the Symbionese Liberation Army: A Bleg

Another dopy bit of internet slang: bleg. A blog beg. Hence bleg: a request made of one’s blog readership. I bleg of you: if anyone of you has an audio copy of any of the Symbionese Liberation Army communiqués, or knows where they might be had, please let me know. One of my projects is American countercultural/left radicalism, and I’ve been getting interested in the phenomenon of the radical taped communiqué. The SLA and the Weatherman (in their outlaw Weather Underground version) sent audiotapes of themselves reading prepared statements. The first communiqué (partial excerpt here) of the Weather Underground is included in Music is Revolution, an anthology of audio clips from the John and Leni Sinclair Papers at the University of Michigan. It’s fascinating: there is something in the particular way the Weatherman shaped their collective revolutionary  persona, and something in the way they staged it, that called for taped communiqués. The sound is eerie and complicated: Bernadine Dohrn’s educated middle-class midwestern voice straining for demotic force and enhanced with an added echo meant, I suppose, to suggest a voice calling out from the stage of History itself.

Anyway, during the Sara Jane Olsen trial in Saint Paul a few years ago (Olsen was formerly Kathleen Soliah, a late-joining member of the SLA), a local alterna-weekly mentioned that the SLA had a strange free-jazz “Symbionese National Anthem” appended to its communiqués. Does anybody know anything about this? I want to hear it.

Avant-garde art bonus: an artist named Sharon Hayes has created a work in which she partly memorized Patty Hearst’s statements in various SLA communiqués and recited them in front of an audience to whom she had given a script and which she had instructed to correct her mistakes.


About Phil Ford

Chairman of the Committee for the Memorial to the Victims of Modernism
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4 Responses to the Symbionese Liberation Army: A Bleg

  1. the Symbionese Liberation Army: A Bleg

  2. Lizzie says:

    I know exactly where you can get them. Email me and we can discuss it.

  3. gayle says:

    Where is the group now and how active are they?

  4. Phil Ford says:

    Most of its members are either dead or in jail. I think there may be one or two former SLA members at liberty, but I don’t know anything about them. Except Patty Heart, I guess.

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