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"Every revolution's got to have its gunrunners. .. " - Jim Fouratt, Goddard College, Vermont, June 1970
On the night of the Woodstock premiere, Fred Weintraub, Warner Brothers Vice-President in Charge of Creative Services, was a bit uneasy about the degree of enthusiasm with which the audience would greet the film. He wasn't taking the bomb threats seriously, mind you, but he asked Lieutenant O'Neil - just kidding around, you know - whether there was a way to keep anyboby from walking out after only a few minutes. Not that there's much of a likelihood, of course, but you can never be too -
"Make better moves", said the Lieutenant.
Weintraub professes not to have been concerned about the threatening letters and phone calls occasioned by Warners' release of Woodstock. The threats were generated by an undergroundswell of resentment toward the road-show price of $4 and $5, pretty hard for soft tickets. Kids who appeared in the movie, it was said, wouldn't be able to see it. Why should a kid who had fronted $18 for three days of peace and music not now be willing to spring $5 more? But that was the point; most of the kids who went to Woodstock didn't pay. Since they didn't pay, it was a "free festival" and if it was a "free festival", what business did Warners have charging $5? Protest against the ticket price for the festival could take a direct form: thousands of kids coming in over, under, around and through the fence. Movie theaters are better fortified against the annoying tendency of counter-cultural types to try to ride easy, so the freebies were reduced to picketing. Perhaps there would have been fewer pickets if the movie hadn't been rated R (got to have a parent with you if you're under 17). If you're old enough to ball in the grass, the kids reasoned, you're old enough to see yourself do it in Techniscope.
Weintraub sits in his red, white and blue sox, all 42 years of him, charcoal grey head of hair, music executive beard that you shave around the edges of, at an onyx-topped walnut desk, grass cloth on the walls, shag carpet, velvet couch rubbed the wrong way, fake Impressionist paintings in gilt frames - the sort of office they move you into and out of in Hollywood.
"Just do me one favor," says Weintraub, who bought the Woodstock movie for Warners. "Don't write anything about how I've been running the Bitter End in the Village for nine years, giving Judy Collins and Peter Paul and Mary and Joni Mitchell their start. Don't say anything about how I was giving new acts a break and supporting them when these kids were watching the Mickey Mouse club on the tube. I got a reputation to maintain, after all. Just say that I'm a capitalist pig schmuck rip-off artist dirty old man and leave it at that. No, tell them I like ripping off the people's culture, that's how I get off."
More than a year working for the Establishment and you still don't feel the need to be defensive. Amazing!
"Within the so-called Establishment," Weintraub says, "there are people who are as concerned as the young people are. Right now the young people are ineffective - once they learn to use the Establishment, changes will come faster than anybody anticipates. What they need is somebody who can sit down with the bankers. If the bankers think they can profit, they'll play our game."
Was the $5 bit on Woodstock the bankers' idea?
"Man they had to do something to make up for The Good Guys and the Bad Guys and The Madwoman of Chaillot, right? I mean, really."
How is Son of Woodstock Returns coming along?
"I haven't bought any festivals this year," says Weintraub. "1970 has been a bad year for festivals. Even when festivals do come off, the kids have an alarming tendency to walk in without paying. What I have bought is a bus caravan, traveling across the country giving free concerts in different cities."
A lot of the kids think they're making a revolution.
"Yeah but they take it too seriously. The revolution's gonna be an attrition kind of thing, if enough kids turn out like my daughter. She's married to a draft resister in Canada. That's her in the picture on the right. The way you can tell a real revolution's going on is, nobody who's involved in it takes it too seriously."
You seem to know a lot about revolutions, stranger.
"Are you kidding? I was with Castro before the revolution.
I was arrested by Batista and sentenced to death." For what.
"To prevent possible misunderstanding, a word. I paint the capitalist ... in no sense couleur de rose. But here individuals are dealt with only insofar as they are the personifications of economic
categories, embodiments of particular class-relations and class-interests. My standpoint, from which the evolution of the economic information of society is viewed as a process of natural history, can less than any
other make the individual responsible for relations whose creature he socially remains, however much he may subjectively raise himself above them."Karl Man, Capital
In the last five years we have consummated a characteristically American conjunction of revolution and capitalism. Like anything else in the system, revolution has been encouraged to stand the test of the marketplace: If you're so revolutionary why aren't you rich?
But isn't it bad Marxism to try to make a capitalist profit from social change?
