hippies--take that dress 'n sell it for twenty-five or thirty dollars. After a while she gets disillusioned about this kind of short action and she drops further into the street. Then, we end up with her. An' that's where your HIP Job Co-op's at, motherfucker!
"You HIP merchants and some of you other people around here have done the most to build the myth of the Hippie-Longhair, the incense-burning, bead-stringing freedom, and now you ain't doin' a goddamn thing to cope with this immigration crisis you ticked off. You ain't concerned about it, are you? What are these kids goin' to do, when they get here 'n find out that the myth is just that--a myth? There are already enough hungry confused people on the street and now there's going to be a lot more. An' you clouddwellers better come up with some alternatives about what to do about 'em 'n cut out all this metaphysics shit you're all so fuckin' fond of 'n quit playin' Monopoly or someone's going to take it personal 'n stuff an I Ching up yer ass like a suppository!"
As soon as Emmett sat down, the two brothers who owned the largest and most successful of the HIP shops agreed that the hippie world was being marketed without conscience, and promised they were going to limit their commercial operation and turn the back half of their Psychedelic Shop into a "calm center," so that the kids could wander inside off the street and meditate in pleasant surroundings. The proposal made Emmett bow his head in disgust and hold it with both his hands, wondering what preposterous, lunar logic could inspire anyone to think that a "calm center" would even slightly alleviate any of the problems which had to be faced in the district. He looked up after a moment at Tumble, who was flexing his mouth and jaw muscles with contempt for the silly proposition,
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and they both shook their heads at one another as the Hun mimicked applause, offering a heavily sarcastic, "Terrific! Terrific!" He went on to explain some of the Diggers' plans for dealing with the summer months, concluding by asking the Haight Independent Proprietors to aid in any way they felt they could.
The merchants reacted with approval for the ideas he spelled out, but announced that the association had previously decided, as a group, to concentrate all their financial assistance on helping Doctor Smith's H.A. Medical Center, the HIP Job Co-op, Happening House, and the Council For The Summer of Love projects, which they thought would be able to handle satisfactorily the influx of young people arriving during the next few months. They did remark that if the Diggers could continue their "exemplary, charitable work," all the better! But, of course, their HIP association wouldn't be able to afford much in the way of aid to the Diggers because of its already overburdening economic involvement with the aforementioned social-activist organizations.
Emmett felt that did it. There was no reason to continue the meeting. It was over and he ended it. "Uh-huh! You're all going to financially ensure the existence of a pharmacist's center for the research of drug abuse and abet his persistence in building a career for himself, an employment agency which either places runaways in lowly sweatshops owned by the same employers who supervise the agency itself, or gives out-of-town college kids the jobs that are needed by San Francisco's poor, an uninspired experiment in education conducted by the academic community of multi-million-dollar universities, and a platform for the city's unimaginative artists to display their utterly bad art! You're going to allow these pitiful scams to remain throughout the summer to hopefully provide you all with a facade which'll represent your deep, heartfelt concern and empathy for the community. A community which ain't gonna keep letting you guys off forever because you play stupid. No, someday it's gonna find out that all of you have been aware, conscious of what you were doin' 'n not doin' all the time. That you knew what you were makin' all along! An' when they do find that out, they're gonna bomb everyone of you 'n your shops, 'n the banks where you been depositing the money you been makin' out of existence! Blow every fuckin' thing away! Everything! Ha! Ha! Come on, let's get outta here! "
The Diggers got up together and headed for the staircase, glaring back at all the eyes who followed them out the door. Someone in the
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crowd wished aloud, "Peace, brother. Peace." Emmett stopped, turned a quarter of the way around toward the direction from where the voice had come, and answered the farewell: "Peace? Listen fella, there's very few people that have peace on this planet, why should we?"
Then the Diggers left, and Tumble remarked as they walked up the stairs, "That's one room we forgot to include in the Invisible Circus. They're talkin' up more fantasies in there right now, than a lot of the people carried out that night in the church next door!"
