At times. Such as yesterday at a 70th birthday/retirement party for my friends Ruth & Wendel. I had a warm, long rambling conversation with Dan Ellsberg. Dan is 84, he wears gigantic hearing aids; in order for him to hear I had to speak directly into his ear, close up, which gave our conversation an unexpected intimacy. Somewhere between a father and a lover. He asked about which folks had died ( sadly I can’t recall exactly who he asked about.) We discussed Vietnam, with special emphasis on my 2013 trip, so I handed him a flyer about our People Make the Peace book & an upcoming reading Oct. 17 in Berkeley with Rennie Davis.
“He’s been trying to contact me. I haven’t replied. Is he still with the little fat guy?” Dan asked, using a phrase all of us did to refer to the guru Rennie attached himself to after our movement died. I told him no, that when I last saw Rennie he was trying to work with folks in Vietnam to help mitigate the effects of agent orange. With some kind of organic chemical solvent. I applaud Rennie’s movitives but did not reveal how uncomfortable Rennie made me as he tried to “sell” the Vietnamese on this untested product.
My time with Ellsberg was the kind of Judy Gumbo 1960s conversation I remember, time-travelled into 2105. We talked about getting arrested at Mayday – Ellsberg did, I did not. A failure of leadership on my part; I got so stoned the night before I did not wake up my affinity group in time to get to the designated intersection. Which led an acquaintance to tell Ellsberg she had tried to get Rennie & other Mayday folks to set the demo start time later, but got nowhere. Then she owned up to having had an affair with Rennie. Which prompted Ellsberg to say his grandfather or perhaps great grandfather had an affair with Emma Goldman. How cool is that? I chose not to reveal my affair (save that one for the memoir). Protest movements are hotbeds of schtupping- then, way back then & likely now. We may be gentle, angry people as Holly Near sings but that is no contradiction to being passionate. Hurray for protest. It brings out sexiness in all of us!