The Diggers Papers No. 21: "A Moving Target Is Hard to Hit" by Lew Welch


Arthur is proud to present scans of essential documents produced by and about the San Francisco Diggers, who were in many ways the epicentral actors in the Haight-Ashbury during the epic, wildly imaginative period from late ’66 through ’67. The Diggers’ ideas and activities are essential counter-cultural history, sure, but they are also especially relevant to the current era, for reasons that should be obvious to the gentle Arthur reader.

Most of the documents that we are presenting are broadsides originally published on a Gestetner machine owned and operated in the Haight by the novelist/poet Chester Anderson and his protege/sidekick Claude Hayward, who used the name “Communication Company,” or more commonly, “Com/Co.” According to Claude, these broadsides were then “handed out on the street, page by page, super hot media, because the reader trusted the source, which was another freaky looking hippie who had handed it to him/her.”

Lew Welch was a poet affiliated with the Beat movement. More info at wikipedia

Click on the image above to see it at larger size… Or, after the jump, read the text as internet browser textage:

Whatever tribe I am the reincarnated member of, apparently won, or lost, or survived, as Ishi’s TRIBE, simply by fading away, dispersing, a whisp of fog no one can strike: “a moving target is hard to hit.” This can be the reverse of cowardice, it takes great courage, at times, to back off from what is rightly your place to stand.

Therefore, this is not advice for all. Some of you are people who stand there and take it, as the poles did, the ones who did, attack the hordes of tanks on horseback, with futile swords. Beautiful, that is your shot. It is not mine.

When 200,000 folks from places like lima ohio and cleveland and lompoc and visalia and amsterdam and london and moscow and lodz suddenly descend, as they will, on the haight-ashbury, the scene will be burnt down. Some will stay and fight. Some will prefer to leave. My brief remarks are for the latter. I will stay. At some distance. Available. But my advice for those who have a way or ways similar to mine: disperse.

Gather into TRIBES of 15 or less. Communal “families” of 5 adults (however divided into sexes) and the natural number of children thereby made, is ideal for nomadic tribal dispersal action.

More than 3/4 of the state of California is national forest, national park, or state forest or park. Take your truck or car and make your camp in the part of the state you like most. Most parks require that you move in two weeks. Some places require moving every two days. This is only fair. The idea is, no one has the right to hog one campsite for the summer.

Choose unfamous forests. Avoid yosemite. Work, honestly, with the forest ranger. Write the state of california for their booklet. I think the feds have a similar campsite guide.

Also, volunteer for summer fire fighting work. It’s good work, well paid, and necessary. When the fire starts they come to your camp and take you to the scene of disaster.

Another thing, as I was once quoted: “sometimes you only have to step 3 feet to the left and the whole insane machine goes roaring by.” Or something like that.

The point is, for those who have this kind of way, not out of cowardice, but as WAY, that sitting in the haight-ashbury in all that heat and the terrible crowd you cannot help anyway (maybe), is simple insanity.

Disperse. Gather into smaller tribes. Use the beautiful public land your state and national governments have already set up for you, free. If you want to.

Most Indians are nomads. The haight-ashbury is not where it’s at — it’s in your head and hands. Take it anywhere.

…Lew Welch

Church of One
March 29, 1967 San Francisco
Planet Earth

Gestetnered by The Communication Company (UPS) 3/27/67

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 Comments

About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in the rural wilderness of Joshua Tree, California, where I am a partner in with Stephanie Smith.

2 thoughts on “The Diggers Papers No. 21: "A Moving Target Is Hard to Hit" by Lew Welch

  1. It’s great to see more info about the Diggers.

    I’ve read about them in secondary sources – Can’t Find My Way Home by Martin Torgoff, Acid Dreams by Martin Lee and Bruce Schlain, Moving Through Here by Don McNeill, and Ringolevio by Emmett Grogan.

    The story of the Haight during this time is an amazing story that is often reduced to the version that was popularized at the time by the mass media – look at the weirdos!

    There was so much more going on and the Diggers were a big part of that.

  2. Pingback: Arthur Email Bulletin No. 00160 | ARTHUR MAGAZINE - WE FOUND THE OTHERS

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