The Digger Papers (August, 1968)
Comparative Game of a Free City
[Note: in August 2017, I visited the special collection in New
York City has has a group of papers that Emmett left with Harvey Kornspan in
1968 and which Harvey sold to a book dealer in 2014 who in turn sold them to the
NYPL. The text below is annotated with the draft version of the text as it
appeared in these papers.—ed.
Our state of awareness demands that we uplift our efforts
from competitive game playing in the underground to the comparative roles of free
families in free cities.
We must pool our resources and interact our energies to
provide the freedom for our individual activities.
In each city of the world there is a loose competitive
underground composed of groups whose aims overlap, conflict, and generally enervate the
desired goal of autonomy. By now we all have guns, know how to use them, know our enemy,
and are ready to defend. We know that we ain't gonna take no more shit. So it's about time
we carried ourselves a little heavier and got down to the business of creating free cities
within the urban environments of the western world.
Free Cities are composed of Free Families (e.g.,
in San Francisco: Diggers, Black Panthers, Provos [substitute "Red Guards" in
Ringolevio], Mission Rebels and various revolutionist gangs and communes) who establish
and maintain services that provide a base of freedom for autonomous groups to carry out
their programs without having to hassle for food, printing facilities, trans-
mechanics, money, housing, working space, clothes, ma- chinery, trucks, etc.
At this point in our revolution it is demanded that the
families, communes, black organizations and gangs of every city in America coordinate and
develop Free Cities where everything that is necessary can be obtained for free by those
involved in the various activities of the individual clans.
Every brother [add "and sister"
in Ringolevio] should have what he [substitute "they" in
Ringolevio] need to do whatever needs to be done.
An outline . . . a beginning
Each service should be performed by a tight
gang of brothers and sisters whose commitment should enable
them to handle an overload of work with ability
and enthusiasm. 'Tripsters' soon get bored, hopefully
before they cause an economic strain.
Free City Switchboard/Information Center
should coordinate all services, activities, and aid and
direct assistance where it is most needed. Also provide a reference point for legal aid,
housing, machinery, etc.; act as a mailing address for dislocated groups or individuals
and guide random energies where they are most needed. (The work load usually prevents or
should prevent the handling of messages from parents to their runaway children . . . that
should be left up to the churches of the community.)
Free Food Storage and Distribution Center
should hit every available source of free food--produce
markets, farmers' markets, meat-packing plants, farms, dairies, sheep and cattle ranches,
agricultural colleges, and giant institutions (for the uneaten vats of food)--and fill up
their trucks with the surplus by begging, borrowing, stealing, forming liaisons and
communications with delivery drivers for the leftovers from their routes . . . best method
is to work in two shifts: morning group picks up the foodstuffs and the afternoon shift
delivers it to the list of Free Families and the poor peoples of the ghettos. everyday.
This gang should help people pool their welfare food
stamps and get their old ladies or a group to open a free restaurant for people on the
move and those who live on the streets. Giant scores should be stored in a garage-type
warehouse equipped with freezers and its whereabouts known only to the Free Food Gang.
This group should also set up and provide help for canning, preserving, bread baking, and
feasts and anything and everything else that has to do with food.
Free City Garage and Mechanics
to repair and maintain all vehicles used in the various
services. the responsibility for the necessary tools and parts needed in their work is
entirely theirs and usually available by maintaining friendly relations with junkyards,
giant automotive schools, and generally scrounging around those areas where auto equipment
is easily obtained. The garage should be large enough and free of tripsters who only
create more work for the earnest mechanics.
Free City Bank and Treasury
this group should be responsible for raising money,
making free money, paying rents, for gasoline, and any other necessary expenses of the
Free City Families. They should also organize and create small rackets (cookie sales,
etc.) for the poor kids of the ghettoes and aid in the repair and maintenance of the
machinery required in the performance of the various services.
Free City Legal Assistance
high-style, hard-nosed, top-class lawyers who are willing
to defend the rights of the Free City and its services . . . no honky, liberal,
bleeding-heart, guilt-ridden advocates of justice, but first-class case-winners . . . turn
on the best lawyers who can set up airtight receivership for free money and property, and
beat down the police harassment and brutality of your areas.
Free City Housing and Work Space
rent or work deals with the urban gov't to take over
spaces that have been abandoned for use as carpentry shops, garages, theaters, etc., rent
whole houses, but don't let them turn into crash pads. Set up hotels for new arrivals or
transients by working out deals with small hotel owners for free rooms in exchange for
light housework, porter duties, etc. Big warehouses can be worked on by environmental
artists and turned into giant free dance-fiesta-feast palaces.
A strong trio of serious business-oriented cats should
develop this liberation of space within the cities and be able to work with the lawyers to
make deals and outmaneuver urban bueaucracies and slum landlords . . . one of the main
targets for space are the churches whio are the holders of most real estate and they
should be approached with a no-bullshit hard line.
Free City Stores and Workshops
nothing in these stores should be throwaway items . . .
space should be available for chicks to sew dresses, make pants to order, recut garments
to fit, etc. The management should all be life-actors capable of turning bullshitters into
mud. Important that these places are first class environments with no trace of salvation
army/st. vinnie de paul charity rot. Everything groovy. Everything with style . . . must
be first class. It's all free because it's yours!
Free Medical Thing
should be established in all poverty areas and run by
private physicians and free from any bureaucratic support. The Free City Bank should try
to cover the expenses, and pharmaceutical houses should be hit for medical supplies, etc.
