Tales from the Cryptic ‘60s: an Unauthorized Interview with Judy Gumbo

Judy Gumbo arrived at Berkeley, California from Canada in the mid-60s and engaged herself in the political antics of the Youth International Party, aka, the Yippies, through Stew Albert, her boyfriend and a Yippee leader. Judy was a kind of proto-feminist (in principle) and du jour lesbian; a serious anti-war activist who went to North Vietnam, like Jane “Barbarella” Fonda, and gave ‘piece’ a chance (Oanh), with, and among, the “enemy” (in quotes, because “they” are always buying our goods after the war, as a kind of empathetic concession to Das Kapital’s dragon charm, or war seen as part of the economic negotiations to establish the market and keep the prices down — at first); she was pals with the Black Panthers at the height of the FBI’s COINTELPRO infiltration and subterfuge game (and a recipient of their dossier largesse herself, the feds calling her “the most vicious” Yippie of them all); she was in Chicago in ‘68 with Jerry and Abbie and Pigasus; and, she was a journalist for the Berkeley Barb, a community news happening — so she knows the value of an interview. Her memoir of this wild and woolly (to go by her chronicled sexual antics) era is a superb addition to the home library for this period — that includes the classic Steal This Book, Revolution for the Hell of It, Steal This Dream, Soul On Ice, Howl, I Will Fight No More Forever, Dibs: In Search of Self, The Armies of the Night, and The Pentagon Papers (Ellsberg went from warplanner to charter Yippie in a few cubes of acid).

It used to be that you couldn’t get them to stop hogging the spotlight in the service of Yippie mayhem designed to foster and fuel the street theater antics of a vibrant counterculture that refused to take the Squares seriously. Abbie Hoffman throwing cash down on Wall Street brokers from the public balcony (no longer possible) to watch them drop everything to porky snorkel through the small-bills moolah on the floor. Then, Abbie threatening to levitate the Pentagon, and actually negotiating the height down to three feet off the ground. Another time, Abbie ‘showing up’ at a designated spot to be arrested by cops for minor vandalism only to have a van arrive full of Abbie look-alikes who popped out and ran in different directions, the real Abbie standing a slight distance away crying out, Yoohoo! Yoohoo! Here I am! Making New York’s finest look like the Keystone Cops. Now that’s terrorism you’re willing to back with crypto dollars. This latter scene of multiple Abbies is vividly described in Larry “Ratso” Sloman’s classic oral history, Steal This Dream (pages 80-81). And Judy could have brought it to life with an interview. She was there; she’s got flair.

But these days to get the rap from a surviving Yippie is like pulling teeth from a hen comfortably roosting. I heard Ratso in a podcast at the Jewish cultural paper Forward and sought him out for an interview, thinking what a hoot it would be to share stories of the days of splendor in the wild grass of the 60s. But Ratso, who — yes — got his nickname from the druggy Dustin Hoffman character in the classic street tearjerker (well, I cried; in fact, I wept when Ratso died on the bus with John Voight chewing gum, all the Florida bitties rubbernecking, while that fuckin mournful harmonica dirged ) Midnight Cowboy. But Ratso was a tough nut to crack. I got in touch with him last November and he said, yes, to an interview. Our initial exchange went like this:

I just heard you in an interview with The Forward talking Dylan and Cohen. I’m working on a piece about the interview now — a loosey goosey (dis) associative ramble rant that brings in links to songs of the two and excerpts from books, including your On the Road with Dylan.

I’d love to interview you….

Your Steal This Dream is one of my favorite books about the 60s counterculture and I’d love to talk about that more — that and that awful fuckin Sorkin film about Abbie’s Chicago trial, and movements of today and where we’re going, and your music (like WTF were you thinking of doing a cover of “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” using a female singer…

What do you say? We could Zoom or I could send you questions (spontaneity versus polish — your call).

And Ratso goes:

Hi John,

Thanks for the kind words. Interested to read your take on the interview. It would have been better if the fucking video worked on my end, but they needed to go live so… I’d be happy to do an interview at some point but right now I’m jammed up with four TV projects and then writing a proposal for my memoir in my spare time. Hopefully things might loosen up when the “entertainment industry” goes on its pre and post Christmas hiatus. If you send me questions I could start to workon them when I commence going crazy after writing copy for the TV showdecks for a few hours. If you start with the question about the Sad-Eyed Lady cover then I will reveal all immediately.

And I’m thinking: Great, I scored an interview with a counterculture guru from the 60s.

