Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Bum Trip

By Stew Albert (published January 10-January 16, 1969)

At a New Year’s Eve party in New York the Yippies declared 1969 to be the Year of the Bum Trip. It was universal, the wild-men moved between parties and into the streets, and always came back with a “It was a lot more joyous last year” tale.

We sat around and it was all reminisces about last year’s pipe dreams of both freaking out and making love to America.

The felony indictments are going to come down heavy. If you plan a demonstration it will be conspiracy, and if you go to it it will be assault with a deadly weapon (existing in the pigs minds).

The despair was exaggerated, everybody at the parties knew that, but there were just no beautiful dreams as January 1 became a reality.

A lot of the best struggles have turned sour. There was an attempt to get Bill Graham to give the Lower East Side community a free night at the Fillmore East. Graham gave in for a while and then backed out claiming the insurance companies were threatening to cancel the Fillmore if the free nights continued.

There was a wild semi-riot after an MC 5 rock concert. Graham got his nose bruised by a chain and a couple of ushers were stabbed. The street people went after some of the MC 5 when they caught them leaving the gig in a bourgeois chauffeur-driven limousine.

A couple of days later Graham convinced people that the insurance rate really would ruin him and that there was no way he could give away the Fillmore.

Bill Graham may be a very big cat on the block for us, but for the insurance companies, he is a tiny mouse that can never roar.

I spent a couple of hours with Abbie Hoffman, a one-man global village, all electric and always optimistic. Even Abbie was seeing grey for the future. He hopes Eldridge is in Cuba, setting things up for an exile-dropout community. Hoffman figures we have a year or so and then the trip without a ticket will end.

Back in Berkeley everyone says the movement on the campus is at a ten year low. Telegraph Avenue is applying for status as a police station. The Diggers have gone a hundred ways into hopelessness.

I checked out the Panthers and they are in the needed business of purging crazies and reading Lenin. They are going to stop recruiting for a while, harden their core and be ready for a long cold winter with Richard Nixon.

The revolution has spread out a long way since the FSM. Campuses like Columbia and San Francisco have exploded higher into the sky than Berkeley ever did, and lots of high schools are blowing with them. The psychedelics are taking over TV and some of the best light shows are found in commercials that undermine the products they sell.

But the price is going to be paid. The man has no intention of letting us take over and illuminate his power trip without first trying to build concentration camps around our dreams.

To survive and grow in the next year we are going to have to re-examine every anti-organizational bias in our rebel souls. Everybody just can’t go off and do his own thing. We have to develop a program for winning the majority of American youth to a real thing, social and political revolution. Your own thing has to become our thing.

The FBI agents who have visited me four times since Chicago wake up early in the morning, and through the day exert a ferocious and determined energy in the cause of J. Edgar Hoover’s evil portrait.

Lying around stoned all day isn’t going to make the revolution for us. Those agents will install bars around our pads and leave us there to meditate on our navels and die.

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