Unknown to Emmett and the others, there were several reporters in the crowd during the rap session, and that weekend the underground weeklies hit the streets with news of the Glide Church meeting spread all over them. One was headlined CLASS WAR IN THE HAIGHT, and detailed a story about a battle that was being waged between the street people led by the Diggers, and the monied, hippie class headed by the Haight Independent Proprietors. In several different newspaper accounts of the Glide meet, the name Emmett Grogan was connected with a description of a "demanding spokesman who had the aquiline nose of a leader" and he was spot-quoted and misquoted.
In one version which appeared in the Los Angeles Free Press, and was written for that paper's three hundred thousand readers by Jerry Hopkins, Emmett was said to have actually threatened the HIP merchants with the bombing of their stores, unless they gave over a percentage of their profits to the community. It even further alleged that he inferred a bombing had already occurred, and would be followed by another, if the shopkeepers didn't comply with his demands for the distribution of a part of their wealth to the people.
Needless to say, Emmett was flipped out by the generally false coverage, and in the case of the "bombing threat" story, at least one instance of vicious, deceitful reporting. He wanted to choke every one of those lying, yellow-journalist throats, bend all their fingers back until the bones of their knuckles snapped, rip their snide tongues out of their smug faces. That's what really got him crazy about these small-time reporters who took cheap shots at people-- their petty self-regard for their own minor self-importance. "Who the fuck do they think they are? Making up all that shit that never happened, putting words in my mouth that no one ever said? Everybody who reads those fuckin' lies is gonna believe we're all just another bunch of punk anarchists who want a piece of the pie, a bunch of lames who're just jealous of the bread the HIP merchants
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are makin' n are tryin' to extort some of it for ourselves. Those cocksuckers! "
Tumble pointed out that the HIP merchants had spread the word about the Glide meeting, and that was the reason there were so many people there, making it impossible to screen out the press. "Yea, 'n they probably called the papers themselves, too. Why else would reporters from L.A. be there?" They continued talking about it for a while, but there was nothing they could do to prevent what was already taking place because of the rotten newspaper stories.
The pay phone in the Free Frame of Reference kept ringing with reporters who hadn't been at the Glide meet and wanted an interview from "Emmett Grogan" or another "qualified Digger spokesman" for a follow-up story on the "Class Warfare in the HaightAshbury." Emmett didn't speak with any of them. He wanted to keep his low profile as a leader as low as possible. He also felt that if any more publicity was created about himself, it would just serve to cause friction between him and the rest of the Diggers who would feel he was copping the spotlight all for his own. No, the Diggers didn't need any more notoriety and everyone seemed to be in agreement about it.
However, when KQED, the city's National Educational Television station, called asking whether Emmett Grogan was available to be a guest on a talk show, Coyote answered, telling them that Emmett wasn't, but that he was and they invited him. He rationalized his appearance on the show by saying that he had accepted as a member of the Mime Troupe and not as a spokesman for the Diggers. Emmett watched and listened to him say, "Hippies are the fruit of the middle class and they're telling the middle class that they don't like what has been given them by the American Empire's materialistic-oriented society. And what had begun as a cultural revolution is now shaping up and heading toward a revolution of violence."
Coyote delivered his statements in a suave, earnest style, and Emmett enjoyed his charming performance because he knew that all the Bay Area New Left men and women who were watching the show were comparing Coyote's quick, intelligent rap and hip-radical appearance on the tube with the dry-crusted, moth-eaten riffs and stale, banal manners of the corny, run-of-the-mill, radical spokesmen who were regularly on the tube. He was colorfully different from these stiffs, all right, and a dynamically-hip spokesmen, but as a leader he was in trouble. His problem was that he couldn't say
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"No!"--didn't know how to say "No!"--and it was something he had to learn.
Emmett was also a bit confused by the very fact of Coyote's appearance on the tube. The two of them had often talked about the necessity of remaining anonymous, as had the Hun and the others, and about the need to safeguard against revealing any secrets with slips of the tongue. But, while Emmett had protected his anonymity, Coyote, the Hun and some other Diggers had repeatedly gone on radio, given interviews, and now appeared on television. The academician-director of Happening House, Leonard Wolf, had even gotten Coyote and the Hun to tape separate biographical interviews with him for his book of hip profiles, Voices from the Love Generalion. Emmett wondered if they just meant it was dangerous for him to make appearances in the mass media. He didn't know, but guessed it was all right for them to deal with the matter in any way they wanted, as long as they didn't cause too much attention to be focused on the Diggers. And they didn't, and he forgot about it.
