Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Friday, December 24, 2021

Tom Saad—one of my best friends dies at 66 years old

By Steve Otto

Once again I'm writing on the death of a friend, Tom Saad. Tom and I went to Goddard High together. That is how we met. I don't know why, but for many years we hung out and did all kinds of things. We went bar hopping all the time. We use to frequent the Riverside Chalet, for many years. It was our favorite bar. That is where I first met my future first wife to be Mary Ann.

Before that we did a lot of things. One year we took a trip to Colorado. We got to Denver after mid-night. Everything was closed so we went to Boulder, a college town. All the bars had stopped serving alcohol but they let bands play until dawn. We met a woman who wanted to sell us "scag" (heroin) but at the time neither of us was into that.

When we were younger Tom was the bad boy. He committed senseless acts of minor criminality. He was found of telling me the story of when he broke into a local mortuary, near his home in Colwich, and he stole the hearse. He drove it down Douglas, a street we youngsters used to drive around for fun, back in the 1970s. At the end of the night he returned the hearse and no one at the mortuary ever realized he had stolen it. One day he came to my house and he was driving a car he stole. I was freaked out knowing how much trouble he could get into and me if I were caught with him.

I could go on and on about the things we used to do. I remember a night when we went to the drive-in to see Easy Rider, a popular movie. At the end of the show his truck was not recharging and the battery was about to go dead. We went down Kellogg going 80 miles an hour without head lights. And we made it to his house. Another night, for what ever reason, he drove real fast down a one-way street the wrong way.

While I and a few of my friends used LSD[1] a few times and cautiously, he went through a faze where he took it all the time. For a few years he did it lots of times. He was almost an LSD junky. I should point out that, at that time, he seem to get a lot more women than I did.

It is all amazing, however, in later years I was the bad boy. I shot up heroin and used narcotics. He strayed away from LSD but kept using marijuana. He never shot up drugs. We both used to visit a drug dealer who we both knew was shooting people up with heroin. He never did that.

At about the age of 20, I got married to my first wife and we moved away. We lost touch. I didn't see Tom again for a few decades. About 10 years ago we met up again. It was great to see someone from the old days. Tom had health problems. We both had been married to various women, me two time, him three. I remember that one of his wives had a child. She beat him to death and they tried to blame Tom. While he was on trial for murdering a 3 month old child, she left town for Colorado. It didn't take long for authorities to realize she was the murderer. Still Tom got injured by some self righteous jack ass in the prison.

Once again we went places and saw each other from time to time.

Tom was always a hippie (some of Tom's artwork can be seen in this article) and in some ways I am also. He was a painter and a poet. But I always felt his real talents were in his art work. He had a very distinctive stile.

In the beginning of our friendship Tom was more of a working class kid and I was a little more middle class, with ambitions to go to college. Tom didn't like education and never went. In the end we were more alike, both of us working class people. I told him more than once that I enjoyed college, and I learned a lot about philosophy and art, but it didn't help as much as I would have liked as far as getting me a high paying job. Also we both had wives, him Linda and me Cam Gentry,  which we had for many years. In the end we were much more alike.

I will miss Tom. He has been one of my best friends. And there are few people I know as long as I knew him.

As I write this article I have not yet seen an Obit on Tom. As I get that information I will post it.

[1] AKA acid, Lysergic acid diethylamide.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

It is St. Patrick's Day- March 17

St. Patrick's Day is a day for getting drunk on Green beer, for many people. But it doesn't have to be. It is also a time to reflect on the struggles of Ireland in the past and in Northern Ireland in the recent past. -Steve Otto

Black 47 - James Connolly

James Connolly- Dropkick Murphys

Dropkick Murphys- "Smash Shit Up"

Monday, March 08, 2021

More songs about women- 2 more for International Women's Day!

Woman Power - Yoko Ono

This Year's Girl- Elvis Costello

Today is International Women's Day—on women and our money

By Steven Otto

Today is International Women's Day and for a theme, this year, I have decided to write about our nations lack of women and other minorities on our currency. To date there have been a few women on our coins. But there have been no women on our paper money.

A $1 coin.

Early in our history the US had what we called "Liberty heads" or simply "Liberty" or "Liberty Seated" figures on many of our coins.

They were images of women, but not specific women. That is not much different from all the so called "Indian Head" (supposedly Native American Indian) coins that were minted. Most of those, such as the Indian head 1¢ and the ten dollar gold piece, were not even real Indians. They were liberty headed coins with women wearing Indian bonnets.

When they finally did mint a real Indian on the coin, the nickle five ¢ piece, it was a generic Indian with no real name and no real history.