No! On December 9, 1861, Marx wrote Engels, commenting on the Trent affair, in which an American man-of-war had taken two Confederate diplomats off a British mail ship:
"War, as I have declared in the Presse from the first day, will not break out with America, and I only regret that I had not the means to exploit the asininity of the Reuters - and Times - swayed Stock Exchange during this fool period." Marx thought it was kosher to profit from capitalism as long as you were selling it short. Only unfortunately he didn't have the means.
The way to exploit the asininity of this fool period is to get into the revolution business, to become some kind of cultural gunrunner. Dig it - the Woodstock market, every longhaired trader loaded for Bear: sell America short.
But the antipathy toward the short sellers among the longhairs has been there for some time. "George Metesky" wrote in the Berkeley Barb of November 18, 1966:
"Our salaried hipness blankets us in the warmth of security until we masturbate ourselves into an erection of astral rapaciousness and grab whatever pleasures we might in the name of Love, always quick to contrast ourselves with middle-class man."
Four years later the sentiment is expressed more bluntly on a toilet enclosure at the oldest established permanent floating rock festival site in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the Music Barn: "HIP CAPITALISTS EAT SHIT."
Do they indeed? Let us see what hip capitalists have to say for themselves as they coin their gold from a system their customers would like to destroy.
The underground press often derides Michael Butler and Peter Max for being hip capitalists. They are not. People like Bill Graham, Mike Lang, Hilly Elkins, Panama Red and David Robinson are, because they actually reach into the youth culture for products and services to sell to those who identify with it. Max and Butler reach only ostensibly into the youth culture, and the market they want to sell to is bverground. I call them hep capitalists.
Michael Butler, 43, an Oakbrook, Illinois, paper heir, has palmed off on out-of-town buyers in 26 towns the world over S20 million worth of tickets to a shuck called Hair, the American Tribal Love Rock Musical, that threatens to do for Cannabis sativa what The Drunkard did for souse. At a "teen fair" last year in Cleveland, a barker in a paisley shirt shouted into a lavalier mike, "Come on in and see a love rock musical, just like Hair! A musical just like Hair! Just like Hair! - Just like Hair. A musical that was as close to Hair as Hair is to real freak life would be a musical like The Student Prince.
"Hair, The American Tribal Love Rock Musical is about this kid named Peter Berger, see ... "
That alone rules it out of the counter-culture: there are no plots to the loves of counter-cultural people. The way you become counter-cultural is to expunge from your existence any contingencies that might conceivably result in a plot. It is as fatuous to have a plot involving the interrelation of hippies as it is to have a plot involving the interrelation of ducks, mice and dogs. Hair, The American Tribal Love Rock Musical is the youth culture Disneyfied, freaks with little white gloves. Galt MacDermot's music is to rock as Stephen Foster's was to spirituals. "Bridge the generation gap," reads the ad. "Take your parents to see Hair."
Bridge the race gap: take your owner to see a minstrel show.
"All our things looked made on an assembly line, Peter Max told us. So he stuck his decals on all our things. And now all our things look made on his assembly line."-Life, January 10, 1969
WMCA - New York radio personality Barry Gray is five minutes into his talk show when he hears another radio station broadcasting in his studio. He looks over in the corner and it is Peter Max's girl friend in a Peter Max dress, sitting with her broken arm in a Peter Max cast wearing one of those self-contained FM stereo headphone radios turned all the way up. Amazingly, it is not a Peter Max radio at all, merely a Panasonic.
Soon Peter Max is explaining to Barry Gray about yoga. "Yoga," he explains in his sacher-torte-mit-schlag accent, "has such beneficial powers that I'm pleased to tell you that the White House has shown a great deal of interest in it."
The White House? "Now let me make one thing perfectly clear, " says the President, radiant in a white tunic. Om shantih, shantih om. My fellow Americans sat nan and good night. "
After the show, Peter Max points to the headphone radio gleefully. "It's fantastic, really, but so . . . utilitarian looking, nothing but grey and black. I've got a manufacturer, we're going to put them out with white cans, and red pads, and a yellow headband with blue edges with little-white-stars-on-the-front ... "
Next thing you know, you'll be licensing Peter Max yoga.
"I am! I am! We've got a comic strip coming out in three hundred newspapers in which I illustrate sayings of Swami Satchidananda. It's called Meditation.
