Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (xv)

The only other significant thing I remember about December 1970 (after concluding in that month that an anti-imperialist matriarchal socialist society needed to be established in the United States) was being involved in celebrating Christmas at both a Writers Guild office Christmas party and a Christmas party at Sylvia’s apartment in Brooklyn, to which she invited her fellow workers from the Guild office.

At the Writers Guild union office, Pat told the rest of the union office workers in advance that she couldn’t afford to buy any Christmas presents for the rest of us; and that, therefore, we all shouldn’t buy any presents to give to her at the office Christmas party. The rest of the union office workers, however, each bought Christmas presents for each other, which we exchanged at the office Christmas party on the day before Christmas Eve.

I can’t remember what kind of Christmas presents I received from my office mates, because they were not things I really wanted or needed much. Maybe a pen or knick-knack or gloves or scarf or sweater might have been among the gifts I received.

Ms. Burkey, however, proved to be a generous Writers Guild Executive Director when it came time to give Christmas bonuses. Every office worker in the Writers Guild union office got a Christmas bonus equal to 4 weeks worth of salary in late December 1970. And even though Maria and I had only started working there in September 1970 and had worked at the Writers Guild office for only just about 4 months, we still were given the same 4 weeks worth of salary Christmas bonus that the Guild office workers who had been working there for years received.

Having received such an unexpectedly large Christmas bonus from the Writers Guild, I spent more money and time on buying Christmas presents for my fellow workers in Christmas 1970 than I would generally do in future Christmases in the 1970s and 1980s--when my future employers generally did not give their employees any Christmas bonus.

I gave Joe a copy of Robin Morgan’s Sisterhood Is Powerful anthology book, hoping to encourage Joe to become more supportive of radical feminism; and, hoping to also radicalize Eli the bookkeeper, I gave Eli a copy of the Phil Ochs In Concert vinyl record album.

For Sylvia’s Christmas present, I gave her a copy of Joan Baez’s Farewell Angelina vinyl album, while I gave Shirley a copy of a book about U.S. war crimes in Viet Nam for her Christmas gift, in order to encourage her anti-war sentiments. A copy of Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited vinyl album was my gift to Maria; and I gave the college student who worked part-time at the Writers Guild office, Rosemary, a copy of Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home vinyl album.

Because Rosemary, being just a part-time worker at the union office, had not given me or any of the other Writers Guild office workers any Christmas gifts, she was apparently surprised and touched that I thought enough of her to go out and buy her the Dylan record, which seemed to interest her. So after Rosemary unwrapped my gift to her, she spontaneously gave me an affectionate kiss for the first time, which surprised me somewhat. But despite her office Christmas party kiss, Rosemary was apparently still too involved with her steady boyfriend from her own neighborhood in Queens and wanting to prepare for a conventional straight working-class or straight middle-class life after college, to ever approach me in more than a formal business-like way after kissing me at the Christmas Party, during the rest of the time I worked as the Writers Guild office boy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (xiv)

By early December 1970, I had finished reading Robin Morgan’s Sisterhood Is Powerful anthology of essays by a new wave of radical feminist intellectuals and activists and a pamphlet of articles that were being distributed by the Redstockings’ radical feminist group around this time. I also usually bought a copy regularly of the Lower East Side’s weekly underground newspaper Rat, which in late 1970 was now under the control of a collective of anti-imperialist revolutionary feminist women activists.

So,not surprisingly, I had begun to feel by December 1970 that, within the United States, the agent of anti-imperialist revolutionary change during the 1970s was going to be the then-politically powerless oppressed caste of U.S. women of all classes and racial backgrounds, who made up the majority of the population in the U.S.A..

In retrospect, I overestimated the revolutionary potential of U.S. women.
I was mistaken in my early 1970s belief that U.S. women alone—if united as a caste under the leadership of revolutionary feminist women—would be able to make the Revolution, regardless of whether or not U.S. men (other than their leftist boyfriends) supported them politically. Yet in early December 1970, the “Sex War Alone Theory of Revolutionary Social Change” that I had developed seemed a plausible one to me.

The political strategic approach I had come to believe would lead to an anti-imperialist Revolution in the United States which eliminated imperialism, racism, capitalism, sexism, heterosexism and classism all at the same time by the middle of the 1970s reflected the following early 1970s historical and strategic assumptions:

1. A mass-based anti-imperialist revolutionary feminist-led movement of liberated women and their leftist male lovers and political allies would non-violently occupy the U.S. network television studios in the 1970s and demand an immediate end to institutionalized male supremacy, militarism, racism, classism and heterosexism in the U.S.A..

2. Once control of the U.S. mass media television studios was non-violently seized by a mass-based revolutionary feminist-led movement, Movement women would use then their newly-obtained mass media power, as well as their control over other U.S. socializing institutions, to socialize U.S. women to become revolutionary feminist in their political consciousness and U.S. men to become non-sexist and revolutionary male feminist in their political consciousness.

3. Because the majority of people in the U.S.A. were women, women alone—if united as a revolutionary caste—possessed the political capability of overthrowing the oppressive U.S. social system of patriarchal capitalism, patriarchal imperialism, patriarchal racism, patriarchal sexism and patriarchal heterosexism.

4. Large numbers of politically left-oriented anti-war hip men who were involved in love relationships with feminist women would politically support a revolutionary feminist takeover of the U.S. mass media and the patriarchal U.S. corporate state if Movement people collectively organized around the “All Power To Our Sisters!” and “Seize Their TV, Then Speak Freely” strategy that I proposed in my December 1970 position paper.

By the mid-1970s, of course, the patriarchal corporate male-backed upper middle-class corporate and cultural feminist white liberals had pretty much taken control over the strategic direction of the post-1970s women’s liberation movement. And these upper middle-class, white “bourgeois feminist” liberals seemed to have been successful at converting the U.S. women’s liberation movement against male supremacy into a reformist "women's movement", not a revolutionary movement, that seemed to get co-opted by the patriarchal capitalist system in the United States. But in December 1970, large numbers of U.S. women still appeared to me to possess the kind of revolutionary rage that made me feel that U.S. women alone would be able to bring the Monster System down in the United States and free us all from 9-to-5 wage slavery, once and for all.

And when I dropped some mescaline in my Bronx slum apartment on Christmas Eve 1970, “the seize their TV, then speak freely” strategic notion came to me that, if the Movement in the U.S.A. non-violently occupied the U.S. network television studios in 1971 (in the same way Movement activists had occupied the buildings of Columbia University’s campus in April 1968) a Revolution in the U.S.A. could potentially happen before I was 30 years old. But, like I’ve previously indicated, I overestimated the long-term, long-haul revolutionary potential of the early 1970s women’s liberation movement.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (xiii)

As the Writers Guild office boy, I also sometimes delivered union contract negotiating proposals and counter-proposals in manila envelopes to television network executives like Robert Northshield in their plush network television corporate offices. So by December 1970, walking around the Big Media network newsrooms, studios and executive offices during the workday seemed like no big deal anymore and just reconfirmed my original impression that the folks who worked at the U.S. corporate television networks weren’t yet hip to the mass consciousness changes that had developed among U.S. youth between 1964 and 1970.

Besides giving me the opportunity to walk in-and-out of the television and radio network offices and studios frequently, delivering documents for the Writers Guild as its office boy also gave me a good excuse for getting out of the union office during the workday longer than for just a lunch hour. And sometimes, while on the way to deliver or to pick up union documents from the CBS, ABC, NBC or WNEW studios or offices, I would bump into people on the street whom I had known from my pre-1970 years as an SDS anti-war activist.

I bumped into the former head of the Staten Island Black Panther Party chapter, Neal, for example, on the street in front of the CBS Building one day in late November 1970. By then, Neal was no longer active in the Black Panther Party because of the COINTELPRO-encouraged faction-fighting. But, as an individual, Neal still hoped that there would be some kind of Revolution in the 1970s.

Yet by late 1970, Neal had become skeptical that African-American people were going to rise up in the short-run and make the Revolution in the short-run.

“How Black people can still let Nixon continue to rule over them is beyond me?” Neal said with a shrug, after we embraced on the street and explained what we had been up to since we had last talked with each other on Staten Island in early May of 1969. And before we each went on our way, Neal wrote his phone number for me on a piece of paper which he gave me.

A few weeks later, in early December 1970, Neal and his latest white womanfriend, then visited me in my Bronx slum apartment and spent a Saturday night getting high together, laughing, listening to music and recalling our year of 1968-1969 revolutionary activism together on Staten Island. But since both of us no longer had any anti-war left group like either Richmond College SDS or the Staten Island Black Panther Party chapter for whom we were a spokesperson or organizer, there no longer seemed much of a political or personal basis for us getting together again. And we vanished from each other’s lives.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (xii)

At the NBC television studios in the Fall of 1970, I would frequently deliver union checks for an NBC newswriter, who had agreed to be the talent union’s treasurer, named Benson to sign in his office, which was only a few yards away from where the television cameras were. Benson was polite, but less friendly and more reserved than was Osgood at CBS News. Yet like Osgood with respect to CBS News, Benson seemed unaware of how distorted a picture of social reality was being given to the people of the United States by the NBC News department for whom he wrote news copy.

At ABC, the Writers Guild members who worked as newswriters for its hourly radio reports were cramped together in a small room with A.P. and U.P.I. wire service machines automatically ticking away and printing out the latest news bulletins on the ticker tape. The Guild members there, who included a writer who used to work at CBS with Edward R. Murrow during the 1950s, apparently would then rewrite the A.P. and U.P.I. copy in a more concise way for the ABC radio news announcer to read over the radio on ABC Radio’s news on the hour update.

At Metromedia’s WNEW-FM radio station, the sound of the rock music playing on the station’s airwaves could be heard whenever I brought union documents to be signed there by a white man in WNEW-FM's one-person newsroom who seemed to be in his late 40s or fifties, had short hair and seemed a little more hip than the Guild union members who worked for the three major networks. But the Writers Guild shop steward at WNEW-FM still seemed too busy to even consider taking time out to converse with me about either the union or what kind of actual writing he actually did inside the WNEW-FM one-person newsroom.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (xi)

After my visit to the Newsreel office reminded me how morally bankrupt the U.S. corporate media television network scene was compared to the U.S. anti-war media scene, I began to do more research on the Screenwriters Guild’s hidden history. And I examined how the liberal anti-communist faction of the movie, radio and television writers’ union had, initially, collaborated with the Hollywood movie studio heads, the radio and TV network executives and the U.S. government when they drove most of the screenwriters, radio writers and television writers who had been the ones that originally formed the Screen Writers Guild and the Writers Guild East talent unions out of the U.S. film, radio and television corporate entertainment industry, in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Since part of my Writers Guild office boy job duties included delivering and picking-up union documents for the various television and radio network unit shop stewards to sign at their workplace, by December 1970 I had personally visited the office of Writers Guild East members at the CBS studios on West 57th Street, at the NBC studios in Rockefeller Center’s RCA Building, at the newsroom of ABC radio on West 66th Street, at CBS’ all-news radio station in the CBS Building at 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue and at the WNEW-FM radio station newsroom.