As for our paper money, women have been lacking and they still are.


So finally after all these years, the mint came out with the Susan B. Anthony Dollar, 1979. It was a nice coin with a nice design, however, it was just a little larger than a quarter dollar coin. They were easy to get mixed up. So that coin faded away with its unpopularity. That is not to say there are none of them around. There are millions still stock piled at the mint. That makes the coin valueless to a collector.


That brings us to the Sacagawea dollar, minted first minted in 2000. It was as different color than the old dollar coin—brass or gold color. While it was popular with some people, as myself, it was not popular enough to become regularly used money. It seems many people just won't handle a dollar coin if they can avoid it. The coin is a nice shape and it has many advantages over the dollar bill, such as lasting a lot longer. But people still won't spend it. This coin had a specific woman and that woman was a Native American Indian. So it was not only a step forward for women, but for minorities as well. As late as 2019 a few of these coins were still being minted for collectors.

That brings us to the Harriet Tubman $20. A few years ago there was a plan to mint $20 bills with Tubman, both a woman and a minority (black), on it. After Andrew Jackson, who is now on the $20 was a racist towards Indians. A black woman is long overdue to be put on our money. It is bad enough we haven't been able to get a woman elected president. We just now have a vice-president, Kamala Harris, who is both a minority and a woman.

Just recently President Joe Biden restarted the effort to put Tubman on the $20. According to Govexec:

"The White House will resume the Obama-era push to put Harriet Tubman’s image on the $20 bill, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. 

“The Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the front of the new $20 notes,” Psaki said in response to a reporter’s question during the daily briefing. “It’s important that our … money reflects the history and diversity of our country and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that.” 

Naturally there are those fools and non-progressives who still want to drag their feet and stop this effort. According to Time:

"The Biden Administration announced its plan to return to an Obama-era initiative to put Harriet Tubman’s face on the U.S. $20 bill. Her image would replace Andrew Jackson, the notoriously racist President, known both for owning hundreds of slaves and for his brutal and genocidal policy of Indian removal. Based on current designs, a statue of Jackson would remain on the back of the bill, while Harriet Tubman would grace the front. Many Americans, across the racial spectrum, are excited about this tribute to Tubman. They view it as progress, as a necessary and long overdue disruption of the American Founding Fathers narrative. I do not.

I know in a country that worships at the altar of capitalism–an economic system made possible by the free Black labor procured through the Transatlantic slave trade–a Black woman’s face on our currency seems like the highest honor we could bestow. But what a stunning failure of imagination. Putting Tubman on legal tender, when slaves in the U.S. were treated as fungible commodities is a supreme form of disrespect. The imagery of her face changing hands as people exchange cash for goods and services evokes for me discomfiting scenes of enslaved persons being handed over as payment for white debt or for anything white slaveholders wanted. America certainly owes a debt to Black people, but this is not the way to repay it.

Our country to the South, Mexico, has had us beat for years on both women and Native American Indians. On their five centavo they have María Josefa Crescencia Ortíz Téllez–Girón, popularly known as Doña Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez or La Corregidora was an insurgent and supporter of the Mexican War of Independence, which fought for independence against Spain, in the early 19th century. And on the Mexican five peso coin they have had Cuauhtemoc, the Aztec warriora specific Native American Indian.

So let's support the effort, once again, to put a woman on our money.

And in the mean time, here are some nice quotes from important women.

 (The author, Steve Otto, has been a coin collector for nearly his entire adult life and then some.)

Here are a few relevant quotes:

Break the Chains

Unleash the fury of women

As a mighty force for revolution -Jiang Qing/江青


Women are the real architects of society. - Cher

Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. -Judy Garland

I am grateful to be a woman. I must have done something great in another life.- Maya Angelou

I have plowed and planted and gathered into barns, and no man could head me. And aren't I a woman?...


.....That little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

Sojourner Truth


And a Song:

Aretha Franklin - Respect

Friday, January 29, 2021

Cam Gentry 1949-2021—Feminist, Liberal, Collector, Wife

By Steve Otto

This is the hardest obit for me to write to date. That is because I am writing about my wife. I have written obits for my other friends, such as Tim Pouncey. But I was married to Camillia (AKA Cam) Gentry. She died Wednesday night/Thursday morning (January 21, 2021).

Cam spent her life time as a librarian. She was a librarian at Wichita State University for many years and then she was a librarian at the Dorothy Bramlage Public Library, in Junction City, KS. After that she went to the John F Kennedy Library at the Hutchinson Community College, KS. For most of her last years she worked at the hospital libraries for Via Christi, first at St. Joseph and then at St. Francis, here in Wichita. She has a Masters in Library Science.We both have lived in Maize, KS for the last 20 years or so.

