If you don’t have solid plans for 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, here’s an idea for you, care of Woodstock bard and activist Ed Sanders. Join in at that time as he and The Fugs, the band he started with Ken Weaver and the late Tuli Kupferberg in the mid-1960s, reunite with their full coterie of the past 30 years with a new song/performance set to close out that day’s giant Veterans for Peace Rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
It’s called “Exorcism of the White House,” and seeks to succeed where The Fugs attempt to levitate The Pentagon 50 years ago failed, on at least one level. They want to rid us all of the evil and demons who have begun to run our nation the wrong way.
“It’s a challenge but no more a challenge than what we faced 50 years ago,” Sanders said of the first huge mobilization against the Vietnam War that saw his band moved across the Potomac on a flatbed followed by a quarter million, with the filmmaker Kenneth Anger burning tarot cards beneath them. That event was filmed and recorded extensively, helped make Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin household names, and was captured in Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Armies Of The Night. “We’ll be focusing not so much on Trump but those ghastly and even evil cabinet choices he’s made.”
The current exorcism came about this past winter when Sanders sent his new exorcism rites to Fug Steve Taylor, who wrote a melody line for its first half, before the incarnations designed on instructions originally culled from the infamous anthologist and filmmaker Harry Smith about how real exorcisms happen. In March, the band reassembled to record at member Scott Petito’s NRS Studio in Catskill. Then Sanders sent a copy to the poet activist Bob Holman, who contacted a filmmaker friend, Chuck Smith. The song/exorcism was premiered at Cooper Union in lower Manhattan in April, with Sanders chanting his lines from the same lectern Abraham Lincoln had used in 1860 to give the speech many say shifted him from a timely to a timeless figure.
“I originally announced that The Fugs wanted to perform the exorcism in Washington in June,” Sanders added. But then his friend DeeDee Halleck contacted Veterans for Peace, who were already putting together their rally for May 29 and 30.
The idea of following the premiere at Lincoln’s lectern with an exorcism performed with a crowd of veterans from the Lincoln Memorial was too good to pass up on.
“I hope to get the crowd to chant,” Sanders added, noting that news of the event on The Fugs’ Facebook page has already drawn fans to promise pilgrimages from across the nation.
So how’s it go? Much of the exorcism follows what The Fugs and thousands chanted 50 years ago.
“In the name of the Amulets, of Friendship & Civilization & against Border-Bashing & manias for Regime Change, in the name of triumph over the curse of explosions & drones; in the name of ahimsa & nonviolence between heretofore rival civilizations; in the name of Peace & Love & Sharing we call upon the powers of the Cosmos to protect our ceremonies,” it all starts.
Many gods and spirits, historical and mythological, are named. A sense of the many ways in which our spirits have been shamed get mentioned. “We call upon the Spirits of Eternity to raise the White House from its foundations, spin it around & cleanse it of Evil & Malevolent Demons. We summon the Spirits of Benevolent Destiny to exorcise the White House of its violence, ill-will, and ill-intentions from now till the End of Time!”
And then the exorcism: “Out Demons, out! Out Demons, out!” The White House is summoned to twirl and leave us.
Previous speakers next Tuesday will include Medea Benjamin, Chris Hedges, Col. Ann Wright, and various others, including many veterans who have promised to chain themselves to the White House fence when everyone marches there from the Lincoln Memorial following the exorcism chant.
“As Allen Ginsberg used to say, it’s important to keep your shoulder to the wheel of change,” Sanders added. “Join in with us at 1 p.m.”
To see a video of The Fugs new video for singalong purposes, visit their Facebook page.
And keep your fingers crossed.