Part 1

"Style, Guile, Balls, Imagination, and Autonomy":
The Anarchist Masculinity of the Diggers and Free Families

Chapter 1

The Diggers, the Haight-Ashbury, and Hip Identity

We put together a credo, which was, "Do your own thing"—no restraints, no rules—and "Everything is free." That [credo] provided so much open space that anything could happen, and . . . did.
—Judy [Goldhaft] Berg

1In mid-September 1966, a mimeographed set of questions, entitled "Let Me Live in a World Pure," circulated on the streets of the Haight-Ashbury. It began by proclaiming that "there are no more negroes, jews, christians" in America, but "only one minority." The authors did not elaborate, but the implication was that the formerly separate struggles for power in America had now merged into one: a conflict between defenders of the status quo and their marginalized opponents. As members of that outsider minority, the authors asked, "When will BOB DYLAN quit working on Maggie's Farm? . . . When will the JEFFERSON AIRPLANE and all ROCK-GROUPS quit trying to make it and LOVE?" Dylan's social commentary presented "Maggie's Farm" as a place dominated by cruel, capricious figures who demanded the cheerful conformity of the metaphorical farm's inmates. His work appeared on Columbia Records. The Airplane was a local acid-rock band whose success in landing a contract with a major label meant that they could spread the "San Francisco sound" to the world. Some readers may have wondered: Why would anyone hip suggest that two of their own should walk away from the opportunity to reach a wider audience?1

2But the unknown authors were far from finished with the punching of bohemia's sacred cows. They went on to ask, "When will RALPH GLEASON realize he is riding in a Hearst?" A clever pun insinuating that employment with a straight newspaper required Gleason to relinquish so much autonomy that it were as if he had died—but it skewered as a mere corporate shill the lone arts critic sympathetic to the nascent acid-rock scene, a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle who had also co-founded the local Artists' Liberation Front. Even Timothy Leary, the best-known champion of LSD, was not safe: "When," the broadside continued, would he "stand on a streetcorner waiting for no one? . . . When will MICHAEL BOWEN and friends use, look through, but not package the expansion of human consciousness?" Bowen's friends, all admirers of Leary, included Ron and Jay Thelin, who had opened the Psychedelic Shop in January, providing hip residents of the Haight with a central source for the books and paraphernalia that furthered hippies' quest for mind expansion. Bowen and the Thelins had just published the first issue of the Oracle, intending it as the newspaper of record for the psychedelic awakening. No doubt some readers of "World Pure" asked themselves: How could the Psychedelic Shop and the Oracle aid the psychedelic revolution if they generated no income?2

3The broadside was signed "THE DIGGERS," and at first, no one in the Haight-Ashbury knew who they were. It took some weeks for Charlotte Todd, who had been briefly involved with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, to realize that two men who frequented her Haight-Ashbury living room, former Trouper Emmett Grogan and his friend from boyhood, Billy Murcott, were the authors of "World Pure" and other quirky handbills. The Diggers took anonymity as one of their principles, recasting it as "freedom from fame"—both a brake on individual members' egoism and a move to prevent the mass media from anointing one of their number as leader. In the early days they signed public statements with the name of George Metesky, the "mad bomber" of New York City who eluded capture for a decade after World War Two. But the group's anonymity was shortlived. Eventually, Todd and others noticed the similarity between ideas expressed by individuals such as Grogan and Murcott and the language of the broadsides. Besides, it was not long before various Diggers broke their own principle and identified themselves as members.3 Anonymous or not, the Diggers quickly became notable in the Haight-Ashbury for the ideas implicit in this first handbill. Their cheeky iconoclasm caught the downwardly mobile bohemians of Psychedelphia off guard; they were unaccustomed to public criticism from within.4

4From the beginning, the Diggers' intention was to mobilize the hippies of the Haight in a revolution of consciousness that, they hoped, would soon prompt Americans to drop out in sufficient numbers that the status quo would simply wither and die. They tapped the cultural and material resources available to them in this effort, including notions about masculinity. Analysis of the ways in which they drew on received notions of manliness and of how they fashioned their anarchistic sense of manly autonomy must proceed topically, because of the scattered nature of the evidence. To prepare readers to jump back and forth in time in just such a topical analysis in subsequent chapters, this chapter narrates the origins and development of the Diggers in 1966 and 1967 in considerable detail, and then touches lightly on their metamorphosis into the Free City Collective in the summer of 1967. Along the way we will consider the group's political philosophy and the development of the Haight-Ashbury enclave as well.5


The Coalescence of the Diggers

5In some of their early pronouncements, the Diggers offered a romantic account of their sudden emergence in response to injustices inflicted on African American residents of the Hunter's Point district of San Francisco, who had risen to protest the slaying of motorist Charles Johnson by police on 27 September 1966. The group did indeed coalesce at about this time, but the process was a gradual one, as some members of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, including Grogan, Peter Berg, Judy Goldhaft (later Berg), Peter Coyote (birth name Cohon), and perhaps two dozen others sought a wider venue for politicized theatrical artistry. Thus the Diggers' story begins with the evolution of the Troupe.6

6The company was founded in 1959 by actor and director Ronald. G. Davis. Although initially concerned with applying mime techniques to theatrical performance, Davis developed the ensemble into a vehicle for improvisational, politically conscious drama, and in the process revived the sixteenth-century Italian form of popular agitation known as commedia dell'arte. In order to reach the widest possible audience in a setting that minimized deep-seated associations of theater with elite culture, the Troupe offered free performances in San Francisco's parks, beginning in January 1962. Three years later, Davis introduced the concept of "guerrilla theater" to the Troupe. It combined the Brechtian insistence on the political nature of all art with Che Guevara's analysis of the tactics effective for revolutionary cadres supported by the peasantry.7

7Davis believed that professional actors were generally too committed to highbrow conceptions of theater to do justice to his vision, so he recruited visual artists, dancers, writers, and even charismatic street people with no artistic training. This approach to recruitment, and Davis's increasingly radical conception of the company's purpose, made the Troupe a rich intellectual environment for many future Diggers. Peter Coyote recalls that through countless hours of conversation and rehearsal, he absorbed an informal understanding of the Marxian critique of capitalist oppression. For him, this perspective helped to decompartmentalize radical theory and aesthetics. Artistic work took on a new sense of engagement and relevance.8

8As historian Michael William Doyle has pointed out, Davis's efforts to develop the raw talent and idealism of his free-spirited company of players ultimately undermined his equally strong determination to retain artistic control of the group. For example, Davis hired a young writer and director, Peter Berg, in the spring of 1965. Berg had grown up in New York and Florida, and in the late 1950s had migrated to the Beat bohemia of San Francisco. Davis cast him in a Brecht play and then asked him to adapt Giordano Bruno's Il Candelario for the troupe's use. Berg rose to the challenge and quickly established himself as a trusted lieutenant. Yet, as he gained skill and confidence, Berg developed his own political perspective. Sometime around March 1966 he proposed that guerrilla theater might gain even greater transformative power if the actors eliminated the artifice of performing on a stage. He observed that even when actors took their work to the people in the parks, the stage still separated the players, as professionals and experts, from the lay audience. Audiences, he argued, tended to passively consume even the Troupe's incendiary message.9

9Berg differed with Davis, but I surmise that he was also deeply enmeshed in the fabric of the Troupe, and for some time he framed his viewpoint as loyal opposition. Emmett Grogan, on the other hand, joined the group perhaps a year later than Berg. With less invested in the group, Grogan appears to have felt free to express his support for Berg's ideas more bluntly. By August, Berg, Grogan, and several others clashed openly with Davis. In position papers that they plastered around the company's loft, the upstarts proposed that the Troupe dedicate itself to mobilizing the Haight bohemians (whose latent potential had become evident to the dissidents during fundraising events in December 1965), abandon the use of a stage, and reorganize along nonhierarchical lines, abolishing Davis's position of director. Davis flatly rejected these demands. Berg, Grogan, and several others resigned from the Troupe in order to devote themselves to their own program.10

10The showdown with Davis helped to define the dissidents as a discrete entity. The arrival of Emmett Grogan's lifelong friend, Billy Murcott, from their native New York in early August 1966 helped them refine and solidify their emerging analysis of the process of social change. Coyote remembers Murcott as the one who first gathered members' utopian speculations into a coherent worldview that the group could then share and elaborate.11 Shy and introspective, Murcott listened attentively to the expansive talk of the others. He drew on knowledge gained from avid reading, and gradually articulated the connections between Berg's innovations in guerrilla theater and the Troupe's bohemian-inflected Marxism and Freudianism. Grogan, in turn, took considerable initiative in manifesting Murcott's syntheses in particular projects, such as the distribution of handbills like "World Pure."

11The brainstorming discussions among the dissidents expanded to include members of the Artists' Liberation Front, a local organization of radical artists in which Mime Troupers had been active since its inception in May 1966. Still, the precise form of the new entity, and the particular projects that it would undertake, remained vague. Grogan reports that an article in the first issue of the Oracle, describing the tactics of a Dutch anarchist group, the Provos, as "the integration of political action into a 'life of art,'" helped to crystallize the group's plans.12

12The nascent entity gained a name when a fellow Trouper remarked that their ideas resembled those of the Diggers of Cromwellian England. The original Diggers were English anarchists who in 1649 resisted the enclosure of the common lands after the overthrow of the monarchy. As Doyle points out, the name also converged with the Beat and African American slang usage of dig, "to comprehend." Furthermore, it bore coincidental resonance with the nineteenth-century Euro-American pejorative digger, which referred to the supposed cultural inferiority of California's Native Americans, some of whom derived subsistence from the gathering of wild roots. If digger named a group whose "crime" lay in living without money or private property, yet within the limits of the ecosystem, then the hippie collective found the name all the more appealing.13

13The Diggers' first projects consisted of articulating their displeasure with what they saw as Haight-Ashbury hippies' inept and misguided attempts to transform American consciousness. (We will hear these other Hashburians' views shortly.) "Let Me Live in a World Pure" seems to have been a spontaneous effort, not a reaction to particular events. But it was only a few days later, sometime around 20 September 1966, that the established "heavies" in the Haight-Ashbury provoked further scathing commentary from the shadowy Diggers. In response to escalating tensions between police and the denizens of the Hashbury—further inflamed when the police searched a longhair's apartment for drugs without a warrant—several proprietors of hip-oriented shops in the neighborhood, including the Thelins, redoubled their efforts to build a constructive dialogue with police by putting signs in their shop windows, urging hippies to "take a cop to dinner."14 Grogan and Murcott saw the gesture as abasement rather than pacifistic resistance, since the merchants had not (to the Diggers' satisfaction, at least) framed it as a questioning of the legitimacy of police authority, as Gandhi had framed his civil disobedience. They issued a blunt, sarcastic response:

Take a cop to dinner:

Racketeers take cops to dinner with payoffs.
Pimps take cops to dinner with free tricks.
Dealers take cops to dinner with free highs.

