Monday, 31 March 2008

The Lost Chicago 8 Tapes

During the course of making Chicago 10, director Brett Morgen made an incredible archival discovery: courtroom recordings of the Chicago 8 trial, made by the court stenographer in an attempt to make sense of the proceedings. The reels had sat unlabeled in a Chicago archive for nearly four decades. While some of the audio had degraded, other parts of the tapes provided the basis for the voice actors' work in Chicago 10, allowing them to hear what lesser known voices like Thomas Foran and Judge Julius Hoffman sounded like. I've uploaded an excerpt from these recordings, which provides fascinating insight into the tone of the trial, here.

In a related historical note, the prosecution in Chicago 8 trial was able to listen in on private conversations of the defense with the aid of the Chicago Police and/or FBI. This information was made public in a judgment in 1981 where David Dellinger, Abbie Hoffman, William Kunstler, and Jerry Rubin had attempted to expunge their original Chicago trial convictions. Presented below is an excerpt from the trial judgment dated August 19, 1981:

One of the FBI memoranda indicates that United States Attorney Thomas Foran requested the FBI before the 1969 conspiracy trial to monitor closely the activities of the defendants and obtain any statements they might have made "to show possible admissions, to thwart a possible attempt to seek a change of venue due to publicity, and to show possible contempt of court before, during, and after the trials by the defendants and their lawyers." A subsequent FBI memorandum states that, during trial, Foran requested the FBI to record any statements made by the defendants, as such recordings "would be invaluable to prove contempt actions" and to demonstrate (in response to a request for change of venue because of adverse publicity) that "the defendants generated their own publicity."

Another FBI memorandum suggests that Judge Hoffman had ex parte conversations with Foran concerning both the defendants' possible claim of adverse publicity and the possible contempt citations against the defendants.

According to another FBI memorandum, "Chief Judge William J. Campbell (of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois) advised ... in strictist (sic) confidence that Judge Hoffman based on actions of the defendants and attorneys in the courtroom may call a mistrial and send all defendants and their attorneys to jail for contempt for six months." Another FBI memorandum indicates that Chief Judge Campbell advised the FBI that a subpoena served by the defendants on the FBI would be quashed.

Three of the documents indicate that the Chicago Police and possibly the FBI had surreptitiously attended and/or surveilled several meetings of the defendants and their counsel. It appears that information obtained in this manner (including trial strategies and potential arguments on appeal) was forwarded to Assistant United States Attorney Richard Schultz, one of the prosecutors at the 1969 conspiracy trial.

Another FBI memorandum relates to a threatening letter that was allegedly signed by "The Black Panthers" and addressed to two of the jurors. After Judge Hoffman showed this letter to one of these two jurors (who defendants believed was favorable to their position), she stated that she feared to remain on the jury. This juror was therefore replaced by one of the alternate jurors (who, defendants allege, was engaged to be married to a "patronage dispenser" of former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley). Defendants challenged the authenticity of the letter and requested that the district court order a full investigation. Judge Hoffman indicated he would do so. The memorandum from the FBI file, however, reads in part:

Assistant United States Attorney) Jack S. Schmetterer ... requested letter sent to Petersen family and King family be examined for latent fingerprints. He desired absolutely no other investigation or 'outside contacts' at this time. No investigation should be undertaken without contacting him or the USA Thomas Foran. Judge Hoffman concurs.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

The North American Folk Music Revival: Nation and Identity in the United States and Canada, 1945-1980

Phil Ochs had been one of the darlings of the 'great boom'; his song 'I Ain't Marching Anymore' became an anthem for the 1960s generation. However, Ochs found that, by the early 1970s, his very straightforward style of protest songwriting was no longer appropriate or acceptable. In order to adapt to changing times, he became a nostalgia artist, performing songs of the 1950s; he recognised that the style of songwriting which had brought him to prominence in the early 1960s was simply outdated: '[The old protest songs are] too obvious, too easy. Just say what Nixon's doing and putting it into a rhyme scheme. And it's embarrassing to sing.' As the 1970s progressed, however, Ochs found that the new musical order of 1970s had fatally damaged his creativity. Steeped increasingly in alcoholism and despair, Ochs committed suicide in 1976. Brian Walsh, who saw Phil Ochs perform at the Toronto Riverboat, considered the singer's story to be symbolic of the fate of 1960s idealism:
Phil Ochs kind of personified the pathos, for me, of the sixties. Here's the guy who ... was writing protest music that was better than Bob Dylan's ... His protest music was incredible, powerful stuff. And then the Chicago Convention happens, in 1968. And it breaks him. It breaks him how ... how so many of the hippies were all talk and no action. Dylan breaks him by ... by releasing Nashville Skyline ... For Ochs it was ... not the electric guitar, that wasn't the problem. It was ... that he was making music of no consequence. That was the sell-out.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Sing Out! (Or, Don't)

Probably the most famous American folk music magazine, Sing Out evolved out of an organization called People's Artists. People's Artists, Inc. changed its name to Sing Out, Inc. in 1956, and informant passed on a letter expressing this intent to the FBI. The FBI spent months in 1957 trying to figure out if the name change had in fact occurred. It was later confirmed through letters sent by Sing Out, Inc. to the U.S. Government Copyright Office, who then forwarded copies to the FBI. Their interest in the organization was Communist influence or affiliations. People's Artists had been "cited as a Communist front" by the California Committee on Un-American Activities, and that information was sufficient enough to begin an investigation.

A. Connection with Communist Party

Informants, who are familiar with certain phases of Communist Party activity in the New York area, were contacted during August and September, 1957, and none could furnish any information that the Communist Party (CP) is sponsoring or promoting Sing Out, Inc.
The special agents in New York then listed a series of "CP Affiliations of Individuals Connected with Sing Out, Inc." Most of the names mentioned to this day remain classified:
On September 26, 1952, T-5 reported that [...] has been for many years a well-known entertainer at many CP affairs. T-5 has no factual knowledge that [...] is a member of the CP; however, he feels reasonably sure that if he is not a member, he is a strong sympathizer. T-5 stated that [...] is a singer and a piano player and that all of his songs are slanted to suit the particular Communist affair at which he is performing. T-5 stated that he remembers [...] back in the early thirties attending and entertaining at various Communist functions.
One of the few declassified names in the file is that of John Lautner, a CP organizer, who informed the FBI that a certain performer "entertained children of CP functionaries." Another is a mention of Earl Robinson, songwriter ("Joe Hill," "The Ink is Black, the Page Is White," and "Ballad for Americans") and CP member.

In January 1958, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) received a subscription solicitation letter from Sing Out, signed by Pete Seeger. The letter read:
Dear Friend:

I thought you would be interested to know that the little magazine, SING OUT, has been blossoming in recent months.

Articles of original research, such as "Songs of the Woman Suffrage Movement" have received acclaim from many different quarters. Discussion pieces, like Sam Hinton's "The Singer of Folksongs and His Conscience" have made the magazine livelier than ever.

And the songs have been maintaining an increasingly high quality. It is a matter of historical fact that a number of fine songs, such as "Goodnight Irene," "Tzena, Tzena," "Sixteen Ton," "So Long," and others were printed in SING OUT, or its predecessor PEOPLE'S SONGS, long before they sold millions on the hit parade.

