Abbie Hoffman Visits the Stock Exchange
and Some Other Places
by Stew Albert
"You've got to meet Abbie Hoffman. He's an amazing energy center. He's Paul Krassners' best friend. There are so many beautiful people here. "
Jerry Rubin was bubbling. His excitement seemed peculiar since none of his new heroes were connected with the National Mobilization.
"I want to meet them all Jerry but I've got to sleep for a while."
"Stew, you can sleep if you want to, but I should tell you there is going to be a fantastic event at the Stock Exchange. Hundreds of people are going to throw money at the stockbrokers."
I wasn't sure Jerry really said it. Maybe I was dreaming. But further questioning established that there was a demonstration scheduled for the stock market and the plan was to throw money. It was Abbie Hoffman and Jim Fouratts' brain child. Abbie had plugged it big on Bob Fass' late night radio show. What did this have to do with the Pentagon Demonstration? The National Mobilization paid for both our plane tickets and we work for them, so what does throwing money at stock brokers have to do with the upcoming antiwar march on the Pentagon?
I felt nervously at home on Wall Street, having once worked there in a mail room. Maybe some fellow worker would recognize me?
We lined up waiting for our turn to get out on the balcony. But then the private police tried to close us down. They knew why we were there and they weren't going to let us use the facilities for our demonstration. They said the balcony was now closed for repairs.
"Hey, the only reason, you wont let us in is because we are Jewish," declared Abbie Hoffman, who looked and was dressed like a handsome Jewish cowboy.
"Yeah, I can tell he hates Jews just look at his hair. He's a Nazi for sure."
Reporters are taking notes. The guards' picture was being snapped again and again. We were calling him a Jew hater and surely the accusation would reach Jerusalem.
The guard retreated and we walked out on the Stock Exchange balcony. Below us the millionaire brokers, apparently tipped to our presence, took notice and began gathering. Abbie then handed out the money, mostly five's and ones, and we tossed them over the edge. They went slowly fluttering down into the brokers greedy hands. And they piled on top of each other trying to grab a fiver.
Trading halted. The immense floor of hi-speed greed was now paying attention only to me and my new friends. I thought I had wandered into a surreal Italian film about modern alienation and charismatic despair. When we ran out of paper and started throwing coins we were greeted with boos and derision. The guards came out and told us to make way for the tourists.
Down on the sidewalk we burned money, danced, and gave millions of press interviews. We told the world we were from a new generation that laughed at money and lived free. Some onlookers complained that if we wanted to get rid of money, why give it to rich stock brokers.
"Better give it to me."
I was joyous. This was a new way to demonstrate, a theatrical turn of politics, that invaded sacrosanct places and turned them into a stage set with great props. Better yet, the demonstration against greed took only one night to organize on the radio and at a cost of about a hundred and fifty bucks.
Abbie Hoffman announced that he and his associates planned to levitate the Pentagon to great heights. Upon being pressed about how surely you are joking, Abbie agreed that perhaps they might only be able to raise the structure for a few feet.
Rap Brown's words about bringing a bomb to the demonstration, made banner headlines and were treated as being dangerous and serious. Abbie just got an inch or two because he was just a prankster. Both guys were kidding, but at least Abbie showed up. His gang tried magic! Some say the building did stir a bit and perhaps rose by the odd inch.
After the conference I asked Abbie why he didn't use his real name when being introduced. "The cultural revolution has got to get away from the star tripping celebrity game."
Abbie Hoffman gave the appearance of being completely off the cuff. That was his foolish charm. Like the stand up comic who encourages the audience to throw him first lines for jokes, Abbie made the press and everyone else feel involved in his antics. And he embodied great stunts, like throwing money to millionaire stockbrokers, to flinging soot at top executives from New York’s famous polluter, Consolidated Edison.
Abbie’s energy was biologic, his body broadcasted action programs. When Abbie talked, when he was recruiting, seducing, converting or entertaining, I always felt like touching him. Nothing heavy, maybe a hug or a pat on back, or even just standing close, some physical gesture that would bring me nearer to his soul. Not necessarily for purposes of enthusiastic agreement, even if I wanted to argue with Hoffman, warm physical communication was necessary. How else could anyone hope to change Abbie’s mind? His body was his point of view.
Abbie gave a speech in Buffalo New York, a city of much snow and barely remembered economic glory. He claimed to have carnal knowledge of the Vice President Agnew"s teen age daughter. His actual words were "I fucked Kim Agnew."
An FBI agent who was present and taped the speech in all its parts. The G-men didn't know what to do with this hot property. If Spiro got word the FBI was circulating a porn tale that featured his daughter and Abbie Hoffman, it was a sure thing that some Special Agent would be pounding a beat in the much dreaded Butte Montana.
There was talk of letting the story get around under a false flag. The FBI would let it be known in intelligence circles that Abbie had made his lecherous boast but not on Bureau stationary, a back channel rumor mill would serve nicely. This approach was rejected because Agnew might have his own spies and getting caught would certainly add to the Bureau's embarrassment.
Finally, the Feds took a principled stand. They circulated an uncensored Abbie rant on their official grapevine but first made a personal presentation to the Vice-President. A special liaison G-man hand delivered the tape to Agnew. And he could listen to it at his leisure.
Perhaps all those nasty things Agnew said about Abbie were not as politically motivated as they one seemed? Could the Vice President have been nothing more than an outraged father defending his daughter's honor?
I was falling in to a hypnotic doze when there began a fierce knocking at my Miami Beach Hotel Albion door. Perhaps this was a police raid? The sister Yippies had been smoking some very smelly marijuana. I knew it wasn't a bust when I heard Abbie screaming at the top of his lungs.
He was standing just outside my room, red in the face and stark naked. No underwear, just nothing. He walked, probably ran, down the hall way of this 1930's art deco palace without a stitch of clothing. And I had the distinct impression he hadn't any realization of what he had done. Also he refused my invitation to come in out of the madness. Abbie's nakedness bestowed a special purity on his fury. His raw rage against his journalistic slanderer would not be seduced by reason. And I kept thinking that the hall way was now filled with vacationing old Jewish ladies who were in varying states of coronary arrest. We would all be booted out in the morning.
Abbie slammed my door shut. And rushed off into the hot muggy Florida night. Maybe back to his room, the lobby or maybe even Collins Avenue. I went back to sleep. Some force beyond my control would decide if we would be sleeping in hotel beds the next night, or in a sweaty tent in Flamingo Park.
The Last Known Photo of Abbie in the last year of his life.
( Photo by William Coupon)