Sunday, July 8, 2012

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (Conclusion)

My freewheelin’ days in the Bronx days were now over. Squeezed economically (between the unchallenged economic power of U.S. landlords to keep charging monthly rents for the slum apartments in the apartment buildings they were still allowed to own and the unchallenged economic power of the personnel offices of U.S. private and public business, media, government, health care and educational institutions to deny wage work opportunities or welfare benefits/food stamps to U.S. citizens who required the money that a paycheck or welfare check/food stamp coupon would provide to pay their rent and obtain food), I had been forced back onto the streets. And the freewheeling lifestyle of “emancipated poverty” in which I wished to live during the 1970s in the USA (and in which working-class youths who were on the dole in the UK and other Western European countries--where social democratic reforms and welfare state concessions had previously been won through mass struggle—were still able to live until the late 1980s) had been crushed by powerful U.S. economic and powerful historical forces beyond my control.

In the nearly 7 years since the 1964 Berkeley Student Revolt and Free Speech Movement [FSM] spokesperson Mario Savio’s assertions that the end of history has not been reached and our generation “would rather die” than be unfree and historically irrelevant had inspired my own spirit of rebellion against the System, I had managed to escape the chains of the public school and college and university classroom cages, as well as the chains of the Vietnam Era War draft and U.S. military war machine.

But for an individual U.S. working-class person in the 1970s, escaping from the economic chains of classism, wage-slavery, corporate exploitation, landlordism, unemployment, poverty and capitalism for more than brief periods of personal freedom, had proven to be a much tougher set of chains to escape from. And since large numbers of U.S. working-class people still felt it was more practical economically to remain chained to their 9-to-5 wage-slave jobs or “careers” in the 1970s than to collectively cut their economic chains and drop out economically enmasse until the classist U.S. economic system was radically transformed and democratized economically, escaping from the chains of U.S. capitalism for most U.S. working-class rebels during the rest of the 20th century and early 21st-century now seemed like more of a remote prospect.

And although I had managed to create, from a revolutionary left anti-imperialist political and artistic perspective, some protest folk songs between 1965 and 1971 (during periods when I wasn’t involved day-to-day in New Left political activism), the white upper-middle class gatekeepers who decided whose protest folk songs were going to be allowed to reach the ears of the U.S. working-class masses did not appear likely to ever allow any of the songs I had written to impact on the consciousness of most U.S. working-class people.

So when my freewheelin’ in the Bronx days ended in August 1971, I felt, in some ways, that the personal rebel identity that I had developed for myself since leaving my parents’ apartment in 1965 existed no longer. But my understanding of the level of U.S. working-class oppression in the United States had deepened dramatically over what it had been when I was still attending college and living day-to-day within the fantasy world of a white upper-middle-class U.S. campus enclave scene.

The real world of Off-Campus Amerika in 1971 was, indeed, a Death Culture for U.S. working-class people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. And this Death Culture would probably always end up starving out (or eventually roping back into some 9-to-5 prison or 9-to-5 coffin) any individual U.S. working-class male or female youth who became too freewheeling and “uppity” in his or her personal aspirations during the remainder of the 20th century and early 21st-century. (the end)


Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxxx)

Having been robbed of my cheap, old-fashioned vinyl record player as well as of my cheap acoustic guitar, my cheap electric guitar and my cheap portable amplifier in July 1971, by the end of July 1971 I could petty much fit all of the remaining possessions I wished to keep—some clothes, some songbooks for guitar, and a cheap portable typewriter—in a big duffle bag, a big knapsack and a small suitcase. So when I got ready to move on from my $57/month slum apartment in late July 1971, there was no need for me to rely on anyone else to help me move out of the Bronx by the first week in August—especially since I had no furniture in the apartment except for the mattresses on the floor and a kitchen table and some chairs that I had previously picked up on the street before some garbage truck pick-up, when I had initially moved up to the Bronx in April 1970.

In retrospect, despite both not having the rent for August 1971 and being robbed of my musical instruments, I probably should have stayed in the rent-controlled apartment without paying rent for the 3 months it would probably have taken the absentee landlord to get a final eviction court order from housing court—even if it meant trying to live on bread and water, for as long as I was without any income, unemployment check or welfare check—and continued to desperately hunt around for some kind of job during the economic recession of 1971. And just desperately hope that some job opening in for me in New York City would develop in September 1971, when the college students with summer jobs quit their jobs and moved back into their college dormitories for another academic year of partying and doing academic shitwork--while the endless mass murder of Vietnamese by the Nixon Administration's war machine continued for yet another academic year.

But since I didn’t have enough knowledge of tenant rights law, or housing law, or rent-control laws or tenant protection rights laws in late July 1971, and didn’t realize that—under the new law that Billionaire Nelson Rockefeller, special real estate interests and New York City landlords had just recently pushed through the Albany state legislature without much mass media publicity in 1971—once a rent-controlled apartment was no longer occupied by a tenant who lived in the apartment before July 1, 1971, the apartment would no longer be subject to New York City’s rent-control laws; I didn’t realize that, by moving from a rent-controlled apartment in August 1971, I was effectively disqualifying myself from ever having a cheap rent-controlled apartment—as opposed to a more expensive post-1974 rent-stabilized apartment—in New York City ever again.

Yet because, by late July 1971, I both doubted that I was going to live for many more months and had completely lost any desire to continue living in my Bronx neighborhood—once the theft of my guitars meant that I no longer had the tools to continue to go to my grave as a struggling, starving, rebel young artist and protest folk songwriter—the thought that I might need or want to retain this particular rent-controlled apartment for the rest of the 20th century never entered my mind.

The thought that did enter my mind, though, was that, since living in the $57/month rent-controlled apartment had enabled me to become a proletarian protest folk songwriter and proletarian folk musician between April 1970 and July 1971, I should try to pass the apartment on to some other tenant who might need a cheap apartment for his or her own purposes, rather than just simply move out of the apartment without passing it on to some other hip young, impoverished person. So near the end of July 1971, I took a final walk to Lehman College’s campus and posted an index card with my phone number on it—on which I also described the apartment and its location, emphasized how cheap it was and indicated that it was now available as a sublet—on one of the campus bulletin boards, in the hope that some Lehman College student would soon contact me.

