Tuesday, 5 October 2010

My 6th Unsung Hero: Emmett Grogan

Emmett Grogan was a founder member of The San Francisco Diggers - a radical community action group that emerged in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco during late 60s. Hollywood actor Peter Coyote (E.T, Erin Brockovich, HBO's Deadwood) was also a member, having met Emmett performing with the SF Mime Troupe. The Diggers were famous for cooking and handing out free food daily at the Panhandle area of The Golden Gate Park, providing food for those living in poverty and organising crash pads for the thousands of homeless teenage runaways who came to San Francisco in search of the Hippie dream. Emmett spoke out against the hypocrisy of the Hippie ideals; opening up a Free Store in which clothing, food, furniture and money could be taken at no expense by whomever wanted it. Emmett spoke out against the people he saw to be attempting to gain status and celebrity from the HIP ideals, and was open in his criticism of Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg and particularly Abbie Hoffman - who in attempting to import the Haight mindset into New York, claimed many of Emmett's ideas as his own. Emmett's book "Ringolevio" contains a well rounded account of life in the Haight around the Summer of Love; as well as detailing the life and times of a junkie, thief, and most likeable rogue; and a fascinating, if elaborate, portrait of American life and culture in the mid 20th century.

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