Are You A Hippie, And If Not…Wherein Not?

by Nick Glossop on May 14, 20136 comments

In this 1968 episode of Firing Line, William F. Buckley and sociologist Lewis Yablonsky attempt to put Hippie-ism, in the persons of a gooned and pugnacious Jack Kerouac and Ed Sanders of the Fugs, under the microscope. A stilted sort of hilarity ensues. Buckley smirks, Kerouac blunders, swinging wildly, Yablonsky drones and Ed the Fug, alone, emerges with personal dignity intact.

Via Open Culture

William F.: Do you draw any generalities on the basis of the behavior of the Soviet Union [in Czechoslovakia] which instruct you in assessing other political situations…

Ed the Fug: Yeah, like Mayor Daley in Chicago.

William F.: What are those?

Ed the Fug: Those are, when you attempt to, essentially peacefully, gather together to press a point about a war, about freedom, or about freedom of journalism, that you are confronted by people like the Soviet leaders, like the leaders in Chicago, namely Mayor Daley… …you’re confronted with essentially the same position. No, you’re not allowed. You are clubbed. You are maced. You are gassed, freaked, zapped, pushed over. If you are an old lady, you get thrown through a plate glass window. If you’re a cripple, you are thrown against a street light. If you are a peaceful, long-haired, loving protestor, you are smashed and knocked down. If you are a camera man, you are bricked and your camera is destroyed, and your blood is splattered all over you… I mean it’s a nefarious scene.

There’s all kinds of correlations. And the lesson you would draw would be to prepare yourself – and if you’re a non-violent, like I am, and if you believe in pacifism – you will attempt to create a body of love and light, so that thing can’t happen. There will be so many loving people there that you will have a festival of life in all its attributes. And you can do that, by praying together, by loving together, by… …Allen [Ginsberg] was singing ‘Om’ in the streets which is the Hindu benevolent word. By getting together and creating love, I think it’s a great force at least in allowing you to demonstrate in the United States against Daley who is, uh, Al Capone…

William F.: Yeah, sure.

Contemporary relevance? I’d say so. The Fugs did attempt to enter Czechoslovakia later in 1968, to perform in Prague and bolster resistance to Soviet occupation, but they were – predictably – turned back at the West German border.

Much to the consternation of the machine-gun-toting guards, members of the band, standing safely in the West, allegedly protested the interdiction by stripping at the border and committing the sexual acts they had planned to perform before the Soviet tanks.
-Ryback, Rock Around the Bloc

Allen Ginsberg had had immense influence on the youth culture of the Czech capital. He’d stayed there for 2 months in 1965, been much feted, imitated, and was ultimately crowned the King of May. But the authorities were less than amused, and they expelled him for his baleful influence on the nation’s youth, his narco-mania and his homosexuality.

Issues of Sanders’ Fuck You gutter expletive: A Magazine of the Arts are available for download here.

Kinetic loathing and fear of typography

The Fugs ~ Nothing

Originally posted May 31, 2012


Nick Glossop on May 31, 2012 at 11:39 pm. #

For all his sneering snideliness, Buckley is at least able to conduct an interview, encourage a discussion, and engage in an argument on the merits of the points. All of which puts him leagues above and miles apart the current American right wing media. Would that we had creeps like him – there might be some point in talking.

heubler on June 2, 2012 at 8:26 am. #

Kerouac’s really was an ass. He shows the generational condescension of the WW 2 generation for those not in their cultural/temporal set. Correcting others’ pronunciation, making barnyard noises when they attempt to speak, as if only his generation’s trials, and triumphs are in America’s tradition of exceptionalism. What I think was missed by the panel, was that “hippies” was an overly-broad term, that was taken up by some to identify themselves, and also a term that was applied to others, who were considered outside the conventions of 1960’s America. “Damned Hippies” was the term of choice, for any free spirit, lazy bum, or socially-unrecognizable young person, used by WW2 “survivors,” to describe the young, restless people of their era But what Buckley really missed was that hippies (in America) were only responding to recent history. Many had parents who fought in Korea, and knew the pitfalls of being stuck in an ill-defined conflict, with no achievable goal. By the time of Kennedy’s assassination. The war was already at that stage. No clear objectives, except stopping the spread of Communism, and exponentially-increasing numbers of “advisors” were being sent to Vietnam. of course they would question every aspect of a war that was shaping up to be similar to the one their parents fought.

Robert Broughton on June 2, 2012 at 11:30 am. #

Kerouac was seriously brain-damaged at this stage of his life. I have to wonder if the producers of _Firing Line_ were aware of this, and if so, what their motive was for having him on the show.

Even so, Kerouac made me laugh when he said that the war in Vietnam was a plot to get all those free jeeps. If you want to see Kerouac in better days, watch this:

I agree with what Nick wrote about Buckley.

P.S. Did you catch the shot of Allen Ginsberg in the audience.

Nick Glossop on June 2, 2012 at 12:23 pm. #

Ginsberg at 8:46

Point taken about Kerouac’s mental condition; at 6:00 a violent tic and then at 22:40 what certainly looks like a mini seizure to me.

Nick Glossop on June 4, 2012 at 2:07 pm. #

Most viewers, I suspect, will be drawn to the clip by Kerouac, but it was Sanders who really made an impression on me, not so much for his eloquence as for the look in his face; youth, intelligent, knowing and aware, expecting only derision and a beat-down, yet defiant in the conviction that hope will not be beaten out of him. To this the dissolute shell of Jack Kerouac cackles, “Oh yes it will.”

James M. Martin on July 26, 2012 at 10:36 pm. #

I knew Burroughs and Bukowski, a few others. I hope I can outlive George Will because when Ginsberg died, Will wrote a nasty obit that basically said the Beats contributed nothing to the world. Ginsberg will be read in 2065 (if there is anyone still alive), whereas Will will be forgotten two years after his death.