Charles Osgood at CBS was some kind of official of the Writers Guild East in the Fall of 1970, and I brought and picked-up documents to and from his office at CBS on West 57th Street a number of times. Osgood was friendlier than most of the other Writers Guild East members I met at this time, but was more just heard on radio than seen on television in the Fall of 1970. Yet in the Fall of 1970, the not yet elderly Osgood still seemed to lack an anti-imperialist, anti-racist and anti-capitalist consciousness, still dressed in a straight, plastic-looking, suit and tie, had short hair and was beardless, and seemed to be unhip philosophically and politically.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (x)

I also continued to listen at home to more vinyl records on my small, cheap portable record player, whenever I wasn’t, instead, listening to FM rock radio stations on my cheap portable radio. In late 1970, you could still sign a coupon indicating you wanted to join one of the corporate music company’s “record clubs”; and the record corporation would then mail you out 10 free vinyl albums. I also began listening in my cheap, Bronx slum apartment to the many Folkways records that I could take out for free at the Donnell Public Library on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenue—which was located only a few blocks away from the Writers Guild-East talent union office at which I worked.

Besides taking records out of the Donnell Library around this time, I also would sometimes stop by at the local branch of the Bronx Public Library that was near Fordham Road every few weeks and re-read some of the classic books that I had previously skimmed through while in high school and college, such as Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and Thoreau’s Walden.

By early December 1970, the campus turmoil of the post-Kent State Massacre/post-Jackson State Massacre historical period was beginning to seem like ancient history, since the U.S. campuses were now politically quieter in the Fall term of 1970 than they had been in either the Fall terms of 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969. And there had been very little anti-war youth protest on the streets prior to the November 1970 U.S. congressional elections. But while bringing the Writers Guild office postage meter to the Rockefeller Center branch of the U.S. Post Office to receive some more postage value for the postage meter, I noticed that some of the U.S. anti-war activists with whom I had done campus organizing at Columbia University, when I was a Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) student activist there, now had their photographs posted on the Rockefeller Center post office branch wall in “Most Wanted By The FBI” notices!

Naturally, I felt it was both morally wrong and historically absurd for J. Edgar Hoover to put the same anti-war activists I had worked politically with for three years on his “Most Wanted By The FBI” list. So I immediately felt, in late 1970, that the U.S. anti-war Movement should then demand that the “Weather Fugitives”, who were my friends, should be granted amnesty and taken off the “Most Wanted By The FBI” list. And by 1976, most of the charges against the anti-war activists who were on the “Most Wanted By The FBI” list in late 1970 had been dropped because of the illegal methods (like office break-ins and burglaries) that the FBI agents apparently used to try to track these New Left anti-war activists down prior to 1975.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (ix)

Another folk song written in the Bronx slum apartment, “Walkin’ In New Haven”, contained the following lyrics:

“Walkin’ in New Haven
I saw you
And hitchin’ in the country
I thought of you
And ridin’ on the railroad
I dreamt of you…”

The following lyrics were contained in another folk song, “Newark Was A Town” that was written around this same time:

“Newark was a town
Where I did roam
And Newark was a town
Where many were killed
And Florrie and Lynn
I see you
Speaking to the students at Rutgers U.
I was wondering just what you do
And why not burn down all of their schools?...”

The “Old John Brown,” “Livin’ On Stolen Goods” and “Give It All Up” protest folk songs were also written in the Bronx slum apartment during this April 1970 to August 1971 period. In addition, during this same period the “Lala’s Song” protest folk love song was also written that contained the following lyrics:

Oh, Lala was a woman who crossed to the other shore
And Lala, you know, I sure wish you were here
You sure knew how to rap, I’d kill if you gave the word
And Lala, you know, it’s time to use our swords

So get your guns
Jail the pigs
Jail them all
We’re soon a-gonna win.

And Lala you’re a woman I know that I can trust
You won’t be like those phonies and call me “a chauvinist”
You were never into bull-shit, your impatience was so clear
And brave, courageous Lala, I wish that you were here.

And Lala I’m so weary of all those selfish “chicks”
I speak of Revolution, they want a papa rich
But Lala I remember you sought equality
And when I almost died, I recalled your beauty.

And Lala I just hope you’re as happy as can be
And whether or not you like me, I’ll fight until you’re free
They’re calling me “narcissus” and many other names
But I’m living like I feel is right and for that I’m not ashamed.”

In retrospect, the lyrics to “Lala’s Song” now seem a little left-sectarian. But at the time they were written, most women under 30 in the 9 to 5 work-world and on the campuses were still anti-feminist and unsupportive of the Black Panther Party’s late 1960s call for all young people in the USA to “become part of the solution, not part of the problem” and fight in support of a Black Panther Party-led Revolution in the USA. Yet at the same time, on the pages of the U.S. counter-culture’s underground newspapers in the early 1970s were many articles which, like “Lala’s Song”, expressed support for the idea of joining the fight for a BPP-led Revolution in the USA.

But I still sometimes sing “Lala’s Song” today because I like the melody, its lyrics reflect the political mood of 1970-1971 within the hip left U.S. subculture, and this protest folk love song reminds me that Lala was the most liberated, most anti-racist, politically strongest white woman I had met prior to 1971 in the United States.

I had purchased a cheap amp, a cheap electric guitar, a harmonica and a Woody Guthrie-type harmonica holder during this period (that was similar to the kind that Dylan used in the early 1960s) during the Fall of 1970. In addition, I also continued to purchase more guitar songbooks and guitar instruction books with the money I was earning as the Writers Guild office boy during this period. I hadn’t yet discovered that both the Grand Army Plaza central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library and the Lincoln Center branch of the New York Public Library contained a lot of guitar songbooks and instruction books that I could have borrowed out and used for free. None of my public school teachers or college professors had ever mentioned in class that guitar songbooks and guitar instruction books were available at no cost from these public libraries.

So at the same time I spent my leisure time pumping out new, original protest folk songs and male feminist love songs, I was also using these guitar songbooks and instruction books to teach myself more chords and experiment with playing a guitar in combination with a harmonica or playing a cheap electric guitar with a cheap amp.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (viii)

Before I moved to the Bronx, I had already written protest folk songs like “Bloody Minds” and “He Walked Up The Hill,” as well as folk love songs like “If I’ll Give You A Rose,” “Open Up Your Eyes” and “Show Me Films.” But between April 1970 and early August 1971, the protest folk songs and male feminist folk love songs poured out more rapidly. Some of the folk songs I wrote during this period I no longer remember. Or, at best, I only remember the melody and one verse of the lyrics or just the chorus. Other folk songs written during this period I still remember enough to sing.

“Come With Us” included the following lyrics:

“Oh, people sitting on the ground
Why can’t you hear the sounds?
We’ve been trying
But so many still are dying.

And I wish I could have you as a friend
But you seem to prefer another man
So I’ve been cryin’
While you’ve been flying.

Come with us
Flee with me
We’ll be kind
In the breeze...”

“Florrie’s song” included the following lyrics:

"Oh, rhymes and chimes
Runnin’ through my mind
And sobs and moans
Engraved in my soul.

So come to me
Oh, can’t you see

The wind, it’s cold
I often feel alone
You still work
Why don’t you take a rest?

And come to me
Oh, can’t you see

“Woman I Love” was another folk song from this period which included the following lyrics:

“Oh, I wish you were here tonight
I’d kiss your lips and I’d hold you tight…

And what are you doing?
Woman I love
And how are you feeling?
Do you still come?...”

“Lynn’s Song”, which was one of the first folk songs written around this time that described the political and economic situation of most intellectual women in the 1960s and early 1970s in an updated way, was also written in the Bronx and included the following lyrics:

“Oh come in
We might lose
We might win
You are smart, I know
And your anger shows.

Most men own pets
Who cook and kiss
Men earn bread
So they command
Their maids,
Their women...”

Friday, November 7, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (vii)

The folk song lyrics to love songs and protest songs, along with original folk song melodies, burst out easily for me during the 1970s. Living alone in relative creative isolation and without a television set in my cheap pad, I could pretty much turn my stream of consciousness and feelings into a set of poetic lyrics; and then match the words and my feelings to some melodic chord progressions which enabled me to sing the lyrics as a folk song—after spending a few hours experimenting with different chord progressions—whenever I wanted to. Rarely did I ever experience any writer’s block during the 1970s; and my aesthetic distance from nearly all the people who inspired my love songs or protest folk songs at that time seemed to also make the folk songwriting process as easy for me as it had been for Woody Guthrie during the 1930s and 1940s—when he was under 40.

My general idea in late 1970 was to attempt to generate anti-imperialist revolutionary political and revolutionary feminist consciousness among 1970s youth by writing folk songs in the Guthrie-Ochs-Early Dylan tradition that expressed the revolutionary anti-imperialist and revolutionary feminist consciousness that I had acquired during the 1960s.

What this meant, specifically, was that I would try to reflect the revolutionary politics of the New Left Movement of the late 1960s in my protest folk songs, in the same way Dylan had reflected the left-liberal politics of the early New Left Movement of the 1960s in his early 1960s protest songs. In addition, I would also attempt to write folk songs from a male feminist perspective that portrayed women in a non-sexist way (unlike most of the pre-1970 U.S. popular corporate music industry and traditional folk songs had done); and which reflected an admiration, a love and a sexual preference for liberated women who were revolutionary feminists, politically and socially conscious, intellectual, non-traditional, anti-imperialist fighters against male supremacy, racism and classism and for women’s liberation. My hope was that once I had written these revolutionary protest folk songs and male feminist love songs, they would get recorded and help shift mass youth consciousness in a more revolutionary direction in the 1970s, in the same way Dylan’s early 1960s songs and Ochs’ songs had helped radicalize youth more in the early 1960s.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (vi)

Besides starting to write a political analysis of Newsreel, by December 1970 I had also written some new folk songs and an historical play, “The Assassination of Governor Bent.” This play dramatized the 1846 or 1847 revolt in New Mexico, near Taos, by an alliance of Pueblo indigenous people and Mexican people. My historical drama represented an attempt to again use the Broadway theatre as a tool for encouraging Revolution in the United States, by showing on the stage main characters in the process of fighting a righteous, although unsuccessful, battle against the U.S. imperialist troops that had just taken their land from them.

