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ers" and went on to explain the importance of anonymity in anyattempt to achieve individual or collective autonomy.
All the thinking Emmett had done during his lay-up at Candy Sand's pad had charged him with a new surge of energy, and he rapped for over two hours. When he finished, there was nothing really left to say or ask, except the obvious question which each of the New York City hip people assembled in the loft that night to discuss their "community problems" had to ask himself: was he or she really serious and together enough to begin the difficult work of serving the needs of the unrewarding Lower East Side and its people for nothing, for free, totally and uncompromisingly free. It was a question no one asked out loud, for each person had to deal with the answer to that one himself, later, and alone. "For the time being, anyway," Emmett thought, and everyone adjourned downstairs to a bar for a couple of beers before going their separate ways.
The group crowded around Emmett because he impressed them with his rap, and they pressed him for more answers to questions no one should have had to ask. It was funny how people at first always thought of him as just another "handsome lug" and a gang leader because of his reticence and rough exterior, until he began to talk, revealing that he knew fucking well what he was doing and exactly how to take command when he had to. It always seemed to amaze them that he wasn't an illiterate imbecile or a dumb dead-end kid or something. He often wondered why they had that image of him, and concluded that it was part of a "noble savage" hangup which made them imagine him as some sort of existential primitive hero who depended on his primate instincts and not much else to fulfill his assigned duties given to him by some mysterious cabal of revolutionary intellectuals who sought a merger of hippie radicalism and New Left politics.
It was a joke, all right, and Emmett often used it on people who insisted he was a "truly great leader," by replying that he just took orders over a pay telephone in a prearranged public booth in whatever city he was in. "They just call me up 'n I go 'n do what they tell me."
Less than a week after the "community meeting" in the Lower East Side loft, Emmett stopped into the East Village Other office to look over the latest issues of the few West Coast underground weeklies which were available there. He had been on the phone with his brothers and sisters in San Francisco several times during the previous two weeks he had spent in New York, and they'd told him [end page 328]