To celebrate activist Dana Beal’s birthday on January 9, we’re republishing the following interview from the June, 1977 issue of High Times.
The New York Times called Dana Beal “a major theoretician and behind-the-scenes leader of the underground youth movement.” The underground press called him “the perfect Dostoevskian radical.” His FBI file, released under the Freedom of Information Act, is as thick as an unabridged dictionary, and Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, whom Beal replaced as Youth International Party (Y.I.P) spokesperson in 1972 after years underground, have publicly acknowledged him as a chief intellectual influence on their politics and, frequently, the tactician behind their moves. Dana Beal is an outlaw and a legend, a mystery wrapped in a double-wide paper and seeded in a Zip-loc Baggie.
Born in Ravenna, Ohio, at the hospital where they later took the dying from Kent State, the young Beal was a lonely teenager. In high school in the early Sixties he was ostracized for his long hair and general weirdness. He got straight As and went out for track—to learn long distance running, which, he says, “came in handy later in life.” Committed to a mental hospital by the State at the age of 17, he escaped into the arms of the burgeoning hippie scene on New York’s Lower East Side in the mid-1960s.
In New York, Beal organized the first Summer of Love smoke-ins in Tompkins Square Park: the first of these was somewhat limited by the absence of smoke, which was considered a little too dangerous. Subsequent smoke-ins had as much as anyone could inhale, thanks to the energy of Beal. His first arrest, in August 1967, for selling LSD to a federal informer has been followed by a series of dope busts, which culminated in a year in jail in 1971.
Living underground in Mexico, California, Vancouver and the Midwest from ’67 to ’71, Beal was involved with yippie factions. White Panther houses and numerous radioed groups who responded to his classic 1969 position paper on psychedelics and revolution. Entitled “Right On. Culture Freeks!,” it was printed in over 700 underground papers and translated into French. By the time he surfaced in 1972, following his 10 1/2-month prison sentence, Beal found himself the spokesperson of a horde of zippies—”existential warriors,” as the New York Times called them—whose dissatisfaction with the “leadership” of Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin climaxed at the national political convention held in the summer of 1972 in Miami.
While Hoffman, Rubin and Ed Sanders wrote “Vote!,” a tract for George McGovern’s doomed presidential bid, the yippies, zippies and yipsters, as they’ve been variously called, got stoned, staged outrageously antisocial demonstrations and battled police in the park. By the time the summer was over, Beal had hammered Y.l.P. into a stoned liberation army showing signs of life for the first time since Woodstock. Since then, Beal has plied his politics relentlessly, and counterrevolutionaries have learned the terrible meaning of the zippie code.
However, Dana Beal is anything but a vengeful person. In fact, he is dedicated to “the politics of ecstasy.” Every year, at a sign from his THC-stained fingers, thousands of dopers swarm to one or another of the festive Y.I.P. smoke-ins, united by their love of marijuana and their fierce determination to take control of it away from the war machine, the thought police, the vote-buying politicians and the latest menace to righteous smoking—the marijuana cartels.
The marijuana cartels, according to Beal, force up the price of weed while offering only commercial grades with government-bought protection while the authorities lower the boom on “the little people.”
To interview Dana Beal, High Times lured him away from the Y.I.P. office, where plans for the upcoming annual July 4th Smoke-In in Washington. D.C., were getting under way. But Beal is more than just a street-fightin’ heavy revvie. He is also the main force behind the Yipster Times, one of the best underground papers around and the official organ of Y.I.P, which is currently enjoying a resurgence like never before. Beal is also a main force behind “Highwitness,” an outrageous Y.I.P.-sponsored TV show that broadcasts an entirely alternative view of reality in New York City.
Beal’s first enemy was LBJ, now dead. Then Nixon, now resigned, and Ford, defeated at election time. His latest enemy, of course, is Jimmy Carter. The Yipster Times recently exposed Carter as part of a conspiracy to put cocaine back in Coca-Cola. Carter is alleged to have ties with both coke-smuggling circles and Coca-Cola—thus the connection.
“You know what they say about Jimmy,” Beal told us. “The reason that he smiles all the time isn’t that he’s winning; it’s because he can’t close his mouth. His front teeth are too numb.” Would Beal deal with Carter as he has with Ford and Nixon? Beal smiled. And he couldn’t stop smiling.
High Times: What do you, as one of the first to go underground ten years ago, think of reports the Weather Underground has split up?