My original assumption was that my most likely sublet tenant would be some young hippie white guy attending Lehman, who just wished to move from his parents’ apartment, so that he’d be able to have his own space to smoke pot and/or sleep with a lover. But the first telephone call inquiry about the apartment sublet that I received the day after I posted my index card on the Lehman College bulletin board turned out to be from a young woman student at Lehman College. And after conversing about the apartment and its immediate availability for a few minutes, it was agreed that she would come to look at my apartment in the early evening, after her late afternoon class that same day at Lehman.

Since the prospective sublet tenant who had telephoned pretty much had a New York City Eastern regional accent like I did, before she arrived at my apartment I subconsciously assumed that she was a white woman student. So when she arrived at my apartment door in the early evening, I was as surprised that she was an African-American woman student as she was apparently surprised that I was not an African-American man.

But since I was apparently more used to interacting personally, working with and socializing with African-American people in their early 20s because of my past Movement activism, office jobs, inter-racial college friendships and inter-racial apartment sharing experiences than was she, the prospective woman sublet tenant seemed less comfortable, at first, conversing with me about the apartment than was I. And, initially, she seemed to assume that, like most other whites that she had encountered, I would be unable to empathize or identify with her individual feelings, individual needs and individual youthful ambitions.

Yet after I quickly agreed that--since she was the first person to appear in my apartment in response to the index card advertising the sublet--the cheap apartment was now hers to move into on August 1, 1971, if she wanted the apartment—and after we both signed the brief one-page sublet agreement I had drawn up and (without requiring any security deposit) I simply handed her the keys for the apartment and the mailbox for the apartment—she seemed more comfortable conversing with me and talking with me about her life and ambitions, in an emotionally open and emotionally intimate way.

Although she had an Afro hairstyle, she looked somewhat straight since she had come to check out the apartment wearing a tight, low-cut dress and not slacks or jeans. But it turned out that she was preparing for a career in the arts and not a career in the culturally straight world of business and commerce. In her early 20s, she was studying modern dance and soon mentioned how one of the guys she was currently dating had first been turned on to her physically after seeing her perform at a dance concert.

Not apparently having encountered before a man in his 20s who was both into androgyny and unisexuality and who was as much of a male feminist as I was in the early 1970s, she apparently felt that, for a U.S. man in the early 1970s, I was somewhat of a novelty. And she got into conversing with me so much that she ended up spending the next 4 or 5 hours debating with me about what the difference between a man and a woman was, telling me about her recent initial sexual experiences (that she had come to enjoy) with the guy she was most involved with (as well as some of the male chauvinist problems that she had started to experience in her relationship with him,) and getting into a deep philosophical/political/psychological discussion about how to find as much personal freedom as possible, despite the constraints on personal freedom produced by the institutional racism of U.S. society in the early 1970s.

Having spent a lot of time in the dance studio increasing the strength and muscularity of her dancer’s legs, she did not think it farfetched in 1971 to assert that many women were physically weaker than many men more because of social conditioning than because they were “naturally” physically weaker than many men; or that a woman who was trained well in karate or the martial arts might be able to overpower an untrained man of equal size in a fair fight. But she was skeptical that most U.S. men in the early 1970s would ever be willing to either become less male chauvinist, more feminist and more androgynous “new men” (like she felt me to be) or form love relationships with U.S. women who were stronger or their equal in physical or intellectual strength and whom they could not overpower in a fair physical fight or intellectual debate.

Lost in our hours of emotionally intense conversation and philosophical/political/psychological discussion/debate (which was only interrupted when I offered her a glass of wine in the middle of our conversation and we then shared a bottle of wine together during the next few hours), by the time we noticed what time it was on my clock, it was way past midnight. And far too late for her to then start making the 20-minute walk to the nearest subway station through the by-then deserted neighborhood city streets either with me or by herself; and then to ride alone that late on the subway before walking alone through more deserted city streets before dawn, back to the place she was temporarily staying at. So she ended up spending the night on one of the mattresses on the floor that I usually slept on, while I slept on one of the other mattresses that was on the floor of the cheap pad that I was passing on to her.

And when daylight arrived in the morning and we both awoke at about the same time, I handed her the stamped envelope, with the absentee landlord’s address on it, in which she needed to put a check for him for the August 1971 rent, before mailing it to him. I then assured her that--since I had sublet the same apartment during June, July and August of 1970 of the previous summer, when I had been working as a summer camp counselor in the country, with no difficulties from the absentee landlord—as long as she moved her stuff into the apartment, began living there and kept mailing in the rent on time, it was unlikely that the absentee landlord would bother her.

But I also warned her that eventually, when the absentee landlord realized that the tenant who had signed the most recent lease to the slum apartment no longer occupied the apartment, he would probably want her to sign a new lease with him, which might include some kind of minimal rent increase. I reassured her, however, that--since the slum apartment’s neighborhood would likely still be considered too close for comfort to the South Bronx neighborhood by tenants who might be able to afford a much higher rent in the early 1970s—it was unlikely that the absentee landlord would feel any economic incentive to raise her rent during the 1970s or get involved in any kind of too costly legal challenge to her tenancy, instead of just letting her succeed me as the apartment’s primary tenant, with only a minimal rent increase.

Reminding her that I was leaving the apartment for good, myself, before noon that same day, I then wished her good luck in the apartment. And, in reply, she suddenly kissed me goodbye on the cheek before quickly exiting from the apartment. And within an hour after she left, I left my Bronx apartment forever—with a knapsack on my back, a duffel bag in my right hand and a suitcase in my left hand.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxxix)

By late July 1971, I was no longer eager to even consider fighting against being evicted from my Bronx slum apartment. For it was in July 1971 that Patsy, the local neighborhood white junkie, apparently broke into my apartment from the fire escape window one afternoon and robbed me of my cheap acoustic guitar, my cheap electric guitar and my cheap electric guitar amplifier, in addition to stealing my cheap portable vinyl record player. And since one of the main reasons I had been living in the cheap Bronx apartment was to write protest folk songs there, once my musical instruments were stolen, so that I could no longer create my melodies in the apartment, I took that as a sign that it was time to give up the apartment.