I'm willing to bet that some of the songs in our recent issues, such as "Dr. Freud," "Housewive's Lament," or "Knickerbocker Line" will sooner or later also be known by millions.

During the past year I've sung, in person, for around 200,000 people -- mostly in schools and colleges. After each concert I've had dozens of requests as to where someone could get this or that song -- and nine times out of ten I find I am referring to SING OUT as the only source for the song in question.

The increased news in SING OUT also makes it of value; news of records and books (every issue of SING OUT contains a complete listing of all folk music records issued in the previous three months), and radio and TV programs and anywhere else that folk and topical songs make news.

Looking forward to getting your subscription,


Pete Seeger

P.S. - SING OUT subscription rates are: One Year - $2.00 -- Two Years - $3.00.
In forwarding the letter to J. Edgar Hoover, NACA wrote: "The enclosed material is forwarded for your information and any action deemed appropriate. No action thereon is being taken by this office."

The FBI's investigation into Sing Out was formally closed in 1958, but the magazine's name was to appear sporadically in the FBI's files after that, such as in 1960 when U.S. Customs impounded a shipment from Peking, China intended for Sing Out that contained the books Folk Songs of China, People's Music, and Research on Music.

Also in 1960, one upset subscriber from Canada felt the need to write a letter expressing his concern to the FBI:
Feb. 9, 1960

Dear Sirs;

I recently subscribed to the publication "Sing Out," and after having read the first copy, I have the suspicion that it might be "Pink" in nature.

I had originally understood that the magazine was a collection of universal Folk Songs, but it also has a number of articles and editorials.

Should you confirm my suspicions, would you be good enough to advise me how I might have my name stricken from their records, and my subscription cancelled.

Looking forward to your earliest reply, I remain,

Cordially yours,

/s/ [...]
The return letter from J. Edgar Hoover read: "Your letter dated February 9, 1960, has been received, and the interest which prompted your communication is indeed appreciated. While I would like to be of assistance to you, the function of the FBI as a fact-gathering agency does not extend to furnishing evaluation or comments concerning the character or integrity of any individual, publication or organization. I regret, therefore, that I am unable to comment upon the publication you mentioned."

The last substantive mention came when a teen-aged son in Baltimore in April 1960 showed his father (an employee of the Naval Ordnance Laboratory) a copy of The People's Song Book, published by Sing Out, the book found its way to the Director of the FBI. The Baltimore field office, however, had no information on Sing Out, Inc. The office photocopied select pages of the book, including the back cover:
This collection is a must for anyone seriously interested in American people's music."

"A collection of songs that really means something."
HAROLD ROME, composer

"Next to resurrecting and keeping alive the memory of the people who helped build America--Tom Paine, Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, John Brown, Lincoln, Debs and FDR, and the hosts they led--is the assembling and publishing of the songs that were the inspiration of generations of Americans."
ROCKWELL KENT, artist and author

"A long-awaited record of a kind of American folk music which should long ago have entered the consciousness of the American people."
LEONARD BERNSTEIN, conductor and composer

"The new People's Song Book is something that we have been needing for many years. To collect the main freedom, topical, union and folk songs together in one book is a real service to America and Americans. Boni and Gaer, as well as People's Songs, are to be congratulated on the fine selection and presentation of this book."
EARL ROBINSON, composer and folk singer

"THE PEOPLE'S SONG BOOK is a collection of songs of, by and for the people. It is directly concerned with the problems of today and should help to make us aware that music is a part of everything we do in our life."
NORMAN LLOYD, composer and Director of Education, Juilliard School of Music

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Gordon Friesen: Interview with the FBI, 1945

Sis Cunningham and Gordon FriesenGORDON FRIESEN was telephonically contacted at his residence at 353 East 84th Street and requested to appear at the New York Field Division Office for interview. He was interviewed on March 27, 1945 after the purpose of his requested appearance was made known to him. The following is the record of questions put to and answers made by GORDON FRIESEN:

New York, New York
March 27, 1945

By Special Agent Thomas M. Corbett:

Q. What is your full name?


Q. What is your present title and position?

A. Well, my present title is Script Editor with the Master Radio Desk in the Office of War Information.

Q. What is your local address?

A. 353 East 84th Street, New York City.

Q. Are you at the present time a member of the Communist Political Association?

A. I am not.

Q. Have you ever been a member of the Communist Political Association?

A. I have not.

Q. Have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?

A. No.

Q. Have you ever attended meetings of the Communist Political Association or Communist Party?

A. I have attended several meetings of the Communist - I have never attended any meeting of the Communist Political Association. I have attended several meetings of the Communist Party. Yes, Sir.

Q. Can you tell us the date of the last meeting of the Communist Party you attended?

A. I don't recall exactly the date. I once attended the Communist Party meeting at Madison Square Garden. I think it was the - I'm sure it was the fall of 1942. I remember there was snow falling so it must have been late in 1942. I don't recall, but I think Mr. EARL BROWDER spoke, but I don't remember exactly if he did.

Q. How many meetings of the Communist Party have you attended?

A. Well, I attended a meeting, I don't recall whether it was a Communist Party meeting or an event staged by the "Daily Worker", in Detroit in the summer or fall of 1943, at a place called Graystone Gardens, I think. It was around the corner from where I lived at the time. In both instances they were open meetings and I was, I wanted to see what was going on.

Q. Are those the only two occasions at which you attended any Communist Party meetings?

A. They are the only occasions I can recall offhand. In the spring of 1941, I think it was the latter part of March, I went to Oklahoma City from my hometown in Weatherford, Oklahoma, in the western part of the state, to become chairman of what is known as the Political Prisoners Committee in order to do publicity work and help in the defense of, well they were, I think there were nine people charged with their criminal syndicalism. Four of them were tried. In each instance each either admitted or it was fairly well proved that they were members of the Communist Party. One of them was openly the State Secretary of the Communist Party in Oklahoma.

But the charge was, well the principle for which I came to their defense, there were very few people in Oklahoma who would do it, was that of selling books. They sold MARXIST literature as well as a lot of other stuff. The Oklahoma County Police, if I remember right, confiscated - the Oklahoma County Sheriff confiscated some ten thousand books, and I went to their defense and became Chairman of the Political Prisoners Committee.

Q. What was the entire name of that committee?

A. I think that is the entire name of it, the Oklahoma Political Prisoners Committee.

Q. Was that connected with the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners?

A. No, it was purely a local committee.

Q. What was your interest in this committee, Mr. FRIESEN?

A. Well I had, I had what I considered more or less of a liberal background, and before I assumed this position, which took me before the public eye as chairman of this committee, I went into it rather thoroughly and the issue to me did not seem to be one of Communism at all. The people who were prosecuting this case there had a book burning in which a certain [...], conducted a book burning. I forget where in the hell it was, but it was out on Eastern Avenue in Oklahoma City in rodeo grounds or something, and his forces raided this book store which the Communists ran on East Grand Avenue and piled his books up and set fires to them. Well, in my mind it was exactly and precisely the same damn thing that was happening in Berlin. The books which were burnt, were burned, were by the same authors and same titles, and I looked further into it and this [...] who was conducting the G-- d--- thing had the background of the Silver Shirts in California, had been associated with the Party, and the guy who was pressing the charges was an Assistant County Attorney by the name of [...] who was connected with the Coughlinites, who in my mind along with [...] were trying to institute Fascism into countries which were interrelated, and not a question of Communism at all but a question of Fascism.

