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October 06, 1968 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1968-10-06

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Ee M~tr4ytgan Dait
Seventy-eight years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan
under authority of Board in Control of Student Publications

Calvin and the work ethic:
Yr.11 jj,4 It rn titin od

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints,



On the seventh day,
they returned

RESPONSE TO last Sunday's experiment
in personal journalism has been over-
whelmingly favorable-three letters and
an unsigned postcard.
Honesty compels us to note that at least
two of the letters seemed based on the
mistaken impression that we had turned
the editorial page into a weekly church
Admittedly our "sunday morning" slug
looked quite similar to the one used in the
'sunday worship" listings and the spire
beneath it looked rather cathedralish.
Which brings us to the subject of re-
ligion in a secular society.
UP UNTIL recently, corporate religion
was sufficient, if not necessary, to
satisfy our needs:
But in this age of unfettered affluence
we developed new and desperate needs
as traditional institutions began to fail
We have lost faith in the political sys-'
tem as anything more than an extension
of unfeeling interests and conniving ir-
We have lost hope in higher education
as a bastion of human values. We realize
that universities are playthings of tech-
nocrats and social planners.
Second class postage paid at Ann Arbor, Michigan,
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Michigan. 48104.
Daily except Monday during regular academic school
Daily except Sunday and Monday during regular
summer session.
The Daily is a member of the Associated Press and
Collegiate Press Service.

SO TODAY we rejoice that religion has
returned to its historic origins as the
home of the alienated. That today reli-
gion has become the one haven of old-
fashioned humanistic values, sensitive to
the dilemmas of the idealistic.,
We are conditioned to interpret reli-
gion as an abstract creed in which the
speed of a bullet and the crash of a
meteor make little impact in eternity.
But because of its eternal concerns, re-
ligion is the only institution with enough
sanctity to support revolutionary de-
mands in human relationships without
losing its legitimacy.
ONLY IN religion do we have a chance
to define feelings and meanings with-
out weighing them on a social, political
or financial scale. Without worrying about
living in Bloomfield Hills or voting for
Robert Griffin.
And so, if our page is again misread
as an exercise in the religious, what the
Associate Editorial Directors

CALVIN PICKED US up on a cold, wet afternoon
on the outskirts of Syracuse.
Asking his destination, we discovered that this
man, who was in his early thirties and had an easily
forgotten face, was heading for his home in
pseudo-rural suburb of Albany.
Within five miles, we learned that Calvin had
one of these nice, second-echelon jobs in electronics
or research and development which are about four
degress removed from war research,
Our driver then regaled us with a tale, worthy
of a situation comedy, about an argument with his,
wife when he wanted to play golf and she wanted
to go skiing for their vacation.
But as the miles rolled by, I came to realize that
Calvin was a moderately intelligent, quite open-
minded man, was obsessed with his own liberality.
For instance, he 'carefully delineated for us his
religious beliefs, which as I recall amounted to a kind
of amiable agnosticism.
He was the type of man who today spends his life
happily consuming and boring his friends at suburb-
an cocktail parties. But, had he been around 50
years ago, he would have made a botch of trying
to be the village atheist.
FINALLY HE ASKED us about our career plans
and we responded with the kind of guarded disdain
reserved for talking about the future with career-
oriented, but not too crucial adults.
A few minutes later trying to duck the tho-
roughly unpleasant subject, I half-jestingly sug-
gested that maybe the guaranteed income would
solve all our problems. And suddenly we were off
on a discussion of welfare, poverty, automation and,
guaranteed incomes.
Despite his previously liberality on other sub-
jects, 'here Calvin became thoroughly obstinate and
unyielding. He feverishly repeafed all the tired old
Max Rafferty cliches about welfare chiselers and
the laziness of the non-working.
As we argued, he grew more and more insistent,
but came up with fewer and fewer coherent argu-
ments. It was as if we had penetrated to the root
of his whole existence, the one question never raised
-"Why work?"
I THOUGHT of Calvin the other morning as I
stumbled into one of State Street's finer restaurants,