After a few more lines establishing graft as endemic to the status quo, Grogan and Murcott implicated the Haight merchants in this system, observing that "Neighborhood Committees and Social Organizations take cops to dinner with free discussions offering discriminating insights into hipsterism, black militancy, and drug culture." The pair warned readers that "if you own anything, or [even if] you don't, take a cop to dinner this week and feed his power to judge, prosecute, and brutalize the streets of your city." The battle lines were drawn: the Diggers intended to level the established leadership structure of the New Community and instill the manly autonomy that, for these anarchists, served as the basis of human freedom.15

14The following week, local events prompted further responses by the newly formed collective. On 27 September, rioting broke out in Hunter's Point after police killed a black youth. The following evening, National Guard troops arrived in the area to enforce an 8:15 p.m. curfew. Local white leftists of the Community for a New Politics and the Berkeley chapter of Students for a Democratic Society organized protests against the curfew in solidarity with black militants. The hip merchants, however, posted flyers around the neighborhood advising their fellow Hashburians to stay indoors, consistent with their understanding of the Buddhist third way of nonconfrontation.16

15The Diggers disagreed with both camps. They posted notices of their own, advising hippies to follow their inner impulses, and stay home or traverse the streets heedless of the state's curfew, the New Left's call to protest, and the proprietors' counsel of nonconfrontation. As anarchists, their primary interest lay in fostering resolute self-sovereignty. Two later pronouncements described the Diggers as the "fuck-leader youth" and warned that "any man who wants to lead you is The Man. Think: why would anyone want to lead me? Think: why should I pay for his trip?"17

16The process of posting the competing advisories brought Grogan, Murcott, and Bowen face-to-face in front of the Straight Theater, a Haight-Ashbury landmark. Each was tearing down the other's posters, but Grogan did not hesitate to confront his nemesis. Had it not been for Murcott's restraining hand, Grogan would have struck Bowen, whose "penchant for white clothes that invited comparison with yesteryear prophets" seemed inconsistent, to Grogan, with his antagonistic shredding of the Diggers' handiwork. Moving on from this confrontation, Murcott and Grogan slipped through the military cordon around the Fillmore district for a barbecue dinner, and contemplated further resistance to the National Guard presence. Grogan claims that the pair concocted "a brace of Molotov cocktails," intending to drop them on the troops passing their Haight-Ashbury apartment building. They decided, however, not to carry out that plan, fearing that the firebombs might prompt the soldiers to retaliate against the black community. For now, their evening's work was done.18

17Conditions within the Mime Troupe had propelled the Diggers toward the Haight-Ashbury hippies as the Americans most likely to be receptive to their avant-garde life-acts. Yet in their earliest interactions with this audience, they took a critical, oppositional stance toward Haight hippiedom as they found it. In order to explain why the Diggers saw this as necessary, let's pause for a moment to consider the historical development of this countercultural enclave, and then consider the approach to the transformation of consciousness that had developed there in 1965–66, just before the Diggers arrived on the scene.


Getting Together in the Haight-Ashbury

18By 1960, white flight to the suburbs had left the once-elegant Victorian dwellings of the Haight-Ashbury district available for rental at very low prices. The rapid commercialization of the North Beach area and accompanying police harassment of its Beat residents in 1962 drove the "beards" to other low-rent districts, including the Haight.19 At the time, the Haight was a racially and ethnically integrated working-class neighborhood, home to many of San Francisco's social activists, including labor organizers and the core membership of various African American civil-rights organizations. That the community's Neighborhood Council sponsored a full-time field secretary from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee gives some indication of residents' engagement with social issues.20 The Beats' presence accelerated the development of a successor generation of bohemians in the neighborhood, many of whom were students at San Francisco State College, even though the college had recently relocated to the suburbs.21

19On 6 September 1965, journalist Michael Fallon reported that the habitués of the Blue Unicorn Café called themselves "hippies." The café, established in 1962, was located about four blocks north of the intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets. It offered low prices and a social space conducive to unhurried conversation. Like other Beat coffeehouses, the Unicorn hosted poetry readings. It also served as a meeting place for other bohemian concerns, including Jefferson Poland's Sexual Freedom League and an organization promoting the legalization of marijuana.22

20The self-styled hippies who frequented the Blue Unicorn venerated leading figures of the Beat movement and borrowed heavily from Beat philosophy, metaphysics, aesthetics, and vocabulary. Nevertheless, they stood apart. The least subtle differences were affective in nature: where the stereotypical beatnik cultivated an air of cynical detachment, hippies evinced an exuberant theatricality. Margaret Nofziger (who will appear in part 2 as a resident of The Farm) spent part of 1964 in the Beat enclaves of Venice Beach and San Francisco. Years later, she remembered their denizens as drab and uninviting in appearance. "It was sort of introverted, depressed: black poetry and black clothes."23

21We must contextualize Nofziger's comments if we wish to recognize the considerable degree of continuity between Beat and hippie bohemianism, and the Beat values that influenced countercultural masculinity. The Beat milieu of 1964 reflected the heavy influence of media sensationalism. Journalistic accounts of bohemia brought an influx of seekers who overwhelmed and obscured the subculture's early heterogeneity.24 Partly in reaction to the resulting stereotype of cool detachment among Beats, Nofziger and the hippies of Haight-Ashbury distinguished themselves by cultivating an expansive, high-spirited style. Vivid paisleys and tie-dyes formed one part of hippie demeanor, as well as marking the wearers as initiates into the hallucinatory mysteries of LSD. Charles Perry describes the hippie wardrobe of the Haight-Ashbury in early 1965 as consisting of "mod" and British Invasion fashions, such as miniskirts and Beatles-style pudding-basin haircuts, mixed with vintage clothing from thrift shops, with which wearers affected Edwardian airs.25

22Beats often mistook hippie exuberance for a lack of artistic dedication. This judgment showed up in their assessment of the younger bohemians' drug use. Both Beats and hippies used marijuana, and some Beats, particularly Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, proved pivotal in the spread of LSD beyond the circle of scientists conducting research on the drug during the early 1960s.26 Nevertheless, the vivacity of the new crowd led some Beat luminaries to suspect that these were youthful pleasure-seekers, rather than true bohemians dedicated to a life of art. Accordingly, some Beats appropriated the word hippie from jazz vernacular as a name for them. Originally a noun in the Wolof language of western Africa, signifying a person highly attuned to his or her surroundings, it had acquired pejorative overtones in the urban ghettoes of the northern United States, where African Americans used it as a term of contempt for whites who appropriated black mannerisms. As we have already seen, hippies at the Blue Unicorn embraced the name. The Beats continued to refer to themselves as hipsters.27

23Still, while hippies socialized in networks of acquaintance and in various public venues like the Blue Unicorn, they had as yet no clear sense of their own numbers. Such awareness began to coalesce on 4 August 1965, when disc jockey Tom Donahue unintentionally drew them together at his new nightclub and café for a performance by the Lovin' Spoonful. That evening, Donahue found his dance floor crowded with an unexpected, oddly costumed clientele.28

24By the end of 1965, the hippie counterculture of the Haight had reached a critical mass. The pace of developments in the musical culture then forming in the neighborhood serves as an index of its momentum. Joining the Jefferson Airplane were a number of new bands playing acid rock, influenced in part by the avant-garde improvisations with amplifiers and synthesizers of Kesey and the Pranksters while under the influence of LSD.29 In October 1965, Chester Helms formed a collective called The Family Dog to promote San Francisco acid-rock bands; he held the first dance with light shows, psychedelic posters, and a heavily costumed clientele on 16 October. The following month saw the organization of Big Brother and the Holding Company. In December, a group coalesced around bluegrass musician Jerry Garcia, first calling itself The Warlocks, and later The Grateful Dead. That same month, the Quicksilver Messenger Service took its place in the blossoming hip music scene.30

25By that time, the Haight was sheltering a growing bohemia of students and artists, mystics, rock musicians, and small-time drug dealers, many of whom had dropped out of the white middle class, while others were misfits from working-class backgrounds.31 The opening of the Psychedelic Shop on 3 January 1966, the series of public "Acid Tests" organized by Kesey and the Pranksters, and the Trips Festival, produced by Kesey, Ramón Sender, Stewart Brand, and Bill Graham on 21 January 1966, all serve to mark the coalescence of a hip enclave in the Haight-Ashbury.32

The Counterculture and Social Change

26Well before the Diggers had turned to the Hashburians as their audience, bohemians in the Haight had developed a common conviction that changes in individual consciousness would prove more effective as a means to social transformation than the New Left's efforts to organize mass movements of protest. But how was that change to take place? Psychedelphia's perspective was mystical, while the Diggers' was anarchistic.

27For decades, members of America's avant-garde had considered themselves the precursors of mass movements of social transformation, with experiments in artistic expression serving as their primary medium for the diffusion of utopian ideas. The twentieth-century elaboration of a consumer economy and the concomitant diversification of sources of individual identity—the layering of identity derived from consumption choices and leisure pursuits atop the older, producerist identification with work—made mass participation in bohemianism possible for the first time by the 1960s.33 But hippies gained what they believed to be a powerful new tool for the mass transformation of consciousness in the form of LSD. For a time, at least, it seemed to one strand of American bohemians, including the elder statesmen of the Haight-Ashbury, that modern science had unwittingly produced the means by which to usher in a psychedelic millennium.34

28thumbThe founding of the Oracle offers clues to how Psychedelphia's hip bohemians hoped to hasten that millennium. Allen Cohen recalls awakening one morning, having dreamed about people in far-flung corners of the world reading "a newspaper with rainbows printed on it." For months there had been talk of starting a newspaper in the Haight-Ashbury—and interminable meetings, which had failed to reach consensus on its form and stance. New Leftists wanted radical content in a conventional format. Those of a McLuhanesque bent hoped to deliver a radical message through a visually innovative, free-flowing medium. Cohen belonged to a third group of artists who "felt the world changing in more ways" than could be captured by "the confrontational dualisms of left and right, us and them, and capitalist and socialist." McLuhanesque experiments with the medium were fine, but he also wanted to spread the word about the LSD revolution. Although the leftist faction gained control for the single issue of P. O. Frisco that appeared in early September 1966, the Thelins, appalled by the tone of the first issue, shifted their support to Cohen's faction. Two weeks later, the latter's rainbow newspaper began to take shape.35

29In a pair of editorials for the inaugural issue, perhaps written by Cohen, the Oracle declared that humankind had entered a period of rapid change, "the cybernetic/chemical revolution." That revolution did not require protest, which only validated the status quo, but instead required that Hashburians follow Timothy Leary's exhortations to tune in, turn on, and drop out, thus creating a community founded on values that the writer believed would preclude crass commercial co-optation. As its contribution to the chemical revolution, the new paper would serve as a "Living Journal," giving expression to the "one realm that the camera does not enter": the "internal perceptions . . . encountered in the East through meditation and discipline." By re-imagining the newspaper medium, the Oracle intended to spread the revolution in human consciousness.36

30On some of these points, the Diggers and the Oracle staff stood in agreement. Both argued that dropping out, and living independently of "the system," was a necessary step toward human liberation. Both agreed—up to a point—that LSD's capacity to undermine the Enlightenment-rationalist account of the universe made it a useful tool for social change. But Cohen's dream of a newspaper filled with rainbows drew howls of derision from the Diggers, because the two groups drew different conclusions about the meaning of the LSD "trip."