Q. Were you compensated for your activity in that committee?

A. I was not compensated to any great degree, no.

Q. By whom were you paid for the compensation you did receive?

A. The committee appealed for funds in order to carry on the defense, and from these funds I received enough to just keep alive. There was no set sum whatsoever. I wrote a pamphlet for them.

Q. What was the title of this pamphlet?

A. The name was "Oklahoma Witch Hunt".

Q. Did you receive any payment resulting from the sale of that pamphlet?

A. Well, I received a certain sum for writing it. It was considered more or less freelance work on my part.

Q. By whom were you reimbursed?

A. I was reimbursed from funds taken in by the Oklahoma Political Prisoners Committee. We had a number of contributors in the bulk of the state of Oklahoma. People who were afraid to get out in the public eye and make their names known, but were prepared to contribute funds in order to carry on the work we were doing, which they were convinced was a defense of the American Bill of Rights, the violation of which in this case might ultimately lead to Fascism.

Q. Have you ever registered to vote as a member of the Communist Party?

A. No, I have not.

Q. Did you ever sign a petition for Communist Party candidates?

A. I don't recall that I ever did. During that time in Oklahoma, I was answering your question, I did attend a number of Communist Party meetings because people we were fighting for were Communists and I wanted to find out what in the h--- they were up to and so forth. I don't recall where, but I did attend several of them.

Q. Did you distribute any Communist literature?

A. No, I never did.

Q. Have you ever written any Communist literature?

A. No, I never have. However, I wrote this pamphlet called the "Oklahoma Witch Hunt" to which I signed my name, and which I was thoroughly convinced was the right thing to do at the time, and which I am still convinced was right.

Q. Do you have anything further to say concerning the questions I put to you? Any statement you would like to put on the record?

A. Well, I think I pretty well stated my position, at least during that particular period, and it is added because of the convictions I held before I went to Oklahoma City to take up the defense of the Communists, and convictions which I maintained ever since. In fact, I quit a secure job in Detroit and turned down more money in order to come to New York City and work for the Office of War Information for basically the same convictions. The whole thing is a fight against Fascism, and somebody's got to do it.

I would like to add, the Oklahoma fight was all four of these people were convicted in very short order. However, the Oklahoma State Court of Criminal Appeals reversed these convictions on virtually the same grounds on which we fought for them. I think they were exactly or more or less the same. All four of them are free at the time. Two of them are in the Army, one of them in France, and the third one, there were three men and one woman, [...] are both in the Army. [...] is in France. [...] was registered as a psycho-neurotic 4-F because he made the mistake of taking his examination in Oklahoma where the old prejudices still apparently played a dominate part in his case. Otherwise, I think he would have been in the Army for the past sixteen months. The point I was trying to make was that the Oklahoma Court of Appeals upheld the same things I was in their employment for.

/s/ Gordon E. Friesen

April 10, 1945 - I have never in my life advocated the overthrow of the U.S. Government by force and violence nor have I ever belonged to any organization advocating such. -- Gordon Friesen.

Perry Robinson: The Traveler

Certain people became martyrs of the sixties, people who actually killed themselves when the ideals of the times didn't turn into reality. The folksinger Phil Ochs was one of them. I met Phil briefly in the mid-1970s when he came to a birthday party for my dad at John Fischer's loft. He came late as I recall, and he seemed very nice; we had a good rapport, but we didn't get to talk too much. My image of him is just at that party, very beautiful. Later I read his biography, and I was surprised to learn that when he was young he was a very talented classical clarinet player.

He's one of the guys that you can call a martyr in a sense, because he died for his beliefs; he hung himself in April 1976 because he felt there was no hope. But even after Phil died Bob Bonick kept the tradition going, and Changes was still a revolutionary kind of place. They used to go up in the balcony and have seances for Phil, but I didn't hear that they ever got him.

The Other American: The Life of Michael Harrington

by Maurice Isserman

In articles for the Weekly in the fall of 1964, I.F. Stone had helped discredit the government's account of the Gulk of Tonkin incident. In December of that year he had spoken at the SDS National Council meeting, arguing the case for a U.S. pullout from Vietnam; his speech was one of the factors leading SDS to call for its march on Washington. Thus, Stone was a natural choice for SDS to invite to speak at the rally in April. His turn at the podium came immediately after folksinger Phil Ochs had sung a musical parody mocking liberals as sellouts and hypocrites. Stone was annoyed and blasted Ochs: He was a liberal himself, he told the crowd, and he had seen "snot-nosed Marxist Leninists" come and go, and he wasn't impressed by their pretensions. In the years that followed, Stone repeatedly criticized "stunt-mongers and suicide tactics" in the antiwar movement--but because his commitment to ending the war was so clearly established, he also continued to get a respectful hearing in the antiwar movement and the New Left.

As Long As They Don't Move Next Door: Segregation and Racial Conflict in American Neighborhoods

by Stephen G. Meyer

"As long as they don't move next door." The title is inspired by Phil Ochs. Once considered a rival of Bob Dylan, Ochs wrote topical songs containing a mixture of satire and bile. Most of his venom was saved for the likes of Orval Faubus and Richard Nixon, but in "Love Me I'm a Liberal," he chides what he considered the hypocrisy of the typical liberal. In one verse, he castigates northern supporters of the civil rights movement who condemn Jim Crow and the racism of southern bigots but deny or dismiss the prejudice against blacks in the North. Given the discomforting accuracy of Ochs's observation, the song's lines, "I love Puerto Ricans and Negroes / As long as they don't move next door," hit an appropriate note of social criticism.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

There But for Fortune

Twenty years ago, after a long battle with writer's block and manic depression, internationally acclaimed folksinger-activist Phil Ochs took his own life. His music had been a spark firing 1960s political idealism, and his death signaled the end of an era.

There But for Fortune: The Life of Phil Ochs is both an in-depth biography and a significant musical history, focusing on the importance of Ochs' topical songs addressing the civil rights, anti-war, and labor movements. With the full cooperation of the Ochs family, and with unprecedented access to Phil Ochs' diaries and notebooks, noted biographer Michael Schumacher tells the full story of this gifted artist - from his early years as a musical prodigy and aspiring journalist in Ohio, where he earned his first guitar after betting on a Presidential election, to his initial performances in Greenwich Village's coffeehouses and folk clubs; from his headline-making appearances at Carnegie Hall to his ambitious consciousness-raising political rallies. Rich in its anecdotal detail, this biography recounts Ochs' travels around the globe, including his involuntary prison tour of South America, as well as his associations with some of the most notable figures of his generation, including Bob Dylan, Robert F. Kennedy, and John Lennon. The story of Phil Ochs is ultimately the chronicle not only of a man but of the singular times in which he lived.

