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A hundred flowers? By Henry Staten Denton That freaks should one day run this country! Unthinkable. And yet, think of the changes of the last four years. Freakdom has practically taken over the feature pages of the Sunday press, and now freaks are even invading daytime television. Project that rate of change across, say, 12 years. . . . Clearly a phenomenon to be reckoned with, say the editors of the radiclib Observer, and a freak is duly recruited to do the reckoning. They choose me. Am I a freak? Is there any such thing, and if so, what is it? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but my hair cleverly grows down to my shoulders and I am able to infiltrate those segments of society in which the answers are to be found, if they are to be found anywhere. I am to play inside-outside with hippiedom be a freak, share the freak experience, and all the time remain “objective,” analytical. Curious task. Like those anthropologists who go aborigine. I feel vaguely uncomfortable about the whole thing. Certain stool-pigeon aspects. But it’s clear that straight reporters, even those sympathetic to freaks, do not really 18 The Texas Observer THE COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE ASSASSINATIONS \(fully described in the Congressional Record Labors quietly, systematically and tenaciously to uncover WHO IS KILLING OUR LEADERS By very tedious but equally important investigative work By a never ending succession of interviews By employing advanced computer technology By filing suits under the Freedom of Information Act Do you really believe the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Oswald alone killed JFK? Why was another gun used in the balistics test in Sirhan’s case? Why was it then immediately destroyed? Why are Tennessee and Federal authorities so doggedly opposed to giving a trial to James Earl Ray? The work of our committee takes time and money. We need ideas. We need contributions. Please write to us and we’ll send you our Newsletter. Committee to Investigate Assassinations 905 Sixteenth St., NW Washington, D. C. 20006 Name Address City State Zip understand us at the armpit-scratching level. And, anyway, I’m not doing anything else at the moment, so. . . . That’s how I find myself walking around Denton, Tex., one springlike January afternoon. I’ve heard reports that Denton is an Aquarian oasis despite its proximity to Dallas, and I’m very skeptical. But it turns out to be the real thing lots of clean, neat, hard-working freaks. They are friendly and cooperative they answer my questions, invite me into their homes, feed me lots of wholesome vegetables. THE LOCAL HEAD scene clusters in a small area adjacent to the campus of North Texas State University, an area known to community-minded freaks as “the Family Village” and to others simply as “Fry Street.” Head shops, an organic food store, semi-organic food restaurant, occult book store and a people’s community center make up the downtown of the hippie netherworld. Texas Woman’s University is across town, but there’s nothing happening over there. Denton High School is a few blocks away, but the high schoolers are mostly straight and quiescent. \(My informant, a dark-eyed 17-year-old girl, illustrates her disaffection: “Last year when I got caught skippin’ school I asked him [the principal] what he wanted me to do, apologize? And he slammed down his Knowledgeable Dentonites estimate the local freak population at two or three hundred full-timers with a supporting cast of thousands from the U. Everyone I talk to mentions last fall’s Big Bust, and all agree that the massive drug raids have had a salutary effect, making people more cautious, getting rid of undesirables associated with hard drugs, drawing the community closer together. To balance my view of the local scene I visit the editor of the local ultraconservative weekly. Jerry Stout is the editor of the Denton Enterprise, described by local freaks as a “fascist sheet.” The freaks say it was the Enterprise that fanned the flames of enmity in straight Dentonites toward the hip community, enmity which culminated in the Big Bust of last October which made front pages all over the state. More than a hundred people were rounded up, and Stout claims the affair cost the state more than a million dollars. Stout is middle-aged, with’ clear gray eyes that match his hair color. His name describes his physique. He has the crude, jovial vitality of the redneck populist. I like him immediately, especially when he describes himself as “reactionary.” George Wallace uncorrupted by power. Stout thinks relations between the freak and straight communities in Denton are good, mostly because freaks lack the energy to cause trouble “They’re not heavily motivated by anything except their own existence.” He prides himself on knowing many freaks “I’m a small newspaper, so I do most of the work myself and I’m here until late at night. They know they can just come in here and talk to me, and a lot of them do that.” But he seems to understand nothing about the positive aspects of freakdom. He thinks of them as harmless detritus, a new kind of bum his only objection to them is their use of drugs, especially marijuana. TOO BAD Stout doesn’t recognize how easy to take the local freaks are there are few street people, not much of a hard-drug problem and no radical political activity to speak of. Things have been, as they say, “coming together” for the freak community, and I accidentally arrive just in time to catch the organizational meeting of the Denton New World Merchants’ Association, a freaky chamber of commerce. Fourteen hip, semi-hip and would-be hip businesses comprise this hybrid child of capitalism and Tim Leary. At this first meeting interest centers around ways to improve the public image of the hip community by such things as street-cleanup campaigns and charity drives of various sorts. There are vague plans to subsidize freaky artisans and craftsmen. It’s really hard to say whether there’s any real enthusiasm for anything, since three people do almost all the talking. A girl who’s wearing makeup argues that the New World Merchants should have official-looking membership signs printed up “So we can look official. It’s just a front, until we can develop something concrete. People have this stereotype they look at me and say ‘What kind of business could you own?’ ” Nobody points out to her that the logical end of her argument is short hair and grey suits. The representative from the local organic food store keeps repeating the need to provide economic opportunities for freaks so that they don’t have to deal dope. The meeting is being held in the Kosmic Kitchen, a semi-organic foods restaurant that is run by a religious commune. Ten people and a child live upstairs, four others overflow into other dwellings. The adults range in age from 19 to 26. They practice Kundalini Yoga together, speak reverentially of their guru. They agree it would not have been possible for the group to hold together as it has had it not been for this guru, who has taught them much about love and sharing. They had some sharp personality conflicts at first, but now, they say, everything is flowing smoothly. I find this group particularly interesting they seem to be making a go of communal living on an impressive scale. They are unusually attractive people,