When Hippies ruled the worlds.
by Allen Wayne
March 21, 2009
I took this photo of a hippy (note long hair) dismantling a
Washington Monument Flag at the 1971 Mayday protest organized by
Chicago Seven Defendant and Anti-War Activist Rennie Davis. The plan
was for demonstrators to block the streets leading into Washington DC
and shut down the government, as a statement against the Vietnam War.
A besieged President Nixon and Attorney General Mitchell responded by
illegally arresting 10,000 out of over 35,000 protestors, including
my college roommate, an act the government later had to compensate
them for. The defeat of tyranny demands nothing less.
However, as you can see in the above photo, a symbolic victory was
achieved. Hippies may be peaceful pot smokers, but the skinny ones,
who can avoid the munchies, are great at climbing poles, sitting in
trees, or in general reverting back to nature..
Che had his beret, Mao his cap, Castro his cigar. Socialism, tyranny,
or fascism may work through a variety of means in far flung lands,
but in the US, it boils down to attire. In a word(s), fashion trumps
fascism or any other schism. Revolution in America is achievable only
with a uniform esprit de corp; emphasis on uniform.... corduroy or
denim will do...but the one non-variable, as obvious as ZZ Top's dark
sun glasses, is a pair of bell bottom jeans. Backpack, woolen shirt,
sleeping bag are musts; asterisk on sleeping bag. I will explain
later. The plan was to arrive on the Capital Mall on Saturday for a
speech, a protest parade, and a concert that night. On Sunday
morning, demonstrators (after a peaceful sleep on the grass) would
block all entrances to Washington, DC, and presto...Government
Shutdown...End to War. Nirvana.
I was attending Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, when I
decided to make the 4-hour hitchhike with a friend (not my roommate)
and watch the government come tumbling down; I mean how many times
does a college student get to do that? There were sacrifices, of
coursea girlfriend had planned to cook a steak dinner for me that
night at a professor's house where she was house-sitting. I must have
spaced it out (it happened in those days) or miscommunicated and let
political pilgrimage overcome non-Platonic possibilities. She had an
affair with another professor later (I know this because he walked
into her apartment once when we were dissecting a dead cat on her
kitchen table for anatomy class (I can still smell the formaldehyde
reek), but we won't get into that. Experimenting was part of the
movement, apparently, in those days. In the woebegone words of a wino
tavern customer of mine in more recent years, while discussing a
sadomasochistic tryst with a woman friend, "I can f--, and I can
fight, but I can't f-- and fight." Nevertheless, in Washington, I
learned that hippies "can".
It did not take long for the Love Children to arrive. Note police on
roof of Capital Building, guarding against girl on left with
guerilla scarf and possible peace symbol on back.
There were parades: peace, veterans, women 's rights, gay and
lesbian, black, etc.
Peaceful gatherings by the Monument. See hands raised like peace signs?
Then, whoops! Who threw the bottles? Those fingers are not peace
signs in the air!
Time for action. Notice dangerous attire, keen gaze, and long hair of
hippies. Bell bottoms help keep Spiderman-like grip on canister that
would defy ordinary human adhesion. Hippies are also able to leap and
pounce like pumas.
No, the falling hippy is not shooting the bird; it is a defense
mechanism commonly observed in falling freaks. But he obviously is a
failed hippy, and falling like a rock: no bell bottoms. And then--
The flags seem to have lost their flutter, like parasols in a pinot
colada. One after the other they fall, magically disappearing, until
the Mall is symbolically naked. Have the hippies lost their minds?
Is nothing sacred? Can there be government without flag? Was there
before? Will there be after? Is the government truly shut down?
No, but the Parade goes on
Soap Suds to desecrate the fountains. A devilish eco-ploy! Domestic
Housewife Terrorism of the sudsy type! The guy with vertical stripes
on the left is getting ready to hurl a bubbly death ball. Guy on
right is blinded. Hippy nurse is trying to help him.
Dress codes vary.
Bell Bottoms still rule.
[[TWO]] Then the temperature dropped. People snuggled in sleeping
bags. Unfortunately, I did not bring one.
Even the Hare Krishna started to shiver in anticipated ecstasy. Not
dressed for cold weather.
And the band began to playa concert featuring the Beach Boys and Red
Bone--(above) a native American group, and others. Ok, this one is
fuzzy. What do you expect? There was acid and stuff out there. And it
was cold. My traveling friend was infuriated because some skinny,
ratty-looking, hippy guy did have a sleeping bag, and had to lift the
covers but once to entice some freezing hippy girl shelter from the
cold. "You're a tiger..." we heard her voice moan softly beneath the
Hey! That's not far out hippy talk! That's desecrating the post!
This isn't some Shanghai Tiger Lily Movie! A bad morale moment in
the Che Guevara Guerilla Training Manual! Although not dispirited, we
were pretty burnt-out by sunrise; I think we had classes to study
for; in any case, we decided to leave, probably five in the morning.
We took a wrong turn into some scary-looking tenement street, with a
group of wasted-looking denizens giving us a once-over look. Then we
found an exit ramp and stood with our backpacks, hoping for a ride on
the freeway. A police car pulled up. The cop on the passenger side
looked us over, shot us the bird, and they sped off. Hey, what did I
do! What part of weekend revolution don't you understand?
The grey exit ramp wound away from the monument tombstone town.
Apparently, a little after we left, Nixon had police and airborne
troops encircle the Mall and arrest 10,000 people. The day after I
got home, my roommate wandered in, and told me he had been arrested,
but seemed upbeat in a nervous chain-smoking way, because he got to
spend time in a chain-link cage, getting to know some Hare Krishna.
My girlfriend was a little pissed about the steak. A buddy of mine
defended me with a smile: "Hey, it's not every day you can overthrow
the government between classes." Looking back, I may have lost my
love over a loin cut steak. Regrets?I have a few. But the only thing
I can say is that revolution is only a turnpike away, and one ivory
tower removed, although for the youth of today, without bell bottoms,
it could be difficult. Revolution and the promise of sex, drugs, and
rock and rollis a winning formula for attracting crowds.
Salesmanship counts. Free concerts draws crowds; we did not have MTV,
nor Dixie Chicks to be constitutionally circumcised and silenced by
corporate airwaves. Today, kids watch concerts on iPods. Who am I to
judge? Did War end? Is our Constitution alive? Did we leave a better
life? Was Patrick Henry right? Were those flag cutters traitors?or
patriotssetting our flag free from disgraceful bondage? Or did the
hippies' ideal of voluntarily living with little or
nothing...translate into a world where people now have to live with
nothing? Three weeks after I took the above picture, I had to report
to my military draft officeNumber Nine in the lottery. We all have
choices. My advice to students: next time you have a choice between
missing a few classes, or overthrowing the government, and there
seems to be a weight on your shoulders or a flutter in your heart;
well consider it could be some kind of flag that needs to be set free.