With precision and compassion, There But for Fortune explores the rise and fall of an artist who believed in the power of music as a catalyst for change. Unfortunately this faith led to his downfall. When the visionary heat and momentum of '60s activism burned away, Ochs grew unstable and turned inward, fueling his self-destructive tendencies. Instead of confronting the apathy that he saw in the world around him, he was driven to create a frightening alter-ego - a frenetic and occasionally violent personality named John Train, who abused drugs and alcohol as well as the people around him. The Train persona eventually disappeared but Ochs was left to confront the damage his creation had inflicted on himself and others. Mired in the darkest depression imaginable, Ochs fell from the heights of his earlier success to the depths of despair, leaving him totally disillusioned and suicidal.

Still, the life of Phil Ochs cannot be characterized as tragic. As one of Ochs' close friends remarked to Schumacher, "Phil managed to put eighty-five years of living into his thirty-five years on earth." Regardless of his end, Phil Ochs left a priceless legacy in the ideals that he championed and the music he created.

Michael Schumacher is a respected journalist whose other books include Dharma Lion: A Critical Biography of Allen Ginsberg and Crossroads: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton. He lives with his family in Wisconsin.

"The millions of people who know and love the songs of Phil Ochs should read this book."
-Pete Seeger

"I am still weeping for Phil Ochs - for his friendship, for his singing, and for his social vision. Michael Schumacher's There But for Fortune has helped me understand more about Phil. I wish I had a time machine."
-Edward Sanders

"Michael Schumacher's accomplished a serious biography of Phil Ochs - prophetic, social conscience minstrel, lineage of Woody Guthrie, precursor to Bob Dylan's radical songwriting phase, tragicomic folksong renaissance pioneer from the '60s to the '70s."
-Allen Ginsberg


Phil had always believed that he would die at a young age, and he now began to contemplate his death, especially by suicide. It was not yet the obsession that it would become, but it was something that he could easily call up and consider, often in an eerily detached way. The tombstone on the cover of Rehearsals for Retirement had been no exaggeration: he constantly spoke of how he had died with America in Chicago. He elaborated on it at the Carnegie Hall shows, where he announced the death of Phil Ochs, speaking of himself in the third person as if he could stand back and look at his life with a totally objective view.

He swore he would never perform again. He saw no reason to rehash the same old material, and in his latest prolonged bout of depression, he could hardly write a single line, let alone an entire song, in his notebooks. With enough money in the bank to carry him indefinitely, Phil reasoned that he could stay away from the stage and recording studio for as long as he wanted.

The big plan, he told friends, was to travel and see the world. He had seen a large portion of Europe when he was performing, but his professional obligations had kept him from exploring the countries in any depth. Now, with time and money at his disposal, he vowed to check out every country in the world before he died.

He began his quest at the end of the year , when he visited France, Holland, England, and Ireland with friends Jerry Rubin and Stew Albert. Leaving the United States lifted his spirits. As Albert recalled, Phil was an ideal tourist, whose enthusiasm rubbed off on everyone around him.

Rubin and Albert had their own agenda on the trip-to bring the Youth International party to Europe-and they held press conferences and met with leftist organizers and activists wherever they went. Phil. still burned out from politics in general, turned down numerous invitations to become involved, either through television appearances or by giving benefit concerts. In Paris, he passed up the chance to appear with Rubin and Albert on television. going instead to the movies while his friends taped the show. In Holland, the group connected with members of the Kraubauterzen, a radical Dutch organization similar to the Yippies. Phil was amazed and pleased to learn that one of their members had been elected to a local city council.

Ironically, the Americans' politics were considered mild in com- parison to their European counterparts. In England, a group of British and Australian activists accused Rubin and Albert of selling out by agreeing to appear on The David Frost Show, which was currently broadcasting live in London. Rubin, Albert, and Brian Flanagan, a British activist also scheduled to appear as a guest on the show. struck up a deal with the radicals: the three of them would do a por- tion of the show as if they were serious guests, and then, after about fifteen minutes, they would allow the radicals to "take over" the program. Phil was asked if he wanted to participate in the overthrow, but he declined to have anything to do with it. He still felt loyal to Frost for giving him a shot on his program only a few months earlier, and he was not about to do anything that might embarrass him.

The takeover went off as planned. At the appointed moment, the English and Australians stormed the stage, shouting obscenities and political slogans, and creating bedlam in the studio. One activist kissed Frost on the mouth, proclaiming it a moment for gay liberation. Hashish joints were broken out and smoked. As Rubin had hoped, the cameras caught all of the action, including one funny mo ment that found David Frost watching the whole affair from the front row of the studio. The police were finally called and the troublemakers chased from the studio, but not before all involved had become local heroes.

“We were like the Beatles,” remembered Albert, noting that the story had run on the front page of a number of local papers. 'We couldn't go anywhere without being recognized."

While in London, the group, including Phil, met with Bernadette Devlin at a local tavern. The entourage hoped to spend some time in Belfast, but before heading into Ireland they wanted to speak to Devlin about the country’s volatile climate. The trip itself was uneventful, the group spending a week in Ireland and maintaining a low profile until Rubin and Albert’s limited visas expired and they had to leave.

Death of a Rebel

Death of a Rebel, unavailable for nearly a decade, returns in this updated, revised, and expanded edition. The controversial biography which the New York Times Book Review called "moving," Greil Marcus praised in Rolling Stone as "fascinating," Variety called "excellent," and the San Francisco Chronicle termed "a remarkable book," has become the primal reference on the life and times of Phil Ochs, sixties rebel/social commentator/student activist/street socialist/poet/pop star and disturbed child of an America gone war-crazy and assassination-insane.

Praised by the Village Voice for possessing "a bittersweet, ironic voice that recalls both Nathanael West and Bertolt Brecht," and by London's Melody Maker for his combination of "Beatles' musicality and Dylan's poetry," Ochs galloped into the sixties riding musical shotgun to Dylan's lyric Marxmanship. With a major recording contract in his pocket, sell-out concerts, and notoriety in the "straight" press for his outspoken political views, it seemed nothing would prevent Phil Ochs's becoming a major star of the decade that wrote the book on rock, roll, and rebellion. And yet, at the height of his popularity, suddenly it was over, in the ashes of Chicago '68 and in J. Edgar Hoover's personally supervised FBI campaign of constant surveilance, harassment, and professional blacklisting.

What brought him down from the pinnacle of commercial and artistic success to the back alleys of his own despair, from the recognition on the international concert scene to the anonymity of jail cells and mental hospitals? What led him from the murderous satire of his best songs to suicide a block from his childhood home? Death of a Rebel is the depiction of that graceless fall, a portrait of an original American troubadour and the price he paid for trying to be a left-wing Elvis Presley in the days of rage in the age of Richard Nixon.

Presented here for the first time are new facts and documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act that prove Ochs was a target of Hoover's FBI, a thoroughly updated discography, previously unavailable photographs, and several new interviews not available for the original publication. This edition of Death of a Rebel presents the fullest depiction yet of one of the most talented, enigmatic, and tragic American pop-culture icons who ever raised a voice to sing, a fist to protest, and a generation's consciousness.

Marc Eliot has written four other books, including Rockonomics: The Money Behind The Music. He lives in New York City and Palenville, New York, and is presently at work on a novel to appear next year.

The War Is Over

A sampling from the songs included in The War Is Over

Cops of the World
We'll spit through the streets of the cities we wreck,
And we'll find you a leader that you can elect.