After finishing “The Assassination of Governor Bent”, I sent a copy of the play’s manuscript to Columbia Professor of English Stade (a former professor of mine), after he replied to a letter I had written to him asking for some criticism from him of my new play. But given how threatening the play’s politics were to Professor Stade, he predictably critically trashed the play-- in the same way he had critically trashed the papers and essays I had written for him that threatened him politically when I was a freshman in his English Composition course.

In Professor Stade’s view, the play was worthless, from a literary perspective, because he felt the Governor Bent character and the other characters who repressed the 1846 or 1847 revolt in New Mexico were portrayed as “cartoon caricatures" by me; while the anti-imperialist Pueblos and Mexicans who revolted then were portrayed as “too heroic” and seemed to be more like SDS members of the 1960s than people who lived in the 1840s in New Mexico. In Professor Stade’s view, the only thing that seemed real about “The Assassination of Governor Bent” play was the “rage” against the system that the drama seemed to express.

I disagreed completely with Professor Stade’s evaluation of “The Assassination of Governor Bent.” But I realized that if a then left-liberal anti-communist, but also anti-racist and anti-militarist, intellectual academic like Professor Stade didn’t like my “The Assassination of Governor Bent” play, there was no way that any Broadway producer or Off-Broadway producer or Big Media theatrical critic would ever like this socially-oriented, historical drama with a revolutionary message.

So after receiving Professor Stade’s negative evaluation, I shoved the manuscript of “The Assassination of Governor Bent” into one of my drawers and gave up playwriting again, in order to focus more on writing more folk songs in the evening and on weekends in my Bronx slum apartment during the last month of 1970 and the first 7 months of 1971.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (v)

Between the time I escaped the draft, stopped working for Newsreel and moved to the Bronx in April 1970 and the time I went down to the Newsreel office again in November 1970 to pick up the film on the 1968 Chicago antiwar protests that I was screening at Lehman College, over 7 months had passed. But, coincidentally, when I stopped by the Newsreel office, I noticed that two of the women Newsreel members in their 20s with whom I had worked in its high school organizing caucus, Karen and Sara, were each working with the films in the Newsreel office loft.

Both Sara and Karen smiled, said hello to me and seemed friendly. But neither seemed to have yet concluded, like I had concluded 7 months before, that Newsreel’s lack of an effective mass distribution network meant that its films were not going to be able to change mass political consciousness dramatically during the 1970s.

Sara was dressed more mannishly than she had dressed 7 months before and seemed to be both more radical politically and more of a radical feminist than she had been in March 1970. And Karen of Newsreel still looked as beautiful and revolutionary as she had ever been.

Stopping by the Newsreel office again and bumping into Sara and Karen again reminded me that I still admired Movement people--and the alternative media work they were doing (despite it being politically ineffective)--more than the plastic upper-middle-class, predominantly white male liberal radio and television writers and plastic corporate liberal mass media people I was meeting in my 9-to-5 straight job as a Writers Guild office boy in the Fall of 1970. And despite having dropped out of Newsreel over 7 months before, meeting Sara and Karen again reminded me that I still generally felt attracted more to U.S. women who were involved in doing Movement work than to U.S. women who weren’t as politically conscious or as politically active in the Movement.

So in late 1970 and in the early months of 1971, I attempted to show some moral support for Newsreel’s work again by donating some of the wages I was earning as the Writers Guild office boy to help fund Newsreel’s early 1970s work. In addition, I began to write a political analysis of Newsreel, from a male feminist antii-imperialist left perspective, which attempted to clarify why Newsreel didn’t seem to be making as much political progress between 1968 and 1971 as the SDS chapter at Columbia had made between 1966 and 1968.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (iv)

The second evening ed course I took at Lehman College in the Fall of 1970, on methods of teaching social studies in secondary schools, was taught by a white guy in his early or late 30s who was then the head of the Social Studies Department at Jamaica High School in Queens. The ten other students in this class all seemed to be teachers in their late 20s or early 30s who were just taking the course in order to receive permanent licenses; and who all seemed to be culturally straight, non-intellectual and conventionally middle-class in their aspirations.

In contrast to the students in his evening secondary educational teaching methods class, the Jamaica High School social studies department head was intellectual, somewhat hip culturally and seemed to identify with the New Left Movement of the late 1960s, despite being in his 30s in 1970. You got the impression that when he was in college during the late 1950s, he had been some kind of a bohemian rebel.

I don’t recall much of what was discussed in this course, other than that the instructor and I usually expressed similar views on both what needed to be changed in the way social studies was taught in high school and what methods worked best in teaching social studies; while the conventional teachers who were in the class either just sat there without participating much in the classroom discussion or expressed more concern about how to motivate their students than on how to change the way social studies was taught and what was taught in social studies, so that high schools became agents for creating a more democratic society, instead of institutions that were run in authoritarian ways.

To pass the course, each student in the class was required to show the methods he or she would use to teach a social studies lesson in one of our evening class’s sessions. I can’t recall now at all what methods others used when they gave their demonstration lessons in the evening ed class. But I do remember that for my demonstration lesson I got the instructor to arrange to have a projector in the room for the evening class, so that I could screen a Newsreel film on the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention antiwar street protests for the class, as a prelude to a post-screening discussion.

Compared to the demonstration lessons the others in the evening class had done, my demonstration lesson seemed much more interesting to the instructor and to most of the conventional teachers who were taking this course--mainly because in 1970 the footage of the 1968 Vietnam antiwar protests that were included in Newsreel’s films had not yet been aired on the U.S. television screens. And the Newsreel film created the impression that more young people in their early 20s were really ready to make a Revolution in the 1970s than the U.S. mainstream television news programs seemed to have indicated to the older students in this evening class and to the older class instructor.

Not surprisingly, because I had been the student in his evening class who had stimulated him intellectually most during the semester, the Jamaica High School social studies department head not only gave me an “A” for his course on teaching methods. He also invited me to contact him at Jamaica High School once I got my teachers license and wanted to start teaching social studies in a New York City public high school.

But although I also aced the other ed evening course I took in the fall of 1970, by the time it came to register for the Spring Semester, I once again realized that being a high school teacher in the public schools while the Viet Nam War was still raging was, given my revolutionary anti-imperialist politics, not what I felt morally comfortable doing in the early 1970s, especially while other anti-imperialist activists from the 1960s had been forced to live underground lives as a result of the COINTELPRO repression.

Another reason I lost interest in continuing on the middle-class high school teacher preparation career track by 1971 was that when I visited the Newsreel office on 28th Street and Seventh Avenue again, to pick up the films I screened in my Lehman College evening ed course, it reminded me why I had previously rejected the teaching career option in favor of the Movement writer-activist-musician lifestyle choice.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (iii)

The hashish that I smoked with Mary on our Saturday night trip to the Fillmore East had been obtained from John on Staten Island.

John was a white working-class guy who had grown up in poverty in Bedford-Stuyvesant, before eventually enrolling in Staten Island Community College and, subsequently, in the experimental upper-division CUNY school on Staten Island, Richmond College, in the late 1960s. By the time I met John in the Fall of 1968, when I enrolled at Richmond College for my senior year of college, John was into both underground anti-war journalism and psychedelic drugs.

John was both a good writer and a good editor. He had been one of the official student newspaper editors at Staten Island Community College. And in the Fall of 1968, he was one of the editors and founders of the anti-war student underground newspaper at Richmond College. But by the Spring of 1969, John seemed to be more into smoking pot and hashish, using psychedelic drugs and dealing pot, hash and psychedelic drugs on Staten Island than into underground journalism anymore.

In the Spring of 1969, John had a Volkswagen car, was usually high on pot, hashish or some psychedelic drug all the time, and had no difficulty driving around Staten Island, onto the ferry and into Manhattan while high on marijuana or hashish. He was into a hippie-love trip in the Spring of 1969. And, if you stopped by his pad in Staten Island to hang out for awhile, John was always very generous about sharing a joint with you, while you both listened to records and got into deep philosophical, metaphysical and political discussions.

After I moved from Staten Island in late May 1969, I didn’t see much of John on a day-to-day basis. But about every three or four months, I would usually spend an evening taking the ferry into Staten Island and see which people there from Richmond College that I might bump into while down there. And I would sometimes also spontaneously stop by at John’s pad and, if he were at home, we’d spend a few hours turning on together and I’d sometimes also buy some grass or hashish or mescaline from John.

So in the Fall of 1970 when I wanted to get some hashish and tabs of mescaline, I paid John a visit on Staten Island. When I got to his apartment, John wasn’t home. But his roommate at the time, a good-natured African-American guy who had graduated CUNY with a BA in engineering was at home, and we had an interesting chat about what kind of job market was then being offered to college graduates who had majored in engineering in 1970, while we waited for John to get home from work.

John’s roommate felt that his firm employed many more engineers than they actually needed for the Defense Department work they had contracted to do, because it enabled his firm to bill its clients more. And he felt that engineers like himself were just being paid to warm seats and not to do any actual work at his engineering firm. So he was already looking for some other engineering firm to work for that would provide him with a more challenging and interesting paying job.

After I had talked for a short-time with John’s roommate, John arrived home from his job at the local mental hospital on Staten Island. He was as friendly as ever and seemed high on something.
But after we smoked some hashish together and talked for awhile, John casually mentioned that now, in the Fall of 1970, he was using the needle and into heroin on a fairly regular basis, because he felt that nothing else could match the pleasurable sensation it gave him. But he wasn’t a junkie and was able to perform both his assigned work at the mental hospital and deal grass, hash, mescaline and acid as efficiently as he had been able to do before he started using the needle.

John also mentioned that some of our fellow working-class freak students at Richmond College from the Spring of 1969 had also gotten into heroin and died of overdoses, died from injecting some bad smack or become junkies. But John seemed confident that there was little danger that he would either end up OD-ing or becoming a junkie.

Like me, John assumed that in the 1970s pot, hashish, and psychedelic drugs would be legalized in a few years, heroin would be distributed,as required, to junkies at local hospitals and there would likely be a Revolution in the United States. But while he waited for the legalization of soft drugs and the Revolution to happen, John seemed to figure it made little sense to think in terms of doing anything else when not at work other than using the needle or getting high on psychedelic drugs for the next few years.