Despite my lack of fondness for cops, my initial response to my musical instruments being robbed was to call the local precinct and report the apartment robbery. But after the two straight-looking uniformed white male cops in their early 30s entered my apartment, noticed the wall poster of a liberated radical feminist-looking young white woman who wore tight pants (at a time when most working-class corporate offices still didn’t allow young women workers to wear tight pants or jeans to work), glanced at each other in a way that seemed to imply that I was some kind of “hippie-pervert,” I quickly realized that these cops were not likely to do too much to recover my stolen guitars and musical amplifier. And a few nights later, I was informed by Viola--the 19 year-old white Italian-American woman who lived on a welfare check with her mother in an apartment on the upper floor of the apartment building—that she had heard through the neighborhood grapevine gossip that Patsy, the neighborhood junkie, was the person who had robbed my instruments. But since Patsy’s uncle was apparently one of the cops in charge of the local precinct in the neighborhood, it was unlikely that either I would get my musical instruments back or that Patsy would ever be required to appear in court.

Coincidentally, a few weeks before the robbery of my instruments, Viola and Patsy had visited my apartment for a few minutes before Patsy went on his way and left the apartment, after apparently noticing the instruments he eventually apparently robbed when he apparently broke into the apartment a few weeks later. Viola, however, stayed behind. And, for a moment, I felt that she might be interested in hanging out with me or having me ask her for a date, since she had put on lipstick and make-up and was wearing a new blouse that seemed to make her look more physically attractive for most men than she had previously appeared to be.

But the reason Viola was now dressed up was that she was planning to go out dancing and possibly meet some new, more culturally straight Italian-American guy from the neighborhood, who was more like her then-imprisoned old boyfriend, at a local club, Maxine’s. And the main reason that she had stopped by my apartment was that she was now, apparently using heroin that Patsy had obtained for her; and she just wanted to use my apartment now to shoot up in, since she couldn’t shoot-up in her mother’s apartment a few floors above mine, when her mother was at home.

Since Viola was both the friendliest young white working-class woman I had met in that neighborhood and a street-tough 19 year-old youth who it was wise for a man to avoid angering, I didn’t object when Viola went into my bathroom while holding her needle, pulled down her dress slacks and panties, and then injected the heroin into her ass—although I didn’t think it was either the healthiest or wisest thing for Viola to now be into. And since I felt that smack should be legalized, heroin addiction should be treated as a health issue, not as a criminal or legal problem, and the civil liberties of individual users of smack should be respected, I didn’t say anything special to Viola about her now using heroin, before she soon left my apartment.

But I inwardly felt that she was probably going to end up as either a junkie like Patsy or perhaps even O.D.ing, like so many others who had gotten into the needle in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Since this was the last time I saw Viola before I moved on from the Bronx and since I never bumped into her again, I do not know whether or not she eventually did become a heroin addict. But, hopefully, by the 1980s the economically impoverished Viola was living the life she still dreamed about in the early 1970s: her own house in a white middle class suburban neighborhood, a husband with a good job and a child or two of her own. Yet, writing these words in 2012, I’m still somewhat doubtful that Viola ever did attain the life she dreamed about in the early 1970s—even if she was able to avoid becoming a heroin addict during the remainder of the 1970s.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxxviii)

While walking further west on either Fordham Road or Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx toward Upper Manhattan, on a pleasant summer weekday in mid-July 1971, I decided to sit down on a bench in the middle of either a small playground or some vest-pocket-size park of some trees near a sidewalk corner. Still not knowing where my rent for August 1971 was going to come from, I was in the middle of contemplating what survival options were still open to me—now that I had been denied welfare benefits and still seemed unable to earn any money as some kind of freelance writer for a muckraking left-wing publication like Ramparts magazine—when two young white working-class guys with short hair approached me in a cautious way. They both looked culturally straight and to be in their late teens or early 20s.

It turned out that the two young white working-class guys had both been drafted into the U.S. Army and had just deserted from the U.S. military while being subjected to basic training. And since I still looked like a bearded, long-haired, anti-war hippie in mid-July 1971, they correctly assumed that I would let them crash that night in my hippie pad.

Being fresh from escaping from a U.S. Army atmosphere which they felt to be totalitarian, the two deserters—both of whom were now dressed in civilian clothes—spent much of their time imitating the way the drill sergeant from whom they had recently escaped had barked bullying orders at them, as walked the few miles across either Fordham Road or Kingsbridge Road towards my Bronx slum apartment in the Belmont neighborhood.

“Lombardino! Clean the latrine! Lombardino! Remake your bed!, etc., etc.” the deserter who apparently went by that name repeated in a satirical mimicking way and an imitation Southern regional accent. Both the deserters laughed a lot, as we approached my apartment and they recounted to me their stories about the horrors and the absurdities of U.S. Army life, like two people who were overjoyed because they had finally been released from a prison.

Spending the evening drinking beer and conversing with each other in my apartment, we all seemed to agree that the militaristic set-up in U.S. society in the early 1970s was pretty much insane. And that, for the two deserters, going to Canada now seemed to make the most sense; rather then either returning to their army base and risk being either thrown into a stockade or eventually sent to the infantry front-line in “Nam by the super-authoritarian U.S. military brass whose military discipline each of them now rejected as absurd—especially now that they were out of their military uniforms and back among the real world of U.S. civilian life again.

So I gave them the address and phone number of one of the anti-war draft/GI counseling groups in Manhattan that I thought might provide them with some leads as to how to escape to Canada most easily. And when they left my apartment early the next morning they indicated that they would probably stop by at the anti-war GI/draft counseling group’s office before quickly heading back to their parents’ home, in order to visit their parents for a few days and gather up some more of their civilian clothes before the U.S. Army concluded that the two youths had gone AWOL and began hunting for them at their parents’ house. In addition, getting some money quickly from their parents was going to probably be necessary by the two deserters for them to be successful in escaping to Canada. Although I was nearly completely out of money myself by mid-July 1971, I gave the two deserters a $10 bill (in early 1970s money) so that they could at least buy a commuter train ticket which would move each of them closer to the white working-class suburban homes of their parents.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxxvii)

Not surprisingly, in early July 1971 an official letter came from the New York City Welfare Department stating that I was being denied home relief welfare benefits and food stamps for some technical reason. Although I had been laid off from my night clerical job at the Hunt’s Point Market fruit and vegetable wholesale firm in May 1971, after working there only a week, the right-wing white guy who had investigated me apparently justified his denial of welfare benefits to me on the following grounds: 1. Since I had been on home relief for a month the previous year before finding a job as a summer camp counselor in 1970, there was no valid reason why I couldn’t now find a job again as a summer camp counselor in 1971—even though in the Summer of 1970 there hadn’t been any economic recession like there now was in the Summer of 1971; and 2. Since I had quit my office boy job at the Writers Guild—East office nearly 4 months previously, to protest against the failure in 1971 of that middle-class “talent union” to fight against institutional racism and sexism in the radio-TV network world of CBS, NBC and ABC and against the endless U.S. war in Indochina, that somehow meant that I was not now really “entitled” to a home relief welfare check—especially since I had long hair and was a white hippie, not the “legitimate” type of poor person that New York City welfare checks were supposed to be “meant for.”