But then weeks went by. Cricket. I sent kind reminders. Crickets. Then I threatened Ratso. I told him I’d go ahead with the interview without him. Fuck him. It’s all an illusion/sangsara anyway. He replied hastily that I’d better not do an interview without him. So, finally, he replied, some months later, and the interview was published.

Similarly, I’ve had a tough time with Judy Gumbo, a nickname conferred upon her by Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver to match up with her husband’s name, Stew, and it stuck and became her nom de plume. Judy was in the soup during the heydays of real resistance to a tangibly evil government under Nixon. Her book, Yippie Girl! is marvelous. But then she reneged on a yes to an interview, ostensibly because of my freelance status, and presented the condition that I find a publisher who would guarantee the interview would be run. I actually found one. But Judy pointed out that someone else had reviewed her book there. Apparently, she didn’t regard the news aggregation site OEN, where I’m a contributing editor, as a publisher she’d spill special beans to about her book and the Sixties in an interview. Coming from someone who once wrote for the small time Berkeley Barb and Berkeley Tribe, I was disheartened, I paced, I wept for the Fall of Man.

Well, Judy Gumbo, you may have written a brilliant memoir of an important period in American history with your proud place in it, but you are doing the interview, whether you want to show up or not.

Here are my questions below. Three strikes, Judy, and you’re out of this interview. Be clutch, Yippie Mama.

Hawkins: First, a softball question: How’d you get the nickname. I mean, what exactly happened? What was going on?

Gumbo: Eldridge [Cleaver] named me Gumbo since for Eldridge, born in Arkansas, Gumbo was a spicy Stew. (p. 44)

Hawkins: Cute. Softball question Two (Jeez, you’re good at this, Judy): Speaking to our current lazy activist generation, where does the word Yippie come from? Speak from your heart; you are in friendly proximity here. and I feel I know what you’re going to say. But, what could you add to the straight definition I alluded to earlier.

Gumbo: I am an original Yippie. Yippie is a state of mind.

In the late 1960s, when Yippies were briefly darlings of the media, those of us who “dropped out,” who rejected mainstream values, were called hippies; a Yippie is a politicized hippie, a protestor who has been hit over the head by a cop—and woke up. Satire was our primary organizing strategy. Yippies made fun of all things serious and used humor to hold evildoers up to ridicule—a president, murderous cops, misogynist men, an uncaring polluter, capitalist profit seekers and/or anyone who practices any form of injustice. (prologue)

Hawkins: It’s depressing to think of it, Judy, but we (you/I) belong to a generation fading fast. In 10 or 15 years there’ll almost literally be nobody alive with a personal memory of the 60s. The Summer of Love. Timothy Leary. The early feminists burning bras. Chicago 7(8) and the separate but equal trials. The Black Panthers. The Weather Underground. Abbies antics. Dylan’ll be dead, Chomsky and Nader, too. Whatever will we do, Judy? And how can reading Yippie Girl: Exploits in Protests and Defeating the FBI help us recover our soul?

Gumbo: [Crickets. Strike One.]

Hawkins: Reading Yippie Girl!, you are like the missing link of the convergence of the Panthers, Yippies, SDS, the proto-feminists, acid heads. You were in the thick of it. Gumbo’s so apt. But tell us more about your early feminism and trying to be a valued voice among all the lefty rock star narcissists. You talk about Eldridge’s prison experiences, as related in his prison memoir, Soul On Ice, and how, in some ways, it reflected his “toxic masculinity” and you quote from a section where he justifies raping women — especially white women — as “revenge’ on the Mighty Whitey’s ways. You weren’t, at first, convinced of the sincerity of his later regret. And the brutal objecti.fication of women implied by rape seems to woke you right the fuck up. Suddenly, you weren’t willing to just be Stew’s cook and nookie factory. Can you explain how it went with Stew some?

Gumbo: [Well, I snapped one day and confronted Stew. I go]:

“Why don’t you ever fuckin’ listen to me? Why can’t you take me seriously, Mr. High and Mighty friend of Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman? Who’s going to show up when the history is written—you, Abbie, and Jerry, that’s who! What about us women? What about me? Who do you think I am, a nobody? I’m a political person too!” […] I proceeded to spit out the most vituperative string of feminist insults I possessed:

“You’re a self-centered, patronizing, oppressive, macho, patriarchal, misogynist domineering, condescending, male chauvinist pig!”

“Jesus Christ! What the fuck is going on with you, Judy?”