Shortly after I paid John for the hashish and tabs of mescaline he sold me, and still high from the hashish we had smoked, I left his apartment and started walking back towards the Ferry Terminal. But this proved to be the last time I ever spoke with John and I have no idea whether or not he survived through the late 1970s, the early 1980s, the 1990s or the early 21st century. I recall that there was some rumor during the late 1970s that John had either died of an overdose of heroin or been killed in some drug deal-related incident.

Yet this could have just been a rumor based on John deciding to move to a different part of the United States without having to let anyone on Staten Island know where he was going to live, for a variety of personal or business reasons. For all I know, John of Staten Island may have ended up just becoming a professional in the 1980s who married and raised kids. Although if he had been able to enter the upper-middle-class in the 1980s, he would probably have been the type of middle-class person who got into cocaine heavily during that decade.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (ii)

By the middle of October 1970, both Michelle and Eric had finally moved back down to D.C. and I had my Bronx studio apartment just for myself and my pet kitten, “Kitty” again. And with my wages of $100 per week (in 1970s money) and only a $57 per month apartment rent, I felt I had more spending money in my pocket than I had ever had during my college years. So for the first time in a few years, I actually bought some new clothes for myself at the Alexander’s discount department store on the Grand Concourse and Fordham Road on one Saturday afternoon.

While waiting for the Black Panther Party and its radical feminist-led white movement allies to make the Revolution in the early 1970s in the United States, I did not want, in the Fall of 1970, to get my survival money by just being an office boy or clerical worker until the Revolution happened. Yet until I was able to “earn my living in the 1970s as a protest folk singer-songwriter” the way Phil Ochs had been able to do during the 1960s, it looked like I was going to be stuck in the 9-to-5 office world as a clerical office worker like my father had been for so many years.

So, after being hired by the Writers Guild in September 1970, I also decided to enroll in two education courses at Lehman College’s evening division in the Bronx, in order to obtain the remaining education course credits I needed if I ever decided I wanted to teach social studies at some New York City vocational high school for white working-class students—while waiting for the Black Panther Party and radical feminist-led Movement to make the Revolution.

Although Lehman College’s evening school courses for non-matriculated students were not free (as they were for matriculated undergraduates in the Fall of 1970, five years before free tuition at CUNY was ended), the tuition costs for the two education courses I enrolled were still less than $200. And because my father (whom I had not asked to pay any college costs for me since the end of my freshman year at Columbia) seemed pleased that I now seemed more willing to finally consider becoming a middle-class professional than I had previously been, I decided that it wasn’t exploitative of me to ask him to pay the $200 I needed to take my two education courses at Lehman College’s evening school. But it proved to be the only time after the 1960s that I ever asked my father to help me pay for a U.S. university course.

I only lived three blocks from Fordham University’s gated campus on Fordham Road. But tuition there for any evening teacher education courses was much more expensive than what CUNY charged in those days for its non-matriculated students. So that’s why Lehman College was where I ended up taking my evening teacher ed courses in the Fall of 1970.

Lehman College’s campus, near Bedford Park Road and Jerome Avenue at 196th Street, was about a 25-minute to half-hour walk from where I lived at 188th Street, east of Webster Avenue. Since Lehman College, unlike Fordham or Columbia, was solely a commuter school, there were no dormitories on campus. And, unlike at Columbia or Fordham’s campus in the evening or on weekends, few students ever hung around the campus of Lehman College after dark. So unless you met somebody in an evening class before they hurried home off-campus, it was unlikely that you could meet anybody on campus at Lehman in the evening by just hanging out in the college’s library.

Lehman College had once been Hunter College’s Bronx Division. But by the Fall of 1970 it had been renamed for former New York State Democratic Governor Herbert Lehman, was no longer part of Hunter College, and was the Bronx equivalent of Queens College. Consequently--although the open admissions to CUNY demand for all New York City high school graduates had been won as a result of the African-American and Puerto Rican student building occupations at CCNY, Brooklyn College and Queens College in the Spring of 1969—like Queens College’s student commuters, Lehman College’s commuting daytime student body in the fall of 1970 was still predominantly from white working-class Jewish ethnic backgrounds, although the Lehman College students were generally from less affluent white working-class backgrounds than were the Queens College students.

Most of the evening students at Lehman College, like the evening students at Queens College, were usually just either New York City public school teachers who were required to take more evening school education courses to be permanently certified or 9-to-5 office workers in Manhattan’s business world or in city and state government offices who needed to obtain college BA degree credentials, eventually, to either retain their business or government jobs or to get promoted in the corporate or government agency world.

The main difference between the student body at Lehman College and the student body at Queens College seemed to be that most of the commuting daytime and evening students at Lehman College were from the Bronx or Westchester, whereas most of the commuting Queens College students were from either Queens or Nassau County. Another difference between Lehman College and Queens College seemed to be that a greater percentage of students from less affluent working-class Irish-American backgrounds seemed to attend Lehman College than attended Queens College.

Ironically, when I registered for my two evening education courses at Lehman College in late September 1970, I recognized one of the security guards who was working at Lehman College during its registration period from my days as a Columbia student. At Columbia during the 1965-66 and 1966-67 academic years, he had been the Columbia worker you encountered when you entered or left the Butler Library stacks that would chat or flirt with practically every Columbia or Barnard student who entered or exited the stacks in a cheerful, friendly way.

“Hey, don’t we know each other from Butler Library?” I said to the Lehman security guard after I recognized him.

“Yes. I remember you,” he said with a smile. “What are you doing here?”

“Taking a few courses. But where have you been? You seemed to suddenly disappear from Butler Library at Columbia.”

The Lehman College security guard laughed and replied: “I was drafted and had to spend two years in the army.”

“Glad to see you survived,” I said.

The security guard smiled. “I managed to avoid being sent to Vietnam and got sent to Germany, instead.”

“Good for you,” I said with a laugh and, as the line of registering students moved forward into the next room, I added “Nice to see you again.”

I also recognized in back of me on the Lehman College registration line a white guy in a suit and tie with short hair who had attended Richmond College with me during the 1968-69 academic year.

“Weren’t you a student at Richmond College?” I asked him.

“Yes. Oh, I remember you,” the guy answered.

“Why are you taking courses at Lehman?”

“I’m working as a student counselor in the Dean’s office at Baruch College and I need some additional courses to obtain a Master’s,” the guy replied.

I felt like laughing, because in the fall of 1970, to me this guy seemed like the least appropriate person to counsel CUNY students. At Richmond College, he had been a veteran older student who was a right-wing conservative and a few years older than the other undergraduates who seemed totally unhip politically and culturally to what undergraduate students then wanted from life.

“That’s interesting,” I said before the registration line moved forward and I was able to get away from the culturally straight right-wing would-be college administrator--without having to exchange anymore pleasantries to someone whom I felt was still helping to block radical democratic social change in the USA.

The two evening courses I enrolled in at Lehman College in the Fall of 1970 was a course on the problems students from Puerto Rican family backgrounds faced in the New York City public school system and a course on high school social studies teaching methods. Each course met two evenings per week, but on different nights. And I do have some memories of what went on inside the classroom in each of these evening classes during the Fall of 1970.

A white teacher ed professor in his late 40s or 50s, whose ethnic background was Puerto Rican, taught the education course on the special difficulties that students of Puerto Rican descent-- especially those students whose parents only spoke Spanish--faced inside New York City’s public schools. The professor was a left-liberal politically and provided good information in the course and assigned readings that documented the various ways the New York City public school system discriminates on an institutional and interpersonal basis against Puerto Ricans; and why there was a need to set up bi-lingual educational programs in the public schools, especially in the early grades.

There were only about ten Lehman College evening school students in the this class, including a few current white teachers who seemed to be taking the course, like me, in order to just accumulate the education course credits they needed to obtain a permanent teacher’s license. But none of the teachers in the class seemed interested enough in the course to participate much in the class discussion.

So whatever class discussion happened usually ended up being some kind of debate between the left-liberal professor and myself versus the two right-wing conservatives in the class who kept challenging the professor’s thesis that the New York City public schools treated Puerto Ricans in a racist way and that some kind of affirmative action program (that “discriminates against white people’ according to the right-wing conservatives in the class) was needed in New York City.

One of the right-wing conservatives in the class was a young white guy in his 20s, who didn’t seem particularly closed-minded or especially racist. But the other right-wing conservative who was most vocal in the class was an older guy in his late 50s who was apparently a retired white cop now living on his pension, who, having never attended college, had decided to spend some of his newly-acquired leisure time taking college courses in the evening. Often he seemed to be using his classroom time in the evening to vent his rage at the impression he was getting from watching the TV news that “his country’s” youth was “going commie” in a dangerous way. So he and I sometimes got into some heated debates in the class.

For this class on “Puerto Ricans and the Public School System,” I had to write a term paper. So I wrote a research paper on “U.S. Business Operations In Puerto Rico,” which described how, after 1898, Puerto Rican became an economic colony of the U.S. corporations and was still an economic colony of the U.S. corporations in 1970; with U.S. corporations making super-profits from their investments in Puerto Rico because of Puerto Rico’s high-unemployment, sub-standard wage-rates and corporate tax-exemption incentives, as well as from their exports to a captive Puerto Rican consumer market.

But what turned out to be most memorable for me about my Lehman College teacher education course on Puerto Ricans and the New York City public school system was that by enrolling in this class, I ended up meeting Mary of Valentine Avenue in the Fall of 1970.

Mary sat on the other side of the classroom on the first session of class and didn’t participate much in the class discussion. So, initially, I barely noticed that she was a classmate of mine in the “Puerto Ricans and the Public School System” class. But after the night class ended--and I had left Lehman’s campus, walked up the hill of 196th Street/Bedford Park Avenue, reached the Grand Concourse and approached Kingsbridge Road, on my way to Fordham Road and my apartment—I noticed that Mary was walking in the darkness in front of me. And by the time she reached the next red traffic light, I had caught up with her as she waited for the light to change to green.

“What did you think of the class?” I then asked her.

“Some of it’s interesting,” Mary replied cautiously.

We then started to chat as we walked further south on the Grand Concourse towards the first floor apartment on Valentine Avenue which Mary shared with a woman friend named Norma. I then continued walking for another 10 to 15 minutes, past Webster Avenue, until I reached my own apartment.

Mary, who wore blue jeans each evening, was an Irish-American woman with long brown hair whom most men considered pretty , in her early twenties, who was a few inches shorter than me. She had graduated from Marymount College, which was then an all-women’s Catholic school, just a year or two before the Fall of 1970. But in the Fall of 1970, Mary was then working as a tour guide at the RCA Building during the day.