31LSD hallucinations confirmed the Oracle staff's faith in a metaphysical dimension to reality. A rainbow newspaper, a Psychedelic Shop, Leary's recently founded League for Spiritual Discovery—all were vehicles to prompt more and more people to experience God for themselves. Once they had seen that the human individual was part of a universal, harmonious, all-embracing design—once they had experienced the ecstasy of direct connection to the Divine—then national, racial, and political loyalties that divided brother from brother would fade, as would attachments to ecologically unsustainable, consumption-driven, bourgeois lifeways. To the mystics of the Oracle, it mattered little whether the means to that end entailed the modest, bohemian-scale getting and spending required to publish their newspaper. If they or the Thelins made razor-thin profits (and, according to Cohen, Jay Thelin kept his old job, operating a car-parking business in Lake Tahoe for much of 1966, in order to cover the Shop's losses), then that hardly put them in the same category as the executives of Dow Chemical.37

32The Diggers took acid, too. While they may well have experienced a connection to the Divine, such experiences did not convert them to a mystical worldview. They treated matters of religion, including mystical drug experiences, as strictly personal truths. Anarchist self-sovereignty trumped any attempt by individuals to claim authority in spiritual matters. As Billy Murcott declared in August 1967, "the origins and endings of the universe are mysterious and unknown, which each individual has to seek out for himself. May each man see the unknown in everything. May each man find his own God." For Leary, Cohen, or Bowen to claim expertise and leadership in such personal matters seemed, to the anarchists—as we saw in Grogan's snide comments on Bowen's attire—to contradict the mystics' stated aim of liberation.38

33Profiting from the sale of resources that rightfully belonged to all made the mystics' claims of leadership all the more problematic to the Diggers. By building businesses instead of street theater, the merchants repeated R. G. Davis's errors with the Mime Troupe. Making the tools of expanded consciousness a part of the consumer economy served only to maintain the distance between artist and audience that encouraged audience passivity. As Peter Berg put it years later, "the Digger group were more social oriented than revelatory. . . . Things were real when people did them, and what people do has to relate to food, shelter, economics, employment, creativity, etc. . . . So, if someone took LSD to find out the inner truth and mystery of life"—and held that that insight alone was sufficient to effect social change—"that kind of individual was disregarded or derided by the Digger people."39

34So, when the Diggers burst upon the Haight-Ashbury scene in September 1966, they found much to criticize in the Hashburians' approach to social change. Why the anarchist outsiders did not take a more measured approach in expressing their differences with the enclave's elder statesmen can be explained only partly by the ideological gulf that separated them. Another factor, which will become especially apparent in the next chapter, was the minimal bureaucratization of authority in the Haight. The contest for leadership of the New Community pitted groups of men against one another, with no formal mechanisms for establishing preeminence. The contestants commanded slight material resources (when compared even to small corporations of the time), but they were rich in imagination, talent, and charisma. The Diggers, for their part, mobilized their resources by creating two forms of the life-act: relatively stationary "installations," such as the free food distribution and free stores, and street pageantry that involved hippies in the creation of a spontaneous, new social order.


Life-Acting: Agenda and Forms

"Food as Medium"

35Following the lifting of the Hunter's Point curfew in early October 1966, Grogan and Murcott experimented with the concept of radical theater that the group had been discussing, which Peter Berg called life-acting. As we have already heard, Berg wanted to make theater into an experience in which audience, players, and playwrights all became one, and the script was not only a collective work of art, but a renegotiation of the social contract itself. Rather than simply exhorting others to work toward a chosen utopia, or organizing the masses to seize state power, the life-actor would begin the process of social change by imagining, and then publicly enacting, new social relations around common human needs. The method of the life-actor, then, was to "create the condition that you describe," that ordinary people might experience their power to rewrite the social contract and question its underlying assumptions.40

36thumbGrogan and Murcott chose the common need for food as their first life-acting opportunity. Scavenging and stealing meat, vegetables, and day-old bread, the two prepared a large quantity of stew. They distributed handbills that read, "FREE FOOD / GOOD HOT STEW . . . FRESH FRUIT / BRING A BOWL AND SPOON TO THE PANHANDLE AT ASHBURY STREET / 4PM . . . FREE FOOD EVERYDAY FREE FOOD / IT'S FREE BECAUSE IT'S YOURS! / the diggers."41 In what was perhaps an embellishment added later, the Diggers directed comers to step through a yellow rectangle of twelve-foot-high timbers, dubbed the "Free Frame of Reference," before taking a share. Grogan consistently rebuffed the unthinking attempts of would-be benefactors to donate money to what they interpreted as a charitable cause—participation was the only "donation" he would accept. This extended to purchased food as well: in an article he probably wrote, an imaginary donor was warned, "If you have to buy it, the DIGGERS don't want it!" Nor was one demonstration of "food as medium" sufficient. As promised in the handbill quoted earlier, free food became a fairly regular event, at a predictable location. Grogan recruited "a half-dozen young women" who "volunteered to take over the cooking indefinitely." Two Mime Troupers delivered the cooked food to the park; Grogan concentrated on procurement.42

37Why the insistence on free food? If the purpose of this theatrical move was to gather people together, did it really matter whether the food was purchased or not? Think back to our discussion of the first Digger broadside, "Let Me Live in a World Pure": the group's aim was not simply to burn corrupting impurities out of an otherwise salutary economy. The vision that impelled both the broadsides and "food as medium" was of an entirely anarchistic economy, involving the abolition of private property and money. For the Diggers, these central features of liberalism and capitalism created hierarchies that robbed humans of their liberty—and men of their manhood.

38If free food was a critique of the ends of liberalism (concentration of critical resources in private hands), it was also a sophisticated critique of the means by which liberal institutions maintained their legitimacy. The widely presumed oppositional nature of bohemia came under Grogan's scrutiny in a November 1966 article. He argued that the modern economy was wealthy enough to tolerate its bohemian margins, which absorbed and co-opted the dissent of the well educated. Yet some bohemians, having achieved stature as artists and social critics, discovered the limits of a putative radicalism that accepted bohemian marginalization on the status quo's terms. Serious cultural radicals, like the Diggers, "remember the 'Funk' that pushed us into the Lime[light], and we react. We . . . drop out all over again and go back to the woods, and stare at the preposterousness of doing our thing within . . . a reality that can incorporate and market anyone, anything, anytime." At that point, the only alternative to despair was a commitment to the long odds of genuine social change, because "if some attempt is not made to manage the world with love, it will run mad and overwhelm everything, including the woods." Thus it was not nearly enough for the Diggers to develop a new style that would (and did) appear quickly in shops as the latest profitable fad. Life-acting could maintain its revolutionary authenticity only if it practiced what Grogan called "the ideology of failure" and demonstrated the possibility of an anarchist social order using exclusively scrounged or stolen resources. Over time, the Diggers began to articulate free—as in "at no charge," and, simultaneously, "the condition of liberty"—as a concept in its own right.43

39As Grogan noted, all revolutionaries must take their stance within the confines of the society against which they rebel, and that circumstance leads to a complex balancing of ideal ends with practical means. The Diggers were no exception: there was no practical way to enact free without spending and receiving money. This became especially apparent as the group rented indoor spaces for the life-acting projects they called free stores.

"Property of the Possessed": The Free Stores

40Life-acting around free food waxed and waned in the Haight according to the availability of willing hands. But it was only the first of many such "installations" of the art of Digger free. The next one took shape in a ramshackle six-car garage at 1762 Page Street in early December 1966. The Diggers remodeled the interior and named it the "Free Frame of Reference." This was to be a "free store""a sort of . . . permanent happening" that would be open at all hours, "with hot coffee always available. There will be a free washing machine and dryer. Anyone is welcome to come there for free food, free books, free art forms, and 'free total.'" Historian Michael Doyle notes that this last item was deliberately vague in order to encourage potential "customers" to join in shaping the vision that the space sustained. A crowd of one hundred attended the opening on 3 December 1966.44

41This first free store stayed open for only three weeks. City authorities cited the landlord for several code violations and ordered the building closed. The Diggers promptly reopened at a storefront at 520 Frederick Street on 8 January 1967, but the police kept up the pressure by staging a raid on opening night. When they found a small quantity of narcotics on the premises, they arrested Grogan under a statute prohibiting the operation of opium dens. Another raid followed two weeks later, and the premises were condemned on 8 February. Under these conditions, it proved difficult to experiment with the free-store form.45

42Peter Berg put his stamp on the project during March 1967. That month he, his partner Judy Goldhaft, and two other Diggers, Coyote and Kent Minault (the latter had helped deliver the free food), opened a third and final location at 901 Cole Street. There they continued some elements of the earlier venues: Goldhaft, for example, recalls that she worked at the store "five days a week, for several months," making tie-dyed clothing and maintaining sewing machines that were available to all comers. The group also continued the original conception of the store as a place where people could exchange goods, and where anyone who felt the call of life-acting was welcome to reshape the surroundings. But Berg and his compatriots renamed the storefront "Trip without a Ticket," and they focused much of their energy on refining the interactions between themselves and "customers," developing a repertoire of life-acting techniques that would more consistently bring visitors' deeply held assumptions about money and property to consciousness.46

43In a handbill explaining the Trip's function, Berg characterized the alienated state of consciousness among straight Americans as the "authorized sanities" of people benumbed by powerful, institutionally administered sedatives: tedious work, conventional marriage, advertising, and propagandistic, mass-mediated news. Yet not all was lost, for the Diggers were already "hip to property," and this showed that alienated consciousness remained vulnerable to theatrical intervention. "No one," Berg argued, "can control the single circuit-breaking moment that charges games with critical reality. If the glass [separating audience from actors] is cut, if the cushioned distance of media is removed, the patients may never respond as normals again. They will become life-actors." The cornucopia of consumer culture could be turned against itself in "a store of goods" like the Trip, "or clinic, or restaurant that is free."47

44Berg continued his analysis by reporting (or, perhaps, imagining) the interactions that such a ticketless theater could facilitate:

A sign: If Someone Asks to See the Manager Tell Him He's the Manager.