Peter Max, 33, has parlayed his faculty for visualizing mass
merchandise as plastic "cosmic art" into a business that grosses
$1 million on the royalties, "Twice," Max likes to point out,
"what Disney gets" - from the manufacture of:
Peter Max shirts by Van Heusen; Peter Max sheets, pillow cases and towels by JP Stevens; Peter Max ties by Seidler and Feuerman; Peter Max (plastic - he's a vegetarian) shoes by Laconia; Peter Max magazine by Hearst; Peter Max body stockings by Burlington; Peter Max housewares by Ekco; Peter Max umbrellas by D. Klein; Peter Max gift wrapping by Reliance; Peter Max sweat shirts by Standard Knitting; Peter Max spiral and loose-leaf notebooks by Westab; Peter Max vegetarian patchwork belts by Canturbury; Peter Max sleepwear by Hansley; Peter Max radios by Lloyds; Peter Max jump suits by Jumpsuits, Inc.; Peter Max wallpapers by Clopay; Peter Max animated feature film by Teletronics; Peter Max candy by Lotte; Peter Max infant coveralls by Pilgrim; Peter Max map by Rand McNally; Peter Max flatware by Oxford Hall:
Peter 11ax himself by Peter Niax Enterprises.
The wrath of the underground press has ascended upon Peter Max for being a hip capitalist rip-off artist, "stealing the people's culture. This is probably the first time an assertion of propriety has been made with respect to closed-eye hallucinations. Peter Max owes his vision to deep, rhythmic breathing and what appears to be an RNA-DNA skew toward pastels. His designs borrow more from his former boss Milton Glaser and each other than from "the people's culture." They are so benign, trite, and repetitive that it is foolish for the underground to levy claims against them.
Max and Butler are hep capitalists because their concoctions are meant for people who want to be with it. Counter-cultural people don't want to be with it. They want to be it. Hip capitalism tries to get them to pay to be it.
The bedrock value of the counter-culture is community. Long hair, dope and rock music have become means to that end.
The bedrock value of hip capitalism is black ink on the bottom line. Long hair, dope and rock music have become means to that end. The hair is a way of identifying the market. Smoking dope sensitizes the consumer to the market. And rock music is what is sold.
Recently, an associate of Bill Graham's wrote the Department of Defense offering the services of his organization in arranging rock concerts for the troops. Graham, he explained, "created the rock scene in San Francisco and New York."
This might seem like an arrogant claim, but it isn't. Of course, the rock scene in San Francisco and New York wasn't created by musicians and songwriters. It was created by a concert promoter. Bill Graham indeed created the rock scene in San Francisco and New York, and Los Angeles, and Chicago, and Seattle and Kansas City and Billings, Montana, and Bemidji, Minnesota and places he has never heard of.
Graham's act of creation began in Autumn, 1965. The former German refugee (ne Wolfgang Grajanka), tractor executive and actor was managing the business affairs of the sometime insolvent San Francisco Mime Troupe, the radical commedia dell arte. In October, a rock group called the Family Dog had rented a ballroom and staged what would go down as the first San Francisco "community" dance.
In November, Graham put on a Mime Troupe Benefit along the same lines, and was overwhelmed by its success - the Jefferson Airplane flying, Fugs fugging, Allen Ginsberg howling, three thousand wired individuals working it out and - money. And then, suddenly, Graham got a brilliant idea. Why not run a benefit -for ... me?
He found an empty ballroom in the Fillmore ghetto and proceeded to do just that, one benefit after another. It was Graham who produced the three-day Trips Festival to culminate Ken Kesey's 24 Electric-Kool-Aid Acid-Tests. A few weeks later, the Fillmore ballroom was advertising the dances "with sights and sound of the Trips Festivals": the first authenticated instance of hip cultural rip-off for profit.
As the San Francisco scene became progressively less beautiful, Graham made progressively more money, manufacturing Fillmore oh-wow posters, setting up a management company, leasing a theatre on New York's Second Avenue as Fillmore East in partnership with Albert Grossman, whom he later bought out. The more money he made the more the underground grew to despise him.
Graham is accused of having snuffed the vibes that made
the whole San Francisco music scene well up in the first place - the sense of community among bands and audiences. He is accused of having demonstrated to the record companies in New York and L.A. that money was to be made off San Francisco. Yes, of course, he puts on the best shows, but are guards in Captain Action uniforms patrolling the lobby really ... Aquarian? However, Graham is acknowledged to be the only man in America together enough to run 52-week-a-year concerts. The ballroom now operating at Fillmore West was taken over from the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane, who tried to run it cooperatively and failed. Graham is hated because he makes so much money - well into the five-figures-weekly net, at least $16 thousand a week off the Fillmores alone, but neither drops his prices nor gives it all away. He is hated because he has beaten people who claim to speak for "the community" at their own game. The Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers demanded the use of the Fillmore East free one night a week so he gave it to them - once on the premises they hadn't the slightest idea what to do with it. A group in San Francisco approached him with a demand that he give one percent of his gross to "the community." Done, he said, if you can get any other business in the city to do it. So much for that.
