Miles Faring led the chants from the rear: “Power to the people, off the pigs”, or, for variety “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh, the NLF is gonna win”. It was November of 1969 in Washington DC and Miles and one of his best buddies William were two of about 75,000 youth protesting the war in Vietnam. Miles studied Semantics and Media at Maryland University. William studied Theatre design and was also lead singer of Big Joke, an agitprop band based not a little on the MC5. They weren’t too bad, though. Just a few minutes ago there had been a nasty confrontation by the Capitol building. The cops had led a charge complete with teargas and some nightsticks cascading not so gently on several heads after some wag had knocked the Chief of Police off his horse with a respectable chunk of brick. God, was the teargas CN or CS? Miles couldn’t remember which was the more dangerous, but wrapped a handkerchief soaked in water over his mouth and nose and hoped for the best.
On that basis, a group of about 200 youth decided to walk over to the headquarters of Health, Education and Welfare; the idea being that getting away from the main crowd would be safer and they’d still be able to continue their protest. So, with signs, a few banners and a lot of chants (some led by Miles), they headed down Independence Avenue. Suddenly, what seemed like hundreds of cycle, scooter and foot cops surrounded them. There were at least as many police as citizens! One of the more ‘leader’ types asked what the problem was and the answer was that they were ‘parading without a permit’, which caused irreverent laughing and whoops of merriment from the group.
As they were now fully surrounded, the group pressed together tightly and baggies, film tins and bottles full of a variety of pot, powders and pills were thrown into the street from the cluster of people, so the owners wouldn’t be caught in the soon-to-be inevitable search process.
“It’s a damn shame” said William, as he lobbed a dime bag of marijuana onto the pavement. “Burmese flower tops; the best dope I ever smoked!” “Unconstitutional!” agreed Miles, but he saw Williams’ eye brows rise as the comedy of his comment hit home.
And then, it happened. As their eyes met, Miles felt his senses assaulted in the strongest non–druggy knees getting weak and throat getting dry methodology. He was shocked to see that she was stunningly beautiful in a non conformist, anti-hierarchical sort of way. For her part, Joanne realised that Miles wasn’t only quite sweet looking, but that he would also have full empathy with feminist values and be alive to creating an open–minded yet fully responsible challenge to the limitations of the nuclear family.
As they were being led away to their respective holding cells, Miles and Joanne knew that they had a wonderful future ahead; one that included dialectic debate and ensured raised consciousness.
David C. Flynn 14 th Sept 2007