The Digger Papers (August, 1968)
Trip Without a Ticket
[Originally published by the Diggers, Winter 1966-67. Reprinted
by the Communication Company SF 2nd Edition 6/28/67. Included here in The
Digger Papers, August, 1968.]
Our authorized sanities are so many Nembutals. "Normal"
citizens with store-dummy smiles stand apart from each other like
cotton-packed capsules in a bottle. Perpetual mental out-patients.
Maddeningly sterile jobs for strait-jackets, love scrubbed into an insipid
"functional personal relationship" and Art as a fantasy
pacifier. Everyone is kept inside while the outside is shown through
windows: advertising and manicured news. And we all know this.
How many TV specials would it take to establish one Guatemalan
revolution? How many weeks would an ad agency require to face-lift the
image of the Viet Cong? Slowly, very slowly we are led nowhere. Consumer
circuses are held in the ward daily. Critics are tolerated like exploding
novelties. We will be told which burning Asians to take seriously. Slowly.
But there is a real danger in suddenly waking a somnambulistic patient.
And we all know this.
What if he is startled right out the window?
No one can control the single circuit-breaking moment that charges
games with critical reality. If the glass is cut, if the cushioned
distance of media is removed, the patients may never respond as normals
again. They will become life-actors.
Theater is territory. A space for existing outside padded
walls. Setting down a stage declares a universal pardon for imagination.
But what happens next must mean more than sanctuary or preserve. How would
real wardens react to life-actors on liberated ground? How can the
intrinsic freedom of theater illuminate walls and show the weak-spots
where a breakout could occur?
Guerrilla theater intends to bring audiences to liberated territory
to create life-actors. It remains light and exploitative of forms for
the same reasons that it intends to remain free. It seeks audiences that
are created by issues. It creates a cast of freed beings. It will become
an issue itself.
This is theater of an underground that wants out. Its aim is to
liberate ground held by consumer wardens and establish territory without
walls. Its plays are glass cutters for empire windows.
Free store/property of the possessed
The Diggers are hip to property. Everything is free, do your own thing.
Human beings are the means of exchange. Food, machines, clothing,
materials, shelter and props are simply there. Stuff. A perfect dispenser
would be an open Automat on the street. Locks are time-consuming.
Combinations are clocks. [Check this: "locks" in the 10/66
So a store of goods or clinic or restaurant that is free becomes a
social art form. Ticketless theater. Out of money and control.
"First you gotta pin down what's wrong with the West. Distrust
of human nature, which means distrust of Nature. Distrust of wildness in
oneself literally means distrust of Wilderness." --Gary Snyder
Diggers assume free stores to liberate human nature. First free the
space, goods and services. Let theories of economics follow social facts.
Once a free store is assumed, human wanting and giving, needing and
taking, become wide open to improvisation.
A sign: If Someone Asks to See the Manager Tell Him He's the
Someone asked how much a book cost. How much did he think it was worth?
75 cents. The money was taken and held out for anyone. "Who wants 75
cents?" A girl who had just walked in came over and took it.
A basket labeled Free Money.
No owner, no Manager, no employees and no cash-register. A salesman in
a free store is a life-actor. Anyone who will assume an answer to a
question or accept a problem as a turn-on.
Question (whispered): "Who pays the rent?"
Answer (loudly): "May I help you?"
Who's ready for the implications of a free store? Welfare mothers pile
bags full of clothes for a few days and come back to hang up dresses. Kids
case the joint wondering how to boost.
Fire helmets, riding pants, shower curtains, surgical gowns and World
War I Army boots are parts for costumes. Nightsticks, sample cases, water
pipes, toy guns and weather balloons are taken for props. When materials
are free, imagination becomes currency for spirit.
Where does the stuff come from? People, persons, beings. Isn't it
obvious that objects are only transitory subjects of human value? An
object released from one person's value may be destroyed, abandoned or
made available to other people. The choice is anyone's.
The question of a free store is simply: What would you have?
Street event -- birth of haight/funeral for $ now
Pop Art mirrored the social skin. Happenings X-rayed the bones. Street
events are social acid heightening consciousness of what is real on the
street. To expand eyeball implications until facts are established through
The Mexican Day of the Dead is celebrated in cemeteries. Yellow flowers
falling petal by petal on graves. In moonlight. Favorite songs of the
deceased and everybody gets loaded. Children suck deaths-head candy
engraved with their names in icing.
