Clear-Cutting Sherwood Forest

Angry hippies haunt our past

The Amerikan government was on trial for crimes against the people of the world. We now find the government guilty and sentence it to death in the streets.

Pretty catchy stuff, huh? It's from an Orange County alternative publication. It's also from 31 years ago.

OC has changed tremendously over those years, becoming hipper, more diverse, more politically balanced. Back then, you couldn't buy a latte to save your life. It was a conservative bedroom community, with Birchers looking under every one of those beds for Commies. It was stiff. It was straight. It was strict. It was also more radical.

There were walk-outs, love-ins and teach-ins. Students for a Democratic Society chapters agitated local campuses. There were so many protests in March 1970—against Timothy Leary's Laguna drug bust; in support of a doctor in the same town being tried for performing abortions; in solidarity with Vernon Williams, a black man who was strangled to death by OC Sheriff's officers (whose defense was essentially "Oops!"); in support of Arthur League, a Black Panther charged with murdering a Santa Ana police officer—it's amazing they could keep track of them without a Palm Pilot.

Someone blew up an Irvine Co. earthmover or two. There were head shops and underground radio stations. And, most incongruously, there was a more or less Marxist underground paper called From Out of Sherwood Forest published from a bookstore on the Newport peninsula.

I still have my old copies—those that weren't confiscated by my high school bus driver. People on the Right have a tendency to define freedom in precise terms, namely as the freedom to be just like them. Everyone from the county superintendent of schools on down to my bus driver was so concerned about this paper polluting our little minds that they didn't care if a few rights were abrogated in the process.

If you conservatives today think our Weekly writings are the weevils in your Wheaties, you should read this old stuff. I mean, the Sherwood Forestwriters couldn't see Jefferson Airplane at the Anaheim Convention Center without it also being a trip through "the bloodless plastic heart of Amerika."

How's this for a balanced lead: "The creaking mindless wheels of our decaying governmental system continued to crank out its own peculiar version of justice at Cal State Fullerton last Friday, March 20. The Student-Faculty Judiciary Committee met in secret to decide what type of punishment is appropriate for Bruce Church and Dave McKowiak. Their crime? Telling Governor [Ronald] Reagan to get fucked."

How about a record review: "Why should you pay more than $3 for an album? You pay for a name that is fabricated out of proportion. As long as the present economic system remains, people will continue to get screwed."

When the Ortega Hot Springs were fenced in, they saw it as a pattern of "the land barons" crushing every meeting place freaks had, including concerts and pop festivals, and warned, "Soon we will have nowhere to go but the streets, and the residents of Isla Vista know what happens there! So if that's what must be, so be it."

Isla Vista, for those who only know of it as the UC Santa Barbara party zone, was the site of violent confrontations between cops and students protesting the war, with the final tally being a torched Bank of America and a shot-dead student or two. In my house, my dad was apoplectic because a student had been killed trying to prevent other students from attacking the bank. "Those cowardly #$@%*! hippies!" When it came to light later that the kid had been killed by an off-duty cop firing into the crowd, my pop refused to talk about it again.

Sherwood Forest ran handy hints on how to "off" parking meters by jamming soda-pop pull tabs into them. In November '69, they printed an editorial, stating, "Stealing from companies which are stealing from the people is not dishonest. Profit is theft. . . . Stealing is a small and unimportant way of striking back, but as fun and financial assistance, it's certainly justified. Don't do anything when other shoppers can see you, though they're usually so unconscious they probably wouldn't see you anyway."

Not surprisingly, the paper didn't have many advertisers.

I was 15 then, so my favorite feature was a column written by "Princess" called Sexeconomy, in which virtually everyone except the author was written-off as sexually repressed. One long, anti-police screed ended with the olive branch: "Let the Newport Beach Police Department sit in a circle sucking each other off. Maybe that will help. But don't let them keep us from building a new life, from saying what we believe or from showing them up for what they are."

Another week, Princess viewed homosexuality though the bifocals of Reich and Marx and determined it to be an anti-revolutionary aberration that would disappear if we were all truly free. Refuting a lesbian spokeswoman who claimed that women could best pleasure one another, the author parried, "That only testifies to the apparent fact that the writer of this leaflet has never encountered stiff-penised men who can hold an erection and that she is not capable of the sort of surrender of ego necessary for vaginal orgasm."

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