I was, obviously, enraged at the welfare department and the welfare department caseworker/investigator for denying me the home relief benefits I was legally entitled to. But, given the politics of New York City’s welfare department bureaucracy in 1971, I was skeptical that its denial of welfare benefits to me in July 1971 could really be overturned in some kind of bureaucratic appeal hearing. And since I was nearly penniless when the welfare department denied me home relief benefits, I also thought that by the time any appeal ruling which might overturn the welfare department’s denial of benefits to me would be made, I probably would have already been starved out of or evicted from my Bronx slum apartment for many months.

So I saw no point in even filing an appeal of my home relief denial and, instead, spent the first few weeks of July 1971 researching and writing an article for Ramparts magazine, from a New Left radical perspective, which indicated why the liberal Democratic Party presidential candidate for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination, George McGovern, didn’t really reflect the New Left’s historical anti-imperialist, anti-war and anti-racist radical democratic politics. But when the Ramparts magazine editor rejected the freelance article, I was pretty much at a loss in figuring out what to do to come up with the $57 I needed for my August 1971 rent and for some money to feed myself during the month of August 1971. And I began to feel that August 1971 would be the month that the 1965 to 1971 version of “bob feldman” would cease to exist.

In retrospect, what I probably should have done was to immediately apply for unemployment benefits, since I had been laid-off from my last job as a night clerk at the Hunt’s Point Market fruit and vegetable wholesale firm. But despite our college degrees, neither the welfare department caseworker/investigator who disqualified me from receiving home relief nor I was familiar with unemployment insurance regulations in 1971; and we both just assumed—apparently mistakenly—that an unemployed worker who was laid-off after only 1 week at a job who had quit a previous job a much longer duration would not then be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

Also in retrospect, my fear that not having any money to pay my rent in August 1971 meant that I would be quickly evicted by the landlord within 14 or 30 days of receiving a “notice to quit,” was also based on the fact that, despite having a college degree, I—like most U.S. college graduates—had never been taught by either the U.S. public school system or the U.S. higher education system what kind of legal rights rent-controlled tenants in New York City in 1971 and/or all tenants in the USA had under the then-current U.S. housing laws. In reality, a tenant who received a “notice to quit” eviction notice from a landlord for non-payment of rent in 1971—especially a rent-controlled tenant—actually could usually prolong his or her stay in the apartment for over 3 months by just staying put in the apartment, speaking to a tenant advocate at tenants rights groups like the Metropolitan Council on Housing in New York City and challenging the landlord’s eviction notices in housing court. Since only a judge—not a landlord—generally has the legal right to order a tenant out of his or her home in most cities of the United States.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxxvi)

It was in June 1971 that my pet kitten, Kitty, became very sick. For over a year she had lived in the Bronx slum apartment with me or my Summer 1970 sublet tenants and been allowed to go outside and up and down on the fire escape near my kitchen window, when the weather was warm. But when I noticed that she was suddenly getting very thin and fragile-looking, I looked in the yellow pages phone book and found the address for a Bideawee animal clinic on Manhattan’s East Side.

After putting Kitty in a cat-carrying box I had, taking the subway down to the animal clinic and having to wait in the waiting room to see the vet for nearly an hour and a half, I finally was able to have Kitty examined by the vet in his office. After examining Kitty, the vet indicated that Kitty had caught some kind of cat disease and that there was only a slight chance that Kitty would be able to live if she received more medical care. And that this medical care for her would be very expensive to obtain.

Since I had no savings and expected income other than possibly being declared permanently eligible to start receiving regularly a monthly home relief welfare check in July 1971, both the vet and I agreed that the most merciful thing to do was to bring Kitty to the ASPCA and put her out of her misery.

I felt very sad after hearing the vet’s diagnosis. And I felt especially sad when I returned to my Bronx apartment with Kitty and then walked south from my neighborhood for many blocks until I reached the Bronx ASCPA-affiliated facility, said goodbye to Kitty, handed Kitty to the security guard-receptionist, and then walked back uptown to my apartment.

The experience of being too economically impoverished to even have the option of even attempting to save Kitty’s life by bringing her to a vet--who would only work to try saving her if given money up-front—provided me with yet another reason for wanting to transform radically a U.S. capitalist system in which impoverished working-class people were enslaved and trapped at the bottom of a classist U.S. society just because they were born into U.S. working-class families who were neither rich nor the recipients of inherited class economic, political and cultural privileges.

While waiting such a long time at the Bideawee clinic to see the vet, I had passed nearly three-quarters of the time conversing in an animated with an African-American woman in her twenties who, with her older sister, had also come to see the vet in order to have her cat (who was older than Kitty) examined. Unlike Kitty, her pet cat was not ill in any serious way. But while talking with each other, both the African-American woman and I seemed to feel some initial love vibrations beginning to flow between us. And we seemed to be on the same wavelength, somewhat, philosophically—although she was more into health foods and new age stuff than was I.

So before I left the Bideawee animal clinic, she was not reluctant to give me her phone number and invite me to phone her later in the week at the Harlem apartment which she apparently shared with her older sister. But although she was still very friendly over the telephone when I called her at the end of the week, between the time I said goodbye to her at the Bideawee clinic waiting room and the time I telephoned her, she (or perhaps her sister) had developed second thoughts about her possibly getting involved emotionally or romantically with me. And after our friendly telephone conversation of about 15 minutes, my feeling was that it made no sense to ask her for some kind of a date to go down to the Village or hang out in Central Park—especially since I was beginning to suspect that the welfare department caseworker/investigator who had visited me in early June 1971 was going to deny me home relief benefits (because he apparently resented the fact that hip white youths who collected home relief seemed to feel more free and less personally frustrated than he felt working in his 9-to-5 welfare department caseworker/investigator straight job) and I then would be facing possible starvation or eviction within a month or two.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxxv)

It was in either May or June 1971 that I finally got around to exploring the City Island neighborhood of the Bronx on one weekend day. I had read somewhere that some counter-cultural hippie freaks had set up some kind of commune whose living quarters was in a rented house on City Island. But when I walked along the main street of what felt somewhat like a fishing village to me, I didn’t see much evidence that the commune’s presence there had created much of a counter-cultural hippie atmosphere on City Island’s main street in the Spring of 1971. So I did not look any further into whether or not moving into a hippie commune on City Island might be a possible new lifestyle option for me during the remainder of the 1970s.

