ROCK’S IN MY HEAD: Chapter 22- UP AGAINST THE WALL and THE WHITE ALBUM

The television event of the summer was THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION held in Chicago during August of 1968.

First,we had the Hippies, then the Death of The Hippies, followed by the arrivals of THE YIPPIES. According to my Dad you could assume someone was a “hippie” by their longish hair, their horrific odor, wearing jeans and having sandals on their feet. But these YIPPIES were a completely different classification.

The Youth International Party aka The YIPPIES started, according to folk lore, in 1967 when Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman and a few knuckleheads got together to discuss world events and how they wanted to bring attention to what was happening in the world and in politics. Their tactics, at first very peaceful, involved techniques known as street theater,which was fun in the making. Their goal was to ever so slightly mock the populous apathy in asking to make changes, then slowly gain their support in hopes of eventually having a majority asking for  mass changes in issues regarding war, poverty, civil rights, etc.

The first major step in gaining recognition was a “YIP-IN”, sorta like the be-ins of the summer before, only this one was held in Grand Central Station. Hundreds showed up and all was peaceful until a large black banner appeared on the station wall declaring “UP AGAINST THE WALL MOTHERFUCKER” boldly written in red. Then, some guy climbed up the clock tower and removed the hands from the famed clock. By this time the police had had enough. It was not so peaceful anymore.

The YIPPIES next move was a YIP-OUT, a legitimate protest to be held in Central Park, complete with all the necessary permits, insurance riders, bathroom facilities, etc. and ‘with the graces of NYC’. This endeavor was a bit more tranquil and quite successful. The Yippies now made plans to take “this show” on the road, to Chicago for the Democratic National Convention. Articles were written for underground newspapers, hand bills put up in major cities asking folks to come to Chicago where it was falsely alleged by the opposition that the Yippies were planning on dosing the city’s water supply with top grade LSD and then they would storm the convention floor, all not true. Mayor Richard J. Daly of famed Chicago lore was not too pleased with the Yippies plans and as more and more “Yippies” arrived he declared “law and order will prevail”.

Peaceful large scale protest marches happened at first. Jerry Rubin did nominate PEGASUS THE PIG for President.  After a few days of police  along with the National Guardsmen interacting with the Yippies ( mostly everyone outside was considered  a Yippie by law enforcement) a young boy was killed after he attempted to shoot at a Chicago officer. AND….all hell broke loose. The television coverage was mind boggling. Tear gas, riot gear, police lines, barbed wire barricades, and billy clubs pounding men and women’s skulls. Even newsman Dan Rather took a beating on the convention floor. The Democrats made speeches from the floor in protest as to what was happening in the streets, calling the police tactics GESTAPO like. All were asking for the “gestapo” to back down. But,  Chicago PD and others thought someone (The Yippies) must pay.

At first The Trial was given the title “the Chicago Eight” which featured that lovable clown Abbie Hoffman, his bearded sidekick Jerry Rubin both representing the Yippies, seated along side Bobby Seale of Black Panther fame, joined by future politician Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, David Dellinger, John Froines, and Lee Weiner. This cast of characters, was charged by the federal government with “conspiracy, inciting to riot” and numerous other lesser charges.

Bobby Seale claiming he was not permitted to choose his own lawyer was eventually removed for this trial after being bound and gagged by court officers. His wish to be removed was granted. “Your brother’s bound and gagged and they chained him to a chair, won’t you please come to Chicago”- Graham Nash wrote.

So the 8 became The Seven. Ironically, the judge’s last name was Hoffman but no relation to our star Abbie as the judge indicated during his opening statement. Abbie immediately replied,” Dad, Why have you forsaken me?”. Abbie was a hit with the crowd but not so much with “His Honor” as  Judge Hoffman was a noted stickler for proper court room protocol. “Julie” as the boys called him throughout the trial was no match for the boys and he had to endure their four and 1/2 months of court room shenanigans. One morning Abbie Hoffman arrived in judicial robes and sat at the defense table. When JULIE thought this was disrespectful to the court he requested  Abbie remove the garment to which he did only to find that Abbie had a Chicago police uniform under it.

Bobby Seale got four years for contempt which was later reversed. Most all of the remaining seven were convicted of something, most of crossing state lines to incite a riot, but after exhausting appeals, etc, all were reversed. The finding was that Judge Hoffman was biased to the defendants. Point goes to The Yippies.

September of 68 I was working after school and weekends at Dubbings Electronics, a factory making cassette and 8 track tapes. Cassettes were new to the music business at this time and Dubbings had the market pretty well covered. Their major clients included Vanguard, Elektra, Capitol Records and all their minor labels. Needless to say my music collection grew substantially each and every afternoon by at least one or two cassettes. Blues, folk, rock, jazz, whatever I could fit in my boot I took home; Country Joe, Dave Van Ronk, Quicksilver, Butterfield, Frank Sinatra, Doc Watson, Buffy St. Marie, Ian & Sylvia, Skip James, Steve Miller and others all found their way into my room.And here I met Pete, a long haired guy working in INVENTORY. Every afternoon as soon as I arrived we were expected to count out the labels for the evening shift. Upstairs with no supervision, we counted.

After being there only a few weeks, Ruthie who worked in the “Mastering Lab” called me over to hear something she thought was unique, that is, something strange to her 50 year old ears. The“lab”she worked in was a climate controlled, sound proofed room with thick glass windowed partitions. Basically it was an air tight room, locked, with a red light blazing DO NOT ENTER over the door. One had to wear white gloves and coveralls to enter the room. Coming into the Inventory Department where I worked, Ruthie slipped a cassette into one of our machines and attached her very expensive headphones over my ears. Upon hearing the sounds, I was at first perplexed but knew instantly what it must be. “They say it’s your birthday.” It sounded like The Beatles. Then, “Number nine, number nine” over and over with a cacophony of sounds, screams, horns, etc. Smiling I answered with more of a question, THE BEATLES ? I proposed. She then with her white gloves on, removed the cassette from the apparatus and put in another cassette…. HELTER SKELTER….THE BEATLES ,YES IT’S THE BEATLES. She informed me it was a company hush hush job, no one was to know what we were putting together, not even her supposedly but she had her suspicions and needed “verification” which was ME.  No labels, no inserts, just a number 4XWL stamped on the cassettes, which was to be a double cassette set. One million cassettes (half a million packages to market) was to be produced and stored until November 15 shipping. The entire factory, two shifts, was working on one project and I guessed who and what it was. Needless to say Ruthie slipped me a few early finished cassettes during week one, no labels just 4XWL which I knew meant The Beatles (The WHITE ALBUM), to share with my friends, friends who were skeptical at first but after a little while….yea man, The Beatles.

1968: My collection was now mostly albums (vinyl) and many cassettes, with an occasional single thrown in. White Album AKA The Beatles, Hendrix’s Electric LadyLand,THE STONES Beggar’s Banquet (loved it), Odyssey and Oracle(which I bought on a lunch hour after seeing the cover in a record store on Wall Street- I loved The Zombies), THE KINKS Village Green Preservation Society, THE BAND Big Pink,Waiting For The Sun by The Doors,  Lady Soul(my brother’s), SUPER SESSION, SweetHeart Of The Rodeo Big Brother’s Cheap Thrills, CREAM’s double lp set Wheels On Fire, Small Faces Ogden’,s Nut Gone Flake, Blood Sweat and Tears, and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s first to name a few.