But Graham is vulnerable on his own terms. He had the power to build.a complete, vertically integrated music industry in San Francisco but instead he concentrated on doing Scrooge McDuck kip one-and-a-halfs into his money tank. It wasn't until February, 1969 that he got around to setting up an independent record-production company and by that time the colonization of San Francisco by the record giants was complete.
Recently, Graham placed an open letter to managers and agents in Billboard, importuning them to lower the prices of rock acts lest the ballroom and small-concert business, which has fallen on hard times everywhere but in Fillmore Nation, disappears. So Graham has come to realize that the tyranny of the dollar has the potential of destroying the culture which incubates new talent. It is a shame that it has taken him so long.
Mike Lang, 26, co-produced the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, the Gesamtkunstwerk of hip capitalism, and is a partner in the record company, Just Sunshine. Jerry Brandt, 28, founder of the Electric Circus, the East Village hippo dance hall, is helping Lang get together the Train. The Train will highball American's favorite rock bands across the nation, behind a funky old locomotive and who knows what else, giving free concerts along the right-of-way - free because the kids refuse to pay. Money will be made when The Train rolls: the movie will be shot, the record cut, the TV sale made, the profit reaped. But to get The Train rolling there has to be some refinancing up front.
That is where Eugene comes in . Eugene is head of the Find Out Who the Hell These People Are and What They Want And Send Me A Memo On It Dept. of a swinging investment-banking firm. Lang and Brandt have invited him to check out The Train. As he walks through the door they flash on his advisers: two young ladies in white heels and pastel silk shifts and straight seams - seams? stockings? - and peaches-and-skim-milk complexions. Eugene is the first Establishment money man they have interviewed who is followed by groupies.
But Eugene does not flash. He does not flash on the
Wiener-Staatsoper chandelier, no. Not on the French doors either, not on the one wall green, the other yellow, the other blue. Sunshine's two stenographic sylphs, braless, in crepe, kneeling on the floor don't do it to him nor does the speaker-phone, nor the great big (real!) crystal ashtrays. But Eugene flashes on none of these, for this reason: though his office is on Wall Street and this place is on 57th Street, Eugene is very far Uptown from Lang and Brandt. Rather they knit their brows and press their lips together and nod several times.
Eugene sits in a chair while Lang reclines on a six-foot-square patch velvet cushion and runs down The Train. It is a simple matter. The Jefferson Airplane and Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Band and whoever else wants to come in on it will be signed. Before the net is realized, there will be an estimated capital investment of $2,300,000 and that is where Eugene comes in.
Eugene collects himself and gives his own unsolicited rundown on the firm he represents in a go-go fiduciary tone.
"In ten years our firm has developed a net worth of over $40 million. We manage over one billion dollars. We've donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to worthy causes."
Brandt and Lang exchange glances. Sooner or later, all Eugenes get around to the worthy causes.
"The firm's partners all have liberal politics. My boss's greatest regret is that he more or less personally raised most of the money for Nixon's campaign.
"We move into wherever other people aren't." That is not the first time Eugene has used that phrase. "The next thing." That either.
"What do you want out of this?" asks Brandt.
"We'd like to see at least a portion of our investment guaranteed."
"No, I mean, what do you want?"
"We're looking for a more than competitive return on our money, naturally."
Brandt gives up.
"Well," says Eugene, "I guess that just about does it." Lang and Brandt guess this too.
Eugene would have packed up his briefcase now, if he had brought one.
Onn producer Hillard Elkins' town-house office wall in New York's East Sixties there is something called a Program Control Board. One column is headed The Rothschilds. The play's progess is marked in green crayon. The next column is headed Revolution For the Hell Of It. Its status is indicated in red crayon.
"The story of this Revolution for The Hell of It movie that I'm supposed to be doing from Abbie Hoffman's book is a microcosm of what's happening in the film industry," Elkin says. "M.G.M. had its board meeting the other day and they flash on the last scene: the burning of the Bank of America. `Omigod! That's our financial structure they're burning!. What the hell did they think they were buying? Andy Hardy Goes to Chicago?"
