By Tony Ortega
Jun. 11 2010
December 19, 1968, Vol. XIV, No. 10
The Hog Farm Commune: A Geodesic Christmas
by Joe Pilati
The 365-day expanse the Yippies have already designated "Year of the
Pig" is almost upon us. It will be a time of bemoaning Richard the
Chicken-Hearted who says "we can't stand pat," and we sure can't
stand Julie and David. But despite it all, Hugh Romney is back in
town with his "extended family," the Hog Farm Commune, and he thinks
there's something to celebrate.
Romney, whose troupe now does a sort of float-around comedy (as
opposed to the stand-up type he used to do in his Village), is
inviting "the whole world" (as he puts it, despite the fire laws) to
the Electric Circus on Christmas Day. There the Hog Farm people and
like-minded souls plan an all-day celebration of Christmas, or maybe Life.
Sprawled out in a straight-backed chair at Abbie Hoffman's "office,"
wearing his usual attire (a green astronaut's suit with a Cities
Service patch on the shoulder), Romney assured the world that the
celebration is "free, so everybody should come and take what they
want." The day will also be free in the less ethereal sense that
people won't have to pay the usual Electric Circus prices, or for
that matter anything. Freedom starts at 8 a.m. and will end (at least
the more structured part) at 8 p.m.
The Hog Farm people will be setting up a 30-foot geodesic dome inside
the Circus because, Romney says, "there isn't really room for the
60-foot one." There will be music (the Group Image and other group
images), theatre (the Living Theatre, baring buttocks to blast the
bourgeoisie, plus the Bread and Puppet Theatre with their
Punch-and-Judy New York Times editorials), and possibly even
childbirth (three or four women well into their eighth month have
volunteered, Romney said).
"It's been...oh, a year and a half since I've been in New York, and
people are so paranoid," Romney mused. He went into a reminiscence
riff about Central Park be-ins, another era of Acapulcan Golden
Oldies -- but that was quite a while ago, and Romney now feels that
"people who've been scared inside should come out on Christmas Day,
and see who each other are...or is it is?" The price of admission
will be "a present, something to give someone else," and your
signature on "the longest Christmas card in the world, which we'll
sent to the Pope."
The 50 persons who comprise the Hog Farm Commune were at a fixed
location in Sunland, California, until last spring. "We were grooving
together, rising as one person, Romney bubbled, "practicing Hog
Consciousness. We're really a sociological experiment -- the show is
just an excuse."
He corrected himself: "We're not a show, really. We merely set up an
environment in which things will happen." Seven months ago, Romney
says the Commune pulled up stakes and started traveling, on the
assumption that "home is where the Hog is." They travel in three
rainbow-colored buses, creating environments at college campuses and
other places where they're booked by the Radical Theatre Repertory.
"Ken Kesey was with us in Colorado, yep, and we repaired plumbing for
Indians in New Mexico. After we did that, we drove away watching
these three Indians taking a shower and singing, probably a rain
chant or something," Romney recalled.
All of the family's "shows," he added, are free. But since not
everyone is as altruistic as the family, Romney asserts, "we've been
stopped by the cops every 20 miles or so. Our pig gets terrified, but
we've really gotten used to it. We've developed a whole show for
them. We've got letters from ministers, teachers, the whole thing.
The cop show gets to be as much fun as the show show."
One "cop show" earlier this month wasn't so much fun, though. The
family was staying in a big farm house in Montroes, Pennsylvania. "We
were sitting down to dinner when the cops busted in and tore
everything apart," Romney said. The gendarmes found a pipe, scraped
it out, said they'd found something incriminating, and arrested two
people who are still being held on $2000 bond each. Romney says he
can't get them out because $2000 is a lot of shekels for people who
subsist on brown rice.
Although he did not indicate whether the cops are included in his
speculation, Romney still believes that "people who can't agree on
anything can at least make music together. Hey, Joe Pyne was with us
for a couple hours and really...he stopped being Joe Pyne! But then
he changed back again," he added distractedly.
It's impossible to predict how much Fuller anyone's life will be
after they sit in that geodesic dome all day December 25, but Romney
naturally oozed optimism. "I hope lots of good, gentle people show
up," he said...a bit guardedly.