Someone asked how much a book cost. How much did he think it was worth? 75 cents. The money was taken and held out for anyone. "Who wants 75 cents?" A girl who had just walked in came over and took it.

A basket labeled Free Money.

No owner, no Manager, no employees and no cash-register. A salesman in a free store is a life-actor. Anyone who will assume an answer to a question or accept a problem as a turn-on.

Question (whispered): "Who pays the rent?"

Answer (loudly): "May I help you?"

45By calling the location a store, Berg and his comrades sought to invoke the cultural expectations of customers about commercial spaces and the attendant social relations, which some of the props—such as the sign about the manager, or the basket of free money—and interactions with the "staff" would then throw into relief. Ideally, the store's inventory would have consisted of new or like-new goods, and the store's interior would have closely mimicked the order, cleanliness, and attention to visual display of other commercial spaces. Berg and his associates did their best to meet this standard; a handbill appealed for volunteers to sew clothing to stock the Trip. But that standard lay well beyond the Diggers' means, and meeting it would also have crowded out the store's competing function as a venue for the redistribution of personal property. Unsurprisingly, photos of the Trip's interior show something more closely resembling a thrift shop.48

46According to Coyote, even this rather down-at-the-heel venue did sometimes carry out its intended function. During one of his "shifts," he noticed a middle-aged woman furtively stuffing clothing into a shopping bag. Coyote approached her, and when she denied that she was shoplifting, he calmly pointed toward Berg's sign. "I know—but you thought you were stealing. You can't steal here because it's a Free Store. . . . You can have the whole fucking store if you feel like it. You can take over and tell me to get lost." Seeking to move the woman beyond this awkward moment, Coyote turned to the rack of clothes and engaged her in a selection process. They spent an interval this way, with Coyote serving as a guide to this new relationship between people and goods. A week later, she returned—this time, with baked goods, which she set on the counter as a gesture of free exchange.49

47In a sense, the free food and free stores were "installations" of the art of the life-actor: in order to enter the orbit of free, one had to travel to a fixed location. The Diggers developed, or attempted to develop, other such installations. One such was "the Digger farm." In 1966 folksinger Lou Gottlieb and his friend Ramón Sender had quietly established an ashram, open to all spiritual seekers, at the Morning Star Ranch, near Sebastopol, California. In the spring of 1967, Gottlieb casually consented to the Diggers' harvesting of apples from the Ranch's orchards, and to their referral of homeless migrants to the land. "Next thing I know," Gottlieb told an interviewer in recent years, "the Digger store . . . had a sign . . . that said, 'visit the Digger farm.'" By midsummer, Gottlieb regularly hosted three hundred people for dinner. At about the same time, in late July 1967, the Diggers announced plans to renovate a hotel that would provide an "all night center, sack out places for singles & couples, free movies, theater, acid rescue, dream life for street orphans." According to Grogan, resistance to the plan by city bureaucrats killed the project.50

48Other, non-installation forms of life-acting descended from the avant-garde genre of "happenings" instigated by Allan Kaprow in the late 1950s in resistance to the highbrow aesthetic—that standard by which "true art" must treat subjects of lofty importance and take an enduring form, shaped painstakingly by the gifted artist. The Diggers, like some other avant-gardes of the mid-1960s such as the German collective Fluxus, harnessed the happening for political ends.51 In order to trace this genre of Digger life-art back to its beginnings, we must return to October 1966.


Life-Acts in the Streets

49At the post-Hunter's Point free-food gatherings, the Diggers and the novice life-actors in attendance had discussed the American reliance on automobiles, which cost so much in terms of lives lost to accidents, polluted air, and dependence on foreign supplies of petroleum. Then there was the problem of the police, who seized upon minor offenses, such as jaywalking, as opportunities to harass hippies. The Diggers' first happening, on 31 October 1966, attempted to reclaim the street as free territory.52

50They announced the event in thousands of handbills distributed in advance. The key to deciphering the cryptic text was a direct quotation from McLuhan: "an informed public is its own worst enemy." As "public enemies," the Diggers intended to inform the public by offering it a new frame of reference: in the left-hand column of the handbill they rendered a likeness of a picture frame, "the Digger Square," through which the public could watch a "reality" quite different from that framed by a television screen—a medium that, contrary to Abraham Lincoln's aphorism, "FOOLS ALL OF THE PUBLIC ALL OF THE TIME." Thus, "The Public is Any Fool On The Street," and every fool knew that "PUBLIC STREETS CONVEY MACHINES—ONLY A FOOL WALKS IN TRAFFIC."53

51But the Diggers saw the state regulation of pedestrians as designed to maximize the flow of traffic for the benefit of commercial interests. To raise consciousness of how deeply those interests restricted individual freedom of movement for the benefit of the few, the Diggers invited the public to play "THE INTERSECTION GAME," which "Any number of fools can play." They drew a diagram, roughly the same size as the Digger Square, of various ways to cross an intersection on foot, and placed it in the right-hand column. They urged people to "BRING A SQUARE"—perhaps a frame, or perhaps a person—"TO DIG THE INTERSECTION GAME" at 5:30 PM, at the intersection of Haight and Masonic Streets.54

52On the appointed Monday evening, the Diggers set up their yellow, wooden Free Frame of Reference at the corner of Haight and Masonic. With two puppets borrowed from the Mime Troupe (each standing about eight feet high, and requiring the coordinated efforts of two skilled operators located inside), they warmed up a crowd of about five hundred with a skit, "Any Fool on the Street," in which the puppets passed repeatedly through the Frame while carrying on an absurd, boisterous argument about which side constituted the "inside."55 With the assembled throng now primed for participation, the Diggers proceeded to the next stage of their plan. They invited the assembled crowd to stroll the crosswalks, in disregard of traffic law, creating as many geometrical figures as possible. Traffic came to a standstill.

53The traffic jam brought the expected police response, with five squad cars and a paddy wagon worming their way into the intersection to unsnarl traffic. According to the Barb, a New Left newspaper in Berkeley that sometimes covered events in the Haight, a droll observer noted that the police presence "kinda creates a road-block, doesn't it?" Spotting the Frame and the puppets at the heart of the disorder, an officer approached and told them that they were creating a disturbance. The dialogue recorded (or perhaps invented) by the Barb reporter (who may have been a Digger) is truly priceless:

Cop: "We warn you that if you don't remove yourselves from the area you'll be arrested for blocking a public thoroughfare."

Puppet: "Who is the public?"

Cop: "I couldn't care less; I'll take you in. Now get a move on."

Puppet: "I declare myself public—I am a public. The streets are public. The streets are free."

At this point, the police ganged up on the colossal figures, wrested the operators from within, and stuffed them and their props into the paddy wagon. The crowd surrounded the wagon, chanting "Frame-up! Frame-up!" while the prisoners responded with "Pub-lic! Pub-lic!" from inside the wagon.

54When ordered once again to disperse, the newly minted life-actors instead resumed the Intersection Game. A Digger set up a portable phonograph and people danced in the intersection. Although the puppeteers were hauled to jail, for a time the spirited disobedience made the intersection of Haight and Masonic into free territory—at least in the Diggers' eyes. After twenty minutes of monitoring the crowd, the outnumbered police departed. The dancing continued, presumably (to borrow a phrase favored by Grogan) until the dancers thought it beautiful to stop.

55As Peter Berg and Judy Goldhaft later told interviewers, the Diggers sometimes framed life-act happenings in handbills that broached concepts and roughed out arguments, as in this "Full Moon Celebration of Halloween." For some of the street happenings, the Diggers went to extraordinary lengths to gather the necessary props. But once the happening started, everyone in the vicinity was welcome to elaborate the event as they saw fit.56

56thumbWhile this basic pattern characterized all of the Diggers' street theater, it took some time to develop. For their next event, "The Death of Money and the Rebirth of the Haight," the group's prefatory handbill consisted only of the term NOW! in bold red letters. The framing came more from the props that they distributed in a carefully ordered sequence. As a crowd of thousands assembled (it is unclear how they knew where and when to gather), a procession entered the street. First came members of the Hell's Angels, with one of the Diggers, Phyllis Wilner, standing up from the bike's passenger seat, wailing, "Free-eeeeeeee!" and holding one of the NOW! signs. Behind this leather-clad escort came a mock funeral procession, dressed in animal-head costumes designed by Roberto La Morticella, and bearing a coffin holding the "remains" of the "Dead Old Haight": oversized replicas of currency and coins. The leading mourner carried a staff topped with chrome-plated dollar signs. The mourners sang a dirge that fused the lyric of a popular song, "You Keep Me Hangin' On," to the melody of Chopin's Funeral March in B-flat minor.57

57At a later point, the Diggers distributed recorders and pennywhistles, to provide accompaniment for the chanting of a mantra conceived by Beat poet Michael McClure, and two hundred rearview mirrors, which participants used to reflect sunlight on the surrounding buildings, creating a psychedelic light-show effect. Several Diggers also distributed flowers, streamers, joss sticks, and the NOW! signs. All went as planned until the police arrested two Angels and Wilner, for standing on a moving motorcycle. The Diggers turned the procession in the opposite direction, marching first to the Park Precinct station and then to the downtown lockup, where they used the "coffin" to collect bail money for the incarcerated Angels. This gesture helped cement an alliance between the Diggers and the motorcycle gang.