During the week, the brother-owners of the Psychedelic Shop limited their operation and redecorated the back of the store as a "calm center" where the kids quickly began congregating to sit around on the floor cushions all day long, trading dope with each other. Emmett was arrested twice on traffic warrants, which had been issued because several tickets for parking and moving violations had been ignored. Rather than waste the money paying fines, he paid the penalties by spending a few days in the city prison. When he got out, he found that the Frederick Street Free Frame of Reference had been closed by order of the fire and health departments. In addition to the cop standing outside the vacated premises, the landlord had placed a wire gate over the rear windows and had padlocked the front door. He had received a score of complaints from his other tenants about the Diggers and he was obviously relieved about the city's order calling for their eviction.
Slim Minnaux, Coyote, Tumble, the Hun and other Diggers had already located another place, however, and it was only a few blocks away on the corner of gol Cole Street. It was a much bigger and better location with a second floor balcony-promenade surrounding the entire inside, and front walls made of banks of connecting plateglass windows, leaving the whole interior visible from the streets outside. The free store was soon stacked with goods and crowded with customers, two of whom were hefty, black welfare mothers who hung around day in and day out, waiting for prize merchandise that
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they could take and sell to one of the secondhand stores in the Fillmore for some extra cash. Whenever anyone said anything about this practice to either woman or one of their many friends, the reply was always a sharp, "Well, it free, ain't it? What you talkin' 'bout, then!" These two women did offer a service of their own to the many girls who needed it: they generously advised their hip sisters about the machinations of the California welfare system and held a daily class in how to overcome the bureaucracy's basic stinginess and comfortably provide for themselves and their children.
The free store took up two thirds of the main floor, which had a wall dividing the other third of it into a separate annex or room where Judith organized a free sewing shop and tie-dye center. In there, women were taught how to tie the knots and use the dyes, and people would come in off the street all day long to have the clothes they were wearing mended, or made more interesting with colorful tie-dye patterns and sewn-on patches. Because the free center was the only place in the city actually producing tie-dyed garments at the time, several persons approached Judith and the others with business offers, asking them, for example, to tie-dye a few dozen white T-shirts for a percentage of the profits of their sale at one of the HIP clothing shops. But none of the women would go for it, noting that if they were in it for the money, they would open their own shop and make a mint from their unique designs, especially since they were the first fullscale tie-dye operation in the Haight. Soon, their tie-dyed clothing was seen everywhere in the district, and a handful of girls who learned the basics from Judith and the others, went to work for the HIP shops, mass-producing tie-dyed items into a fashion that eventually spread throughout the country.
Every evening, the doctors who were working with the Diggers would provide their free health service which was named "Home Free." Besides the medical examinations and free treatment, a legal aid service was also set up, which made a group of lawyers available who were willing to defend community residents free of charge. These lawyers did much to make the city aware of the rampant police brutality and harassment tactics being carried out against the longhaired residents of the Haight, and also gave the kids a feeling of security that someone would be in court to defend their rights whenever they were swept off the street by the cops.
The Hun hustled the rent for the storefront and even signed the lease for it himself, which surprised Emmett and some of the others at first. But it soon became obvious that the Hun considered it his
[end page 298]
free store, and sort of took charge of the place. Before, he only visited the two previous free store operations and occasionally dropped by the Panhandle Free Food at 4 P.M., keeping himself from getting too involved while maintaining his position at the S.F. Mime Troupe. But, when it became apparent to him that the Diggers weren't just a short-term thing, he embraced the Cole Street free store as theater and approached the project with a different attitude. The place was named "The Trip Without a Ticket," referring to a comment made by an anonymous Digger regarding his unwillingness to pay for someone else's trip--to end up as the price of someone else's ticket. The Hun used the store as a base for implementing his ideas and thoughts on guerrilla theater. He resigned from the Mime Troupe, and with his old lady, Judith, tie-dying in the next room, he spent all his time at the Trip Without a Ticket, observing everything that took place in and around the free store as theater, and the people involved in the activity as protagonists, actors consciously and unconsciously improvising their roles in life.
