Fun at the
Democratic
Convention
1968

Paul Krassner
On the weekend before the convention, the Mad Scientist went strolling through Lincoln Park, asking, "Do you know Abbie Hoffman?" Eventually, he asked Abbie himself, and before you could say hidden laboratory, there was one. The lab consisted of long tables, spread out with hundreds of packages of Bugler tobacco. The hash oil was cut with pure grain alcohol, put in atomizers and sprayed on the tobacco, which was then placed back in the packages and given away as Yippie cigarettes.

For those who preferred a healthier version, the hash oil was mixed into jars of honey. This was strong stuff. The Fugs were completely fugged up. Ed Sanders described the grass he was walking on as "a giant frothing trough of mutant spinach egg noodles." Tuli Kupferberg took a big taste, and friends had to carry him by the armpits back to the apartment where he was staying.

"They're delivering me," he explained.

I swallowed two tablespoons of honey and stayed in the park. I was on my knees, holding on to the grass very tightly so that I wouldn't fall up. The Yippie leaders were all zonked out of their minds. A group of us were driving around Chicago when we realized that we were being followed by another car. It was like being in a slow motion chase scene. But could this merely be paranoia as a side effect of the hash oil? I suggested that we go the wrong way down a one-way street. Then, if the other car was still following us, we could be sure that they were following us.

We stopped in front of a guy sitting on a bench. I got out and told him that we thought we were being followed. We would drive around the block, and if he saw that this other car was in fact following us, he should give us a signal. So we circled the block, the other car followed us, the guy on the bench gave a signal, and we continued on, figuring that now the two men who were tailing us had to wonder what this guy had just accomplished that he was signaling us about, and should they maybe follow him instead?

The previous day, we had been refused service at a diner. I told the manager, "You're about to have your first Yippie sit-in," and they finally served us. Now we stopped there again, shook hands with the manager and told him there were no hard feelings, even as he was being put on the suspect list by the cops who were following us.

We also stopped at an art supply store where we had been treated rather rudely, and got them listed as accomplices too. Finally we parked. So did the other car. Two men in suits were sitting in front. We got out of our car and walked back to theirs. They tried to appear nonchalant.

"Hey," Abbie said, "are you guys following us"

"Yeah." Reluctantly.

"Are you local or federal?"

"We're plainclothes officers with the Chicago Police Department. You're under 24-hour surveillance."

"Wow," I said, with perverted pride, "three shifts, just for us."

"No, we're short on manpower. We're on two 12-hour shifts."

"Well, it's an honor just to be nominated."

We introduced ourselves and shook hands with the cops. Their names were Herbie and Mac. We offered them official Yippie lapel buttons.

"No, thanks, we're on duty."

I explained that if we happened to lose them in a crowd, we'd be able to spot them more easily if they were wearing Yippie buttons, so they accepted the buttons and pinned them on their jackets. But this kind of communication is a two-way street, so the cops asked us if we were planning to eat soon, because they had been following us for a while and now they were hungry. Although we had terminal dry mouth from the hash oil, maybe lunch would stimulate our salivary glands. We were new in town and asked the cops to recommend a good restaurant.

"Well," said Herbie, "the Pickle Barrel in Old town has pretty good food."

"And," Mac added, "their prices are reasonable."

It felt like we were in a TV commercial of the future, where all the authority figures are cops.

"Okay," I asked, "what's the best way to get there?"

"Follow us."

This was indeed a rare and precious moment, to be embedded in amber for posterity. We obediently got back in our car and followed the cops. I thought they were going to try and shake us, but we managed never to lose sight of them. It was as if someone had pushed the Rewind button, and now our slow motion chase scene seemed to be running backwards.

I expected to see the cops stop at the art supply store, and the diner, and then a guy sitting on a bench would give them a signal. But instead we just followed them straight to the Pickle Barrel. We sat at separate tables.

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--- From Magic Mushrooms and Other Highs
From Toad Slime to Ecstasy

Paul Krassner, Editor
(paulkrassner.com)

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