His secretary pops in: "Jerry Lefcourt on three-two." It was Lefcourt, a young attorney whose clients include the Panther 21, who sold the book to Hilly. Abbie took the first payment of $25 thousand and immediately gave it to the Panther bail fund.
"Eavesdrop" suggests Elkins. I lift the receiver: me, Elkins and the F.B.I. simultaneously listening to Abbie Hoffman's lawyer.
"So nu?" asks Lefcourt. "Abbie just read in Newsweek - "
"That M.G.M. passed."
"Well, did they really?"
"They're not going ahead with the theatrical movie, no - why, you're not surprised are you?"
"Well, with that screenplay ... "
"Listen, Jerry, baby, you may think that screenplay is facist pig oink but out at M.G.M. they happen to think it's a freaking fag plot."
"Does that mean M.G.M. owns the property?" Frantic scribbling by the F.B.I. What a fantastic idea! Just get the studios to buy the rights to all that communistic propaganda and then pass - we'll call it Operation Pass/Fail!
"Well, they're not gonna give it back to you, sweetheart. I mean, unless you want to forfeit that last payment."
"No," says Lefcourt with resignation, "we want the money." Exchange of good-byes. Lefcourt hangs up. Elkins hangs up. Just me and the heat sitting on the line.
"A microcosm, what'd I tell you," Elkins says to me. "If it's honest they got to hate it. Those boards out there aren't exactly sitting around with long hair and peace beads."
"A microcosm," says a capitalist between two cultures. "I'm still doing the documentary of the Chicago conspiracy trial. You should hear what the defendants say about that! It's elitist, racist, male chauvinist, I don't know. Jacques Levy, the director was stunned at the reaction. I had to say to him, 'Jacques, are you a politician or an artist?" They want to do
what they accuse the other side of doing - rewriting history. Well, they're entitled to take a shot at it but there was only one way it was. At any rate, I'm hoping that the documentary will take me out of the hole on the theatrical movie. I'm going. to try to get distribution for it, through colleges, something like that. Forget Hollywood. They're trying to figure a market they don't understand."
In the Marin driveway, a silver Porsche. Through the glass doors of the living room, a floodlit pool among the eucalyptus trees. Two women and a man, swimming naked. The man climbs out, shakes himself, puts on a kimono and walks dripping into the living room. A kid walks in with an armload of wood, and begins to make a fire in an enormous free-standing copper hearth. Panama Red sits down cross-legged on an Isfahan carpet near the fire. He is a muscular freak in his mid-twenties, clean-shaven, auburn hair to mid-back. The kid comes back with an open bottle ofChateau Margaux '61. He walks over and puts on a record: $5000 worth of gleaming McIntosh Ampex and Altec sound-presence and brilliance. It is Dave Mason's "Only You Know and I Know."
"There are five Panama Reds in the Bay Area," says Panama Red with presence and brilliance.
Which one are you?
A long draught of Margaux. Why sip it? There's plenty more. "The Panama Red."
Only you know and I know ...
"Dig it, if the Man picks up a runner for a dealer who has scored off my runner and they threaten to put him away for good unless he tells the name of his connection, say he cracks and says, "His name is supposed to be Panama Red." And they say, `Which Panama Red? - there are five of those bastards.' So he says, `I don't know fellas, the Panama Red, I guess.' So the Man i-';ght back where lie started from."
Dealers as heavy as Panama Red are never anywhere near the place at which physical transfer of drugs (soft ones like marijuana, hashish or acid; righteous dealers never mess with addictive drugs, purveyors of which they call "pushers") and cash occurs. They act more in the capacity of brokers. arranging deals between suppliers and customers who do not know each other and never learn each others' names. They
deal directly with acid laboratories and Cannabis smugglers and sell to distributors beneath whom there may be one to three echelons of dealers, only the bottonimost of whom sell to heads who themselves do not deal professionally. Panama Red earns the equivalent of S50.000 a year, tax-free. and employs a fulltime assistant at 5200 a week cash, plus expenses and all the dope he can consume.
"I figure I'm doing better financially at 25 than I would if I'd stayed in Oceanography," Panama Red says without the hint of a smile. "That's what I was studying at the University
of Minnesota. You should have seen me then. I was a fraternity man, I was a jock, I was a Republican. I had a crewcut, man. I was your All-American Boy. I got turned on to grass for the first time in my junior year. - took the starch out of my chinos, I'll tell you. It really opened my eyes to a lot of things. I got a job in a bar in Minneapolis to tide me over, and it turned out it was owned by a Mafia cape. I started doing little jobs for him and that's how I got introduced to the idea of doing illegal things for a living. Working for him made it easy for me to develop connections, so I began to deal a little on the side. My boss asked me to go out on collection jobs. - people who were overdue on loans. He wanted me for that because of my build. But when I had a look at some of the violence that was involved, I decided I can't stomach this, this isn't for me. So I quit. All I had was the dealing so I began to build that up. Drug distribution was still pretty primitive in Minneapolis five years ago, so before long I had things pretty well in hand. Until I got +1busted. That was three years ago.
