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January 18, 1970 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1970-01-18

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iber2O Night Editor: Dan Zwerdling

January 18, 1970


new Canterbury gospel according to

Rev. Hammond

LAST SUNDAY at Canterbury
House, Craig Hammond,. the
freaky minister who is responsible.
for running the whole show, stuck
his hands in the pockets of his
faded jeans, looked down at his
shoes and quietly proclaimed the
It is not unusual for a Christ-
ian sect to predict the coming of
the end. But the regulars at Can-
terbury House are not some neuro-
tic sect tuned onto mysticism; the
end they are talking about is a
dramatic reorientation in the way
Canterbury runs. Indeed, t h e
Canterbury House regulars, have
been pacesetters, not doomsayers.
They are "the people who book-
ed Janis Joplin and Neil Young
last year and the Byrds and Com-
mander Cody last night. They are
the. ministers of a new culture.
And they are the people who
have housed Resistance and t h e
Argus and the White Panther
press conferences. They sponsor-
ed a panel discussion on Marxism
with Polish writer Jerzy Kosin-
t!i. They gave refuge to the Liv-
ing Theatre after, Ann Arbor
police arrested the actors last year.
And they hold "multi-media"
worship on Sundays.
This peculiar blend of booking
agency -- half-way house and
church -- constitutes Canterbury..
It is as if the house has synthe-
sized all the elements of a stu-
dent populism manifested in such
diverse movements and currents
as the Port Huron Statement, the
Peace Corps, the Chicago demon-
strations, and the McCarthy cam-
paign and created a counter-cul-
tural center for the disaffected.
jN ATTEMPTING to nurture a
spontaneous community, Can-
terbury House studiously resists
succumbing to elitist direction. In-
stead, Hammcnd and Canterbury
regulars see their movement as
a revolution; 'and it is a pro-
foundly traditional revolution-
a reaction against modern organi-
zation men and an attempt to
create a small unit of the global
The intellectual currents a r e
exemplified in Hammond himself,
a minister within the most con-
servative of churches and a man
immersed in a turbulent society.
But neither Hammond, nor any

one person controls Canterbury
House. For if that were to happen,
Canterbury might easily be
thwarted in performing what the
regulars see as its function - to
break people out of 'socially as-
signed roles and discover them-
selves together.
Though the Sunday service is
Episcopal, it attracts all denomi-
nations and races - Jews, WASP,
blacks, Catholics.
Hammtond explains that the
Sunday worship often draws a
straighter crowd than the con-
certs and weekly activities. H e'
prefers to describe the Canter-
bury H o u s e constituency as a
"grass roots thing" and wants to
keep it that way.
"There's no specific member-
ship I can call up," he says. "When
we want to change things, we just
get a bunch of people together and

try to get, a sense of where they
be a completely open society,
one which encourages people to
participate and respond to e a e h
others' needs. Hammond believes
that society can be humanized by
"Something as insignificant as the
way people experience entertain-
But in spite of Hammond's con-
viction that the small changes of
Canterbury House contribute to a
movement which will change the
texture of society there is a fear
of the future. There is an urgency
to his words; for "the movement"
must take hold before our society
becomes a repressive totalitarian
Last Sunday Hammond read a
statement he and other college

