Monday, December 8, 2014


Abbie Hoffman, Toronto, Sept. 1988

ABBIE HOFFMAN WAS IN HIDING, A FUGITIVE FROM THE LAW, or at least that was the last I'd heard of him. In fact he'd been out from underground for a few years now, and was in Toronto to help publicize Growing Up In America, a film about his generation of radicals, twenty years on from the high water mark of the '60s.

It was a news event as much as anything else, and while I don't remember having a client for the pictures, I pushed aside my dislike of shooting press conferences to take my place in the huddle of cameras. I'd finally invested in some telephoto lenses and was certain that I'd get something usable, even if I didn't have a clue where it would run.

Abbie Hoffman, Toronto, Sept. 1988

The Reagan years were nearly over and the end of the '80s was in sight, but the '60s still lingered, mostly because the people making the films were children of that period. It had been just five years since The Big Chill had been a festival hit, the Grateful Dead had an single in the charts just a year before, and the era's half life didn't seem to be waning.

Despite that, Hoffman was in a prickly, defensive mood for much of the press conference, and quite a few of my frames capture him with this snarling expression. For not the first time I couldn't help but wonder how people who talked so much about "peace and love" confronted the world with such poorly-concealed anger and even contempt.

Abbie Hoffman killed himself in April of 1989.


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