Bored with having to mechanically repeat the same tour guide text in front of tourists each day at the RCA Building in order to earn her rent money, Mary had decided to enroll in an evening education course at Lehman that semester in order to start accumulating the required credits she might need if she wanted to try to get an elementary school teaching job eventually in the New York City public school system. Like me, however, Mary was a also a Bob Dylan fan in the Fall of 1970 and was anti-war in her politics, despite her right-wing Irish-American Catholic family and parochial school background.

After the first night walking home from Lehman College with Mary and chatting with her, I realized I was attracted to her. And by the second or third class session, I was not only walking her home after each evening class, but she had given me her phone number and was inviting me into her apartment to meet her roommate, Norma, and talk some more in her living room before I continued on my way home.

So, until the end of the Fall 1970 semester, going to my “Puerto Ricans and The Public School System” class always meant walking home and visiting Mary and Norma in their Valentine Avenue apartment for a half hour or so during the week--before getting back to my own apartment to read or work on writing a folk song lyric and then preparing to get to sleep before midnight, so I’d be able to get to the Writers Guild office in Midtown Manhattan the next morning by 9 a.m..

Mary’s father had died before I met her, but she was still close to her mother despite now living in her own apartment on Valentine Avenue. Mary had spent part of the summer just before I met her, for example, traveling with her mother around Ireland, visiting distant Irish relatives, touring the Irish countryside and checking out Irish historical tourist sites and museums in Dublin.

Between the time I worked with another Irish-American woman named Mary at UM & M in the Summer of 1965 and when I became friends with Mary of Valentine Street in the Fall of 1970, the only Irish-American women I had ever had much contact with had generally been hippie-woman who pretty much totally rejected their Catholic upbringing and a Catholic identification; and, having fled from the culturally straight 1960s Irish-American communities in which they may have grown up in, identified themselves more as hippy chicks than as “Irish-Americans.” So Mary was really the first culturally straight Irish-American woman I got to know more than casually after I, myself, became more of a bohemian, hippie, leftist radical.

Before she met me, most of the men with whom Mary had been friends seemed to just be culturally straight, politically unhip Irish-American men from generally right-wing working-class Catholic backgrounds. The kind of Irish-American men who, in the 1960s, were usually more into being on the parochial high school football team, attending sports events and drinking in Irish bars in the Bronx than into hanging out in the Village, being too intellectual or getting into the Civil Rights or antiwar movement in any deep way.

When they went to college, the kind of Irish-American men that Mary was used to hanging around with usually just went to then-Catholic-oriented universities or colleges like Fordham, St. John’s, St. Joseph’s, St. Francis, Manhattan College, Notre Dame, Holy Cross or Boston College as undergraduates, joined fraternities and were usually still more into drinking beer than smoking pot or using psychedelic drugs, prior to the 1970s. In addition, although by the end of 1968 the Civil Rights Movement in the North of Ireland had brought Bernadette Devlin McAliskey and the question of British imperialism in the North of Ireland to the U.S. television screen, neither Mary nor any of the Irish-American guys she knew seemed to have come from Irish-American families who had passed on to them much Irish Republican or Irish nationalist political or historical consciousness.

So, although Mary was into Dylan like I was into Dylan in her musical tastes, she didn’t seem to have previously known many guys who were either hippies or Jewish in their ethnic/religious background at the time she met me in the Fall of 1970. But after about a month of walking Mary home from Lehman College after class during the evening and hanging out in her apartment for a bit after walking Mary home, I decided the time was ripe to telephone Mary and ask her if she was interested in going out on a date with me on a Saturday night.

In the Fall of 1970, hip capitalist rock promoter Bill Graham had not yet closed down his Fillmore East Theatre on the Lower East Side’s Second Avenue. So, after purchasing two tickets to a Saturday night show at the Fillmore East that included a set by B.B. King, I telephoned Mary and asked her if she felt like seeing the show with me on Saturday night.

Mary agreed to go with me to the Fillmore East’s Saturday night show and it was decided that I would meet her at her Valentine Street apartment after dinner on Saturday evening. And then we’d take the D train down to Second Avenue on the Lower East Side to the Fillmore East.

Excited about going on a real date with Mary for the first time, I arrived at Mary’s apartment on Saturday evening. In my pocket, besides my tickets to the Fillmore East show, was some hashish. Just in case Mary felt like watching the show while high on hashish with me.

Mary was dressed-up in a sweater and a skirt--and wearing more lipstick than she usually used--when I arrived. But she still looked very pretty and attractive to me, so I still felt like getting involved romantically with Mary, as we talked in her living room before leaving for the Fillmore East show.

Mary agreed that it would be fun to smoke some hashish before we went downtown to listen to the music. So we smoked some hashish together before leaving her apartment and walking towards the Fordham Road IND subway station to get on the D train going south.

I can’t remember much about the subway trip downtown, except that we barely noticed any of the other passengers around us while we conversed with each other in an animated way. But I do recall that by the time Mary and I were standing on line with our tickets outside the Fillmore East, waiting to be let into the theatre, we were both feeling the effects of the hashish and each enjoying being high on it. Once inside the Fillmore East Theatre, I can only vaguely recall what each of the featured acts performed. But I do remember that both Mary and I pretty much lost ourselves in the music and felt being stoned on hashish made the show more enjoyable.

By the time we took the subway back up to the Bronx and reached Mary’s apartment on Valentine Avenue, the effects of the hashish were wearing off. But although Mary seemed to have had a good time on our date, in the Fall of 1970 she apparently wasn’t the type of woman who would invite you into sleep with her after only one date or quickly express affection for a guy in a physical way, unless she really had decided she loved him. So after Mary kissed me goodbye on the street outside her apartment building in a friendly, but only polite way, and thanked me for the good time, I realized that Mary was still more cautious than I was about becoming romantically involved with each other.

After my Saturday night date with Mary, I still remained friends with her and continued to walk her home after class and stop off in her apartment to chat for a bit. But by the end of the Fall 1970 semester, Mary began to discourage me from seeking to get any closer to her or telephoning her much after we ceased to be evening classmates.

Wanting to eventually have children and not being as much into free love or radical bohemian politics as I still was, Mary had apparently concluded that there were too many philosophical and cultural background differences between us that would doom any attempt by us to develop a love relationship, despite my attraction to her. And after I got the hint from Mary that she hadn’t fallen in love with me, I stopped telephoning her.

So Mary of Valentine Avenue vanished from my life forever by early 1971, even though, in the late 1970s, I started to again bump into more Irish-American women my age that lived in New York City, after I began doing Irish solidarity political work.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Writers Guild Office Boy 1970 (i)

I was back in the Bronx in September 1970. But I now had to spend my time out in Queens crashing in my parents’ apartment for a few weeks, while I waited for my summer sublet to finally agree to vacate my Bronx apartment.

By late September 1970, Eric and Michelle had pretty much soured on New York City and on the people they each had met working at their phone company jobs. Finding a cheap, vacant apartment that wasn’t a dump in New York City had proven to be an impossible task because they weren’t plugged into any network of native New Yorkers who were African-American and who could give them some leads. Eric had not been able to find a community by linking up with any New York City Black Panther Party activists who, by then, were barely able to survive themselves because of the heavy level of COINTELPRO repression which they were experiencing either collectively or personally.

The one hip white person in the Bronx neighborhood that I had met who knew the Village scene from hanging out in the various coffeehouses there for many years, while living with his mother in her rent-controlled apartment without having to pay rent or work, was Mike. He had proven to be an unreliable friend for Eric during the summer, reinforcing Eric and Michelle’s original feeling that all whites could not be trusted. And that they were justified in treating white leftists as either soft touches or as the whites in the USA whom African-Americans could most easily try to take advantage of.

So by October 1970, Eric and Michelle decided that life for them in D.C. offered more opportunity for community and economic security than life in New York City ever would. Eric, Michelle and I ended up living together most of the time for about four weeks until mid-October 1970. But during their last few weeks crashing in the apartment beyond their previously agreed-upon September 1, 1970 exit date, the racist white Italian-American superintendent ended up physically assaulting me—after Eric and Michelle’s dog shit and pissed in the hallway outside my apartment and Eric apparently didn’t clean up the mess in the hall before the building super discovered it.

“Clean up this mess. It’s your fault. You shouldn’t have sublet this apartment to them,” the enraged racist superintendent said to me as he met me in the hall after I came home from work, while shoving a dust pan in my hand.

I started to explain that Black people had as much of a right as white people to live in the apartment building. But before I got a chance to finish, the 60-year-old white superintendent started punching me, while yelling “Clean it up! Clean it up!”

Quickly realizing that it made no sense to get into a brawl with the old white guy (who outweighed me by 80 pounds) while a neighbor who was sympathetic to him was watching us, I agreed to clean up the hallway. But that night I called a Movement lawyer who advised me to go to the court and file an assault complaint against the superintendent.

I followed the Movement lawyer’s advice. But when the elderly white racist superintendent received a legal notice to appear in court to answer my complaint against him, he immediately came upstairs and knocked on my apartment door. After I opened the apartment door, the elderly white superintendent then warned me, while holding the legal paper in his hand:

“If you press charges against me, I’ll call my brother, my nephews and my three cousins. And I’ll tell them to kill you,” he said in a threatening tone.

Not seeing any percentage in pressing charges against the superintendent in court, I immediately agreed to drop the assault complaint, after the superintendent agreed to not bother me again, and I assured him that Eric and Michelle were going to be moving out by the end of the month.

Hearing of the white superintendent’s assault on me, as a result of their dog’s accident and because I had been willing to sublet the cheap apartment in May to them for three months (without requiring any deposit from them), Eric and Michelle became much friendlier to me again for a few days. The incident had apparently reminded them that I was still the only person whom they had met in their 6 months of living in New York City who had been willing to rent them a decent pad on affordable terms; and that I had risked being beaten by neighborhood white racists for supporting their right to sublet a rent-controlled apartment in a nearly all-white Bronx neighborhood.

In retrospect, under the New York City rent control laws (which no tenants or Columbia students I had ever known really understood at that time), I actually had no legal right to sublet my Bronx rent controlled apartment to Eric and Michelle in May 1970, without first informing the landlord and getting the landlord’s approval. But the landlord would not have had a legal right to prevent me from subletting the apartment to Eric and Michele just because they were African-American.

And, in retrospect, under the then-existing New York City rent control laws, if Eric and Michelle had refused to move out in late October 1970 from my rent-controlled apartment (and decided to squat there with me instead of moving back to D.C.), the only way I could have legally forced them to move out would have been to request my landlord to go to court and get a legal eviction order. But after I did that, the landlord could legally have begun an eviction case against me because I sublet the apartment without his approval, although legally evicting me would have taken the landlord an additional 4 months.