ministers wrote in Cambridge.
Mass., this December. Though of-
ten couched in a style reminis-
cent of William Butler Yeats' "Se-
cond Coming," the new American
they envision sounds a lot like
the same one Walt Whitman pro-
claimed in "Song of Myself."
"A new political man is com-
ing into being. He is no longer
the rapist of the world and its
people. He demands the creation
of a new order, and for the real-
ization of that order he is
committing his life.
"We awake from the dream of
American innocence, taught in
the schools and reinforced by
our parents, to a nightmare: the
American Empire. Out of our
histories events flash across the
screen of memory-Greensboro,
Bay of Pigs, Port Huron, Berk-
eley, Selma, the Pentagon, Chi-
cago, and Song My. Sleepers
awake. Awake! The gods of
the cold war mythologies and
an uncriticized American Dream
are dead, and everything h a s
become possible and impossible
at the same time .. . the old is
breaking up, indeed MOST of
it must break up, and the new
is just begining to emerge."
bury House itself has changed
during the 1960's - a time when
most of the old order has been
Just five years ago, the Can-
terbury House was located in the
Episcopal mission - five blocks
off campus - in a large old house
next door to the St. Andrew's
Episcopal Church. Its function
was limited to being a forum for
occasional study groups.
Few traces of the earlier Can-'
terbury House are outwardly ap-
parent these days as the small
coffeehouse wedged in the alley
between Gold Bond Cleaners and
the Salt Box Gift Ship fills to ca-
pacity for concerts three to four
nights a week - serving cider and
folk music to three to four thous-
and people.
But Hammond believes that the
popular crowd drawing concerts
are only one function of Canter-
bury House and should not be al-
lowed to dominate its role on the
campus. "Our effectiveness 'is not
determined by numbers of peo-
ple," he notes.

THUS, Canterbury House tries
to give people something more
than entertainment. Though this
fall was a monetary success, it was
not a spiritual one. "In subtle
ways Canterbury House was be-
coming; part of the insane sociali-
zation process. The place was
turning into a store where people
assumed the role of consumers
just as they assume the role of a
passive congregation or submis-
sive students," Hammond says.
"The entertainment has to be
a full experience not only for the
audience but for the ticket peo-
ple, the doormen, the janitors
here at night," he says.
This semester Canterbury
House is scheduling only f o u r
concerts a month in order to keep
its schedule flexible, to enable it
to respond to spontaneous camp-
us events. Hammond was upset
this fall that a performer w a s
scheduled the weekend of the Nov.
15 protest, preventing Canterbury
House from contributing fully to
moratorium activities.
JOR THE first time in several
years there was no profes-
sional entertainment Friday night.
Instead, Hammond said, Canter-
bury House would open its doors
to all comers, and let those who
would venture in create their own
"We're trying to open up phy-
sical and psychic space." he says.
Here, he says, "no rules are pre-
scribed, Everyone defines their
own bounds."
However the casual passerby
drifting over after a movie Fri-
day night found Canterbury House
dark and the door locked.
But if one way doesn't work,
Canterbury House will be quick
to shift to some other alternative
to maintain its responsiveness to
the campus.
E mainstay, of course, is the
Sunday worship service. Peo-
ple sit at small round tables
drinking coffee and talking when
suddenly rock music explodes
from overhead speakers and t h e
service begins - a collage of Old
and New Testament readings,
communal singing usually led by
a guy up front with electric gui-
tar, and perhaps some poetry or
a movie or a group discussion of
why everybody decided to come.
And there is Holy Communion.
The bread is home-made, baked by

someone in the crowd who likes
to bake bread. It is passed from
hand to hand and you tear your-
self a hunk. The wine too is pass-
ed around and there's usually
enough for second helpings if you
want it.
IN THE basement of Canterbury
House in his wide office which
is just wide enough for pacing,
Hammond marches back and forth
talking about the future. "T h e
Church is losing its shirt financ-
ially" he says. Apparently it is,
judging from a letter decorating
his wall in which the Washtenaw
County Council of Church de-
mands that Reverend Hammond
immediately remit the 8 cents due
on his Blue Cross Policy.
Meanwhile, Hammond is looking
for alternate and co-operative
ways of funding for Canterbury
House. He's now toying with the
idea of education. For $15 p e r
semester, people would enroll in
courses taught by Joan Baez or
Carl Rogers. He envisions a
course in Marxism and musicology
taught by Dave van Ronk, and a
class in child development taught
by children.
In the near future, Canterbury
House would like to attempt a
town meeting, harking back to
one of our earliest forms of parti-
cipatory democracy.
Hammond says that people
everywhere from rural North Da-
kota to suburban Detroit, are ach-
ing to ask questions about where
our society is going. "One ques-
tion starts them off and they're
in orbit," Hammond says.
And he sees Canterbury House
as harking back to the real tradi-
tion of Christianity. "We're more
faithful to the tradition than what
is usually referred to as tradition,"
he says.
Hammond says that the attempt
of Canterbury House is "a commit-
ment to a consistent and rhythmic
way of life where making live is
no different from going to work.
But Hammond is the first to ad-
mit that the people at Canter-
bury House are still looking for
this alternative society that none
of his ideas may work out. "We
haven't become set - we haven't
found the way," he says with a
poetic intensity that tells you that
he's going to devote the rest' of
his life to trying to find out.



