Sunday, November 9, 1975
THE MICHIGAN UAILY
By DAN BIDDLE
WJHEN BILL Kunstler came
to Ann Arbor last Monday,
he brought no entourage and
no pretenses. He wore a skinny
tie and a tired expression, and
an old brown jacket that looked
equally fatigued. The deep,
dark eyes flashed humorously
beneath the noble, balding
brow; the big, bony hands
groped about for jokes and
phrases. The brash courtroom
voice moved through theories
and, politics like a cantor crying
the Kaddish. The unaristocratic
stomach got nourishment at
Cottage Inn; the wallet con-
tained only a very wrinkled $20
Beneath all the unassuming
veneer, the brilliant legal mind
was, as they said in Kunstler's
heyday, Doing Its Own Thing:
William Kunstler, 56, was ston-
flE ISN'T LIKE that all the
Kunstler, until 1960, was a
regular lawyer; or as he put it,
"a member of the zombie-ized
protoplasm that makes up the
professional class." Then he be-
gan defending radical political
figures, and by now, the list
reads like a cast of movement
heroes: Rap Brown, Angela Da-
vis, the Chicago Seven, the Ber-
rigan brothers, the Wounded
Knee Indian leaders, Martin
Luther King, several black Pan-
thers, and many others.
You always wonder how to
put yourself at ease with a guy
like Kunstler, the heroic move-
ment lawyer who always got his
face on TV in the sixties.
But Kunstler made it em-
barrassingly easy. When I
caught up with him after his
speech to 400 law students in
Hutchins Hall, he announced,
"We were so ripped back
"We" were Kunstler and his
local buddy, David Fenton, the
ever-smiling, golden-haired edi-
tor of the "greater Michigan"
Sun. Fenton and his wife, co-
editor Barbara Weinberg, and
I, were going to Cottage Inn
Doily Photo by PAULINE LUBENS
PENTON EXPLAINED that eyes positively lit up and he within perspective." Sometimes it seemed a bit too
the ride back from Kunst- smiled a little-boy smile. TIE TALKED ABOUT his my- good. Kunstler seemed to have
ler's earlierdDetroit TV inter- HA," SAID the waitress, riad current cases,sin New ean answer for everything - an
view featured a little mid-day AHA"SI th ares! York, Louisiana, and Washing- open admission to the public
marijuana, who must have smelled the ton state. One tends to think of that he gets stoned; an insist-
Ion his breath or some- Kunstler from afar as a politi- ence that his appearance as a
"We were reall dead," said smoke o i raho oe
smilngyabout thing; for whatever reasons, , cal clown act, a media lover leftist has never damaged his1
Kunstler, smiling about theI she caught on: "You have to who uses the courses, albeit ability to defend clients, and a
dope."F tell me what KIND of dressing." with success, as a stage. Yet refusal to answer the charge of
"You," chuckled Fenton, "on- "Oh," mumbled Kunstler, he readily answered questions some other lawyers that he is
S knowreeut t was heavy embarrassed. "Make it Thous- about that, gently citing his vir- a good orator and cross-exam-
,, ' and Island. tually undefeated record and iner but not a very good fact-
stuff." We drank coffee and Kunst- freely defining his clients as finder.
Everybody chuckled. Maybe ler got reflective about the only those whose lives or trials He is, I guess, a little out of
it was too much for you, ad staid looks of his law school au- could effectively advance a place now. In 1969, everyone in,
mnihed Fenton. e yrssed dience: "They weren't. so bad cause "that will make the world the movement was like that: n
an oncoming Buick. . . . It's a pretty crazy period, ' a better place." answer for everything - a well-
"is this all right?" askedyou know. "People react against the argued, irrefutable point that
FIsthi as all right?" ake The stoned quality vanished celebrity concept," he said. "I'd convinced you, but made you
Fenton as we moved into theanuesyb it vrhln
all-new Cottage Inn while the and the big hands came up feel the same way if I were uneasy by its overwhelming
again, shaping and emphasiz- them . . . only fools take in the tone of cause and commitment.
Four Seasons sang "Who Loves
Your Baby?on t . hA. sys ing: "It was always a minority person that they see on TV all There are certainly many
, y.his.a.e"of the young law students. I the time. I'd be suspicious, who would spit on Kunstler,
tem. "This place? think you have to keep the thing too." with his long gray and white
The waitress arrives and ap--
pears to have some idea of who
Kunstler is, but Fenton and
Weinberg order first. Then she TT"
turns to Kynstuer with a big I
grin and say "And what wouldse D iy C a sfed
grin rUseDaily Classifieds
hair and his hatred for "pig" heh!" That's it! Hahaha! You I asked him if the schedule left
police power; who would call never heard the joke about life- him no time for involvements.
him anti-American for remem- is-a-fountain?" He looked at me for a mo-
bering his Attica prison yard ="No! Tell it." ment and said abruptly, "Oh,
experience as far more mean- no. I have a girlfriend . . . We
ingful than his World War II "I can't! It's much too long. have been seeing each other for
years as an infantry battalion Anyway, isn't it time for my four years."
commander. panel?" AND WITH THE little - boy
BUT IN THIS "crazy period," In five minutes he was due grin again, Kunstler said
as he calls it, it is hard to to play moderator for the Bi- he and she will go to Tahiti for
look on him without feeling centennial Teach - In's discus- a full year soon, where they'll
t eo s whut feenus sion of police repression at Hill stay in Marlon Brando's cabin.
have the discipline or commit- Auditorium. Kunstler and I hur- But could he avoid a flood of
ment to do. He works almost ried to Hill. requests to defend movement
always for no fees - most of It always seems that people clients?
the movement's clients are poor like him must have empty emo- "There are no telephones in
- although he lives well enough tional lives because they are al- Tahiti! They can't call met"
from book royalties and lecture ways running so hard; rarely Kunstler chortled, and trotted
money. He wins his cases most pausing long enough to raise a off to lead the police repres-
of the time. As we got ready family or develop a relation- sion panel.
to pay the check at Cottage ship. Kunstier has been sepa- Dan Biddle is a former Edi-
Inn, he groans about getting a rated from his wife for years. for in Chief of the Daily.
week of vacation in two years.
The people's Kunstler, the
funny, unassuming, bumbling,
g enu unstrbubbledupJob Experience Available With
again: "David," he said to Fen-
ton, "I have some money. I
have a twenty-dollar bill, and I PEACE CORPS
gotta make $20 last . . ." He
hesitated and looked very as-
Ikance at his crumpled bill. "For For Skilled Volunteers
S FENTON and I split the, Apl now for winter training rograms
tab as Kunstler continued Ar
apprehensively, "Now I can't in sixty developing countries in Asia,
get the car outa hock. You
know, I've made this $20 stand Africa and Latin America.
for four days ... I'm beholden
to you." Finally, the little-boy
grin again: "For this, I'm going nterviews roug ursday
to give you the secret of my
long life." at Career Planning And Placement
"Life is a fountain. Heh, heh,
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