SYMPOSIUM (LeMar) , Friday 28 February 1969
STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK , BUFFALO , NY
New York state.
One to two hundred thousand inhabitants. When it is quiet, we can
hear the roaring of the Niagara falls. The University is quite large.
All around has been settled a student environment, with its bars, its
communities, its pubs and its book stores. It deeply feels like
order, calm and middle-class comfort. That's why we're really
wondering why students, these jerks, took up their university and
changed the green studious campus into a manifestation field with its
banderoles strike pickets, graffiti over the walls...
building has been left to pop culture; In a room, Timothy Leary acts
as chair and replies back to questions, sometimes aggressions,
everlasting smile on his thin mouth, silent between words,
irritating, fascinating, hypnotic. Elsewhere, Abbie Hofmann throws
joints away, bringing dialectics to more instant properties. The
biggest room has been turned into a concert hall. The first day was
made of violent verbal fights. On a stage, symbolic coatings of new
culture, neo-pontiffs questioned by the public: Leary, Ginsberg,
Krassner and... Archie Shepp (for the sake of African-American). In
the classroom, the Motherfuckers mocked the figureheads "hey
what the fuck are you doin' up on those chairs".
values down to what they are: cultural alibis we're totally
assimilating, making them official, strengthening them in their rôle
to better defuse their energy. The scene takes place in a restaurant,
where only cheesy tag holders have access, like in a common
representative congress. The Motherfuckers will force guys like
Ginsberg, Leary and other Shepp to get down from their pedestal and
will pass round small identical badges with the same names on them.
Motherfuckers deserve a whole book about them. Not something to put
away on a library shelf, but some kind of handbook to daredevils and
culturally disturbing people. They compelled Bill Graham to open the
Fillmore East at least once a week for street kids – his public,
actually – so they can play music and keep warm together. They also
organized the survival of East Village and saved it from sinking into
violence and the sadly reknown delirium from other ghettos. With the
MC5, they found who to get buddy with.
The 5 plays
in Buffalo the last evening of these eventful days, at
first organized for LEMAR, movement to legalize marijuana, but soon
implied in student fight. Their concert hall: a sport place stuffed
with a very young audience.
chords, everybody's up and, soon, as in every MC5 show whether
in New York, London or Paris, the crowd is on stage with them,
touching Fred Smith's guitar flashes, shouting with Rob Tyner,
singing along with Wayne Kramer. Total blow-out. Fists are raising
easily, sparks shining in the heads... To light up fires outside in
earlier, the MC5 gave its first show at the Fillmore East,
David Peel as an opening act, to celebrate the release of their first
album. Counting the Motherfuckers in the place, it sure would be a
great party. The curtain rose above the red lights, as they walked
straight to the audience, totally sci-fi. The kids shouted, climbed
on the stage, fought the bouncers and raised their fists. As the 5
exited, three long Cadillacs were waiting to take them to Max's. Kids
were waiting too. Seeing their own revolutionary icons get into those
of capitalism, suddenly they got hostile. Beer and cola cans scraped
the shiny paint and the car doors got kicked a few times. The label
thought it was good and necessary to give the young favourites a
Fred, Rob and Wayne were looking sullen facing their
lobster... The cultural revolution is full of contradictions. We
could prefer the poor but fluo-shirted MC5 kids to the West Coast
millionaires dwelling on the sordid side of life.