Love Me, I'm a Liberal
And I love Puerto Ricans and Negroes, as long as they don't live next door.

Flower Lady
But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

The Party
And their conversation sparkles as their wits are dipped in wine--
Dinosaurs on a diet, on each other they will dine.

The War Is Over
Silent soldiers on a silver screen;
Framed in fantasies and drugged in dreams;
Unpaid actors of the mystery.
The mad director knows that freedom will not make you free,
And what's this got to do with me?

When I'm Gone
And you won't find me singin' on this song, when I'm gone.
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here!

Songs of Phil Ochs

"Ochs is a major new writer worth watching."
Robert Shelton, New York Times

"Phil Ochs has reached maturity as a . . . writer that few acquire in a lifetime of work."
Josh Dunson, Sing Out


Introduction (4)
Foreword (5)
What's That I Hear (7)
Hills of West Virginia (8)
There But For Fortune (9)
Bound For Glory (10)
Draft Dodger Rag (11)
William Moore (12)
Talking Plane Disaster (14)
Talking Vietnam (15)
Thresher (17)
Lou Marsh (18)
Remember Me (19)
Firehouse 35 (20)
No Christmas In Kentucky (21)
Celia (22)
Links On The Chain (23)
That Was The President (24)
What Are You Fighting For (25)
Automation Song (26)
Power And Glory, The (27)
Another Country (28)
Too Many Martyrs (29)
I Ain't Marchin' Anymore (30)
Iron Lady, The (32)


I got interested in politics after wasting a couple of years drifting through college. Around the same time, I became interested in learning the guitar, and luckily won an old Kay in a bet on the election of John Kennedy for President. As a journalism major, I was writing for several campus papers, so it was pretty natural to slip some of my ideas between the chords I was learning.

This book contains about a fifth of the songs I've written since then. Many people have asked me how I write a song, and after thinking about it for a while, I decided that all my good songs were written subconsciously. That is to say, I'm never able to sit down and decide that I'm going to write a song. Rather, a song idea will come out of the blue and I'll get the proverbial light-bulb sensation. But I always try to keep my mind conditioned to thinking of new ideas. When I get one, my brain almost acts like a reflex muscle in following up a new thought. Sometimes I have stayed up past daylight pursuing a song idea until it was trapped in rhyme. But once you get the original idea, the rest is relatively easy, --- and rewarding. Some of the most exciting and satisfying moments of my life have been in the writing of a song.

I hope this book will inspire some readers to try their hand at songwriting. You'll never know how good you might be without a few honest attempts. I think many potentially good songwriters have been still-born by their own inhibitions.

Most of my early songs were straight journalistic narratives of specific events, and the later ones have veered more in the direction of themes behind the events. All of them, though, are trying to make a positive point, even the ones that deal with tragic events. However, I do have to concur with some of the right-wing groups that consider topical songs subversive. These songs are definitely subversive in the best sense of the word. They are intended to overthrow as much idiocy as possible, and hopefully, to effect some amount of change for the better.

I'd like to dedicate this book to the memory of Joe Hill, the Wobbly songwriter who received his royalties in the form of bullets from a firing squad.

by Gordon Friesen

To me, this first book of songs by Phil Ochs marks an important milestone in the current development of fresh new directions for American song. It brings between two covers the already solid achievement of a young poet-songwriter who is contributing much to the present revitalization of the nation's "folk-type" singing tradition. Phil Ochs is one of the most significant leaders, I think, of the band of young creators who are boldly taking America's folksong revival down new and exciting roads.

This whole group of young men and women, almost spontaneously it seems, began writing "contemporary folk songs" about two years ago. Their output has been terrific; this book represents only a small portion of the songs Phil Ochs has written in that time. And not only writing them, but getting them printed and recorded and sung all over the country. Their influence has extended in widening circles until now we see a concentration on "songs of protest" even by the established commercial folk music groups, to many of whom "songs with a message" were something to be strictly avoided only a few months ago.

This new trend was summed up recently in a statement in the Saturday Evening Post by folksinger Carolyn Hester. Indicating why she (and by inference many another folksinger today) was switching from the old traditional ballads to singing more and more of the newly-composed "topical folksongs", Miss Hester said: "People are demanding more of a folk singer. You must stand up and say what you believe, what you think ... Writers --- that's what's new in folk singing today."

Among these new writers Phil Ochs stands at a certain apex, because many of the streams of this movement to restore vitality and meaning to our country's songs (and not only "folk", but song in general) converge in his work. We find in Phil's songs, for example, the bitterness of a Bob Dylan, but redeemed by a sharp sense of humor. Even the love song rises to a new level in Phil's hands. It is true that the love songs composed by many of these young writers, Dylan, Len Chandler, Eric Andersen, Peter La Farge, tower high in their realism above the sentimental ersatz in which American popular song has been wallowing since the 20's. But Phil, in his lyrically and musically beautiful "Celia" -- based on the real life Pomeroy case -- adds something quite significant: he makes of it specifically a love song of our special times, when so many dark forces keep a man and a woman apart.

Meaningful song, of course, is not alien to America; it has only seemed that way these past few decades. Songs crying out against injustice and reaffirming a faith in liberty and reason exist from Revolutionary days straight on through the 1800's and through the labor struggles, Great Depression and World War two of this century. Such songwriting waned, along with virtually all creative activity in general, in the stifling atmosphere of McCarthyism. But even during that dark period the spark of topical song was kept alive by such composers as Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Malvina Reynolds, Ernie Marrs and others. And standing tall behind them, the influence of the giant, Woody Guthrie.

It is against this background that the Phil Ochses, the Dylans, the Chandlers, the Tom Paxtons, the Buffy Sainte-Maries, began working. They have come far in a short time. Phil, only 23, is already being listed in Who's Who; recognition of his poetry also has come from abroad. (The world-famed French poet and novelist, Luis Aragon, paid homage to Phil in his latest volume of poetry). Two years ago, Phil was a student at Ohio State University vitally interested in journalism because he felt he had so many things to say. But his dim experience with the campus press left him unconvinced that there was much freedom of expression in the newspaper world. So he turned to one of the traditional areas where a man can still stand up and say how he feels about things -- folksinging. He began to put his ideas into song.

But songs must have a considerable dimension above and beyond editorials. This is something Phil never loses sight of. As folk music critic Robert Shelton said in a recent New York Times article "(Phil Ochs) is a fighter who uses ridicule and humor as his weapons. He comments in song on Cuba, Vietnam, militarism, civil liberties and civil rights, but with such a flair for lyric-writing that his songs rarely sound like pamphleteering."

"But all is not criticism. He has learned some of Guthrie's patriotic affirmation, especially in 'The Power And The Glory' and 'What's That I Hear?' ... Ochs is a major new writer and singer worth watching."

Another ingredient absolutely essential to good songs is good music. And that you will find too in this songbook of Phil Ochs'. Music critic Josh Dunson, writing in the New York publication BROADSIDE, where Phil's songs -- and those of many of the new young songwriters -- first appeared, says Phil has created "some of the most beautiful tunes produced by topical singers to date. 'Bound For Glory,' the restrained and thoughtful tribute to Woody Guthrie; 'Lou Marsh,' the ballad of the New York Youth Board worker killed last year; and 'The Automation Song,' a deftly painted picture of the plight facing America's working man, all are moving and lasting compositions..." (Incidentally, it is in Phil's song about Woody that many listeners find most comparison to Woody's own songwriting; they in "Bound For Glory" the same spirit which pervades "This Land Is Your Land.")

