1966–1975 Peace & Protest

From the Summer of Love to Women's Lib, Gay Rights and Black Panthers

Background of crisis: the trivia in truth
by Frances FitzGerald

April 28, 1966

SAIGON—This is the war in Vietnam. This is the army making the war in Vietnam. This is the colonel with the well-pressed suit who directs the army to make the war in Vietnam. This is the woman who chews betel nuts and who presses the suit of the well-dressed colonel who directs the army to make the war in Vietnam. This is a Viet Cong guerrilla, the son of the woman who chews betel nuts and presses the suit of the well-dressed colonel who directs the army to make the war in Vietnam. This is the bomb that killed the child but missed the guerrilla, the son of the woman who chews betel nuts and presses the suit of the well-dressed colonel who directs the army to make the war in Vietnam.

From Saigon, from inside, the war looks exactly as it had appeared in the books, the magazines, and the newspapers. And yet it is not the same. To come to Vietnam is to walk through the Looking Glass of a print into a land beyond the vanishing point. Solid objects break loose from their lines of perspective; sensations collide; daily rituals, habits of thought collected over a lifetime refract concentration on the war. In the state of persistent abnormality one makes periodic checks on oneself like an airline pilot before take-off to see whether responses, emotions, opinions are in some semblance of working order.

Because Vietnam is a country deranged. It belongs to no one; it has ceased to obey the conventions of any particular civilization. Four armies fight for Vietnam across a four-dimensional chessboard shimmering with black and white squares, the illusions of solidity and relation. Peace is like life after death—a desire in the future subjunctive; war is the eternal present, the game, the medium of existence. "The war," said one Embassy official who has been here for three years, "the war is an existential phenomenon. Each person must keep on doing what he believes in without any hope of being proved right or of changing the objective situation."


image
Linn house presides over wedding of Anita and Abbie Hoffman in central park (June 1967).
photo: Fred W. McDarrah
Be-In, Be-in, Being
Central Park rite is medieval pageant
by Don McNeill
see full text

March 30, 1967

As the dawn sun gleamed off a backdrop of molded metal sky-scrapers on Easter Sunday, a medieval pageant began in the middle of Manhattan. Laden with daffodils, ecstatic in vibrant costumes and painted faces, troupes of hippies gathered on a hill overlooking Central Park's Sheep Meadow to Be-In. By sunset, 10,000 celebrants swarmed in great rushes across the meadow, and thousands more were dispersed throughout the rest of the park. Bonfires burned on the hills, their smoke mixing with bright balloons among the barren trees and high, high above kites wafted in the air. Rhythms and music and mantras from all corners of the meadow echoed in exquisite harmony, and thousands of lovers vibrated into the night. It was miraculous.

It was a feast for the senses: the beauty of the colors, clothes and shrines, the sounds and the rhythms, at once familiar, the smell of flowers and frankincense, the taste of jellybeans. But the spirit of the Be-In penetrated beneath the senses, deep into instincts. The Be-In was tuned—in time—to past echoes and future premonitions. Layers of inhibitions were peeled away and, for many, love and laughter become suddenly fresh.

People climbed into trees and made animal calls, and were answered by calls from other trees. Two men stripped naked, and were gently persuaded to re-clothe as the police appeared. Herds of people rushed together from encampments on the hills to converge en masse on the great mud of the meadow. They joined hands to form great circles, hundreds of yards in diameter, and broke to hurtle to the center in a joyous, crushing, multi-embracing pigpile. Chains of people careened through the crowds at full run. Their energy seemed inexhaustible.

The password was "LOVE" and it was sung, chanted, painted across foreheads, and spelled out on costumes. A tall man, his face painted white, wearing a silk top hat adorned with straw flowers, wandered ethereally through the Be-In holding aloft a tiny sign reading "LOVE." . . .

Although hippies dominated the Be-In, it was by no means exclusively a psychedelic event. Many families came to join the Be-In after the Easter Parade down Fifth Avenue. Be-In posters in Spanish invited members of the Puerto Rican community. Grandmothers and executives, hippies and housewives mingled together in harmony. Three nuns appeared wearing Be-In buttons.

A young boy, a Negro, was skeptical about the hippies. He turned to his father. "But Daddy," he said, "they look so funny."

"You shouldn't say that," his father admonished, "until you know them."
. . . read more


'Mass Naked Happening'
The way of all flesh: stripping for inaction
by Ross Wetzsteon

see full text

February 1, 1968

I have seen the future—and it doesn't work.

According to a telegram which arrived at the office late Friday afternoon, "JAPANESE SCULPTRESS KUSAMA WILL STAGE A SPECTACULAR MASS NAKED HAPPENING AT THE GYMNASIUM 420 EAST 71 STREET NEW YORK CITY AT 10 PM THIS FRIDAY JANUARY 26."

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