What I did do in June of 1971, though, was to explore the possibility of enrolling at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and studying some field related to farming and rural life, like agricultural economics. In the early 1970s, out-of-state tuition costs at certain state universities in the Southeast (like the University of Tennessee) were still less than $300 for either a semester (or perhaps an academic year). And after I wrote a folk song about the advantage and desire to escape the loveless and depressing urban rat race scene of early 1970s New York City working-class neighborhoods for some potentially more liberated, land-based country scene in the rural USA, I thought, for awhile, that one way I might be able to eventually escape to a country farming community and live again in some kind of campus youth ghetto—where I’d feel less culturally isolated than I then felt in the Bronx—might be to try to take advantage of the University of Tennessee’s low tuition costs; and attend school down there. But by the time I got around to actually applying for admissions there in late June 1971, I no longer had enough money to afford to even pay for an application for admissions there, let alone finance some kind of long-distance move from the Bronx to Knoxville.

Yet I had been so into the idea of possibly studying at the University of Tennessee in the Fall of 1971 that when I exchanged letters with Sue of New Jersey—whom I had met in the summer of 1970 when we both worked at Camp Summit in Pennsylvania—I even mentioned in one of my letters to her that I was hoping to “learn how to feed all the hungry people in the world better,” by studying agricultural economics at the University of Tennessee. But although Sue felt that my possible new goal was a worthwhile one and also seemed to understand a critique of how Camp Summit had been run the previous summer that I included in one of my letters to her, she—herself—had decided that her best economic option in the Summer of 1971 was still to just return to Camp Summit and work there again as a waitress/server, before then probably going off to some college that wasn’t as far from New Jersey as one in Tennessee might be—despite the University of Tennessee’s then low-cost for out-of-state residents.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxxiv)

It was during June 1971 that Mike—the only guy in the Belmont neighborhood in which I lived who seemed somewhat hip and who, despite still living in his mother’s apartment at around 30 years of age, also hung out in Greenwich Village—suddenly reappeared one evening at the door of my cheap slum apartment. He hadn’t visited me there in about three months, so I invited him to step inside.

After offering me a joint to share with him, Mike then said: “I was hanging out in the Village. And I met this fantastic-looking chick. But the chick doesn’t want to go out on a date with me and go see a movie together, unless I can also find a blind date for the chick’s girlfriend. So that this chick’s girlfriend and her blind date can come along with us to see the movie. Can you do me a big favor and be her girlfriend’s blind date?”

After inhaling on the joint, I laughed and asked: “What are they into? She and her friend.”

“The chick has a car and she and her girlfriend are trying to find a cheap pad together in the Village. And I told the chick I know about a cheap pad there that they can move into at the end of the month,” Mike answered.

“I don’t have much extra bread to spend on dates these days,” I replied.

“Don’t worry. I’ll pay for the movie tickets if you’re willing to be the blind date for the chick’s girlfriend.”

So, despite my growing financial worries, I agreed to do Mike a favor and be the required blind date for his date’s friend. Mike then used my telephone to call up the apartment-hunting woman whom he had met and to tell her he had found a blind date for her friend. And it was agreed that she and her friend would drive up to the Bronx a few evenings later to pick up Mike and me in my apartment. And then she would drive all four of us down to the Upper East Side Manhattan theater in which the movie that Mike wanted to see was playing.

A few evenings later, Mike arrived in my apartment dressed up in a suit and tie, and looking as if he was about to go out on a job interview. In contrast, I was just wearing jeans and a turtle-neck shirt, and was dressed in a more casual way. And about a half-hour after Mike arrived in my apartment, his date and my blind date knocked on my apartment door.

Mike’s date was a white woman in her 20s, who was dressed in a skirt and blouse, wore earrings, used lipstick and make-up, did not have long hair, and looked pretty culturally straight and somewhat plastic. But most men in the USA likely considered her to be physically attractive and sexually appealing, although not someone who possessed a beautiful face. And since she seemed both friendly and intelligent when we all talked in her car, as she drove us down to Manhattan from the Bronx, I could see why Mike felt she was an appealing woman to date—despite her not appearing to be that much of a bohemian, beatnik or hippie on a philosophical level.

My blind date was also a white women in her 20s who dressed in a skrit and blouse, wore make-up and lipstick and looked pretty straight and plastic on a cultural level. But unlike Mike’s date, she probably would not have been considered that physically attractive by most men in the USA; and she seemed less interesting and desirable to me than Mike’s date, with whom she was looking for a vacant Village apartment. And also, as we sat in the back seat of the car and Mike and her friend sat in the front seat, I think my blind date quickly concluded that I wasn’t the type of guy she was looking for to get involved with.

It turned out that the movie that Mike had selected for all of us to see was “The Boys In The Band” movie that reflected some of the special problems gay men had to confront within the homophobic U.S. society before the 1970s. And I’m not sure that the two women liked the movie as much as did Mike.

It turned out also that Mike apparently didn’t really know about any cheap Village apartment that would be available for the two women to rent at the end of the month. Because about a week after going to see “The Boys In The Band” with the two women and Mike, I received a telephone call from Mike’s date—to whom Mike had apparently previously given my phone number to call in case she had couldn’t find the building in which I lived when she picked us up for our date together. And in an angry voice, Mike’s date complained: “Your friend Mike keeps telephoning me to ask me for another date and keeps promising me that I’ll be able to rent the apartment he knows about the next day. But every day he telephones, he always gives me some excuse as to why I can’t go see the apartment yet. Do you know whether there really is a Village apartment that Mike can get me?

“If Mike still hasn’t shown you by now the apartment he says he found for you in the Village, it sounds like you probably shouldn’t count on Mike being able to get you an apartment,” I replied.

“Well, you can tell your friend Mike to go fuck himself!” Mike’s date snarled before hanging up the telephone receiver.

