Dan burns one with Phil Ochs

Dan burns one with Phil Ochs

Nice memory, Walt. I also have a musical memory from that pre-convention period. 

A year earlier, as a counselor-in-training at a Jewish summer camp in Wisconsin (the first and only organized Jewish activity that our parents ever involved me in), I had fallen in with a folksinging crowd, and we young teenagers all much admired the political troubadour Phil Ochs. Several of us had guitars in camp, and Phil Ochs was what we were playing. More so than Dylan.

That was in the summer of 1967, before all the upheavals that were soon to follow. But now it was two assassinations later and the whole political circus was coming to Chicago. 

One of the main countercultural groups preparing for demonstrations in Chicago were The Yippies, led by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, who would become famous as defendants in the Chicago 7 criminal trial the next year. I recall that the Yippies were more interested in staging political pranks, like parading around with a live pig, than they were in organizing mass actions. 

I wasn't so impressed with that, but I was impressed that one of the people involved with the Yippies was Phil Ochs. 

Now that I look it up, it was the Yippies who staged the Festival of Life counter convention in Grant Park that was the target of the "police riot" for which the convention is most remembered. And it was Phil Ochs himself who raised the porcine Pigasus, whom the Yippies had nominated for President. 

So this memory is from a couple of weeks before the start of the convention. Somehow, I had gotten call from one of my camp mates from the year before. Phil Ochs was in the city organizing with the Yippies—and she knew where he was staying.

And so the next night, I find myself in a crowded hotel room as joints are being passed around and there is Phil Ochs himself, right over there, sitting on the bed. I don't think I said a word to him personally, but I sure was starstruck. 

So that is my musical memory from early August 1968.