Beal: That’s funny, because I once spoke with Abbie Hoffman, who has now been underground himself for four years, when our positions were reversed—when he was at his height in early 1970, and I was on the lam—and you could tell he’d already thought a lot about being in my situation. He advised me to use being underground to become a media celebrity, to titillate the press by showing up at really big rallies the way Berrigan had just done, to become the moral polar opposite of the Establishment.
I remember being much more concerned with the way they were mucking up the aboveground—telling him you just can’t do that much when you’re underground. As for the Weather People, they are paying the price for letting SDS go down the drain, that’s all. They took it from a powerful national organization of 30,000 to 200 scattered fugitives on the run. That’s fine for the 200, but what about the 29,800? Aboveground is better if you have a choice.
High Times: What do you mean?
Beal: Clandestinity is really limiting. To do anything outside a narrow range of moves you have to get people who are aboveground to do things for you. Putting the Weather Underground first was a super-mistake for SDS, because by the time the Weather forces recognized their error, the only kind of people they were able to get to join Prairie Fire—their new aboveground arm—were so heavy into the Weather myth and armed struggle that they rejected the single, overriding lesson their clandestine leadership had learned on the run: the primacy of aboveground organizing and the absolute necessity of having the widest possible coalition of mass, legal-type groups fighting against the government.
High Times: The yippies have always advocated radical solutions to the marijuana political question, while reformers like NORML have garnered most of the media attention and funds. Why is NORML so much better known?
Beal: I wouldn’t say they are better known. I’d say they have gotten more money out of it. But we’re probably as well known as NORML. Y.l.P has been out in front for years as the representative of the actual marijuana people taking the arrests. NORML has grown as a kind of lawyers’ organization. I was amazed to go to the NORML convention and see so many lawyers. I’ve heard that lawyers who are heads are getting into decriminalization because it preserves a lot of business. Lawyers have lost patience with busts for small amounts. But you’ll note that decriminalization leaves a lot of other juicy cases for young lawyers.
High Times: Is marijuana Y.I.P.’s chief cause at the moment?
Beal: Now, I’d say this. We haven’t ever been single-issue oriented or a single-issue organization. Some people may think of us as being kind of fuzzy, and they may not know what we stand for. But what we’re talking about is broadening amnesty: amnesty for prisoners, amnesty for folks being harassed now, amnesty for people who have committed any sort of victimless crime, amnesty for all victims of politically motivated prosecutions.
So I think yippie goes to the very root of what to do about the police state in America. We admit there’s been a certain amount of liberalization since Watergate. There was also liberalization in Russia for a while after Khrushchev denounced Stalin. Here we can already see it being turned around with subtle mass-media suggestion brainwashing and purges of Lefties. The impact of Watergate is being lost.
High Times: How is marijuana involved in this?
Beal: Marijuana is really like a health movement. It’s a movement away from much harder drugs like nicotine and alcohol toward a little flower.
So you have a lot of people who every day are confronting a police state face-to-face around the issue of marijuana. Decriminalization tends to defuse the whole situation, whereas with our smoke-ins we get the same people together to protest this by defying the marijuana laws openly.
Government spying is an abstract thing for people until it gets to be concrete through something like pot. Masses of people experience government spying and are paranoid about their phones being tapped, their mail being bugged, being watched. It’s causing a national illness, this government-induced paranoia.
High Times: How do we prevent decrim from retaining repressive loopholes?
Beal: By focusing in on the repression, the neofascists in and out of the government who purposely lied and conspired to get the potheads, to advance their own careers and power just like the S.S. under Hitler who designed the Final Solution. So decrim gets you out of the concentration camp. So what?
If you really want to make the liberalization stick, you’ve got to have full investigations and prosecutions of all agents who were ever guilty of violating anybody’s civil rights. Open up all the files. Find out who the agents were and which ones committed crimes. People should be able to bring complaints.
A federal commission should be established to investigate civil rights violated by government officials. Put some FBI, Secret Service and CIA people in jail. They’ll think twice before breaking the law next time in the name of “national security.”
High Times: Basically the Nuremberg principle?
Beal: It’s simple; we’re not vindictive. We’d even give those people amnesty. The Nixon case showed that unless you get a clear conviction, they’ll turn around three months later and say that they never did it.