“The women’s movement. That’s what’s going on.” (p.221)

Hawkins: It seems as your narrative goes on that you are more and more radicalized, become more militant, to the extent that near the end you just want to be around lesbians — women helping women. That kind of thing. You seemed to have pulled away from the protest circuit dominated by male struts. Is there any truth in that?

Gumbo: I was for sure nostalgic about protest but to do “something less innocuous” was not exactly what I had in mind. In a seminal—no, germinal—article (to use a 1970s woman-centered phrase) Anne Koedt argues that the sole function of woman’s clitoris is female sexual pleasure. Vaginal orgasm is a myth of domination maintained by men to satisfy their basest needs. Penetration is irrelevant; a woman doesn’t need a man to get oÏ. Which means Stew and the entire male species were redundant. So informed, I made a conscious choice to abandon Woodstock Nation for what Jill Johnson was about to label a Lesbian one. I decided, as many women did, to be both liberated and politically appropriate. I’d re-invent my sexual orientation. (p. 249)

Hawkins: Wow. And this new need of yours seems to have translated to a desire to manage an all-girl rock band, ”The Texas All Girl Country Band.” But it fizzled one night in Dallas in epic fashion. Pussy Riot your band was not. And it seems to have destroyed your alter-ego’s refugee-like swim toward Lesbos. Had you continued to stroke along it might have ended with you drowning in bad consciousness. What happened, Judy?

Gumbo: Laurel, Linda, Nedra, Trella, and Goose started up a second time. Their instruments performed a melody for what felt to me like thirty seconds—of pain. Laurel’s guitar again fell silent, as did Linda’s, followed in turn by keyboard and bass, leaving only Goose’s lone drumbeat behind. The crowd began to jeer. Male and raucous. A Lone Star beer can sailed close by my head. […] I departed Texas shortly after the Debacle in Dallas. I wasn’t a lesbian, nor was I nonbinary, trans, or queer—or by then even questioning. My attempt to sexually re-program myself had flopped. I was, as Trella put it, a “guest lesbian.” (p.252)

Hawkins: Change of pace. I asked Ratso the same question, and he weaseled out of a full answer. I’ll ask you: How might the Yippies have handled the January 6 Happening? Would there have been levitations, acid squirts, free loving in the streets of DC, disrupting the House count of electoral college state certifications by breaking in, disrupting by throwing wads of cash at Nancy and others, lesbian orgies keeping the donunt-dunking Capitol coppers glued to their seats?

Gumbo: [Crickets. Strike Two.]

Hawkins: For me, the so-called Summer of Love was1967, the year the RedSox finally won the pennant with Yaz and Lonborg and Tony C? My balls hadn’t dropped in “Time Square” yet, and my dangling ganglia were just out in the square enjoying the advent of a new year with other not-woke-yet nutsacks. So there was no Summer of Love down there in Filene’s Basement, so to speak. Judy, how did the Summer of Love go wrong? And where were you placed in this transition period to the Summer of Hate that followed in Chicago, featuring pigs of all shapes, sizes, and colors?

Gumbo: We, the residents of Berkeley, were building a Park for the People—liberated territory in which free speech, music, and gardening took hold. Women ensured the Park wouldbe a safe space to work, to hang out, and for children to play—so different from the sexual violence that had defiled the Summer of Love two years before. (p.145)

Hawkins: That’s your answer? Okay, I’m gonna call that a foul ball. You made contact, but it went out of play. Fuck it, and fuck the Summer of Love and its undeserved mythopoesis, is what I hear you saying. When you put it like that, Judy, I get queasy and recall how I felt just after I made my First Communion and, like, next day or something, I’m hearing about lapses in the apses involving fathers and somebody else’s sons. So, let’s move on. Change of topic. Black Panthers. Speaking of dressed in black. Now, we know that Eldridge dubbed you Gumbo, but what can you tell us about the Panthers? Got a telling anecdote?

Gumbo: The Panthers popularized a unisex “uniform”—blue shirts, black berets, and black leather jackets signified Panther identity; it stood for Black defiance and struck fear into the hearts of white people. Kathleen Cleaver set the gold standard for what 1970s author Tom Wolfe and mainstream media had labeled “radical chic.” […] Optics matter. I learned from Kathleen to dress for success as a revolutionary fashionista. […] Tie-dye stood for hippie pacifism, suede is soft and fuzzy, while leather, even fake and especially in that time before PETA, connoted authority. For me to dress in black leather would have been inappropriate—black leather was the provenance of the Panthers. But fake brown leather advertised my support. And made me look tough. (p. 31)

Hawkins: Er, that’s it? Fashionistas versus the Fascistas? Did you guys ever talk? Did he ever say something you recall fondly or fondled? Did Kathleen ever proclaim?

