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Peace and Freedom II

The poster here is announcing the “Peace Illumination Walk” held in New York City on Friday Dec 23 1966, one month after the “Love & Peace & Freedom” walk that was announced in the companion poster (pictured in the previous posting). Another early Peace March in opposition to the Vietnam War. As my previous discussion mentioned, there was a small window where a jubilant ecstatic tenor outweighed an angry and vengeful tone that slipped into the “movement” of the 1960s. This is that moment.

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For Love and Peace and Freedom

Had Enough War?? Come to a Walk for Love and Peace and Freedom
November 1966*

Historians (and other social scientists) think and work and research in two dimensions. There’s the vertical. And then there’s the horizontal. Take Pompeii as an example. The vertical aspect is the moment in time that was frozen with the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Archaeologists (primarily) and historians study the ruins to reconstruct that lost moment. The graffiti on the walls, the perfect frescoes in the long-ago atria, the petrified corpses in last gasp poses. Each remaining artifact has a place in the reconstruction. The deeper you go into the analysis the fuller the picture of that one moment. Vertical thinking digs deep.

On the other hand, horizontal thinking casts its nets across far distances — both of time and space. Wikipedia has adopted this approach with its “List of Years” pages. Each page documents known events that took place around the world during the same year. Historians need to keep both perspectives in their work. To ignore the larger context runs a risk of missing a key element in the story.

That brings us to the image above. This was a poster designed for a protest of the American Vietnam War. The protest took place on Nov 5 1966 starting at 11am in Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan, New York City. It was a march through city streets. The protesters eventually ended up in midtown Manhattan for a rally at 2pm. This was 1966 — three years after the first protest against the war organized by the War Resisters League. And seven years before all U.S. combat troops would be pulled out of a war that a generation of American youth had come to loathe.

What’s so interesting about this poster — from a horizontal historical perspective — is the moment in time. Fall of 1966. Think of what else was happening on the radical social and cultural landscape of America at that moment.  In September, the Artists Liberation Front announced their program of Free Fairs in San Francisco. The Black Panthers formed in Oakland in October and issued their revolutionary Ten Point Program. The Diggers formed in the same month as the Panthers, issuing a series of street manifestos and offering the first of a series of Free community services. Lenore Kandel’s Love Book would be busted along with three booksellers in November in San Francisco, leading to the coalescence of resistance by a community that would embrace the concept of love as their siren call the following year — the Summer of Love. And as this poster clearly evidences, the American Peace Movement had fully surfaced.

The fall of 1966 thus was a moment in which the politics of ecstasy was in ascendancy. Soon, the winter of discontent would seek to erase the memory of this moment of hope. The Peace Movement would become the Anti-War Movement. As such, perhaps it was inevitable — in confrontation with societal powers, the blush of hope is soon burnished. But just as rivers can flow underground before surfacing in unexpected places, so can avant-garde culture fade then reappear. Who knows when? Who knows where? Keep a horizontal perspective to know the answer.

*Image courtesy of Museum of the City of New York.

Digger Bread (another recipe)

My friend Frank notified me that a local bulletin board had a listing for sale of a copy of The Mother Earth News, volume 1, number 1 (Jan 1970). Somehow, Frank (who is a collecting wizard in his own right) knew that this particular issue had a copy of the Digger Bread recipe. Last year, I completed the Digger Bread & Free Bakery(ies) page and one of the clippings I included from 1970 mentioned the forthcoming premier issue of TMEN and a listing of articles, one of which was the “digger bread” recipe. Due to Frank’s swift alertness, I was able to obtain this issue and scan the article. Here then is the recipe that Mother Earth News printed in their premier issue:

[Note: for background info on “digger bread” and the Free Bakery, refer to link above.]

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Note the “correction” at the bottom of the recipe. This was obviously added by the editors at Mother Earth News. If any curious reader will compare this version to the original recipe that the All Saints Church diggers published, there are several differences worth mentioning. First, of course, is the mistake in the amount of water. In the original recipe, it was “2-1/2 cups warm water.” Here (before the correction) it is “1/2 cup lukewarm water.” Obviously somewhere along the line the “2” got dropped in transcription. (The editors at Mother Earth News realized this, but their version only uses 1-1/2 cups of water and a banana, an innovation of their local baker.) Another interesting difference (although, in reality, just a difference of emphasis) is the discussion of whole wheat flour. The original recipe stated emphatically, “White flour, or bleached whole-wheat, is not allowed for Free Bread.” The recipe (above) says, “Nasty old white flour will never do!” So, the emphasis on whole wheat versus white flour remains; the emphasis on Free has been dropped. Undoubtedly the baking of bread was (by 1969) more of a daily, communal operation — rather than a revolutionary act.

Trust People, Not Money

The Homebrew Computer Club was an important nexus in the underground computer culture that developed in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1970s. Out of this informal grouping of computer hobbyists, freaky engineers and long-hair technologists came several of the early computer companies that would quickly develop and spread the Personal Computer revolution and ultimately the Internet/World Wide Web domain two decades later. In the traditional telling of this history, the influence of the San Francisco Diggers has been completely overlooked and overshadowed by the rise of the commercial products of the computer revolution—Apple, Microsoft, IBM PC, etc. But the Diggers played a key role in the early culture of the computer underground that continues to this day in the form of open-source software and the idea that the Internet should remain Free. Here’s the proof (i.e., evidence) of this thesis.

