Lessons from Stop the Draft Week 50 years ago

In 1967, protesters filled the streets of Oakland to stop the draft. Seven faced serious charges — and their message still resonates today

With great fanfare PBS is airing a 10-part series about the Vietnam War. Critics charge that under the guise of being even handed, series producers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick say the US and Vietnam share equal blame for the war. Foreign correspondent  Reese Erlich offers a different historical perspective.

October marks the 50th anniversary of Stop the Draft Week, the largest militant anti-Vietnam War demonstration up to that time. Ten thousand people jammed into the streets of downtown Oakland to shutdown the federal draft induction center.

Demonstration organizers, who became known as the Oakland 7, faced an 11-week conspiracy trial. In a major victory for the anti-war movement, a jury acquitted them of all charges…

In October of 1967, the U.S. war effort in Vietnam was failing. In just a few months, Vietnamese rebels launched the Tet Offensive, a political defeat that proved to be a turning point in the US war.

Throughout 1967 President Lyndon Johnson sent more troops to South Vietnam, and that required bigger draft calls. The sons of the very rich and well connected always avoided the draft. Donald Trump received a medical deferment due to “bone spurs” in his heels. They didn’t prevent him from a lifetime of skiing, however…

We didn’t consider ourselves hippies, but the anti-war and counterculture movements were intertwined. Both groups used drugs, listened to rock, dressed unconventionally and engaged in the kind of sex that outraged our parents. But hippies tended to protest society by “dropping out.” We wanted them to “drop in” to the anti-war movement.

We also sought to broaden the anti-war movement by including workers and allying with black, Latino, and Asian activists. Dave Harris and his pacifist allies believed they could do that with an appeal to conscience and traditional, nonviolent tactics.

Others of us argued that working class youth were turned off by traditional pacifism. It was time that anti-war demonstrators become more militant and defend ourselves against police attack.

Our call for militant action was hugely controversial. Of course local politicians, university administrators and business people were opposed. But even most leaders of the mainstream peace movement were hesitant. Our rejection of non-violent tactics ran against the grain of protests at that time. Few leaders and no traditional peace groups endorsed STDW.

But we picked up grassroots support. I still remember walking the streets of Berkeley in early October and seeing scores of houses displaying Stop the Draft Week posters in their windows.

Our timing was spot on. “Our political antennae picked up something out there,” Oakland 7 member Terry Cannon told me years later… (more)

How the mighty have fallen. An unofficial Summer of Love celebration did squeak by with little fanfare in the fall of 2017 in the San Francisco Golden Gate Park Bandshell, with Wavy Gravy and some die hard local bands and their fans.
It is a sad day when San Francisco officials nix the 50th anniversary Summer of Love concert that ushered in the peace movement, especially now that we are dealing with a clash of cultures and political upheaval.
To add insult to injury, Silicon Valley officials and the 49ers Management want to extend a 10 PM noise curfew to allow for later performances to make up for the poor ticket sales at Levis Stadium. Money is king in the the former home of the peace and love movement.
Pay to play or just pay, as California turns itself into the most valuable real estate with the highest rate of poverty and one of the worst education systems in the country.

 

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The New Yuppies

By J.C. Pan : newrepublic – excerpt

How the aspirational class expresses its status in an age of inequality.

The term “yuppie” now feels so dated that it occasionally seems an entire social class has vanished. If the suit-wearing Patrick Batemans of the 1980s no longer embody affluence, what has come to replace them? “Hipster” reigned, briefly, as the label of choice for certain irritating would-be members of the bourgeoisie. But while hipsters were, like the yuppies before them, young and urban-dwelling, they weren’t exactly professional. Often rumored to be living off their trust funds, they spent their time as layabout musicians or bike messengers, milling in coffee shops and craft cocktail bars. Yuppies, on the other hand, were seasoned careerists who owned yachts and luxury SUVs and talked in public about their stock portfolios. Yuppiedom described a specific oily demeanor and pattern of consumption as much as it implied affluence…(more).

Summer of Love lost on those living in Summer of Discontent

By Caille Millner : sfchronicle – excerpt

In our Summer of Discontent, what can we learn from the Summer of Love?

Since the Summer took place before I was born, I have no nostalgia, passions or bad memories about anything that happened in San Francisco in 1967.

I can tell that for some people it was a seminal event, judging by the extent of attention I’ve seen around the 50th anniversary. There have been at least 10 Bay Area museum exhibits celebrating some aspect of the Summer of Love this year. There have been endless free concerts, tours and tie-dyed public posters. There’s been even-more-extensive-than-usual glorification of the Grateful Dead.