Gumbo: [nodding] “All cops aren’t pigs,” she said, her statement startled me. Why would Kathleen Cleaver, Black Panther Party VIP, utter what I thought of as a pro-cop statement? I had misjudged; I assumed every Black Panther considered every cop to be a pig.

“Only some cops are true pigs. The others are just number pigs.”

[…]

There are the true pigs and then there are the pigs who just take orders, the pigs who all they do is repeat numbers, you dig where I’m coming from?”

Kathleen ended her deconstruction of piggy authority with what I would come to recognize as a bitter version of her trademark, good-natured laugh.

I responded with a Panther slogan I had just learned,

“I guess the pigs of the power structure are oinking at the people.”

[…]

But on this first occasion, after Kathleen and Eldridge left, I whined angrily at Stew,

“Half the time when Kathleen and Eldridge say stuÏ, I don’t understand them. I don’t get what they mean. I can’t talk to them. I can’t answer them. It really pisses me oÏ.”

Stew nodded. (p.32)

Hawkins: Hmm. Chicago 1968, Judy. The Festival of Life. The Park. The Songs. Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, David Dellinger, Lee Weiner, John Froines, Rennie Davis, and (Bobby Seale). Then the “pigs” arrived and spread their happy horseshit and took their bull truncheons and started bashing the daylights out of people. Pigs featured prominently, actually, didn’t they Judy? Starting with the bright side, what’s the story behind Pigasus? I wonder if he ended up being pardoned like a Thanksgiving turkey, or gobbled up as bacon and ham sandwiches for the week for the fascist kneeneckin’ Derek Chauvinists of the time….

Gumbo: The idea to run a pig named Pigasus for President was his and Stew’s, not Abbie’s! Abbie had one-upped him! Abbie had betrayed him! Abbie had gone out and already purchased a pig to be the Yippie candidate for president! Without consulting Jerry. Or getting Jerry’s approval […]:

Jerry placed one fist on each hip, glared at Abbie and started in, “Your Pigasus is too small!”

Abbie volleyed back, “What the fuck does it maaahtta, the size of the pig? “

“Small means cute. Your Pigasus makes us look cute.”

Unstoppable, Abbie continued, “Size don’t matter. It’s politics of the absurd, in case you’ve forgotten, Jerry. Cops identify with pigs. And Nazis. And fascists. It makes ’em feel like real men. Your fat pig will give the cops something’ to relate to.”

[…]

The next day I heard a rumor that proved Abbie right. Someone had spotted a Chicago cop with a tiny, gold-plated pig pin on his uniform—his medium was his message. (p.79)

Hawkins: Yeah. And then Black Panther Party chairman Bobby Seale giving that incendiary “pig” speech in Lincoln Park. Holy Jesus! (crosses himself like it’s his First Communion again). I mean, there were undercover oinkers there who were probably cringing and worrying about their own bacon. Can you remember what he said to the People, Judy?

Gumbo: Bobby began:

“We must understand that as we go forth to try and move the scurvy reprobative pigs: the lynching Lyndon Baines Johnsons, the fat pig Humphreys, the jive double-lip-talkin’ Nixons, the slick talkin’ McCarthys—those murdering and brutalizing people all over the world—when we go forth to deal with them —that they’re gonna always send out their racist scurvy rotten pigs to occupy the people, to occupy the community, just the way they have this here park occupied.”

He ended with,

“Black people, we seem to be lost in a world of white racist, decadent America. I’m saying we have the right to defend ourselves as human beings.” (pp.102-3)

Hawkins: One of the most intriguing sections of the memoir comes when you describe your affair with the “high-ranking North Vietnamese official” Do Xuan Oanh, who you met at the Paris Peace Accord meetings. Around the same time Henry Kissinger, the future Nobel Peace Prize recipient, was arranging with the North Vietnamese for a guaranteed re-election victory by prolonging the war in Vietnam until after the US election, you are describing funny bedroom scenes with Oanh, including the tentative tangos moves in the bedroom ….Did you ever get around to telling Stew that you were turning swords into plows with the “enemy”? Was his manhood offended or did he say, You go, girl? I recall that time in the Catskills when you and Stew leveled with each — almost…..