Most of the life-roles people were cast in had been given to them--handed to or forced on them by one hierarchy or another, or by circumstance which seldom made them interesting, simply "types." But the people who hadn't acquiesced, the ones who hadn't accepted the worn-out, hackneyed caricatures as substitutes for their lives, for their being themselves, were interesting and exciting. These people were conscious of their existence and aware of the roles they were playing. They were "life-actors." And Emmett, the Hun, Tumble, Coyote, and several others would get into long discussions about life-actors and about why the things they did were to be considered "life acts." All the conclusions they made during these sessions were utilized in the Cole Street free store operation, and everyone connected with the Trip Without a Ticket worked hard at creating theater all the time.
Emmett and Tumble continued with the Free Food, driving the produce around in the pickup, along with the goods for the free store. Tumble wanted to organize a fleet of trucks, so that the entire city could be covered in the same day and so that Haight-Ashbury, which seemed to be ignored by the privately owned municipal sanitation company, could be cleared of the mounting piles of garbage. Slim Minnaux and Coyote went on tour with the S.F. Mime Troupe, performing in the brilliant and skillful production of The Minstrel Show, an old-time, darky, vaudeville-musical of poignant, bitin~ social criticism, with all the performers in blackface, so that
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the audience remained unable to tell whether they were black or white until the actors removed their gloves at the end. The Hun developed his concepts about theater in "his" free store, and from mental notes he had taken during discussions with Emmett, Tumble and many others, he wrote an intelligent, perspicacious manifesto, which was published as an eight-page pamphlet by the Communication Company and distributed freely throughout the city. It was also mailed to different parts of the country, giving the Hun a reputation among the Tulane Drama Review Set, as one of the brighter, more ingenious, radical minds involved with "liberating theater" in America. The perceptive article was also an attempt at correcting the underground's concept of the Diggers, as a "hip Salvation Army." It was an effective piece to a degree, and naturally, entitled "Trip Without a Ticket:
Our authorized sanities are so many Nembutals. "Normal" citizens with store-dummy smiles stand apart from each other like cotton-packed capsules in a bottle. Perpetual mental outpatients. Maddening sterile jobs for straitjackets, love scrubbed into an insipid "functional personal relationship" and Art as a fantasy pacifier. Everyone is kept inside while the outsicle is shown through windows: advertising and manicured news. And we all know this.
How many TV specials would it take to establish one Guatemalan revolution? How many weeks would an ad agency require to face-lift the image of the Viet Cong? Slowly, very slowly we are led nowhere. Consumer circuses are held in the ward daily. Critics are tolerated like exploding novelties. We will be told which burning Asians to take seriously. Slowly. Later.
But there is a real danger in suddenly waking a somnambulistic patient. And we all know this.
What if he is startled right out the window?
No one can control the single circuit-breaking moment that charges games with critical reality. If the glass is cut, if the cushioned distance of media is removed, the patients may never respond as normals again. They will become life-actors.
Theater is territory. A space for existing outside padded walls. Setting down a stage declares a universal pardon for imagination. But what happens next must mean more than sanctuary or preserve. How would real wardens react to life-actors on liberated ground? How can the intrinsic freedom of theater illuminate walls and show the weakspots where a breakout could occur?
Guerrilla theater intends to bring audiences to liberated territory to create life-actors. It remains light and exploitative of forms for the same [end page 300]
reasons that it intends to remain free. It seeks audiences that are created by issues. It creates a cast of freed beings. It will become an issue itself.
This is theater of an underground that wants out. Its aim is to liberate ground held by consumer wardens and establish territory without walls. Its plays are glass cutters for empire windows.
