Super Joel Tornabene, People's Park, and Berkeley in the Early 70s.
Hibiscus (George Harris).
|Photo titled "Jan Rose Kasmir"|
I think Joel recreated the image of a flower in the end of a rifle during the People's
It is strange the way memory and the internet work, as it is with Neddie Jingo's blog about Super Joel and the photo at the top ... "Like watching a huge Pachinko machine at work, little tiny bead goes in one hole, bounces around crazily for a bit, suddenly dingdingding! a completely unexpected other little bead pops out another hole".
From Out of the Crooked Timber of Humanity, No Straight Thing Was Ever Made
Nell 04.06.07 at 12:32 am
Just for the historical record: The demonstrator photographed putting flowers in the barrels of National Guardsmen at the Pentagon demo of 1967 was either ‘Super-Joel’ Tornabene (says his brother) or George Harris, ‘Hibiscus’ of the SF Cockettes (says film director David Weissman). Neither is alive today to resolve the question. I doubt that either of them came anywhere near an SDS chapter in their eventful lives.
Paul Krassner, Tom Waits and many other people thought they knew Super Joel. And many people who met Super Joel who didn't understand themselves and the times they were living in that really misunderstood what he said and did.
I remember when Joel was thrown in jail for the People's Park protest I went to see Loni Hancock, then a Berkeley City Councilor and its future mayor, about writing a letter of support for Joel. Then Congressman Ron Dellums had written one for him but the so-called 'radical' Berkeley Councilor Hancock refused. She had misunderstood Super Joel comments to her about how the younger generation were going to philosophically side with the anti-war street protesters rather than the sell-out 'working within the system' types like her.
"He threatened me." Hancock declared.
I asked, "What did he say? How did he threaten you?"
"He said ..'We're going to get get your kids!' He threaten to harm my children."
I looked at Councilor Loni Hancock with utter disbelief. 'What a freakin' idiot I thought she was. Many times, I had heard Joel talk about educating while winning the hearts and minds of the next generation ... especially the disenfranchised neglected street kids that permeated Telegraph Avenue. Joel would never hurt anyone no less a child.
I think Hancock and the cops set Super Joel up for the People's Park bust because he more effective at empowering then they were at respectively selling-out and oppressing.
I was there the night that the wimpy "lefty liberals" (April Coalition) of the Berkeley City Council tried to get a donation for the North Vietnamese hospital was bombed by United States. The following is from homestead.comThe New City Council, 1971 - 1973. It is talking about Hancock and her liberal friends failure to get a progressive agenda passed in the most radical city in America and why the Hancock pre-yuppie ilk really hated Super Joel Tornabene.
"And in a class by itself, among all the losing motions:
* Contributing $l,000 of city funds to help rebuild the North Vietnam's Bach Mai Hospital which had been destroyed by American bombers.
The Bach Mai Hospital motion was defeated on May 9, l972 before a packed crowd of anti-war protesters in the Berkeley Community Theater. Nixon had just ordered another escalation of the war by bombing North Vietnam's dikes and harbors, causing people to take to the streets in rage, ending up at the City Council meeting, which we had moved to the Community Theater to accommodate the crowd.
Passage of the Bach Mai proposal, previously ignored by the Council, but now presented by Ying Kelley on behalf of a citizens peace group as the first order of business, would have satisfied the angry crowd that demanded action. But the motion was defeated, 4-5, at the hands of the conservative Council majority.
Before the roll call even finished, "Super Joel" Tornabene, a counter-culture leader, grabbed a microphone and started yelling: "The City Council is inciting to riot!! The City Council is inciting to riot!!" This caused the crowd to charge the Council, overturning the tables and ending the meeting. The crowd then rampaged into downtown Berkeley breaking windows, finally ending up at the unguarded Peoples' Park fence, which it knocked over and destroyed by sheer force of numbers, nearly three years to the day after the hated fence was built.
Peoples' Park has been unfenced ever since, thanks to a losing Loni Hancock City Council motion. This remains the Council's most influential action concerning Peoples' Park in the entire l5 years of the park's history."
I could write a book about how unique Joel was in a world and time of unique people. Tim Leary's son, Country Joe McDonald's wife, David Bowie, and The Brotherhood of Light. Taking a bath in laundry 'bluing'; burning all his clothes as a magic spell; getting stuck in Elko, Nevada without a penny; and helping organize a "spontaneous" street closure.
I recently had a chance to share some stories about Super Joel with his sister Fran. She had stumbled on my blog with a photo of her brother "Joey" as she called him (Joseph Eric Tornabene). I had purposely mistitled the photo because I was feeling that I was not going to add to the already intrusive nature of the web. I sent her some photos of "Joey" and personal letters he had written while in jail. The letters showed the suffering Super Joel went through during that time and it filled in some gaps for his family on why he couldn't be with them during the birth of his nephew.
Joel's friend and editor/owner of the Berkeley Barb, the late and wonderful commie beatnik Max Sheer, nailed what Super Joel was going through in a headline that clearly stated "Super Joel Taking The Rap For All Of Us."
The thing about that era (post 60s/early 70s) was how good the "man" had gotten in manipulating the apparent adversaries of the establishment ... the radical "left." Infiltrators, informants and provocateurs were ever present and what was worse was the false labeling of righteous protester as snitches.
At an organizing meeting for a "Free Joel" support committee I looked around and repeated the mantra we used daily on the street or the "Av" (short for Telegraph Avenue) ... "Programs, Programs, you can't tell the agents without a program, program." What still bothers me to this day is remembering Art Goldberg, veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement coming up to me and whispering something about Joel being in jail because the cops wanted him there to "talk" to him. Implying something like a debriefing or the using of Joel in some slimy plan to trap radicals.
If you want to know what it was like read this, albeit later, court filingabout Joel's LSD bust.
Some of Super Joel's Friends
Joel, Nathalie, Nate, Iris
Above Iris and Natalie on Telegraph in front of Cove's marbled fabric street art and below Joel artist roommate Iris reclines.
Tim Leary (left) and below, Country Joe McDonald with his daughter at the Mediterranean Cafe.
Above, Super Joel marches with Eugena Butler (left) and Felicita Butler(Fissy) on the right.
The Photo on the left is of Jimmy Butler and below are two photos of Joel friend Fissy.The one on the left is Angel Fissy and the one on the right is Fissy on the way with Joel, Natalie, and Iris to a spaced-out Elko, Nevada trip from Hell
Joel & The Red Rockets, the Delacours, street kid friends, and the "Telegraph Hilton"
David Delacour (left)
Cove and Kathy Delacour (middle) and in the photo below.
Street kids in front of the "Telegraph Hilton" and below Joe Samberg's photo of a fight in front of that building.
Vanessa Delacour in front of the "Telegraph Hilton" being torn down.