"I jumped $25,000 bail - I guess $25,000 was less money to me than it was to thehh - and came out here and was able to establish myself here vvith a little help from my friends, like they say.
"This is a tough business. You're constantly in danger of being ripped off. There's a lot of creeps around who prey on dealers, who if they don't ihform on you they rip you off. I've had $40,000 worth of cash and drugs stolen at one shot. The legal expenses are tremendous - I spend something like S7000 or $8000 a year on lawyers. The secrecy is incredible. My old lady is a dealer too, and recently she did a number that involved a friend of mine. He didn't know that she lived with me, and when she told me about the deal I didn't realize that the dude she'd been talking about was him. You get to be pretty careful about who you're willing to socialize with - I've gotten to the point where I just don't go meet anybody anymore. A friend of mine has to have a guard with a shotgun patrolling his grounds 24 hours a day, he's so paranoid.
"My lawyers tell me I'm living on borrowed time because of the unlawful-flight-to-escape-prosecution. But within a year I figure I should be fixed for life, and I plan to retire. I'm going to buy a farm in Holland and give the business to my
apprentice. We'll split the thing down the middle."
You mean you can trust him to send money to you in Europe?
"Man, if I can trust him with a 30 foot trailerful of Culiacan, I can trust the dude to send me $5000 a month. There can't be any contracts in this business. If it wasn't for the trust people have for each other the whole thing would collapse tomorrow."
As we leave to go to dinner, Panama Red pauses at the door to set a switch.
"Got to do the burglar alarm."
But there are no houses near enough for anyone to hear.
"No. it's connected directly to the police station."
The police station''
"Oh, it's safe. They already know what I'm into, they just don't know who I am that's all. They can't get any evidence on niy dealing. Certainly not by coming into my house while toiling a burglary. It'd never stand tip in court."
But how can, you bring yourself to call the cops to protect you if you're a professional criminal?
"You know, if you're going to commit felonies," says Panama Red patiently, "you've got to have a healthy respect for the law."
The party is for David Rubinson's 28th birthday and his son Adam's fourth. It's also sort of a housewarming for David and Martha's new S50,000 Eichler ranch house down the peninsula from San Francisco, and as Adam's friends' mommies and daddies mill around the pool with drinks in their right hands and cigarettes in their left hands, they titter with relief - why he may have an oh-well-there-goes-the-
neighborhood horsetail of black hair down his back and a beard like a fur-covered sledgehammer appended from his
lower lip, but he has little Japanese gardeners and a poolservice man and firewood delivered and a black maid and a
blonde mother's helper just like ordt)tarty people.
"But just what is it you do, Dave?" asks one of the daddies in the living room. This particular daddy, like so many fellow daddies at this party, is dressed as if he were on his way to play golf.
I'm Bill Graham's partner in the record business," Rubinson says fiercely. David Rubinson is a very fierce young man. He became fierce while working his way through junior high school, high school and Columbia as a club-date musician at bar mitzvahs and weddings. He discovered that by contorting
his brow and flaring his nostrils and opening his eyes all the way and focusing them hard on a drunk second cousin, he could vaporize the clown before the words, "Say kid, whyncha play "The Hucklebuck", and I want my Sammy to sing it, c'mere Sammy," could pass his swollen lips. "I'm executive vice-president of the Fillmore Corporation," he barks. His bark is worse than his bite but so much worse that it is a thing to be reckoned with, in and of itself.
"Oh, you mean Bill Graham of the Fillmore, with all the kids, yeah. But what exactly does that involve, like on a day-to-day basis?" The daddy is plainly having a rough time imagining a grown man with a horsetail of black hair down his back sitting behind a desk and talking on a telephone with buttons.
"Sitting behind a desk and talking on a telephone with buttons and giving dictation, for openers. I produce rockmusic records - I go into the studio with musicians, arrange and edit the tape, commission the album cover, get it on the radio. I negotiate contracts with record companies and score movies and stay in hotels and fly on airplanes and have business lunches and make speeches at conventions."
