Linn House and Ivory Waterworth
Interviewed by Some Fans
March 9, 1973
Scott Street Commune
I have a severe problem with transcriptions. It takes years to
finish. In this case, fifty years! This is an important interview with
Linn House and his partner, Ivory, at the time. Linn was originally the
editor of Innerspace Magazine in New York City in 1966. As he tells in
the interview, he was gradually pulled into the Digger orbit. Linn and
David Simpson were responsible for the Free City printouts, using the
same Gestetner equipment that Chester and Claude had used for the
Communication Company. —epn
Names of the interviewers have been stylized to keep the focus on
substance not personalities. (Note: Ivory's surname was only recently
divined. In the 1970s, many of us only knew each other by given name,
and only after several years would learn the "rest of the story.")
Rod: By the way, so you won’t be surprised, we’re recording right
now. We decided to just go ahead.
[Linn is leafing through the collection of Free City print-outs.]
Linn: We had a very good time printing those things.
Ivory: Did he ever get his bike?
Linn: This stuff was all printed by David Simpson. [The 8-1/2” x 14”
sheets that were originally clipped together as two sets.]
Rod: That big Free City …
Linn: There were two sets that were printed. The second one, I think,
was the best Gestetner that was produced anywhere.
Nod: About how many copies were printed of these sets?
Linn: Five thousand.
Rod: Five thousand. That’s amazing.
Linn: David would just … sometimes he’d run the press so slow, he’d run
it at the slowest speed and just watch each sheet as it came out like
that, making sure that there were no errors, and he would take all night
to print a single sheet.
Nod: That effect there, the split fountain, was unheard of with
Linn: Somebody took all this stuff to Gestetner and said, “We’ve created
an art form, using your machines, and what you should do is give us this
machine that we’re hiding out from you.” And they wouldn’t hear of it.
This machine was hot, all the time it was being printed on. Chester
started, uh, got it … got the …
Kod: Did a scam.
Linn: Did a scam, yeah.
Rod: Chester did that.
Linn: Then they were stolen … well, all this shouldn’t go on tape.
Rod: Why, why not? I heard a story from Chester about the machine being
taken away from him at gunpoint.
Linn: Yeah, Emmett Grogan. I don’t think it was gunpoint, it just kind
of slipped out from under his nose. But it was a funny thing … all that
machinery got me all the way across the country. Because I was in New
York printing this magazine.
Linn: Yeah. At some point along the line I stopped believing that LSD
was going to save the world and I kind of lost interest in the magazine,
and I was familiar with the Digger Papers and was in communication with
Emmett and a lot of people, and Chester showed up.
Rod: In New York.
Linn: Yeah. And what I didn’t know was that Chester was there because he
didn’t feel safe in San Francisco. But he said, “Come out.” At that time
I was infatuated with the idea of a free magazine that would have
national circulation and he said, “Come on out and you can have these
machines to print on.” And they were the most marvelous machines I had
ever heard of. So I said, “Sure.” And I spent a long time coming across
setting up distribution points and got here and of course Chester had
nothing to do with the machines by that time. They were being moved from
basement to basement.
Ivory: Really basement to basement.
Linn: But finally I did get access to them through the Free News. Doing
the Free News. And those machines were very central to my destiny.
Nod: I notice differences between all these materials. Like here we’re
starting in with Free News. Now were you basically responsible for the
Linn: Well, David and I started doing that together and then the presses
got moved into the basement of Willard Street. That’s a house you might
have heard of. It was a very vital, open house. I think there two or
three hundred people a day passing through it at peak times. The presses
were in the basement. It started out eight people living there. It ended
up about thirty. And the Free News. David couldn’t stand that scene very
much because it was so chaotic. So he pretty much dropped out of the
Free News. He’d come in once in a while and print, but he didn’t like
the chaos, so I ended up doing it, doing a lot of the stuff. But you can
really tell his style. You know, this is his. You can just pick it out.
Rod [into the microphone]: That’s the green sheet with a red half sun on
it. [To Linn]: What month did you arrive in San Francisco? This was
1967, or 1968 now?
Linn: 1967, I think, in the fall.
Rod: 1967 it must have been, in the fall.
Linn: Haven’t seen that one for a long, long time.
Ivory: I haven’t seen this one for a really long time, years.
Linn: This one we got out very fast -- about an hour and a half after
the riot on Haight street.
Rod [into mike]: This is the pink sheet with a big monster with an open
mouth and three people in front of the mouth.
Nod: What was the circulation or the total number that you would print
of these sheets?
Linn: About two thousand.
Nod: Two thousand. And they were distributed just by hand, right on the
Linn: Well, no. we had about twelve or thirteen boxes, like newsstands,
that were made out of plywood, a thing like this and with a box on it,
and they all had been painted and done by different people. Some of them
were quite beautiful. And what we would do is put them in a ganglia of
newsstands, wherever there was a … like on Montgomery street, in North
Beach, in the Mission District. And when we were printing every day,
we’d just ride around and drop a sheath of papers in. We always liked it
because it seemed like it was so utterly fortuitous gratuitous for
anybody to come along there and pick out something like … an image like
that, or like this … you know, among the daily newspapers. We enjoyed
that a lot.
Ivory: It’s got this immense border going around.
Linn: The trouble with that is that you never know what your effect is.
Sometimes there’s absolutely no way, no way of it coming back.
Nod: Well, was there a feedback that you had with people in a closer
community like in the Haight?
Linn: Yeah. Our working base kept getting larger and larger. We started
out being somewhere between eight and twenty people, and ended up
thinking about ourselves quite easily as a couple of hundred people. So
that kind of feedback was there. It was always hard to tell. There were
things going on on so many fronts. It was hard to tell where it was
coming from and what the best level of your effect was.
Ivory: Like, this just came as a letter. It was hand delivered in the
middle of the night. So we used one of the presses and it was out on the
street the next day.
Linn: Because we had free food deliveries going out twice a week, and
for a while there, for a period of six or eight months, it was
incredibly effective. Like two, three, four, five hundred people getting
Nod: free vegetables like into the Mission, and other places in the
Linn: Yeah. The Mission, the Haight. It was mostly the Mission and the
Haight. And a few deliveries in North Beach.
Nod: This brings to mind Emmett’s book because he mentioned the same
thing in there. I was wondering what you thought of it. Have you read
Linn: Yeah. I don’t know, it’s hard to say. I don’t have anything good
to say about the book. Except it was … well, it did what it set out to
do. It got Emmett on the talk shows. Somebody saw him on … what’s the
name of that show where you guess the person’s identity?
Ivory: What’s My Line.