Luckily for me, Eric and Michelle were not so desperate to keep living in New York City that they even considered squatting in my apartment with me for as long as they could legally do it.

Although Eric did not get involved in New York City Black Panther Party work during his six months in New York City, he did go down to the Panther-convened Revolutionary Convention in Philadelphia in which the recently-released Huey P. Newton spoke. Michael Tabor, a member of the framed-up Panther 21 group of trial defendants, also spoke at this well-attended gathering.

Eric, like most other people, was disappointed in Huey P. Newton’s oratorical abilities. But he thought that Michael Tabor’s summation of the historical wrongs done to African-Americans in the USA for the past few centuries was great.

Despite Eric not being impressed by Huey P. Newton’s speech, in October 1970 Eric, Michelle and I still felt that a Black Panther Party-led revolution in the USA was still on the 1970s political agenda. The initial effect of the 1967 to 1970 COINTELPRO campaign of political repression of the Black Panther Party activists by the FBI seemed to increase greatly mass support for the BPP in both the African-American and white left community and validate the slogan that “repression breeds more resistance.”

So, despite the alienation from the straight, unpoliticized clerical office workers that Eric, Michelle and I encountered when we worked in the 9-to-5 off-campus world, we still assumed that the BPP leadership, collectively, would be able to turn their increased post-1968 mass support into an agency for 1970s BPP-led anti-imperialist, socialist revolution in the USA, which immediately eradicated institutional racism, institutional sexism, institutional classism, institutional heterosexism, U.S. militarism and U.S. imperialism.

But while waiting for the Black Panther Party-led Revolution to happen in the Fall of 1970, I still had to earn survival money to pay my $57 per month rent. So in mid-September 1970, I again went to the New York State Employment Service office in Midtown Manhattan and applied for some kind of clerical office job to give me survival money, while I waited politically for the BPP-led Revolution or a radical feminist-led revolution in the USA to create an anti-imperialist, classless society in the United States during the 1970s.

I had read a library book on labor economics and manpower needs by Eli Ginzsburg recently, so I realized that although by the summer of 1969 there already was a surplus of native-born liberal arts college graduates with BA’s on the U.S. labor market, there still was a market in 1970 for white clerical workers with a few years of college. The U.S. economic recession of 1971, the exit of Vietnam Era vet draftees from the U.S. military and back into the U.S. domestic labor market, the increased participation of U.S. housewives in the U.S. labor force and U.S. banking industry pressure on New York City’s municipal government to eliminate thousands of civil service clerical jobs in 1975 made it much harder to get a clerk-typist job later in the 1970s. But it really wasn’t until Bill Gates and Microsoft (financially backed by IBM, initially) figured out a way to eliminate millions of U.S. clerical office worker jobs by the 1990s (by using smaller versions of the computers IBM had first developed with public funds), that permanent clerical-typist or secretarial office-type job opportunities for native-born U.S. workers who only had a few years of college pretty much vanished in the 9-to-5 world. And then the only way to get hired for such remaining available permanent jobs was to work for the temp agencies and try to get the temp agency’s client to eventually hire you as a perm.

In September 1970, an office worker was still able to get a reference to a permanent clerical job from the New York State Employment Service’s office division in Midtown Manhattan. If you were a college graduate, you had the choice of getting a job referral from either the professional placement division or the clerical office worker placement division. By the late 1970s, however, in order to get a job referral from the clerical office worker placement division, you had to not mention that you had a college BA degree when you filled out their registration application. Otherwise, you would be sent away to the New York State Employment Service’s by-then useless “professional placement” division for college graduates.

By the late 1970s, New York City employers were just using local private employment agencies and local university placement agencies to screen out or refer them job applicants who possessed college degrees; and they no longer listed their few job openings for liberal arts college graduates at the New York State Employment Service’s professional placement office. By the 1980s, New York City’s corporate office industry employers had also even stopped using the New York State Employment Service office to screen out or refer them job applicants who only possessed New York City high school diplomas.

Yet instead of requiring New York City private corporate employers to hire New York State Employment Service job applicant registrants on the same basis that they hired the jobseekers sent by private placement agencies and local university placement offices, the New York State Department of Labor bureaucrats turned the other way; and they pretty much began using the New York State Employment Service primarily as just a tool to knock workers off welfare and unemployment for “not seeking” non-existent jobs diligently enough.

But at the New York State Employment Service’s office worker placement division in Midtown Manhattan in September 1970 things were different. Dressed up in a suit and tie, clean shaven, and again having short hair, I filled out the application form and waited. A few minutes later, a blond-haired white woman in her late 20s or early 30s who wore a dress, makeup and lipstick, but who still seemed physically attractive, called my name. I then stood up and sat down on the chair by the side of the desk where she sat and handed her my job referral request application form I had previously filled out.

She seemed like a friendly, social worker-type person and a slightly older version of the Barnard College future social worker-types I used to fall in love with easily during the 1960s. After she read through my job application/job search registration form, she looked up and said: “I think I have a good job referral for you. It’s an office boy position with a labor union and the person you have to see before you get hired seems very nice.”

She then looked through her small metal box of orders telephoned from employers that requested no-fee referrals of appropriate job applicants from the New York State Employment Service, which had been written down on forms by the New York State Employment Service clerks and then filed in the box on her desk.

After reading me the description of the office boy position and asking me if I would be interested in being hired for the job, the New York State Employment Service placement-counselor then told me the job was with a union called the Writers Guild of America. Although I hadn’t heard of the Writers Guild of America before, the idea of doing office work for a labor union while I waited for the Revolution to happen (instead of doing office work for a business corporation) naturally appealed to me, given my revolutionary leftist anti-war and counter-cultural politics. So the New York State Employment Service then telephoned the Writers Guild of America office and set up an appointment for me with the Writers Guild of America-East assistant executive director Paul Erbach for that very afternoon. She then wrote out a New York State Employment Service job referral job for me to hand to Paul Erbach prior to being interviewed by him in the afternoon.

In September 1970, most employers in New York City usually hired the first person they interviewed who was qualified and didn’t waste their time first collecting twenty resumes, interviewing more than one candidate or finally hiring somebody other than the first qualified person who applied for the position. So when the New York State Employment Service placement counselor handed me the referral card and sent me on my way, we both felt pretty certain that I would be quickly hired for the office boy position at the Writers Guild of America--East. And we both were quickly proven right.

In September 1970 the Writers Guild of America-East union office was located in a skyscraper near W. 48th St. at 1212 Ave. of the Americas, which most New Yorkers still called “Sixth Avenue.” I no longer recall which floor the Writers Guild union office was located on, but to get there you had to walk through a lobby and take the elevator up to at least above the 4th floor. In September 1970 there wasn’t any security guard sitting in the lobby to check employee identification cards or make sure visitors to the building or messengers signed-in before being allowed to take the automatic elevators upstairs to the 1212 Avenue of Americas skyscraper offices.

Although most of the luxury apartments on Fifth Avenue, Park Avenue and Central Park West and the adjacent numbered streets had doormen in September 1970 to act as security guards for their wealthy tenants or co-op owners, most Manhattan skyscrapers in September 1970 were not yet then guarded by security guards in the lobby. If you wanted to visit most offices that were located in skyscrapers, or deliver some kind of message or package, or apply for a job in September 1970, you could pretty much just walk into the building’s lobby and hop on an elevator without being stopped or questioned by anybody, until you reached a particular office’s receptionist.

Thousands of office workers (usually unmarried women in their 20s whom the usually older white male executives or bosses considered physically and sexually attractive) were still able to earn money as receptionists in September 1970, because most business offices didn’t have voice-mail and guards weren’t generally downstairs in the skyscrapers screening-out potential office intruders. So to both act as gatekeepers for visitors and to answer phone calls, employers were usually still required to each hire at least one receptionist for their offices in September 1970.

I can only vaguely remember my job interview with Paul Erbach. He was friendly, like the New York State Employment Service placement worker had promised, but he wasn’t friendly in a loud, jovial way. After he explained what the office boy position would entail and showed me the small mailroom which contained the mimeograph machine, the postage meter and the addressograph machine that I would be using and where I would often work, he went back with me into his small private office, described the salary and benefits of the job and agreed to hire me on the spot. My starting salary was to be $100 per week, which in September 1970 was considered a good initial salary for office boy work. He also mentioned that the person who had held the job before me had liked the job, but had been recently drafted into the U.S. military and wasn’t expected to still want the job by the time he ended up getting discharged from the U.S. Army., because the U.S. Army would probably open up more lucrative future job opportunities for him after he served his time.

Besides the small mail room and Paul Erbach’s small private office, the Writers Guild 1212 Avenue of the Americas union office consisted of a larger, generally off-limits office/conference room of its long-time executive director, Evelyn Burkey, and a reception area and front room, about 40 feet by 10 feet, where the union office’s clerical staff of seven (including me) employees worked between 9-to-5 each weekday, behind six desks. By the late 1980s, the Writers Guild of America-East had moved into a much larger, plush suite across town in the West 50s. But in September 1970, the Writers Guild-East union office was not plush, although it was much fancier than the offices of the anti-war movement groups, like the War Resisters League/Student Peace Union, New York Regional SDS or Newsreel, where I had worked in during the 1960s.

Paul Erbach was a left-liberal white man in his 40s or early 50s in September 1970 who commuted into Midtown Manhattan each day from just across the Hudson River in West New York, New Jersey. As a young man in his twenties, he apparently had first tried to earn a living as an actor in the New York City theatre world. But once he married and had a wife and then some kids to support, he put aside his own theatrical ambitions, became more economically practicable and found himself well-paying jobs as an executive in the New York City-based mainstream entertainment media industry’s talent union world.

Paul was a gentle, considerate person and both anti-racist and anti-war in his politics in 1970. He was the kind of person who would probably always vote for Democratic Party presidential candidates like Eugene McCarthy or RFK in 1968 or George McGovern in 1972; and who detested Nixon. But having reached 9-to-5 working age in the Joe McCarthy/Cold War Era of the 1950s, when people in the U.S. who were communists were especially demonized within U.S. left-liberal circles and the New York City radio and television industry, Paul was still an anti-communist liberal in 1970. He would probably not have hired me in September 1970 if I had mentioned during my job interview that I had been on the steering committee of Columbia SDS in 1968, been the most active member of Richmond College SDS in 1969 and worked with the alternative media group of revolutionary left Newsreel filmmakers as recently as March 1970.