Free store/property of the possessed
The Diggers are hip to property. Everything is free, do your own thing. Human beings are the means of exchange. Food, machines, clothing, materials, shelter and props are simply there. Stuff. A perfect dispenser would be an open Automat on the street. Locks are time-consuming. Combinations are locks.
So a store of goods or clinic or restaurant that is free becomes a social art form. Ticketless theater. Out of money and control.
"First you gotta pin down what's wrong with the West.
Distrust of human nature, which means distrust of Nature.
Distrust of wildness in oneself literally means distrust of Wilderness." --Gary Snyder
Diggers assume free stores to liberate human nature. First free the space, goods and services. Let theories of economics follow social facts. Once a free store is assumed, human wanting and giving, needing and taking, become wide open to improvisation.
A sign: If Someone Asks to See the Manager Tell Him He's the Manager.
Someone asked how much a book cost. How much did he think it was worth? 75 cents. The money was taken and held out for anyone. "Who wants 75 cents?" A girl who had just walked in came over and took it.
A basket is labeled Free Money.
No owner, no Manager, no employees and no cash register. A salesman in a free store is a life-actor. Anyone who will assume an answer to a question or accept a problem as a turn-on.
Question (whispered): "Who pays the rent?
Answer (loudly): "May I help you?"
Who's ready for the implications of a free store? Welfare mothers pile bags of clothes for a few days and come back to hang up dresses. Kids case the joint wondering how to boost.
Fire helmets, riding pants, shower curtains, surgical gowns and World War I army boots are parts for costumes. Nightsticks, sample cases, water pipes, toy guns and weather balloons are taken for props. When materials are free, imagination becomes currency for spirit.
Where does the stuff come from? People, persons, beings. Isn't it obvious that objects are only transitory subjects of human value? An object released from one person's value may be destroyed, abandoned or made available to other people. The choice is anyone's.
The question of a free store is simple: What would you have?
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Pop Art mirrored the social skin. Happenings X-rayed the bones. Street events are social acid heightening consciousness of what is real on the street. To expand eyeball implications until the facts are established through action.
The Mexican Day of the Dead is celebrated in cemeteries. Yellow flowers falling petal by petal on graves. In moonlight. Favorite songs of the deceased and everybody gets loaded. Children suck deaths-head candy engraved with their names in icing.
Street events are rituals of release. Reclaiming of territory (sundown, traffic, public joy) through spirit. Possession. Public NewSense.
Not street-theater, the street is theater. Parades, bankrobberies, fires and sonic explosions focus street attention. A crowd is an audience for an event. Release of crowd spirit can accomplish social facts. Riots are a reaction to police theater. Thrown bottles and overturned cars are responses to a dull, heavy-fisted, mechanical and deathly show. People fill the street to express special public feelings and hold human communion. To ask "What's Happening?"
The alternative to death is a joyous funeral in company with the living.
Who paid for your trip?
Industrialization was a battle with lgth-century ecology to win breakfast at the cost of smog and insanity. Wars against ecology are suicidal. The U.S. standard of living is a bourgeois baby blanket for executives who scream in their sleep. No Pleistocene swamp could match the pestilential horror of modern urban sewage. No children of White Western Progress will escape the dues of peoples forced to haul their raw materials.
But the tools (that's all factories are) remain innocent and the ethics of greed aren't necessary. Computers render the principles of wage-labor obsolete by incorporating them. We are being freed from machinistic consciousness. We could evacuate the factories, turn them over to androids, clean up our pollution. North Americans could give up selfrighteousness to expand their being.
Our conflict is with job-wardens and consumer-keepers of a permissive looney-bin. Property, credit, interest, insurance, installments, profit are stupid concepts. Millions of have-nots and drop-outs in the U.S. are living on an overflow of technologically produced fat. They aren't fighting ecology, they're responding to it. Middle-class living rooms are funeral parlors and only undertakers will stay in them. Our fight is with those who would kill us through dumb work, insane wars, dull money morality.
Give up jobs, so computers can do them! Any important human occupation can be done free. Can it be given away?
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Revolutions in Asia, Africa, South America are for humanistic industrialization. The technological resources of North America can be used throughout the world. Gratis. Not a patronizing gift, shared.