The second thing you need is compensation for the victims. It’s not enough to punish the guilty. You have to compensate the people whose lives were ruined because someone wrote a letter to their bosses and got them fired, or maybe they were blackballed in school. All the stuff that was done by the FBI and CIA. And now since the FBI and CIA can’t do it, they have the narcs and Secret Service do it. But they’re doing the same kinds of things and harassing the same kinds of people, and it’s all very political. Only it’s under a new cover.
High Times: Y.I.P. has worked the streets a lot against Nixon and Ford, and now you’re going to work against a man coming from a liberal Left.
Beal: No, just a liberal LBJ.
High Times: How will Y.I.P. tactics against Carter be different?
Beal: Well, Carter has already granted a little amnesty. He’s supposedly more liberal. So we’re willing to try civil disobedience again, to press for total liberalization. I was in civil rights demonstrations when I was a kid, 15 years ago. I’m ready to sit in again and have my head beaten in by some cops if that’s what it takes.
High Times: But are people pissed off enough about marijuana that they’re willing to start sitting in?
Beal: By the time this issue of High Times comes out, we should have had some good demonstrations in New York. What we’re really shooting for is a massive smoke-in, with various kinds of associated happenings and demonstrations this coming July 4th in Washington. D.C.
High Times: Don’t people get busted at smoke-ins?
Beal: In the past ten years, only a handful have been busted, mostly because they didn’t stick with the crowd.
High Times: What’s the strategy for the ’77 Smoke-In?
Beal: This ’77 Smoke-In is the Eighth Annual Smoke-In in Washington. As usual, we’re going to assemble a lot of people there—we’ll have some music, we’ll have a series of speakers on the question, many of the big names of the day, we’ll have rock bands. It will be like an old-fashioned be-in, a picnic, but at some point we’re going to ask how many people are willing to turn themselves in. We think that we’re going to be turned down by the police. We think they’ll laugh and tell us to go away.
We’ll probably go to the Metro police station. Or maybe we’ll go to the park police. The park police have such a small place. I mean, if we had 10,000 people and they were completely surrounded… The Metro police station would be a bit more disruptive.
The judges in D.C. have ruled that they do not want to see cases involving a single marijuana cigarette in their courts. If even 100 people were willing to hold up a joint and say, “O.K., I’m ready to take a $25 fine if that’s the way it has to be, just to cause you guys a whole afternoon of booking us,” they would probably turn us down.
High Times: How do you expect to deal with Carter and the rising expectations that accompany his administration?
Beal: We think of Carter as a bionic liberal. You’ve got to test his responses to see if all the transistors are working right. We’re going to try a lot of this stuff. Basically Carter has made a promise, and we’re here to collect payment.
High Times: Tell us about the yippie proposal for a guaranteed weekly stash.
Beal: Well, just remember that none of this is any more outrageous than U.S. Department of Agriculture subsidies for peanuts, which are given away free on airlines. Since pot prohibition is international, so is our proposed remedy: a sort of United Nations program to finance buffer stocks. I’m certain there are some deserving Third World peasants—starving, diseased, their kids dying from hunger—who would be able to live and prosper and go onward in the march of human progress if only they could just raise a good marijuana crop.
So we’ll ask for volunteers from any place where they can grow good pot for this program. Though, of course, we would give the first option to people such as the Vietnamese, not the least reason for which is the fact that they have good pot there. If we’re going to have a guaranteed weekly stash, we should start by having good pot. Giving bad pot away for a guaranteed weekly stash would be like using paper money when you could have gold money.
The important thing is the concept of reparations. We’re very serious about reparations. That case where 1,000 people each got $10,000 for being arrested on the steps of the U.S. Capitol set us to thinking about the possibility that everybody should get reparations all at once for everything that’s ever happened. This would constitute such a massive redistribution of wealth that we might properly say that in one stroke we could wipe out the ruling class and social structure as we know it.
High Times: But getting into the specifics of the guaranteed weekly stash, it seems that one of the problems would be government monopoly.
Beal: We’re not against the individual person who wants to supply superior weed. In fact, we would like to prevent these independents from being gobbled up by Liggett and Myers. But the present situation is giving way to rip-off artists and people who are only interested in making money and not interested in getting good weed to us underlings, us little people who just want to get high.
