August 25, 2017

50 years ago yesterday, Abbie Hoffman threw dollar bills from the visitors' gallery onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

The Nation reminds us.
For a brief moment, [said Hoffman's co-protester Bruce Dancis], “it showed that there was more to life than the dogged accumulation of wealth and riches.” And it was part of a new tactic Abbie was experimenting with: deploying humor, drawing on guerilla theater, to use the media to reach many more people than a protest march would have... Abbie... was searching for new forms of protest, since the media were already cutting back on coverage of street demonstrations, no matter how big they were....

“When we arrived,” Dancis recalled, “Abbie, who looked like a long-haired hippie, got stopped by a guard, who said, ‘You can’t do a demonstration in here.’ Abbie said, “You’re not letting me in because I’m Jewish!’ The guard became flustered.”...

Abbie had something like $100 in dollar bill... At first, there was “stunned silence from the floor. Then some people started cheering. Others scrambled around trying to grab or pick up all the money they could. Others started cursing us and yelling at us, telling us to get the hell out of there.....”...

“We were on the cover of the New York Post that afternoon,” Dancis recalled. “The whole notion of the ‘Hippie Invasion of the New York Stock Exchange’ was too much for people in the media to pass up.”...
I wonder if the media today will ever tire of covering street demonstrations — no matter how big they are. Imagine needing to deploy humor and search for new forms of protest. Things were different then. Look at the joy:

Photo credit: Credit Arty Pomerantz/New York Post
And yet Abbie Hoffman killed himself. But it was 22 years later (NYT). He suffered from "manic depression," as it was called back then, but it was supposedly under control. His Chicago Seven co-defendant Tom Hayden explained the suicide this way:
''He was really uncomfortable with becoming middle aged and facing old age without seeing significant social change... He was a perennial youth, a juvenile delinquent with gray hair... I have to think that perturbed him a lot. He was always trying to re-create the 60's and was deeply dismayed he was becoming a prophet in the wilderness of the 80's.''

52 comments:

traditionalguy said...

He was a Jerry Lewis, entertainer type.

John Tuffnell said...

Hoffman wanted to recreate the 60's (unhealthy), others around here just have great nostalgia for the era (healthy).

J. Farmer said...

He was always trying to re-create the 60's and was deeply dismayed he was becoming a prophet in the wilderness of the 80's.''

I remember seeing a film in 1990 called Flashback in which Dennis Hopper plays an ex-hippie activist who is arrested after being on the lamb for years during a protest stunt during a campaign stop involved Spiro Agnew, and Kiefer Sutherland plays the straight-laced, buttoned up FBI agent tasked with bringing him in. I did not realize it at the time, but the Hopper character must obviously been based on Hoffman.

tcrosse said...

You can't throw money around here. This is the NYSE.

CWJ said...

"He was always trying to re-create the 60's..."

Describes a lot of people. Will this all end with the passing of the boomers? Or will an ignorant identification of acting out equating with social relevance be our generation's legacy?

Sebastian said...

"Look at the joy" . . . of the manic depressive. Things are not what they seem.

CWJ said...

Actually, I laughed at the Jewish ploy; in NY no less. I'm surprised the guard didn't laugh and say "Who isn't?"

Fernandinande said...

"it showed that there was more to life than the dogged accumulation of wealth and riches."

Gosh, I never thought of that. I bet hardly anyone else has, either.

Look at the joy

Is there a difference between joy and mania?

FWBuff said...

"He was always trying to re-create the 60's..."

The slogan of the Baby Boomers.

J. Farmer said...

"But most people are not trying to sort out the nonsense that they believed in back then. They're just regurgitating it for a new audience of people who wish we would all-- the whole generation would shut up."

P.J. O'Rourke on Charlie Rose with Barbara Ehrenreich and Rick Hertzberg discussing 1960s biography. And that was from 20 years ago. It's a fun discussion, and you can watch it here.

David said...

Piker. Should have been throwing 100 dollar bills.

