[Tales of Hoffman “best” selects]

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0:09 Title: Background history.

0:12 John Schultz. “The ’68 convention is rightly seen as the central moment of the 60’s, the apex, the climax of the 60’s. It’s the one set of events in which all players and all parts and all movements of the 60s – cultural, social, political – they all come together. Like in these days in Chicago, the latter part of August 1968.”

0:37 John Schultz. “This was a time in which the country was divided, the whole society was divided, where hot words were being said by everyone from the President on down to families at their neighborhood barbecue.”

0:54 John Schultz. “This was the time that was rightly seen as being when the country was more divided about an all or nothing issue than at any time since the Civil War. And their feelings were that intense, there were feelings approaching that of Civil War.”

1:08 John Schultz. “J. Edgar Hoover referred to the antiwar movement protesters as halfway citizens, as immature, halfway citizens. What kind of a statement is that? That’s an attempt to create an ‘un-people.'”

1:22 John Schultz. “Without the need felt on the part of the government, up on many people in the government, and many people in the political society to create this ‘un-people’, there would not have been a conspiracy trial.”

1:40 John Schultz. “They wanted the trial as a way of separating the antiwar movement and the other protest movements from the mainstream of America. Because by the summer of 1968, both the antiwar movement and the civil rights movement and all the social and cultural movements of the time had begun to affect the mainstream of this country profoundly. So that they were completely intermixed, in a sense, the counterculture was becoming a part of the mainstream.”

2:16 Title: The Trial.

2:18 John Schultz. “So this story is about how every group in the courtroom found itself dividing into two sides, how each person carried two sides within himself, and how laughter exposed the allegiances, in many cases actually enabled people to f ind out their allegiances and gathered people into one or the other side and strengthened their awareness of each other. By tone, gesture, voice, by bodily expression of all kinds, by the disposition of one person to another, and the feelings about one’s body and the bodies of others, that is how we shall see America becoming divided into a historical struggle.”

2:56 Leonard Weinglass. “The Chicago trial was a major historical event. I don’t like claiming too much for it, but I think the years have proven that to be true. All of the forces, the antiwar/civil rights/counterculture forces, were brought into the courtroom. And Judge Hoffman, representing the old establishment – he’s a perfect representative of that segment…What was being played out around the country was played out in the courtroom.”

3:31 John Schultz. “The people in this courtroom – jurors, press, spectators, lawyers, marshalls, everyone – found themselves being divided by their own laughter in terror – the kind that you feel cold or good in the gut – into two audiences. You could sit and listen to the two inside your head, as if the courtroom were a soul on display. The two audiences, perhaps two cultures, or two sides of one culture, were physically different, and they laughed at different things said by different people. Yet they came out, one against the other, one in relation to the other, one with the other, in an all of the same society. The two sides had different feelings about children, about fucking, about learning, about noise, about bathrooms, about courtesy, about honor, intelligence, imagination, duty, authority, entertainment, barbecue, money, hair, skin, blood, and laughter. It had something to do with the feeling and concept of your body and of the bodies o f others and the way you act with that feeling and concept on issues that affect the life and future of your society.”

4:37 John Froines. “It’s a mistake to view the trial as a legal, criminal trial associated with events that occurred in Chicago at a particular time. It was a trial that reflected the politics and social issues of the 60’s, and that’s the way one has to see it. And to debate the narrow definitions of whether we did this or that in Lincoln Park is to miss the forest for the trees.”

4:54 Leonard Weinglass. “We had been warned about Judge Hoffman, we were told we were going to jail, we were told we would be found in contempt. All of this we knew beforehand, but the dynamics of the trial became a complete surprise to me. I mean, there was no way of fathoming in advance what would happen in Chicago.”

5:16 Leonard Weinglass. “The prosecution was a state of mind prosecution. The new law literally said that it would be a federal crime to travel across state lines with a state of mind intending to incite or provoke a riot. The crime was complete if you traveled with a state of mind. It wasn’t necessary for a riot to occur. And in this case, they were charged with a conspiracy to violate that law. Which took it back even further, meaning this: technically, what they were charged with was agreeing amongst themselves that when they would travel, they would travel with a state of mind . And that was the crux of the conspiracy, which was 80% of the prosecution’s case, and the jury acquitted them of all the conspiracy charges.”