Important that the doctors are brothers and do not ask to be salaried or are not
out to make careers for themselves (witness Dr. David Smith of the Hippie Free Clinic in
San Francisco who is far from a brother . . . very far).
Free City Hospital
should be a house converted into bed space and preferably
with a garden and used for convalescence and people whose minds have been blown or who
have just been released from a state institution and who need the comfort and solace of
their [add "own" in Ringolevio] people rather than the cold alienated walls of
an urban institution.
Free City Environmental and Design Gang
gangs of artists from universities and art institutes
should be turned on and helped in attacking the dank squalor of the slums and most of the
Free City Family dwellings . . . paint landscapes on the sides of tenements . . .
fiberglass stairwells . . . make crazy. Tight groups of good painters, sculptors,
designers who comfortably construct environments for the community. Materials and
equipment can be hustled from university projects and manufacturers, etc.
Free City Schools
schools designed and run by different groups according to
the consciousness of their Free Families (e.g., Black Man's Free School, Anarchist's
Creative Arts School, etc.). The schools should utilize the space liberated for them by
the Free City Space Gang.
Free City News and Communication Company
providers of a daily newspaper, monthly magazine, free
Gestetner and printing of [delete "of" in Ringolevio] notices for other groups
and any special bulletins and propaganda for the various families of the Free City. The
machinery should be kept in top condition and supplied by any of the various services.
Paper can be scavenged at large mills and cut down to proper working size.
Free City Events . . . Festival Planning Committees
usually involves several Families interacting to sponsor
tours for the kids . . . Balls, Happenings, Theatre, Dance, and spontaneous experiments in
joy . . . Park Events usually are best set up by hiring a 20-foot flatbed truck for the
rock band to use as a stage and to transport their equipment; people should be advised by
leaflets to bring food to exchange with their neighbors; banners, props, balloons, kites
etc., should be handled by a committee; an electrician should be around to run the
generator and make sure that the PA systems work; hard work made easy by giving
responsible people the tough jobs.
Cooperative Farms and Campsites
the farms should be run by experienced hands and the Free
Land set- tled on by cottage industrial people who will send their wares into the Free
City. The farms must produce vital food for the families . . . some free land that is no
good for farming should be used as campsites and/or cabin areas for [add "Free"
in Ringolevio] citizens who are in need of country leisure, as well as kids who could use
a summer in the woods.
Scavenger Corps and Transport Gang
is responsible for garbage collection and the picking up
and delivery of items to the various services, as well as liberating anything they think
useful for one project or another. They are to be responsible for the truck fleet and
especially aware of the economic strain if trucks are misused by tripsters.
Free City Tinkers and Gunsmiths, Etc.
will repair and keep things going in the houses . . .
experienced repairmen of all sorts, electricians, and carpenters. They should maintain a
warehouse or working space for their outfit.
Free City Radio, TV and Computer Stations
demand Free time on radio and TV stations; demand a Free
City fre- quency to set up your own stations; rent computers to call the punches for the
revolution or use them in any constructive way possible.
[following text in original, not in Ringolevio:]
Free City Music
Where is the place that your music comes from
do you know
What determines the rest between phrases
The Interval that grows from the cluster
of sounds around it
Hanging behind the beat
Clipping the front of it
That's the gift
The thing that blows through a body that responds to spirit and a
mind that doesn't lock itself
It's that thing
We're all made of, forget about, and then try to grab again
That thing that's all there and all free
The fretless infinite string banjo has invented new means of music
which it must buy from itself to sing
$ * $ * $
fat man owns the carnival and all the booths play
business. he double hypes the want glands, lets you buy in and then displays what's
available to the crowd. all of a sudden you got something to lose. he spreads the news and
pays for it by telling kids they're ugly blemished smelly unimaginative and dull . . .
then sells them cures, says to you, "here kid, change the name, change the games, do
anything you want, but don't give it away." that game's called vested interest and it
can apply to anything.
fat man runs a crumby joint, but it's the only joint
right? He'll be there until we free the goodies
Art forms and life forms interact
look at fat mans Life
look at fat mans Time
look at fat mans forms
The record industry, dance-hall promotion rackets and
the artist- star-celebrity-hero roles they support and promote are fat man forms and are
cramping the number
the dance-light show package hasn't changed since its
form crystallized and it became business. it reached the end of its evolution. kids don't
dance they watch, because the bands are pro now and you don't play with a pro. when you
pay to go to a dance the medium is business . . . the problem is to free the form and the
Some Ideas for Liberating the Ferris Wheel:
A) Contracts could demand free cuts on all albums
- a name group might take one side of an album and divide
the other into sets of two tracks each of which they would give away. give a brother a
piggy-back over the business-shit to the ears of our people. two truths don't compete
B) A certain number of records be released in plain
- saving all art and printing costs and leaving free space
for local artists to use. Ready mades would cost more.
C) Scrap liner notes and
- print charts of the tunes, diagrams of cheap amps and
pick-ups so local wizards can plug in more kids, good poems, clothes patterns, recipes.
D) Add 1% to all royalties to be used for free forms
- equipment for free rehearsal rooms
sound systems for free concerts
musical communes for non-working cats.
E) Send other bands on your publicity junkets
- after all its not just your sound is it its the sound
you're all part of. make that clear to people. free fat man's star trip by giving away
your names. how many times can you go to Des Moines?