Gumbo: One night a Catskill storm crept in with cat-like tread. Stew and I moved our mattress from the cabin’s glassed-in sun porch to its warmer living room. We made love sandwiched between two electric blankets.

Afterwards, I said to Stew, without much forethought, as was my way, “You know I’m sleeping with this guy in Newark, right?” “Yeah, I knew that. And you know I’m sleeping with Peggy?”

“Yeah. It’s OK,” I lied. I was just beginning to formulate for myself what would become a guiding truth for me about managing intimate relationships—hidden secrets spell doom. At the time I could articulate this reality only in half-truths and non-offensive terms:

“We should sleep with other people. Just be honest with me when you do it, Stewie. I mean, I need to know not really who you’re doing it with but what it means to you.”

“Peggy’s cool,” Stew answered, then asked only that I tell him of any other aÏairs I might decide to have.

“Andy’s nice,” I said, circumventing any necessity to confess about Oanh—long out of touch. An announcement that earth shattering would have to wait. But the more I turned our cabin from a house into a home, the more my feelings began to undermine my commitment to abstract feminist dogma about what I should or should not do. I set the circular dial on my side of our dual control electric blanket to high, Stew set his dial to medium, we turned our backs to each other and failed to fall sleep. (pp. 281-2)

Hawkins: During your trip to North Vietnam, you traveled south on a bus and crossed the Ham Rong Bridge in Than Hoah province. What was special about that bridge?

Gumbo: The bridge did not resemble a bridge at all; instead it looked as if a deranged spider had spun a web out of gouged steel girders. A hole in the bus’s rusted floor aÏorded a view of muddy brown river water rushing mere yards under my feet. Oanh told us the North Vietnamese army moved war materiel by train, oxcart, bicycle, and foot across this bridge to the South. U.S. planes had made at least 400 sorties over this bridge, each one laying down a carpet of anti-personnel bombs.

“Every day this bridge is demolished,” Oanh explained, “Every night it is rebuilt. The courage of the peasants is a local legend.”

I could not grasp what it meant to live such a life. (p.200)

Hawkins: Phew! That’s something. A lot of People think the trial of the Chicago 8 (7) was just about the organizers of the Festival of Life, who were being accused of conspiring to riot — their thoughts on trial, as Abbie put it. But the grim muddy reality is that 8 cops were also charged with causing the riot. Their charges were dropped, presumably because they had no thoughts to put on trial. An internal Chicago investigation flat out blamed the cops for all the violence that occurred during the Democratic National Convention. War. Riots outside the DNC. Walter Cronkite told the public, live: “The national convention is taking place in the middle of a police state. There just does not seem to be any other way of putting it.” WTF, Judy? Do you have any anecdotes of police brutality or aggression that day? I read Grant Park was a real hoot for the police officers — like the Egyptians chasing the fuckin Israelites toward the sea….

Gumbo: …[a] phalanx of helmeted cops rampaged through Grant Park, turning neatly arranged white chairs into a field of chaos. I was astounded to see a short-haired man in a gray business suit run past me, cops close behind him screaming,

“Get that Newsweek bastard.”

If police were targeting mainstream reporters, they’d show no mercy for grungy counter-cultural Yippies like Stew and me…[I ran and] I came to an unguarded, open bridge. I don’t recall catching a glimpse of Tom Hayden, but he must have been there since he describes crossing that same bridge as a parting of the Red Sea. Tom was right. Relief washed over me in biblical proportions.

“Fuck yeah, Gumbo,” I told myself, “You did it. You made it. Through the cops and the clubs and the gas and the guards’ blockade.” With that, despite all its contradictions, my world of Yippiedom gave birth to a new me. (p. 106)

Hawkins: Eeeeeha! Here’s to getting busy being born! How exhilarating. And then the next year, 1969, The separate but equal trial of the 8 (7). Bobby Seale sealed up, gagged and bound, in hard love parenthesis, calling the judge a motherfucker from behind the muffling cotton wads. All because he called the judge a racist. Fuckin Abbie and Jerry came to court dressed in judges robes and when ordered to remove them were discovered to be wearing cops uniforms underneath. But, no, let a Black man in America call a judge, or any authority figure, to his face a racist and he’s almost immediately put into bracketage and found in contempt and facing decades in prison. Anyway….

