Upon graduating, I immediately stepped away from academia, determined to change the world through theater, music, and fiction. I would be vulnerable to the draft that was devouring young men as quickly as the U.S. military was destroying Vietnam. “It was a tough job,” I always admitted, “but somebody had to do it.” I left campus life to pursue an anti-career as political activist, actor, musician, writer, carpenter, gypsy trucker, and utopian anarchist.
Years later, I returned to university life, hungry for scholarship and knowledge. I also hoped to pass on what I had learned about resistance and the power of art as a tool for social change. In every class, a handful of my students took notice and began to ask questions that lay beyond the purview of my lectures on diction, grammar, and syntax.
In this brief interview — produced by students in Cal State LA’s Television, Film, and Media Studies program — I drop my role as writing teacher to speak about coming of age in the 1960s, performing in Cuba, about my participation in the resistance movements and art collectives and communes and the counterculture that arose— in the words of Bertolt Brecht — from those who practice their art “under the regime of bourgeois liberty.”