These songs of Phil's and others in this book are already becoming quite well-known, through the singing of them by professional performers like Joe & Eddie, Joan Baez, Ronnie Gilbert, the New World Singers, and amateur groups and individuals, especially on college campuses, in various parts of the land. Quite a few have also been recorded, by the Goodtime Singers, Pete Seeger, Phil himself on Broadside Ballads Vol. 1 (Folkways), on Vanguard's "New Folks Vol. 2", and his solo Elektra album, "All The News That's Fit To Sing" ("Hey! these are good songs," Pete Seeger said after listening to Phil's L-P).

Phil, like Dylan and the others, is a "working" singer as well as a songwriter, earning a living by performing his own material. He has appeared at Town Hall and Carnegie Hall, has sung the circuit of clubs, haunts and coffeehouses. When he can, he travels for a firsthand look at the things he wants to write songs about; his Hazard, Kentucky, songs came out of several visits to the impoverished miners' families there; on a trip to Atlanta, Ga., he absorbed the feeling behind the Negro people's struggle for freedom.

What we have here is an admittedly condensed sketch of the forthright young American who created the songs in this book. You will get much more of a picture of him from the songs themselves. Read them, sing them, enjoy them, listen and learn from them.

(Mr. Friesen is a contributing editor of the topical folk music publication "BROADSIDE").

Folk Singer for the FBI: The Phil Ochs FBI File

Phil Ochs (1940-1976) was one the greatest political and topical folk singers of the 1960s, whose protest songs included "I Ain't Marching Anymore," "Links on the Chain," and "Ringing of Revolution." Ochs was first investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) early on in his career, after writing a favorable article on Woody Guthrie in Mainstream magazine in 1963. That same magazine issue brought another name to the attention of the FBI: fellow Greenwich Village folk singer Bob Dylan. The FBI attended political rallies where Ochs played, and poured over media articles to build a profile on him. Ochs began noticing the attention, referring to the FBI in his lyrics and telling an audience in 1966: "As you know, I'm a folk singer for the FBI." The FBI's investigation intensified after the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago occurred in August 1968. The FBI attempted to build a case against Ochs and other members of the Youth International Party (Yippies), but the indictment against Ochs never materialized due to a lack of evidence. Ochs instead later testified at the Chicago Seven trial for the defense. Special agents now monitored his travels in person, and received updates from foreign authorities when, for example, he was arrested at a student political rally in South America. Despite the hundreds of pages in his FBI file, Ochs never committed a federal crime. He continued to be under investigation until his death by suicide in 1976.


"This is why I love Phil Ochs." - Ethan Smith

"[A] must read as we slip down the slope towards a fascist state." - Notlobmusic

"Hard to believe and who knows what they [FBI et al.] do these days." - WICN 90.5 FM

Excerpts from the FBI File

"Mainstream" [a folk magazine] August, 1963, contains a poem entitled "Glory Bound" by Phil Ochs, and an article "The Guthrie Legacy" also by Ochs. Both the poem and the article are eulogies on folk singer and guitarist Woodie [sic] Guthrie, described as "incurably ill." Ochs does not specifically describe himself in these writings, but their content shows that he has conversed with guitarists and folk singers. The reader is drawn to conclude that Ochs himself is a guitarist and folk singer. An article on page 40 of the same issue "Mainstream" entitled "off the record" by Josh Dunson, describes Philip Ochs as a "topical song writer." NYO [New York Office] indices reflect no information concerning Philip Ochs.

On October 15, 1965, Phil Ochs, a folk singer, who at that time was appearing at the Second Fret, a night club and coffee house in Philadelphia, was observed by SAS [Special Agents] of the FBI to entertain at a "speak-out" held at City Hall, Philadelphia, Pa., sponsored by the Philadelphia Area Committee to End the War in Vietnam.

"The Worker" of January 9, 1966, page four, contained an article disclosing "Phil Ochs sang about the war" at a teach-in sponsored by the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee and Students for Peace in Vietnam, an affiliate of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) held December 29, 1965, at Columbia University's McMillian Auditorium, New York City. The article stated, "The teach-in was aimed at high school students and was an attempt to organize and give expression to high school sentiment . . . on the war in Vietnam." ("The Worker" is an east coast Communist newspaper that ceased publication in July, 1968. . . .)

"The Worker" of April 11, 1967, page one, column four, indicated Phil Ochs was one of the artists scheduled to participate in the April 15, 1967, anti-Vietnam demonstration in New York City sponsored by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam.

The October 16, 1967, issue of "Mobilization News," published by the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (NMC) listed Phil Ochs as one of the entertainers who would appear at the October 21, 1967 anti-Vietnam demonstration at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

The October 27, 1967, issue of the "Kingsman," a Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, New York, newspaper, reflected that Phil Ochs was one the folk singers who performed at the October 21, 1967, anti-Vietnam demonstration at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

The November 23, 1967, issue of "The Village Voice," a New York City newspaper, contained an article written by Phil Ochs captioned, "Have You Heard? The War is Over!" In this article the author calls for a rally in Washington Square Park, New York City, on November 25, 1967, to declare an end to the Vietnam War.

The November 26, 1967 issue of the "New York Times," a daily New York City newspaper, contained a report of an impromptu march of several thousand persons from an anti-Vietnam rally at Times Square Park, New York City, on November 25, 1967. The article indicated, "The original idea for the anti-war demonstration started with Phil Ochs, a composer and singer, who has been called 'a troubadour of the New Left.' " The article continued, "He had organized a similar march in Los Angeles last summer and subsequently wrote a satirical song on 'the war is over' concept."

The January 22, 1966 issue of the "Newark Evening News," a Newark, New Jersey, daily newspaper, page three, reflected that Phil Ochs was one of the performing artists at the Broadway for Peace 1968 presentation at Lincoln Center, New York City, January 21, 1968, sponsored by the Congressional Peace Campaign Committee.

The February 15, 1968 issue of "Win," a publication of the War Resisters League in cooperation with the New York Workshop for Nonviolence, carried on page fifteen, an article entitled, "The Birth of the Yippies." The piece reflects the Youth International Party (YIP) was founded in New York City on January 16, 1968, by some 25 artists, writers and revolutionaries, including Phil Ochs.

The February 27, 1968 issue of the "Long Island Press," a metropolitan New York City newspaper, contained an article reporting an interview with Keith Lampe, a founder of YIP, wherein Lampe said that among those involved in creating YIP was folk singer Phil Ochs.The March 21, 1968 issue of "The Village Voice," ... on March 7, 1968, page twenty-eight, contained an article reflecting Phil Ochs would be one of the entertainers at a benefit for the National Committee for Free Elections in Mississippi on that date at the Tavern-On-The-Green in New York City.

"The Worker," of April 23, 1968, page one, column two, disclosed that Phil Ochs was one of the folk singers scheduled to appear at the April 27, 1968 anti-Vietnam demonstration in Central Park, New York City, sponsored by the Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade Committee.

