Then there was the night I
met Abbie Hoffman. You have to realize that while my brother
was off in Colorado becoming a Hippie Lawyer, my father was beating
me to a backdrop of the nightly news. The War in Vietnam was raging, and so was
BullSh*t Sullivan. Abbie Hoffman
was the quintessential antithesis of everything my father held dear.
So if my father hated Abbie, I had to love the guy. He was the
antiwar movement in a pair of jeans. He had the audacity to
believe in freedom of speech, and went to great lengths to voice his
opinions. He was arrested countless times for disturbing the
peace, when he was really trying to make a statement. He spoke for a
generation. He went on trial as part of the Chicago 7,
for attempting to disrupt the Republican National Convention.
(If you want to know more about Abbie, read his book Steal This
Book.) Now being the last original flowerchild, too
young for Woodstock but old enough to know I should have been there, I idolized Abbie.
Abbie was facing drug charges when he disappeared in 1974. He
underwent plastic surgery, and took the identity Barry Freed.
He went underground. As Barry Freed, he lived the life of a
community activist, peacefully in upstate New York until he surfaced
in 1980. He surrendered to authorities, and took part in a
work release program in 1982-1983. With that completed, he
again began his political activism, and was arrested in 1987 for the
42nd time, for protesting CIA recruitment at the University of
Massachusetts, along with Amy Carter and a handful of others.
In late 1988, Alan Colmes was doing an
emcee gig at the Limelight. An old church turned dance club
in Manhattan. There were comedians, a few strippers,
Lisa Sliwa and Abbie Hoffman. I had made some amusing joke on
Alan's show that afternoon, getting myself and Kevin on the
guestlist. When I saw Abbie, I went up to him, introduced
myself, and told him that he was a folk hero of the 21st century.
He got tears in his eyes, and then this big guy put his arms around
me and kissed me. I guess he liked hearing that. 6
months later he went home took off his shoes and died. The
police called it a suicide.