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Life Arts    H4'ed 12/10/20

Cogito Ergo Sum? I Think Not, Part 2: The Rise of the Counterculture: Adam Fights Back

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God and Adam begin to change their view of each other
God and Adam begin to change their view of each other
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Cogito Ergo Sum? I Think Not: PART 2: The Rise of the Counter Culture: Adam Fights Back

Note: This is Part Two of a Three-Part series in the search for where we've come since Eden, the creation story of the Mighty Whitey. I've skipped the ads -- history, for instance, because it is still in the works and still in dispute, no teleology here -- and I've left out culture because it's good stuff and why smear it. Basically, since the original Cain-Abel Lesser of Two Evil approach we've been in search of good governance and how we distribute resources and the workload. I go Eden, Athens, Boston. That's about it. No Ads. In this part: The Rise of the Counterculture: Adam Fights Back.

VIII. Abbie Hoffman (Yippie, 1968 - 1989)
The voice of the countercultural generation in one finger. We miss him. Street theatre politics, a way of letting the Man know it was all a show, genius maneuvers that were part Augustus Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed and part Marx Brothers. Revolutions for the Hell of It. We need one once in a while like a good sh*t that flushes out our toxins and puts new bounce in our footwork. From a democracy that glomps along to Fred Astaire -- you're climbing walls still, but pretty giddy about it. F*ck the rain, you sing.

Abbie threw money down on the brokers at Wall Street and watched them drop everything to pork snorkel after the cash thrown in the trough. During a march on the Pentagon (when the last time you heard anyone wanting to do that?) he "negotiated" with Pentagon officials the height at which he intended to raise the building. Abbie's friend, Sal Gianetta, described the scene:

Ab was adamant that the f*cking building was gonna go up twenty-two feet. If the f*cking building went up twenty-two feet, the foundations were gonna crack, so there was discussion about foundations and cracks, it was f*cking unbelievable.

Abbie and the officials negotiated the levitation down to three feet and "they sealed it with a handshake."

It was Abbie and Jerry Rubin, another important Yippee, who at their Chicago 8(7) trial came to court one day dressed in judges' robes and when ordered to take the garb off showed they had cop uniforms underneath. Middle Finger to a Thought Trial.

It's Abbie who may have shown the best way forward for defending Assange and Snowden (eventually, if ever) by demonstrating that a Necessity Defense can work. Citizens can demand that it be emplaced nationally the way it was made available in 1986 in Northampton, Mass., when Abbie and other demonstrators went on trial for blocking the CIA from recruiting at UMass-Amherst, convincing a jury that their misdemeanor was a far-lesser offense than the murder and illegal activities of the CIA in Central America at the time. The jury gave the Middle Finger to the CIA and acquitted the demonstrators.

Probably Abbie was the impetus for the Big Lebowski and the "F*ck It" motif (shut up, Donny, speaking of blowback). Dylan's "Man In Me" never sounded better.

IX. Dennis Hopper (1969 and 1986)
Dennis Hopper had two great years in Hollywood, and that's about it, as far as I can see. But what years they were. Pictured above riding a bike he gives the Up Yours finger to pick up truck drawl-thinkin' critters who hanker for the Old South and mean to keep it that way, especially by keeping out riffraff like the longhairs from freethinkin' states. "Whadda y'all doin down here," they might have drawled to Hopper and Jack Nicholson, on another bike, "This is rebel country. You ain't Catholic, Jew, or Colored, too, are you?" they might have added wia grins, befer snappin open a fresh can of Billy Beer. Hopper and Nicholson were on tour to "see America" -- well, how do you like blue-eyed boys now, Mr. Death?

And the other thing Hopper did so well later was be part of David Lynch's great send-up of American sentimentality and gloppy blues when he played the overwrought Frank Booth who sent "love letters" straight from his heart and said scary sh*t inside wardrobes like, "Now it's dark," as he breathed through an oxygen mask. And totally Lynchian manipulation -- getting us to cry along with Frank to a Roy Orbison soundtrack, featuring "The Candy Colored Clown" or "In Dreams." Man, when you can get 'em crying along with psychopaths, you've revealed some real trouble underneath the surface of American desire. Hmph. Next to Vlad Nabakov's Lolita, no take-down of America has ever been so rich in deconstructive emollients. Although, Borat 2 is up there. (Just sayin.)

X. Johnny Cash (roughly the '60s-'70s)
Pictured above, Johnny Cash giving The Finger -- and it's the best one in this collection (although Ronald Reagan gives him an Up Yours for his money). There's something phallic about it, which, combined with his intensity, makes you think he really means it. Ask not for whom that Up Yours tolls -- it tolls for you, my friend. He seems to say. No, but really, it's his wholesome Folsom Finger on display. He was channeling the energy of the imprisoned, innocent men proven guilty, having to suffer long years of being misunderstood Jimmy Deans (James Dean), his Finger, their proxy rage expressed to the Man. Who hasn't been there, in some Folsom or other. Record sales soared. And here we are many years later in lockdown. Hmph. Sales may yet soar again.

(Remember: That woman next to you, whom you picked up at a bar, may be a narc for the Contact Tracer industry. They work with the skip Tracer industry. She may be COINTELPROing you. They can affect your Credit Report. You might lose your iPhone, then your dignity. So wear a rubber room when you hump them. And then hump them twice -- you know, like Jimmy sang, once for tomorrow, once just for today.)

Then inexplicably, maybe it was the drugs, Cash befriended Bob Dylan in the late '60s. In 1967, Dylan put out "I Shall Be Released," a teary (at least as The Band does it off Down In The Flood) number about some Joe Blough who's been "framed" and jailed and dreams of release. Maybe Cash and Dylan got together to exchange prison reminisces, humorous anecdotes about the food, the showers, the bunks. And Dylan admired "Folsom Prison Blues" that had come out a decade or so earlier. Cash inspired Dylan to put out a country album, and in 1969 Nashville Skyline was put out.

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John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelance journalist and poet currently residing in Oceania.

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