The quality of weed and the frequency of weed leave a lot to be desired under the present system. Who is responsible for the situation? Who dreamed up these laws in the first place? It was the government who did this, so it’s their responsibility to set it right. It’s not that we believe in government control of marijuana. It’s just that since they’re the guilty party, they should make restitution. The government owes us a guaranteed weekly stash for a period of time at least equal to, but possibly exceeding—hopefully exceeding—the period for which marijuana has been illegal. In other words, 40 years.
High Times: You mean a retroactive stash?
Beal: That’s right! The Jews got wiped out in Europe, and at least they got Israel, right? What did the potheads ever get? You’ve got to understand, we believe in reparations for everybody. The American Indians should get reparations.
High Times: Retroactive peyote?
Beal: Sure. Give them Maine, too.
High Times: You would also put all narcs in prison, haven’t you said?
Beal: We wouldn’t put them in prison: preventive detention. There’s a difference.
High Times: What’s the difference?
Beal: Well, for one thing, you’re not humiliated and locked up in a cell, like I was. People aren’t constantly threatening to cut your hair and harassing you and waking you up at five o’clock in the morning and giving you shit food. And we’d treat them better than they treat us. I can tell you that.
High Times: Can they count on that?
High Times: They should give up now.
Beal: While we’re still in a good mood.
High Times: What’s new down at Y.l.P.?
Beal: Well, across the street is the Dylan archives, where A.J. Weberman lives with the brain of John Kennedy and the garbage of Spiro Agnew. John Mitchell and, of course, Bob Dylan. Across the Bowery there’s CBGB’s which is one of the capitals of the punk rock scene, characterized by Patti Smith, the Ramones and company.
Patti Smith, by the way, is having her own problems with censorship. She said “fuck” on radio, you know, and she got banned from the airwaves. So our paper, the Yipster Times, ran her statement, as a gesture for all the people struggling against the very subtle kind of repression we’re seeing right now in the media. And Patti Smith gave us a call and she wants to do stuff with us.
It’s cases like this, and like WBAI, where the big radio interests behind Pacifica Foundation just reached down and purged most of the staff for too much autonomy, that shows how little the repression has changed.
High Times: You yourself became artistically notorious for taking bad taste in street theater to new highs.
Beal: That really began in Miami with the Wheelchairs for Wallace race. We made fun of Wallace being crippled.
High Times: People didn’t dig that too much.
Beal: We didn’t go to Miami to make friends with racists and such.
High Times: What were some of the other events?
Beal: The best thing of all was the liberation of the portrait of LBJ, which had been expected to hang in the convention hall and glower down upon the proceedings. It turned up mysteriously as the centerpiece of a zippie demonstration. Then we threw it over the convention hall fence. The police threw it back.
High Times: What happened to zippie after the convention?
Beal: We started calling ourselves yipsters. The next great thing was Nixon’s inauguration. Nixon had just double-crossed everyone by renewing the bombing of Hanoi, so we decided the American people should see Nixon as a rat. We built a gigantic Nixon-faced rat, which was actually finished and ready for the inauguration. But the Secret Service was afraid that we would run down the street right into the middle of Nixon’s swearing-in ceremony with this gigantic rat, as big as a truck, upon our shoulders—it was a pretty light construction and 20 or 30 people could pick it up. The Secret Service busted the rat before we; could get anywhere close to Nixon.
Eventually we held the Fourth Annual Smoke-In and Impeach Nixon March. John Dean had just finished testifying. We had the foresight to call for Nixon’s impeachment at our smoke-in. A second march the next spring featured a cage containing a naked Nixon holding tapes. He was pulled by an Edsel, symbolizing, of course, the Ford Motor Company’s greatest mistake. It was the hit of the march, with the sign on top. “Don’t Trade In a Lemon for a Used Ford.”
Later we built a gigantic Ford head as Ford’s ascension to power grew closer and closer. Just before Ford was sworn in as president, we had a thing on CBS national news where a yippie jumped out of the bushes with a banner that said “An Un-elected President Is Un-American.” Before the Secret Service men could tackle him, it got right on television. Ford got in, but it never did him any good. The yippies put a hex on him, and he’s never lived it down.
An interesting footnote is that every single Edsel we’ve had since then has broken down. It was true about Edsels.
High Times: What were some other classic smoke-ins?