"Oh, I see," says daddy weakly. "Sounds very interesting." And he pauses, waiting for Rubinson to ask him what he does for a living. Luckily, he does not hold his breath.
Rubinson takes his game of espartles-straights with him to the office. He likes to appear in record-company executives' offices in white Ben Davis chimpanzee-brand coveralls, "Thurm" in red script over a breast pocket, "Staley's - Products From Corn/And Soybeans" across the back. More substantially, if less consequentially, he has tried to get his brother recording executives to understand that, as he puts it, there's a war on.
When he first arrived in San Francisco last year, a refugee from Columbia Records, Rubinson was struck by the large number of freaks there who desperately wanted to get involved in the music business but had no access to it. So while he was getting the Fillmore Corporation together, he lined up an expert faculty, set up a series of free seminars on every aspect of rock music, from drawing contracts to splicing 16-track tape, and enrolled more than 400 people from the city's hip community. It turned out that the main hang-up of San Francisco rock scene was that it was impossible for a band to get into a recording studio to make a demo without an outlay of hundreds of dollars, far beyond the resources of the people who are making the music. Rubinson convinced Bay Area studios to let graduates of the seminars on producing and engineering run free demo sessions with more than 90 bands, more than 300 musicians in all. Rubinson was hoping that having, as it were, cut a demo for such a school, the music industry would see the percentage in opening itself to young people. At last spring's convention of the National Association of Record Merchandisers in Miami Beach, the only record executive on the dais under 30, the only one wearing white coveralls with a chimpanzee on the front, declaimed - fiercely - that it was incumbent upon the industry to pick up where he had left off if, indeed, it wanted to survive.
"Let me draw a comparison," he said. "The U.S. government has alienated and disenfranchised many of the youth in this country. Many young people feel, quite strongly, that
they have no effect upon things which determine the way they will lead their lives."
"Rock is more than a trend in music - it has become a way of life. We have alienated our business from the community which supports it. This could lead to disaster. The rock community must be allowed a say in the affairs that affect its way of life. We must pass the mantle of leadership on to those who will take it anyway; but we must train them and educate them or the crisis will become a catastrophe."
"Then, to the accompaniment of much shifting within shiny suits, Rubinson edged into an area never before broached at a record-industry gathering. "The government continues to stand for repression of pleasure and suppression of liberties." Much coughing and tapping of cigar ashes. "Let's forget any political issues - let's talk about business. If something is a vital part of my life, and it is not only made illegal, but prohibitively expensive; if I am in danger of being put in jail for something that is a part of my life, and if I must spend huge amounts of money and time raising bail, I am not about to buy records. That's business." That's dope, that's what that is. "It is entirely possible that very soon the segment of the population most responsible for your greatest profits will be in jail or out on bail, in the Army, in hiding, in Canada or dead."
There is a certain type of applause members of NARM reserve for longhaired kids who make Paul Muni speeches in Miami Beach. You bend your fingers back slightly and flatten your palms and clap slowly. If you are smoking you grip your cigarette with your teeth.
So in 1970 the record industry politely refused to open a free university for potential melody-makers - "you can't teach that kind of stuff," one influential record company chief told me. "It takes talent." Presumably, really talented people can learn to repair low-end equalizers without ever having seen one. The trades simply ignored Rubinson's political - that is, business, rap.
David Rubinson has not been able to get another series of seminars on in San Francisco. The recording studios in the area have tired of giving time to penniless kids, and many of the demos put down by hopeful bands will remain unmixed. Every so often a freak pops his head into Rubinson's office to ask when the next seminars are going to start and draws back, mistaking his datum level of fierceness for annoyance. "Oh, I'm sorry," one blurts.
"No man," says Rubinson. "I'm sorry...
A growing number of freaks are coming to understand that commercialization of the life-style erodes it. But their analysis of the process is simplistic: Hip capitalists are "ripolt artists" who "steal our culture." They talk with the animosity of a host for its parasite. But freaks should understand that they and the hip capitalist are symbiotes: the freaks supply the life-style, the hip capitalist the life-acoutrement. Freaks simultaneously denounce hip capitalists and buy their products. And be their products: "A hip capitalist," says Jerry Rubin in Do It!, which has earned him more than $75,000 this year, "is a pig capitalist."
If hip capitalists were simply taking something from freaks and selling it back to them at a profit, members of the counterculture might end up with less cash on hand, but at least they'd be getting their culture back in one piece. They aren't.
