Thursday, 2 April 2009

Disorderly Conduct

By Bruce Jackson

Foreword by William M. Kunstler

"What I like about these essays, which cover an array of highly significant topics from peace demonstrations in the 1960s to contemporary federal drug policies, is that the politics and theory seem to derive from what their author saw; with most observers, the politics and theory seem to control what they saw. The result is a rare measure of balance and clarity, a group of articles with remarkable currency. . . .

"We live in an age when an astonishing amount of claptrap is proffered as revealed knowledge by anyone with a word processor and a willing publisher. I find it delightfully refreshing to find so articulate an olio of intelligent and searching pieces that are as articulate as they are provocative. And, happily, Bruce Jackson has been blessed with the gift of laughter, which helps him deliver to us a remarkable sane vision of a world that all too often is more than a little mad."

William M. Kunstler,
from the Foreword


The action got going on the platform. The Bread and Puppet Theater parodied patriotic hymns, then performed a parable, "The Great Warrior." Three busloads from Oakland, California, arrived - "the real heroes in the fight for peace," said the announcer; the crowd cheered. A flautist fluted. Malcolm X's sister gave a rather simpleminded and incoherent speech about "barbarickisms." There were many speeches, but hardly anyone could hear them. It didn't matter much: they weren't for the crowd anyway; they were for the TV cameramen and wire services, whose electronic rigs were arrayed in a brilliant display of technology in the sun. Phil Ochs warbled a song declaring the war over, and Peter, Paul, and Mary sang about the Great Mandala. The music was the first key that something was wrong: it was surface, anachronistic. Those things belonged back in 1963, but not now. If anything, the main stage should have had something violent and angry, the Jefferson Airplane, or even the Fugs, who were elsewhere.

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