I did not speak with Mike again, however, until about a month later, in late July 1971, when he again knocked on my apartment door, entered the apartment and offered me a joint again. And, surprisingly, Mike now announced to me that he had decided that he was a gay man and was now going to come out and start hanging out in the Village gay bars. And he urged me to join him there if I ever recovered from my financial difficulties. But since--by August 1971--my financial difficulties had led me to move from the Belmont neighborhood of the Bronx and I never returned there to hang out after August 1971, I never bumped into Mike again. And I never learned whether or not he enjoyed his life during the rest of the 1970s and whether or not he survived the 1980s or made it into the 21st-century.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxxiii)

By performing at this coffeehouse near Jerome Avenue in June 1971, however, I was able to meet an African-American folk singer named Don, who also wrote his own folk songs. Like me, Don played the harmonica in his harmonica holder, at the same time he accompanied his singing of one song with an acoustic guitar before this coffeehouse audience of mostly neighborhood high school-age teenagers

Don’s harmonica-playing in June of 1971 was much more technically proficient than my harmonica playing would ever be. But the audience that had not paid much attention to me when I had performed my one song also quickly stopped listening to Don, who was as unknown as I was, when he was performing his one song—even though it was probably more unusual for an unknown African-American singer-songwriter to sing before the all-white audience of youths in this particular coffeehouse.

Although I decided not to get into the “open mike circuit” on weekend and weekday nights during the 1970s, when you’re under 30-- like most of the other “regulars” at open mikes generally are—performing at open mikes can sometimes be a way to meet, and perhaps befriend, other unknown musicians of your own generation, who you might not otherwise have bumped into at the time.

So after the coffeehouse open mike session had ended, I invited Don back to my apartment for a few hours to share some wine and sing to each other the folk songs we each had written, since it was still only about 10 o’clock on a Friday night.

Don was a gentle, good-natured bearded guy in his late 20s who then lived in Park Slope near 15th Street in Brooklyn—in the days before the Park Slope neighborhood became gentrified with white liberal or left-liberal yuppies from the suburbs. And the folk songs that Don had written were both melodic and lyrically more interesting than what was then getting played on either the AM or FM radio station airwaves.

Although the great songs Don had written seemed real in terms of being about real working-class neighborhood people and their real feelings, they were less political in their themes than the folk songs I had written and contained no rebel protest component in their lyrics, unlike most of the songs I had written contained. So, not surprisingly, although Don seemed to like the songs I had written as much as I liked the songs he had written, after I sang the protest folk song, “He Walked Up The Hill,” that was written following Martin Luther King’s assassination, Don also kidded me, while chuckling in a good-natured way, “You seem to write a lot of political songs, don’t you?”

Yet even though the great songs that Don had written were less political than the ones I had written and contained no protest folk lyrical component, Don was then no closer to getting any of his songs recorded on a vinyl record album by one of the New York City record companies in 1971 than was I. And besides agreeing that the coffeehouse audience, for whom we had both performed a few hours before, wasn’t the type of audience that would be inclined to respond to our type of songs, Don and I also were pretty much both clueless about how unknown singer-songwriters like ourselves, who lacked both money and music or entertainment industry contacts, could get their songs onto some vinyl record album in the early 1970s.

After a few hours of singing songs to each other, in-between sips of wine, it was time for Don to start back on the long subway trip from the Bronx to Brooklyn. But before he left my apartment, Don wrote down his phone number and his address on a piece of paper; and we agreed that we’d get together sometime to sing songs to each other again for a few hours in his apartment in Brooklyn, later in the month. And a few weeks later I actually did telephone Don and did make the subway journey with my guitar from the Bronx to Brooklyn on the D train to spend a few hours in his apartment singing to each other some more of the songs that we had each written, in-between sharing a joint of marijuana.

But given how long it took to travel by subway from where I lived in the Bronx to where Don lived in Brooklyn, Don’s lack of interest in forming a duo with me that would perform both his songs and my protest folk songs occasionally at some open mikes, and my post-July 1971 escalating financial difficulties, I didn’t follow-up on my visit to Don’s Park Slope pad. And, after late June 1971, I never bumped into Don again.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxxii)

Another way that I thought I could possibly break into the local New York City folk music sub-culture scene or into local record industry circles, in order to get the protest folk songs and male feminist love songs that I had written onto a vinyl record, was to start singing in June of 1971 at open mikes in coffee houses or at clubs in the Bronx, in Manhattan and possibly in the other boroughs of New York City. So one Friday night in early June of 1971 I took my guitar, my harmonica and my harmonica-holder to a church basement near Jerome Avenue, that wasn’t too far from Lehman College’s campus, where, at that time, there was a coffeehouse that had a weekly open mike for musicians who wished to sing one song apiece before a live audience.

Not surprisingly--since by June 1971 large numbers of people under 30 all played guitar and hoped to earn their livings as musicians rather than as 9-to-5 wage slaves—I wasn’t the only musician to show up at the coffeehouse who wished to sing and perform.

None of the other musicians seemed to be singing topical folk songs or protest folk songs. And since the audience seemed to consist of mostly straight-looking neighborhood high school students who didn’t appear to be anti-war folks who were into Dylan or Phil Ochs very much, I decided that the song I would perform would just be the “Open Up Your Eyes” love song that I had written for Helene in late 1969.

But after I started singing into the microphone, I realized that people in the audience at the coffeehouse really seemed more interested in chatting with their friends, while the musicians who performed at the open mike sessions just provided some background music for their conversations, rather than really being interested in listening carefully to the lyrics that a musician was singing. Unless a musician who performed at this coffeehouse’s open mike session was either a friend of some of the audience members’ or some kind of already-established professional musician or celebrity, it seemed that most of the 25 people in the audience felt that they would rather chat with their friends than listen closely to what was being sung by some unknown performer.

I felt that getting some experience in singing into a microphone in front of a live audience, instead of just singing in my apartment to myself or into a cheap portable cassette tape recorder, was of some value and somewhat interesting. But I did not find it very satisfying or worthwhile to sing in front of an audience that really wasn’t that particularly interested in listening to what the songs I had written had to say.

