Letter from Kent to Emmett Grogan, ca. 1972.

[Located in the Digger Archives, Catalog No. DP021.]

dear emmett,

jus finished yer book and my head is exploding with its past. book like a fuse; head like a bomb, rememberin 10 pages of experience for every one I read. Imagine the cumbersome volume that would contain all of it. I’m sure Berg will never forgive me for this, but I really enjoyed the fuckin thing, in spite of the several moments of outrage, but any good book gives you that. Even now Nina is upstairs nursing Angeline reading it and laughing and calling you names. Everybody wonders why this or that was left out, but I was thrilled to find out things I never new [sic], like what you said to George Romney in the cab of that truck (how we were both unknowing co-conspirators in frying that guy’s brain); how you felt about the city hall steps thing; yer rivalry with Berg (even now understanding is incomplete); the incredible account of yer past... Jeez, did we really know each other? I remember when you first came to the Mime Troupe, we walked from the studio to the Panhandle talking about movies and theater.. who is this guy talking as heavy a rap as Davis or Cohon, and I still haven’t figured out how to say such incredible things. I never knew what happened on the trip to Michigan. I never knew what went on when you guys went to New York and London.

I remember when the girls took over the free food after our last tour with the troupe. By that time I was into trucks, so I always maintain that ‘51 Chevy pickup Jon Glazer gave me, and was the driver. I sat in the truck while the girls made contact with the guys in the stalls, and only came out when there was something to load up. We got more food when the women ran it than ever before, because in spite of the restrictions imposed after the Poetry Bust, the girls were able to get through to the Dept. of Ag. man himself who would go around and tag things for us. As the months went by, one or another of the women would grow big in pregnancy and then they’d be carrying the kid around to the stalls. Once the universal joint went as we were about to bull out of the Produce Market parking lot, and I spent all day under the thing fixing it. We never went around delivering it, but set up in a different street each week with a prearranged delivery time. Sometimes we set up in front of Cole Street and after a couple of hectic sessions of grabbing, pulling neighbors competing for first access to the food, I decided on a plan to make things a little more orderly. I pulled the truck up on the sidewalk, and while Vinnie and Peter unloaded the food I ran upstairs and stuck the Hi-fi speakers in the open window. Then I put on a record of Corelli and Vivaldi trumpet concertos. The result was quite satisfactory. People were courteously offering each other this or that choice item, stepping back out of the way, asking if everyone had a fair portion, Oh let me help you pick that up, etc.

In my head, the time in Frisco has no chronology. I can’t distinguish the Summer of Love from the summer of riot. Everything is just an assortment of details. How I learned to correctly adjust the valve gap on a Chevy 6, a snowball fight from the top of a 3-story tower on the Vernal Equinox of I don’t know what year, playing the piano for the long line of people waiting for Larry Mamiya’s free Thursday night dinner at Glide church, setting off an abortive highway flare on top of a water tower in Pacific Heights to mark the Summer Solstice, sitting with Ron Thelin and Arthur Lach [sic] at red-cheked cloth covered table drinking coffee at 7am on the elevated freeway above the Franklin Street exit with the morning traffic racing by waving and cheering, following meat trucks up third street trying to find one the driver left the keys in so we could drive it to a back alley and unload the meat into one of ours, filling brook’s Webster Street storefront with stolen lumber for Morningstar and barely escaping two close inquiries by the police, stealing two arc welders from a construction site, one for Digger, one for the Angels. Building Chariots with Frank Corda for the great chariot races, scattering troi hoi leaflet urging soldiers to desert and come to San Francisco all over the Oakland Army Terminal parade grounds with Joel and Mo, two guys back from Nam whom I harbored on Eureka Street, stealing incredible amounts of batteries and tires from the Presidio motor pool with Claude in his Army Truck. You teach me to see these shifting sands as history, with a progression and order of deeper and deeper involvement. Slowly it begins to take more form, but it will take a while. There’s still a lot I don’t know.

I see what our family is now, how things have developed since the end of yer story, and I’m not sad. The history of the fishing boat, the time we ran the coast guard blockade around Alcatraz and took food to the Indians, the week I spent with Bluecloud preparing the Bear Dance grounds, the time we took water to Pyramid Lake where Bluecloud gawked lecherously at Jane Fonda who was trying to interview him about the new Indian radical leadership, the thanksgiving trip through Briceland with 3 truckloads of food to Black Bear where we narrowly escaped the entrapment of the winter snows, piling up a mountain of garbage and scrap metal in the town square at Forest Knolls (now our family could clean all the scrap metal out of Lower East Side ourselves!), my 2 weeks with Rolling Thunder in Nevada, running a free garage and parts supply in Forest Knolls, building up 17 trucks for the caravan, my present aches and pains from the daily farm work here; all of it is part of some kind of long development. The end of that story is years away and impossible to imagine. What you’ve done is lay out part of that development and righteously name the enemies. Much of the detail is wrong, but it needs to be, else we’d be carting around an unreadable 4000 page tome full of footnotes and addenda. The main punch was well delivered, the exposure of Rubin and Hoffman and the beads and incense crowd was stone right.

When do we get to see you here? Do you not want to pull big rocks out of the ground, drive tractors in the hot dust and buck bales of hay? The people would like to touch you and smell you for a while.

Whenever,

Yr brother,

Kent

 
 

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