CONFESSIONS OF AN UNREPENTANT MAOIST: Hundred Flowers, 1970 (continued): Epilogue

Ed Felien and Warren Hanson, two of the co-founders of Hundred Flowers newspaperI was fried—mentally and psychologically exhausted.  I needed to get away, and I wanted to go out and see Jimmy again.  So, I told everybody I was taking a week off, and I hitchhiked out to Massachusetts.  Jimmy was great.  Pontificating like an apostate pope.  Talking about Nixon “with the thinly disguised swastika in the middle of his name.”  Jimmy had set up a letterpress in his barn.  He had racks of California Job Cases, the trays of type that typesetters used to print books, pamphlets and newspapers for 500 years.  In Minneapolis, we were publishing an underground newspaper by using a very primitive kind of desktop publishing and photo offset printing.  Jimmy was going back into a more craftsman- like past where the beauty of type on a page was enhanced when the type face actually embossed the paper, made an indentation and filled that space with ink.  With Jimmy weaving magic spells, it was easy to lose oneself in the majesty of the printed word on good paper.  But, ultimately, it was too escapist, too much “Art for Art’s Sake,” for me.  There was no way we could respond to changing political events if we had to handset all the lines of type and run them off one page at a time on a letter press.  And I was anxious to return to the battle.
When I got back, Dickie and Warren and Keith and Susie told me I was no longer a part of the Hundred Flowers collective.  They had been meeting all week and decided that I was too arrogant, too independent and too much trouble.  I accepted their judgment.  We decided to do one more issue together.  I got to pick the theme for the cover: The Black Panther Party with a centerfold of Huey Newton. And there was a page devoted to the split in the paper.  I had committed the military error.  I tried to muscle my way through an argument by name-calling and insults.  And, if I could reject a political position without discussing it, then everyone else was permitted to reject my politics without considering them.   My actions were self-indulgent and counter-productive.
Hundred Flowers went on for one more issue after I had been booted and then collapsed.  No one else wanted to spend the energy trying to keep it together.  Also, since I owned the house (and, in the divorce, they got the paper, but I kept the house) it was difficult for them to put out the paper when they all lived in different places.

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