Cam and I met at Kirby’s, a popular bar in Wichita, and for most of our lives it was  our favorite place to hang out and meet friends at. We met in the early 1980s and we got married in 1984. Cam and I had different politics. She was a liberal and I am a Marxist. But we do agree on a lot of issues. For example we both hated Trump and voted against him. Cam had always been a feminist and activist. She was also a Democrat. She was very politically active. In her early years she was a member of National Organization for Women (NOW)She did clinic defense for the abortion clinics in Wichita. She was a member of Freedom of Choice Action League (FOCAL) which shut down and ZAP, which grew out of FOCAL. Both organizations were dedicated to clinic defense. She participated in the 2004 March for Women's Lives and the 2016 Women’s March in Washington DC. She was a liberal Democrat and never missed voting. She worked for and supported many Democratic candidates. She mostly supported progressive candidates. She really liked supporting progressive women.

She seemed OK with my politics even though I'm a Marxist. She liked my collection of Marxist posters as long as they had women on them. I had several she liked that including a poster of Chiang Ching/江青 with a quote from her on International Women's Day and a poster of  the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) of El Salvador, which had a quote on the role of women in revolution. There was one of the South African People’s Organization (SWAPO) that she didn’t like because it had a whole lot of men and no women on it. 

She was a collector who liked Noritake dinner wear and she liked to go to auctions and bid on antiques. She also bought furniture, pitchers and glasses, including copper wear.

She was preceded in death by both her parents, Merle Gentry and JoAnne Gentry (Baumgardner). She was also preceded in death by her brother Mark Gentry.

She is survived by her husband Steven Otto (Married in 1984) her brothers Fredric Gentry, Lawrence, KS; Brian Gentry w- Amy, Lawrence, KS; Clinton Gentry w- Vanessa, Kansas City, KS; Sisters Marsha Hesany; Denise Gentry, both of Gainseville FL. She is also survived by eight nieces and nephews. They have eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren.


Services have been postponed until spring or summer due to the coronavirus. At this time no service are currently planned.

One of Cam's favorite songs:


Here are some more Cam pix.


Here we are at Kirby's.


Here is my favorite death quote:

"Living is transformed into dying, lifeless matter is transformed into living beings. I propose that when people over the age of 50 die, a party should be held to celebrate, for it is in inevitable that men should die- this is natural law."[1] -Mao Zedong/ 毛泽东

Clint Gentry also contributed to this article.

To see Cam’s Wichita Eagle Obit, click here.

And at Wulf Ast.


[1] "INSTANT WISDOM: BEYOND THE LITTLE RED BOOK," Time, 20 September 1976, Vol. 108, No. 12, p. 38.


Sunday, December 20, 2020

Winter Solstice celebration- 2020

 By SJ Otto

Year after year I celebrate the Christmas Holidays. Since I am not a Christian, I prefer to celebrate the Winter Solstice. That event falls on December 23, two days before the official holiday of Christmas. Since most of the traditions—mistletoe, a Santa figure, gifts, an indoor tree and the whole bit, the Solstice was a day of celebration for many cultures and pre-Christian religions. I could celebrate Saturnalia, but that is a religious holiday and I don’t belong to that religion.

In my earlier readings about Druids, Douglas Monroe, in The Lost Books of Merlyn, wrote about meads that the early Druids made, with juniper berries. Since I read that book, much of it has been denounced as inaccurate or even fake. I still refer to the book anyway. After all, juniper berries taste like Christmas trees. So make Martinis since they are made mostly of Gin. I also like a good red wine, whether it fits in with tradition or not.

I also like to put out a sprig of an evergreen tree of some type to decorate my food or snack.


Let’s not forget the out door decorations.

And nothing makes a holiday like a good holiday song. Here is one of my favorites of this time of year:

“Ring Out, Solstice Bells”- Jethro Tull

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Now for more holiday fun! Cheerful songs and toys for the tots!

Greg Lake - I Believe In Father Christmas

 Now is the time for war toys. So here is a good example of what they should say when they try and sell war toys to kids.