EDH said...

Jerry Rubin, the flamboyant 1960's radical who once preached distrust of "anyone over 30," died on Monday night in a Los Angeles hospital where he was being treated after having been struck by a car two weeks earlier. He was 56 and lived in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles...

Looking back years later at the 1960's, Mr. Rubin called himself one of "the anti-capitalistic comics of the 1960's" who used street theater to pursue, without much success, "the radical dream of transforming the system from outside."

He once campaigned to elect a pig as President the United States, and in 1967 he dropped dollar bills onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Though he later renounced his anti-capitalism, he defended his fervent opposition to the Vietnam War...

With the passage of time, Mr. Rubin became "a buttoned-down entrepreneur for the 1980's," as one cultural critic put it. A watershed of sorts came in 1980, when he wrote that while he still had "many of the same criticisms and same values" as in the 1960's, he had learned "that the individual who signs the check has the ultimate power."

"I know that I can be more effective today wearing a suit and tie and working on Wall Street than I can be dancing outside the walls of power," he said.

Indeed, he worked briefly for the Wall Street firm of John Muir & Company and went on to make a new name for himself promoting networking.

By 1985, Mr. Rubin's soirees at the Palladium on East 14th Street were bringing together thousands of networkers. "I don't like to use the word, but every Yuppie in New York comes," he told an interviewer.

In 1991 he moved to Los Angeles, where his business activities included marketing a nutritional drink named Wow! Forbes magazine reported in 1992 that Mr. Rubin said he was making $60,000 a month as a distributor for Omnitrition International, a Texas company that sold powdered mixes for Wow! and other beverages.

Etienne said...

The thing to know about people like Hoffman, is that they never got colostrum or breast milk after birth.

They are defective humans, who cannot know the meaning of love.

Just because they snuggle, doesn't mean they love. They will kill you just as fast as snuggle with you.

My advice is to billy-club them coming in, as well as leaving your area of responsibility.

Fernandinande said...

Throwing or giving money away is a classic manic behavior.

CWJ said...

Shorter me from 10:40,

The prolongation of adolescence is the Boomer generation's societal legacy.

Birkel said...

If only Tom Hayden would have the grace to follow.

Gilbert Pinfold said...

Met him once--our family spent the summers in the Thousand Islands (St. Lawrence River, NY), and my mother was a member of Save the River, an organization lobbying against expanding the St. Lawrence Seaway to allow deep draft ocean freighters to use it. Another member was Barry Freed, the alias Hoffman used in hiding after skipping bail. He lived in Fine View on Wellesley Island, and we took our boat over there to pick up some posters. He met us on the dock, and my mother and he chatted for about 20 minutes after we were introduced. Years later, when he gave himself up he was interviewed by Barbara Walters. My mother was watching while ironing, and she almost burned a whole in a shirt she was so stunned.

YoungHegelian said...
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Howard said...

tcrosse wins thread for most obscure Dr. Strangelove reference.

YoungHegelian said...

Of the Chicago Seven, I always had the most fondness for Hoffman, back in my lefty years. There was some joy in his anarchism, unlike some of the others who one suspected wanted to be the Lavrenti Beria of the new people's republic of America. When "Steal This Book" came out, I sat down at the book store & read most of it. And, no, lefty or not, the nuns had beaten a conscience into me & I did not steal store merchandise.

I also remember watching the Dick Cavett episode with Hoffman, where ABC blanked out the screen when Hoffman was broadcast because he had shown up in a shirt made of an American flag. Today, that would produce a yawn.

Nowadays, I look back on all that hoopla around the Chicago Seven, & I realize it was all lefty street theater. There was no "there" there. It was as ideologically & politically vapid & barren as could be imagined. World peace? These guys couldn't have arranged to have your garbage picked up once a week.

Manic Depression explains much, & I see how it fits with what I remember of him.

n.n said...

Elective abortion. Share the insanity.

rhhardin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. Farmer said...