The Summer of Love

58For the first year of the Diggers' existence, from September 1966 through the end of the summer of 1967, the Haight's mystically inclined elder statesmen enjoyed a string of successes that maintained their prestige in the face of the upstarts' criticisms. On 6 October 1966, the date when LSD became a controlled substance, Bowen, Cohen, and several others organized a Love Pageant Rally to reaffirm the drug's potential as a positive stimulus to the expansion of consciousness. A month later, the Psychedelic Shop gained sympathy among free-speech advocates after the Thelins were charged with distribution of obscene materials—Beat poet Lenore Kandel's Love Book. A week after that, the Thelins and several other hip merchants held a press conference to announce the formation of the Haight Independent Proprietors (HIP), at which they read a palimpsest of the Declaration of Independence, reworked as a prophecy of psychedelic revolution, which had originally served as publicity for the earlier Rally. In light of the success of the Rally, they decided to repeat the event on a larger scale. This was the inception of the January 1967 Human Be-In, which they advertised nationally in the underground press.58

59The Diggers kept up their opposition to the HIP. After grudgingly participating in the Be-In (see the introduction), they responded, on 24 February 1967, with a happening of their own, called the Invisible Circus. Officials of the Glide Memorial United Methodist Church offered the group space for what they were told would be an art fair. Too late, they discovered that the Diggers intended the Circus as "an assortment of permissive settings or scenes" in which participants "would be able to act out their own fantasies." This arrangement would, Grogan later wrote, "show up the feebleness of . . . [the] Be-In by providing an ample opportunity for everyone . . . to enjoy themselves as active participants . . . , not passive star-gazers." Several hours into the multiday event, Glide officials halted the proceedings. They had discovered far more attendees than they had expected, some of whom wandered nude about the premises. A "panel" on obscenity had included the display of pornographic movies and had been interrupted, by design, by the sudden arrival of a nude duo copulating on a litter and accompanied by belly dancers. The intoxicated revelers had also damaged the facilities.59

60As this happening reverberated at the local level, a vast sea-change loomed on the horizon for all of the residents of the Hashbury. The national news media had devoted extensive coverage to the Be-In, and droves of reporters had followed in its wake. Judging by the immediate upsurge of arrivals in the district, it became clear that thousands or tens of thousands of young seekers would arrive in San Francisco as soon as schools adjourned for the summer. The enclave was already straining to integrate newcomers; if no preparations were made, the results could be disastrous. The Diggers sounded the alarm in early February. Over the following months, they alternately petitioned and hectored the HIP, the Neighborhood Association, and city authorities to sink resources into temporary services. When local media amplified their warnings, the City Council took precisely the opposite tack. Eager to make the newcomers as unwelcome as possible, they stiffened penalties for sleeping in the parks. The Health Department conducted a sweep of the district in March, but failed to locate the hoped-for pretexts to condemn residences housing hippies.60

61Even with a crisis looming, the Diggers continued to voice their contempt for those whom they saw as commercializing the New Community, and for the police. HIP attempted to negotiate with the Diggers, inviting the anarchists to a meeting on 8 February at which the mystics hoped to "harmonize trips." The discussion quickly became heated, and some in attendance interpreted remarks by Grogan and a more recent member, Bill Fritsch, as a threat to firebomb the storefronts of those who did not distribute their profits to the larger community. A few days later, perhaps intending to de-escalate the quarrel, the life-actors sent out a list of projects they envisioned for the near future via a mimeographed sheet produced by the Communication Company (com/co), a printing collective that produced handbills for the Diggers.61

62The Diggers' hackles rose again in early March, however, when a commune called the Love Conspiracy advertised a dance, setting the price of tickets at a hefty $3.50. They also continued their street theater: several times in March and April, the Diggers organized traffic stoppages on Haight Street. Some of these were impromptu affairs; one, however, was an elaborate happening conceived by Peter Berg and Judy Goldhaft. The police, as part of the city's get-tough stance, made numerous arrests during these incidents.62 In April, the planners of the successful Be-In traveled to Santa Fe to ask the permission of Hopi elders to hold another such event in the Grand Canyon on the summer solstice. Grogan took to the road to attend the meeting; according to his account, he supported the Hopis' rejection of the plan.63 Thwarted, the HIP proposed more modest summer-solstice celebrations in San Francisco; the Diggers upstaged the elder statesmen with an event of their own.64

63Despite this ongoing conflict, the Diggers' insistence on preparedness led to a degree of cooperation with the HIP. In the wake of the stormy 8 February meeting, the Thelin brothers—the HIP merchants who ultimately became most receptive to the Diggers' critique of hip capitalism—converted one room in the Psychedelic Shop into a "calm center." There, hippies could find some relief from the crush of people on the sidewalks. Three months later, the brothers explored the possibility of public ownership of the Shop through the sale of inexpensive shares; eventually, they planned to make it a nonprofit cooperative, as the Diggers had demanded. In early April, members of HIP, the Diggers, and the Family Dog concert-production collective declared themselves a Council for a Summer of Love in the City of San Francisco, and solicited proposals for daytime events "conceived in . . . and dedicated to Love." At about the same time, a nearly identical group announced plans to form a "free artists' studio" and an "artists' agrarian community ashram," both of which would encourage "all races, creeds, and sexes" in their "worship of the divine light within." Participants named this project "the Kiva," after the Hopi place of worship. Although the Council and the Kiva made little headway in organizing events and services for the summer throngs, they show that the crisis from without disciplined the feuding factions.65

64It was during this period, before and during the Summer of Love, that the structure of the Digger core group began to shift. Grogan, Murcott (who returned from a winter sojourn in New York City), Fritsch, and several women concentrated for a time on maintaining the free food project; Berg, Goldhaft, Fritsch, sometimes Coyote, and a few others kept the Trip Without a Ticket going. The core group had also grown somewhat, now including Phyllis Wilner and Siena Riffia ("Natural Suzanne"), who had at first volunteered to help Grogan with the production of free food, and then became deeply involved in other projects as well. Pam Parker, an heir to the writing-instrument manufacturer's fortune, had donated a truck to the free-food operation. She continued as a member partly because she was intimately involved with Brooks Butcher, who knew Mime Trouper Kent Minault. Similarly, Eileen Ewing, who had been moving in bohemian circles since 1962, became acquainted with Coyote through his work with the Mime Troupe, and moved in with him sometime prior to mid-June 1967.66

65Beyond the core group, people touched by life-acting began to take the Digger name for themselves. Upon Grogan's return to the Haight after a brief absence in April, he discovered a new group of self-styled Diggers spending most of their time in the "Digger office"—donated space in the All Saints' Church basement. This group had allowed the free food program to fall into disarray and had developed a too-cozy relationship with city officials searching for runaways. In this case, the original Diggers used their considerable prestige to freeze out the interlopers. They chose to tolerate the activities of others who only partly grasped the concept of Digger free. One of these was a man who went by the street name of Apache, who devoted himself to maintaining several Haight-Ashbury "crash pads" where all were welcome. Berg recalls that for Apache, free meant freeloading—the privilege of effortless consumption.67

66As historian Michael Doyle has argued, the Diggers' efforts to brace the Haight for a deluge of young, ill-prepared visitors broadened the focus of their activism to groups and resources beyond the district. They had already formed an alliance of sorts with the Hell's Angels; in the spring of 1967 they cooperated with the Black Panther party, donating printing for the first issue of the party newspaper and supporting the efforts of the San Francisco chapter of the party to create a Black Man's Free Store. Their efforts to provide for newcomers resulted in the ill-fated effort to create a free hotel, discussed above. As they pleaded with and browbeat city officials, they also began to consider the entire city as an audience for their life-acts. Increasingly, after the Summer of Love, city hall became the focus of their street theater. The focus of the free-food distribution changed: Grogan developed a Free Food Home Delivery Service, which distributed goods to communes and to networks of people of color in the Fillmore and Mission districts. According to Panther David Hilliard, Grogan's deliveries to the Panther headquarters inspired Huey Newton to develop the party's Free Breakfast for Children program.68

67The influx of newcomers in the Haight also tended to disperse the core group over a wider area. The Diggers had never attempted to concentrate at a single address; some core members lived communally, while some couples (for example, Fritsch and Lenore Kandel, who became part of the Digger inner circle in mid-1966) maintained separate households. As the summer progressed and the Hashbury became overcrowded, rents rose, and commercial drug dealers began to circulate hard drugs, which made street-level interactions much more risky. As Doyle suggests, the decision of some Diggers to carry guns and to issue a com/co handbill on the last day of May declaring that "an armed man is a free man" may have been inspired by the Black Panthers' famous appearance-under-arms at the state legislature on 1 May. Certainly, their increasingly close relations with the Angels also played a role. Charles Perry explains, however, that the Diggers, as well as other Psychedelphians, began to carry guns in response to the increasing number of amphetamine-crazed people in the neighborhood. By no means did the Diggers abandon the Haight, but they began to relocate to rural areas, or other parts of the city.69

68These many perturbations in the Diggers' target population prompted them to reflect on their practices. In August, Billy Murcott offered readers of the Barb a stream-of-consciousness overview of the utopia that assiduous life-acting might create, drawing on the group's accumulated experience.70 In a long, prefatory section, Murcott elaborated his key distinction. The institutionalized "death forms" of American society—formal politics, education, religion, the military, the nuclear family, even language itself—he declared "horizontal and vertical pyramid hierarchies, boxed and frozen for coordinating programmed corpses. (citizens)." In sharp contrast stood the creations of the "mutants" of the Haight-Ashbury, whose "free form novas" offered "alternative[s] to groups that are hired to function in the mental institutional systems."71


The Free Diaspora: The Free City Collective and the Free Families

69The accumulation of centrifugal forces during the Summer of Love, and the promiscuous use of the Digger name by others, meant that by early July 1967 the group found it expedient to abandon its old name. They began calling themselves the Free City Collective (FCC). A year later, with the remnants of the old core group now widely dispersed, the various offshoots viewed themselves as entities of the Free Family (or Families). According to Coyote, the group used the names interchangeably for a time.72

70Over the following year, the FCC's project was, in Doyle's words, "enlarging the frame of reference," a rethinking of the life-acting technique, no longer confined to the Haight-Ashbury. They broke with the past by organizing a multi-day happening, The Death of Hippie and the Birth of the Free Man, which "mourned" the passing of "Hippie, devoted son of Mass Media" on the first anniversary of the criminalization of LSD. At the end of the event, the Thelins gave away the inventory of the Psychedelic Shop and closed the premises, affixing to the door a notice urging its clientele to spread the new consciousness to the rest of the nation: "Nebraska needs you more." Ron Thelin, previously a member of the HIP so criticized by the anarchists, cast his lot with the FCC.73

71As Doyle notes, information about the FCC's activities is spotty, because their renamed publication, The Free City News, appeared erratically, and lacked the consistency of style and level of detail that had characterized the com/co handbills. The Collective sent representatives to the famous protest to "levitate" the Pentagon in mid-October, and provided free food for the occasional large public gathering. They also organized a Runaway Emergency Conference, at which they attempted, through the use of mime puppets and life-acting techniques, to move the assembled officials and professionals toward an understanding of homelessness and runaway youths from a free perspective. In the spring of 1968, they again tried to mobilize the Haight to take back the streets; they renewed their criticism of hip capitalists and revived the concept of a Free Bank, funded this time by the donation of one percent of hip merchants' profits for redistribution to the community.74

72At the end of March, the Collective brought together nearly two hundred "thinkers, activists, and gadflies" from all over the United States for a Free City Planning Conference, to conjure the notion of a free city. The "conference" was organized in two rooms: one housed a free-form happening, and attracted the majority of attendees; in the other, "a free-wheeling discussion took place among twenty people or so . . . on how to . . . realize the Free City idea." The immediate outcome of this discussion is not clear, but it led, six months later, to the publication of a blueprint, Emmett Grogan's "Post-Competitive, Comparative Game of a Free City."75

73In the meantime, many members of the Collective attempted to transform San Francisco into a free city by engaging in what Doyle calls "a campaign of civic festivity," waged chiefly in the Civic Center Plaza across from the city hall. Beginning in mid-April, FCC members gathered almost daily for two months to recite poetry, perform happenings and skits, sing, distribute free food, and circulate handbills—all in an attempt to induce city officials, street people, and passersby to "join them in breaking bread in the open air." Of course, if life-acting was a way to create community, it also functioned as what Peter Berg sometimes called "social acid": theater that affected the consciousness of participants in the same way as did LSD, dissolving one's prior cognitive map of reality in order to open up new possibilities.76

