JOHN WILCOCK: The Brutal 1968 DNC and Abbie Hoffman’s Illegal Forehead

Originally published at:


“Who ordered the bacon”

Roger That!


HBO’s “trial of the chicago 8” with peter boyle as David Dellinger made a big impact on me as a teen. I was born 2 years after the fact but it informed me. Reading the beats and RAW all fell into line afterward.


I think the phrase “born to raise hell” was invented for Abbie.


I met Abby Hoffman a couple of times in the early 80s. Even though I was generally aligned with him as far as politics goes, I came away very unimpressed. He was a troubled individual who was in the right era and in the right places during that era so that his behavior could be seen as heroic. Once he was a fish out of water, a 60s hell-raiser in the Reagan 80s, he was just a sad, self-destructive individual. I was not surprised when he killed himself.


according to Wayne Kramer’s account of playing the event with the MC5, the crowd was littered with undercover agents who were intentionally picking fights so the cops would finally have an excuse to do what they really wanted, bust all the freaks’ heads in.


He spoke locally in the fall of 1986 or '87. Afterwards, a bunch of people surrounded him, I made a point of not doing so. After the tine I went backstage in 1982 to meet Joan Baez (we were invited) and I had nothing significant to say, I realized I was there because she was famous, but it wasn’t fair to her. So I didn’t go over and say something to Abbie.

But when he killed himself in 1989, I regretted not having something valuable to say to him those few tears earlier.

The way I saw it, he killed himself thinking of Phil Ochs, who killed himself on April 9th 1976, while Abbie killed himself on April 12th 1989. They both suffered from depression, and their lives intertwined.

I think Abbie in the eighties legitimized the Abbie of the sixties. In the sixties, much of it was flash, but when he was Barry Freed, and then turned himself in, he was more subdued, but there seemed more depth to his politics. It becane less about making a splash, and more about serious work. When he was underground as Barry Freed, he couldn’t be the publicity hound, so he had to make real change.

I once spent a weekend in jail with Bob Cummings, who wrote for the Georgia Straight in Vancouver, and was on the first Greenpeace voyage to Amchitka in 1971, and stayed with the organization for years. About 1990 there was a book about nderbround newspapers n Canada, I don’t have the title handy, and Bob was in it, but the news included that he’d killed himself in 1987. I’ve always assumed he was in the same group as Abbie and Phil, though I never gkt around to asking people who woukd have known what happened, and they are gone niw, dying tye way most people die, disease ir old age.

Oddly enough, in 1979 someone from Greenpeace was talking about the issue that “Save the River” was talking about, so when Abbie/Barry turned himself in, I assumed the guy had interacted with Abbie, maybe even knew at the time it was Abbie.

Marty Jezer’s biigraphy of Abbie (it was the basis of “Steal this Movie” seemee pretty good, helped because Marty described in detail Abbie’s time in Montreal in 1976 when he was underground, and dealing with Phil Ochs’ death. It helped that Marty spent half the year in Montreal for some years, and described in detail some of the places Abbie was here that year. I wonder if I passed him at that time, it was possible I was in some of the right places.

It’s good to see Anita, who did her own work and had value beyond being married to Abbie, and then suffered when he went underground.


Grew up during this. I loathed, hated and feared LBJ. He fucking wanted to kill me when I became of age. Wasn’t til years later that I realized that, other than Vietnam, he was a good president. I remember being absolutely stunned (not elated, just stunned) when LBJ finished a prime time speach (yes, they did that back then) with his announcement that he would not run for a second term. But Dems being Dems, they ended up nominating that fucking weasel HHH (and I’m not talking Humbert Humbert Humbert). Deeply weird times.


At least that sort of blatant violence from police is a thing of the past right?

1 Like

“Apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?”


Stopping a war is a lot harder than starting it. We have gotten very, very bad at ending wars; we haven’t really ended a war since WW2. I mean, we are still fighting the Korean war from the '50s, in very real ways.

There is a lot of latitude to criticize a president for his mistakes in military agenda (and did LBJ make military agenda mistakes). But it is hard to blame a president for not being able to end a war that their predecessors started; because the more honor a president has the less likely they are to just abandon our allies in the region to their certain deaths. (Which is why it took Trump to end Syria; no one wanted a genocide on their hands, but Trump doesn’t know the meaning of the word “genocide”. Seriously, and even when explained in short, child-like words he still didn’t get it.)

JFK’s eternal popularity and consideration as one of our favorite (if not best) presidents is a booby prize for his death; had he have completed his terms he would have been disliked as the results of his actions came home to roost; instead they came home to LBJ.


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.