COLUMN 110, OCTOBER 1, 2004
(Copyright © 2004 The Blacklisted Journalist)
WASHINGTON DC 8/8/65
The Free Press is free only to the man who owns the presses. --- A.J. Leibling The Press.
Liberty is murdered when the Free Press is Murdoched
I was a stringer with two major photographic agencies, Black
Star and Pix. I specialized in civil rights, politics, and the counterculture.
I was younger then and still believed that it was possible to change the
world 35 millimeters at a time. That
as a photojournalist working for nationally distributed magazines, I could
contribute to change and betterment:
'show them the light and they will follow? sort of
elitism. The Liberal trap: a fallacy.
BULLET: True that Playboy helped bring about certain
temporary changes in societal attitudes towards sexuality.
But Hugh Hefner never was and never would be a politically progressive
publisher. He was never much
more than a brilliant huckster of titillations, sex, and lightweight literature:
An apostle of materialism and masturbation, the perfect exemplar of
LOOK MA! ANYONE CAN DO IT. GET ON THAT RAFT AND COME TO
AMERIKA CARLOS AND ROSITA, LOOK WHAT WE GOT AND YOU CAN HAVE IT TOO.
I had a good reputation for handling myself in competitive
situations. I had acquitted
myself well during Pope John's visit, Marilyn Monroe's circus performance,
Castro's visit to the U.N., and the previous Civil Rights demonstrations (as
well as fending off sneak attacks of Warhol's pack of grave-robbers, whiners
Furthermore, I was deeply involved in what was then called
'the New Left?---both as a journalist and participant.
Long before the onset of 'the Struggle," I had joined the Y.P.A. in
the Fifties and had friends and contacts in the movement.
I was trusted. So,
when Howard Chapnick, the president of Black Star, was asked by Life
Magazine to cover an upcoming anti-war demonstration in Washington, he gave the
assignment to me. Before I left,
Howard warned me of a feud between New York and the DC office.
New York, being slightly more liberal of the the two, was less prone to
sucking the Luce/Chenault ass. Sabotage
was not unheard of---the rivalry was intense.
I arrived at Union Station in Washington the day before the
march was scheduled and met up with a group of kids from Columbia University.
They were students of Professor Paul Goodman, a well respected,
left-leaning political philosopher, and I spent the day with them.
I was surprised that they knew who I was and some of the previous
articles that I had published. (This
was to rebound on me later.)
As the evening progressed, the group became more diverse, as
veterans of the civil rights struggle came in: The DuBois Society, CORE
(Congress Of Racial Equality), SNCC (Student Non Violent Coordinating
Committee). Fresh from voter
registration drives in Mississippi, militants from Newark and Harlem were
joining up with kids from Y.A.W.F. (Youth Against War and Fascism).
White middle class kids and black militants coming together in an uneasy
alliance. Together with the
various Pacifist societies, as well as the followers of Martin Luther King, who
previously had eschewed the anti war movement, they joined to form an Assembly
of Unrepresented People, determined to exercise their constitutionally
guaranteed right of free assembly in order to petition their government and
declare the war in Vietnam to be a racist war.
Neither Martin Luther King nor any of his Southern Christian Leadership Conference were
rivalry between Life Magazine's New York and D.C. offices
present, here preferring to lend their support from a safe
distance. They later lent their
full support, but at this point in the struggle, the Afro-American section of
'the Movement? was represented by SNCC and CORE.
At this point I was encountered by a photographer assigned by
Life's Washington office (I believe Dennis Brock), who informed me that
he was there to assist me and that I would get the best shots by climbing to the
roof of the Smithsonian Institute, overlooking the parade route and getting an
overhead view. This, of course,
would take me away from the action and put me on the sidelines.
I refused the advice.
Upon leaving the Mall, the march, led by David Dellinger,
Stuart Lynde and Robert Moses was attacked by uniformed members of the American
Nazi Party. They threw pails of red
paint on the leading marchers, of which I was one.
The Nazis were gently led off by the Washington police.
I followed, photographing the entire incident.
The Life representative then asked me if I was
shooting in color, & I told him that I was shooting in both color &
B&W. In that case, he
said, you've got a cover.
When we reached the House of Representatives, the group was
divided by Dellinger and Lynde, the pacifist wing. Those that wished to encounter the government's forces
should sit on the steps, while the pacifists would absent themselves from any
physical action and stand on the side.
A short time after this was done, we were refused entry into
the House of Representatives. A
young Black lady (wearing a "Defend Freedom? sign) with a young white lady
stood up and exhorted the crowd to exercise their legal rights and cross the
police lines. At this point,
I believe the photos speak for themselves.
I was busy doing my job.
But you can observe that the first people to be accosted and
intimidated by the police were the Afro-Americans. During the march, an apparently late Nazi threw
some of his own paint, and was also roughed up by the police.
However, he was not arrested.
At this point, the police forces were led and instructed by a
non-uniformed, unidentified man, who apparently commanded the police to be
rough. In fact, you can see
this man in the pictures. Who
he was, no one may ever know.
