5.25.1978

1978 White House Smoke-In Poster

I'm Uncle Sam, that's who I am;
I been hidin' out in a rock and roll band!
Shake the hand that shook the hand
of Ferdinand Marcos and the Shah Of Iran!

--grateful dead, sort of


It was Abbie Hoffman, I think, who said that "a Yippie is a politically aware hippie."

Actually, I didn't get wind of that until around 1977 or '78, as a young art student -- the worst possible time to become a hippie, in the deepest pit of Disco Sickness, to some the beginning of the end of American popular culture. I first tried pot and LSD within about six months of each other during that time and, not appreciating suddenly becoming an official "criminal", managed to get hooked up with the DC chapter of the famous Yippies, or Youth International Party (I was a youth at the time), who staged the lengendary "Smoke-Ins" around the USA, most notably the New York City "May Day Is Jay Day" parade, and the one and only Fourth Of July White House Smoke-In at Lafayette Park and the Mall.

1978smokeinposter550w

This was printed by the YIP house gang down at 10th and K Streets -- there's some godawful post-post-modern office pile there now -- a regularly irregular bunch who organized local smoke-ins and protests and put out a tabloid 'zine which I helped edit and illustrate, sharing one of the last few original row houses left in downtown at the time. This piece was printed using a combination of standard high-quality monochrome and then-new color photocopiers at a couple of little shops downtown (which are also long gone). The original art was sketched out and traced with black felt-tips on regular sketch-pad paper (oh, c'mon, you remember those), from which a run of several hundred was run on a standard monochrome xerox. The color was worked in with colored pencil on a sheet of vellum thrown over one of the xerox prints and cut to letter size. The whole kaboodle was taken to the shop with the color machine, the vellum overlay taped to the glass, monochrome prints loaded into the bin and run off in very short runs of ten or twenty at first, in order to set the registration, brightness and contrast on the overlay print -- and it really was hit-or-miss back then, kiddies -- and then went up to batches of fifty or a hundred at a time.

Registration, as you can see, was a big issue here, which is why we did the two-run route (color overlay on top of a monochrome print of the line art). We'd done some test prints of mixed felt-tip and colored-pencil art on the color machine, and it was crap; color xerography was really brand-new then, and one of its major weaknesses was an inability to create properly saturated black, along with its own registration issues. Even the best stuff from the color machine back then had these little fuzzy edges around everything, like badly-registered Sunday funnies. This is one of the last surviving prints from one of our "best batches", given to me by ex-DC Yippie and blazing synthesizer player Rupert Chappelle.

high-res jpg image, 1mb