Did you see Aaron Sorkin’s take on the Chicago 8 (7) trial? What a shit job right? You could see Borat playing Abbie — probably the only one who could — and the script just dulled him down, lively, and sometimes over the top transcripts of the actual trial, were left out for a tidy, formulaic, and not especially revealing Hollywood script. The funny shit was elided. Bobby Seale’s situation was half-assed. I mean, as Abbie said at the time, the trial was about ‘thoughts’. Personally, I would have started out with a close-up of that gag in Bobby’s mouth — the cooyon fields come home to roost — and gone from there. Did you see it the same way, Judy?

Gumbo: [Crickets. Strike Three! But the batter legs it out to first and beats the throw by a pubic centimeter. Safe! New iteration of the batter up.]

Hawkins: Your memoir is unique in a few respects — one being the inclusion of snippets from the files that the FBI had (have) on you. How would you advise young activists today — especially women — to protest and carry on in public in such a way that they procure their very own badge of honor and garner a dossier? Fuck the FIB! Just joking. But seriously, they really seemed to have a hairy one across their ass for you, Judy. What’s the worst thing they said about you in your files?

Gumbo: What would I have thought had I known my name appeared on a secret FBI Security Index of over 11,000 people to be incarcerated as subversives in the event of a national emergency? Or that an operative of President Richard Nixon planned to kidnap dissident leaders in Miami and imprison us in Mexico until after the conventions, by claiming,

OF THE INDIVIDUALS CONNECTED WITH THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT GOING ON IN MIAMI BEACH,FLORIDA, THE SUBJECT JUDY GUMBO IS CONSIDERED TO BE THE MOST VICIOUS, THE MOST ANTI-AMERICAN, THE MOST ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT, AND THE MOST DANGEROUS TO THE INTERNAL SECURITY. (Prologue)

Hawkins: They followed you everywhere. Real pedants weren’t they? And fuckinn criminals. That revelation about Deep Throat, the Watergate “whistleblower” was wowser! Say more, Judy.

Gumbo: In 1978, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted former Acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray for authorizing warrantless break-ins on more than a dozen people who were relatives or friends of the Weather Underground. Including Stew and me. Also indicted was Mark Felt, the FBI’s key decision-maker on domestic spying. Felt turned out to be Deep Throat, the source who spilled the beans about the Watergate burglary that ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Both Felt and his henchperson Ed Miller were convicted in Federal Court—then pardoned by a new President named Ronald Reagan. (p. 303)

Hawkins: Wow! I’m gobsmacked and speechless.

And after Abbie Hoffman went underground the feds placed a tracking device on your car, thinking he’d surely show up and they’d nab him at your long-delayed marriage ceremony to Stew. Have they no decency? Who was at your bash again? Any dish?

Gumbo: People rose to the occasion: My mother Harriet kept both her drinking and her patronizing attitudes in check. My father Leo charmed Stew’s mother Raizel. My sister Miriam was my maid of honor; Jerry Rubin was Stew’s best man. Bill Kunstler emceed as if his true profession was a Catskill comedian. A local Kingston rabbi in tallit, yarmulke, and Hollywood sunglasses oÐciated, as did our friend Cinnamon, a Universal Life Church minister whose hair matched her name. After the ceremony, the rabbi told Stew that Raizel, Stew’s mother, had requested the rabbi insert the word “obey” in Hebrew into the ceremony. Since I don’t speak Hebrew, I have no knowledge if he actually did. No matter, I never obeyed. (p. 311)

Hawkins: You’re funny.

Gumbo: [Thanks.]

Hawkins: In your chapter, “The American Girlfriend.” you cite a letter you received from Oanh:

You know, Judy, sometimes I too had the feeling that my bowels are topsy-turvy and I hate myself for being so powerless in the face of events. You know that the flame inside you is burning with much greater heat than ever before, yet you feel weak, isolated, and that makes you crazy, mad, silly. There are moments like that in life. How can things be that unjust and absurd? (p. 205)

This strikes me as a set of feelings that progressives, and people who want to change the world, are stricken with today. Do you see it that way?

How were the Yippies unique? Will we, can we, ever see their likes again, or are we doomed to watch farcical MAGA dogmatists lampoon the satyricon we suffered through in the 60s?

Judy? Judy? Judy?

Gumbo: [Crickets. Strike Three! You’re outta here!]

Next up Ralph Nader. I’m calling you, Ralph. I’ve got questions about the longevity of your decency. And by the way, your cookbook is excellent. I reviewed it.

 

John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelancer based in Australia.  He is a former reporter for The New Bedford Standard-Times.

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