As you can see from the photographs, the other photographers
stayed at a short distance from this action, whereas I was fully involved, as
you can see one picture, to the point of being punched in the stomach by a
policeman during the melee, even though I was wearing official press credentials
identifying me as a photographer from Life magazine. I did my job
recording the information before me; the brutality, the obvious concentration on
people of color, the fingernails crunching nerve endings, the faces squeezed
,the glee of the oppressors ,the courage of the kids.
At the conclusion, I immediately headed to Union Station to
return to New York. While at
Union Station, a messenger from Life magazine sought me out, telling me
they needed my color shots immediately as they were preparing for a cover.
My ego, at that point bigger than my brains---I was thinking about my
picture getting on the cover of Life magazine---handed the film to the messenger
and returned to New York. Where
I received a chewing out from Howard Chapnick, who told me these pictures would
be lost forever, which they were. The
black and whites---buried---were not retrieved until recently. Time-Life tells me they no longer have the
(Until recently I fully believed that there was a
bureaucratic or interoffice rivalry that resulted in the lose of the story but
in July the New York Times frontpaged
a similar instance where an early civil rights  story was similarly
"lost?: More will appear.)
At that point, I decided to put down my cameras & pick up
my militancy. The time for poetry
ended, the time for political action began for me. I left for San Francisco soon after, and joined
with people such as the Diggers (Emmett Grogan and Peter Cohen (aka Coyote).
As you'll notice from these photographs, there were no
"long-haired freaks?: no Abbie Hoffman, no Jerry Rubin, no Allen Ginsberg.
No pot, no gratuitous violence on the part of the protestors.
This came later. It is
my firm belief this was done by the so-called capitalist "Free Press." The
mainstream media that appointed theatrical clowns such as Abbie Hoffman, Jerry
Rubin, Allen Ginsberg, and Timothy Leary, as representative of the antiwar
movement. When actually, the antiwar movement consisted of the students and the
ordinary American working class. The mainstream press persuaded middle America
that William Burroughs was making opiates the religion of their children while
their daughters were getting knocked up by commies and Blacks.
The culture war had begun.
TO VIEW NAT'S PHOTOS, CLICK ON EITHER URL:
FOR AS LONG AS PEOPLE KEEP LISTENING TO BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES, PEOPLE WILL WANT THIS BOOK
"A masterpiece!" --- SALLY GROSSMAN, widow of Bob Dylan's brilliant original manager, Albert Grossman.
"This book is a must-read for all rock 'n roll aficionados!"---EAR CANDY
"An essential reference for demystifying what the author refers to as: 'one of the most self-destructive binges of creativity in cultural history.'"---HAMMOND GUTHRIE, COUNTERPUNCH MAGAZINE
"Required Reading for anyone and everyone who considers themselves fans, followers, students, or those just plain curious of the Golden Age of Popular Music"---GARY PIG GOLD, FUFKIN.COM.
"I love the book. I love the way you can open it to any page and start reading and it keeps you reading. The book is just fun to read." --LEVON HELM, Drummer of THE BAND from Big Pink.
"Ellis Paul and I love your book."---RALPH JACCODINE, Ralph Jaccodine Management.
". . .perfect for our times."---WOODSTOCK TIMES
Duritz (he's the lead singer and writer for the famed
". . .a must read for anyone who loves, music, loves life, loves rock and roll."---TSAURAH LITZKY, author of The Motion of the Ocean, Baby on the Water, and Goodbye Beautiful Mother.
"I recommend it."---DOUGLAS HOLDER, IBBETSON STREET PRESS.
. .It is a fasinating, insightful read. You are such a wonderful
writer."---STEPHANIE LEDGIN, Music
"I could not put this book of yours down for a minute."---ED GALING, POET LAUREATE OF HATBORO, PA.
"Quite simply, Al Aronowitz is a living legend"---JOHN FORTUNATO, THE AQUARIAN.
"Every student and fan of The Beat Generation, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones will want to read this book"---RON WHITEHEAD, POET
"Volume One Of The Blacklisted Journalist is the kinda tome what a fella can dip into at any given point and find oneself hooked within a couple paragraphs"---DUKE DE MONDO, BLOGCRITICS.ORG.
DYLAN AND THE BEATLES: Volume One Of The Best Of The Blacklisted Journalist is a
golden stash box of Al's You-Are-There history of two thirds of rock's Holy
Troika"---MICHAEL SIMMONS, LA WEEKLY.
IN THIS 615-PAGE PAPERBACK, AL ARONOWITZ, ACCLAIMED AS THE "GODFATHER OF ROCK JOURNALISM," TELLS YOU MORE ABOUT BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES THAN ANY OTHER WRITER CAN TELL YOU BECAUSE NO OTHER WRITER WAS THERE AT THE TIME. AS THE MAN WHO INTRODUCED ALLEN GINSBERG TO BOB DYLAN, BOB DYLAN TO THE BEATLES AND THE BEATLES TO MARIJUANA, ARONOWITZ BOASTS, "THE '60S WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THE SAME WITHOUT ME."
CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMN 110
CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMNS
Blacklisted Journalist can be contacted at P.O.Box 964, Elizabeth, NJ 07208-0964
The Blacklisted Journalist's E-Mail Address:
THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST IS A SERVICE MARK OF AL ARONOWITZ