A Digger event. Flowers, mirrors, penny-whistles, girls in costumes of
themselves, Hell's Angels, street people, Mime Troupe.
Angels ride up Haight with girls holding Now! signs. Flowers
and penny-whistles passed out to everyone.
A chorus on both sides of the street chanting Uhh!--Ahh!--Shh be
cool! Mirrors held up to reflect faces of passersby.
Penny-whistle music, clapping, flowers thrown in the air. A bus driver
held up by the action gets out to dance a quick free minute. No more
passers-by, Everybody's together.]
The burial procession. Three black-shrouded messengers holding staffs
topped with reflective dollar signs. A runner swinging a red lantern. Four
pall bearers wearing animal heads carry a black casket filled with blowups
of silver dollars. A chorus singing Get Out Of My Life Why Don't You
Babe to Chopin's Death March. Members of the procession give
out silver dollars and candles.
Now more reality. Someone jumps on a car with the news that two Angels
were busted. Crowd, funeral cortege and friends of the Angels fill the
street to march on Park Police Station. Cops confront 400 free beings: a
growling poet with a lute, animal spirits in black, candle-lit girls
singing Silent Night. A collection for bail fills an Angel's
helmet. March back to Haight and street dancing.
Street events are rituals of release. Reclaiming of territory (sundown,
traffic, public joy) through spirit. Possession. Public NewSense.
Not street-theater, the street is theater. Parades, bank
robberies, fires and sonic explosions focus street attention. A crowd is
an audience for an event. Release of crowd spirit can accomplish social
facts. Riots are a reaction to police theater. Thrown bottles and
over-turned cars are responses to a dull, heavy-fisted, mechanical and
deathly show. People fill the street to express special public feelings
and hold human communion. To ask "What's Happening?"
The alternative to death is a joyous funeral in company with the
Who paid for your trip?
Industrialization was a battle with 19th-century ecology to win
breakfast at the cost of smog and insanity. Wars against ecology are
suicidal. The U.S. standard of living is a bourgeois baby blanket for
executives who scream in their sleep. No Pleistocene swamp could match the
pestilential horror of modern urban sewage. No children of White Western
Progress will escape the dues of peoples forced to haul their raw
But the tools (that's all factories are) remain innocent and the ethics
of greed aren't necessary. Computers render the principles of wage-labor
obsolete by incorporating them. We are being freed from mechanistic
consciousness. We could evacuate the factories, turn them over to
androids, clean up our pollution. North Americans could give up
self-righteousness to expand their being.
Our conflict is with job-wardens and consumer-keepers of a permissive
looney-bin. Property, credit, interest, insurance, installments, profit
are stupid concepts. Millions of have-nots and drop-outs in the U.S. are
living on an overflow of technologically produced fat. They aren't
fighting ecology, they're responding to it. Middle-class living rooms are
funeral parlors and only undertakers will stay in them. Our fight is with
those who would kill us through dumb work, insane wars, dull money
Give up jobs, so computers can do them! Any important human
occupation can be done free. Can it be given away?
Revolutions in Asia, Africa, South America are for humanistic
industrialization. The technological resources of North America can be
used throughout the world. Gratis. Not a patronizing gift, shared.
Our conflict begins with salaries and prices. The trip has been paid
for at an incredible price in death, slavery, psychosis.
An event for the main business district of any U.S. city. Infiltrate
the largest corporation office building with life-actors as nymphomaniacal
secretaries, clumsy repairmen, berserk executives, sloppy security guards,
clerks with animals in their clothes. Low key until the first coffee-break
and then pour it on.
Secretaries unbutton their blouses and press shy clerks against the
wall. Repairmen drop typewriters and knock over water coolers. Executives
charge into private offices claiming their seniority. Guards produce booze
bottles and playfully jam elevator doors. Clerks pull out goldfish,
rabbits, pigeons, cats on leashes, loose dogs.
At noon 1000 freed beings singing and dancing appear outside to
persuade employees to take off for the day. Banners roll down from office
windows announcing liberation. Shills in business suits run out of the
building, strip and dive in the fountain. Elevators are loaded with
incense and a pie fight breaks out in the cafeteria. Theater is
Give up jobs. Be with people. Defend against property.