74While this new round of street theater disseminated the Collective's ideas widely and drew new members and groups into the orbit of free, two years of strenuous life-acting and marginal living had taken a toll, and members of the old core group began to feel that they had reached the limits of their collaboration. The FCC issued the last of its News handbills in May 1968; it brought its street-theater operations to a close in a final celebration of the summer solstice on 21–23 June. Interpreting the name chosen for the event, San Francisco Enters Eternity, Doyle argues that the group resorted to the deus ex machina, a device that had long rescued playwrights who painted themselves into a corner. For the FCC, the impasse derived from the intractable stance of the city, whose officials would never abandon the principle of private property, and the Collective's unwillingness to see their efforts as a failure. Having demonstrated the means by which to realize the vision of a free city, they left it up to San Francisco residents to make that vision a reality.77

75What remained was to communicate that vision to the rest of the world. Grogan's "Post-Competitive" outline appeared in the FCC's final publication, The Digger Papers, in August 1968. He proposed that life-actors should build alliances among the underground of gangs, militant revolutionaries, and life-actors that existed in all urban centers. Most of the document delineates the range of free activities necessary for the underground's economic autonomy: Free Food Storage and Distribution Centers, Free City Garages and Mechanics, Free City Banks to coordinate the cash needs for the period of underground resistance, and so forth. In each free city, a Switchboard would coordinate the activities of the other services. Perhaps taking a cue from John Sinclair, the Michigan impresario who tirelessly promoted noncommercial rock-and-roll as a medium of cultural revolution, Grogan adapted the FCC's well-developed critique of commercialized rock-and-roll to a proposal for the creation of Free City Music.78

76After the solstice, the Collective's core members pursued new directions. Peter Berg and Judy Goldhaft became more deeply involved in the ecology movement, helping to develop the concept of bioregionalism: the idea that human political boundaries should follow the borders of ecological systems, in order to facilitate sustainable interaction with the environment. Bill Fritsch had left the Diggers to join the Hell's Angels. Several members of the Willard Street commune, including Fritsch's close friend Richard Marley, established a commune called Black Bear Ranch in an abandoned mining camp in northern California. Emmett Grogan, who had resisted the focus on city hall in the spring, drifted from project to project, never truly finding his footing after the breakup of the FCC. Billy Murcott went his own way, eventually taking a job as a technician making industrial diamonds that financed his hunger for the life of the mind. Peter Coyote founded or lived in several Free Families communes and propagated a model of intercommunal economy that further elaborated the Free City vision.79

77It was within this colorful, complex series of efforts to create a radically egalitarian social order in the absence of rules, under the credo of "everything free," that the Diggers and Free City Collective created its anarchist, outlaw variant of hip manhood. The following chapter examines their efforts to distinguish themselves as "real men" from the perceived effeminacy of both straight society and mystical hippies. After that, we will inquire into gender relations within the group.



Note 1: [Emmett Grogan and Billy Murcott], "Let Me Live in a World Pure," handbill, ca. 14–20 September 1966, DP-003, Digger Archives; available online at (accessed 9 January 2007). Bob Dylan, "Maggie's Farm," Bringing It All Back Home, analogue sound recording, 1965, Columbia CL2328. back

Note 2: [Grogan and Murcott], "World Pure." On Gleason's participation in the founding of the Artists' Liberation Front, see Michael William Doyle, "The Haight-Ashbury Diggers and the Cultural Politics of Utopia, 1965–1968" (Ph.D. diss., Cornell Univ., 1997), 82; on his appreciation of the emerging rock scene, see Charles Perry, The Haight-Ashbury: A History (New York: Vintage, 1985), 29. On the Jefferson Airplane's trajectory, see Perry, 72. On the evolution of the Oracle, see Perry, 88; the earliest issues were published as P[sychedelphic] O[racle] Frisco, 1, no. 1 (2 September 1966), and S. F. Oracle 1, no. 1 (20 September). See Allen Cohen, ed., The San Francisco Oracle, Facsimile Edition: The Psychedelic Newspaper of the Haight-Ashbury, 1966–1968 (Berkeley, Calif.: Regent Press, 1991). back

Note 3: Charlotte Todd, interview with Leonard Wolf, n.d., in Voices from the Love Generation, ed. Leonard Wolf (Boston: Little, Brown, 1968), 100; this collection of interviews is cited hereafter as Wolf, Love Generation. On "freedom from fame," see Peter Coyote, Sleeping Where I Fall: A Chronicle (Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1998), 69–70. On the use of "Metesky" or "Metevsky," see, for example, George Metevsky [Emmett Grogan], "Delving the Diggers," Barb (Berkeley, Calif.) 3, no. 16 (21 October 1966): 3. For a breach of the principle of anonymity, see Richard Goldstein, "Pop Eye [column]: In Search of George Metesky," Village Voice, 16 March 1967, 5–6, in which Digger Phyllis Wilner used Grogan's name. back

Note 4: Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 257, argues that factionalism in the Haight was minimal before the coalescence of the Diggers, but cf. Oracle editor Allen Cohen's more recent account of the newspaper's gestation, "The San Francisco Oracle: A Brief History," in Cohen, The San Francisco Oracle, xxv. "Psychedelphia" and the "New Community" were two terms for the Haight-Ashbury hip enclave. As was evident in n. 2 above, the Oracle's founders saw fit to incorporate "Psychedelphic" into the title of their first issue. On the origins of the term "New Community," see Doyle, "Diggers," 8–9 n. 4. back

Note 5: Those seeking a more detailed account of the Diggers' origins and development should await the publication of Michael William Doyle's revision of his dissertation, cited above. back

Note 6: A. J. S., "Burocops Proboscis Probes Digger Bag," Barb 3, no. 16 (21 October 1966): 3. It is possible that Grogan wrote this article. See also Doyle, "Diggers," 102–5. For a detailed analysis of the events at Hunter's Point, see Arthur E. Hippler, Hunter's Point: A Black Ghetto (New York: Basic Books, 1974), especially at 203. back

Note 7: On the institutionalization of class-inflected rituals of theatrical reception, see Lawrence W. Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1988). On the Troupe's evolution, see Doyle, "Diggers," 60–63. On the inception of guerrilla theater, see R. G. Davis, "Guerrilla Theatre," Tulane Drama Review 10, no. 4 (Summer 1966): 130–36; also reprinted as an appendix in idem, The San Francisco Mime Troupe: The First Ten Years (Palo Alto, Calif.: Ramparts Press, 1975), 149–53. back

Note 8: Peter Coyote, interview with Etan Ben-Ami, Mill Valley, Calif., 12 January 1989, Digger Archives; transcript available online at, par. [15] (accessed 9 January 2007). back

Note 9: Peter Berg, interview with Leonard Wolf, n.d., in Love Generation, 251–57; Doyle, "Diggers," 183 n. 171, 70–73. back

Note 10: Estimated date of Grogan's hiring based on Emmett Grogan, Ringolevio: A Life Played for Keeps (Boston: Little, Brown, 1972), 233–34. The clash with Davis comes from Doyle, "Diggers," 107. back

Note 11: Coyote, interview with Ben-Ami, par. [21]. back

Note 12: Ibid., 105. See also Grogan, Ringolevio, 235–36, and Todd, interview with Wolf, Love Generation, 100. John Brownson, "Anarchy 66 Provo: Provos Sí, Yankee No," San Francisco Oracle 1, no. 1 (20 September 1966): 3. back

Note 13: Grogan, Ringolevio, 237; Doyle, "Diggers," 115 n. 111. For an extensive treatment of Winstanley and the seventeenth-century Digger movement, see David W. Petegorsky, Left-Wing Democracy in the English Civil War: A Study of the Social Philosophy of Gerrard Winstanley (London: V. Gollancz, 1940), and Christopher Hill, introduction to Gerrard Winstanley, The Law of Freedom and Other Writings, ed. Christopher Hill (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1983). For writings by lesser-known members of the English movement, see Andrew Hopton, ed., Digger Tracts, 1649–50 (London: Aporia Press, 1989). On the African and African American dig, see Juba to Jive: A Dictionary of African-American Slang, ed. Clarence Major (New York: Viking, 1994), s.v. "dig." On the Euro-American pejorative digger, see Robert F. Heizer, ed., They Were Only Diggers: A Collection of Articles from California Newspapers, 1851–1866, on Indian and White Relations, (Ramona, Calif.: Ballena Press, 1974). back

Note 14: Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 91; "Haight-Ashbury Report: Police P.R. Detail," P.O. Frisco, 1, no. 1 (2 September 1966): 4 et seq. back

Note 15: [Emmett Grogan and Billy Murcott], "Take a Cop to Dinner Cop a Dinner to Take a Cop Dinner Cop a Take," handbill, ca. 20 September 1966; reprinted in The Realist, no. 81 (August 1968): 14. Authorship and date assigned by Doyle, "Diggers," 474. back

Note 16: Doyle, "Diggers," 110–11; Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 93; Grogan, Ringolevio, 241–42. back

Note 17: The Diggers' notice on the curfew has not been preserved. On "fuck-leader youth," see [Billy Murcott], "Mutants Commune," Barb 5, no. 7 (18 August 1967): 9; a transcription by Eric Noble is also available online at The second quotation is from "Sheep? Baa," com/co handbill, 6 April 1967, box 25, folder 3, JLSP, BHL; emphasis original. back

Note 18: Grogan, Ringolevio, 242–43. Cohen, in "Brief History," xxvi–xxvii, remembers Grogan's signs as reading "Disobey the Fascist Curfew," which, without further detail, would seem to frame the anarchists' stance as indistinguishable from that of the New Leftists. Cohen's account, however, does confirm that Bowen was removing Grogan's notices, while providing a detail that Grogan's account does not: that Grogan was doing the same to Bowen's. back

Note 19: Doyle, "Diggers," 76. Local memory of the eviction of the Beats from North Beach was still strong in March 1967, when the "Gossiping Guru," a columnist for the Oracle, warned readers that the fate of any "successful" bohemian neighborhood was to be commercialized—and then, as we would say today, gentrified: "Will success spoil Haight-Ashbury? . . . Remember what happened to the Beatniks in North Beach in 1962?" Oracle 1, no. 7 (March 1967): 24. back

Note 20: Sherri Cavan, Hippies of the Haight (St. Louis: New Critics Press, 1972), 44. back

Note 21: Although the college had relocated to the outskirts of the city just before the events considered in this chapter, many students and faculty continued to reside in the Haight-Ashbury. Cohen, "Brief History," xxiii. back

