After 1972, the old office buildings around Dupont Circle were like seashells - as if you could put your ear to any third-floor window and hear the ancient surf of radical politics, ohhhhh heady roar of the '60s, of Quakers and feminists and phones ringing; guitarists begging for platform time at the the demonstration and being sent away with an armload of leaflets; Gray Panthers and Young Socialists, backpack kids who thumbed all the way from everywhere with poems and vegetarian dogs; and the stars - Dick Gregory, Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden...
'Can we get some time with Jane when she comes in on Saturday?' the woman is asking but Tom Hayden is shaking his head before she even finishes. Hayden, the former antiwar activist married to Fonda, is slouched in a cubicle of the Public Resource Center, north of Dupont Circle, which volunteered its offices to the May 6 Coalition. The Coalition is organizing Sunday's march against nuclear power, and , the phones are ringing, scores of volunteers sprinting around with puzzled frowns, people shouting for someone to fix the Xerox machine...'Is there any stage time, just three minutes?' says Dan Peart, who hitchhiked in from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with backpack, guitar and a song to sing.
"None at all, not even three seconds," says an organizer.
"I hear you, " says Dan, hefting an armload of leaflets he'll distribute on the Mall.
A blackboard legend reads: '6 Days to Go,' and, mysteriously, 'Doing the Blitzkrieg Bop.'
'Jane Fonda, yeah, be a lot of fun, thousands of people there,' a phone volunteer is telling someone.
'Do we have a volunteer who can type?'
A young woman with braces sits down to type a flyer, gets halfway through it when another woman grabs the Ko-Rec-Type erasing fluid: 'I went all the way across town to get that Ko-Rec-Type,' the second woman says as the typist gets up.
'That's not what it's about!' Hayden is saying, his mouth snapping under hard, hooded brown eyes, a fey irritability also favored by his co-Californian, Gov. Jerry Brown. Hayden, as a leader of antiwar protests and one of the Chicago Seven, has just been asked the difference between these days and Sundays demo with its slogans of SHUT THEM DOWN, buttons and T-shirts reading WE ALL LIVE IN HARRISBURG.
'That has nothing to do with what's going on here,' he insists. Well, maybe he's being shy - he says he'll only be a speaker at the rally, along with his wife. But then he explains that we've gone 'from a moral, civil disobedience posture to one that recognizes two other things - the need for conversion away from nuclear energy to non-nuclear, and the need for holding not just a utility but the president of the United States accontable.'
Hayden and Fonda will be joined by other stars and variously radical, undergrond, alternative, or sexually-or-ethnically selected no-nukers including author Kurt Vonnegut, singer Jackson Browne, biologist Barry Commoner, activist and ex-comedian Dick Gregory. But no congresspeople.
'We want this to be a citizens'rally,' says Don Ross, coordinator, and head of a Nader-sponsored public-interest group in New York.
And nobody from the most famous of the no-nuke groups, the Clamsheell Alliance, which battled the Seabrook nuclear installation in New Hampshire.
'If we ask the Clamshell Alliance, then we'll have to ask the Abalone Alliance and the Palmetto Alliance,' explains Pamela Lippe, a lobbyist,for Friends of the Environment who, as program coordinator, has 'the most difficult job here,' by her reckoning.
The problem being: 'Everybody wants to be up there. Everybody complains we have too many white male physicists. The Indians have their people, we need more female singers - we're waiting for answers from Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon.'
Some, says Lippie with the small smile of the power-broker, are 'big names we wanted for their drawing power. And we went after labor and the senior citizens to give us people.' She has landed machinist's union president William Winpisinger, and Maggie Kuhn of the Gray Panthers. Ramon Rueda is their Hispanic, representing the Peoples' Development Corporation of the South Bronx. Elsie Peshlakai, a Navaho, will be the Indian on the stand. And there will be words from Orville Kelly, a soldier exposed to bomb tests, and Susan Cassidy, a pregant woman who lives near the Harrisburg reactor.
And there's always the chance Jerry Brown might show up, now that he's twinning his budget-limitation program with an anti-nuclear stance.
'This is just the tip of the iceberg. What Vietnam was to LBJ, what Watergate was to Nixon, nuclear power will be to Carter,' says Lippe eagerly, as if returning to those years of turmoil and paranoia and rampaging egos was a matter of changing the channel.
But with polls showing the majority of America in favor of developing nuclear power despite the Three Mile Island breakdown, the anti-nuclear forces are not apt to find spokesmen among establishment politicians. Ralph Nader, in fact, has abandoned his usual preoccupation with legislative remedies to endorse this march with funds, workers and publicity.
With Harrisburg still in the news - and a hit movie, 'The China Syndrome,' which deals with a Harrisburg-like mishap and stars Fonda - the coatlition would seem to have a day for seizing.
Hence the 15 phones going full time here in the near-round-the-clock turmoill of these offices; the 300 public service announcement spots they're mailing to radio stations up and down the East Coast, the 5,000 T-shirts they'll sell, the 10,000 buttons, 10,000 programs; 200 anti-nuclear organizations to be contacted, printing fees for 70,000 leaflets, 30,000 posters, all to be done in three weeks ending this Sunday, almost entirely by volunteers, at a total cost, says coordinator Don Ross, of $60,000 to $80,000.
'I think this issue will silence those who think we're apathetic,' says Greg Feise, 23, in beard and a T-shirt which reads: 'Crabshell Alliance.' (There are also the Potomac Alliance, the Arbor Alliance the Kudzu Alliance and the Huron Alliance.
'We're against centralized, corporate-controlled large-scale energy development,' Feise says. 'We're talking about ways of running an advanced industrial economy heretofore based on non-renewable energy resources.'
The walls are blazoned with headlines, flyers and poems:Psst!
Psst! Wake up!
You've been asleep
A tiny Englishman sprints down the stairs with two bullhorns for use in broadcasting from his van. He refuses to give his name, except tha, 'I'm a citizen of this planet,' and, 'You're asking a lot of questions.'
Still, 'There's no paranoia,' says Don Ross. 'People aren't worried about government infiltrators.'
But lest we forget, there's always Karen Silkwood, memorialized on a poster on a cubicle wall. Silkwood worked for the Kerr-McGee nuclear fuel plant in Oklahoma, and died during a car crash, allegedly on her way to present incriminating documents to a journalist.
DEAD BECAUSE SHE KNEW TOO MUCH? asks the poster.
And the energy fight has built its own little infrastructure and status system.
'I had older brothers and sisters who were part of the Vietnam stuff,' says Sue Ann Colvin, 20, who came to Washington with the Appropriate Community Technology '79 fair that ended Monday on the Mall. After Sunday's march down Pennysylavania Avenue to a stage in front of the Capitol she hopes to go back to North Carolina 'and build a greenhouse. If I can swing it. I'd like to go to Goddard College's social ecology workshop this summer, and in the fall maybe get into an energy program at Antioch.'
At a table covered with fliers and telephones, volunteers nosh on Greek bread, tearing chunks of it from inside a paper bag. Don Ross shouts to somebody, 'Tell Holtzman it's too late, we can't get her on the program,' referring to Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D.N.Y.). A newspaper clipping on the wall quotes Secretary of Energy James Schlesinger as calling the anti-nuke forces 'the same old crowd that used to be for Ho ChiMinh.'
But, says Donna Cooper, 20, a volunteer: 'The worst conservatives are people who worship leftover radicals.' CAPTION: Picture 1, Jane Fonda; Picture 2, Don Ross, head of the May 6 Coalition; Picture 3, Pamela Lippe, Coalition program coordinator; Picture 4, Tom Hayden