By September 1970, I had learned that, at that time in the U.S. media world, open New Leftists could not yet get hired by mainstream media employers, unless they had only been involved in the New Left during its early 1960s reformist, civil rights, mainstream media-supported phase, indicated that they had “outgrown” or backed-off from late 1960s New Left politics or had parents, relatives or family friends with enough clout in the mainstream media world to insure that they would get hired, despite their “crazy politics.”

Before being hired by the Writers Guild in September 1970, for instance, I had unsuccessfully tried to “infiltrate” ABC News by getting a job as a researcher, based on my discovery of Columbia’s IDA connection and my co-authorship of the Columbia Citizenship Council’s “Columbia and the Community” pamphlet, which documented and exposed the exact way that Columbia’s expansion and real estate polices on the Upper West Side drove nearly 10,000 primarily African-American, Puerto Rican and elderly poor white tenants out of the Morningside Heights/West Harlem neighborhood during the 1950s and 1960s. But when the straight, corporate-dressed, fast-talking plastic white guy in his late 40s heard the words “Columbia” and “1968,” he seemed to then immediately rule out any possibility that ABC News would trust me enough to hire me. Especially since my application form honestly revealed that I did not end up getting either a BA from Columbia despite my attendance there or gone on to attend Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. In addition, most researcher jobs at ABC News prior to 1970 were apparently reserved for unmarried white upper-middle-class women with B.A.’s in their 20s or 30s who had sexually marketable plastic physical appearances.

Although Paul was a friendly, easy-going guy who supervised his clerical employees at the union office in a non-authoritarian way, the elderly woman boss who supervised him in September 1970, Writers Guild-East Executive Director Evelyn Burkey, related to him in a more authoritarian way and rarely spoke to anyone who worked at the union office other than to Paul, her assistant executive director.

Burkey was in her late 50s or early 60s in September 1970 and had apparently been in charge of the radio and television writers’ union office since the late 1940s or the 1950s. Like Paul, she was a liberal anti-communist in her politics. But she was apparently also a tough negotiator on behalf of the radio and television writers during their union’s contract bargaining talks with television network executives and she wasn’t a personally corrupt union bureaucrat. With Burkey as their executive director, the Writers Guild-East union members were able to win lucrative contracts from the radio and television networks throughout the 1950s and 1960s. So by the time I worked there, most of the steadily-employed Writers Guild-East members were mostly either living in fancy high-rise apartments on the Upper East Side or Upper West Side, in fancy bohemian West Village pads or in suburban homes in Westchester County or Connecticut.

So the union writers whom Burkey represented didn’t care much whether or not their union executive director ran their union office in a hierarchical, undemocratic way, whether or not Burkey was plain-looking or whether or not she was a fun person to party with. As long as Burkey continued to bring in the bacon and the big residual checks and pension checks for the union members whose scripts were being used by the radio and television network executives, her job was secure. Even if she wasn’t as sensitive person as her assistant Paul, didn’t look like an aging television actress and seemed like somebody who would only want to just talk business with you.

The Writers Guild-East union office was open Monday through Friday from 9 to 5. But Burkey was usually out of the office at some bargaining session with representatives of one of the networks or local media firms that employed Guild members, meeting with lawyers, Writers Guild shop stewards or union pension fund consultants, or attending some social networking function within the talent union subculture world.

But the staff of clerical workers at the Writers Guild-East office didn’t mind not seeing Burkey around the office very much. For when Burkey wasn’t there, we could relax more and talk to each other a lot and not have to pretend we were busy. When Burkey was in the office, however, you had to be more careful to look busy and be talking and laughing less, for she might suddenly emerge from her large personal office/conference room to impatiently request that you do something for her or find something for her, in a bossy tone. And if she felt you were too much of a loafer, she might then start complaining about you to Paul and get on his back enough so that he’d have to make believe he was going to crack down on you when Burkey wasn’t around the office (which, of course, he never was willing to do).

One reason Burkey probably felt she had to act more like a male bulldog in relating to people below her in the office hierarchy and on the opposite side of the bargaining table or at meetings with the members of her union board is that in the 1950s and 1960s and in September 1970 she was often the only woman in a roomful of men. And she probably felt that, as a woman, she would not be taken seriously at these meetings unless she showed that she was emotionally “tougher,” more emotionally closed and more domineering than any of the men in the room—which wasn’t that hard to be, because many of the men who wrote for radio and television before the 1980s tended to be more emotionally sensitive than the men who worked on Wall Street, especially since it was generally hard for a male writer to come up with a good script if he was emotionally dead.

Because she couldn’t be around the Guild union office herself to make sure the clerical staff’s work was always accurate and timely, Burkey’s hiring policy was to entrust her assistant executive director to try to hire people who were overqualified for their positions on the union’s clerical staff. As a result, nearly all of us on the Writers Guild-East office staff were able to finish our assigned work each day within three or four hours. So we usually would all be sitting in the office with nothing to do except read daily newspapers or converse with each other on most afternoons.

What was good about the Writers Guild-East office staff hiring policy in September 1970 was that, unlike many other unions, the Writers Guild had a racially integrated office staff. Joe, the administrative assistant at the Writers Guild union office, was a hip, good-looking, African-American guy in his late 20s or early 30s, who wore glasses.

Joe lived in Brooklyn and was a chain-smoker. Joe, not Paul, was the person who showed me how to use the office mimeograph machine, the office postage meter and the office addressograph machine; and by the end of my first week of work at the Guild, Joe and I both realized that we enjoyed talking with each other during the day. Joe was also the person who showed me how to make deliveries of messenger deliveries to union shop stewards at the NBC studios in Rockefeller Center or at the CBS radio studio in the CBS Building from our W.48th Street office, without going outside, by going through the various underground concourse corridors that connect 47th Street to 53rd Street in the Rockefeller Center area.

In September 1970, cigarette advertising on television was either finally banned or going to be finally banned. But cigarette smoking in the skyscraper offices by clerical workers at their desks was not prohibited and it wasn’t yet common knowledge that sidestream smoke from smokers might be harmful to the non-smokers in the office. So no one in the Writers Guild either complained or saw anything unusual about Joe chain-smoking at his desk in the office during the workday.

In September 1970, Joe hated Nixon as much as I did, but he wasn’t any kind of a Movement activist. He seemed to be too much of a hedonist to be interested in the U.S. political situation in more than a passing way, although he agreed with me that U.S. society was sick and racist to the core. When he wasn’t caged in the Writers Guild union office on weekdays, Joe seemed to mainly spend his leisure time smoking pot or drinking booze, dating and having sexual affairs with different women, listening to vinyl records, watching television and reading popular fiction. When not working, Joe seemed to be just into living like an African-American variant of a 1950s swinging bachelor playboy-type.

When I initially met Joe, he was, like most U.S. men in the September 1970 skyscraper office world, still generally male chauvinist and sexist in the way he viewed women. But the more I began to challenge some of his male chauvinist views, the more he began to realize that women in the Fall of 1970 who were victims of sexism experienced forms of economic discrimination in U.S. society that resembled the discrimination that African-American men like himself faced. So I noticed, as the weeks went by, Joe was less likely to refer to women in anti-feminist ways in his conversation. And when he talked about his weekend sexual encounters, Joe was one of the first men I met in the pre-1975 plastic 9-to-5 office world who questioned the notion that it was “unmanly” for a man to let his female sexual partner lie on top of him and straddle him in a female dominant/male recumbent coital position, when they made love.

“A man who always has to be on top when he has sex with a woman doesn’t know how much pleasure he’s missing,” Joe confided to me with a smile in the mailroom one Monday morning after I asked him how his weekend had been.

One reason Joe drank so much in his leisure time, however, was that he felt he had outgrown his administrative assistant job at the Writers Guild union office and he couldn’t find any position that was more intellectually challenging or higher-paying in U.S. society because of institutional racism. So Joe felt frustrated at work. He had worked for seven years at the Writers Guild and, since he didn’t have a college degree, there was no chance that he would be able to eventually move into Paul’s position as assistant executive director if Paul ever got a position elsewhere or if Burkey retired and Paul then replaced her as the executive director.

Joe had been told by Paul that the salary he was receiving as administrative assistant at the Guild office after seven years was as high as the Guild would ever pay for that position. So if Joe wanted to earn more money, he would have to find a new position at another organization. As a result, Joe spent a lot of his spare time at his desk every Monday looking through the Sunday Times’ want-ads each Monday. But on the few occasions when Joe did go for some job interview for a higher-paying administrative position, no one ever hired him, despite his experience and qualifications—probably because most of the employers who interviewed him generally were white straight plastic male executives who were still just generally looking for young, unmarried white women who they considered physically attractive to be their administrative assistants in the Fall of 1970.

Another African-American who was employed by the Writers Guild to be on its union office clerical staff was a tall, perceptive African-American woman, who usually used make-up and lipstick, wore high-heels and dressed-up stylishly each workday. Her name was Sylvia and she also lived in Brooklyn, around Grand Army Plaza.

Sylvia appeared to keep the membership records and keep track of the membership fees and residual payments in a very efficient way. But I never did get to know the exact nature of what Sylvia’s job consisted of. Sylvia appeared to be in her mid-to-late 30s in September 1970. The first week I started working at the Writers Guild, Sylvia was on a week’s vacation in Montreal. In September 1970, Sylvia was unmarried and without children, but she seemed to have nephews or nieces that she was fond of. The book she was reading in the Fall of 1970 during her spare time was Love Story, which was a popular best-selling book that tied-in to the movie of the same name which starred Ali McGraw.

Sitting at the desk that was both nearest and perpendicular to Sylvia’s desk in the Guild office was Eli, the white bookkeeper. Like me, Eli commuted from the Bronx to work in Manhattan. But, unlike me, Eli still lived with his parents, although he appeared to be in his early 30s in September 1970 and was making a good salary as a bookkeeper because he had been working in the Guild office for a number of years. Unlike Joe or me, the overweight Eli always came to work on time and always dressed in a suit and tie each day. He seemed to be a conventional, culturally straight, docile office worker, who just wasn’t interested in what was happening in the world outside his workplace or his immediate nuclear family.

Although Eli was a conventional guy, like everyone else in the union office, he was against the Vietnam War. But since Eli seemed afraid to be a non-conformist in any way, you got the sense that if he worked in a corporate office where everyone else supported the Vietnam War, Eli would probably have then been a supporter of the Vietnam War, although he, himself, was not the kind of guy who would ever intentionally hurt anybody else personally.