Linn: What’s My Line, yeah. No, it was another one. “Will the real
Emmett Grogan stand up?” He was actually on that show. [“To Tell The
Nod: For someone like myself who wasn’t here in San Francsico in 1967,
it was interesting to read the book to get a picture of … somewhat of a
flavor, even though I could see that …
Linn: Oh, it didn’t give you a picture at all, let me tell you. Well, it
gave you a good picture of Emmett Grogan, but that history of that
period sounded as if there were half a dozen people of whom Emmett
Grogan was one of the first, and that’s just not the way it was. There
were hundreds of people doing that shit at the time. And there were
people Emmett didn’t know or wouldn’t deign to know who were doing that
shit. And that is not an accurate history at all. That’s really not.
It’s a pretty good novel, I think. If you want an escapist novel it’s
[Linn gets to the Digger Papers.]
Ivory: You have both copies of that one. You’ve been busy.
Nod: What’s the trip with Krassner? How was that all worked out?
Linn: This has always seemed like the heaviest thing, the heaviest
collection of printed matter we ever put out. And we had this collection
of papers which ran to two or three times that volume. The others are
all lost. Lenore might have some of them. Paul Krassner might have some
of them. He might.
Rod: Oh boy.
Ivory: A whole lot of people’s things weren’t printed. That’s only a
third of what was submitted. The rest were lost. We never saw it again.
Linn: We sent the whole sheath to him because we didn’t … we wanted to
have a wide circulation and we had no money to print it with, and really
no means of distribution. So the deal we made with Krassner was that he
printed it as an issue of his magazine and gave us sixty thousand free
copies to distribute as we wanted.
Kod: How many?
Rod: Sixty thousand.
[Note: Ringolevio states that 40,000 copies were printed for the free
edition, p. 469.]
Linn: So that seemed alright.
Nod: Why was the material cut back? Just because of no money?
Linn: His finances.
Ivory: That’s about the size of one of his issues.
Rod: So it’s possible that Lenore Kandel might have some of the material
Linn: Bill Fritsch wrote a piece that struck me a lot and I don’t know
if people got them back. I can’t remember. Or if Krassner still has
Rod: There is, excuse me, there’s a lot of names here that couldn’t all
have contributed to this issue so maybe these are some of the people who
may have contributed? Or is that just a joke? It is just a joke.
Linn: It’s a joke, I think.
Ivory: It’s a great joke, huh?
Linn: but in a way it’s not a joke. People like Rosalie who never wrote
a word but none of the people who were willing could have written
Nod: I’ve heard different stories, and it’s partly from my own
ignorance, but what is that symbol? What is the origin of that?
Linn: Well, it’s Hopi, from the Hopi myth of the people going in four
Ivory: The Running Man.
Linn: It’s also called “the running man.” Like it’s supposed to revolve.
Ivory: It’s all in fous.
[Linn reads the front page of the Realist issue]: Forty thousand copies.
I think that’s probably accurate.
Ivory: this was Billy’s. Batman’s [layout.]
Nod: The inside cover?
Linn: I got the shit kicked out of me distributing that poem in Harvard
Square about three years ago.
Ivory: the poem was Snyder’s but the layout was Billy Batman’s.
Rod: Do you remember the date of the Batman Gallery? Did you come to San
Francisco also, Judy [sic], at that time, in the fall of 1967?
Ivory: No, in 1968, in the spring.
Rod: I see.
Ivory: And I don’t remember the dates of the Batman Gallery. I think it
was more like 1966.
[Linn gets to the newsprint centerfold.]
Linn: This is another …
Kod: It’s from the Good Times. [Actually, it was the San Francisco
Express Times, precursor to the Good Times.]
Linn: … another collaboration that was pretty incredible.
Nod: Who collaborated on this?
Linn: Lenore Kandel, Peter Berg, myself, and Richard Brautigan, I think.
Rod: That’s on the Mechanix Illustrated Angels.
Linn: No, the whole thing. The whole thing was an incredibly weird
night, as you can tell. Everybody felt very strange. A couple people
there thought of themselves as poets and took that name “poet.” And
nobody had ever thought of collaborating on a poem before – just like
that, sitting around a room, writing this thing that had the specific
purpose of generating this event. Some people got into a very strange
Rod: This advertised an event. I was in San Francisco of course by then,
and the … uh … what happened? I mean, why do you think what happened,
Linn: I’d have to know what you thought happened first.
Rod: What I thought happened was almost nothing.
Linn: Yeah. Yeah. That’s pretty obvious.
Rod: And what is your theory as to why? It was built up over so many
Ivory: It certainly was.
Rod: And it was … it was really an epic. I mean, I don’t say this …
What? Oh, because of methedrine. That’s what you said?
Linn: It actually had a lot to do with it.
Ivory: A massive amount of delusion.
Linn: It wasn’t all delusion though. Well, it was mistaken judgment.
Because what had happened is that we had what seemed to be solid
agreements from street gangs all over the city. Like, I don’t remember
the name of …
Ivory: The Mission Rebels.
Linn: The Mission Rebels, and what’s the gang in Chinatown?
Ivory: Chinatown is really tight. Oh, they’re beautiful.
Linn: Can’t remember what they called themselves.
Ivory: I don’t either.
[Note: the name of the Chinatown street gang is Wah Ching, confirmed in
subsequent interview/memcon with Linn House.]
Linn: Wonderful bunch of people though. Everybody was going to come out.
Ivory: Within the different neighborhoods and locate all over, not just
in one place.
Linn: We had some, what seemed like very solid and good talks with them
a few weeks in advance. Then we all got involved in generating the
specific events we were generating and didn’t check back too carefully.
Nobody came out except us. It was a very destructive event.
Ivory: In the Panhandle. It really was strange.
[Note: this discussion concerns the Summer Solstice 1968 event.]
Linn: It was self-destructive because we were making statements like
this, you know, pretty self-deludedly. [“On the Summer Solstice 1968 San
Francisco will enter into Eternity.”] We felt there was going to be a
wave finally, after all this work.
Ivory: People were also very tired.
Linn: And it was a comic failure, but I think that day had a lot to do
with our dissolution as a group. I think people started splitting up
Ivory: there was a lot of dispersion after that. Many people went East.
Linn: There were some very comic things that happened that day. I mean
everything was just one damn thing after another. There were seven high
buildings in San Francisco, right? And at high noon, seven of really the
most talented people I knew in San Francisco at the time had spent weeks
in advance lining up ways to get to the tops of the buildings at exactly
Ivory: It was a Coyote gesture.
Linn: Yeah. Coyote managed all this. Just knocked himself out getting
people up there in the first place.