6:14 Leonard Weinglass. “And in this trial for conspiracy, the defendants frequently wore to court sweatshirts. Written across the front if them was ‘conspiracy’. They dealt with conspiracy like no other political defendants had in the past. Political defendants have always been charged with conspiracy, because the actual acts can’t be proven.”

6:40 Leonard Weinglass. “Traditionally, political people charged with conspiracy do everything they can to rail against the conspiracy laws – the conspiracy laws are unfair, they say conspiracy is unfair, conspiracy is used by a government that only wants to prosecute them politically. What the Chicago defendants did is they wrapped themselves around conspiracy. And they called themselves ‘The Conspiracy.’ And they had on their t-shirts and their sweatshirts in front of the jury the words ‘conspiracy.’ And so by belittling the concept instead of reacting defensively, they really took the initiative, which was what the disagreement was between what then was called ‘the new left’ and ‘the old left.’ The new left, thinking that the old left had been entirely too defensive, and the new left wanted to take the initiative. Rather than recoil and say ‘no, we didn’t do that’, the new left said, ‘yes, we did that, and we were right in doing it.’

7:59 Leonard Weinglass. “Abbie said ‘No, the trial is an opportunity. An opportunity because the media is there. An opportunity to educate the entire country about what we’re thinking and talking about. And we’re not just going to win this case in terms of a jury verdict, we’re going to win this case in terms of national public opinion.’ And so Abbie was much more aggressive in pursuing the initiative.”

8:25 John Schultz. “Leonard Weinglass goes before the judge and asks him to define the crime. So the judge rules – the judge was not wanting in imagination, you know – the judge rules that the substance of the crime was a state of mind. And Abbie Hoffman really welcomed this definition of the crime. That’s everything, that’s how’s the whole country feeling. In a divided country, in a country that’s really passionately divided over these issues…this is a part of the state of mind case, too. So the defense then sought to broaden the whole concept of state of mind to include how and why they were opposed to the Vietnam War, why they should be opposed to the Vietnam War…”

9:13 Leonard Weinglass. “Very few people who are indicted on federal charges treat i t as a joke and an opportunity. But Abbie did. And Abbie felt that the federal courtroom is a perfect setting for stand-up comedy and he approached the case exactly that way. And before the trial began, he put out a little scorecard, which he called not a program, but a “progrom”. And he described all the characters and all the actors in advance. And he treated it as if it was going to be some kind of a stadium game or show, and that was just how he looked at the case. Then when the jury was selected and we were about to begin the trial, a leading expert on Constitutional Law here in Chicago, John Waltz from Northwestern University, met with us and advised us that the way in which Judge Hoffman picked the jury meant that the case would be reversed, no matter what. And he was right, it was reversed on jury selection. But Abbie immediately seized on that and said to us, ‘You mean this is just an exercise? This is just funzy? And that, no matter what happens, this thing is going to be reversed? ‘ And Professor Waltz assured him that’s probably the outcome. Well, from that point on, Abbie just cut loose and dealt with the trial that way. He might have done it anyway, I don’t think risking ten years was something that would have deterred Abbie. But knowing that he had a free pass completely cut him loose.”

10:57 John Froines. “Of course, Abbie always said that he never understood the indictment to begin with, because you can’t cross state lines with the intent to incite a riot anyway. So he thought at some level that the charges were ludicrous to begin with, and then proceeded accordingly.”

11:13 Leonard Weinglass. “I asked him where he lived and he said, ‘Woodstock Nation’ and I said, ‘Where is that?’ and he said, ‘It’s a state of mind.’ And then we went on from there to describe the state of mind and Woodstock and what it meant. And it was what he wanted to convey to the jury, namely, that he was an orphan of America and that he resided in the counterculture, which was a state of mind.”

11:43 Leonard Weinglass. “So Abbie knew going in that state of mind was critical and state of mind was the essence of the case. And so in the trial, he was cross-examined by Dick Schultz, the prosecutor. And he was asked, ‘Now, Mr. Hoffman, what were you wondering when you wrote this passage?’ Again, referring to a book, Abbie’s book, ‘Steal This Book’. Abbie: ‘Does wondering mean dreaming?’ Mr. Schultz, the prosecutor: ‘Yes, that’s right’, waving the book. Abbie: ‘I’ve never been on trial for my dreams before, I’ll have to think a bit.’ And that was true, that was getting right to the essence of it.”

