Get Kinky!

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The rabble-rousers at the Texas Observer rifle through newly-opened documents on cops at the University of Texas and their surveillance of Sixties radicals. What menace did the thin blue line prevent from seeping across the nation?

The documents reveal that among the subjects campus police were monitoring at the time were Janis Joplin, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Richard ("Kinky") Friedman.

Former Austin radical Scott Pittman remembers a Texas Ranger commenting to him: "Burt Gerding plays you guys like a fiddle." When the members of the psychedelic rock band the Thirteenth Floor Elevators were busted in January 1966 for possession of marijuana, rock historian Paul Drummond recalls that band founder Tommy Hall just couldn't believe it. "He thought Gerding would tip him off."

Gerding, now approaching 80 and in failing health, lives in the Delwood section of east Austin. In an interview, he boasted that he always had informers in SDS and other activist groups. "If you had a meeting, I had a quorum there. They lived among you," Gerding recalled. He looked upon us as "the enemy" because "you started the cultural revolution, and I felt strongly about my culture."

He still blames us for the breakdown of traditional American values, but added "I don't consider you the enemy any more."

The whole story by Thorne Dreyer is worth a few giggles, especially since the scenario is so unimaginable today.

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