called me this morning and the people that determine whether I come back up here or not just wouldn’t allow that. You’re right, and I wanted to go along with you, but I just couldn’t do it.’ I heard that so much I just started telling those people, ‘Fuck you, man.’ Well, you just can’t operate effectively like that. “So I decided to get out. There’s a thing about the Legislature and, I suppose, about politics as a whole, or about anything that’s corrupt. If you live and work with that corruption, some’s going to get on you. Or if you try to fight it while, as in my case, being part of it, as a legislator, it ruins any effectiveness you might have. So you’re screwed either way. “There were personal reasons I got out. too. Some were purely selfish reasons. I got tired. I want to try some other things. Some things I think are more creative. Going to those meetings [during election campaigns] just waste time. When do you read, or when do you talk to your friends? When do you dig stuff out of your head? And I need to do that. I’ve never really had a chance in my life to do what I wanted to do. Maybe now I have the freedom to do what I want to do. And I want to check that out. I’ve always said that freedom would be a good thing. But I’ve never had it, and I want to see now, just to see what freedom really means.” VANCE’S IDEA now seems to be to work in communities of poor and disadvantaged people, working in his sparetime when not on his fulltime job. Currently he’s involved in seeing to the establishment of some diagnostic medical centers in black neighborhoods in Houston. He is doing this with a friend, Howard Cole, who until recently was a technical writer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Clear Lake. But, Vance says, Cole got dissatisfied with his job, quit, and decided to do what he could to address social problems that seemed important. Cole read that the Xerox Corporation had given the local Baylor College of Medicine a grant to start community diagnostic centers and to test the use of computers in diagnosis. “The idea is,” Vance says, “to go to the black community and ask them to send people to establish clinics in the black area. We’d be able to gather our research data, plus we’d be able to give free medical care to some black people. “But the black physicians said no. That would be cutting into their money and into their power. Well, Cole heard about this and said let’s see if we can get this set up in the black community anyway. He came to me and asked him if I would help him. I said sure.” Vance met then with a black doctor, a Dr. Lipscomb, at Baylor Med and what had been scheduled as a 30-minute 4 The Texas Observer At 30, a lot of people go through changes and decide if they’re going to do anything they’d better get on with it.’ appointment turned into a three-hour session. Lipscomb asked Cole and Vance to set up a public lobbying group whereby the public’s interest would be pushed in certain situations, such as the establishment of the community diagnostic centers. Then foundation grants would be sought to implement such programs without having to seek governmental financing or donations from individuals. “I don’t know yet if this makes more sense than working in the Legislature. But I’m going to try this. If it doesn’t work I’ll do something else another way. “A lot of times people do things and don’t know why. The answer comes later. When people used to call me a politician, it always went over my head, because I’ve never thought like a politician. If someone were to ask me ‘What are you?’ I would say, ‘I guess I’m a poet.’ But I’ve never written any poetry or anything. I think I’m an experimenter or something like that. Somebody has to think about the future. Somebody has to try the things that might be in the future. “Something I just realized recently: I’m probably more emotional than the other people that I work with in my group at the company. They think I probably at least border on insanity. You know, they think I’m a little bit weird. “You know, we’re considered to be crazy by a lot of people. For some reason we’ve ended up with rawer nerves. We’re more sensitive to things. We want to know what makes life tick and we don’t want to get turned off. We’re the first ones to go and blow up to people. We’re going to have to do something to use this force that drives us, and we’re just going to have to keep telling these people over and over, `Look, if what’s happening in this country affects me this way, it’s going to get you later.’ People better start paying attention to the creative people, or to the artists, or to the writers. Some of them are off track and everything, but they’re going in one direction. They’re predicting what’s going to happen because they can feel the stress first. And I can understand why the people who feel secure or who think they have found some security in what they’re doing now resent having to follow what they consider to be a bunch of bums. But you look back in history and the same damn thing’s been true. “I’m not sure I have the answers. But I know what some of the problems are and I need some help. The trouble I’m having is having some people who can influence things and change things even look at problems. Just look at them. “Several times I’ve offered to take people out to my old neighborhood, just take an hour after they get off work, but they won’t go. And these same people are the ones who tell me that we don’t have real poverty or problems in this country. Hell, some of those people back in my old block were living there when I was. “And I’ve gone out to Ben Taub Hospital, the charity hospital, and sat there three and four hours several nights and watched those people and I’ve seen how they’ve been treated.” VANCE IS convinced that one of the factors that encouraged him to alter his life was the communion of some close friends he found while in Austin. “I’d never really ever had any good friends. When I moved to Austin I found some other people who thought like I did. When there are other people that do the same things you do, have the same ideas, it makes you a little bit more secure to have some type of community that you can fall back on.” His friends in Austin included members of the city’s hippie community, a number of liberals, an assortment of radical leftists all of whom are concerned about society and about developing social institutions and life styles that permit a freer and better life. Something that stands out vividly in Vance’s mind as symbolic of part of the sort of life he wants to lead is a day last year when he borrowed a friend’s motorcycle and rode out into the hills west of Austin. “God, I’d always wanted to do that. I’d always felt that to ride a motorcycle was just a little bit irresponsible, but I went out in the hills and rode that motorcycle. On the way back in I passed this part where there was a love-in going on. Jesus, it was so nice, man, for everybody to deliberately, purposefully be nice to each other. “This change I’m going through, I feel it has something to do with your age. At 30 a lot of people go through changes and decide if they’re going to do anything they’d better get on with it,” Vance said. G.O. WITH THE HELP OF OUR FRIENDS The Observer’s street-corner news racks located in San Antonio and Houston are in need of a little loving care and attention. And a home has been found for two additional racks in the student center at Texas Christian University and at UT-Arling ton. Friends of the Observer who may be interested in servicing these newsracks on a commission basis please write The Texas Observer business office, 504 W. 24th, Austin, Texas, 78705 for additional information.
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