Saturday, July 19, 2014

Narcs Tried Busting Me In 1968-- One, Now A Chauffeur, Picked Me Up At The Airport This Week

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Not my limo driver-- but he might as well have been

When I was in college I was probably best known for 3 things-- all intimately tied together back in the '60s, if not now: progressive politics, drugs and rock'n'roll. The first concert I ever booked, as freshman class president, was the Freshman Dance. The campus squares were eager to put on a suit and tie, ask their gals on a date, give them a corsage and do a slow dance. I brought them The Fugs. It was very polarizing. The next year I was chairman of the student activities board and started bringing cutting edge bands to the campus that horrified the day's pro-war, Republican racists: The Doors, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Country Joe and the Fish, Otis Redding, The Who, Tim Buckley, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, the Byrds, Love, Ravi Shankar... My friends loved it; the squares hated it. Long hair, a hippie lifestyle, disrespect for hierarchal, paternalistic government, psychedelic drugs, racial equality, sexual self-awareness... the squares hated it all.

I was back at Stony Brook recently-- first time since I left in 1969-- to see if I could help with a program for super-motivated smart kids from economically impoverished households. The school sent a car to pick me up at the airport and I got to chatting with the driver who was just a few years older than me but very fit. When I told him I had been at Stony Brook in the '60s he said he used to hang out at the campus. The only townies who hung out at the campus were a tiny, tiny, tiny handful of hipsters who loved the psychedelic music. I figured he might have been one of the people who came to see the concerts I put on. Uh... no. "I was an undercover narc," he laughed. I informed him I was target #1 of Operation Stony Brook in the spring of 1968, America's first giant, made-for-TV-news campus drug bust. The local Republicans really hated us-- everything about us and they were out to prove... something, but I don't know what since they were the keystone cops and failed miserably at proving anything.

Operation Stony Brook was also a 107-page booklet put together by Suffolk County District Attorney Harry O'Brien and Suffolk County Police Commissioner John Barry, a blue print for their big bust, which netted a couple dozen kids who smoked pot and perhaps sold nickel bags but no one who they were really out to go (i.e., me). My name is prominently featured in the booklet and eventually Harry O'Brien granted me immunity from prosecution if I agreed to testify about the evils of the university. The driver was part of that bust but he told me he wasn't wearing a fake beard and wig lot so many of the narcs who were always trying-- and failing-- to entrap "pushers."

We had a good laugh over the old days and then somehow he turned the conversation into how Obama is fucking up America. It took about 30 seconds before I realized I was hearing a recitation of whatever idiocy Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham had been spouting that day. And his wife couldn't get her medicine because of Medicare. I explained what Part D is and how Bush and the GOP pushed it through with no Democratic support. He didn't believe me since everything in America was wonderful before Obama... and had I heard about what that horrible Nancy Pelosi was doing to take away religious freedom with the Hobby Lobby?

Great to be back at Stony Brook-- and on Nesconsitt Highway, no less where my hotel was and where townies once smashed up a friend's car with baseball bats and chased us for miles until we drove right into a police station and they were too dumb not to come right in after us... and right into jail cells. Some things never change and I guess the town vs gown syndrome is just not going away. (Although, one friendly administrator told me that since Stony Brook started fielding big time sports teams, the community has embraced them more. Good to know.)

Since we brought him up, I want to tell you the story of what happened with my old nemisis, ambitious Republican politician Harry O'Brien many years later. I'll make it brief-- Jones Beach, underage boy and a song by the Dead Boys:



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