Before Kenny Wisdom of Dean Street. Brooklyn, became Emmett Grogan
founder of the Diggers in the Haight-Ashbury love ghetto, he had
already lived several lives. Burglar and thief, heroin addict at
age 15, Mediterranean playboy and avant-garde film maker at 17,
London porno writer and sometime dynamiter for the IRA before he
was 20. And he was good at all his chosen trades; he took care of
business; he kept a low profile; he was fast and tough and smart
and so is this stunning autobiography - carefully crafted,
understated, exact and powered with the high-voltage outrage of the
Brooklyn street gangs where he first learned to play his life "for
keeps." Unlike the hippies whom he fed by stealing sides of beef
from the San Francisco meat markets, Emmett had no illusions about
flower-power, acid visions, non-violence, and love. He was a
survivor of the blues life, a renegade whose "frame of reference is
a style of life and death that has been censored from history" and
he wanted "more than the oakey-doke without askin." Unimpressed by
the celebrityprophets of the Counterculture, he hawked no visions:
his hero, when he still had heroes, was Willie Sutton, the Brooklyn
burglar who lived down the block when he was a kid, before the cops
came and took him away; Kenny learned about power and money making
the great wheel go around from the Anastasias who controlled the
waterfront back in the '50's. And he got his own training down on
Hester Street when the Wild Aces and the Chaplains played the last
game of Ringolevio and Kenny Wisdom jumped 27 feet from a tenement
window ledge to holler "ALL FREE!" in a jailbreak that ended the
game forever and began Kenny's own emancipation from the
"Judas-goat society" and his launching as a full-time
felon-liberator. And this is the record of how he went about it,
down the fire escape, in jail, across two continents and 15 years.
And it never falters. (Kirkus Reviews)
'Ringolevio' is the story of 60s urban guerilla, Emmett Grogan, and
the Diggers, the legendary San Francisco free-food distributors who
combined Dada Street Theatre with social agitation.
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