Chicago 1968: The Whole World Is Watching chronicles the chaos of the infamous DNC convention


“One afternoon a little more than 50 years ago, the photographer Michael Cooper wandered into the bar at the Chateau Marmont in LA and happened to run into a friend, the writer Terry Southern. Southern had time for just one drink, and then he had to get to the airport. He had an assignment from Esquire to cover the National Democratic Convention in Chicago. Jean Genet and William S. Burroughs were covering it too—their editor, Harold Hayes, had a feeling that the event might be better understood by absurdists rather than political hacks—and they’d planned to meet up with Allen Ginsberg. Cooper had a sense, both in his life and in his photos, where the energy was, where, as they said then, it was happening. That was why, a few years earlier, he’d quit his job as a fashion photographer. He was tired of people telling him where to shoot and what to shoot and how many rolls he could shoot. Instead he started hanging out with artists and designers and rock musicians: Swinging London, not British Vogue, was where it was happening. (And then Cooper shot the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, so, yes, he did have a point, although he never got paid.) Now, in the last week of August 1968, the most happening place in America was Chicago, a city where he’d never been. He was broke, but somehow he scraped up the money for a plane ticket and was there the next day. He had shoulder-length hair and wore a purple suit with sandals, and at first the security guards wouldn’t let him into the convention hall. For the next four days, Southern, Burroughs, Ginsberg, and Genet, sometimes accompanied by their Esquire editor, John Berendt, and Grove Press publisher Richard Seaver, marched through Grant and Lincoln Parks and sat in the old International Amphitheatre, on South Halsted, where the Democrats ended up nominating Hubert Humphrey for president, and on the sidewalk of Michigan Avenue, where young people were protesting the war in Vietnam and nervously eyeing the Chicago police, who were armed with nightsticks, and the national guardsmen, who were armed with rifles. In Cooper’s photos, there’s a sense of wariness and tension, like everybody’s just waiting for the veneer of calm to snap. Or maybe I just think that because I know what happened next, the part that Cooper saw but didn’t shoot, but which Southern wrote about in an article called ‘Grooving in Chi’ that was published in Esquire that November.  …”
Chicago Reader
New Yorker: A Great Writer at the 1968 Democratic Disaster
New Republic: The Cops and the Kids By James Ridgeway (August 28, 1968)


An ABC News cameraman wears a gas mask.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in 1968 DNC, Allen Ginsberg, Burroughs, Lyn. Johnson, Nixon, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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