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December 11, 1975     The Texas Sun
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December 11, 1975
 

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8 bu Je# r Atb d The government's intelligence ap- paratus spends some six billion dollars a year, so u underground fugitive can afford few mistakes. As Sports Writer Big Boy Medlin put it, "For Abbie it's always the bottom of the ninth with two outs. He can't afford any mistakes...Tbe govern- ment has just begun the ball game." It was bow Abbie Hoffman had withstood a year and a half of hitchhike in the midwest and survive,"was how Abbie described her. There was a poignancy in meeting Jane because I had known Abbie's wife Anita, and Anita and Abbie had been as tight a couple as movement couples can be. Their rules hadn't been standard, but their closeness had been undeniable. When Abbie chose to adopt an underground life, the FBI and IRS descended upon "The relationship of friendship is a far more interesting relationship than love." constant pressure that most intrigued me. When you know how people withstand stress, you begin to understand the essence of their character. The changes Abbie under- went mirror that mysterious and shadowy entity broadly descn'bed as the Underground. The atmosphere af the Underground has been colored, of course, by the gun-toting, fast-shoot- ing image of the SLA. But the quieter, longer running tradition of the Weathermen was another example altogether. Flagrantly daring in the beginning, the Weather people embarked on a period of sell~ritlcism and emerged as a believable pol/tical force ready to put thought into action. When the Weather people attacked a government strong point such as breaking Timothy Leafy out of jail in Calitornia, they did so with the cool finesse of professionals. Abbie was confronted with the choice between adventurous elem- ents, and those who had achieved discipline. I was never to be allowed the secret of what groups be was a member of, but I knew his personality and actions would be an almost anthropological telescope to operat- ional styles and values hidden from my view. So while I knew most people would be curious about Underground operations in Texas, the state of his politics and his reactions to Patty Hearst, I was more fascinated with how he lived. BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER WE WERE LOVERS, WE REMAINED FRIENDS. Jane, Abbie's new wife, was chewing on the, tough chicken fried steak I'd recommended. She sat with the self-possessed composure that women secure in their attractiveness often have. The first night Abbie had pulled me aside and whispered "She's my Guru", which I thought was taking infatuation a step too far. But in a day's time I'd begun to respect her. "She can go to debutante balls or Anita and their child america. Their bank account was immediately tied up, and Anita was forced to go on welfare. Of course there was no privacy for" her. Everywhere she went, she was followed. Everything she said, even in the privacy of her bedroom, was the purvue of snoops. Electronic evesdropping has reached the point that a person has absolutely no privacy anywhere, if the government is willing to put in the effort. (I remember a woman saying in the heavy anti-war days, "Let's make love well, so if they're listening they'll wish they'd joined us." A life of involvement must be learned to be lived onstage. Here in Texas, I didn't know anything that had happened between Abbie and Anita until I read in the paper one day that Abbie had a new wife. Reporters had scurried to get grown. You know, sometimes when people spend years together, five, six, seven, there's an habituation that starts to form, and as humans grow, they grow into different life-patterns and styles. Unless they aUow space for that growth they're going to start turning on one another. Luckily we never had to reach that point." Then with a laugh and a twist of irony he continued, "The government was nice to us in that way. We had to rise to the occasion because the problems we had to face were so real, particularly the break-up with a kid, and everything." He paused, remem- bering, and added, "We had a humanly wrenching break-up, but we were determined it wasn't going to wreck our lives. We had to continue growing, so naturally she has a boyfriend. We don't experience jealousy." People whose lives are tuning forks for the rest of us seem to bear special responsibilities. And in an era of enormous confusion about love, an era in which the Sun runs a year-long series on Sexuality & Relationships and just begins to scrape the surface, I thought it appropriate to push the subject of jealousy and love further. Abbie's views on romantic involve- ment seemed as important as his views on politics because he'd been forced into a daring and unconven- , tional lifestyle. I told him about a radio interview I did with Joan Baez some years ago, at the time her husband, David Harris, was jailed for draft resistance. The interview took place in her motel room, and it was clear she'd spent the night with a rather nice fellow in the same anti-draft organization. I asked "The Western concept of love is like a bottle of Coca-Cola you find in the desert after wandering around for about eight days. Once you've drunk it, it's gone." Anita's reaction and she replied that it was goOd. Then full of an un-Ann Landers sense of strength and love, she observed, "I'm sure anyone that Abbie would love, I would love too." So I'd looked at Jane with careful eyes...and liked her. When I asked Abbie how he marshalled his sense of love and trust against the difficulties of separation, he replied without dodging, "Anita and I were friends, before, during ~nd after we were lovers. The relationship of friendship is a far more interesting relationship than love. Love is very hard to define and so easily commercialized. So, I like to think in terms of the notion of friendship." It was clear that his underground life had forced him to understand his feelings exactly. "I think our love has how she handled the problem of her sexuality with her lover in jail, but she tried to maintain a discreet pose and replied, "It's a private matter." Private, crap. She was asking people to go to jail rather than to Vietnam, but was unwilling to discuss some of the human consequences. Abbie listened, and then I asked him about jealousy. "I don't feel jealousy. No, no, no. One time we had a sort of double standard, but then I went through some consciousness changing because of the new ideas coming from women's liberation. I started taking care of the kid, cleaning up the floors, while Anita would go into the city. We tried to reverse roles to a large extent. I got a vasectomy during that period because Anita had a problem with an IUD, and that hurt me. I did some investigating and began analyz- ing gynecologists and why most birth control products like pills and IUD's had been aimed at women." "It was another liberation battle. I don't know how it will affect the world, but it affected me very personally. I was trying to feel my way around. Some qualities like bravery and courage were being put off as macho, but they were good qualities and I was trying to look at things in a new way and decide for myself. All that helped to create my new life, which is really interesting... and I still do all the cooking." In this vein I'd said that anyone I ever loved I never stopped loving--an attitude that's commendable on the surface but difficult in the practice-- and Abbie revealed his university training by saying he'd been heavily influenced along those lines by "Maslow." "Who?" "The psychology professor I stud- ied with at Brandeis. He believed in the notion of unlimited and growing love. In essence, when you fall in love with yourself, you're capable of loving a number of people and entering into i i:ili if!! !