by Jeff Kisseloff
I was still in the Army, so I went back to Fort Hood, where I hooked up with these people that had a project called GI coffeehouses. These were some old civil rights activists that set up these coffeehouses at a few bases. The purpose was to encourage the GIs to express their minds. They could chill out and listen to records or talk politics. It was really a free space in a military atmosphere. They had underground papers and different literature and stuff there. The coffeehouse staff lived on a commune.
After I got discharged, I hung out and organized and smoked a lot of pot. I stayed in Texas at the coffeehouse until the end of '71, beginning '72. I was burned out from living there. It was rough organizing. You're under a lot of surveillance from the police. One time we had a shoot-out with the Klan while we were going to Houston on a convoy. We used to fight with the cowboys. In those days, if you had long hair, they all used to think you were "a goddamned hippie."
We had a lot of musicians come to our club. Phil Ochs, Barbara Dane, and Pete Seeger came down. We asked Johnny Winter to come, but he said, "Can't help you, it won't help my career."