Although Eli was not unfriendly when he took a rest from adding his figures up each day, both Joe and I felt that Eli was afraid to break away from his parents emotionally. Eli probably hoped to eventually find a wife to marry and have children with. But unless he broke away soon there was a risk that by his 40’s he’d find himself an unhappy and lonely bachelor. Instead of spending his evenings and weekends away from his parents, dating or trying to meet people other than his workmates (none of whom would ever want to spend time with him out of the office), Eli seemed to be the kind of passive, white guy in his 30’s who just sat in front of his tv each night and on weekends and who wouldn’t know what to do with his leisure time if he wasn’t going to work Monday through Friday in the skyscraper office.

Eli could not conceive of himself smoking pot, didn’t drink alcohol and didn’t seem to read books or listen to much music on the radio or on a stereo. He also rarely used any of his vacation time since, although he was only in his 30s, he seemed to lack curiosity or a sense of adventure.

During my time working in the Guild office I tried to expose Eli to a politically radical 60s counter-cultural hip left perspective on a number of occasions. But Eli, although a nice guy, was uninterested and couldn’t conceive of himself as being somebody who could ever have become a hippie. And he seemed like a person who, while not standing in the way of any radical change in the 9 to 5 world if it did happen in the 1970s, would prefer that nothing changed much in the 9-to-5 world as long as he could keep going to work at the Guild without being pressured by his supervisors too much.

Since Joe and I were much more dissatisfied with the way the 9-to-5 world operated in the states and I, in particular, mistakenly assumed in the Fall of 1970 that my generation would bring the whole 9-to-5 office world system down in a 1970s revolution, both Joe and I felt we had little in common with Eli philosophically. To us, he seemed too unhip, too closed intellectually and too personally repressed and beaten-down by the System to interest us in wanting to get to know him better. Insofar as we thought of Eli, he seemed to both Joe and me as someone whose life provided no model for our own lives, except in a negative way, as an example of what could have happened to us if we had been fearful of breaking away from our parents by our 20s and learning to live on our own.

Another office worker in the Guild office was a more intellectual white woman, who seemed to be in her mid-to-late-40s, named Shirley, who had been a WAC during World War II. Shirley wore lipstick and makeup and seemed like she was someone that most men would have considered plain-looking on a physical level.

Shirley was unmarried, childless and lived alone in her own apartment. But, unlike Eli, she was interested in what was going on in the world outside the office in the Fall of 1970 and she and I would talk about things like the war in Indochina, books we had each read, the Broadway theatre and the counter-culture to try to pass the free time we often had in the office after we had each finished with our assigned work.

Shirley was left-liberal in her politics. But, unlike Joe, she seemed to mainly reflect the New York Times newspaper’s perspective on what was going on and on life in her mind-set. Which was not surprising, because Shirley was one of those New Yorkers who religiously read the New York Times each day and on weekends as if it were the Bible.

But Shirley was more of a left-liberal idealist and less cynical than most other New York Times readers and, when I once indicated that I felt most of what was being produced on Broadway by 1970 was commercial crap, she replied: “Why don’t you go see Man of La Mancha? It’s a lot better than what they usually produce.”

After a few weeks at the Guild, I mentioned to Shirley that I used to have a beard and long-hair, but I was reluctant to let my beard and long hair grow again, now that I was working in a 9-to-5 mainstream media network TV world, where all the men were, in 1970, still generally clean-shaven and short-haired. Shirley, however, assured me that I could be myself and dress like a non-conformist hippie at the Guild office, and pretty much talk freely there, without there being any risks that Burkey and Paul, or any of the non-hippie Guild members, would start complaining about me looking too much like a hippie for the straight bargaining image that they wanted their talent union to project in 1970.

The Guild office receptionist was an unmarried white woman in her mid-to-late 20s who wore glasses named Maria. She seemed pretty culturally straight, non-artistic and non-intellectual. Most men would have probably considered Maria just average-looking on a physical level, especially since, compared to most other skyscraper female receptionists at that time, Maria looked less like a fashion model or an unemployed actress and more like a woman who lived at home with her mother and had difficulty getting dates with men.

Maria started to work at the Guild office the same week I did. But after the first week of work at the Guild office, she seemed bored with her job. She seemed to prefer to spend more of her time at work being a laughing chatter-box than doing any of the clerical work that she was assigned to do when she wasn’t answering office phones and screening telephone calls and taking messages (in an era before voicemails were used in the skyscraper offices).

Much of Maria’s chattering and constant giggling seemed to be an expression of her frustration at not being able to meet some man who would marry her so that she would no longer have to do office work in the 9-to-5 world and could then stay at home, have a baby and spend the days raising a child in a traditional way, like her own mother had done. Whenever a male messenger, a salesman, a deliveryman or a male writer would visit the office to either make a delivery, fill out some union forms or attend a meeting, Maria would often comment on whether she thought the guy was “cute” ater the guy left the office.

Although Maria was much younger than was Shirley, because she was less intellectual and more self-centered than Shirley, I tended to find it more interesting to kill time in the office speaking with someone like Shirley than talking with Maria. So although one week Maria tried dressing more like a hip woman, wearing pants instead of her usual traditional feminine dress or skirt, and seemed to try sitting closer to me than usual when we stuffed envelopes next to each other before mailing them to union members, I never felt particularly turned on physically by her when I worked in the Guild office.

In retrospect, although she was about my height and probably was about my equal in physical strength, she seemed too traditionally feminine, too plastic, too frivolous, too self-centered and too conventionally plain in her physical appearance compared to the more bohemian younger women students, hippie women and Movement women I had been attracted to during the previous five years. Plus she was older than me. And since I was totally uninterested in getting married or having children in the fall of 1970 and she was so obviously looking desperately for a man to marry, support her and raise children with, I realized there was no point in even considering asking Maria for a date even once during the time I worked at the Guild office.

The woman in the Guild office who I was most attracted to initially was the college student from Queens who worked part-time a few days a week in the afternoon at the Guild office, helping Shirley and Eli. Her name was Rosemary and she was considered pretty by most men, had a gentle and sweet personality and dressed like the typical woman college student of the early 1970s, usually wearing jeans whenever she appeared in the office.

But Rosemary already had a boyfriend, wasn’t intellectual, politically radical or artistic and seemed to be planning to just graduate from college and live a conventional lower-middle-class or working-class life. So she never showed any interest in encouraging me to try to get closer to her when she worked with me at the Guild office. Yet a few years later, I did think of her when I wrote a folk song based on a fantasized image of her and our contact at the Guild office, titled “Rosemary,” which contained the following lyrics:

Your beauty
Makes me want you bad.
You appeared
And I stared
`Cause I felt your love.
With your mind like fire
With your voice so sweet
With your passion wild
You I longed to meet.

Please talk with me
When you need a friend.
You seem kind
And my spine
Feels the love you send.
With your laughing spirit
With your open arms
With your love for nature
You are like the stars.

Please kiss me
When you feel the mood.
With you near
Life seems so clear
For my heart you’re food.
With your tender verses
With your eyes so deep
With your lips that stir me
While the others sleep.”

As this Rosemary folk song indicates, by the Fall of 1970 I was starting to get lyrical and melodic ideas for less politically-oriented, less protest-oriented songs during my work hours by building the folk songs around the names of the particular women workmates in the 9 to 5 office world that I felt sexually or emotionally drawn to, in the same way I had previously gotten lyrical and melodic ideas for love songs by building the folk songs around the names of the particular women I felt a passion for before I entered the 9 to 5 skyscraper office world.

Of all the women on the Writers Guild union office staff in the Fall of 1970, the 38-year-old white woman, who was the secretary/typist for both Burkey and Paul, seemed to be the one who had lived the most unconventional life so far. Her name was Pat and she had grown up in the South. But then she moved up North to live in New York City. She apparently had either been married to or had an inter-racial love affair with to an African-American man during the 1950s, when she was in her early 20’s and had given birth to an African-American son.

But in 1970, the father of her son no longer lived with Pat and her by-then teenage son in Pat’s small East Side apartment. And Pat seemed to be having a tough time economically trying to both support her teenage son as a single-mother and to keep affording the rent on her Manhattan apartment on the salary the Guild was paying her.

Yet Pat was not willing to move out of Manhattan to some cheaper apartment in Bronx or Brooklyn. Instead, Pat seemed to prefer to try to conserve the money she needed to pay her Manhattan apartment rent each month by bringing a bag lunch to work each day and not spending much money eating lunch out or ordering lunch to be delivered to her at the union office.

With her red hair and pretty face, Pat looked like the kind of woman who might have been considered a beauty when she was in her 20’s. But I initially felt she used too much makeup and lipstick when she was in her late 30s, in the Fall of 1970, for me to find her particularly attractive. Pat also apparently may have had the figure of a female college cheerleader or a Hollywood actress or fashion model when she was in her twenties. But at 38, Pat seemed to be starting to find it difficult to keep her weight down in an era before it was considered fashionable for women clerical office workers in their 30’s to spend as much time jogging or working-out in the gym or health club during lunch or after work, as it later became by the late 1970s. Yet the soft-spoken, gentle Pat still tended to automatically assume that most men of her age or older that she wished to get involved with would tend to find her as sexually attractive as they had found her when she was in her 20’s.

Having hung out in the Village during the 1950s, Pat was anti-war and left-liberal in her politics and understood earlier than the other women clerical office workers at the Guild why I felt that working in the 9-to-5 world under capitalism was a form of 9-to-5 wage slavery. But being 38 and having to support her teenage son and pay a Manhattan, not a Brooklyn or Bronx, rent for her apartment, made Pat feel that she was stuck working 9-to-5 at the Guild office, although she hated her job. And since there were few men her age or older around who were then willing to marry and support a woman with a teenage son-- and she didn’t see the possibility that the 9-to-5 work world set-up would ever change in as radical a way as I predicted it would in the Fall of 1970—Pat felt she really had no alternative to acceptance of her current job situation.

“I was once an idealist like you, when I was your age,” Pat said to me affectionately one day in the Guild office, after eavesdropping on one of my conversations with Shirley. “But now I’m more of a realist.”

In retrospect, of course, Pat—based on her years in the 9-to-5 skyscraper office world—perceived (more accurately than did I) that—despite the emergence of the new wave of feminism in the late 1960s and early 1970s—the basic pattern of work life for U.S. working-class people in Manhattan would not change radically, in the short-run. In the Fall of 1970, I grossly overestimated how radical an impact the new wave of feminism and the shift in consciousness produced by the 1960s student, anti-war, Black Liberation and hippy movements would quickly make on the pattern of work life in the 9-to-5 skyscraper world for working-class people.