Ivory: Specific directions on how to get the doorman to let you in.
Linn: And everybody was going to let off this red smoke bomb exactly
twelve noon and seven beautiful columns of red smoke right there on top
of the city.
Ivory: And there was to be a man with a camera on top of Twin Peaks to
take a picture of all those smoke bombs going off on the highest
buildings people had finagled their way up the doors .
Linn: And I was one of the people who had got my way into one of these
buildings, and the janitor was standing in the doorway, you know, just
kind of watching. He didn’t … Our game was that we were photographers
for the Grateful Dead and we had come up there to make a photograph of
the skyline of the city for an album cover.
Ivory: We had our flares in our coats.
Linn: So the janitor was just standing in the doorway looking at this,
at us like this, you know, and we scurried over to the edge of the
building and lit the flare and it turned out to be a flare rather than a
smoke bomb. Broad, midday sun, and this …
Linn: Seven people were doing that.
Ivory: And it was timed exactly, just exactly.
Linn: Fall down and laugh from the tension of it, you know.
Ivory: A lot of people left town. Went out to the country.
Ivory: No. Coyote was in the East then.
[Linn gets to the letter from Leonard Wolf reproduced by Gestetner.]
Linn: Poor Leonard Wolf.
Kod: Did you know him?
Linn: Oh yeah, yeah. I did some very bad things to him.
Rod: What did you do to him?
Linn: I was involved in some things … uh … I don’t feel too good about
him but I might as well get him off my chest. He was a San Francisco
State professor of English who came to the Haight-Ashbury with the idea
of inculturating the poor illiterate hippies in the street. So he
started a thing called Happening House which was to be a school and he
was going to bring experts in. There were also sociological studies
supposed to happen through that. And it seemed like an outrage to a few
of us who had started to be interested in the place as an information
dispersal thing. This was pretty early in the game. But we decided that
it was an act of cultural imperialism for this man to be coming into the
Haight-Ashbury with the idea of educating the natives. So we thought
that the only way it could be a useful place was for those of us who
were going to teach there to move in. and we did that. And refused to
leave. And that went on for a couple of months of verbal battles between
Leonard Wolf and ourselves. And in the meantime we were doing quite a
bit, you know. The place was doing quite a bit of service for the
community and there were quite a few classes being run. But then Leonard
organized a conference at the Straight Theater on “The Drug Problem,”
with a panel of experts. It was to be open to the public, and it was our
opinion that they were doing something to form a problem, by having that
kind of expertise speaking to a group of people. Do you see what I mean
about the disgustingness of it?
Linn: These experts were going to come in and tell the people what the
problem was. They hadn’t the slightest idea, you know. So a couple of us
told him that we would organize this conference for him, and set him up,
set it up. What we did was set him up because we had a really good time.
We had Bill Linden and Ann Linden’s puppet show one night, which set
itself between the panel of experts and the audience, and made obscene
remarks, back and forth. At one point it had one of the experts yelling
at the puppet: “That’s not so! I didn’t say that!” It was a day-long
conference and we just gradually accelerated all day and every once in a
while dump a load of balloons off the balcony and finally ended up with
Jane Lapiner having her dance troupe in there with this naked dance
Linn: “Waiting.” Very beautiful dance. Which set everybody back and the
police raided it at that point. And poor Leonard Wolf walked up to the
police and said, “I’m responsible. If you’re going to arrest anybody,
arrest me!” And the dancers, man, everybody else was together, you know,
the dancers were clothed and out the back door, and there’s everybody
standing around looking like people in the street. There’s nobody could
have been arrested, you know. “I’m responsible here.” That’s what
happened to Leonard Wolf. He later had us evicted from that house. On
Ivory: Had to go to court.
Dod: When you were at Happening House, what kind of services did you
Linn: Well, the classes. We tried to keep the classes going because
that’s what the house was set up for. Had some drug-problem services.
People would come in there and freak out if they wanted to. In fact we
had one room that was upstairs that was about this deep in foam rubber,
little chunks of foam rubber. It was a great place for drug victims.
Depending on what drug you were on, you could either go up there and bat
yourself up and down against the wall or else lay down and go to sleep.
Kod: Is that the place that you advertised for new people to come?
Linn: No … no, I wasn’t around before then, during the summer of 1967.
Nod: This is a Xerox that we’ve gotten from Michael Sykes from Point
Reyes Station. He gave us this. It’s a poem.
Linn: Yeah, it’s a women’s poem. She was Susan Keyes. I always liked her
Rod: By Susan Keyes?
Nod: The picture on the front is of a Chinese merchant, I guess, with
his bodyguard. That’s what the subtitle says. There’s also the picture
of the two Chinamen on the back of the Digger Papers.
Linn: They were like Tong heavies, those guys. They were enforcers.
Nod: Oh, this is a very interesting paper because it’s written, it’s
signed “Some Disillusioned Diggers.” I guess it’s not really Free City.
It’s much earlier than that. It’s written sort of against the Diggers
and I wondered who was responsible for it, accusing the Diggers of
maneuvering people and manipulating people into political actions.
Linn: Actions. I don’t think I’ve seen this before. Most of that talk, I
think, came from merchants, people who had something to lose like street
merchants. I think there was probably a certain bit of truth in it,
also, because there were events set up that had no purpose except to
[Linn gets to the leaflet “Free Families Unite!”]
Nod: This last one was reprinted in Bamn I believe.
Linn: Yeah. Arthur Lisch. Arthur Lisch was a movement in himself. Did
you ever meet him?
Rod: Oh, he was here about a year ago. He came by. He came back to San
Francisco and came over here to see what was doing.
Linn: He would do these incredible things. At one time or another he
took on almost every church in San Francisco, insisting that they act
like Christians. Very seriously doing this, staging free worship
services and just incredible things. I could never understand why he was
doing it. It seemed like … and then occasionally he would do things like
try to free every Redevelopment situation that was empty.
Rod: Yeah. Who was behind occupying that house on that street the other
side of Market street? I don’t remember the name of the street. Do you
remember that house? I think it was Arthur Lisch who was behind that.
Linn: Yeah. I think it was too.
Rod: They painted it, but I don’t remember the name of the street.
Linn: I don’t either. For some reason I wasn’t around.
Nod: “Free City Planning Conference.”
Nod: What was behind that? What came out of it? The date is March, 1968,
so it was towards the end of …
Linn: Well, it was an effort to enter into a larger dialogue with, and
to widen our acquaintance with the city. See the whole thing, the whole
idea behind the Free City number, was to look at the city as if it was a
stage on which Free City can be acted out. So more and more of kept
doing that. We were doing things for three solid months like going to
the City Hall steps every day at noon and holding poetry readings and
street arguments. That was like a centralizing activity to wake us all
up in the morning. And then it just went on in every direction from
there, using the city as a stage set on which to act out anybody’s best
vision of Free City So we got so we knew a lot of people by this point
and decided to get as many people as we could together. All these people
actually were invited.