Fred Moore was one of the founders of the Homebrew Computer Club. The history of this group is well documented.* But one aspect of Fred Moore’s philosophy has never been mentioned. Fred was inspired by the Diggers. I will delve into this in more detail but for now, after long desire to get this document posted for all to share, here’s one of Fred’s digger-inspired manifestos. He wrote this in 1974.

Put Your Trust in People, Not Money

(published anonymously by Fred Moore, 1974)

Money is obsolete, value-less, anti-life, etc. The use of money displaces trust, causes alienation, fragments community, tends to reduce everything and every being to a commodity, etc. Money is the economic language of our present society. Buying, selling, renting, and charging interest are the rituals that maintain and reinforce the myth of the market economy. The myth is that everything has a monetary price. And the only value is price.

Money is a symbolic tool. Yes, and in using that tool over and over we have subjected ourselves, our social relationships, and the ecology of our environment to that tool—so that now we are finding that we are not the master of the tool, but the tool has become the measure of us and our world. Money is God.

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*Here’s an excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. This is an account of how Steve Wozniak met Steve Jobs and Woz’s early inspiration to give away his Apple computer for free, and how Steve Jobs convinced him otherwise.

Woz was usually too shy to talk in the meetings, but people would gather around his machine afterward, and he would proudly show off his progress. Moore had tried to instill in the Homebrew an ethos of swapping and sharing rather than commerce. “The theme of the club,” Woz said, “was ‘Give to help others.’” It was an expression of the hacker ethic that information should be free and all authority mistrusted. “I designed the Apple I because I wanted to give it away for free to other people,” said Wozniak.

This was not an outlook that Bill Gates embraced. After he and Paul Allen had completed their BASIC interpreter for the Altair, Gates was appalled that members of the Homebrew were making copies of it and sharing it without paying him. So he wrote what would become a famous letter to the club: “As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Is this fair? . . . One thing you do is prevent good software from being written. Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? . . . I would appreciate letters from anyone who wants to pay up.”

Steve Jobs, similarly, did not embrace the notion that Wozniak’s creations, be it a Blue Box or a computer, wanted to be free. So he convinced Wozniak to stop giving away copies of his schematics. Most people didn’t have time to build it themselves anyway, Jobs argued. “Why don’t we build and sell printed circuit boards to them?” It was an example of their symbiosis. “Every time I’d design something great, Steve would find a way to make money for us,” said Wozniak. Wozniak admitted that he would have never thought of doing that on his own. “It never crossed my mind to sell computers. It was Steve who said, ‘Let’s hold them in the air and sell a few.’”

Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs (pp. 61-62). Simon & Schuster.

Lew Welch Special

Here’s a scan of Lew Welch’s piece “A Moving Target Is Hard To Hit” which the Communication Company printed and distributed on Haight Street in the pre-Summer of Love (March, 1967). I was talking with my friend Mel Ash today and it turns out we two were similarly affected by Lew Welch’s outpouring of poetic genius. I thought I had posted this scan on the Digger web but it turns out I only have the xerox that I made in 1974. I will have to update the catalog to remedy that oversight. But in the meantime, here’s for you, Mel (and Lew).

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The hypocrisy of political correctness

The hypocrisy of political correctness. The City removed the tableau on the other side of this monument* in San Francisco’s civic center that depicted a Native California Indian in a subservient pose with two Spanish figures (missionary, vaquero). And yet this statue remains depicting the miners who flocked to California after news of the discovery of gold in 1848 at Sutter’s mill first spread to Yerba Buena (the Spanish pueblo that would become San Francisco) then nationwide. The Forty-Niners (depicted below) on the whole were a catastrophe for California Indians, much more so than the Spanish and subsequently Mexicans had been. The Forty-Niners carried out what can only be called genocide on the Native peoples.

Forty-Niner statue in SF Civic Center

WHY NOT TELL THE HISTORY INSTEAD OF HIDING IT AWAY?

*known as Pioneer Monument, located on Fulton between Larkin and Hyde.

Planet Drum Retrospective

 

In the history of the 1960s Digger movement in San Francisco and the West Coast, there is an arc of events and a continuity of intention that can be discerned starting in the late 1950s with the Beat poets and avant-garde happenings amidst the burgeoning social movements of the period. The Diggers themselves formed out of a nexus of radical arts and social consciousness that swirled around the San Francisco Mime Troupe and the Haight-Ashbury formations that took place in 1965 onward. Ecology was always an important aspect of this continuity. When the Diggers dispersed from their daily activities on the streets of San Francisco after the Summer Solstice 1968, many moved to rural outposts with the intent of creating new social formations as they had done in the urban context. Planet Drum was a signal moment in 1972 when Peter Berg and Judy Goldhaft returned to the City from their travels to remote communes and country families. Planet Drum at first was a communication medium — periodic bundles distributed to a wide-flung network to stay in touch with others who were attuned to the idea that would come to be known as “bioregion.” Later, Planet Drum was the name of the non-profit foundation that was incorporated to engender awareness of and communication with all manner of bioregional groups and activities across the continent and worldwide. Planet Drum Foundation is still active with dozens of programs and projects.

The San Francisco Public Library’s Wallace Stegner Environmental Center is hosting a retrospective exhibit on the history of Planet Drum. This exhibit takes place from September 1 through November 29, 2018. For anyone close by, it is well worth the visit.

Click here for more information on the exhibit. The collage of images (above) are a selection of the informative placards in the current exhibit. Judy Goldhaft will host groups of 5-20 people who are interested in a guided tour of the exhibit. Contact Planet Drum (415-285-6556 or mail@planetdrum.org) to make the arrangements.

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