12:31 John Schultz. ‘Mr. Hoffman, what were you wondering when you wrote this passage?’ Defendant Hoffman: ‘Does wondering mean dreaming, Mr. Schultz?’ The prosecutor: ‘Yes, that’s right’, waves book. Defendant Hoffman: ‘I’ve never been on trial for my dreams before, I’ll have to think a bit.’ I think that took Abbie aback a bit, that a prosecutor would actually take the step of going to the point of saying that wondering and dreaming and intent could be the same thing.”

13:16 Leonard Weinglass. “Abbie was, of course, throughout the whole thing, he was mimicking the process, he was injecting himself. A couple of times he gave answers, the judge said, ‘That comment may go out’, Abbie turned to Judge Hoffman and said, ‘Where do they go when they go out?’ in front of the jury, which confounded the judge. No one had ever given that kind of a response.”

13:40 Leonard Weinglass. “The way in which the trial is even called to order, the scripting of process – the case is called, the judge enters the room, everyone rises…this was all ritual. But to Abbie, it was ritual of repression. And the important thing is to break through it, to not let them have their rituals, to not stand and say ‘Not guilty’ as part of the ritual of process. Much more had to be said than ‘Not guilty.’ And so in his public appearances, in his media appearances, in the courtroom, Abbie was very conscious of the ritual that was being imposed upon him to constrain him, to constrain his thinking and his being. And he was always into consciously breaking out, breaking out of that. He walked off TV programs. Who walks off a talk show? He did! He would walk off. If they were trying to get him to speak by their rules, he wouldn’t do it.”

14:57 John Schultz. “Abbie had very little to do with what happened in Chicago. None of them had much to do with what happened in Chicago. The police were the ones who provided the focus for the actions that happened in the streets. Without the police actions, there would not have been any unity among these 110 groups, who, as Abbie joked, literally could not agree on anything. He made it a joke that they couldn’t agree on lunch, but the f act is, it was more serious than that. They couldn’t agree on a lot of things, things a hell of a lot more important than lunch, they couldn’t agree on, and they tended to have more and more disagreements as time went on.”

15:33 Title: Abbie.

15:35 John Froines. “I never knew Abbie. I met him in Chicago, at the Chicago demonstrations. And so, prior to that we had no history. And then, of course, we were thrown together for the trial. And I consider Abbie one of the greatest talents of any field or endeavor that I have ever known. I think he is a unique human being that is almost never to be repeated. I mean, he was an extraordinary human being as far as I’m concerned.”

16:09 John Froines. “I met Abbie at a meeting in the mobilization headquarters in August of ’68, just before the Convention. And I didn’t know him at all. I knew him by reputation. And then of course, we were thrown together in the Conspiracy Trial later. And I consider Abbie one of the great talents of American history. I have never in my life met a man who cared about justice the way Abbie did. That’s what he was all about. And he would fight anybody around issues of seeking justice for people.”

16:57 Leonard Weinglass. “I really met Abbie when I started working on the case. He knew nothing of me, except there was an episode in New Jersey before the trial where the witness in an organized crime case needed representation. I was asked by the judge to represent him. And that did get in the press in New York City, and Abbie saw it, and he right away said, ‘If you’re a lawyer for organized crime,’ – which I wasn’t – ‘this is great, you should be in the case. Because we’re going to Chicago. We really need you.'”

17:31 John Froines. “I think that one should never underestimate him. He’s a very smart guy. So some of his so-called pranksterism, if you will, was very thought through. He was spontaneous, yes, but he was also strategic as well.”

17:51 Leonard Weinglass. “I think, like all great comedians, Abbie was a craftsman and a technician. People don’t realize that Abbie studied under McLuhan. And Abbie really knew that the medium was the message. And everything he did was carefully crafted and calculated.”

18:12 John Froines. “He was the most inspirational person of all the defendants, in terms of kids, out there. My son saw a re-enactment of the Chicago 7 Trial . I don’t know how old he was, maybe ten or twelve. And he was completely taken by the Abbie character. And the magic that Abbie represents, my son still felt 30 years later, in a re-creation in Los Angeles. He was a genius. He really did have a sense about him that one should never underestimate, I think. Which doesn’t mean he didn’t get himself in trouble.”

18:55 John Schultz. “Abbie was probably the most media savvy of all the protest spokespersons of that time. He practically developed a methodology and a theory about it.”

19:12 John Schultz. “There was a love of the immediate image…he talked frequently about images being the power, what would stay in the mind. Image was what would stay in the mind.”