Our conflict begins with salaries and prices. The trip has been paid for at an incredible price in death, slavery, psychosis.
An event for the main business district of any U.S. city. Infiltrate the largest corporation office building with life-actors as nymphomaniacal secretaries, clumsy repairmen, berserk executives, sloppy security guards, clerks with animals in their clothes. Low key until the first coffee-break and then pour it on.
Secretaries unbutton their blouses and press shy clerks against the wall. Repairmen drop typewriters and knock over water coolers. Executives charge into private offices claiming their seniority. Guards produce booze bottles and playfully jam elevator doors. Clerks pull out goldfish, rabbits, pigeons, cats on leashes, loose dogs.
At noon looo freed beings singing and dancing appear outside to persuade employees to take off for the day. Banners roll down from office windows announcing liberation. Shills in business suits run out of the building, strip and dive in the fountain. Elevators are loaded with incense and a pie fight breaks out in the cafeteria.
Theater is fact/action
Give up jobs. Be with people. Defend against property.
Emmett appreciated the Hun's brainy semantics and his sapient analysis of the Diggers as life-actors, and their activities as theater, because it provided a very good cover and satisfied the curiosity of the authorities and general public, as well as exciting the hipper members of the New Left. Of course, it was just a superficial description of what was really going on--the same thing as classifying the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre as "Theater of Cruelty." It was simply an account of the casual, outward, conscious style of the Diggers and some of the things they did, and not an examination of the heightened awareness of the intrinsic essence of the Digger operation or its motives. The elements of guerrilla theater and street events were merely accessories contingent upon the fundamental reality of Free Food, the free stores, the free goods, and the free services made available to the people. The San Francisco Diggers attempted to organize a solid, collective, comparative apparatus to provide resources sufficient for the people to set up an alternative power base, which wouldn't have to depend on either the state or the system for its sustenance.
When the people--meaning the various ethnic, lower economic,
[end page 303]
oppressed minorities of the United States of America--were able to drop out of the system and become independent within their own power structure, rather than dependent on the state's, then they would have the chance to eliminate their considerable racial prejudices toward one another, and unite themselves as a single popular class to fight for equality, forming a united front to abo]ish all classes through a prolonged series of uprisings embodying a socialist revolution.
That's what the mass media called the philanthropy of "a HaightAshbury band of hip social workers without portfolio" and the Hun "Guerrilla Theater" and Emmett "Free Food."
"Some Salvation Army!" Emmett often thought to himself. But he was glad that the mass media joked about the Diggers as mod monks and that the so-called heavies of the New Left slighted the Diggers as lightweights and claimed that they were politically naive and irrelevant. He was glad because it was going to be a long haul of determined action and not just one "revolutionary" outbreak by a bunch of leftist rhetoricians, before the stage would be set for the total reconstruction of society into a popular social democracy. And Emmett knew that if he revealed the innermost truth of the Diggers and their work, it would have only provoked their annihilation by the government. So, even though it was frequently hard to do in the face of the smug logorrhea chattered by punk radicals, he just kept his mouth shut and tried to take care of business.
It was after the Hun's piece had been printed, and while Emmett was up at the Communication Company's office-pad that he discovered Ramparts magazine was preparing a story about the HaightAshbury, concentrating on the district's leading figures, their political attitudes, or lack of them, and focusing special attention on the Diggers, particularly Emmett Grogan. Fully aware of Ramparts' facile dependency on muckraking and frequent reliance on falsifying "for the good of the cause," Emmett figured he had to try and do something about the article or at least the parts about him and the Diggers. He thought about it for a moment and decided to appeal to the editors on the grounds that, if they publicized him and the Diggers as radicals in their national magazine, it would seriously interfere with their work and definitely hamper them in their attempts to serve the people--the same people whom the magazine purported to wholeheartedly support.
