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1969. "Abbie is one of the smartest people I've ever met," Norman Mailer said, "and one of the bravest." Throwing money down upon Wall Street brokers. Levitating the Pentagon. Blowing kisses to the jury at the Chicago conspiracy trial. "His thousand jokes are to conceal how serious he is."
My God, the city denied us the permits. The police beat the shit out of us. And the government's own study called it a police riot. It was outrageous that we be put on trial for what happened in Chicago. Our attitude was: We might as well yell out because what's the difference. They invented the rules. They got the hanging judge. They're building the gallows downstairs. I mean, we might as well rip it up. At the same time that we were romantic utopians, there was some fatalism involved because we just felt we were going to get it. We were going to jail forever. We were even going to be shot. But, once the trial began, I threw every ounce of my being into it. Prison? Assassination threats? None of it mattered. We waited for the judge to shoot off his mouth or make some stupid ruling and we responded by going outside the accepted form of courtroom behavior. No one ever did that before. No defendant stood up and said, "Why did you say that, Judge?" At some point, I was calling him Julie. "Julie, cut that shit out." Anything. Like when we showed up with judge's robes on. We were being victimized, but we were not taking it lying down.