On August 23, 1968, a SA [Special Agent] of the FBI observed a demonstration at the Civic Center Plaza, Chicago, Illinois, and observed approximately 50 youths where a YIP press conference was scheduled for 10:15 a.m. on that date.

At 10:20 a.m. it was observed that a live pig was brought to the Plaza by the YIP contingent which they announced was the YIP "candidate" for President of the United States. When efforts were made by the Chicago Police to bring the pig under control, 7 Yippies attempted to intervene and were arrested by the police. One of those so arrested was Phil Ochs, a white male, born December 19, 1940.

On April 5, 1969, Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation observed the GI-Civilian Anti-War Parade and Rally, and reported that at approximately 4:45 PM, Phil Ochs was introduced to the Chairman and sang a song titled "On March 10 [sic], the Battle of New Orleans---" ["I Ain't Marching Anymore"]. This was followed by another song by Ochs called "All Quiet in [sic] the Western Front."

The "New York Times," a New York City daily newspaper, in the issue of April 6, 1969, on page one contained an article captioned "Thousands March Here to Demand Vietnam Pull Out." This article stated that thousands of anti-war demonstrators marched along the Avenue of the Americas on April 5, 1969, from Bryant Park to Central Park [about five miles straight up the main commercial and entertainment strip of Manhattan] for a rally in a downpour demanding United States withdrawal from Vietnam, chanting, "Free speech for GI's." The article noted that this parade began a weekend of anti-war demonstrations here (New York City) and in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle. Informants generally familiar with [subversive] activity and associated front group activity in the area where Ochs resides advised that they have no information concerning any membership or current [subversive] activity or front group activity on the part of Ochs.

The "Daily Trojan," a campus newspaper at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, October 16, 1969, carried a photograph of Phil Ochs who had ended a year-long retirement the previous day at the University of Southern California (USC), in a benefit performance for the Vietnam Moratorium Committee. He had also appeared at three other college campuses in the Los Angeles area during the day. This was described as his first activity since the Democratic convention in Chicago.

The Vietnam Moratorium Committee has been publicly described as a national group headquartering in Washington, D.C., formed for the purpose of calling a "moratorium on business as usual" in protest of the Vietnam War.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Darker Than the Deepest Sea: The Search for Nick Drake

Nick had also begun to sing a song he'd learned from a fellow French language student in Aix. Guitarist and singer Robin Frederick was a 19-year-old from Miami Florida via Southern California, who performed a mixture of folk standards and some original compositions in the cabaret club where foreign students gathered. Writing in Mojo magazine nearly a quarter of a century later, she recalled how Nick had introduced himself one evening after a gig and asked if she would care to get together to play some songs. From then on Nick would appear regularly at Robin's flat and the two would while away the night playing guitar. Robin Frederick doesn't remember Nick playing any of his own songs either, just covers. She does recall him enjoying Changes by Phil Ochs and detects traces of it in Nick's own compositions, which she didn't hear until many years after his death.

Theo: The Autobiography of Theodore Bikel

Back in the sixties, there were several major songwriters who dealt specifically with political events. One was Tom Paxton, who still continues to be extraordinarily productive, albeit not exclusively in the broadside vein. Another was a young man named Phil Ochs. Phil's pain from what he read and saw resulted in a prolific flow of lyrics from his pen and of music from his guitar. He would come to my apartment and sing for me his latest songs. I was often struck by the thought that he could not possibly keep on with these raw feelings without psychologically coming to grief. Little did I know that he would come to even greater harm than that. Occasionally I would sing his songs to people who were not familiar with Phil Ochs and the songs made quite an impact. One time I was a guest in Senator Gaylord Nelson's house in Maryland when Hubert Humphrey came to visit. I decided to sing Phil's song "I Ain't Marchin' Anymore" and wondered how the guests would take it. They applauded heartily, but I also saw some disturbed looks in their eyes, as though I had broached a subject that might better have been avoided in polite society.

With time Phil Ochs became embittered. Perhaps one should have had an inkling of what was going through his mind when, sometime around 1964, with John Kennedy dead and buried, he said to Bob Dylan, "Politics, it's all bullshit, man. That's all it is. If somebody was to tell the truth, they're gonna be killed."* Phil Ochs was a man who had dreams and a vision of a just society. Then he gave up on the dream and went and took his own life. He was right to have had the dream: How tragic that he lost it.

[*Bikel erroneously attributes this quotation to Ochs; in fact, Dylan said similar words to Ochs, as Ochs related in his 1968 Broadside interview.]

Thursday, 13 March 2008

'Chicago 10' offers compelling footage, but its revisionism can be distracting


In August 1968, thousands of anti-war protesters went to Chicago to celebrate a Festival of Life as a counter-activity to the Democratic National Convention. The city's refusal to grant the necessary permits for this gathering resulted in protests, and in violent attacks on the protesters by police.

Following the August riots, eight defendants were tried for conspiring to cross state lines with the intent to create various disturbances in the city. With Black Panther Bobby Seale separated from the rest of the group and tried individually, these defendants became known as The Chicago 7.

Now, 40 years later, documentarian Brett Morgan ("The Kid Stays in the Picture") has made a film called "Chicago 10," restoring Seale to the mix, and adding defense attorneys William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass, apparently because they received sentences for contempt.

Making the seven into 10 is only the beginning of Morgan's revisionism in his transformation of history into what might be called speculative allegory.

Music, an essential ingredient of the '60s revolution, is the first thing Morgan changes. We see the MC5 performing in the park, but it is Rage Against the Machine that we hear. In another scene, police escort a group of protesters from a rally to the accompaniment of rap music. Morgan may imagine that by changing the soundtrack he is making the events relevant to young people today, but it is a transparent sleight of hand that is unlikely to fool anybody.

What makes "Chicago 10" an important film, however, is the wealth of visual material Morgan has collected. Images from the Chicago riots have been used in earlier films, most notably Haskell Wexler's "Medium Cool," but never has such an enormous amount of footage from so many diverse sources been available in one place.

Morgan's decision to animate the trial segments is justifiable: Cameras were forbidden in the courtroom. The animation is preferable to out-and-out dramatization, which would have conflicted with the accompanying footage of real people outside the courthouse. The actors performing the voiceovers -- particularly Roy Scheider as Judge Hoffman -- do justice to the original tones and cadences of the trial transcripts.

There is plenty in "Chicago 10" to annoy those who lived through the period. The content selected for the courtroom scenes serves only to accentuate the outrageousness of the trial. (For example, Allen Ginsberg recited several poems during his testimony for the defense, but the one chosen for the film is an erotic poem having nothing to do with his participation in the protest.) Other witnesses are noticeably absent -- such as Phil Ochs, who had more to do with the planning of the protest than some of the defendants.

On other occasions, the film veers from the time frame of the convention and its aftermath to include such parenthetical material as Mayor Richard Daley's order to shoot all looters on sight during the riots following Martin Luther King's assassination. Morgan probably is suggesting a precedent to Daley's use of blind force in response to public chaos, but he does not make it clear that such an insinuation is intentional.