And it struck me that just as the U.S. mass media had created a false political consciousness among large numbers of white working-class youth in the United States (so that they would not quickly mobilize politically in support of an African-American or radical feminist-led New Left Revolution in the USA in the 1970s), the same U.S. mass media had created the kind of mass consciousness among large numbers of U.S. music fans which would tend to make them closed to responding in an enthusiastic way to any of the protest folk or folk love songs that I had written, when sung by an unknown musician in a coffeehouse or small club setting--unless they had previously been able to become familiar with the songs from having heard them previously on either a vinyl record album or on the U.S. radio airwaves.

It might be conceivable that if I was willing to spend all my spare time writing new protest folk songs and folk love songs, memorizing them and performing at open mikes in coffeehouses, bars or clubs around New York City for the next 5 years, I might possibly be “discovered” by somebody in the music industry who might be interested in putting my songs on a vinyl record. But a lifestyle of lugging my guitar around each evening on weekdays and weekends to perform for free at open mikes before small crowds of mostly apolitical musicians and apolitical rock music or singer-songwriter acoustic music fans seemed like an existential trap.

The point of writing the protest folk songs and male feminist folk love songs was to help change mass youth consciousness in the USA more quickly so that there might be an African-American-led or radical feminist-led anti-imperialist revolution in the USA as soon as possible during the 1970s. The point of my activity as a creative artist was not to let myself be co-opted into a working-class person who spent all his or her evenings--when not in the wage-slave cage--running around--in a careerist way--to every open mike that gave him or her the chance to just sit around for 2 to 3 hours listening to other open mike performers; before performing for 5 to 15 minutes before an audience that was not likely to respond very enthusiastically to the songs of an unknown performer.

What performing every night before an open mike audience for the next 5 years on a steady basis might do, however, would be to give me a heavy experience in figuring out the best way to sing into a microphone before a live audience (without forgetting the lyrics to a particular song) and the best way to possibly use my voice to get an audience to want to hear more songs from me. But since my main artistic objective in June 1971 was more to get my protest folk songs on a vinyl record (with the hope that an already-established anti-war singer--like Joan Baez, for example--might then record a cover version of some of these songs) and reach a mass audience with these songs, rather than spending all my evening time developing into a more skillful performer or entertainer, immersing myself in the world of open mikes for the next 5 years was not the road I was willing to take during the 1970s.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxxi)

In early June of 1971 the block on Bleecker Street where AJ lived had not yet been gentrified and it looked like a block on which Bowery bums were more likely to hang out and live than would newly affluent yuppies or young Wall Street stockbrokers from the suburbs. Since the bell to the loft in which AJ then lived with his womanfriend or wife did not work, I had to yell on the street “Hey, AJ!” in order to gain entry into the building, before walking up the stairs to the door to AJ’s loft.

After AJ looked out the window of his loft and let me into the building, and I then walked up some stairs, I soon found myself inside AJ’s large loft. AJ and the one or two other freaks he was talking with seemed to be stoned on pot and, after I introduced myself to AJ, he quickly passed me a joint. Predictably, the vinyl album that was being played on AJ’s stereo system in the loft during my visit was Dylan’s then recently-released New Morning album.

There wasn’t much furniture in the loft. But there seemed to be a lot of papers related to Dylan there and copies of Dylan’s Tarantula book. AJ’s womanfriend or wife at the time, a hip-looking woman in her 20s who would have been considered physically attractive by most men and seemed to be some kind of artist, was also in AJ’s loft at the time, although I did not converse with her.

After I mentioned that I was on welfare at the time, AJ mentioned that before he dropped out of the straight world and became a Dylanologist he had held this 9-to-5 straight job at some Manhattan employment agency. But, after seeing how the private employment agency he worked for helped its Manhattan corporate clients discriminate against African-American job applicants or ripped off the job-hunters it did find jobs for, he had felt compelled to quit that job.

Since AJ had come to feel that by 1971 there were so many freaks in the United States that “freaks were now an ethnic community,” when I visited him in early June of 1971, AJ was hoping to get some kind of cable show airtime for a show that would have programming designed for a “freak ethnic community” audience. And, if AJ did get such a cable tv show, it seemed like he was open to having me sing the “A Millionaire” and “Livin’ On Stolen Goods” protest folk songs on such a tv show.

As far as being my “manager” for free, AJ indicated that he thought some kind of master tape that was mixed would probably be needed in order to get some record company interested in recording the protest folk songs. But he’d keep his eyes open for some music industry person who might want to record the songs at some point, and let me know if any interest developed. In the meantime, we agreed that I would mail him cassette tapes (that I recorded on my cheap portable cassette tape recorder) of any new protest folk songs that I might write over the next few years.

Still high from the joint AJ had given me when I left AJ’s loft and was back down on Bleecker Street in front of the building in which he lived, I realized that AJ seemed to be involved simultaneously in so many different Movement projects and activities that he probably wouldn’t really find much time to approach Folkways, Vanguard or Electra or some other record company about recording any of the protest songs I had written. But in June 1971, AJ seemed like both a fun guy and like someone with whom it would be fun to share some of my writing and some of the protest folk songs and folk love songs I wrote during the 1970s—even if no vinyl record album of the songs ever developed from our non-financially-based counter-cultural relationship.

Ironically, by the Fall of 1971, AJ’s Dylan Liberation Front/Rock Liberation Front and the Yippies’ political/cultural freak activism had apparently attracted the attention of John Lennon, after Lennon moved from the UK to Manhattan. And the former Beatle multi-millionaire (who by the early 1970s had written “Working-Class Hero” and decided that he wanted to then write protest rock songs and attempt to now use his musical and songwriting skills to generate more revolutionary mass consciousness among his fans rather than to just entertain them in an “art for art’s sake” way) began to help bankroll some of the Yippies’ anti-war activism and concretely support and promote the anti-hip capitalist perspective of AJ’s Rock Liberation Front.

So AJ (although still interested in things like underground culture and the 1970s Weather Underground, for example) seemed to then feel that it was more politically productive to spend his limited time encouraging Lennon to continue supporting the Yippies and anti-war activism and the Rock Liberation Front in late 1971 and in 1972, rather than to spend much time in a probably doomed attempt to get the protest folk songs of unknown working-class people like myself onto some Folkways, Vanguard or Elektra vinyl record.

