There Never was No Sixties

It is Monday, May 4th, 1970. One week to birthday twenty-five and me and my hippie luminari are up for culture change and political theater to free the oppressed and put an end to a morbid war of attrition in Southeast Asia ‘cuz we’re going down to the Federal Building on Wilshire Boulevard in Westwood to teardown the establishment and make a show to bring out the poe-leece.
There are eight in our clique of intellectuals. We are the Big Eight and we are veterans of anti-war protests and civil disobedience. It’s just before 0900 Pacific Standard Time.  Nobody thinks of what time it is in Ohio.  We are in Los Angeles and we have rush hour traffic jams and smog alerts, and crash pads with peace signs and pictures of Che everywhere, love beads hanging from everything and guys wearing their hair long except me cause my hair spins itself into Shirley Temple curls when it gets longer than a few inches.

(Aside) The National Guard is the only military force empowered to conduct military operations in a state, including full-scale enforcement of martial law, when local officials can no longer maintain civil control. The President or Congress has the authority to call out the Guard.

The Big Eight is Christine and Bobby Morris, John Fleming, Kathy and Freddie Davis, Rosalie and Angela who are in love, and the Scribe, the Chronicler of Events, the Keeper of the Record.
Today, we’re goin’ ta meet up at Chris and Bobby’s in Mount Washington. It is a craftsman-styled house-and-a-half of river-stone, and molded, oven kilned bricks supported by massive, hand-carved timbers. Bobby has a carpenter’s eye and woodworker’s hands. Christine is a nurse and our medic when John Fleming ODs or one of us gets busted up and we don’t want to patronize no billionaire hospital and the free clinic is too jammed up.
John Fleming who looks kinda like a mustached longhaired hippie accountant, which he is, drops acid like candy and smokes more reefer than the cartels could supply, rolls cigar-size joints and is handy when sorting out one of our tax returns or figuring the amount per person owed from the dope run.

Kathy and Freddie Davis — he called that his slave master's name — are the most coupled two-some and, in some kind of real love that no one else understands. Freddie is a mountain-sized African-American who follows Malcolm X. “By any means necessary” is his standard. Political theater for show and shock is not his bag.  He couldn’t sit-in on anything where he would get shoved or name called. “No Viet Cong ever said I couldn’t get a soda at their counter.”  Kathy is diminutive, white as the snow on Mount Shasta, and forever calm.
Kathy says “Yeah, but my thing is to trash all this a-go-go idiocy before everybody forgets about Medgar Evers, or Dr. King, or worse, John and Bobby Kennedy. I mean where are we. It’s 1970.  Were the sixties about orange and yellow clothes and silly hairdos and the Fab Four or Laugh-In? Are we supposed to just forget the struggle and watch wall size TVs, take our medication and get to bed by nine? Cuz’ that’s what’s coming.”

(Aside) President Richard Nixon announced that today he met briefly over the phone with Ohio Governor James Rhodes.

This morning Angela and Rosalie are eye-rate. Rosalie is Chicana and hides in wait to jump your intellectual butt if you talk trash or get misogynist and she sez “This revolution is too male, man. Too much testosterone and disregard for the power and influence of women. Their importance in the movement.”
John Fleming sez “We should go to Westwood.  There’s a skirmish every week and the weather’s fine.  Smoke some dope, and cruise down Wilshire past the tar pits.” 
Everybody is up for it.
Freddie with a colossal Afro and hands like a boxer’s sez “It’s about freedom for the Black man, not no women. The women jump in on all his stuff and I think “wow somebody’s going to start throwing things.”

(Aside) In a press conference, the Republican governor of Ohio, James A. Rhodes, calls anti-war protesters "the worst type of people we harbor in America, worse than the brown shirts and the communist element." Governor Rhodes orders the National Guard to quell the demonstration at Kent State University.

We decide we’ll head out to Tommie’s’ Burgers on Third Street before hitting the protest and we all pile into in the veedub bus with cheeseburgers and French fries and soda everywhere. Rosalie and Angela get back on that feminist thing and Rosalie goes ballistic spittin’ chili and fumin’ about women’s right.  The Scribe sez “Hey, we all cross the river Styx, ya know. We die, and are hardly even remembered. Ya know, Sherman said after he burned Atlanta, Georgia flat to the ground, ‘This too will pass into history.‘  Just like that. You know — The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with the bones or something like that.”
So the Scribe sez: “Hey, let’s listen to Miss Aretha or something.” Angela sez “all we get is a lot of crap from fat bellied male chauvinist pigs wearing yellow ties, and smokin’ fat cigars. Some assassin pigs killed off those men cuz they challenged whities’ power trip. It’s part of that KKK mentality to keep women and poor people in their place shufflin’ and working in their kitchens.  But you keep talkin’ Scribe you the word man,” and with real sincerity pats him on the cheek.
So we turn on the radio but it’s some talk show or radio news channel. We all hate talk shows and here we are trying to absorb as much as our stoned, chili-filled minds can. Christine says, “Wait! Wait. Don’t change it. This is important.”  We drive passed the La Brea tar pits and no one bothers to look. 
“Some serious stuff’s cumin’ down,” sez Freddie.  “No-oh” sez Kathy “They won’t shoot anybody,” she continues.  “Even the Army wouldn’t do THAT!”  Besides it’s the National Guard. They’re citizen soldiers. They don’t attack us. They protect us.”  “What time is it?” asks Bobby. “About ten thirty” Kathy sez cuz she’s the only one with a watch.  “No,” sez Bobby, “I mean what time is it in Ohio?”

(Voice on the Radio) “What we know at this point is that at 12:24 P.M shots were fired from a .45 caliber pistol.  A number of Guardsmen turned and fired their M1 rifles at the students. According to sources on the scene, three, possibly four, students were killed.  The number of wounded is not known as yet.”

The Scribe pulls the bus to the curb.  He lowers his head and everyone is certain he is cryin’. Freddie is the angriest anyone had ever seen. “We need to off a couple of these killers.  Get down in the mud with ‘um and make their mamas cry.” Christine and Kathy sobbed and hugged each other.  Bobby said it was bound to happen.  “You guys thought it was street theater.  Playtime. Bunch of middle class white kids doing fraternity pranks. Now you know you had a target sewn on your backside all along.

(Aside) The M1 is a semi-automatic rifle called by some the greatest battle implement ever devised. It weighs less than ten pounds, is 43.5 inches long, fires a thirty-ought-six cartridge with a muzzle velocity of 2,800 feet per second and an effective range of 440 yards. It holds eight rounds in the clip.  The weapon will fire a round as quickly as the soldier can pull the trigger.

John Fleming never talked about what he called silliness.  “Let’s get back home and forget this. Westwood’s gonna be jammed and there won’t be parking.  Com’on. We’ll smoke a little and forget this.  Like you said Scribe about Atlanta. In ten years nobody will remember those kids. The Sixties were nothin’, Man. Playtime like Bobby said.  Forget it man, everybody else will.”
(Read the names)

“No man,” sez Scribe. “Don’t ever forget. Each of us picks a name and remembers it and tells our children and our children’s children so we never forget. So their names are never in some TV ad. There never was no Sixties.  There was no Revolution. Just a bunch of us got killed is all. I pick Allison B. Krause.”


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