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referring to them as the "East Village," the neighborhood still refused to allow them room enough to escape or transcend the reality of its mean streets. The Haight-Ashbury, its population being largely hippie flower children, encouraged the myriad activity of the esoteric sciences, but the Lower East Side, peopled predominantly by blacks and Puerto Ricans and some Eastern European immigrant families, most of whom were either Ukrainian or Jewish, was a lowmoney environment where people thought flowers were a luxury because they died too easy, even when they had thorns, and transcendentalism an annuity a person got from the government when he reached age sixty-five.

No there was scarcely enough room to breathe, much less make believe on the Lower East Side, and Emmett listened as the talk centered on the ill treatment the arriving hippies were receiving from their black and Puerto Rican neighbors. He kept quiet until he felt that those assembled were wrongly, but eagerly convincing themselves that the Puerto Ricans and blacks were prejudiced against them solely because of their long hair and life-style, making them the country's "new niggers." This conclusion, that the hippies were ~he new niggers of America, seemed to delight the group, and they quickly began exchanging different tales of outright bigotry they had experienced.

Their histrionics in describing their scenes of personal discrimination sounded like the blackface hokum of the San Francisco Mime Troupe's minstrel show with lines like, "You know what really gets 'em crazy? Bare feet! When they see a longhair walkin' down the sidewalk in midwinter just after a snowfall with no shoes on, it blows their minds! 'N they don't know how to deal with it, so they get angry!" "Yea, 'n when they always see longhaired dudes with their arms around hippie chicks, it gets 'em wild because they know the hippies are makin' it together 'n they're not gettin' any!"

Emmett interrupted and ultimately curtained the show by simply pointing out that the Lower East Side of Manhattan had always been a tough neighborhood and in tough neighborhoods the new kid on the block always got beat up and ". . . in this case, the hippies who're moving into the tenements now are the new kids on the block, that's all, 'n they're being put down just like every other new group that moved there before 'em, 'n that may not be the way you want it in the East Village, but as long as the East Village is part of the Lower East Side, that's the way it's gonna be. But there's more to this trouble than the traditional old-slappin'-down-the-new rou [end page 322]


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