California and Lindsay ‘You call 38 percent a mandate?’

Original Publication – The Village Voice, October 7, 1971

San Francisco, California – Every Saturday and Sunday out in front of Thomas Lords, the Maxwell’s Plum of San Francisco, a husky semi-hip ex-New Yorker I call Burly Cool sits behind a fold-out card table with a petition urging John Lindsay to be the Democratic nominee for President.  

Burly Cool is carefully turned out. His hair is just long, his Levi jacket has an American flag patch on one sleeve and a peace symbol over a field of red white and blue on the other, and his shirt is unbuttoned to the waist, revealing a generous stomach beneath.

Burly Cool, who spends untold volunteer hours every weekend manning the card table and ogling the swingles, also is carefully reading “The Advance Man,” peddling Lindsay buttons for a quarter, and engaging in political hype for his candidate.  I ask Burly, since he’s so dedicated, if he’s looking for a full-time job if Lindsay decides to enter the California primary. “Oh wow,” he says, carefully fingering the “Advance Man” chapter on “Lindsay Can Win,” “a few of the mayor’s personal staff are coming to check out our operation, and if they like what they see, well maybe one or two of us, but, ow wow, that’s just a pipe dream.”

A middle-aged couple stops at the table to sign the petition. “I just gave a dollar in church so I might as well give one to Lindsay. It’s the same thing.”

Another passer-by is a New Yorker and not so generous. “I fail to see why you’re trying to foist Lindsay off on the rest of the country.”

“Whadda ya mean,” says Burly, immediately slipping into a New York tough talk street accent.

“Who’s behind this petition?” demands Mr. New York.

“I dunno, Lindsay, I guess.”

“What, you mean . . . ?”

“Look, do you wanna sign it or not? There’s plenty of people who want to sign. He got elected, didn’t he?”

“Do you call 38 percent a mandate?” Mr. New York is screaming by now.

Burly Cool is getting very pissed off.  “Look, you don’t have to stand here unless you wanna sign.”

“What about the Welfare Astoria? What about George McGrath? What about the sell-out to the unions on the pensions?  What about . . . ?”

Finally the accusations are too much for Burly Cool. He stands up, pushes the card table aside and shouts at the top of his lungs down the empty Sunday morning street, “OH FUCK OFF!”

The Californians for Lindsay Committee faded into the background as two New Yorkers began to address each other.

This article is typed from the original material.  Please excuse any errors that have escaped final proofreading.