Note 22: Michael Fallon, "A New Haven for Beatniks," San Francisco Examiner, 6 September 1965; Perry, The Haight-Ashbury, 19–21; Jay Stevens, Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1987), 298, 299. The SFL grew to become, for a time, a nationwide organization; see Jefferson P. Selth, Alternative Lifestyles: A Guide to Research Collections on Intentional Communities, Nudism, and Sexual Freedom (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985), 83. back

Note 23: Margaret Gaskin [Nofziger], interview with Leonard Wolf, n.d., in Wolf, Love Generation, 85. back

Note 24: John Arthur Maynard, Venice West: The Beat Generation in Southern California (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1991), 13–14, 17–20; citing Francis J. Rigney and L. Douglas Smith, The Real Bohemia (New York: Basic Books, 1961). Barbara Ehrenreich's evaluation of Rigney and Smith proves less sanguine; see The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1983), 65–67. back

Note 25: Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 6. Students of popular culture in the industrialized West have made much of the stylistic innovations of youth subcultures in the twentieth century. Broadly speaking, these studies detect an incipient radicalism in youthful departures from the hegemonic stylistic norms of the white middle class—in music, dress, speech patterns, courtship and sexual behavior, and many other elements of individual identity. Cornelia Hughes Dayton questions this approach in "Rethinking Agency, Recovering Voices," American Historical Review 109, no. 3 (June 2004): 842. Like Dayton, I often find unpersuasive the frequent presumption that all cultural conflict necessarily entails a questioning of cultural first principles, even in the absence of explicit questioning of such principles by the subjects under study—operative in, for example, Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style (New York: Methuen, 1979), and George Lipsitz, Time Passages: Collective Memory and American Popular Culture (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1990). Therefore, I will not pursue a cultural-studies analysis of "hippie style" as an inherently subversive phenomenon. For a study that distinguishes the routine conflicts endemic to any cultural system from radical conflict over first principles, see Steve J. Stern, The Secret History of Gender: Women, Men, and Power in Late Colonial Mexico (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1995). back

Note 26: Where the cautious followers of Leary tried to prevent "bad trips," Kesey advocated that users "freak freely," believing that bad trips taught users to confront and conquer their repressed fears (Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 13; Stevens, Storming Heaven, 221–52, 300–301). back

Note 27: Juba to Jive, s.v. "hippie" and related terms; Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., s.v. "hippie, hippy" [CD-ROM, v. 1.11] (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1994); Douglass Wallop, Night Light (New York: W. W. Norton, 1953); Malcolm X, Autobiography of Malcolm X (New York: Grove Press, 1968 [1964]), 94; David Roediger, "A Long Journey to the Hip Hop Nation," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 18 March 1994, 7-B. back

Note 28: Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 12. back

Note 29: Ibid., 12–16; Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (New York: Bantam, 1969); Stevens, Storming Heaven, 221–52. back

Note 30: Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 36–41; Eric Noble, "The Artists' Liberation Front and the Formation of the Sixties Counterculture," Digger Archives, 7 December 1996; essay available online at (accessed 9 January 2007). back

Note 31: The class identity of counterculturalists has been a matter of some debate in academic circles. The predominant view has been that hippies were decidedly middle-class in origin; see, for example, Timothy Miller, The Hippies and American Values (Knoxville: Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1991), 15; Dominick Cavallo, A Fiction of the Past: The Sixties in American History (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999), 7–8. I follow those scholars who emphasize the diversity of class background in the counterculture, while still acknowledging the prominence of middle-class participants. See, for example, David McBride, "On the Fault Lines of Mass Culture and Counterculture : A Social History of the Hippie Counterculture in 1960s Los Angeles" (Ph.D. diss., UCLA, 1998), 83, 90–91; Barry Laffan, Communal Organization and Social Transition: A Case Study from the Counterculture of the Sixties and Seventies (New York: P. Lang, 1997), 16, 36–37, 39–40, 86–88, 113. back

Note 32: Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 76–77; Ron Thelin, interview with Leonard Wolf, n.d., in Love Generation, 225. back

Note 33: Here, I gloss David McBride's diametrical opposition between producerist and consumerist identity, exchanging his notion of a shift from producerist to consumerist identity for one that emphasizes the continuing vitality of producerist values and identification with work in the formation of individual identity. McBride, "Mass Culture and Counterculture," 19–23. back

Note 34: For a useful account, see Stevens, Storming Heaven; for scholarly analysis, see David Farber, "The Intoxicated State/Illegal Nation: Drugs in the Sixties Counterculture," in Imagine Nation: The American Counterculture of the 1960s and '70s, ed. Peter Braunstein and Michael William Doyle (New York: Routledge, 2002), 17–40. back

Note 35: Cohen, "Brief History," xxiii, xxv–xxvi. back

Note 36: [Allen Cohen?], untitled editorial and sidebar, "Affirming Humanness," San Francisco Oracle 1, no. 1 (20 September 1966): 2. back

Note 37: On the Thelins' losses, see Cohen, "Brief History," xxiii. back

Note 38: [Murcott], "Mutants Commune," 9. back

Note 39: Peter Berg, in Peter Berg and Judy Goldhaft, interview with Marty Lee and Eric Noble, San Francisco, 29 April 1982, Digger Archives; partial transcript available online at (accessed 9 January 2007), par. [13]. In assigning paragraph numbers to the original, I have numbered both questions and answers. back

Note 40: Ibid., par. [21]. Berg attributes the principle "create the condition that you describe" to "a tome on ancient Egyptian dramaturgy"; see Berg, interviews with Michael William Doyle, Ithaca, N.Y., 24 November 1992 and San Francisco, 5 February 1993; cited in Doyle, "Diggers," 106). back

Note 41: Replicated in Grogan, Ringolevio, 247; emphasis original. This document does not number among the Digger handbills surviving in the consulted archival sources. Grogan relates the development of the idea of free food in Ringolevio, 245–48. back

Note 42: Metevsky [Grogan], "Delving the Diggers," 3; Grogan, Ringolevio, 248. back

Note 43: George Mete[v]sky [Emmett Grogan], "The Ideology of Failure," Barb 3, no. 20 (18 November 1966): 6; according to Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 105, this was a reprinting of a Digger handbill. Grogan was not the first to articulate such an analysis; Herbert Marcuse's essay "Repressive Tolerance" articulated the mechanism that Grogan observed. Marcuse's essay appears in Robert Paul Wolf, Barrington Moore, Jr., and Herbert Marcuse, A Critique of Pure Tolerance, rev. ed. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969), 95–137. Following this line of reasoning, Thomas Frank, in The Conquest of Cool: Counterculture, Business Culture, and the Rise of Hip Capitalism (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1997), has dismissed the counterculture as a stage of capitalist development, while allowing that a few hippies really did intend radical change.

Prominent architects of the modern American political economy have articulated cooptation as an explicit strategy of dominance: historian James Weinstein notes the determination of Progressives of the National Civic Foundation to discredit socialism. "Socialism," Foundation members noted in a 1914 memorandum, "has the great sentimental advantage of being based upon a desire to benefit all human beings." Therefore, "in opposing socialism, this same sentimental advantage must be claimed and held for the anti-socialist view." The Foundation argued that the best way to make this claim broadly credible was to distinguish between "proposals and direct undertakings which are socialistic and anarchistic in principle" from those that, while favored by socialists, were "not necessarily in conflict with the underlying principles of the existing industrial order." See the relevant policy memorandum, Department of Industrial Economics, National Civic Foundation, 1914, box 84, NCF papers; quoted in James Weinstein, The Corporate Ideal in the Liberal State: 1900–1918 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968), 129. back

Note 44: "All for Free in Diggers' Free for All," Barb 3, no. 22 (2 December 1966): 5; quoted in Doyle, "Diggers," 148–49. back

Note 45: Doyle, "Diggers," 177–78. back

Note 46: For the precise location, see "Haight/Ashbury Survival School: How to Stay Alive on Haight Street," com/co handbill, [16 April 1967], CC-004, Digger Archives; date assigned by Doyle, "Diggers," 150–51. As of this date, access to the document has not yet been restored at the Digger Archives; however, it is available in an earlier version of the Archives site, preserved at
(accessed 9 January 2007). On Goldhaft's schedule, see John Curl et al., The History of Collectivity in the San Francisco Bay Area: From Indian Times to the Present (Berkeley, Calif.: Homeward Press, 1982), 34. To see Goldhaft at work making tie-dye, see Chuck Gould, untitled photograph, n.d., Digger Archives; available online at (accessed 9 January 2007). On the interior organization of the Trip, see Doyle, "Diggers," 184–85. back

Note 47: [Peter Berg], "Trip Without a Ticket: Don't Pay for Your Copy," com/co pamphlet, ca. March 1967, box 1, folder 6, HC-SFPL, pp. [1–3]; authorship and date assigned by Doyle, "Diggers," 473. Eric Noble, Digger Archives, assigns the date of 28 June 1967; see The pamphlet consists of text Gestetnered on staple-bound legal-size sheets, folded along the width to create a pamphlet. On pp. [1–2], Berg incorporated earlier, unpublished text on guerrilla theater, dated October 1966. The material on p. [3] relates directly to the Trip. back

Note 48: "Friday, 8 PM, 1702 Haight Street," com/co handbill, ca. February–March 1967, HSDR, folder 1, MS3159, NBL-CHS; date from internal evidence. The interior of the Trip is visible in Chuck Gould, untitled photographs, n.d., Digger Archives; available online at and (accessed 9 January 2007). back

Note 49: Coyote, Sleeping, 90. back

Note 50: On Morning Star Ranch, see Timothy Miller, The 60s Communes: Hippies and Beyond (Syracuse Univ. Press, 1999), 47–48, quoting Lou Gottlieb, interview with Sixties Communes Project, 23 March 1996, n.p. Unohoo [Alicia Bay Laurel?], [Peter] Coyote, Rick, and the Mighty Avengers, Morningstar Scrapbook: 'n' the Pursuit of Happiness (Occidental, Calif.: Friends of Morningstar, n.d.). A facsimile is available online, at (accessed 9 January 2007). See also the handbill announcing that "the Diggers are setting up a farm" ("The Diggers Do Not Sell," com/co handbill, 3 March 1967; HSDR, folder 1, MS3159, NBL-CHS). On the Free Hotel, see "Brothers: The Diggers Have a Hotel—Three Floors to House Our People," com/co handbill, ca. 25 July 1967, HSDR, folder 1, MS3159, NBL-CHS (date from Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 220–21); Grogan, Ringolevio, 439–40; Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 220–21. back

Note 51: Ian Chilvers, A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford Univ. Press, 1998), s.v. "happening." back

Note 52: Metevsky [Grogan], "Delving the Diggers," 3. back

Note 53: "PUBLIC NONSENSE NUISANCE PUBLIC ESSENCE NEWSENSE PUBLIC NEWS," handbill, ca. 29 October 1966, HSDR, folder 1, MS3159, NBL-CHS. back

