It is called "Barbecuing with Bobby," a cookbook with a barbecue video to follow. Why not? says the author/entrepreneur. "If Jane Fonda can drop 250,000 how-to exercise videos, why can't Bobby Seale drop a half a million of these things every barbecue season?"
Bobby Seale? Ah, the sweet memories: the berets, the Panthers, the Chicago 7 -- which began as the Chicago 8 until Seale so busted up the trial with revolutionary ranting that the judge gave him a separate trial, a gag and shackle, and a place in countercultural history. Bobby Seale: his anger as American as apple pie. And now -- et tu, Bobby? -- a cookbook to match.
"Barbecuing with Bobby" just about completes the manifest. With the last piece of cargo safy loaded on board, and the passengers all accounted for, the Freedom Train is ready for the final leg of the journey from counterculture to capitalism. There have been many stops along the way: Selma, Montgomery, People's Park, the Moratorium, May Day, meditation, nutrition, fitness, The Workout. And now the end of the line: money.
One of the first passengers on board was Jerry Rubin, another Chicago 8 defendant. He explains the bizarre itinerary: "Politics and rebellion distinguished the sixties, the search for the self characterized the spirit of the seventies, money and financial interests will capture the passion of the eighties." Rubin wrote that, with his usual mixture of perspicacity and shamelessness, when the '80s were not yet seven months old. He was announcing his transformation from Yippie to Yuppie. He was going to work for a Wall Street brokerage house. "Money is power," he wrote. Right on, brother.
Behind Rubin (only three years behind) sits another passenger, bearded, crosslegged and surrounded by hordes of neatly trimmed acolytes. It's the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In 1983 he branched out from Transcendental Meditation to -- I kid you not -- consultancy. "Governments Invited to Solve Their Problems," declared the newspaper ads announcing the Maharishi's "readiness to solve the problems of any government . . . irrespective of system: capitalism, communism, socialism, democracy, or" -- business is business -- "dictatorship." The contracts to be "drawn up by a mutually acceptable international law firm in conjunction with an international bank" were to be on "the basis of cost reimbursement after the target is reached." Like General Dynamics, but without the dog-boarding overruns.
On the 10th anniversary of the fall of Saigon there will be lots of ceremonies marking the end of the war abroad. The transformation of Freedom Train to gravy train marks the end of the war at home. The cultural revolution is over. It was a rout. The rebels put down not so much their arms as their uniforms, though often the two were the same. They adopted the victors' dress, the universal uniform of accountancy: gray flannel and button-down, eyeshade optional.
The Maharishi is a consultant, Jerry Rubin does stocks (and now a new venture: singles' networking), and Bobby Seale is into barbecue videos. But the most authoritative announcement of the war's end escaped notice, perhaps because instruments of surrender are not often found in Post classifieds. I found this one last week under "Business Opportunities Services." It read, "Dick Gregory's Nutritional Weight Loss and Business Opportunity Seminar at the Skyline Inn. For reservations call . . ." The trajectory is complete: civil rights to Vietnam to revolution to meditation to . . . nutrition, weight loss and the Opportunity Society. All aboard.
The irony is that there is another train, admittedly with onlya couple of cars, heading in the opposite direction. Who should be on it but members of the old Establishment, the crew-cut, tough-guy, baby-killing types ("Hey, hey, LBJ/How many kids did you kill today?") who were in power when the action was in the streets, then fell from grace. Some, like Robert McNamara and McGeorge Bundy, architects of the Vietnam War, are now the leading voices of dissent in the age of Reagan. Others, less Brahmin, had ruder falls. Their recoveries took a stranger route: the Charles Colson Trail of Spirituality, from Nixon to prison to religion.
Yesterday's blue suits and stuffed shirts (some horizontally striped) are in conscientious political opposition or in the ministry. Yesterday's revolutionaries are into barbecue videos.
I happen to think McNamara and Bundy are as wrong today as they were 20 years ago. And I can't figure Colson out at all. But I give them this: they ride with dignity.