Only property can be stolen. The counter-cultural value of community is the polar opposite of property. Hip capitalism is pernicious not because it "steals the people's culture" but because it has bulled "the people" into thinking that the culture is their property, susceptible to larceny, rather than their community, which is inalienable.
The cultural significance of the Woodstock festival lay in the simple fact of 400,000 kids hanging out for three days. The music was the draw but the people were the event. On the last night of the festival, Alex Bennett's radio show on WMCA New York was deluged with phone calls from kids who had been there: "Oh, the people were so beautiful" each one said. None said, "Oh the music was so beautiful." Fred Weintraub bought a movie about Woodstock which is mostly music. There is no attempt to communicate what it might be like to be at a rock festival, where it becomes manifest that the performers, tiny hairy fringed dots at the far end of the field, are subjectively smaller than the people next to you, that the stars are not the be-all of the counter-culture. The movie is the antithesis of the actuality, and it propagandizes values that run counter to the counter-culture. Rock music, magical and transcendent, is the freedom music of a generation of American middle-class white kids. Yet its makers are guided not by shamans and philosophers and freedom fighters, but by lawyers and accountants whose role is to shield the proprietors of the new music from the forces that music is setting in motion. Bill Graham and his fellow concert promoters turn rock, which is inherently participative, into a voyeuristic medium-pay TV without the bother of camera and receivers, spectators getting a look-see at an attraction quid pro quo. Abbie Hoffman says Woodstock Nation is in people's heads; Mike Lang's modus operandi suggests that you have to shell out to put it there.
Hip capitalists are increasingly finding that their market is becoming antagonistic because the kids who consume their product do not want to be consumers. Graham is constantly being confronted with delegations demanding lower prices at Fillmore West and his Berkeley Community Theatre concerts.
The Eagles Ballroom in Seattle has been forced to lower its prices and lengthen its shows by a group of militant highschool freaks. The Winter's End Festival in Florida early this year had to promise to donate 3% of its profits to "the community," the New York Pop last summer, 6%. The activists are backed up by a huge number of kids whose antagonism toward the hip capitalists is inchoate but unmistakably expressed:, you rip us off, we rip you off. It is apparent that if state legislatures and local zoning boards haven't made it impossible for rock-fest promoters to turn a profit, kids looking for freebies have. Warners kept its Caravan a secret in a successful attempt to keep the freebie kids away.
But the more sophisticated' hip capitalists do not believe they are stealing anybody's culture, and do not honor claims to that effect. They justify the profit motive to themselves in terms of what passes for hip ethics. "I didn't buy this Porsche," says an "underground" radio personality. "I scored it. If movement people don't drive Porsches, it's because they're not as together as I am." If it could be demonstrated to these people that they are teaching the goose to sell them the golden eggs for $35 an ounce, they might begin to understand the magnitude of the error they have fallen into. But political freaks who demand a piece of the action seem to be merely gangsters between haircuts and can be dealt with peremptorily.
The Alternate U. in New York City conducts a weekly seminar on "Rock & Revolution" for movement people. Last July it assigned itself the class project of doing it to the New York Pop festival - that is, of participating in a collective effort to demand that the concert's promoters divide their profits with the "community", that they donate money to the militant Puerto Rican Young Lords (on whose turf the show was being held - ed.), that they allow movement people to control access to the arena and stage, and make a portion of each program available for a political rap and performances by "community" bands. No sooner did the promoter capitulate than rent-a-freaks were standing on street corners distributing flyers proclaiming that "the New York Pop Festival's decision to honor the people by re-routing proceeds to rock community causes may turn out to be one of the most impressive precedents in popular-music history."
The members of the Rock & Revolution seminar now sat sweating in the stuffy dinge of their loft-classroom, trying to calculate their next move. One member asked if he could hear the terms of the agreement the collective had worked out with the promoters,, so that he could decide whether it was worth it for the movement people to continue to lend their good name to the festival.
"I can't tell you," said a kid named Jim, who had been delegated to the collective, "'cause there's a pig in this room. Somebody here has been telling Bill Graham everything that goes on. Graham has been trying to undermine this whole thing."
Everyone shifted position and searched the room with his eyes. Trying to look innocent while doing this was not easy. Get thee behind me, Bill Graham.
"Well, if we can't hear the terms of the agreement we're letting them hype, I'm for pulling out of the whole thing. Let them have their festival, at least they won't be dragging us into it."
"Listen," shouted Jim, and the whole room became quiet. "Listen. Capitalists will always try to co-opt you. You have to be able to co-opt them! You have to be able to carry the whole thing one step further." Nobody said anything.