Nod: That’s quite a list of names.
Linn: Quite a few of them showed up. And the second Free city Planning
Conference was a great bash where somewhere between three and four
thousand people got fed. It was held in the Carousel Ballroom down on
Market and Van Ness. Bands, video tape with monitors set up all over,
all around the top. Just cameras moving freely through the crowds,
anybody was using them that wanted to. People would have little booths
set up too. Somebody was improvising passports for anybody who came up,
free passports. There were people burning money in another corner. Just
an incredible mélange of insane events. But the very beautiful thing
about that was that we got together enough food to feed maybe a thousand
people. And a lot of people spent a number of days doing that, and all
day cooking. And three or four thousand people showed up. The place was
ringed with police trying to keep some order in the streets, people
trying to get in. And after a point, you know, the food would run out,
and energy would run out, and people would just walk out of the kitchen.
I kept looking in the kitchen all that night. I’d look in about once an
hour, and every time there would be a whole new crew of people, none of
whom I recognized, feeding a whole new menu of food. People actually
going out in the streets and bringing back food [clap-clap-clap] like
Nod: You had your own Free City right there.
Linn: Yeah. All those people right there. It was beautiful.
Nod: I have a question, Linn. Now, when you say that at the Summer
Solstice, people became disillusioned, was it disillusionment with that
philosophy of the city as a stage? When people moved to Olema and
started talking about Planetedge and planet consciousness, was it a
renunciation of the city or …
Linn: I wouldn’t treat that event as a crucial turning point. I don’t
think that’s really accurate. It might have been, it might be accurate
for my own self, you know, but people were gradually drifting out of the
city for a long time. The kinds of things we were doing were
Kamikaze-type things. They were things that tended to burn people out.
We’d work at a project for twenty-four hours a day, for a week, using
whatever stimulants we needed to stay up and just completely wear
ourselves out. People can’t take that very long.
Rod: What about the influence of dope? Allen Ginsberg got a story from,
I don’t know whom, possibly from Emmett Grogan or something, some
strange story involving a kilo of heroin. Do you know anything about
Linn: No. There’s a lot of things I don’t know about, though.
Nod: This is a list here of the richest people in the Bay Area, taken
from the Social Record.
Linn: Yeah, I printed this. Arthur Lisch got it together.
Nod: It seems like sort of a nice idea.
Linn: Yeah, it was. I never heard of anything coming of it, though. A
lot of people had fun calling up the rich people but very few things
Nod: “The Funeral.” From all accounts that I’ve heard that was one of
the, Peter called it one of the two really successful street events that
took place at that time. The funeral, the “Death of Hippie.” [and “Birth
Linn: I’ll tell you, man. Ii thought it was successful in that the media
picked it up so, just picked it up as if they were getting dictum from
the underground about what was happening. It was kind of a joke meant
at, aimed at, killing media influence in the community. But it worked
just the opposite way. It was enormously successful. I still read in
histories, Time-magazine-type histories, about the death of hippie in
1967 or 1968.
Nod: I heard about it through Time magazine.
Linn: And it got fed back into the community, and people just took it
like that. You know, “Oh yeah? The heavies say that Hippie is dead?
Well, time to move on.” It was very strange, very strange.
Nod: From what it sounds like, it was Ron Thelin’s inspiration to close
the Psychedelic Shop down, and the death of money for him.
Linn: Yeah, yeah. He was inspired by that event, by the planning
sessions of that event to do that.
Nod: Was there a lot of common agreement about the media in terms of the
Free City Collective?
Linn: Oh, yeah. That was one thing probably everybody agreed on. Nobody
talked to anybody that was involved with the …
Rod: But it was my understanding that for a long time people would
encourage the media. I’ve heard of guided tours, reporters being given
Linn: It wasn’t any of us.
Linn: We were really strongly united against media exploitation. We were
completely paranoid about it.
Ivory: Where did you hear that, Rod?
Rod: I heard about it … where did I hear it? I really don’t remember. I
remember that supposedly there were very friendly relations with the
Chronicle, and I heard that the Chronicle would show up for any event
and give it front page coverage. That almost every street event was
reported to the Chronicle beforehand.
Linn: In the very early Digger days, there was some of that, you know.
But it wasn’t … but it was just an attempt to manipulate the media
rather than be manipulated by the media. And that obviously backfired,
you know, right away. And so people stopped doing it.
Nod: This sounds like a very academic sort of question, but the Diggers,
when the name Diggers was being applied, as a distinction from the Free
City Collective, were the Diggers more individualistic and doing
different sort of individualistic trips and the Free City Collective
more of a communal or a collective trip?
Linn: That’s hard for me to answer because I got here after most of the
Digger excitement had been generated, and I got here not too long before
the Free City Collective started to build. Yeah, you probably have a
point about that. Most of the people that were very instrumental in the
beginning of the Digger number tended to be related to the Free City
Collective in very instrumental ways but were living separately. And the
rest … there were quite large numbers of people living together working
on it too. There was very high collective sense of mission and destiny.
Rod: What do you think brought it about that people sort of dispersed
into nuclear families and left the city of Saint Francis and …
Linn: Well, they didn’t always disperse into nuclear families at all. I
think that mostly the nuclear families that were nuclear families went
right through that without ever getting collectivized.
Rod: I see.
Linn: Those people are still very stable nuclear families and still
together, most of those people. And right in the middle of the Free City
phenomenon a great number of people moved out of that big house, that
Willard Street house, to form the Black Bear Commune, and that’s still
going. And at times has had as many as a hundred people there. Now
they’re down to about twenty people by choice. And others went off in
different directions. You know we took our collective aimed at fishing
as a resource. I think what happened to us was very similar to the kinds
of things that happened to you that made you decide to quit putting out
Kaliflower. We were making food deliveries that started to be very
institutional, you know, people wouldn’t open the doors and talk to you.
The only reason that delivering food was fun was because you’d have this
thing with the people, you know. But it got so that people would open
the door a crack and say, “Leave it on the back porch, please.”
Ivory: “Any oranges?”
Linn: Oh, yeah, “Any oranges?” “Fuck off!” So it got so you’re anybody’s
Ivory: You had to fight at the market. Synanon was there. And three or
four different groups that had different arrangements with different men
at the market.