I appreciate how all of this is an opportunity for a segment of Bay Area Baby Boomers to indulge in youthful memories of the good times. (Have fun, kids!)

But for those of us far too young to have been there, the Summer of Love has never felt as far away as it does in 2017.

On my way to the de Young Museum’s “Summer of Love Experience” exhibit, in Golden Gate Park, I traveled through the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. My misgivings began there.

San Francisco’s advanced state of economic inequality and neighborhood gentrification have led to strange street-level juxtapositions all over town. But the Haight is still a special place; these juxtapositions maintain a hard edge…

Continue reading “Summer of Love lost on those living in Summer of Discontent”

Defunding the NEA Would be incredibly stupid-Here’s Why

By Diana Budds : fastcodesign – excerpt

The National Endowment for the Arts funds local community building, educational programs, job training, housing, and more.

Arts funding has always been under assault, but the Trump Administration, hungry for budget cuts, is now baring its teeth at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in what appears to be the most serious threat to its existence since Reagan’s crusade in the 1980s. Staffers on Trump’s transition team told The Hill that the NEA and its sister organization, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), would be eliminated completely.

Defunding the NEA would be incredibly irresponsible and downright dumb. Federal agencies and departments are nebulous entities, and their responsibilities, scale, and scope are often opaque. The NEA for instance has funded projects related to affordable housing, job training, making sure children have access to playgrounds, historic preservation, resiliency, improving health care, designing better parks, and promoting social justice–along with its mission of funding museums, fine arts, dance, and theater, of course.

If you care about any of these things, you should also care about the NEA… (more)

It is not clear how the president is going to solve the job problem when he is cutting millions of government jobs. Someone needs to mention this job loss issue to him in case it hasn’t occurred to him yet.

City Lights responds to the new action era in North Beach

By KPIX : CBSlocal – excerpt (video included)

TURNING THE PAGE: They are putting up resistance at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco’s North Beach, with a brand new section.

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — One of the Bay Area’s most beloved bookstores has a new section designed to help voters who are in despair over the presidency of Donald Trump. They are putting up resistance at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco’s North Beach, with a special section called “Pedagogies of Resistance.”… (more)
Send us news of your city’s actions to post on this site. We want to know what is going on in artists groups all over the country.

David Meltzer, SF Beat generation poet and musician, dies

David Meltzer, the prolific poet and musician who merged his two passions, creating work that goes back to the Beat generation and San Francisco Renaissance of the 1950s and ’60s, has died. He was 79.

Mr. Meltzer died peacefully Saturday at his home in Oakland after suffering a stroke, said his daughters. He was surrounded by loved ones.

Fellow Bay Area Beat poet Diane di Prima called Mr. Meltzer “one of the secret treasures on our planet. Great poet, musician, comic; mystic unsurpassed, performer with few peers.”

His friends Greg and Keiko Levasseur wrote on the poet’s website that “We have lost a great poet, scholar, musician, and jazz historian. He was a loving husband and father, and a great soul. He was a wonderful friend whose gentle spirit, sense of humor, and astonishing capacity for sake made him a joy to be with.”

Mr. Meltzer wrote more than 40 volumes of poetry, among them “Arrows: Selected Poetry 1957-1992,” “Name: Selected Poetry, 1973-1983” and “Beat Thing” (2004). His nonfiction work includes “Reading Jazz” (1993), “Writing Jazz” (1999), “When I Was a Poet” (2011) and “Two-Way Mirror: A Poetry Notebook,” a collection of anecdotes and quotations published by Oyez Press in 1977 and rereleased by City Lights Publishers in 2015… (more)

Kerouac in Encyclopaedia Britannica

I finally managed to convince the editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica online that Jack Kerouac did indeed frequent the Beaux Arts coffee house (Pinellas Park) and my first college pub The Wild Boar (Tampa) as well.

But the EB editors found my lines about finding Kerouac still drunk in his car outside The Wild Boar the morning after unsuitable for publication. I don’t understand why really. After all, they report that he was nearly beaten to death by fellow drinkers whom he had “antagonized” in another bar. Then what’s so dangerous about saying that he slept off his hangover in the car outside The Wild Boar?

Anyway, I thought you would be happy to know that the Beaux Arts has now been immortalized by the EB online in their narrative of Kerouac’s life.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest New Year ever!

Love,

Hugh

P.S. Follow this link: additions-and-corrections-to-the-eb-online