desperately needing a cup of coffee and a bit of
As I waited for the waitress to take my order, I
realized that the booths surrounding me were seeth-
ing with restlessness. A guy two tables away was
yelling about "the fork for my cole slaw." And a
girl in back of me was trying to rephrase in as many
ways as possible, "Miss, Miss, my water please."
It was pretty clear that the poor waitress was
having a rough time of it.
When she finally came to take my order. I com-
misserated with her and said something banal- like,
"'Don't worry, I don't feel very competent this
morning, either."
The reaction was instantaneous, "I've never been
a waitress before. I don't want to be a waitress. I
hate being a waitress. But I've got to work for two
days so I have enough money to fly to Cambridge."
Because I can understand dilemma's like this, I
broke a long standing rule about State Street restau-
rants and tipped her.
JUST LIKE CALVIN in his uncomprehending
dedication to the work ethic, was obviously a child
of the fifties; so there are legions of college students
today who are only willing to work for an imme-
diate goal-like flying to Cambridge.
But they are not willing to spend a life waiting
for coffee breaks, exuding in the commeraderie of
the offfice, and counting the weeks to vacation.
Sired by affluence, this generation is far too
bored with materialism ever to become advertising
executives, stockbrokers, or frumpy housewives.
They will always be willing to succumb to irre-
sponsibility and sleep late on cold Wednesday morn-
The danger is not that the wheels of America will
grind to a halt with an entire nation xefusing to
work. No, the real problem is what will become of
that group of the sensitive and talented who only
want to become genial parasites.
THE STANDARD adult counterattack to just
this sort of amiable drifting is, "You should have
been around during the Depression, then you'd know
the value of hard work and a good 'job."
There is a lot of truth to this. We don't know the
value of hard work and a good job. But we are
acutely aware of the pretentious emptiness of the
good job andtihe nice house in the suburbs.
And there is something really frightening about
the idea that work would have any more meaning
if we were coerced into doing it by adverse economic
The legacy of this generation will not lie in how
they reconcile their political idealism with a callous
The 'real question will not be political at all.
Instead, it will be how these genial parasites adapt
to an existence still predicated on the work ethic.





Sundacy morning

In which the author talks of revolution

IN ACAPULCO there is one place to go
if you are looking for the best surf and
the iost girls. It.is a beach called Zoltero.
You get there, by taking the Bahia drive
south to the Hilton. Then you have to walk
dowp to the ocean from the road, past a
cluster of ramshockle huts, and walk south
a few hundred yards. It is where all the
young people congregate.
The first time I went there, the sun was
settilg out over the bay, all glowing and
on fire, a giant Achilles' shield sinking in
the forge. There were no girls on the beach,
just a few boys still lingering there, getting,
their last rides in on the thundering waves.
I stood and watched for a while, then
ran down the steep, sugary beach and
plunged into the foaming salt water.
I had misjudged the waves. The first wave
hit me hard, bounced me on the floor, and
threw me up on the beach.
I GOT UP slowly. There was a young man
standing near me, laughing. I thought he
must; be an American, so I said, "How do
you get out there without killing yourself."
He was not an American. Struggling with
his broken English he said in a Spanish
accent, "It's very dangerous."
So you are Spanish. Not many Spanish
here in Acapulco. Mostly Americans, a few
Europeans. From Madrid? Ah, well, it is a
long way from there to Acapulco. Yes, I
come from Ohio,, 0-high-o. Kleeve-land.
This was Jose Antonio, from Madrid. Not
an international jet-set playboy, just a

