America owes the United Illuminating family and the AVATAR a small debt of gratitude. The Hill People's first diplomatic mission abroad was an unqualified success and it succeeded in laying the ground-work for more visits by other groups with the ultimate aim of establishing a new kind of foreign relations; the kind of thing we have among ourselves warm, open and without pretence. We talked to newspaper and magazine writers, radio and television people, film documentary makers. We even broadcast to Yugoslavia, Poland and Czechoslovakia over Radio Free Europe. And still this feeling came through. Now before any of you wild-eyed Anarchists or Digger types start castigating us for having sold out to the mass media ("Mom saw me on TV, therefore I am") let me lay on you what happened during this little attempt at establishing a new foreign policy and then we'll see what you have to say.
It was an improbable event. Someone in the family was notified by Decision Services International, a dare-all do-all public relations firm here in Boston, that a psychedelic light show and discotheque was opening in Munich, Germany, and they wanted three American hippies to come over to do their thing and lend a little authenticity to the proceedings. Would we be able to find anyone interested in an all-expenses paid trip to Germany with an open ticket return? Well, it wasn't that easy. Some wanted to go and then changed their winds. Others who couldn't get into it at first decided that they should go after all. At the last possible moment the awesome responsibility of representing American hippiedom abroad devolved upon Mel Lyman (World Saviour), Jane DeLong (Hippy Love Goddess) and Lew Crampton (Traveling Ambassador) who, having been duly briefed, passported and innoculated, were sent winging on their way to Bavaria. Only it wasn't a jet they got for us. It was a huge, propeller-driven albatross owned by Icelandic Airways (yes, we did stop at Rekjavik) and by the end of that sixteen hours it took us to get to Munich our asses were really dragging. But this was nothing to the way we felt when we stepped off that plane.
You see, somewhere the Germans had read all. about Hippies. I mean the Oracle kind of hippies you know, staggering under the weight of ankhs, godseyes, yin-yangs, mandalas, beads, buckskins, buttons, talismans, amulets, charms and flowers plus a complete set of Ron Boise Kama Sutra Sculpture buttons, each position set against a background of I Ching hexagrams, astrological signs and Tarot symbols. Naturally a welcoming party was laid on which they felt was suitable to the occasion. It featured two cream-and-maroon Harley-Davidsons, a huge Bentley, a couple of Go-Go Girls from the establishment we were coming to lend authenticity to, tons of paper flowers and whole phalanxes of press agents, photographers and reporters. They didn't even see us when we got off the plane. We walked right through them while they continued to gaze rapturously up into the innards of the great bird that had brought us across the ocean. I don't know why they didn't recognize us. The World Saviour he was just a groovy little guy with yellow pants and a red tie with a banjo slung over his shoulder. Our Love Goddess well she wasn't wearing flowers, but her legs sure looked groovy in Marilyn Kweskin's minidress. The Traveling Ambassador looked like a Princeton-Harvard dropout (or undercover CIA agent.) When the vibrations were finally tuned in the whole scene just became a monstrous suck-down. Everything we did was wrong! We told them we didn't win a nationwide contest to come over and represent the hippies of America that we weren't even sure we could represent ourselves adequately at the moment. When someone asked us if we wanted to go get a beer someplace Mel told him we didn't drink but could we go somewhere and take some drugs? Jane looked as if she would eat the next lecherous young reporter who laid a hand on her, while Lew (who is also a Scorpio) got pissed off and tried to think of beautiful things to say and nearly bit his tongue off. The number of ridiculous scenes that took place that evening would stagger the imagination. When we finally made it to our hotel to the accompaniment of jeers and catcalls from airport workers, cab drivers, customs officials and policemen, the whole thing had turned into a big piece of shit. They had given this fantastic party for us and we came but no one was impressed.
Next day we laid it on them. We turned the whole thing around. We told them we were leaders (the Germans understood this very well). Ours was the new direction that was being taken in a real movement for real people. The hippies they had read about in the Oracle were children of the mass media and the Haight Diggers had slipped away into the countryside like guerillas. In our settlement on Fort Hill and in countless other tribal and community gatherings across the United States lay the model for a new way of life that allowed each person to develop his own creative talents in a manner best suited to his own nature. We told them that, in the case of those people who didn't want to leave the Establishment entirely but who were honestly moved to consider the direction their lives were taking, our community was serving as a resting place and rebuilding experience much in the same manner of Buddhist monasteries in old China. We told them that living on Fort Hill was like having seventy brothers and sisters with whom you could be absolutely straight and who would help you in every possible way to do your thing. When they asked us to talk about the "hippie philosophy" Mel went to sleep or ate ice cream. When they asked us how we felt and what we did, we told them about meeting challenges and raising kids, organizing and building a new kind of life style, teaching and hustling, trying to be real people doing real things. The essence, I guess, of the model we are trying to bring to the world from Fort Hill.
And the Germans understood it. They are hungry, too. We talked with them everywhere and we did our best to turn them on. We got into their communications network and spread social acid. We went to their houses and their clubs and learned that most of them are unhappy because they feel they are doing things they don't really want to do. The postwar recovery has been accomplished now and young Germans, with a good deal of leisure time and their material wants more-or-less satisfied, are now beginning to ask themselves those old familiar questions we here in America have been working on for ten or twelve years. That's where the scene is today in Germany they're back with Jack Kerouac and the Beats of the mid-fifties. But we all know where that leads to, don't we! It's a first step for people who arc trying to get to the same place. Perhaps the most important result of our mission was that we established solid bridgeheads in Europe for a new invasion of deeds and ideas. We told them what we do and how we live and it was very seductive.
When we finally left Germany it felt like we weren't really leaving at all. We felt totally connected to many different people who belonged to the same tribe. It was sad but things are going to work out.