Ivory: All kinds of different groups of people would come early in the
morning to collect the food at the produce market. So, you had to get to
the right stall, you had to talk to the right man, you had to get there
Linn: Consistently just a few people did that. Like not more than a
couple dozen. And those people got very tired. And when they got tired,
there was nobody to replace them. So those very key people get tired and
move to the country, and “Let’s raise our own garden,” you know, “and
see whether we can get into things that way.”
Kod: Why do you think that all those people actually came together in
the first place? I mean, there was just, it seemed, an incredible number
of remarkable people in San Francisco, all at the same time.
Linn: Yeah. Yeah, that’s true.
Kod: And you know also the mass …
Ivory: Magic. People were destined to be here.
Linn: I’ve never been able to explain it in any way except as some kind
of cosmic destiny. And just the number of people that were able to enter
into that together was … and they were people who would normally be very
remote about their talents, you know, poets. Poets are always remote.
People don’t generally enter into collaboration with people who call
themselves poets. But everybody was just right there, it seemed like … I
have no way to explain it. But it was like a wave that crested and
receded, you know, and there was the other end of it also. It dissolved
really as mysteriously. It’s not too mysterious. What happened was that
there were no institutionalized, there were no patterns of perpetuation
set up, you know what I mean by that? There were no ways for things to
Rod: I wonder – was that deliberate? Or was it an oversight or a
failure? What would you say?
Linn: Well, I think it was a deliberate move on the part of most people
to resist any kind of institutionalization. A refusal to take part in
anything that looked like setting up a new bureaucracy. I think it was a
mistake. There probably are healthy ways to do that.
Rod: Maybe as a flower grows or as a plant grows. Ways for something to
grow and change.
Linn: Yeah. See, the problem with the whole wave was that it was
apocalyptic. It was a now or never thing. Either we’re going to change
this thing now, or we’re all going to die. It seemed like that. Not that
we’re going to die being gunned down, but it’s just going to flatten us.
Nod: There was a lot of that around that time.
Linn: Yeah, yeah it was really common, a common frame of reference,
frame of mind.
Fod: That was the overriding spirit? That was the generally held spirit?
Linn: I think so. I think that was the whole flower child number, you
know, so-called flower child number. It had a lot of that in it. Nobody
was thinking about going to be a grandfather and teaching their
grandchildren, and watching their grandchildren actually do what their
Ivory: Some people were. Some older people were. Some older people like
Joanie Batman said when people would get discouraged and say, “What are
we doing all this for? Why are we knocking ourselves out this way?”
she’d say, “We’re creating a new world for our children.” And she was
like a plant. She was actually withering. As her children were coming
into incredible flower. There were some people aware of that entire
Fod: But the kinds of things that were happening around the Haight then
were just reinforcing people’s ideas that everything was changing all at
once. In other words, that all things were changing suddenly?
Linn: Oh, it seemed, it was … I don’t quite know what you’re asking, but
it was a very hopeful period, you know. It seemed like we had the energy
and magic to do whatever we would, or could, but it was to be generated
within us rather than asked for from somewhere else, you know. We were
apolitical that way because there was never any question of asking the
government to do something for you. There was full confidence in the
street that you could generate your best vision yourself or as a
collective of people. Ours was a collective of people. And that faith
was just rampant. If there had been a strong analysis behind it, who
knows what might have happened? But it’s kind of strange because that
energy flashed out a lot of, committed a lot of people for a lifetime to
some sort of perpetual struggle that has to do with consciousness as
much as it has to do with armies, guns, space. And so the analysis is
just beginning to come back in, I think. There seemed to have been a
skirmish before there was any analysis. And I can only assume that that
was one wave but there are more and slower waves behind it. Everybody I
look at now is much more mellow. They’re moving at a much more
reasonable pace and their expectations are still pretty crazy but it’s
not beyond, it’s not completely out of the question. Nobody’s
expectations are completely out of the question any more.
Kod: You were all about the same age? I mean all the people that were
initiating a lot of the new things that were happening. Were you just
all about the same age?
Linn: Well, there were a bunch of people my age and a bunch of people
about five years younger.
Kod: Were you all influenced by … were there things that influenced you
to … you know, that inspired you?
Linn: Each other, mostly. As far as a way of thinking, it got incredibly
incestuous is the word because what was happening was that the divisions
between ourselves were breaking down incredibly so that we got dependent
on each other actually as units in our thinking process. Like you’d
learn how to think with two or three other people in the room, and it
got so one person would take the first logical step, another person
would take the next one, a third person would take the next one, and it
was like listening to yourself think, and you got very dependent on
that, you know. You’d get to a certain point in the thinking process and
you’d have to go look up a bunch of people to finish it. And, like,
you’re telling anybody about something and say, “Would you finish this
Rod: There are some people whose names I’ve heard of quite a lot, most
of whom I’ve met just once or twice really, that I’m very curious about
because it’s as if they played roles behind the scenes more, and one of
them is Lenore Kandel. Was she in the city when you arrived?
Linn: Yeah. I’d never seen her and I was in love with her. Cause I read
that book …
Rod: Fuck Ode … er, not Fuck Ode.
Nod: Love Book.
Rod: Love Book.
Linn: Well, she’s a very powerful woman, and people regarded her as a,
still do, as a seeress. Like when we printed that Vernal Equinox poster,
people took that poem as an oracle.
Rod: You mean the Summer Solstice, don’t you?
Nod: The large one?
Linn: No, the little one for the Vernal Equinox. With Lenore’s poem on
Rod: Oh, I see.
Linn: The Star Ram. People would listen to those poems as oracles. When
we planned equinox events, we always had her figure them out in her
ephemera before and people would move accordingly. So she was like that
kind of advisor, a seeress. I don’t know, I never had very much of a
personal relationship with her. It’s only since this last time that I’ve
been in the city that I have gotten at all close to her.
Nod: Chester told us that she was the notetaker for the Free City
Linn: Oh, no, nothing like that.
Ivory: They were hardly meetings. But whenever there was a meeting of
minds, for sure Lenore was around.
Linn: Lenore wasn’t a notetaker.
Ivory: Hardly. She’d love to talk with you, I’m sure. She’s just moved
to the city.
Kod: She has?
Ivory: She’s just moving in now, and Billy is going to be moving in in a
couple of days. I’m sure she’d like to talk with you. Call her. Call
Judy Berg and get Lenore’s telephone number at the end of next week. And
Lenore’s going to start writing again. She hasn’t written in a long
Kod: Oh boy.
Ivory: Billy was in that accident, and it’s been a long time. She’s been
helping him and nursing him.
Rod: I didn’t know anything about it. What happened?