wealthy student touring the New World
for the summer. He was good in the waves
-there is a certain technique of swimming
with the wave, slowing down until the crest
catches you, and then stiffening your body
like a surfboard as it carries you in.
We swam in the waves until the sun set.,
It was very good, being there in the warm,
furious Pacific and the sensuous white sand
and the lazy palm trees, like giant beauties
wth their hair blowing in the wind.
"JOSE," I SAID as we were leaving the
waves. "I wanted to see Madrid last sum-
mer when I was in Italy-to see a bullfight,
you know-I'm sure the bullfights there
must be better than the novilladas in Mexi-
co City. But I hadn't the time. Maybe next
He laughed the way Europeans laugh at
stupid American tourists. "You only wanted
to go to Madrid to see a bullfight? You
think that is all there is in Spain? And
next year, maybe,. Americans can not go to
Europe because Johnson ..."
"Oh, the travel tax. Well, that isn't going
to get through Congress. The people are
against it."
"So you think you have a democracy in
"Not exactly, but the majority of the
people \usually get their way."
WE WERE WALKING back toward the
Hilton. Twenty yards from the hotel garage
a family lives in a hut of corrugated iron;
sides and a thatched roof. There is another
family that has put a thatched roof over

the mouth of a cave in the rocks. They were
cooking fish on an open fire. An old woman
sat and looked through us as we walked by.
She had a leathery face and hard, beetle-
like black eyes that shone in the firelight.
In Mexico, when a woman grows old, she
does so with dignity.
"La revolucion," said Jose. "There must
be revolution in all the world where people
are poor like this. And also this." He
pointed to the Hilton. where lovely ladies
in gowns were being escorted into chauffered
I DID NOT WANT to agree. We argued
about revolution and Communism and
Castro and Batista.
"Sometimes," I said weakly, "revolution
leaves the people worse off than before."
"When, and where?!" He said this with
all the wrathful defiance of a young Che.
We walked in silence.
"Let's pick up some girls toright," I said.'
"At La Quebrada, then. The divers. There
are always lots of girls there.
You have probably heard of the divers at
La Quebrada. Holding torches, they plunge
110 feet off the cliff into the see below,
which washes in and out over the %deadly
Jose was there that night when I went
there. We left the crowd at the railing and
climbed down to a ledge on the cliff so we
could see better. We had to wait a long time,
for the first diver.
He said, "I was arrested by Franco's men
and jailed for a month. It was for a demon-
stration against the war in Vietnam. A
demonstration in Madrid. There were many
young people there, but only a few arrested.
They said I was a leader."
The movement. This generation. Revolu-
tions. Youth. They fit so nicely together.
A DIVER climbed the rocks from the bot-
tom like an ape At the top of his climb, an
altar had been set. He knelt and prayed as
the crowd looked on, hushed. Then he.ad-
dressed himself to the cliff and the sea-to
his life, the prospect of death.
The divers have to wait and watch the
surf below for just the right moment to
dive, so the water will be deep enough at
the instant they hit. He finally went off.
the trail of his flaming torch leaving a
giwing arc in mid-air.
We all watched in wonder. Then Jose and
I left. I went back to my hotel and sent a
post card. We hadn't made any girls. There
was always tomorrow. Revolution.
ACROSS THE street, a mangy dog's bark
punctuated the sticky silence of the still,
humid air A crude lamp shone on a dirt
floor. A rag hung over a doorway. A man
cameout. a father, and sat quietly watching


The playing is over, bastards and Ce ts

The end of acquiescence

I WASN'T always an anti-establishment
But there was no way to get around the '
fact that the thing coming between me and
the finer things of life was always those
pink libary fines pinned to my bulletin
I was beginning to have a strong sus-
picion that the Undergraduate Library was
using my allowance to compensate for Lan-
sing's Republican qualms about subsidizing
left-of-center intellectuals here.
BUT WHAT could I do? No matter how
many anarchist revolutions I might plot in
my head, I still had to use the UGLI to get
to my psychology books on Tesuday nights.
The end of my acquiescence came when the
shiny new reserve computer gave me an in-
nocuous looking book to read one night and
then sent me a $3.50 fine the next day.
I could have scraped up the $3.50.