19:31 John Schultz. “He often said that he did not really care how the image was going to be represented. That any interpretation of the image served its purpose. That he gave the image the basic…what he felt was the message connected with the image, but it could be interpreted and reinterpreted and changed in different contexts and it could achieve all sorts of different lives, a kind of ongoing transformation event. And the fact that it might end up, as in the party telephone game, being totally different from the way it started didn’t disturb him at all, until it came to the very end and how he was going to be represented.”

20:16 John Schultz. “I think people are really missing the fact that Abbie was profoundly a theoretician of the relationship of media and protest, of media and message.”

20:25 John Schultz. “Abbie was in the forefront of a movement in the 60’s to use the media as an arena for getting out the message, for organizing, for getting out messages of protest, whatever it felt needed to be done in order to organize people to do things that were necessary or good for their lives or country, purposes of humankind, so forth.”

20:57 John Schultz. “When television found that it was as much a part of the counterculture protest movement as the protest movement itself, they began to take steps to limit how these things would be represented in their newscasts. So they welcomed the vivid imagery, but they also take it on themselves, they have the power to pick and choose. And of course that was there all the time, but in some ways the people like Abbie were able to create imagery that got in to the media before anybody had a chance to say, ‘On my god, this is going to be doing this, or this is going to be doing that. Before they had a chance to make a judgment that would derail it.”

21:42 John Schultz. “He had this immediate spontaneous perception, grasp of the moment, of the theatrical potential of the moment.”

21:52 John Schultz. “Abbie had a marvelous sense of timing through the Convention, and I think, through most of the trial, through most of that period, particularly when he was in high good feeling. It was like an athlete in a zone, when you can just do no wrong – Michael Jordan felt he was in a zone, or any other great athlete. You see everything that you can do and you do i t instantly and immediately, without any hesitation. Abbie had that kind of timing for creating his media images, in responding, in creating the moment – the media moment – the few seconds, the thirty-five seconds, fifteen seconds, twenty seconds, whatever it was, he was marvelous at it.”

22:36 John Schultz. “Wiliam Frapolly, the student undercover agent, had been testifying all day. And Frapolly had given some pretty strong testimony about certain parts of the defense, which seemed to support the government’s case. Leonard Weinglass, one of the attorneys for the defense, felt that the defense had taken a few nicks at Frappoly’s testimony and he was…saying something to Abbie about that this would dominate the media, that Frappoly’s testimony would dominate the media. And Abbie said, ‘Watch. I will do something that will wipe Frappoly off the news.’ And he immediate ly went to stand on his head on this defense table…But it’s one image that seems to stand out. More than one courtroom artist caught it, Verna Saddock got it, it’s a very flamboyant-looking image…And he was in a sense right, certainly that kind of flippancy, with that very strong statement behind it – this is our opinion of this, this is our attitude, this is our spin – certainly put a whole new light on the case.”

24:04 Leonard Weinglass. “One of the key witnesses against us was a Chicago police officer named Frappoly. And as he’s testifying, and he’s naming names, and he ‘s attributing acts of violence, words of violence, to various defendants, it was all being taken down by the media that was present. Abbie turned to me, and he says, ‘Is this witness hurting us?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I think this testimony could hurt us.’ And he said, ‘Well, I’ll make it disappear.’ I said, ‘Ok, Abbie’ – I’m not sure what he meant – I said, ‘but be careful.’ Because one of the charges against Abbie was an attempted kidnapping. The chief of police was named Roquefort and in a speech before a crowd, Abbie said, ‘Let’s seize the big cheese,’ which of course he meant as a put-on, but it was used in the trial as if it was serious, an attempt to kidnap the chief of police. So Abbie said, ‘No, I’ll make them disappear.’ And that night I watched TV with Abbie and we watched the broadcasts of what happened in court that day. And Abbie, during a break, in a recess, did a headstand on the table. He hadn’t done that before. All the media recorded it, they watched it, and that night we’re watching television and what was broadcast on the television was his headstand. And Abbie kind of nudged me in the ribs and said, ‘You see? Frappoly disappeared.’ So the medium was the message. By doing a stunt he could disappear the government’s chief witness. And that’s exactly what he did – he was very serious about portraying events for TV, for the medium, for the press, in a way that got his point across and obliterated the other side’s point.”

26:00 Verna Saddock. “Abbie Hoffman was



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