Beal: Well, the one in New York in ’73 where the 30-foot joint was made out of an old sewer pipe was a classic, because after the smoke-in, we took a little stroll to John and Martha Mitchell’s house on Fifth Avenue. We got there and, sure enough, it’s Martha Mitchell. You could tell from the shape of her hairdo. She started waving. We had this big banner that said “Open Martha’s Mouth. Impeach Nixon,” and she loved it.
High Times: Did you feel bad about her death?
Beal: In a way. Four days after our march she came out and said Nixon ought to resign.
High Times: When was the first annual smoke-in?
Beal: The first one was in 1967, on the Lower East Side. We had plenty of banana peels and a few joints, but actually not much dope. Everybody came stoned. It was quite nice. Two weeks later we decided we’d have another one with more dope. But it was only at the third smoke-in, with Country Joe and the Fish, that we really had a lot of dope. Eventually I got busted for an LSD sale.
High Times: This brings us to the first Free Dana Beal March of 3,000 people to the Federal House of Detention in 1967.
Beal: At the height of the Summer of Love I was busted for selling some LSD to an undercover agent in Tompkins Square Park in New York. Those fine people held an all-night vigil while I quailed within. I was finally released on bail the next day.
I stayed in New York through the fall and worked in the peace movement. Then I was busted again, when the famous Provo and Digger Free Store on the Lower East Side was busted. I knew it was a frame and I split—first for Mexico, then briefly to Laguna Beach, then to Vancouver, B.C. Then I came back to America in 1970 to help organize the first national smoke-in: 25,000 people showed up and rumbled with the Honor America Day rednecks. I continued as a traveling organizer for the White Panthers and Y.I.P. In 1971 I helped organize the Second Annual Smoke-In.
High Times: Eventually all these credits brought you to a small room.
Beal: Only for ten and a half months. People really overestimate jail. I don’t think anybody should be intimidated by it. It isn’t that bad. Torture is bad, but you shouldn’t live in fear of jail. In the nuthouse they tortured me.
High Times: So you were in a mental institution briefly too. With all the brouhaha these days about mental institutions in communist countries, what do you think of the way they’re used here?
Beal: The first thing people should realize is that it’s just a lie that they don’t lock up dissidents in nuthouses in this country, too, if they can get away with it. Like one of the first questions they asked me at the nuthouse was “Are you a communist?” It was kind of obvious what was going on, since the shrink was one of those fascist refugees from Eastern Europe.
Yippies believe nuthouses are society’s ultimate weapon for keeping kids, women and dreamers in their place. I was just a kid when they put me in Kalamazoo State Hospital in 1964, near Grand Rapids, the home of Jerry Ford.
I went along with the ride to see what would happen. I discovered, of course, that mental hospitals are a total superbummer. It was the most barbaric place. Talk about torture in Chile—some of the drugs they gave people in the hospital were as bad as any tortures.
High Times: What drugs were you given?
Beal: Just one: Prolixin Elixir. Bad stuff, man. The only thing it is good for is punishment. It made me go into convulsions, and then it made me go into withdrawals, and then I refused to take it.
High Times: Did you fight?
Beal: Well, there wasn’t really much of a way to fight anything in those places. If you fucked up, they would lock you away in these little rooms and they wouldn’t let you out.
High Times: How long were you there?
Beal: Well, I escaped. The Long March. I walked from Kalamazoo to Lake Michigan, about 50 miles. It’s not hard. I was seriously provoked. These people wouldn’t let me write: they wouldn’t let me read anything heavy. They said it was a strain on my brain.
I escaped from the institution because I was provoked. They told me they were going to keep me there five years, until I was 22.
High Times: Was there a particular incident that led you to escape?
Beal: Yes, the Prolixin.
High Times: Had you ever smoked pot ?
Beal: Yes, in the spring before I was locked up. I was hanging out at Michigan State University. People do not realize that at these big multiversities you have a whole cosmopolitan microsociety. And it created hip consciousness—you know, bohemian consciousness—in one of the most unlikely places: Michigan. Very sophisticated people from New York and California. I was hanging out with what today would be called freaks, but they called themselves other names then. They called themselves hippies, they called themselves scuzzies. This was where I met A. J. Weberman, who first turned me on.
High Times: How did you meet A.J.?
Beal: Well, he was part of this group of people who lived in the Smokeshop, in 1963. The Smokeshop was a headshop on the main drag in East Lansing. And these guys were all New York hippies—weirdos, leftists, folkies—and A.J. wore hair that was considered pretty long then. We started to have some really, really great parties, and one day A.J. turned me on. I was 17. Later I repaid him by inventing Dylanology.
