Vital Signs

Phil Ochs and the Old Prof

Every student radical at Granada Hills High School showed up before firstperiod class on the morning of October 12, 1969—but we didn't stay long. Charged with excitement and righteousness, two dozen or so junior longhairs, freaks, yippies, and hippies formed a ragged line and marched past the classroom buildings, past the school gates, and onward to Northridge State College for the Moratorium. College students across the country were boycotting classes, gathering for demonstrations—Tricky Dicky had gone too far with his fascist-racist-imperialist bombing of Cambodia!—and we enlightened high-schoolers, straggling up Zelzah Avenue in the smoggy, already baking San Fernando Valley day, were determined to be a part of the grand protest.

Dave Barber, our official yippie, was towards the front, hair streaming behind him and wire-rimmed glasses sliding down his nose. Every few steps he broke into a crouch and pointed his plastic GI Joe burp gun at passing motorists. His manic grin and huge black pupils registered around 500 mikes of purple haze, tangerine flash, blue owsley, or whatever LSD was going around that week. Sue Ronson, AKA Runaround Sue, swung along beside him in her finest beads, bells, and patches; a Marilyn Monroe in rags, a Gifted Students Program dropout and former Jr. MENSA prodigy gone barefoot flower child. Behind them a few paces, John Newton frowned mightily. Newton dressed conservatively for this...

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