Note 54: Ibid. back

Note 55: This account is based on "Diggers' New Game: The Frame," Barb 3, no. 18 (4 November 1966): 1. Other accounts of the event rely on this source; see Doyle, "Diggers," 130–33; Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 103–5. back

Note 56: Berg and Goldhaft, interview with Lee and Noble, pars. [32–48]. back

Note 57: For more on the Death of Money, see Doyle, "Diggers," 152–58; Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 114–16. None of these sources mentions discusses pre-event publicity; Perry appears to quote from a handbill at 115. Brief mention of the pending event appears in Steve Leiper, "At the Handle of the Kettle," San Francisco Oracle 1, no 4 (16 December 1966): 10; the anonymous interviewee in that article may have been Grogan. Peter Berg and Judy Goldhaft's recollection of this happening conflates several other such events, but still proves highly instructive; see their interview with Lee and Noble, pars. [41–48]. For the musical references, see Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland, "You Keep Me Hangin' On," Supremes Sing Holland, Dozier, Holland, sound recording, Motown MT650, [1966]; Chopin, sonata, op. 35, no. 2, for piano, B-flat minor, mvt. 3, Marche funebre: lento. back

Note 58: On the Love Pageant Rally, see Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 95–97; the text of the Declaration appears on 96. On the Love Book controversy, see ibid., 106–8. back

Note 59: Publicity for the Circus appeared in "Free Digger Party" and "Invisible Circus," com/co handbills, and Dave Hodges, "Invisible Circus," handbill, all ca. 22 February 1967, HSDR, folder 2, MS3159, NBL-CHS. Grogan's commentary appears in Ringolevio, 281–85; quotations at 281–83. The com/co postmortem can be found in "More Words on Other Side," ca. 27 February 1967, transcription by Eric Noble, CC-053, Digger Archives; document formerly available online at (accessed 20 July 2006); date approximated by Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 147. back

Note 60: For the Diggers' early warning, see "The Diggers State Simply," com/co handbill, ca. 10 February 1967, HSDR, folder 1, MS3159, NBL-CHS; date inferred from Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 136–38. For detailed accounts of this period of frenetic activity, see Doyle, "Diggers," 201–15; Perry, 148–72 passim. back

Note 61: Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 137–38; Doyle, "Diggers," 178–79; "The Diggers State Simply." Years later, although not referring to this particular episode, Berg explained that many in the Haight perceived threats of violence in Digger men's behavior because they were, he believed, incapable of distinguishing between a genuine threat and Grogan's or Fritsch's theatrical rendition of a volatile street tough (Berg and Goldhaft, interview with Lee and Noble, par. [31]). back

Note 62: On the conflict with the Love Conspiracy, see "Been Worried Lately? Been Paaaraanoid?" 2 March 1967; "Organized Crime Is Infiltrating the Hip Community," 2–3 March 1967; "Let's Not Pay for Love: Circuses Are for Free," ca. 3 March 1967; all com/co handbills, box 1, folder 6, HC-SFPL. On traffic stoppages, see Doyle, "Diggers," 201–212 passim; for the com/co handbill that framed the Berg-Goldhaft effort, see "Carte de Venue & Street Menu," 9 April 1967, CC-028, Digger Archives; document available online at
(accessed 9 January 2007). back

Note 63: On the Santa Fe meeting, our only sources are [Emmett Grogan], "Saturday—April 29—Santa Fe, N. Mexico," com/co handbill, 9 May 1967, box 1, folder 5, HC-SFPL, and Grogan, Ringolevio, 381. Grogan composed the latter source in 1972, and, given several discrepancies between the two accounts, I have favored the earlier document. A partial transcript of a recorded conversation, titled "Hopi Tape," with dialogue attributed to Richard Alpert, Michael Bowen, Chachunga, David, and Tomás, is located in the same folder. It is not clear whether this transcript records part of the conversation to which Grogan refers, or whether it reflects an earlier conversation, on 22 December 1966, in Old Oraibi, N.M., between "Craig [Carpenter] and other traditional Indian leaders." See Carpenter, "Hopi Life Plan," San Francisco Oracle 1, no. 8 (June 1967): 24. Many of the concepts in the Carpenter article bear strong resemblance to the ideas expressed on pp. 23–26 of the transcript, which bear the heading, "Explanation of Great Spirit drawing on rock near Old Oraibi." back

Note 64: For the HIP plans, see America Needs Indians [Stewart Brand et al.], "A Celebration of the Future," San Francisco Maverick 1, no. 3 (ca. 21 June 1967): 8–9; "Summer Solstice," com/co handbill, 24 May 1967, HSDR, folder 3, MS3159, NBL-CHS. The Diggers' response can be seen in "Prepare Now for the Potlatch," com/co handbill, June 1967, CC-007, Digger Archives; document available online at
(accessed 9 January 2007); see also the notice in "Orifice, vol. 1, page 8" for "SUMMER SOULSTICE—Communal Orgasam [sic] To End the Rape of Viet Nam," com/co handbill, ca. 21 June 1967, HSDR, folder 3, MS3159, NBL-CHS. It is unclear whether "Orifice" was a multipage handbill or a fanciful name for a single sheet. back

Note 65: On the Calm Center, see Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 137; on the prospect of public ownership of the Psychedelic Shop, see ibid., 189. On the Council for a Summer of Love, see "A Summer of Love," handbill, ca. 5 April 1967, box 1, folder 10, HC-SFPL (date from Perry, 171–72). On the Kiva, see "The San Francisco Oracle," press release, n.d., TD, box 1, folder 5, HC-SFPL; Bright Raven, "Kiva," TD, n.d., HSDR, folder 6, MS3159, NBL-CHS; Perry, 171–72. back

Note 66: Coyote, Sleeping, is a good source on the gradual expansion of the core group. On Kandel and Fritsch, see 115–17; on Wilner, see 91–93; on Parker and Butcher, 77–78; on Ewing, 84–85. On Riffia, the better source appears to be Grogan, Ringolevio, 263. back

Note 67: For Grogan's caustic response to the All Saints' "Diggers," see X [Emmett Grogan], "About Time We Started Doin' Our Own Livin' and Dyin'," com/co handbill, 20 April 1967, CC-032a, Digger Archives; document available online at
(accessed 19 January 2007). For further amplification, see the unattributed clipping from the files of Fr. Leon Harris, All Saints' Church, "The Diggers Have Split," transcription by Eric Noble, Digger Archives; article available online at
(accessed 9 January 2007). For Berg's recollection of Apache, see Berg and Goldhaft, interview with Lee and Noble, par. [21]. back

Note 68: For a detailed discussion of the effects of the newcomers on the core group, see Doyle, "Diggers," 235–43. Peter Coyote and com/co participant Claude Hayward, writing separately, claim that the first issue of the Black Panther was produced on the Diggers' Gestetner machines (Coyote, interview with Ben-Ami, par. [61]; Claude Hayward to Digger Archives, 10 June 2004). I cannot verify this claim independently through the Underground Newspaper Collection microfilm, and Robyn C. Spencer, a student of Panther history, can find no verification in her files (personal communication, 16 April 2003). However, it seems to be supported by Panther graphic artist Emory Douglas's recollection that "the first newspaper . . . was just a mimeographed thing, stapled together" (quoted in David Hilliard and Lewis Cole, This Side of Glory: The Autobiography of David Hilliard and the Story of the Black Panther Party [Boston: Little, Brown, 1993], 150). On the Black Man's Free Store, see Alex Forman and F. P. Salstrom, "Revolution, Digger Style," Distant Drummer (Philadelphia) 2, no. 53 (3–10 October 1969): 4; Hayward, T memorandum to Hinckle, 1; A Free Man, "KKKS," com/co handbill, 1967, CC-014, Digger Archives; document formerly available online at 5Ccc014_m.gif (accessed 24 July 2006). On the Free Home Delivery, see Doyle, "Diggers," 239–40; on Newton, see Hilliard and Cole, This Side of Glory, 158, 182, 211; my thanks to Eric Noble for alerting me to this source. back

Note 69: On the diverse residence patterns of the core group, see Coyote, Sleeping, chaps. 4–12 passim, and Grogan, Ringolevio, part 3 passim. On Digger out-migration from the Haight, see Coyote, Sleeping, 82–83, 84–86; on their resort to weapons, see Doyle, "Diggers," 214–17, and Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 196–97; on the shifting patterns of drug use and increasing violence in the Haight, see Perry, 227, and von Hoffman, We Are the People, 80–103. back

Note 70: Doyle, "Diggers," 243, suggests that "Mutants Commune" was "known to be authored by Billy Murcott," relying on clues provided by Stephen A. O. Golden, "What Is a Hippie? A Hippie Tells," New York Times, 22 August 1967, sec. 1, p. 26. back

Note 71: [Murcott], "Mutants Commune," 8–9. back

Note 72: On the name change, see Doyle, "Diggers," 235–37; see also Coyote, Sleeping, 95–96, 130–33. back

Note 73: "Funeral Notice," "October Sixth Nineteen Hundred and Sixty Seven," and "October Sixth / Nineteen Hundred and Sixty Seven / Day of Death," all handbills, ca. 6 October 1967, HSDR, folder 1, MS3159, NBL-CHS; Perry, Haight-Ashbury, 242–44; Doyle, "Diggers," 245–56. For photos of the happening, see Barney Hoskyns, Beneath the Diamond Sky: Haight-Ashbury, 1965–1970 (New York: Simon and Schuster Editions, 1997), 122, 158–59; Anthony, Summer of Love, 174. back

Note 74: Doyle, "Diggers," 257–96. back

Note 75: Ibid., 297–99. back

Note 76: Ibid., 310; on "social acid," see Peter Berg, in Berg and Goldhaft, interview with Lee and Noble, par. [13]. back

Note 77: Doyle, "Diggers," 332–41; quotation at 341. back

Note 78: [Emmett Grogan], "A Post-Competitive, Comparative Game of a Free City," Realist, no. 81 (August 1968): 15–17. The Digger Papers were published as a pamphlet and distributed in quantity at no charge; the group also arranged for their publication as a special issue of the Realist. For Sinclair's activism, see John Sinclair and Robert Levin, Music and Politics (New York: World, 1971), and Sinclair's Guitar Army: Street Writings/Prison Writings (New York: Douglas Book Corp., 1972); for a scholarly assessment, see Jeff A. Hale, "The White Panthers' 'Total Assault on the Culture,'" in Braunstein and Doyle, Imagine Nation, 125–56. back

Note 79: Michael Vincent McGinnis, ed., Bioregionalism, (London: Routledge, 1999); Tim Hodgdon, "'The Male Work Ethic was Busted': Manhood, Feminism, and the Sexual Division of Labor at Black Bear Ranch," Communal Societies: Journal of the Communal Studies Association 23 (2003): 95–120; Coyote, Sleeping. back