-Daily-Andy Sacks

-Daly-Andy Sacks

A coffeehouse with politics: The Alternative thatfi


AFTIER NINE happy but hassled weeks,
the Alternative coffeehouse died a natu-
ral death last summer and not even the
students who bought shares in the enter-
prise seemed to mourn.
The student-faculty owned and operated
coffeehouse opened in June in the IHA of-
fice of the Student Activities Bldg. It closed
In mid-August and hoped to re-open in the
Union at the start of the fall semester.
It hasn't re-opened and its managers have
declared the informal corporation defunct.
The pitfalls of a business operation run
by amateurs seem obvious enough even with-
in., the umbrella of the University corn-
-munity, but last year at this time the pos-
sibilities for the success of an alternative
place to socialize seemed full of promise.
Students in the fishbowl hawking $5
shares to their peers and interested profes-
ors explained that the coffeehouse could
be a center for extracurricular intellectual
activity on campus, much as European cof-
feehouses serve as political action centers.
1H-E IDEA for a coffeehouse was conceived
in the fall of 1968, physics Prof. Marc
Ross says, to help counteract frustration
generated during the presidential election
"between tweedledee and tweedledum."
Hopefully, the coffeehouse would become
a place for keeping alive the spirit of polit-
ical protest which has mushroomed in re-
cent years.
The name "Alternative" was chosen as a
tribute to Sen. Eugene McCarthy's attempt
to provide an alternative to the politics, and
leadership of the major parties. However,
Ross, a McCarthy backer, says people could
interpret the name any way they wish.
Ross's idea caught on. Students turned out
in numbers to sell the concept and the Uni-
versity administration provided moral sup-
port. "I like the idea of a place where stu-
dents and faculty can meet in an informal
atmosphere, where there is some kind of
intellectual programming involved. This was
the original idea of the place," explains
Acting Vice President for Student Affairs
Barbara Newell..
When it opened in June, however, the
coffeehouse fell short of these great ex-
pectations. It became difficult to arrange

find the Alternative an easy and pleasant
place to catch lunch or a snack.
The coffeehouse managed to break even
in August, but it was still nearly $2500 in
debt (excluding capital) when it closed.
Joel Rosenberg, who helped operate the
place, says a certain loss was inevitable, but
that much money was wasted because of
"bad management."
"Informality is one thing. The discount
store is an informal outfit, but it has good,
solid, together, business-like management.
We were all inexperienced in b:-'mess man-
agement. We made a lot of errors, like in
"We"eincludes Ross, Rosenberg, student
manager Pete Nieto and physics Prof. Har-
vey Gould. They hoped the Alternative would.
maintain a relaxed and friendly atmosphere,
but this didn't always work to the coffee-
house's benefit.
The Alternative "was really taken ad-
vantage of," Rosenberg says, recalling that
it was almost impossible to determine who
was working, who was ,hanging around and
who was getting paid. Furthermore, a num-
ber of staff and their friends would take
free meals at the struggling coffeehouse,
he says.
Fran, a red-haired girl who sometimes
worked at the Alternative remembers "We
kept giving away free food to people who
were hungry." It may have been bad busi-
ness, Fran admits, but "that's not where the
Alternative was at."
U NFORTUNATELY, good-heartedness got
to the Alternative after a while-espe-
cially since the coffeehouse was not sub-
sidized at all by the University.
The Alternative and Mark's are the only
coffeehouses in the city not subsidized in
some way and one girl who works for Can-
terbury House, which is owned and support-
ed by the Episcopalian Church admits, "It
would be very tough going for us if we were
Without subsidy, without a permanent lo-
cation, the Alternative found it tough go-
ing .Complying with health regulations alone
would have cost the place another $1000.
In spite of financial difficulties, the Al-
ternative still had a fighting chance of sur-
viving. It had arranged a loan from SGC,
its net losses were declining and it appear-
ed to be a going concern when it closed for