fered to reduce the fine 25c brineing it
down to $3.25 or 21 cups of coffee and and
two sugar donuts.
(She, being only a middle level librarian,
had the power to reduce fines but not to
abolish them.)
WHICH IS why I ended up in the office
of a librarian who was so high up she had
the power to contradict the computer. She
sympathized with student poverty and of-
fered to reduce the'fine another 50c. I tried '
to explain that since she was a high-level
librarian and had an office she should rec-
ognize the injustice and abolish the fine.
She was getting pretty flustered. Libra-
rians never overrule the computer because
that would cause a lot of people' to claim
that they shouldn't pay fines and the Un-
dergraduate Libary wouldn't want to en-
courage lying.
AS WE WENT through the circumstances
the third or fourthg time it occurred to me

"Kids! I don't know what's wrong with
these kids today."
x SUSPECT that if a sociologist was to
study a cross section of audiences at the
Newport Folk Festival year by year, he could
draw more than a few conclusions about the
evolution of social c o n c e r n in American
youth. Active youth is at Newport.
Newport is cool, so it attracts the cool. It
is interesting, so it attracts the interesting.
It is contemporary, so it attracts the con-
temporary. It is honest, but it does not at-
tract the honest.
Newport '68 was sort of a great unwashed
pre-party for the Democratic National Con-
vention which was, of course held a month
later. Many in the audience were students
who had decided that to work outside the
system meant to disobey it in the streets
violently. They c a m e for the music, the
scene, the nowness of it all.
THEY CAME to intimidate me.
We arrived at Newport Thursday night
and it only took two days for my acute para-
noia to set in. It took reading the leaflet
the Yippies were passing around about the
coolness and nowness of the forthcoming
Convention. It took a lot of cold stares, a lot
of hate, and a lot of clothes, designed with

THEY WERE there- to kill me, for my
freedom jeopardized theirs. A n d they
couldn't accept that I could be different
from them and be happy simultaneously.
So they made me their nigger. I was their
enemy, I had done it to them, Me, the sys-
tem. Me, a s m a 11 person. A person whq
doesn't fight. But by God the Lefties were
going to show me that it was their show,
this Folk Festival, and they were going to
run it like they damn well pleased and I
had to do it their way or they would nig-
gerize me.
I thought at first it would be nice to join
up with Janis Ian's little entourage. Group
pressure does that to me. They seemed to
laugh a good deal when there wasn't much
funny stuff happening. They laughed at a
lot of key words. They used to talk about
Humphrey and how he'd said he was "a soul,
brother and wasn't that too much I mean'
THEY HAD their little intimidating shield
radiating full blast, just waiting for a naive
eight-year-old nigger like me to get in range
and then "Zap." We got him. ,He's dead of
paranoia. Ho ho. He was sick anyway.
Two days later, I was damn sick. I was
sick of being hated by them. I was sick of
being this new creature that has arisen in
these so-called revolutionary days, this nig-

I WALKED into a department store sev-
eral weeks later for a pair of pants. The
system n'an stared me down. He was clean,
and he had a sporty looking outfit on, with
gold at the appropriate placeĀ§, but the gold
could have been dirt, and so could I. Is there
no place to go?
A MONTH later I sat on the floor of the
County Building a f t e r it had 'closed. It
wouldn't have been too significant except
that there were 191 others with 'me. With

SO NOW Lefties and salesmen, I've played
with you and you've played with me. I be-
lieved in your Lefties Revolution and I
thought maybe you'd remember some of the
stuff you said while you listened to '"Light
My Fire" eleven months before you meant it
at Columbia.
I played with you others too, when you
told me I had to work in a sqlfd business
to be happy. When you told me to wear tab-
collared shirts or button-down shirts or
boxer shorts or whatever.
I played with you when you told me to
wear a red arm band and when you told me
to wear dark socks and throw away my white
ones in 10th grade.
I played with you when you made me hate
my snowsuit in second grade, because I was

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