Ivory: Billy has a bullet lodged in his head now, and it’s been there
Linn: Almost three years.
Ivory: Almost three years. So while he was in the process of
rehabilitation they’ve been in San Jose. And one part of his body was
completely paralyzed. So she’s been through an immense amount of
suffering and she’s come out the other side. I saw her the other day and
she looks tired and beautiful.
Rod: I could tell you sort of a funny story about Bill Fritsch. I
started to get interested in using a movie camera, about 1970 I think it
was. I had an awfully good actor and I was sort of developing his
natural direction which was female impersonation. And it was actually
the first time, I believe, that a bearded man ever got dressed in drag
without shaving off his beard and actually trying to look like a woman.
It was actually the direction that the Cockettes took. And he was
wonderful. Actually he was finally with the Angels of Light and he’s
right now on his way back from India. And he developed this incredible
character called Onah The Terrible. And over the about six or seven
shooting sessions that I had with him, he kept padding his shoulders up
higher and higher. He started out with, he was supposed to play an
Oriental woman of ill repute, and he had his eyebrows like this and then
every time he put on makeup, the next time they kept getting higher and
higher and for the last shooting session they went straight up like
this. I wanted him to play opposite somebody. And there was nobody I
could think of …
Ivory: Sweet William.
Rod: … that had sufficient masculine …
Ivory: Yin yang.
Rod: … yang power. And I thought of Bill Fritsch. And I knocked on his
door, you know, and he has a certain theatrical way at the time. He had
just joined the Hells Angels and he finally agreed to come to a shooting
session. And it was an insane scene. I had this set, this Oriental set
set up at Sutter Street in one room. And I had this sort of really crazy
woman wandering around all dressed up in a Chinese costume, carrying a
portable bamboo curtain in front of her so that she could always be
looking through a bamboo curtain. I couldn’t get it together. It was one
of those nights. Ralph was walking around with his eyebrows up. I just
couldn’t get it together to start filming. I couldn’t get it together.
The lights weren’t right or something. Bill Fritsch was there. I had
this tremendous spectacle of interesting people to pit against each
other and I couldn’t get anything together. And I was just utterly
depressed and embarrassed that I had caused all this energy to come up
and I couldn’t film, I couldn’t do anything. And he consoled me and gave
me some pep talk rap and then left.
Ivory: I’m sure he enjoyed the experience.
Linn: He was the Free Banker for a while. Rode around on his motorcycle
with a hundred dollar bill in his headband going from commune to commune
and had conferences with them about their economic position, what they
needed and what they actually had. If they needed something he would
take it out of his headband and give it to them. And if they didn’t, go
on. He was probably the only man in the city who could handle that role
in that style, you know.
Ivory: Throwing rolls of pennies in the street.
Linn: Oh, yeah. One time when he got bored, he rode up Haight Street on
his motorcycle, and he’d gotten something like eighty dollars worth of
nickels, dimes and pennies and at that time Haight Street was just
jammed with spare-changers. You’d walk up there and on one side of the
street would be, “Spare change? Spare change? Spare change?” And, on the
other side, you’d hear …
Ivory: “Hash … grass …”
Linn: On the other side of the sidewalk, you’d hear, “Grass, acid,
speed, dope, grass.”
Ivory: Dim, dull eyes.
Linn: So Bill Fritsch one Sunday afternoon just rode up that street at
like ten miles an hour, throwing handfuls of nickels, dimes, and
pennies, just to amuse himself. Some incredible actors in that, on that
Dod: Did people live together? Was there any kind of spirit of people
Linn: Oh, I should tell you about Willard Street. There were people who
did and people who didn’t. People who did, did very much. Like I say,
there was this thing in the air that nothing was going to last very
long. So people would tend to live for the moment, and some very
star-like arrangements came out of that. Which lasted just from day to
day, and lasted over periods of months, and were very, very demanding,
and very exhausting. But there were incredible configurations of people.
Like nobody copped out for long periods of time. Nobody collapsed or
freaked out and get accusatory and try to kill anybody. Nothing like
that. Nothing happened like that – for a long, long time. And Willard
Street. All of us moved out of, got evicted from Happening House and we
loved each other pretty much, this bunch of people, and by this time we
were connected with this larger group of people who was later to become
Free City, and I’d been working with Peter Berg and Emmett on a few
things, mostly literary. So a bunch of us stayed together. There were
six women and three men. Do you know Vinnie?
Rod: Oh, sure. Vinnie Renaldi.
Linn: Yeah, he was one of those people. Tom Drury, do you know him?
Rod: No, I didn’t.
Linn: He’s in the city. He was one of those people, and the six women.
Somebody got an inheritance or something so we took this big house, the
rent of which was about four hundred dollars a month, three hundred a
Ivory: Three and a quarter.
Linn: Right as we were moving into the house, David and I were starting
Free News, which we operated for the first few weeks out of an office
above the Straight Theater. And it was just at the time that we moved
into this house that things really began to pop in terms of moving
together and doing things together and moving out into the city as it
grew. It was about that time that Peter Berg first made the big 1% Free
poster which was a beautiful piece of work, it really was. He took a
photograph of those two Tong warriors lounging on a street corner,
enforcers, blew them up, cut out the outlines, and spray painted the
bodies with a ... you know, the compressor? Spray gun? Xeroxed these
faces and hands and they were pasted on there. And then one night, I
think there were something like a hundred of those done, one night we
got them all on walls all over the city. And I was very excited. Peter
has a talent for doing things that seem at the moment theatrical but
somehow turn out to be just the right key at the right moment, you know,
and that was one of them. All of us were trying to figure out what that
poster meant, you know. I was in on the spray painting and I didn’t know
what it meant. And it was only a few weeks later that we came up with
that page that appeared in the Express Times which said what it meant.
It was like a financing idea. The financing idea never worked at all.
Occasionally you’d get some money out of those merchants and record
makers and bands and dope dealers but not very often. But that image,
somehow, just everybody knew, somehow, in an inarticulate way, what it
was. You’d relate to people through that image. It was very strange.
Very magical, very magical. You can still, somebody blew them down and
put them on little cards. You could go almost anywhere with those cards
and people would pick up on them, even Washington. You could put them in
the window of your car, you know, and people would come up to you and
say, “Wow, you’re one of these people.”
Ivory (to Linn): You know about Lydia printing it on T-shirts?
Linn: Yeah, she’s blown up the 1% Free picture and is printing it on
Question: To sell?
Linn: Yeah. $3.50.
Question (astonished): You mean they’re selling 1% Free?
Linn: Every fucking crumb is being swept up in some commercial dustpan.
Rod: What was her name?