Yet there are many moments of historical force here, such as a clip of Walter Cronkite declaring "the Democratic Convention is about to begin in a police state." With its scenes of tear gas rolling into Lincoln Park accompanied by the cries of a random victim of police brutality desperately singing "We Shall Overcome" as she is forcefully shoved into a police wagon, "Chicago 10" is a timely reminder that dissident youth once were viewed by the government as enemies of the state. In 1968, as the cameras rolled, one of the slogans echoing through the brutalized crowds was "the whole world is watching." Morgan's collection of these images forces us to keep watching, and recognize this as part of our very recent history.

It also is a reminder of a line from one of the many songs Ochs wrote in response to the events of Chicago: "They teach you in the classroom that it can't happen here. But it has happened here."

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Conversation with U.S. Student Ifshin Reported

[Interview with National Committee Member of the Association of American Students David Ifshin; Montevideo, Uruguay, El Popular, Spanish, 15 October 1971, p 2]

Hours before the government, in one more demonstration of its hatred of liberties and its scorn for rights and constitutional rules, expelled him from the country (the only Americans acceptable in the eyes of the government are inspectors from the IMF or agents of the CIA), we had the opportunity to chat with David Ifshin, former president of the National Association of American Students (grouping student associations of 500 of the 800 universities in his country), who visited Uruguay after participating in the Congress of Solidarity with Vietnam, which was organized in Santiago, Chile by the IUS and the WFDY. Ifshin, who has visited the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and who currently belongs to the national committee of the Association of American Students, participated at Santiago as an observer for the association.

Question: What are the most important characteristics of the American student movement?

Answer: Until now, the student movement has centered its efforts especially on the struggle against the war in Vietnam and for integration of the black people. Another subject which mobilizes American students is the question of university reform.

Question: What do students demands concerning the reform consist of?

Answer: It is being demanded that the existing competitive system in the universities for achieving better qualifications and better positions be done away with. This is the present system, and it represents an application of the success theory to the university environment. This theory was very important as a factor for mobilization. But it was understood that what is behind this system is the capitalist structure, which finds expression through competition, as in racial discrimination or in the war in Vietnam. Developments in the struggles have brought the students and the black population to understand that the struggle for partial objectives has no future and that it is a question of involving the entire social and economic structure. One of the important elements in helping to clarify the issue was the slaughter at Attica.

Question: Was this reflected in the movement?

Answer: There is one chief contradiction within the students' and people's movement. Having a greater awareness of what the real problem behind each of these expressions is, and beginning to face up to a general questioning of the capitalist structure, there still exist sectors which center their struggle around a particular demand -- some for improvements, others for women's rights, others for the war in Vietnam, and others for university reform. This means that despite a growing awareness of the total problem, difficulties which hold back the development of the movement remain due to this attention to partial demands.

Question: How is this problem met?

Answer: The struggle against the war in Vietnam has been taken at the center, and through this an attempt is made to unify the movement. Last spring one of the largest demonstrations for putting a stop to the war in Vietnam took place. Even the reactionary American press admitted that more than half a million persons took part in this demonstration. Students, workers, union leaders, and even important personalities, congressmen, and senators took part. It was called by the National Action Coalition for Peace and the People's Coalition for Peace and Justice, which not only called for the demonstration, but also for the application of civil disobedience measures. I mention in passing that the association of students belongs to both coalitions.

At the head of the demonstration was the Truckers' Union, one of the largest in the country, which takes part in demonstrations against the war in Vietnam, as well as many other unions. In addition -- and for the first time -- veterans of the Vietnam War, in uniform, took part in the demonstration for 5 days, opposing the government and the Supreme Court. This is the first time in the history of the United States that war veterans have participated against a war that was still going on. This protest demonstration continued for a week and was headlined nationally. The Supreme Court order the veterans to withdraw. They refused, and Nixon did not feel encouraged to give the police a public order to throw them out by force, although that was the order requested. There was one point at which the police refused to repress the veterans. For that reason -- because that atmosphere existed -- Nixon did not have the courage to give a public order for them to be thrown out. The veterans camped at night in a park near the Supreme Court. This demonstration took place in Washington. Many of the veterans who took part in it had been crippled in the war.

Even the reactionary press commented in its headlines that the war veterans disregarded the Supreme Court. Many of these veterans appeared voluntarily to accuse themselves as war criminals for having been in Vietnam.

It is becoming understood more and more that the war in Vietnam is not an isolated problem, but only the most severe and the most concrete example of American imperialism: something that can happen in Vietnam, as in Bolivia, Uruguay, or another part of the world.

Question: Particularly, in Latin America...?

Answer: Especially at this time, the subject of Latin America is entering a crucial period, according to [copy unclear; possibly intended to read: as is understandable]. The U.S. Government has not defined a policy for Latin America because it finds no way in which to explain it to the American people. The movement is trying to create awareness, so that people will understand the imperialist maneuver before action takes place and not afterward, as happened in Vietnam.

I think that the conditions are being created and that we are arriving at a point at which it will be possible to restrain aggression, for example, of the Santo Domingo type. Nixon is keeping the U.S. policy more and more a secret and deceiving the American people, because the people's movement is becoming a force capable of checking aggression. The government is going to have to think twice before carrying out an attack or an invasion. Even the U.S. military power has been broken. The Army wants to get out of Vietnam, despite the fact that 10 years ago it wanted to go into Vietnam. It must be said that the morale of the soldiers in Vietnam has hit bottom. More than 20 percent of the soldiers are drug addicts. Of course, Nixon lies to the people. He is trying to sue not soldiers, but mechanized warfare: bombing raids, for example, in order to avoid casualties and the participation of soldiers in combat. He thinks that he can keep the war more or less secret, to the extent that there are no dead soldiers. Our work is directed toward making people understand that the problem is not one of dead soldiers but of imperialist aggression.

Question: What is the government doing about the movement?

Answer: Nixon responds on many levels. The first thing was to say that the movement was violent, irresponsible, and controlled by foreign powers; that is, the use of anticommunism. But it is very easy to answer this, because all the violence of the movement cannot be compared to U.S. violence in 1 day of war in Vietnam. I must say that the attacks against the left have strengthened the left.

In addition, they have again had recourse to supposedly liberal methods, saying that the United States is a free country and that everyone can express himself as long as he is not violent, also that anyone who tries to do something is an extremist. They also accuse the leaders with criminal charges, as in the case of Angela Davis or Bobby Seale, one of the leaders of the Black Panthers, who was jailed with the other leaders, and who was released recently. They try to isolate the leaders of the movement in addition to attempting to frighten the movement.

They also make it necessary to divert forces, since the struggle to liberate the prisoners draws off forces, requires much effort, money, and so on.

Question: What do the American people think of Latin America?

Answer: The American people know very little about Latin America. They have been indoctrinated with false ideas. Many of my leftist friends did not understand why I was coming to Latin America. Only one sector of the left is really aware of what is happening in Latin America. For that reason I think it is very important to coordinate our forces and our movements in order to make more information available concerning what is happening. I think we have much to learn from Latin American experiments such as Popular Unity in Chile, the Broad Front in Uruguay, and the National Assembly of the Argentines. Many people in the United States think Latin America is limited to Bolivia, Cuba, and Mexico. I believe that the meeting in Chile was very important, but I think that more open contacts must be made in order to make better coordination easier.

--Transmitted by the CIA as part of Operation MHCHAOS