Tumble drove Emmett over to North Beach and dropped him off a few blocks away from the ma~azine's offices before continuing on
[end page 304]
home. As he walked over to Ramparts, Emmett wondered whether the editors would sacrifice the kind of colorful copy that satisfied the voyeurism of their readers, "For the good of the cause." But he never got to ask them that question because, when he turned the corner onto Broadway, he saw a scene going down which made talking to ink-slinging calumniators seem less important that day than usual. At first glance, it looked like a stick-up was being pulled with a short, black kid holding an M-l across his chest and standing on the bottom steps of the front entrance to the Ramparts offices.
A squad car had just driven up and Emmett planted himself against a parked truck for a better view, as one of the cops got out and walked over to the young, armed black, leaving his partner to burn up the police radio frantically reporting into headquarters with his eyes bulging and his face all twisted, flapping words at the microphone. An older black man, about thirty, witll a moustache and a .38, came out of the front door and stood on the landing at the top of the steps, watching the cop talk to the younger guy below him. In addition to both having guns, the two blacks were dressed the same way, in car-length black leather coats and black berets. Emmett looked closely at the older one and remembered seeing his picture somewhere wearing similar clothes. It only took him a moment to match the face with the name of "Bobby Seale" and quickly figure out that whatever was happening had to do with the "Black Panthers. "
The little dude with the M-l snarled something about the Fifth Amendment to the cop, who took a couple of steps around him and up toward the landing, until he was right next to Bobby Seale. Seale stared at the copper real hard, which made the cop visibly nervous causing him to talk louder, shrilly like he had a red-hot poker up his ass "Who's the leader?" he asked and Seale answered by gesturing toward himself The copper said something else which angered Seale, and he stuck his face into the cop's, yelling, "Goddamit! I don't want to talk to you! So, you can go away from here! Go on, git!" And the copper apologetically muttered, "Oh!" turned around and walked back down the steps, as more cops drove up
These were plainclothesmen, and as soon as they got out of their cars, they began talking heatedly among themselves One of them pointed towards the little dude who looked very young, but they didn't do anything, just kept on talking back and forth to each other More of them drove up and Bobby Seale opened the front door at the top of the stairs and shouted inside Two more black
[end page 305]
men came outside carrying M-l's and stood with him on the landing.
Warren Hinckle III, the bilious editor of Ramparts at that time, appeared behind the glass front doors, wearing a moth-eaten patch over one of his eyes. A police lieutenant clocked him standing inside the entrance and called out to him. When he stuck his head out between the doors, the copper asked him what the trouble was all about, indicating the gun-toting blacks. Hinckle III replied that there was no trouble and assured the lieutenant that everything was under control. This got the coppers mad because it meant they couldn't make any moves on their own, since the person who owned the place had no objection to the guns, making it perfectly legal for the blacks to be carrying them, unconcealed.
Television news cameramen and reporters began showing up to take part in the drama, and one of them, of course, immediately attempted to provoke a bit of action by trying to barge up the stairs and inside Ramparts. But an M-l blocked him and he was shoved back down the steps. The newsmen didn't seem to understand that if their self-righteous arrogance provoked any shooting, they'd end up shot like everyone else--the only difference would be that the bullets that hit them would've been fired by both sides. Apparently, they were either unconcerned about this fact or simply too fucking dumb to realize that nobody was kidding except them, because when three or four more bereted black men came outside of the offices, and they all started to leave, surrounding a striking black woman like guards, an ABC newscaster and camera crewman almost incited their own demise.
Bobby Seale was coming down the front steps alongside a bulky, muscular, strong-looking black man of medium height who was carrying a shotgun. Emmett recognized him from a newspaper photo as Huey P. Newton. The two of them were walking one on each side of the black woman, holding up magazines in front of the cameras and blocking any attempts to photograph her, when one of the TV crewmen grabbed at the periodical Bobby Seale was using for cover. Seale grabbed it back from the asshole and Huey P. put his magazine over the lens of the camera trying to focus in on the woman who obviously didn't want herself filmed. Suddenly, the six o'clock newscaster, who was standing by the camera with his microphone ready, caught hold of the magazine and pushed it into Huey P., striking him in the stomach. At this point, two other blacks, who
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were trailing behind, scooped up the woman and hustled her across the street into a waiting car.