High Times: What is Dylanology?
Beal: The study of the secret meaning of Dylan’s lyrics. A.J. is the world’s leading expert. He runs the Dylan Archives across the street from Y.I.P.’s New York office. He has cross-referenced every word Dylan has ever written, sung or spoken on computer. It’s called the Concordance. Heavy.
High Times: I guess. What’s A.J. up to now?
Beal: He works with the Yipster Times. Also, he’s in charge of our assassination research. He’s investigating the three tramps photographed being led away from the site of the JFK assassination. One looks just like E. Howard Hunt and the other, like Frank Sturgis. All this is in A.J.’s book Coup d’Etat in America, plus other leads we’ve been able to uncover since publication of the hardback.
Everything, of course, will come out in the paperback. Even if the congressional investigation is derailed, the truth will come out in our book.
Consider: E. Howard Hunt, after half a dozen coups abroad, where I-don’t-know-how-many-people were killed, gets convicted of attempting to set up a police state here and is soon paroled. Karlton Armstrong, who blew up the Math Research Center, where all the computers for the Vietnam genocide were designed, accidentally kills one guy and will not get out till 2001 A.D.
It’s all part of the same familiar story: the assassins go free, while those who try to stop them end up being investigated. I myself have been on the Secret Service list of potential assassins since 1964.
High Times: They thought you’d kill Johnson?
Beal: Actually I didn’t have anything against Johnson at that time.
High Times: What happened?
Beal: Well, I was a young hothead in those days. I used to go to a socialist club, not the one affiliated with the YSA. Anyway, at one of these meetings I got up and said that Hitler should have been assassinated. The British S.S. played the game by the rules and let 55 million people die when they could have dispensed with just one. That was my whole argument, and it got me into trouble with the Secret Service.
High Times: For advocating the murder of Hitler, in 1964?
Beal: This was in 1963, in October. Kennedy was shot in November: the S.S. came around later. I guess they figured there has to be some practical application.
High Times: But you were only 16 years old then.
Beal: That’s how heavy the surveillance was. See, Michigan State University, or Moo U., was the center of intelligence community intrigue. They set up the South Vietnamese police and the Diem regime. It was amazing. Shortly after that, my folks sent me to the mental hospital.
High Times: Didn’t the second smoke-in in D.C. finally get you busted?
Beal: Yes. I’m afraid I became a bit too visible putting that one together. See, for the Second National Smoke-In we were kind of casting about for something extra. We decided to do an antiheroin march to show our opposition to Operation Intercept, where they cut off all the pot to get kids into pharmaceuticals and heroin. All the returning Vets were into smack, and the word was out that Nixon’s people were on the take from Southeast Asian heroin money, but nobody would come right out and say it.
After the smoke-in we got about 3,000 people and marched over to the Capitol. We took these big hypodermic needles they used to shoot up rhinoceri at the zoo—immense glass things with foot-long plungers—and smashed them down on the same place the Vietnam Vets had thrown their medals two months earlier. CBS National News said that the hippies were giving the heroin back to Nixon, accusing his government of prolonging Vietnam only to proliferate heroin, because they were on the take.
Well, we since know that in fact Justice was covering up certain cases of CIA couriers who were busted with the shit. But Nixon must have wanted to know: “How did the yippies get a hold of this? My God, we’re ruined!”
So, ten days later, half a continent away in Wisconsin, me and my old lady are trying to get away and we have to hitchhike—because the buses are under surveillance and nobody will give us a ride—when this “Mission Impossible” station wagon containing four guys dressed as construction workers pulls to a stop. Well, it was a bust. The guys were feds, and they asked me, “What specific information do you or your friends have on heroin smuggling from Southeast Asia to the West Coast in connection to the CIA? Dig?”
They wanted to find out if they had to do something more than locking me up. This in turn explains the intense White House interest in my case and the fact that six agents kept my jail cell under surveillance.
High Times: Which cage were you in?
Beal: Madison, Wisconsin’s, Dane County jail. In Madison, of course, they immediately had a smoke-in. After 2,000 freaks railed outside the jail, conditions inside became almost nice.
High Times: What could be nice about jail?