Action Man: Battlefield Casualties

Sunday, December 06, 2020

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Christmas At Ground Zero

Each year I try to provide some Christmas ditties that help people get a little humor and satire to enjoy the happy holidays we enjoy so much in the US. So here is a favorite of mine:

SJ Otto

I was a Hippie/ Freak in the 1970s and I still am (sort of) today

 By SJ Otto

I found this article which is called, “How to Be a Modern Hippie,” by Colleen. I found it interesting because I was somewhat of a Hippie starting in my high school days and in my early 20s. In some ways, I still am today. I found this article in with another Hippie story, “What Are Hippies Called Today?” Hippies were a big thing in the 1960s. By the 1970s we were calling ourselves Freaks.[1] We were a little different from the Hippies, but we were really pretty similar. By the 1970s we had to have out own identity that differentiated us from the Hippies. We couldn’t just imitate people from ten years past.

Today, there is no “Freak scene.” The Hippies today are not the same as those that were visible in San Francisco, during the Haight-Ashbury days. I visited Haight-Ashbury in the late 1980s and there was little, if anything, left of the Hippie culture at that time. It was like I was going there to see “where it used to be happening.” The Freaks were a post-Hippie phenomenon, so for the sake of this article, I will look at what the author sees as people who are today, referred to as Hippies. I have a close friend, Tom Saad,[2] who is always telling me that he sees himself as a Hippie today.

He has long hair. Both of us probably considered ourselves to be Hippies in our high school days and fallowing. Originally much of that was a cultural thing. We were counter-culture people along with many of our friends were. We all had long hair, smoked pot, took LSD at times and we listened to rock and roll of that time period. Colleen’s article mentioned Led Zeppelin and Jefferson Airplane. Tom always liked Led Zeppelin and I always liked Jefferson Airplane. Today, Tom listens mostly to Led Zeppelin. I still like Jefferson Airplane but I also like punk rock, such as Die Toten Hosen.

Much of what I have written about, so far, has been cultural things such as music, hair styles and drug use.                            

Drug use was an important part of our experiences in the beginning. Colleen writes a lot about the clothes Hippies wore then and now. But for me there were some other things. Probably one of the most important things I took away from the Hippie experience was my views on politics. There is little doubt that these cultural movements influenced my political views today.

For example, Colleen wrote:


“Hippies are known for their compassion toward people, but also animals in particular. Some would even say that you care too much.

You simply love all creatures because they are not able to defend themselves, and hippies have always thought that they should be a voice for the voiceless. That’s why one of the biggest signs that you are a hippie is actually your compassion toward animals.

You refuse to wear leather and wool simply because you don’t want the dead skin of an animal on you. Every time you and your family go out to buy groceries, you always reach for the organic options and that’s what makes you so healthy. You might even operate an organic garden

Where you grow your own vegetables and fruits because you believe that it’s the healthiest way to live.

You know that the political situation isn’t great and you always discuss with your friends the politicians now in power and what they’re doing.

You are very educated in conspiracy theories and you always talk about the things that you would do better if you were president.

Whether it’s dancing, running, or practicing yoga, you simply love to move your body to the rhythm of the universe”.


My politics have evolved since I was in high school. As with the Freaks, I was an anarchist, in those days. Today I am a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist. The ideals of communism are not that much different from anarchism. Under the final stage of human development, in accordance with Marxist communist theory, the state withers away.[3] So my beliefs aren’t really all that different from my high school days. They are different in that I now believe we need a state, at least for today. But the part about compassion toward people and supporting the voiceless is a definite part of my personality and my out look on politics. My Marxist ideals are simply an extension of my ideas on compassion. I have compassion for people and I envision a world were there is peace, equality and people are all taken care of each other—no hunger and no lack of medicines for those who need it. Politics should lead to happiness.  

The one big difference is that Colleen writes about Hippies caring about animals. I’ve always liked animals. I studied Hinduism in high school. I never became a Hindu. But I did adopt some of those beliefs. One of them is that animal life has value. I won’t kill an animal, not even an insect, unless it is necessary. I avoid any practice that causes pain to animals. I try to respect them. I am not a vegetarian, but I believe in respecting those animals that we eat. I avoid anything the causes such animals any pain, such as boiling lobsters or eating veal which is a tortured animal. I only kill insects that are a nuisance, such as roaches and mosquitoes. I don’t kill spiders in my house or insects that cause no harm.

That is different from Marxist. Marxists emphasise the importance of humans and humans are much more important than animal life. Some Marxists I have come across are against (sometimes antagonistic to) animal rights and animal rights activists. I agree that humans are more important. But I disagree with those who see little or no importance to animal life.

But back to the Hippie article, Colleen discusses the rejection of traditional mainstream values:


“Their rejection of mainstream values was surprising because they were the very people who were in position to gain the most—in jobs,

political access, and money—from the existing system. That these young people chose to drop out from lives in which they had clear advantages was a sign to many that perhaps something really was wrong with the system.