The newscaster's blow was slight but it was plain to see that the blatant audacity of it outraged Huey P. and he dropped the magazine and belted-the newscaster square in his mealy face, knocking him flat up against the wall which rebounded him into his cameraman. All the cops tensed up and their hands began fidgeting around the butts of their holstered pistols, and Bobby Seale motioned to his brothers that the time seemed appropriate to split. But Huey P. didn't think so and he stood out in front of the others, pointing at the dazed newscaster and shouting for the cops to "Arrest that man! He assaulted me 'n I want you to arrest him! Go on, arrest him GODDAMMIT!" The cops all began flipping the straps off the hammers of their .38's, and Huey P. jacked a shell into the chamber of his shotgun and ordered his brothers to "Spread out!" behind him, and they did, facing the cops with their M-l's gripped tight in both hands and angled toward the sky.
It looked like it was all going to blow any second, and Emmett moved off the sidewalk into the street, positioning himself for cover out of the line of fire a hundred feet away on the other side of the row of parked cars. Just then, a fat, chunky cop started coming forward yelling, "Don't point that shotgun at me! Stop pointing it at me, I tell ya!" The traffic coming from and going to the Bay bridge was bottled up at the freeway ramp behind Emmett, and the copper's screaming had all the people in the cars staring with their mouths open wide in utter disbelief at the showdown occurring only a short distance away from them.
There were about thirty cops all crowded together on the sidewalk now, and the chunky one kept hollering and making threatening motions towards his pistol, and Huey P. held his ground in front of him with his shotgun tilted, ready for action. He wasn't going to let that fat cop bully his way any closer and he started challenging him to remove his gun from his holster. "Go on, you big fat racist pig, draw your gun! You goddamn coward! Go on, I'm waitin'!" The fat cop froze, startled at being called. The other cops began moving away from him out of the line of fire, and when he saw that, he sort of sighed, hung his head low and gave up. Huey P. Newton laughed in his face.
All of a sudden, one of the black guys who walked over to the car with the woman and the other two, came running across the street
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screaming, "Please! Please! Don't shoot! The cops are goin' to kill all of us! They're going to kill all of us! Please! Please!" Huey P. shouted for him to shut up his sissy-ass mouth, but it was too late. His cry-baby bleating had startled the cops back into their bully-boy attitude, and they began to come on cocky once again, trying to take command of the situation by ordering the Black Panthers not to move or wave their weapons. But Huey P. didn't go for any of their shit and he replied back to them with a bit of his own advice, "Don't any of you go for your guns!"
Everything became shattery at his response and seemed about to burst into a shoot-out, but the Panthers began backing off, having successfully made their point several times over: that cops aren't so quick to push people around when they aren't the only ones armed. The Panthers stepped carefully backvvards, easing their way through the traffic and moving across the street where they quickly got into their cars and split, to the amazement of all onlookers. When they had driven away, the cops broke into a flurry, scurrying all over the place to their squad cars. The sirens all began blaring, as they tried to bull through the jammed traffic--all the while radioing into headquarters about the two "carloads of niggers driving around the fucking city with loaded guns!" It really got them crazy.
Emmett had also been sincerely impressed and he walked over to one of the staff writers who was now standing on the front steps of the Ramparts building with a group of his coworkers and asked him what it was all about. He was told that the Black Panthers were accompanying the widow of Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz, as her bodyguards, while she was in the city for a speaking engagement and an interview with the magazine. Emmett also discovered that Warren Hinckle III and the other editors were all too busy enjoying their vicarious experience to want to diminish "their" few precious moments by talking about the particulars of the "Hippie" cover story. Through the office's plate-glass window, Emmett could see them swilling from paper cups, laughing and slapping one another on the back at having been participants in the memorable put-down of the cops, and he decided to let it go for a while and split back to the Haight for something to eat.
Emmett first heard about the Black Panther organization back in October '66 around the same time Free Food started. Bobby Seale had been a stand-up comedian and Huey P. Newton a tough, street blood, when the two of them met as students at Merritt College, where they both became student leaders. It was after they dropped
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