Beal: A phone, for one thing. The phone was conveniently within reach. By tapping my phone calls and reading my letters, they found out everything. As a matter of fact, subsequently revealed FBI documents show I was being held mostly so the government could monitor the organizing I continued from the slammer.
They gave great credence to the idea that yippie protest might change the ’72 elections, because it had in ’68. You must remember, Y.I.P. was, and is, in terms of popular support, far and away the largest antiwar radical revolutionary group.
High Times: Didn’t Nixon have special reason to hate Y.I.P.?
Beal: Yes. At the climax of the 1970 congressional election, Nixon gave a speech in San Jose that was being taped for national TV, and it was visibly interrupted by demonstrators throwing rocks. Well, they rush this tape on the air with a plea to vote law and order to save America from the barbarian hordes, and—wouldn’t you know—the Democrats, those smart bastards, come on right after and have Ed Muskie, supermoderate, warn that this vindictive law-and-order overkill will only bring more division… so let’s all vote Democratic and mend our shattered land.
And the Democrats creamed them. So they could see it coming and so could I, and I was feeding them all this stuff through the FBI informer they put in my jail, which my FBI file now shows. It says Beal feels the Yippies should arrange a de facto alliance with the Democrats and offer to trash the GOP convention in return for certain guarantees from McGovern.
They bought it lock, stock and barrel. They went ahead watching how the other yippies on the outside did with the Dems, and because they were already bugging one half of the conspiracy, in jail, it was natural to bug McGovern and Watergate.
High Times: You mean the yippies provoked Nixon to bug the Watergate?
Beal: Very possibly. You’ve got to remember, this was around the time Nixon bombed Hanoi, when there was more actual antiwar street violence than during Cambodia. The government thought we were going to bring 100,000 street fighters to Miami like we were promising.
The fact that they believed it is shown by the way the Republicans accused McGovern of having the demonstrators in his pay after we trashed delegate buses in Miami at our Eat the Rich demonstration. The Nixon gang deluded themselves into invading Watergate, and I hope we helped provoke them.
High Times: The Democrats seem to have survived Nixon better than the protesters.
Beal: The good thing about Nixon was that you had somebody so hateworthy it really united people. I mean, after the Vietnam War, at least we had Dick Nixon to kick around. Only when they took Nixon away could you appreciate the genius of the yippies in the original creation of the New Nixon, in Chicago ’68 on the slab, when they put the electrodes in and the lightning buzzed and the monster walked off through the pages of history.
High Times: But with Ford it was different, wasn’t it?
Beal: Yeah. It’s hard to fight someone 75 percent of the public perceives as a nice guy. And now it’s Carter, the ultimate nice guy, who’s a mouthpiece for the same old, vicious crew, who haven’t let up on us for a minute.
High Times: So the fall of Nixon didn’t actually bring relief?
Beal: Not really. Jimmy Carter is really the latest Rockefeller protege, groomed by Time magazine and the Trilateral Commission.
High Times: Is Y.I.P. still growing? Are new people coming up, or is it stagnating?
Beal: Y.I.P. is doing pretty well. We expect this July 4th Smoke-In in Washington. D.C., to be the one that pushes the government over the edge on decriminalization.
Let’s see. The Yipster Times is growing in circulation. New Y.I.P. chapters are starting. Our TV show has been called the freshest thing on television.
As for new leaders, we have many. Two that come to mind offhand are Aron Kay and Ben Masel. Aron is the Y.I.P. Pieman. He’s pied William Buckley, Tony Ulasiewicz of Watergate, Patrick Moynihan and E. Howard Hunt. A pie is our greatest weapon, because it doesn’t kill the person, just their overblown ego. Anyone who can’t laugh at a pie in the face is a danger to the public.
Ben Masel is a hard-core organizer and street leader. He’s only 21 and he’s already been arrested 49 times. It’s Ben, and many more Y.I.P. cadres like him, who will form the future of Y.I.P.
High Times: What about the position of women in Y.I.P.?
Beal: Well, it’s not as good as it could be, but it’s improved a lot since the Sixties. Women are accepted on their own terms now.
High Times: What is your price? What will you sell out for?
Beal: Well, remember the yippies, unlike many other revolutionaries, aren’t interested is seizing power. Everybody else says either you go all the way or you’re selling out. The Y.I.P.s have a more limited goal, to begin with, which is to survive with our identity as fighters against authoritarianism intact, so to speak. If they just let us be, it won’t be selling out.