Wednesday, March 22, 2017

In 1968 We Ran A Pig For President

1968 was the year we ran a pig for president.  Actually, I shouldn't say 'we' since I was only there to take snapshots.  Officially, Pigasus was the candidate of the Youth International Party, aka: Yippie!  Well, 'officially' might be a stretch since Yippie! folks were at best kind of disorganized. At best.  And given the times and the place, chances are that a good deal of consciousness altering substances were involved in any decision making. It was the 60's: all of the people was stoned some of the time and some of the people were stoned all of the time, there was a war on, sex was free and well, there we were.  And there was the Candidate. We held a benefit at the Village Theater.  Everyone joined in a rousing rendition of "You're A Grand Old Pig."

The campaign did not fare well: the candidate was arrested.  Actually, as I remember it, he was arrested several times.  Well, the pig was not actually arrested, it was the people with him.  They were charged with having an 'Unlicensed Swine.'  Nobody knew there was a license required for a presidential candidate, but again, there we were.  Pigasus was 'confiscate' by the authorities.  Each time, a replacement pig was promptly purchased.  As one Yippie! commented: “One pig is pretty much like another.”

The high point in the campaign came when the Candidate arrived at a Times Square hotel.  By an amazing coincidence, there was also a rally for Democratic Party candidate Hubert Humphrey at that very same hotel that evening.  There was a large police presence.  There was an anti-war  demonstration in the streets in front of the hotel. And there we were.

The NYPD's  Bureau of Special Services, affectionately known as the  “Red Squad,” was there too, headed up by our all-time favorite, Detective Finnegan.  Everybody knew Finnegan and his partner, Det. Brennan.  They knew us too.  They also thought we were dangerous. Very dangerous. So dangerous that they assigned at least two undercover cops ‘infiltrate’ the ‘organization.'  You can spot them in some of the snapshots ‘guarding’ the candidate. One of them went on to write a book about his experience and then to become Chief of Police in some jerkwater town, but that's another story.

Anyway, on that evening Pigasus arrived in the back seat of a convertible, surrounded by his Not-So-Secret Service guards. And the undercover cops. The circus had come to town.  The police, the ones in uniform, seeing the convertible and the escorts (in Dark Suits and wraparound shades) coming down Broadway, held up traffic and let it pass.  They made it to the front of the hotel before someone noticed that it was not Democratic Party Candidate Humphrey in the back seat.

In our final snapshot, you can see an embarrassed  Det. Finnegan holding a police radio and looking at me.  As I recall, he was also yelling “Get that  #@$! photographer out of here!”  

Times were simpler - and lots more fun. The rest is history.

Arthur and Pigasus had a special relationship.
Note original Ratner's in the background.  Ahh, the onion rolls!

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