Ivory: Lydia ________, a black woman. Her husband used to manage rock
bands in L.A.
Linn: Yeah, a very good outlaw businessman. Broke the stock market,
stayed in the red a lot, involved in shady deals.
Sod: Did people actually go into all the Haight Street stores and lay
raps on them?
Ivory: Yeah, we used to go in and say give us some bells and incense.
Sod: I mean for money, like for 1% Free?
Linn: Yeah, that nickel and dime stuff would only be asked for specific
events. The heaviest thing was the living expenses for 300 people. We
used to send a few people out into the city to raise the money to keep
the rest of everyone’s time free because we figured that free time was
the only thing that would let us do the things we wanted to do. It was
our most valuable resource. So a few people would go out and free
everyone else to devote all their energy into treating the city as a
stage on which to act out their visions. This isn’t jive, it’s the way
Sod: I know, it’s the way we think too. Was there any welfare involved?
Linn: No, there wasn’t any welfare at that time. We were mostly making
do with nickel and dime ways of raising money – girls’ inheritances and
things. There was still a lot of drop-out money floating around.
Sod: Was the Free Bank ever really functioning?
Linn: Yeah, that was going pretty well for about six months. The Free
Bank was just Bill Fritsch with the $100 in his headband, riding around
to the communes asking them what they needed. Everybody respected the
way he handled it. He would go around and hit on businessmen for money,
businessmen on the fringes of the hip community.
Sod: They didn’t used to complain that their money was going to the
living expenses of several hundred hippies?
Linn: They wouldn’t complain, they were terrorized into it. No, there
weren’t any complaints. It was done by psychic terror. I used to go
around. I wasn’t the right person for the job. Bill Fritsch, however,
was very good at it. He was the only person who could fight with Bill
Graham and win. He would always come away with something, not very much
of course, but Bill Graham was always good for a couple of hundred, when
Billy would talk to him.
Rod: Do you know why Bill Fritsch joined the Angels?
Ivory: And his love for motorcycles.
Linn: The Angels provided something for Bill, the same kind of love and
brotherhood we had before we dispersed. He had this tremendous need for
realism. He wanted to become a more real person all the time. He would
always be talking about whether something we did was being real or not.
And when the Diggers would do something really crazy, he didn’t dig it.
I don’t know if you can understand talking in those terms, but the
Diggers scene provided all these different kinds of intense social
realities for different people, and when that scene dissolved, bill
found that intense sense of reality with the Angels. The anthropology of
the Angels is very interesting – the brotherhood, the love of the men
for each other – very beautiful. The whole scene with the Angels was
something I wasn’t privy to.
Nod: What sort of relationship was there between the Hells Angels and
the Free City people? We’ve gotten several versions.
Linn: Diplomatic. There were people in the Hells Angels and people from
the Diggers who were very tight and kept up diplomatic relationships.
Nod: This question is mostly directed at Ivory. What part did women play
in the whole scene?
Ivory: I was talking with a woman the other day who had just read
Emmett’s book and asked me, “Was all the women did was make stew all
day?” There actually weren’t many women there at the beginning -- just
the women from Antioch, like Emmett mentioned, and the women in the Mime
Troupe. They ended up doing girlie shows. But when we moved away from
the city was when the women found more of their own strength. Black Bear
Ranch is an example of a place being run mostly on women’s strength and
Sod: Was that just recently or had it been building up?
Ivory: It’s been going on for a long time. Of course, there were certain
women who were always in on decisions. One or two intuitions would
always be asked for.
Question: What kind of intuitions?
Ivory: That’s a personal matter.
Rod: You don’t want to talk about it?
Ivory: No, I mean we’re still a family, you know?
Rod: Do you think there’s been progress made against sexism since that
Ivory and Linn: Oh yes.
Rod: I think about it in retrospect sometimes.
Ivory: Yeah, we talk about it a lot too. Of course, there wasn’t the
feminism of today. You remember the belly dancers. And there was Emmett.
He always had a very male slant on things.
Linn: That’s putting it nicely.
Linn: I didn’t really come prepared for this. I wish I had prepared some
sort of analysis.
Ivory: The stories are the best part.
Kod: Yeah, that’s what I enjoy the most.
Dod: Were either of you around for the thing at Glide Church?
Linn: You mean the Invisible Circus? No, we weren’t here then. But we
saw some really beautiful photographs, beautiful costumes. There were a
lot of things printed there. The Gestetners were there.
Nod: We haven’t been able to get our hands on that stuff.
Nod (holding up Freewheelin’ Frank’s book): Are you familiar with this?
Ivory: Familiar with it? I really love this book. You know he’s writing
a new book. I’d really like to see it. He’s into a whole different thing
now. He’s been living in the country, doing logging. He hasn’t done
anything with the Angels for years now.
Rod: Do you have a copy?
Ivory: Not any more. Just the cover and some of the pieces.
Linn: We have a whole copy.
Ivory: Listen, I know what’s in that trunk, and we don’t. Our copy is in
tatters. The way things were with us, somebody’d be looking at this and
say, “Hey, that’s really beautiful. Where’s a thumbtack?”
Linn: We liked to see one of our things crumpled up and floating down
Rod: Of course, our attitude towards Kaliflower was just the opposite.
Let me tell you a story. One week we printed a cover which I thought was
particularly beautiful called “Soft Hair.” The next week, I happened to
be delivering Kaliflower and I saw “Soft Hair” in a garbage can with
grease on it. When I came home I demanded that commune be taken off the
Ivory: Which commune was that?
Rod: It was on Haight Street.
Question: What do you think of our trip about preserving these things?
Linn: I think it’s wonderful. I’ve never approached thinking of it that
way. We had structured things not to relate to it that way.
Rod: Do you know Bill Fritsch’s physical condition?
Linn: He can walk. He’s using Coyote’s grandfather’s cane.
Ivory: The bullet came in the back, went all the way to the front and is
lodged there. They tried taking it out but they couldn’t. It’s still
there. Half of his body is paralyzed.
Rod: Are his mental functions impaired?
Ivory: That’s a heavy question.
Linn: I talked to him on the phone the other day. It sounded like the
same old Billy. Only his voice sounded like it was always on the verge
Ivory: That’s probably because of his moving to San Francisco.
Linn: He’s not moving. Lenore is.
Ivory: It’s still a change for him. He’s been down in San Jose for two
years, kind of retraining his brain. It’s been very hard on Lenore, but
she seems to have come through the pain to the other side.
Linn: He has to teach other parts of his brain to do the things the
damaged parts used to know. There are certain areas … like he has
relearn how to get into a bathtub.
Rod: Like relearning how to read.