@YoungHegelian:

I also remember watching the Dick Cavett episode with Hoffman, where ABC blanked out the screen when Hoffman was broadcast because he had shown up in a shirt made of an American flag.

That was the outfit they chose for his fictional portrayal in Forrest Gump during the Viet-fucking-Nam protest.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Abbie said, “You’re not letting me in because I’m Jewish!’ The guard became flustered.

Tee hee hee! Knowingly-false accusations of anti-Semitism and racism are so darn funny. Isn't it hilarious to use really ugly accusations to prey on the kindness of others and get your own way? I slap my knee every time I think about the myriad ways the Left has weaponized basic human decency and made us all worse off for their own personal gain, I sure do.
What a silly prankster!

mezzrow said...

1. That's when a dollar was a dollar, too.
2. Philip K. Dick said that "reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." Abbie figured he'd make it go away the only way he knew how.
3. As a result of #2, Abbie isn't around to enjoy the present chaos and joyfully flourish once more. We could use some joy.
4. Trump brought some of that for his base, you know. His opposition is reacting much as the establishment did to Abbie, back in the day. I'd describe the reaction as emetic in nature.

Otto said...

Much ado about nothing. As my old Stuyvesant Jewish buddies would say " Abbie is a putz"

JohnAnnArbor said...

For a brief moment, [said Hoffman's co-protester Bruce Dancis], “it showed that there was more to life than the dogged accumulation of wealth and riches.”

And they thought that this was an original thought, somehow?

William said...

The traders should have thrown little balls of foil wrapped cocaine back at the Yippies. (The traders all were holding.). The yippies would have cut their mother's throat to get those little balls. The yippies would have revealed that there was nothing more to their lives than the dogged pursuit of nookie and drug highs.

roesch/voltaire said...

Alts of all sorts could use some of the trickster energy and message of Hoffman-too bad he didn't realize that all things revolve around and reappear in slightly different forms for the jester/trickster to tease again.

Mary Martha said...

"I wonder if the media today will ever tire of covering street demonstrations — no matter how big they are."

The media tires every January when the March for Life occurs and is not covered - no matter how big it is.

mockturtle said...

IIRC, Hoffman once put a dead fish in a safe deposit box at the bank. In my misguided youth I thought he was terribly clever.

William Chadwick said...

Any affluent Lefties who actually practice what they preach when it comes to wealth redistribution, and want to throw currency around, should fling some greenbacks my way (especially the ones with William McKinley, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison on them). Of course, in the interest of full disclosure, I'll want to "give back" (as the modish expression has it) by donating part of the loot to the National Taxpayers Union. the NRA, and other pro-freedom causes and organizations.

wildswan said...

After Abby, the Monster Raving Loony Party rose in England. Its first name was National Teenage Party (1963). Its second was Go to Blazes party. And it's still around. It expanded to America at some point and gradually took over the "Democrats" but unfortunately, as pointed out above, its sense of fun was found and tossed out as pointless. "Is this some kind of joke?" And so Hillary "What Happened?" Clinton runs for President.

Matthew Sablan said...

"For a brief moment, [said Hoffman's co-protester Bruce Dancis], “it showed that there was more to life than the dogged accumulation of wealth and riches.”"

-- Dropping money on people and seeing them stop what they're doing to pick it up showed that... how?

ddh said...

Mental illness and those who celebrate it.

Mac McConnell said...

Ever wonder if Tom Hayden and Carl Bernstein were called "Pizza Face " in jr. high, that would explain a lot.

boycat said...

He did a lot of unhinged and crazy things in his manic phases.

William said...