"If we had done better, we would have
gotten more help."
ROSENBERG IS not sure. He b l a m e y
Union manager Kuenzel and Vice Pre-
sident Pierpont for smothering the pro-
posal to move into the Union last spring:
"It is naive to think the unfortunate cir-
cumstances alone kept the Alternative out
of the Union," Rosenberg claims.
Frank Kuenzel does not deny charges of
prejudice against the Alternative, b u t
cites pragmatic reasons for the action. He
argues the rent was too low and the food
service problem too severe.
"My philosophy," declares Kuenzel, "is
that the managers of the Alternative could
have made the Union Snack Bar into a
coffee house or fixed it up in some way,
instead of trying to set up an independent
"It should have been under Union man-
agement, not run by an outside group."
Wally Stromberg adds two reasons why
the Union and' financial affairs office tried
to keep the Alternative out. = First, t h e
basement space in the Union can become
a money making area and the Union board
declined to give it up to thle Alternative.
Second, the 'administration was afraid "un-
desirable" types might be attracted to the
Union during the night.
Indeed, the invasion of high school
"freaks" in August, came as a final coup
to the ailing coffeehouse.
"In the beginning, there was a good bal-
ance," Rosenberg says. "But later it turned
into a freak place, mostly high school freaks.
"The atmosphere of the place was good
at the start. But as the high school kids
took over, the atmosphere became per-
meated with airplane glue-literally and
BUT EVERYONE associated with the Al-
ternative realizes the high school kids
were hardly snakes in Eden. The Alterna-
tive was driven out of the SAB because
of shortsighted management and admin-
istrative inaction.
An audit has been conducted. and the
Alternative has paid off part of its debts
with proceeds from a benefit film show-
ing. Student shareholders can expect to
lose their $5 shares; Ross knows he will
lose much more than that.
Meanwhile, if you ask students whether
they would like an alternative place to go



-Daily-Richard Lee

would have secured the Alternative a place
there before the fall. Now he admits it was
probably a mistake to expect this a n d a
mistake to open in the summer when few
people were around.
"It was a question of momentum," argues
Rosenberg. "Interest in the Alternative was
at its peak in June. It would have died away
by the time September came around." We
couldn't wait for that. We would have had
to start all over again.
"Also since we were a pretty inexperienced
outfit, we thought it would be a good thing
to kind of ease into the business over the
summer in the SAB," he says.
JEANWHILE, the problem of where the
Alternative could go from the SAB be-

might have been a first step in that di-
In fact, after several months of negotia-
tions, the Union board had agreed in March,
1969 to grant the Alternative several base-
ment rooms for $200 per month. The Union
management made it explicit, however, that
the arrangement was temporary, pending
resolution of the Union's problems with food
Indeed the Union has compound problems
of its own.
For the 1967-68 fiscal year, says Frank
Kuenzel, then manager of the Union, the
Union food service had fallen into a $200,-
000 deficit. The loss was covered by the Un-
ion's subsidy from the University and by the
Union's reserves.

Understandably hesitant to take on
another failing organization, the U n i o n
delayed the Alternative's move on the
grounds that the food service problem must
first be resolved.
When it was determined in June that
the University would continue to operate the
food service, the Alternative had already
settled in IHA headquarters.
In August when the Alternative again
petitioned for space, Wally Stromberg, head
of the Union Space Allocation Committee
said none was available.
That was the end.
ROSS IS philosophical about the Alter-
native's failure. Although he admits,
"It's true we didn't gain very much good
will in the administration," he doesn't blame
Kuenzel or Vice President and Chief Fin-


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