Ivory: Even squatting down is a new thing … what to do with the weak
parts of your body.
Rod: How did it happen? Was it the result of some Angels event?
Ivory: I’ve heard several stories. I don’t really know.
Linn: Some sort of Angels event, I suppose.
Ivory: I’m going to ask Bill that. We may see him tonight.
Nod (holding up Gravity): Was this part of Planetedge?
Ivory: Yes (opening the book). This was by ________, who’s now Abdul
(poem on card inside front cover.) We had a lot of fun making these
Linn: _________ taught us how to do the marbleizing. It’s pretty simple.
You float colored oils on a pan of water, then just touch the paper down
real lightly. We made about 500, all different. It was written
anonymously. See, it says William Bullet on the cover, but we know who
wrote it. It was Marty McClain. We’re baring our souls to you.
Ivory: You should go visit him. He just got into town a few days ago.
Linn: He was up north, teaching a course at _______ College. He told
them that he was now functioning as a tribal unit, that he would have to
go and get his tribe to come with him. He came back with Ellen and
______, and the two kids. They thought that was pretty funny up there, a
tribe of three people. They had little cards printed up – The Tribe of
All Nations. The guy who printed this … he has a print shop out on
Geary, near Masonic. They’re still printing free poetry.
Fod: Cranium Press? The printer there is Clifford Burke.
Linn: That’s right. Clifford Burke printed it.
Linn (picking up Angel Faint): Oh, you have Kirby Doyle’s book. I busted
my ass printing that. Then I showed it to Kirby and he said, “That’s the
ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Ivory: But that’s OK, we all know Kirby’s like that. “Eats” isn’t the
title, it’s “Angel Faint.” You must be missing the front page.
Nod (holding up the three Planetedge posters): Did you have much to do
with this period?
Linn: Oh, Planetedge. Peter did those. That was the most ineffectual
thing he ever did. There were 5,000 copies sent out. They were
distributed nationally, without any responses except for one. It was
reprinted in a British architectural magazine in Cambridge and some
Rod: It is somewhat incomprehensible.
Linn: Incomprehensible? I don’t think so.
Ivory: You should say stylized.
Linn: I find it very comprehensible, very readable. This whole thing was
a conversation with Sterling Bunnell (back of Planetedge poster) sitting
around just like this. We took out all of our questions and broke up the
lines. The layout may be a little hard.
Ivory (pointing to Corso poster): This is Ron and Linn. That’s how
Linn (pointing to “All of Our Ships” poster): This one is very
comprehensible, understandable. The layout may be a little difficult.
Ivory: That picture might be a little hard to take.
Nod: Who’s Sterling Bunnell?
Linn: A beautiful ecologist in Marin.
Rod: Does he have an M.D.?
Linn: No, you’re probably thinking of John Doss. Sterling must have a
Ph.D. in something.
[Conversation between Ivory and Mod]
[Note on original transcription: “not very accurate.”]
Ivory: The kids at Black Bear demanded some kind of schooling. So, some
of the adults have moved to the little town there because they hadn’t
been able to get a school together at the ranch.
Mod: How many kids are there now?
Ivory: Seven or eight school-age kids and the same number of smaller
kids. There seemed to be a lot of babies born in country communes a few
years ago, like a baby boom.
Mod: When we went to southwestern Oregon, I remember seeing a lot of
babies and pregnant women.
Ivory: It seems that birth control is one of the very important things
to be dealt with now. I needed an abortion very recently and someone
turned me on to an herbal abortive. A whole lot of women have asked me
about it. The women I’ve talked to recently have been thinking about
having children again, but not until it’s commonly accepted so that
there’d be another crop of children the same age. It’s far out that
there’s that kind of consciousness. There’d be children coming along in
bunches about the same age.
Linn: Somebody’s putting out a book on Black Bear. The guy’s name is
Mod: If they’ve been trying to keep it down to 20 people, they’ll have a
hard time with a book coming out.
Ivory: When you live in an isolated place for such a long time you learn
how to deal with visitors.
Linn: People have been writing articles putting down Black Bear in the
national press. There was an article in Northwest Passage.
Fod: There was one in Clear Creek.
Linn: They were mostly written by ex-Black Bear people.
Linn: I wanted to get this on tape – why I’m not living communally at
this point. From a rural perspective, the only kind of communes that are
doing anything, other than just surviving, are those who are either
service oriented, or there’s some kind of internally disciplined growth.
Rod: In other words, religion.
Linn: Yes, service or religious oriented. The rest of them are involved
in self-sufficiency, which I’m not interested in. It really seems to me
like that the problem with service communes is that they form a kind of
ego-skin around them, as the people inside are giving up their own
ego-skins, except that usually the commune’s skin is thicker than any of
the individual skins of the people who made up the group. It creates an
inside and an outside – the people inside become smug and the people
outside are envious, jealous and violent, because of what they see as
the ecstatic lives being enjoyed by the people inside – which is true to
some extent. It creates a breakdown in communications. I’ve seen it
happen again and again and again. It was like that up north in the
boat-building commune – or community.
Rod: Oh, I don’t know. I’ve always thought that the communal ego was one
step higher than the individual ego. Perhaps just a short step – but a
Linn: I’m not so sure. I get along better with my own ego than with most
group egos. I like to be alone now so I can talk to the old-timers, the
American old-timers. Most of the new settlers have cut themselves off
from the local inhabitants, the natives. Communes even cut themselves
off from other communes. Somehow they forget that we’re all new settlers
of this planet.
Nod: Do you have any advice?
Linn: No, but I’m hoping that this rap will provoke some feedback. I
thought that this group here should have the solutions if anyone does.
Nod: We’ve had similar problems – they’re things we’ve had to struggle
Linn: Yeah, seems like everybody does. The thing I wonder is, is there
any kind of a communal dead-end at all? In this time of history I found
that a lot of local people are alienated from the new settlers, the
communes. A lot of the communes will do anything that’s aggressive
against the older community. When people go to the country from the city
they get freaked out. It takes them years to build their house and plant
their gardens because they don’t know anything. I’d like to establish a
network for land-based communes, an information and materials exchange
Ivory: I guess you’ll use this to supplement your appendix.
Rod: Oh no, we won’t do anything without contacting you. We might not
use it at all. It’s good just to have a record of the times. We’ll type
up the transcript and give it to you to revise. You can add anything you
feel would make it more useful. I believe in playing with history.
That’s what we did with that interview with Allen Ginsberg. I guess we
can send it to you in Washington.
Linn: That’s good. That’s where we do our best work. We have a desk
there. It’s more comfortable.
[End of transcript]
Linn ("Freeman") House decades after this interview.