Hoffman was in some ways an attractive figure, but he had a lot of contradictions and venalities. Even today he generally gets a good press, but there was much about him that was foolish and self indulgent. He had a sense of humor, but he also had an ugly streak that doesn't get mentioned. ...... Years ago I went to an anti-war protest in Central Park that was hosted by Hoffman. I attended the protest more from boredom than from revolutionary esprit. There wasn't much on television back then......There was a line of police near the bandshell where he spoke. Hoffman told the crowd that he didn't need no fucking pigs to protect himself from the people and he urged the crowd to push the fuckng pigs away from the demonstration. Back in those days, the police handled crowd control by cracking heads with nightsticks. Hoffman was instigating a riot. I got out of there in a hurry. I don't think he recruited any martyrs that day, but on other days he was more successful......As mentioned earlier, I don't think the dogged pursuit of nookie and coke highs is any more ennobling than the pursuit of money and a comfortable life, but try telling that to a twenty year old.

rcocean said...

So he played the phony antisemitism card to get past the guard.

Yuck.

robother said...

In the 60s, we never thought to ask what "Abbie" was short for.

Known Unknown said...

For some people, accumulation of wealth is important. For others, it is not. Why must everyone be the same?

Robert Cook said...

"If only Tom Hayden would have the grace to follow."

Meaning?

He's been dead since October of last year.

Robert Cook said...

"'For a brief moment, [said Hoffman's co-protester Bruce Dancis], “it showed that there was more to life than the dogged accumulation of wealth and riches.”'

"And they thought that this was an original thought, somehow?"


Back in the 60s it seemed so, or was at least iconoclastic, not being a view communicated, understood, shared or valued by the dominant culture.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Back in the 60s it seemed so

Only to those with the restricted worldviews of people like these malignant narcissists. They didn't care about materialism. It's all "look at me! I'm cool!" Pathetic, really.

Leora said...

When watching Milo Yiannoupoulos in interviews he strongly reminded me of Abbie Hoffman back in the day. I think the organizers of the Free Speech rally in Boston also were channeling Abbie and Jerry as well. They had a handful of people show up, but made 40,000 counter protesters show up and annoy everyone. They also seem to be having a good time unlike the Charlottesville group. I think Pepe the Frog and the original alt-right have a great deal in common with the Yippies- offensive, funny and having some points to make.

Bay Area Guy said...

Abbie Hoffman died at age 53.

Daniel Ellsberg is alive, today, at 86.

Explain the difference - show your work.


Feste said...

Kurt Cobain is dead. I think that Laslo is a fan, and I mean no disrespect nor sarcasm this time, but Kurt Cobain felt to me that he was always dying. I didn’t know much about Abbie Hoffman. Or his death. And, “Lenny Bruce is dead but his ghost lives on and on ... he didn't want to live anymore .. He fought a war on a battlefield where every victory hurts, Lenny Bruce was bad, he was the brother that you never had (Dylan).”

I wouldn’t be surprised for Dylan if - “He fought a war on a battlefield where every victory hurts” - is autobiographical.

Maybe Keith Richards and Bob Dylan live “on and on” because they know - dosages.

The Godfather said...

50 years ago yesterday I was finishing up my summer clerkship at a Washington law firm and getting ready to start my third year of law school. How could I have missed something so important, so Earth-shattering, so profound, as a bunch of ill-behaved and unbathed loonies throwing dollar bills at stock exchange workers?

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

"He was always trying to re-create the 60's and was deeply dismayed he was becoming a prophet in the wilderness of the 80's.''

Loneliness, actual or existential, is always the price of failing to mature along with your peers. I can't think of anyone I've known who willfully dodged maturity and didn't pay a price. In a couple of cases by their own hand.

Ambrose said...

Those 1967 dollars are the equivalent of $7.34 today. Try throwing that around the NYSE.

Laslo Spatula said...

Feste said...
"Kurt Cobain is dead. I think that Laslo is a fan, and I mean no disrespect nor sarcasm this time, but Kurt Cobain felt to me that he was always dying."

Not really a fan. Just interested in how suicide changes things.

If it WAS suicide.

I am Laslo.

Robert Cook said...

"...a bunch of ill-behaved and unbathed loonies...."

Assumes facts not in evidence. How do you know they were unbathed or loonies? As for ill-behaved, this is a matter of context, perception, and opinion.