The civil rights movement was attracting national attention by the mid-1950s, and the New Left became a factor in American politics in 1962

following the release of its “Port Huron Statement,” a stirring announcement of youthful political idealism.”


Again, here is something I have in common with the Hippies. I definitely feel outside the mainstream. I definitely have little interest in the pursuit of money and I don’t aspire to be wealthy as I am supposed to, according to the system and its supporters.

Colleen wrote about some of the theoreticians of the Hippies. Some such as Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg were not that political. Others, such as Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin were very political. Rubin turned to the right after the Hippies and Yippies[4] began to die out. Hippies were a strange movement that included some leftists and some cultural figures who had no interest in politics at all. Others such as Rubin, ended up as political conservatives.

I do have some ideas I got from being a Hippie that are not political, besides my views on animals. One example is haircuts. We all had long hair. My hair is not really that long. But I still feel that it is ridiculous that men today are expected to all have the same kind of hair cut. Women can wear their hair at any length. But men are expected to have real short hair. Most today have real short hair on the side of their heads and their ears all stick out. I call it the “white wall look.” The hair stops way above the ear and thins out to the point of looking like it is shaved. The other day I sat in front of my TV and looked at all the men with their “white wall look.” Some men have long hair on the top, but it is almost always short on the sides. It is like a uniform. I for one don’t like my ears showing. I don’t have long hair, but I avoid the “white wall look.” Tom still has long hair in a pony tail. 

I suppose there are some young Hippies around today. For many Hippies, as my self, we are in our 60s, 70s and older. We are a dying bread. But we are still Hippies. Some young Marxists I have seen, commenting on line, have said they see Hippies as being conservative, right-wing, reactionary. I don’t know how they formed these opinions but I don’t agree at all. In the 60s and 70s we defied the status quo. We challenged the system on many levels. We challenged the culture and the politics. We were often met with opposition and it was not always pleasant or benevolent. Any one who wants to see examples of that opposition can see the move Easy Rider. The Hippies were often treated badly and it can be seen in that movie.

Hippies had an impact on our lives since the 1960s. We have some movements, such as the Revolutionary Communist Party, that rose directly from the organizations of the 1960s. I’m glad to have been a part of that experience. The Hippies today are small in number compared to those of the 1960s and 1970s. Many of those early hippies cut their hair, put on a suit and got a high paying job. They lost all their early values. Some of us have retained at least some of those values. I’m proud to be one of those. 


          Here I sit in a counter-culture bar, Kirby's, with my wife, Cam Gentry.
            The above picture ^ is Tom Saad.

[1] Steve Otto, War on Drugs/ War on People, (Ide House, Los Colinas, 1995), “The Freaks,” p. 146.

[2] As this article says, many Hippies are writers, musicians or artists. Tom has been an artist since his high school days. Here are some examples of his work:

[3] Karl Marx wrote about states of human development, including primitivism to Feudalism, from Feudalism to capitalism, Capitalism to Socialism, from Socialism to Communism. Under the final stage; communism, the state withers away. Also in the Higher-stage of communism (according to Wikipedia):

To Marx, the higher-stage of communist society is a free association of producers which has successfully negated all remnants of capitalism, notably the concepts of statesnationalitysexismfamiliesalienationsocial classesmoneypropertycommodities, the bourgeoisie, the proletariatdivision of laborcities and countrysideclass strugglereligionideology, and markets. It is the negation of capitalism.

[4] See also Steve Otto, Memoirs Of A Drugged-up, Sex-crazed Yippie,  (Authorhouse, BloomingtonIndiana, 2005).

Thursday, November 26, 2020

It's Thanks Giving time again

By SJ Otto

It's finally time to post something on this blog. And there is no better time than Thanksgiving for such an extravaganza. I don’t plan to travel or cook. I am visiting Cam at the hospital. I’ve been drinking my favourite herbal tea. I just can’t go wrong with that. I bought a 6 year old bottle of wine for today, a few days ago. It is hussonet, cabernet Sauvignon. It wasn’t very expensive, but it is not that impressive for a 6 year old wine. John MIGHT come over and we might buy a turkey dinner for something else to eat. John made a good point that we can just as easily have a dinner some other day than this and just pretend that day is the holiday. As I get older, holidays as this one just are not as important as they once were. I started to watch the Macy’s Parade, but I got side tracked and missed most of it. Mad Magazine used to make fun of it as “Messy’s Thanks giving Day Parade”—complete with a drunken Santa saying “Merry Christmas, Happy New Years, Happy Ground Hog Day, Happy Arbour Day!” And there are a bunch of booze bottles in the sled. It was a very funny spoof.