But, coincidentally, it was only after AJ and the Dylan Liberation Front had demonstrated at Dylan’s house in the West Village in May of 1971 that Dylan, subsequently, ended up writing a protest folk song, “George Jackson,” that protested against the African-American revolutionary political prisoner, intellectual and writer being slain by guards at San Quentin Prison in California in August 1971.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxx)

In the Spring of 1971, around the time of Dylan’s 30th birthday, the then-long-haired but beardless AJ—who was then in his mid-to-late 20s—was then a high-energy writer-activist in the Lower East Side’s anti-war, underground press, yippie movement/freak sub-culture and underground freak media world and 1970s counter-culture. AJ had been studying Dylan’s song lyrics as intensely as some of the more culturally-straight and conventional middle-class academics and professors of English at places like Columbia and Harvard then studied the poetry of poets like Robert Burns, John Keats, Lord Byron and Percy Shelley, since the mid-1960s. And in the early 1970s—before there was much of a Dylan industry/Dylan studies/pop cultural studies wing set up on U.S. university campuses by the Baby Boom Generation rock music fans who ended up returning to the culturally straight bourgeois academic world to become middle-class academics and professors in order to escape the 9-to-5 work world—AJ, the creator of the Dylanology subject, knew more about Dylan and Dylan’s lyrics, by far, than any other freak or academic in the whole world.

Besides putting together the first Concordance of Dylan’s song lyrics which enabled him to discover that Dylan had apparently become addicted to heroin for a time in the 1960s (long before the mainstream media finally apparently confirmed this fact in the 21st century), AJ also had established a Dylan Archives in his Bleecker Street loft on the Lower East Side that was then the most complete source of information about Dylan and Dylan’s artistic work which existed in the early 1970s.

In the early 1970s AJ also wrote a weekly column for the now-defunct East Village Other (EVO) underground newspaper in which he exposed the way the hip capitalists in the U.S. music industry were enriching themselves in various unethical ways by ripping-off and marketing for their personal, individual profit, the anti-capitalist hippie/yippie/freak counter-culture--a counter-culture which had previously been collectively created by hip anti-capitalist, anti-war and civil rights African-American and New Left Movement activists and artists who had been involved with politically radical groups like SNCC, C.O.R.E., SDS, the Yippies and the Black Panther Party.

For daring to criticize Dylan for ceasing to write more protest folk songs for the Movement after 1965, for not doing any benefits for late 1960s revolutionary groups like the Black Panther Party and for apparently selling out his early 1960s principles in exchange for being rewarded with millions of dollars in song royalties that Dylan’s financial consultants apparently then used to purchase stock in various transnational corporations, AJ apparently enraged large numbers of loyal Dylan fans and Dylan freaks. He also apparently angered many sycophantic rock music industry publishers, editors or writers who apparently felt that no one had the right in 1971 to question Dylan’s moral integrity, since Dylan was such a “great artist” and “creative genius.” Many of the Dylan fans and Dylan freaks who, in the early 1970s, still regarded Dylan as a kind of “prophet” also felt that AJ had no right and no basis for attempting to raise consciousness among anti-capitalist Dylan freaks about the degree to which images of Dylan that the mass media was still marketing in the early 1970s were more myth than an accurate reflection of who Dylan really was.

Yet besides the freaks who detested AJ for writing uncomplimentary words about Dylan’s accumulation of wealth and financial activities and Dylan’s post-1965 political shift in his East Village Other column or for criticizing Dylan from a yippie left freak perspective (whenever AJ was allowed to get some radio airtime on WBAI and other New York City local radio stations), there were other anti-capitalist freaks on the Lower East Side (like Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman, for example, as well as the freaks who hung around the counter-cultural Alternate University in the late 1960s and early 1970s) who agreed with most of AJ’s critical perspective with respect to Dylan’s post-1965 transformation. And by the time that Dylan’s 30th birthday came around in May 1971, there was a Dylan Liberation Front group that soon developed into a Rock Liberation Front group, which AJ led, that actually marched on Dylan’s house in the West Village, to protest the hip capitalist direction that Dylan and the U.S. corporate rock music industry had taken since the mid-1960s.

So around the time that AJ and his Dylan Liberation Front/Rock Liberation Front had begun to make a big impact within counter-cultural circles (even getting some press coverage in the Village Voice, for example), I mailed AJ a cassette tape of protest folk songs, including the “A Millionaire” protest folk song and the “Livin’ On Stolen Goods” protest folk song (that protested against U.S. imperialism)—which I had recorded on my cheap portable cassette tape recorder in my Bronx apartment--and asked him if he felt like being my “manager” for free. Surprisingly, AJ soon contacted me and invited me to stop by for a chat at his Bleecker Street loft a few days later.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxix)

After reading the transcript of a telephone conversation between Dylan and AJ (the world’s first Dylanologist)--that AJ had recorded and Rolling Stone magazine had subsequently published—I had concluded that, from a New Left Movement point of view, AJ--in 1971--was a more principled person than was Dylan; and that after 1965, Dylan had, indeed, sold out the Movement in order to become a hip capitalist, corporate media-promoted, multi-millionaire rock star. (Or, as Anthony Scaduto’s late 1971 gossipy biography of Dylan would also indicate, “as big as Elvis,” etc.). And I had then written a protest folk song that condemned late 1960s and early 1970s hip capitalism and hip cultural rip-off artists, titled “A Millionaire,” which was inspired by AJ’s early 1971 writing and Dylan Liberation Front/Rock Liberation Front activism, that contained lyrics like the following:

“Oh, pig Nixon
A millionaire
And Bobby Dylan
A millionaire
And Rockefeller
A millionaire
And Mick Jagger
A millionaire.

“You’re such a phony
Just blowin’ out wind
Makin’ like Woody
To win your million
You made me cry
When I was a kid
But now I’m feelin’
You’re just a rich pig.

“Don’t think we fall
For that `working-class’ shit
Give us your money
And then we might talk
We’re sick and tired
Of your ego-trip
Of making millions
While raising your fist.

“Now it seems to me
It is unfair
That some men
Are millionaires
They steal their money
By various means
Yet sing us songs
To show their pity.

“I’m just a poor boy
Without any bread
I feel all people
Should make the same wage

To rip-off culture
From people oppressed
Is just as bad
As burning their huts.”


And the thought also then occurred to me in late May 1971 that perhaps if I had a "manager" it might make it easier to interest Folkways, Vanguard or Elektra in recording my protest folk songs and folk love songs. And that if I needed a "manager," in 1971 AJ would be the most politically and artistically appropriate person to be my "manager"—although, given my lack of money, I could not afford to pay any money to AJ to be my “manager.”